2021 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

Welcome back to the best reality TV show in the world. Justin Herbert and the feel-good Chargers were humbled by the Ravens. Cleveland has gone from loveable losers to frustratingly average. Three more games went to overtime on Sunday before the Bills opted not to go to overtime Monday in a stunning conclusion to Monday Night Football. All in all, the drama that comes each week in the NFL is unmatched by anything you can find on your television and we are just getting started. Did I mention Jared Goff has to return to Los Angeles to face the team that traded him away in Week 7? The storylines never stop!

We are six weeks in and the NFL hierarchy is finally starting to settle. At least for now. There was a lot less movement than there had been in recent weeks, but still a new look to the rankings with the Bills falling out of the top 5 and the Browns tumbling out of the top 10. Plus, the Jaguars finally won a game to move off the bottom. Now if only they could win in America. Anyway, let’s dive into this week’s power rankings.

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1. Arizona Cardinals: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 37-14 at Cleveland
Arizona continues to impress. Cleveland was incredibly beat up, but it barely even mattered. The Cardinals are playing well on both sides of the ball and find new ways to win pretty much every week. This time it was a heavy run focus with Kyler Murray tossing four touchdowns. The defense did its part as well, sacking Baker Mayfield five times. I feel like there is still resistance in putting the Cardinals among the NFL’s, but they have picked up some quality wins and seem to be improving as the year rolls on.

2. Los Angeles Rams: 5-1 (Last Week: 3)
Won 38-11 at New York
After an ugly start, the Rams cruised to a monster victory. Matthew Stafford lit it up with four passing touchdowns, while the defense made life miserable for Daniel Jones. They came up with three interceptions, recorded four sacks and limited him to just 4.7 yards per passing attempt. From the second quarter on, it was one-way traffic. Sean McVay wants his team to start faster, which will likely be required when facing better opponents.

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3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 28-22 at Philadelphia
The offense had a bit of an off night. For context, an off night for the Buccaneers still involved just shy of 400 yards of offense and 28 points. It just didn’t feel as fluid. Tom Brady and company did come up clutch though in the closing minutes, running nearly six minutes off the clock to seal the contest. Thankfully, the defense was smothering for most of the game. Philadelphia managed just 213 yards and struggled to find a rhythm. It was good to see the secondary step up and have a good night. The Bears are up next.

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4. Baltimore Ravens: 5-1 (Last Week: 6)
Won 34-6 vs. Los Angeles
Whoa. This was a statement game for the Ravens. Baltimore made Justin Herbert look pedestrian and shut down the run game. While the offense will get some love for putting up 34 points, it was really the defense that stole the show. Los Angeles entered the game with at least 28 points in each of its past three games. If this is the level the Ravens can play at consistently, this team is the clear favorite in the AFC. That season-opening loss against the Raiders is clearly in the rearview mirror.

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5. Dallas Cowboys: 5-1 (Last Week: 8)
Won 35-29 at New England
It took overtime and some rookie mistakes from Mac Jones, but the Cowboys pulled off their fifth straight win. This game probably should never have reached overtime, but some questionable play calling and a bit of bad luck cost Dallas a lot of points in the first half. A failed fourth down run and a fumble at the goal line kept the Patriots around despite the Pats picking up way fewer yards. The Cowboys definitely need to finish drives better and clean up some of those mistakes, but it is good to pick up a hard-fought win heading into a bye week.

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6. Buffalo Bills: 4-2 (Last Week: 2)
Won 34-31 at Tennessee
The Bills defense we watched dominate the past month of the season was nowhere to be found on Monday Night Football. Buffalo had a pair of shutouts and a thrashing of Kansas City under its belt, but it did not matter in Nashville. Sean McDermott got aggressive in the closing seconds, going for it on fourth down to win the game and avoid overtime. Josh Allen slipped on a quarterback sneak and Jeffrey Simmons blew up the play. Despite the disappointing finish, the offense was not the problem. Surrendering 146 yards and three touchdowns to Derrick Henry was. Tennessee scored on six straight possessions to finish the game as well. Buffalo has some soul searching to do.

