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Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 6 and beyond

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AP

Fantasy Football: 10 waiver wire targets for Week 6 and beyond

Another week. Another rash of injuries in the NFL.

Odell Beckham Jr. was one of three New York Giants wide receivers to go down with season-ending injuries. Bilal Powell, DeVante Parker and Travis Kelce all exited their team's victories after getting struck by the injury bug. 

While the majority of these injury cases won't really do much in terms of elevating another player from obscurity to fantasy relevance, we've done our best to gather a list of reinforcements who could be worth a roster spot on a thin waiver wire week.

Here's a list of 10 players who should provide some help in Week 6 and beyond. 

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, ARI

Just when you thought you could forget about the artist formerly known as AP, the Arizona Cardinals go out and make him fantasy relevant once again. The Cardinals pulled off a rare in season trade by dealing a 2018 conditional draft selection to the New Orleans Saints for Peterson on Tuesday morning. While Peterson looked pedestrian at best (81 yards on 27 carries) during his four games with the Saints in 2017, the trade gives him an opportunity to join a backfield in which he'll likely be in line for early-down work and an offense which better suits his running style. In a week where there aren't many upgrades on the waiver wire, Peterson has the chance to provide flex value in Arizona. 

2. Jerick McKinnon, RB, MIN

If you watched Monday's Bears-Vikings game, you'd know that McKinnon is hands down the best running back on the Vkings roster. Murray plodded his way to a meager 31 yards on 12 carries while McKinnon took control of the backfield with 16 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown, while also adding six receptions for 51 yards. McKinnon has teased us before, flashing high upside and off the charts athleticism early on in Minnesota, so it's easy to be pessimistic, but he's currently the only quality back in Minnesota and he'll certainly get the touches moving forward.

3. Aaron Jones, RB, GB

If you missed out on Jones last week, shame on you. He's currently owned in 66 percent of leagues, meaning there's still a chance he could be available for you. If so, he should be your No. 1 priority. Jones looked explosive in his first career start against the Cowboys, rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown with an eye-popping 6.6 yards per carry. Even if starting running back Ty Montgomery returns this week, there's a good chance the Packers ride the hot hand until Montgomery is 100 percent. 

4. Elijah McGuire, RB, NYJ

As the first-place Jets (try saying that with a straight face) get set for a showdown with the New England Patriots, they'll likely be without Bilal Powell (calf) and Matt Forte (knee), meaning the rookie McGuire will be in line for a heavy workload against a Patriots defense that's allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. McGuire doesn't possess the highest ROS upside, and he'll likely be relegated to third-string duties once the Jets are fully healthy at running back, but he's a player that should be targeted for the FLEX position in a juicy Week 6 matchup. 

5. Marlon Mack, RB, IND

The rookie out of South Florida had the best game of his young NFL career on Sunday, rushing for 91 yards on nine carries and flashed his explosiveness with a 35-yard touchdown run. Mack won't be stealing Frank Gore's starting job anytime soon, but his big-play ability and change-of-pace style could force the hand of head coach Chuck Pagano. As of now, Mack is stash and watch candidate who could provide major value later in the season.

6. Matt Breida, RB, SF

Following the 49ers loss to the Colts, head coach Kyle Shanahan uttered the words no fantasy owner likes to hear, "the team will use a hot hand approach" at running back. This news, coupled with Carlos Hyde's lingering hip injury, means Breida needs to be scooped up in all formats. Breida has seen an uptick in touches in every game this season, and had a career-high 10 carries for 49 yards in Week 5. Look to see those touches continue to climb moving forward. 

7. Ricardo Louis, WR, CLE

The wide receiver position has been like a game of musical chairs for the Browns this season. One week it was Corey Coleman, then it was Rashard Higgins, after that it was Kenny Britt, and as of late it's been Louis. A fourth-round draft choice in 2016, Louis has shown promise in Year 2 as he's seen 17 targets the last two weeks and hauled in 10 receptions for 135 yards. For a team that's going to be playing from behind in a majority of games this season, Louis is a must-add as the current de facto No. 1 in Cleveland.

8. Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT

The Steelers have been searching for a viable No. 2 option in the passing game behind All Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, and while we all thought this would be the year that Martavis Bryant breaks out, his struggles have forced the Steelers to get Smith-Schuster more involved in the offense. The rookie wideout has seen more snaps than Bryant over the last three games and has seven receptions on targets for 105 yards and a touchdown in his last two contests. Smith-Schuster may not be a WR2/FLEX option just yet, but he's worth stashing.

9. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, NYJ

We've been waiting for ASJ to become fantasy relevant for years now, and it appears his time has finally come. Seferian-Jenkins caught his first touchdown in a Jets uniform in Sunday's victory over the Browns. Since returning from suspension, he's hauled in 15 receptions for 106 yards and a score. On a team that's thin at weapons in the passing game, ASJ is a must-own in all league formats.

10. Jacoby Brissett, QB, IND

With injuries piling up (Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr) and players on bye weeks (Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor), now may be the time you need to hit the wire in search for a streaming option at the quarterback position. Despite not throwing a touchdown pass, Brissett had his best day as a passer, tossing for 314 yards in a win over the 49ers. Brissett's steady play should continue against one of the league's most charitable defenses (TEN) for opposing signal callers. If you're looking for a one week option, Brissett should be your guy. 

Depth check: How injuries and suspension will have a major impact on Bears-Vikings

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USA TODAY

Depth check: How injuries and suspension will have a major impact on Bears-Vikings

A month ago, the Bears could reasonably describe their depth at inside linebacker as strong, and maybe as the strongest unit on the team. 

But on Monday, the Bears will be without the trio of players who comprised that depth: Jerrell Freeman is on injured reserve with a pectoral tear; Nick Kwiatkoski’s pec injury isn’t as serious but will keep him sidelined; and Danny Trevathan will serve his one-game suspension for the helmet-to-helmet hit he leveled on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams last week. 

Trevathan will be back next week and Kwiatkoski appears to have avoided injured reserve, meaning he can be expected back at some point this season. But without them, the Bears will roll with Christian Jones, John Timu and Jonathan Anderson (the latter two began the season on the practice squad) against the Minnesota Vikings. 

“It's a concern, but at least we're playing with guys that were here that were in camp,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “That was the one position on defense, when we went to the 53 and practice squad where we did have guys, we had four active and two on practice squad and now all six of them have played, so (we) feel good about that in that we're not having somebody in off the street having to learn a new system and I think they'll all do fine.”

Jones and Timu have seen a decent amount of snaps alongside Trevathan this year: In the last three weeks, Jones’ defensive snap counts are 47, 36 and 28 while Timu played 17 snaps against Pittsburgh and 19 against Green Bay (Anderson has not played a defensive snap since Week 2). 

Timu, who’s played in 20 games over the last three years, will handle the defensive calls on Monday.

“We’re confident in John,” Fangio said. “John knows our defense. He’s been here for three years. The game’s not too big for him. He loves to play. He is instinctive and smart. So we think he’ll go in there and do fine.”

Added linebacker Pernell McPhee: “Timu’s a very good player, a very smart player, a very patient player. I think his play on the field shows how much he’s studying and how much he’s really locked in throughout the week.”

The Bears may be without two other starters, too: Saturday’s final injury report listed outside linebacker Willie Young (tricep) as doubtful, while cornerback Marcus Cooper is questionable with back spasms. Going back further, the Bears are also without veteran safety Quintin Demps, who handled a lot of the communication duties for this defense. 

But the Vikings will be without rookie Dalvin Cook (74 carries, 354 yards, 2 TDs), who tore his ACL last week. Backups Jerick McKinnon (2.6 yards/attempt) and Latavius Murray (2.7 yards/attempt) haven’t inspired much fear in 2017. And the expectation at Halas Hall is that quarterback Sam Bradford will start, though he’s listed as questionable on the Vikings’ final injury report. 

So in the matchup of the Bears' defense against the Vikings' offense, the group that gets the most out of its depth guys may be the one that swings that battle on Monday. 

