Savvy fantasy football players, particularly those who realize roster construction doesn't end on draft night, can overcome most injuries during the season. Losing a top-5 running back, that's a tougher challenge -- and one all Jamaal Charles owners face now that their guy is out for the season. Even those who took the step of holding a Chiefs backup RB on the roster just in case may have handcuffed the wrong guy.
Charcandrick West and not Knile Davis emerged as the next-in-line RB after Charles suffered a season-ending injury in Sunday's loss to the Bears. The rookie received 18 snaps in relief compared to four for Davis, who shined with spot duty in previous seasons. Why the change? Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid views the 5-foot-10, 205-pound West as similar in style to Charles' shifty ways while Davis is a pure one-cut runner. According to the Kansas City Star, Charles and West “were closer together than what Knile was as far as the quick moves — you know, the feet and dancing and all of that stuff,” Reid said.
Even if West takes the lead, Davis will receive work. Kansas City is also kicking the tires on some notable veterans, including Pierre Thomas. So what's the recommendation for the Week 6 waiver wire? Go big on West or go home.
This isn't just about talent, but opportunity. At this point in the season, the free agent pool is largely picked over. Sure, some randomx will emerge over the next 10 weeks, but at some point owners must jump in. West makes sense because of the apparent role, but also the historic usage of the running game under Reid. As ProFootballFocus writer Mike Tagliere notes, teams coached by Reid have finished in the top eight in rushing touchdowns five of the last six years. They’ve been in the top eight in terms of yards per carry all six of those years, though this particular Chiefs offensive line isn't as robust.
As for what to spend, owners lacking a viable RB2 or a solid third option can use upwards of 50 percent of their Free Agent Auction Budget (FAAB). This is my plan in leagues where I'm cobbling together a rotation with the likes of Jonathan Stewart, Matt Jones, C.J. Spiller and David Johnson. Backing up the West investment with Davis or any veteran addition can also work if roster space permits.
Now, some other Week 6 thoughts:
1. Blake Bortles -- What do Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning all have in common? The trio of high profile passers are not among the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks based on weekly average. The Jaguars QB, he makes the cut with 18.0 points per game. Bortles has passing game weapons -- Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are the only set of teammates ranked among the top 15 wide receivers in PPR formats -- and isn't afraid to target them down the field. He's a QB1 option in Week 6 against the Texans. Cut ties with Teddy Bridgewater if Bortles is available.
2. Jay Cutler -- There is always a hold-your-nose element with Cutler, but he's produced fantasy numbers even without Alshon Jeffery in the lineup. Now he faces a Lions defense ranked 27th against fantasy quarterbacks this season.
3. Josh McCown -- This is getting out of hand. When did the Browns turn into the Air Coryell Chargers? Granted, the Week 6 matchup with the Broncos isn't ideal, but considering the Browns can't run the ball or stop opponents from scoring, expect McCown to throw plenty this week and beyond. No less than a rotation option now
Others: Derek Carr, Ryan Fitzpatrick
1. Charcandrick West -- See above
2. Duke Johnson -- See the 15 receptions for 140 yards and one touchdown over the last two weeks. Isaiah Crowell remains a factor, but Johnson is the better threat in the passing game and that's the part of the game where Cleveland's offense shows the most promise now.
3. Darren McFadden -- The Cowboys enter their bye week so this is about the future. The recent past showed us that McFadden inherited Lance Dunbar's pass-catching RB role. Until Tony Romo returns, Dallas likely plays catch up in the second half of games which means more throws.
4. Knile Davis -- Lottery ticket?
Others: Javorius Allen, Chris Thompson, Dan Herron, Zach zenner, Cameron Artis-Payne
1. Willie Snead -- The argument can be made that Snead and not Brandin Cooks and certainly not Marques Colston is the best WR on the Saints right now. At least that's been the case the last two weeks. Snead wet 6-141 against the Eagles, marking the second straight game with six receptions. The former Ball State product is no less than a WR3 fantasy option against the Falcons Thursday night.
2. Ty Montgomery -- Yes, consistency is king and Montgomery hasn't shown any yet. However, he is coming off his most productive game with 59 yards and a touchdown on four receptions. Aaron Rodgers targeted Montgomery five times in each of the last two games. Davante Adams hasn't lived up to the preseason hype and the No. 3 target in Green Bay's potent offense remains unclear. What is clear is that Montgomery's value takes a big leap with another touchdown in Week 6. Beat the rush and take a chance.
3. Brandon LaFell -- Speaking of stashes, LaFell is reportedly in play for a return to the lineup from a foot injury when he's eligible to come of the PUP list in Week 7. Tom Brady threw his way plenty last season and produced fantasy starter numbers. He'll be third in line for targets behind Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. So what.
Others: Marvin Jones, Marquess Wilson, Jamison Crowder, Dorial Green-Beckham, Kamar Aiken, Cecil Shorts, DeVante Parker, Stefon Diggs
1. Gary Barnidge -- Another part of the bizarro world going on with the Browns passing game. Sure, the foot/thigh catch was more luck than skill, but can we call three straight productive weeks -- 22, 19, 27 in PPR - a fluke? The Week 6 matchup with Denver doesn't scream fantasy gold, yet nobody expected anything from Barnidge. Ride the wave for now.
2. Richard Rodgers - Green Bay's others Rodgers received a season-high eight targets against the Rams and rarely left the field. Those opportunities could turn into points this week facing a Chargers defense allowing the ninth most point to tight ends this season.
Others: Jacob Tamme, Eric Ebron
1. Cincinnati Bengals -- Reports out of Buffalo suggest QB Tyrod Taylor (knee) may not play in Week 6
2. Minnesota Vikings
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Detroit Lions
MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL: Is Ravens defense underachieving, or not very good?