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7. Green Bay Packers: 5-1 (Last Week: 9)
Won 24-14 at Chicago
Ownership of the Windy City apparently belongs to Aaron Rodgers. Candace Parker might have a good claim, but it is hard to argue with Rodgers’ success in Chicago. He moved to 22-5 all-time as the starter at Soldier Field, capping off the game with a touchdown scramble. While Rodgers made headlines, the defense did the dirty work. Green Bay sacked Justin Fields four times and held the Bears to just 14 points. It actually wasn’t the best day we’ve seen from the Packers offense either. Going two-for-eight on third-down conversions is definitely a red flag. It is clear Matt LaFleur is still working out the kinks with this team.

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8. Cincinnati Bengals: 4-2 (Last Week: 10)
Won 34-11 at Detroit
Is it possible that the Bengals are a legitimate playoff contender? You don’t usually earn that status against the winless Lions, but looking at the team’s full body of work, it is hard not to be impressed. With two losses by a combined six points and four wins, it is clear that Cincinnati has made some major strides from 2020. Performances like this against Detroit go a long way in that as well. Two weeks ago, the Bengals squeaked by the Jaguars on a last-second field goal. Avoiding another close game against an inferior team is a really good sign.

9. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-2 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 34-6 at Baltimore
Talk about laying an egg. In what was billed as the game of the week, the Chargers came out flat and never recovered. The defense spent way too much time on the field as the offense sputtered and failed. Los Angeles finished with just 208 yards and could not run the football at all. Justin Herbert was the team’s leading rusher with 12 yards. It is clear we need to cool the Super Bowl hype on this team, but the Chargers are still in good shape, leading the AFC West.

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10. Kansas City Chiefs: 3-3 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-13 at Washington
This was a crucial win for the Chiefs. It does not change the clear number of issues that still exist with how they are playing. Kansas City leads the league in turnovers, as Patrick Mahomes threw two more interceptions and Mecole Hardman coughed one up. That needs to stop immediately. The Chiefs defense looked much better on Sunday, but putting them into sudden change situations frequently is a recipe for disaster. They face a Titans team fresh off a big win in Week 7.

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11. Cleveland Browns 3-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 37-14 vs. Arizona
Injuries are mounting in Cleveland as hopes of a title challenge are quickly fading. Baker Mayfield could be facing some time on the sidelines. Kareem Hunt almost certainly will miss time. Odell Beckham Jr. exited early with a shoulder injury. Both of the Browns starting offensive tackles were already out along with Nick Chubb. On top of all of that, the defense did not show up to play. After a fairly strong start, Cleveland has now given up 84 points over the past two weeks. They need to step up big time with the offense in taters.

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12. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 11)
Bye Week
A week off for the Saints allows them to regroup after an up and down start to the season. Jameis Winston has been serviceable while the defense is quietly having a really good season. New Orleans currently ranks third in points allowed per game. With a number of key players hopefully returning soon from injury, this bye came at a great time. If Michael Thomas, Terron Armstead, Erik McCoy, Marcus Davenport and Kwon Alexander can get back on the field, this will look like a much different team.

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13. Las Vegas Raiders: 4-2 (Last Week: 15)
Won 34-24 at Denver
Las Vegas looked like it had a weight lifted off its shoulders. With Jon Gruden gone, the email scandal was on the back burner as the Raiders were allowed to focus on football again. It seemed to work out well, as the team rewarded Rich Bisaccia with a win to start his tenure. Derek Carr bounced back with a really impressive performance as the defense came up big. Three interceptions and five sacks of Teddy Bridgewater gave Las Vegas a clear edge. At 4-2, a division title is very much in play.

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14. Tennessee Titans: 4-2 (Last Week: 17)
Won 34-31 vs. Buffalo
It is hard to believe this is the same team that lost to the Jets two weeks ago. Derrick Henry proved once again that he is the best pure runner in the NFL. It has been a while since we have seen a player with his blend of power, speed and stamina. Mike Vrabel’s defense still has a lot of room for improvement, but holding Buffalo to 3.6 yards per carry and two-for-five in the red zone are huge victories that he can build off of going forward.

