Top Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 5

By Chip Bayless (click Howie for more Chip)




1) Jaleel McLaughlin

Once Javonte Williams exited the game with a hip injury, it was Jaleel McLaughlin’s time to shine. The undrafted rookie came in and easily looked more spry and explosive than any Broncos RB to take the field in the last two years.

After all, McLaughlin’s 72 yards marked the highest single-game rushing total for any 2023 Broncos halfback, and he did it on just seven carries.

One has to imagine even if Williams returns in Week 5, McLauglin has earned at least some of a permanent role in the offense going forward considering the ineptitude and inefficiency that has been the Broncos 2023 backfield.

McLaughlin runs with more wiggle and decisiveness than either Perine or Williams has have shown this season, and Broncos coaches simply have to be thinking about how to get him the ball more considering the state of their team.

Check out this play against the Bears where McLaughlin looked like an absolute magician as he emerged from a sea of defenders to break away for the score:

Additionally, McLaughlin’s role might already have been trending upwards as his snap percentage jumped from 5% in Week 2 to 21% in Week 3 (per FantasyPros).

McLaughlin ended up rushing seven times for 72 yards and caught all three of his targets for 32 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win over the Bears. Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine have disappointed all season, and Perine for his part only managed 35 total yards on six carries and two targets.

He was the 10th-highest scoring tailback in Week 4, coming in just behind Kamara at #9 and just before Bijan Robinson at #11, and McLaughlin finished 11th in rushing yards in Week 4.

While McLaughlin faces the Jets in Week 5 who just held Mahomes and the Chiefs to 23 points, he’s only owned in 0.5% of leagues and free-agent RB replacements are almost nonexistent at this point in the season.

Looking for one final take-home stat to bolster your confirmation bias? Among all halfbacks this season with at least 10 carries, McLaughlin ranks 4th in yards per carry with 7.1 yards (per ESPN).



2) Michael Wilson

At this stage of the fantasy season, its almost impossible to ignore players who have scored double-digit points in back-to-back weeks if you’re in a 12-team or deeper league.

Rostered in only 1.4% of leagues, Wilson will undoubtedly be one of the names almost unanimously grabbed up across leagues.

This Sunday, Wilson’s seven targets came in second to only Ertz and Marquise Brown who both led the team with 10, Wilson has now had at least 55 receiving yards in three straight weeks.

With his limited opportunities, Wilson has displayed remarkable route-running skills, body control sideline catches, toughness on contested catches, and creativeness.

Today, just like everyone predicted, Michael Wilson leads the Arizona Cardinals in yards per receptions and YAC, is tied for the team lead in touchdown catches and catches for 20+ yards, is two yards shy of leading the team in receiving yards (with over 100 more yards than Ertz), ranks third among all Cardinals in targets and receptions, and has the 2nd-most receptions resulting in first downs (per ESPN).

Among all WRs, Wilson currently ranks:

Wilson has also played at least 43% of snaps in every game, and is averaging a 66% snap share on the season (per FantasyPros), and in Week 4 he was fantasy football’s 6th-highest scoring receiver, ahead of Justin Jefferson at the seventh slot.

Finally, Wilson has accounted for just over a quarter of all Cardinals air yards so far in 2023 (per Next Gen Stats).



3) Jayden Reed

Jayden Reed barely cracks the list as he is already owned in just over 20% of leagues, but if he’s available in your league he’s likely better than at least one of your bench options as far as your receivers are concerned.

Reed is a speedster who has a knack for making spectacular catches, and he is slowly earning the trust of Jordan Love and maybe developing into the second, and at the bare minimum the third, receiver on the Packers, an offense which looks like it will air the ball out a great deal.

Reed has had a decent workload and has received at least five targets in every game he’s played, has had at least two catches in every game, and has never finished with fewer than 37 receiving yards (he also caught two touchdowns that week).

Among Packers WRs so far this season, Reed ranks:

  • 2nd in receptions, targets, and yards (per ESPN)
  • 1st in yards per reception
  • 2nd in receiving TDs
  • 1st in catches for 20+ yards
  • 1st in YAC (per ESPN)
  • 2nd in catches resulting in first downs

Jayden Reed has also seen at least 50% of snaps in every game this season, is averaging a 61% snap share on the year, and saw his highest snap share of the season with 67% this past weekend (per FantasyPros).

Furthermore, Reed has accounted for just over a quarter of all the Packers’ 2023 air yards (per Next Gen Stats) and the Packers’ red zone targets (per Pro Football Reference), has the 8th-best yards per catch average among all NFL WRs (per ESPN), and is averaging 11.5 fantasy points per game.


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