Vance McDonald

Fantasy football waiver wire: Target ex-49er Vance McDonald in Week 5

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USATSI

Fantasy football waiver wire: Target ex-49er Vance McDonald in Week 5

Whether your fantasy-football league crowns a champion in Weeks 16 or 17, teams are already starting to separate themselves. 

Winless teams could find themselves trailing playoff spot by two, three, or even four games, and the clock is ticking with nine weeks before the playoffs tend to start. Teams at the top, then, have a real opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. 

But no matter where you sit, finding capable players on the waiver wire is vital during the dog days of the fantasy football season. Here's who you should target ahead of Week 5. 

Nyheim Hines (14.5 percent of ESPN leagues, 13 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Hines exploded in Week 4, despite only rushing for 10 yards. He caught nine passes for 63 yards, and also caught two touchdowns. The rookie out of North Carolina State also tied for the team-lead in targets (11). 

Through four games, Hines has been targeted 26 times, and he's caught no fewer than five passes in three out of four games so far. That makes Hines an intriguing option in PPR leagues, but a touchdown-dependent one in non-PPR setups. 

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars QB (Owned in 18.5 percent of ESPN leagues, 32 percent of Yahoo leagues)

We can't believe it either, but Bortles has been one of the better fantasy quarterbacks this season. He bounced back from a down week against the Tennessee Titans with 388 passing yards and two touchdowns, and his only blemish against the New York Jets on Sunday was an interception. 

Picking up Bortles for Week 5 could put your fantasy team in a good place, especially if you have one of the many big-name QBs who has struggled so far in 2018. With a matchup against a porous Kansas City Chiefs pass defense, Bortles is a great streaming option if you're looking for an improved signal-caller. 

Dede Westbrook (12.7 percent of ESPN leagues, 17 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Westbrook benefitted from Bortles' big day. He hauled in a team-high nine catches (on a team-high 13 targets) for 130 yards and scored two touchdowns. Westbrook led the Jaguars in total targets for the second time in four weeks, and has finished no worse than second among Jacksonville wideouts in targets every week.

He's the No. 2 wide receiver in a pass-happy offense, and has a very favorable matchup in Week 4 against the Chiefs. Mike Evans, Desean Jackson, and Allen Robinson are all off during Week 5, and Westbrook offers plenty of upside in their absence. 

Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers TE (31.3 percent of ESPN leagues, 43 percent of Yahoo leagues) 

We swear we're not just watching the AFC South. It would have been hard for McDonald to top his viral stiff arm, but the former 49ers tight end followed it up with a solid performance nonetheless. He caught five passes for 62 yards, but a fumble prevented him from hitting double-digit points in PPR leagues for the second straight week. Injuries at the position make that blemish easy to overlook. 

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 4, and Rob Gronkowski is banged up on a short week. McDonald's gotten more targets than teammate and Week 1 stud Jesse James each of the last two weeks, so he's a solid option if you're looking to ride the hot hand at a volatile position.

Follow the money: Tracing McDonald's extension and trades

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USATSI

Follow the money: Tracing McDonald's extension and trades

Then-49ers general manager Trent Baalke made the announcement on Dec. 9 that the organization had secured free-agent-to-be Vance McDonald to a long-term contract.

In a statement, Baalke, who would be fired three weeks later, said of the tight end:

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work. We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

If McDonald had remained for the duration of the five-year contract and played in every game, he would have earned $32.5 million from the 49ers.

Instead, the 49ers paid McDonald a signing bonus of $7 million for never playing another snap with the team. The rest of the money he receives will come from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Tuesday, McDonald was traded to the Steelers for an exchange of draft picks. The 49ers receive Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick in 2018, while the 49ers sent their 2018 fifth-round selection to the Steelers.

“It’s tough to look at your owner, who just gave Vance a big deal last year, and say, ‘Hey, we feel like we’re going to move in a different direction,’ because he was paid a bunch of money,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Wednesday on KNBR.

“But that’s also understood that when a new regime comes in, they’re going to see things differently. We saw the best fit for our organization was to do something.”

The McDonald trade ties in with the 49ers’ draft-day deal with the Denver Broncos. The 49ers are back in the fourth round of the 2018 draft after sending their pick to the Broncos. Here’s how the two trades fit together:

49ERS RECEIVE
--Running back Kapri Bibbs (from Denver)
--Wide receiver Trent Taylor (in trade with Denver for 2017 fifth-round pick)
--2018 fourth-round pick (from Pittsburgh)

49ERS GIVE UP
--TE Vance McDonald (to Pittsburgh)
--2018 fourth-round pick (to Denver)
--2018 fifth-round pick (to Pittsburgh)

* * *

49ERS 2018 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round: Own pick
2. Second round: Own pick
3. Second round: New Orleans pick acquired in 2017 draft-day trade
4. Third round: Own pick
5. Third round: Chicago pick acquired in 2017 draft-day trade
6. Fourth round: Pittsburgh pick acquired in 2017 trade of Vance McDonald
7. Sixth round: Own pick
8. Seventh round: Own pick
9. Seventh round: Kansas City pick acquired in 2016 trade of Kenneth Acker

Traded by 49ers, Vance McDonald finally gets to see how the other half lives

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AP

Traded by 49ers, Vance McDonald finally gets to see how the other half lives

Vance McDonald is walking from Santa Clara to Pittsburgh today, singing “I Am 16 Going On 17.” He got a nice contract from the 49ers as Trent Baalke’s legacy signing, and now he doesn’t have to play for the team he signed for.

Now that he’s a Steeler, though, his future may be more problematic. Mike Tomlin might prefer Jesse James, his current tight end, or backup Xavier Grimble because his name is Xavier Grimble. But McDonald is now looking at a 10-win team with a sharper uniform in a more football-rabid town rather than a four-win team that thought red numbers on a black jersey was a good idea in a town that doesn’t mind leaving half of its stadium empty to sunstroke.

In other words, the Steelers didn’t win the trade and neither did the 49ers. Vance McDonald did.

Players usually don’t win much of anything in the modern NFL. They get paid, they get their bodies ravaged, their money and contracts disappear at a moment’s notice and an office dweller’s whim – it’s a swell life until it isn’t.

But in this small way – bad team to good team – McDonald triumphed. His time in San Francisco was intermittently happy, with injuries and impressive plays intertwining into a fairly nondescript footprint. But all evaluations of 49ers in the last three years should be heavily asterisked because of the turmoil-enriched failures that began atop the organizational chart and ground through to the equipment staff (for rhetorical excess use only; the equipment guys did fine).

But as a Steeler, McDonald gets to see how the other half lives, in a place where he will be known on sight from Primanti Bros. to the airport. If he has a decent year, he will be worshiped a great Scots god.

And he can start to wax nostalgic for that catch in the ’13 NFC Championship game, and imagine that there might be more where that came from.

Plus, he got paid. Happy times, from his pal Trent.