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15. Minnesota Vikings: 3-3 (Last Week: 18)
Won 34-28 at Carolina
Kirk Cousins regained his electric form, racking up 373 yards and three touchdowns to lead Minnesota to an overtime win. Dalvin Cook did his part as well with 140 yards and a score on the ground. While earning a road win is always good, it came at a cost. Patrick Peterson hit the injured reserve with a hamstring injury and the cracks are starting to show elsewhere in the secondary. This game could have gone very differently if pretty much every Panthers receiver managed to catch passes. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Chuba Hubbard all struggled to haul in Sam Darnold’s throws, which certainly helped the Vikings out. A bye week to work on defensive improvements should be very welcome.

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16. Chicago Bears: 3-3 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 24-14 vs. Green Bay
The offense struggled once again as Matt Nagy is running out of time to prove he is the right coach to develop Justin Fields. The rookie quarterback has flashes of brilliance, but clearly has a ways to go to capitalize on his immense potential. On the bright side, Khalil Herbert stepped into the lead back role well, racking up 112 yards of offense. Unfortunately, Fields was sacked four times and the passing game never got into a rhythm. The offense needs to start showing progress soon. Tampa Bay awaits, which will be another big test for Chicago.

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17. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 16)
Bye Week
The week off came at a great time for San Francisco. Trey Lance still remains a doubt to play heading into Week 7, but Jimmy Garoppolo could be in line for a return. K’Waun Williams is back at practice as well. A chance to get healthy is crucial in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The 49ers face the Colts in Week 7.

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18. Carolina Panthers: 3-3 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 34-28 vs. Minnesota
Sam Darnold had another rough day, but he got absolutely no help from his receivers against Minnesota. Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Chuba Hubbard all dropped a couple of catchable balls. Carolina got a huge spark from its special team with a blocked punt that was recovered for a touchdown. Darnold also led a game-tying drive in the closing minutes to force overtime. There were definitely some positives, but a week where Darnold completed 17 of his 41 passes and Christian McCaffrey hit the injured reserve cannot be considered a good one.

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19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-3 (Last Week: 19)
Won 23-20 vs. Seattle
Pittsburgh ground out another win which was maybe a bit closer than it should have been. Ben Roethlisberger had a lackluster game and the Steelers continued to struggle running the ball efficiently. Thankfully, the defense is one in the best of the league. Pittsburgh sacked Geno Smith five times, recorded 10 tackles for loss and T.J. Watt came up with the play of the game on his strip sack of Smith in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. It was far from a convincing victory, but winning ugly is much better than losing close.

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20. Philadelphia Eagles: 2-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 28-22 vs. Tampa Bay
Another rough week passing the ball cost the Eagles a chance at a major upset. The Buccaneers came into the game with one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and while they put together a better performance, finishing with 113 yards passing is disappointing. Philly also seemed to shy away from running the ball despite finding a decent amount of success. Miles Sanders had 6.2 yards per attempt, but only had nine carries in the game, including one in the first half. Jalen Hurts was the only other player to record a rushing attempt. Nick Sirianni clearly has to tweak his offensive approach.

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21. Denver Broncos: 3-3 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 34-24 vs. Las Vegas
Remember when the Broncos were 3-0? Yeah, it has been a really rough month of October. We all knew Denver’s record was inflated having faced the Jaguars, Jets and Giants in September, but this has been a disappointing run. Derek Carr posted an absurd 12.6 yards per attempt as the secondary got shredded. Vic Fangio desperately needs to get his defense back on track. He won’t get much time to solve those issues as a trip to Cleveland on Thursday is on the horizon.