“Any time you lose a starter — I think there's a reason they're the starter — but you know I feel good about our backups,” coach John Fox said. “I feel good about the replacement people we've had in there. We've got more depth this season than we've had in the past so I feel confident in the people we'll have out there and the options we have.”

Why early expectations for Mitch Trubisky should be high

Why early expectations for Mitch Trubisky should be high

All of the Mitch Truisky expectation qualifiers have been installed — no magic wand for the offense, only 13 college starts, not out of a pro-style system at North Carolina, and so on and so on. But irrespective of any pressure on the job statuses of GM Ryan Pace or coach John Fox, the expectations of the rookie quarterback over the next season-and-a-half or so should be more, far more, not less.

The reason lies in one of those things that run counter to most conventional-wisdom assumptions about quarterbacking in the NFL. The Bears hope, in the deepest corners of the franchise, that it continues.

That “it” is the strong — as in “near”- or actual “playoff-grade” — play of quarterbacks within their first three and often fewer seasons, a time frame which was once the norm and still is arguably preferred. Aaron Rodgers sat several years behind Brett Favre after arriving as the Green Bay Packers’ No. 1 draft choice in 2005 (20 picks after the Bears had grabbed Cedric Benson), and “I was very thankful for the opportunity, now as I look back, to grow,” Rodgers said before the Bears game this year.

But in an era when defenses have become increasingly sophisticated, and numbers of top college quarterbacks are coming out of spread offenses and systems far from “pro style,” quarterbacks have had positive impacts with increasing suddenness.

Consider some case studies from the last several years:

Player | Team | Drafted | Result

Teddy Bridgewater | Vikings | 2014 | 2015 NFC North champions

Jared Goff | Rams | 2016 | 3-1, leading NFC West, current No. 3-ranked passer in 2017

Robert Griffin III | Redskins | 2012 | NFC East champions, rookie season

Andrew Luck | Colts | 2012 | Playoffs first 3 seasons

Dak Prescott | Cowboys | 2016 | NFC East champions in 2016

Carson Wentz | Eagles | 2016 | 3-1, leading NFC East

Jameis Winston | Bucs | 2015 | 2-14 Bucs in 2014 were 6-10 in 2015 and 9-7 last season

Success is far from automatic, and to some extent lies in the eye of the beholder and has a time element. “Everybody was calling Goff a bust sometimes last season,” said Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, now with his hand on the Trubisky steering wheel and throttle. “And the teams around the guys are obviously enormous factors.”

To wit: Goff went No. 1 overall, usually a spot belonging to the most woeful team from the previous year. But he went to a Rams team coming off a 7-9 season that dumped its draft to move up from 15th for him. Likewise, Wentz went to a 7-9 team (Philadelphia) that traded up. These weren’t Peyton Manning going to 3-13 Indianapolis and Ryan Leaf to 4-12 San Diego (1998).

But Luck was the No. 1-overall pick by an Indianapolis team that went 3-13 in 2011, then 11-5 in Luck’s first year. Washington was 5-11 in 2011, then 10-6 and NFC East champions in RGIII’s rookie season.

Trubisky has gone to a 3-13 team, one with among the least productive groups of wide receivers in the NFL. On the other hand, after Troy Brown, name two other New England Patriots wide receivers from their early Super Bowls.

Note to the rookie: It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools (see: Jay Cutler).

And Tom Brady had started zero games and thrown all of 3 passes, 2 incomplete, as a rookie backup on a 5-11 Patriots team in 2000 before starting in relief of Drew Bledsoe in 2001.

But the game and the players, particularly the quarterbacks have changed.

“In 2005, I don’t think the quarterbacks were as ready to play as maybe some of the guys are now,” Rodgers said. “There’s better coaching, better awareness, there’s better coaching at a younger level. If you’re not in a ‘raise-you-foot-up, look-the-sideline, let-the-coach-call-the-play offense,’ you’re doing some more stuff now at the college level.”

All the Bears ask is for Trubisky to do more stuff now at the NFL level.