Bears

Fantasy Football: Eight waiver wire pickups for Week 5

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Fantasy Football: Eight waiver wire pickups for Week 5

Every football season, Fantasy Football owners deal with players getting hurt. It's part of the game.

But all football owners might be on the injury report this week with an eye injury after witnessing this on Sunday Night Football.

There are two concerns with this: Why is he showing off his belly at the game? And (maybe more importantly) why did he do it when his team (Saints) were kicking what would've been the game-winning field goal?

So many questions and not enough answers.

[MORE: Get the latest Fantasy Football coverage here]

Anyway, let's move on to this week's waiver wire gets to help you battle through some bye weeks. 

1. Tavon Austin, WR, STL

Was Week 4 finally (FINALLY!!) Tavon Austin's breakout game in the NFL? I've liked this guy since the Rams made him the eighth overall pick in 2013, but he's failed to live up to any sort of threat as a receiver. His game-breaking speed helps out in the return game (three punt TDs, including one already this season) and ground game (four rushing TDs, including one this year). His six-catch, 96-yard, 2-tuddie game in Week 4 was fantastic, but amazingly enough, it was only his second career game with more than 47 receiving yards. Last season, he did not break the 35-yard threshold in any game. Temper your expectations, but Austin has the talent to be a valubale fantasy asset and he's absolutely worth owning for right now, just maybe don't start him yet until he proves it. (Tony Andracki)

2. Leonard Hankerson, WR, ATL

We finally found the No. 2 target in Atlanta and it's not Roddy White (anyone know where he is?). It's Hankerson and he's now worth owning. A strong Week 4 performance should preview what will be a productive rest of the season for Hankerson. The Falcons offense is #FireEmoji right now and it hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. With defenders gravitating towards Julio Jones on every snap, Hankerson should get a lot of 1-on-1 looks and Ryan will find him. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

3. Duke Johnson, RB, CLE

It's gotten to that point of the season where everyone is getting desperate to find running backs. Bye weeks certainly a factor in that but also some guys just aren't effective. Everyone in Cleveland wanted Johnson to be "the guy" and it looks like the light may have finally turned on for the rookie. He wasn't quite as dangerous rushing but he was very productive in the passing game. He is a great add for PPR leagues and he should look to get more carries going forward in the Browns offense. (Paschall)

4. Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN

This one will sting for CJ Anderson owners. Hillman looks to be the better and more effective runner so far in the Broncos offense. Gary Kubiak won't avoid the run and with Peyton Manning's arm still a major concern and winter coming (God, I miss Game of Thrones), Hillman will get the rock more. The balance of power in the Broncos backfield looks to be shifting towards Hillman. (Paschall)

5. Kamar Aiken, WR, BAL

Not even the offensive guru Marc Trestman can make this Ravens offense better. It's tough to watch at times, although Justin Forsett's Thursday night game was pretty great. But with Steve Smith out, who will Joe Flacco throw the ball to? Aiken seems to be that guy by process of elimination. Going against the Browns, Aiken may be a decent emergency FLEX play. (Paschall)

6. Gary Barnidge, TE, CLE

Who is this guy? The Raiders defense allowed us to finally learn his name and the Josh McCown-Barnidge connection (never thought I'd write that in a million years) stayed hot in San Diego. The Ravens defense has been surprisingly awful and McCown is hot right now. He's not a bad backup tight end or emergency start this week. (Paschall)

7. Ted Ginn Jr, WR, CAR

Ginn isn't going to win you any PPR leagues, but he's far and away the only receiver worth owning in Carolina right now. Ginn is coming off a two-tuddie game (albeit with only 2 catches and 18 yards total) and is catching less than half of his targets on the season, but his 25 targets are almost double the next Panthers receiver (Devin Funchess with 13) and Ginn is always a threat to break off a big play with his speed. (Andracki)

8. Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN

Deep sleeper alert! I love dropping these at the end of our waiver wire posts. But seriously, Diggs might be what we thought Charles Johnson might be. I know it's only one game, but Teddy Bridgewater went to him often and was successful. He will probably receive more playing time going forward but is still a major boom-or-bust pickup. But when Diggs starts doing well, remember where the hype train started. (Paschall)

 

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

The Chicago Bears selected inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation that he'll become an immediate starter and impact player on defense. But, was there a need at inside linebacker?

According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Kwiatkoski, who Chicago selected in the fourth round of 2016's draft, was a standout performer last season. He ranked third in the NFL among inside linebackers in run-stop percentage and was fourth-best in pass-rush productivity.

Kwiatkoski also wasn’t tagged for a missed tackle against the run all season. He still has to share time on the field with Danny Trevathan and newly-drafted Roquan Smith, but should be able to capitalize on a great sophomore year after being drafted in the fourth round from West Virginia in 2016. Overall, Kwiatoski was graded as the NFL’s 12th best inside linebacker, higher than both Spaight and Hitchens.

His 21.0 pass-rush productivity ranked fourth and came on the heels of his rookie season in which he ranked 10th in the same category in 2016.

Kwiatkoski didn't receive much fanfare last season but the analytics speak for themselves. He started six games (appeared in 11) and registered career highs in tackles (34) and sacks (two). He's an ascending player but his growth is likely to be stunted by Smith's presence. 

Chicago could view Kwiatkoski as the heir to Danny Trevathan's starting job. The Bears can move on from Trevathan with little consequence at season's end. His dead cap number drops to just $1.25 million in 2019. Kwiatkoski will be in the final year of his contract that season (2019), and if he hasn't earned a starting job by then, he's a near lock to sign elsewhere when his rookie contract expires. 

Kwiatkoski has proven he can produce when given a chance to play, something 31 other teams have certainly taken notice of.

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

If the Chicago Bears want to make a real run at the playoffs in 2018, the offensive line will have to do its part by keeping QB Mitch Trubisky upright. The offense is expected to be more pass-heavy under coach Matt Nagy and will depend on Trubisky having time in the pocket to go through his progressions and find the open target.

New offensive line coach Harry Hiestand should help that cause. He's universally praised as one of the best offensive line coaches in the sport and will be charged with getting a better effort from a unit that ended last season ranked in the bottom-third of pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus.

19. CHICAGO BEARS

2017 pass-blocking efficiency: 77.9

Best individual PBE: Josh Sitton, 97.4

Because of several crippling injuries, nine different players saw at least 100 pass-block snaps for the Bears in 2017. They gave up 152 pressures on 536 passing plays. The top performance came from left tackle Charles Leno Jr., who enjoyed the best season of his career and allowed just 24 pressures all season. Heading into the 2018 campaign, rookie guard James Daniels is penciled in to fill the shoes of the recently departed pass-blocking star Josh Sitton. Daniels performed well in pass protection during his final college season, allowing just 10 pressures on 371 pass-blocking snaps at Iowa.

The Bears will be without last season's top pass-protector, Josh Sitton, who was let go by GM Ryan Pace this offseason and signed with the Dolphins. 

Pass protection was once all about the play of the offensive tackles, but with the NFL's interior defensive linemen evolving into disruptive forces up the middle, guard play will be nearly as important. A healthy Kyle Long is critical. Chicago can't afford growing pains from James Daniels, either. Cody Whitehair returns to full-time center duties, a role he excelled at during his rookie season. 

Charles Leno should provide reliable play at left tackle. Bobby Massie remains a wildcard, but with little depth behind him, the Bears can do nothing more than hope his bad reps are limited in 2018.

With Hiestand in the fold and a healthy Long ready to compete at a high level again, the Bears' offensive line should be much improved this season.