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22. Indianapolis Colts: 2-4 (Last Week: 24)
Won 31-3 vs. Houston
Any frustrations from Week 5’s collapse against the Ravens were clearly resolved by battering the Texans. Indy bent, but never broke defensively and cashed in a few big plays in the passing game. Carson Wentz completed two passes for at least 50 yards, including a touchdown to Paris Campbell. That wasn’t even the biggest play of the game, as Jonathan Taylor ripped off an 83-yard run. The score line was definitely a bit exaggerated, but with a plus-three in the turnover battle allowed the Colts to pull away.

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23. New England Patriots: 2-4 (Last Week: 23)
Lost 35-29 vs. Dallas
Apparently, the Patriots can only play close games. This was their third straight contest decided by one possession. Unfortunately, they have only won one of them. New England came up with some huge plays to get off the field in key moments defensively. Stuffing Ezekiel Elliott on fourth down and punching the ball out of Dak Prescott’s hands on the goal line kept things close in the first half, but the Patriots didn’t really build off it. Mac Jones tossed a pick-six, but followed it up with a 75-yard touchdown pass. New England is clearly close to breaking through, but they need to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes more and limit their own.

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24. Seattle Seahawks: 2-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 23-20 at Pittsburgh
The limitations that come with having Geno Smith at quarterback are clear, but it would be unfair to solely blame him for this loss. He was far from perfect, but the offensive line did not play well, allowing five sacks. Seattle had the ball with a chance to win the game in overtime, which is about as good as you could ask for given the situation. It is hard to believe that the Seahawks are now sending out Smith to hand the ball off to Alex Collins. Hopefully another week of preparation will produce some better results in the passing game.

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25. Washington: 2-4 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 31-13 vs. Kansas City
It turns out Washington is simply a team that finished last year with a losing record and did not make much progress during the offseason. Taylor Henickie had a game to forget, Antonio Gibson exited with an injury and the defense fell apart in the second half. This team needs to turn things around quickly if they have any hope of challenging for the wild card. Things don’t get much easier with a trip to Green Bay up next.

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26. Atlanta Falcons: 2-3 (Last Week: 26)
Bye Week
It is hard to tell which direction Atlanta is headed in. Their two wins this season came against the two teams from New York, who have a combined two wins. Arthur Smith has definitely reintroduced some potency to the offense, but the defense remains a train wreck. Only Washington has allowed more points per game this season. They will get a chance to prove themselves with the Dolphins, Panthers and Saints in their next three games.

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27. New York Giants: 1-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 38-11 vs. Los Angeles
OK, now we can be harder on the Giants. Even with all the injuries, this was a dismal showing by all involved. The coaching staff mishandled several key situations. Daniel Jones tossed three interceptions and got very little help from anyone else on the offense. After a strong start to the game defensively, New York looked powerless to stop Matthew Stafford. The offense turning it over four times likely didn’t help, but this was one of the games where you should probably just burn the film and move on.

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28. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-5 (Last Week: 32)
Won 23-20 vs. Miami
All it took was a trip to London to finally snap the 20-game losing streak. The offense did just enough and the defense did just enough to beat what is clearly a Dolphins team in free fall. Now, the Jaguars get a bye week to reassess and see if maybe Urban Meyer can help gear his team up for the rest of the year. It has been a really rocky start to his tenure, but if he can avoid off-the-field distractions and start winning a couple games, our outlook of this team will shift dramatically.

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29. New York Jets: 1-4 (Last Week: 31)
Bye Week
The Jets move up two spots, but being 29 might actually be too high for them at this stage. New York is yet to score in the first quarter of a game this season. Zach Wilson has shown flashes, but is really struggling to avoid turnovers and find some rhythm in the offense. The defense has been solid, roughly around league average when it comes to yards and points allowed. If the offense can step it up and sustain a few drives, that defense will look even better.

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30. Houston Texans: 1-5 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 31-3 at Indianapolis
Perhaps this is just the existence of a team without much talent being led by a very unproven rookie quarterback. One week after nearly knocking off the Patriots, the Texans looked overmatched. Davis Mills struggled with two more interceptions and the defense gave up too many big plays. Houston has shown flashes, but this was also their fourth loss by double digits. This team needs to cut down on the turnovers to have any hope of competing.

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31. Miami Dolphins: 1-5 (Last Week: 28)
Lost 23-20 at Jacksonville
That win over the Patriots feels like a lifetime ago. Even with Tua Tagovailoa back, the Dolphins offense was a bit underwhelming. They moved the ball just fine, as Tagovailoa threw for 329 yards. Managing 20 points against the Jaguars is not going to cut it though. It is hard to know where Miami goes from here. Brian Flores needs to recreate the identity of this team during the upcoming bye week.

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32. Detroit Lions: 0-6 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 34-11 vs. Cincinnati
As the lone winless team in the NFL, the Lions belong in the NFL basement. Following a noncompetitive loss against Cincinnati, Detroit has now lost 10 straight games. Jared Goff did not play well and the team continues to struggle running the football. There isn’t a ton to like about what the defense did either. To make matters worse, the Lions have to go visit Matthew Stafford and the Rams in Week 7. If Goff looked bad against the Bengals, I can only imagine how his return to L.A. will go.

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2016 NFL Redraft: Dak Prescott goes No. 1 while Jared Goff slides

While the focus in the days leading up to the NFL draft is undoubtedly that year’s picks and prospects, it is both fun and somewhat freeing to look back at an older draft class. It provides a nice break from prospect debates and allows you to wonder what would happen if the teams were given a chance to do the draft over again. It is also a good reminder of how past drafts could impact the decisions being made now based on the lessons we have learned over the years.

I’ve long said that you need five years to properly evaluate a draft class. Players can of course continue to develop and grow in the years that follow, but there is a large enough sample size to draw some conclusions. Any sooner, and you could end up with some player evaluations that are incomplete. Now that several of these prospects are in their late 20s and on (at least) their second contract, the picture becomes much clearer.

What a wild five years it has been for this 2016 group. This is one of the most interesting draft classes to re-examine because there are a pair of controversial quarterbacks amid a ton of talented players. Looking back, there is no question Dak Prescott should have been the first player selected, but where does that leave Carson Wentz and Jared Goff? Plus, how early should running backs like Ezekiel Elliott or Derrick Henry go given the shifting NFL landscape? These are the questions that make this exercise so fun and worthwhile.

A few housekeeping things here to help make sense of how I run this redraft. I undid any draft day trades that took place. The Rams and Eagles both moved up prior to the draft, so those deals will stay in place, but I have a feeling most teams would be uninterested in trading down if they knew how a player was going to perform and develop over the next five years. Additionally, I still heavily weighed positional value when making these selections. While Derrick Henry has been a much better player than Carson Wentz, Wentz’ positional value is astronomically higher than Henry’s. This is still about drafting the best players to build your roster, not playing fantasy football.

With all of that in mind, let’s dive into this 2016 NFL redraft.

1. St. Louis Rams
Original pick: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Redraft selection: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
This is one that I’m sure the Rams wish they could do over. After trading Jared Goff away to acquire Matt Stafford in a deal that involved the Rams also having to part with two first-round picks, it is safe to say Goff’s time with the organization did not end well. There were some highs, as Los Angeles reached the Super Bowl in 2019. Goff can still be successful in the NFL, but Dak Prescott has become one of the premier passers in the league. He was off to an unbelievable start in 2020 before suffering a season-ending injury. Both have played in 69 career games, and while Goff actually has more passing yards, Prescott has been the better quarterback overall.

2. Philadelphia Eagles
Original pick: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Redraft selection: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
I really struggled with this pick. On one hand, Carson Wentz got his career off to a blistering start. He was on track to win MVP in 2017 before tearing his ACL. He has never been the same since and the Eagles have done a terrible job protecting him. The problem is, Philly’s other options at quarterback were Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. Maybe Bradford could have gotten the Eagles back to the playoffs, but Philadelphia likely never wins a Super Bowl without Wentz. In the end, the Eagles still moved him for some solid draft capital and wound up trading Bradford for a first-round pick as well. I think it’s worth it to win the Lombardi even if you have to spend some time rebuilding in the years that follow.

3. San Diego Chargers
Original pick: Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Redraft selection: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
There is nothing that Joey Bosa has done that makes him unworthy of going here again, but the list of corners that you trade two first-round picks for is very short. The Chargers already had Casey Hayward, but pairing him with Jalen Ramsey would have given them one of the best tandems in the NFL. He might not be a ballhawk, but Ramsey is a true lockdown corner and that provides so much value for a defense. This really comes down to preference, but if I get to choose between two top corners (Ramsey and Hayward) or two top edge rushers (Bosa and Melvin Ingram), I’m picking the corners every time. I mocked Ramsey to the Chargers back in 2016 and I am standing by that five years later.

4. Dallas Cowboys
Original pick: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Redraft selection: Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Joey Bosa’s fall is a short one. I think this would have been the pick for Dallas back in 2016 had Bosa still been on the board. He has been one of the best pass rushers in the league since the moment he was drafted. He posted 10.5 sacks as a rookie and leads the entire class with 47.5 in his career despite playing 15 fewer games than Yannick Ngakoue, who is second among 2016 draftees. Ezekiel Elliott has obviously had some great moments in his Cowboys career, but the value of a top-five running back simply does not compare to that of a top-five pass rusher.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original pick: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Redraft selection: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame.
The Ravens really like Ronnie Stanley. So much so that they recently traded Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs after he made the Pro Bowl while filling in for an injured Stanley. I can’t say I blame Baltimore one bit. When healthy, Stanley has been a top-five left tackle over the past few seasons. For Jacksonville to snag him before he even gets to Baltimore is tough for Ravens fans to see, but it is the right move for the Jaguars. The team started Kelvin Beachum at left tackle in 2016. Stanley is a massive upgrade for a team that has seen its offensive line deteriorate in recent years.

6. Baltimore Ravens
Original pick: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Redraft selection: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
As I already mentioned, the Ravens will be incredibly disappointed to see Stanley taken one pick before they were up, but Michael Thomas is an excellent consolation prize. While Lamar Jackson was not on the scene yet, Thomas is exactly the type of receiver the team has been looking to pair their MVP quarterback with. He has good hands, an impressive catch radius and a knack for making big plays. 37-year-old Steve Smith and 30-year-old Mike Wallace were Baltimore’s top two receivers in 2016. Thomas would have provided some much needed youth at the position while setting the Ravens up for future success.

7. San Francisco 49ers
Original pick: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
Redraft selection: Tyreek Hill, WR, West Alabama
There is a real argument to be made for the 49ers to stick with their original pick from 2016. DeForest Buckner is a dominant interior defender with 38 career sacks and an All-Pro selection to his name. However, few players change how a defense lines up on every play like Tyreek Hill does. His speed and playmaking ability are truly in a class of their own. The opportunity for him to (eventually) play in Kyle Shannahan’s offense would be unfair. Even Chip Kelly, who ran San Francisco into the ground in 2016, might have been able to utilize him semi-effectively. Considering that this team had Jeremy Kerley, Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton as its starting wideouts that year, Hill would be a welcome addition to the Niners’ offense.

8. Cleveland Browns
Original pick: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Redraft selection: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
On draft day in 2016, the Browns traded down from No. 8 to No. 15 and selected Corey Coleman. He turned out to be a bust and Cleveland finished the year 1-15 with Cody Kessler, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan and Josh McCown playing quarterback. That is an awful quarterback room. While Jared Goff has his fair share of critics, he would be an improvement over any of those other players, then and now. There are physical limitations to Goff’s game, but when put in the right system, he is an above average starter. I actually think that Goff would be a good fit to run the 2021 Browns, but that framework was a long ways off in 2016. It is easy to point to the Browns eventually drafting Baker Mayfield in 2018 as a reason not to take Goff in 2016, but those 2016 and 2017 Browns would have greatly benefited from having even league average quarterback play. If Goff failed quickly in Cleveland, the Browns still would have had a chance to grab Mayfield by the time 2018 rolled around.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original pick: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Redraft selection: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Tampa desperately needed a No. 1 corner capable of generating turnovers back in 2016. It turns out, they drafted the wrong player to fill that roll. Vernon Hargreaves has bounced around the league. The Bucs actually traded down two spots with the Bears on draft night and watched as the Giants took another corner who ultimately did not pan out. Meanwhile, Xavien Howard has developed into an All-Pro caliber corner. Since 2017, he has the most interceptions in the NFL with 22. Miami got one of the steals of the draft by landing him in the second round. There is no way he last that long this time around.

10. New York Giants
Original pick: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Redraft selection: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Back in 2016, Tennessee moved up to grab Jack Conklin ahead of New York. It turned out to be a really smart move as Conklin has grown into one of the best right tackles in the NFL. The Giants struck out, reaching for Eli Apple after seeing their preferred player come off the board. With no trades in this redraft, New York gets Conklin to solidify Eli Manning’s protection. He would have been a welcome upgrade over Bobby Hart on the right side of that Giants offensive line.

11. Chicago Bears
Original pick: Leonard Floyd, EDGE, Georgia
Redraft selection: Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE, Maryland
Leonard Floyd has turned into a solid pass rusher, racking up 29 sacks in his career. However, he also has three years with fewer than 4.5 sacks in his five NFL seasons. It’s hard to justify taking that sort of player again at this point in the draft, especially with Yannick Ngakoue on the board. Only Joey Bosa has more sacks than Ngakoue in this draft class. Unlike Floyd, he has been consistently productive as well. In each of his five seasons, Ngakoue has recorded at least eight sacks. Swapping out Floyd for Ngakoue probably means the Bears never trade two acquiring Khalil Mack, which definitely limited the front office’s ability to build out the rest of the roster.

12. New Orleans Saints
Original pick: Sheldon Rankins, DL, Louisville
Redraft selection: Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
Outside of Aaron Donald, there might not be a better interior pass rusher in the NFL than Chris Jones. He has 40.5 career sacks, including 33 over the past three seasons. His presence has fundamentally changed how the Chiefs defense has operated in recent years. Jones would offer a massive upgrade over Sheldon Rankins, who has not been able to replicate his eight-sack season from 2018. Jones playing alongside Cameron Jordan would be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.

13. Miami Dolphins
Original pick: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Redraft selection: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
How do you evaluate Laremy Tunsil’s time in Miami? He was a solid starting left tackle in 2017 and 2018 after spending his rookie season at left guard. Then, he was sent to Houston in a mega trade that netted the Dolphins two first-round picks and a second-round selection in 2021. That’s a pretty incredible haul. Tunsil has continued to excel in Houston, reaching back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2019 and 2020, but he probably still wasn’t worth multiple first rounders. Either way, it put the Dolphins in a great position and I don’t think Miami would mind doing that all over again given the current status of the team following that move.

14. Oakland Raiders
Original pick: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Redraft selection: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
While Oakland certainly had a need at safety, it is clear Karl Joseph was not worth a first-round pick. Plus, with DeForest Buckner still on the board, this pick should be a no-brainer. The Raiders were trotting out Dan Williams and Stacy McGee as their starting tackles in 2016. Buckner’s slide in this redraft is not indicative of how he has performed in the NFL. He has become one of the NFL’s premier interior lineman, especially as a pass rusher. Only Aaron Donald and Chris Jones have more sacks among interior lineman over the past three seasons. Buckner is strong against the run as well. There is no question he would have elevated the front four for the Raiders. Not to mention that pairing him with Khalil Mack would have been incredible to watch.

15. Tennessee Titans
Original pick: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Redraft selection: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Looking back, Tennessee crushed the 2016 draft. They traded up to draft Jack Conklin, then grabbed Derrick Henry and Kevin Byard in the second and third rounds. With Conklin off the board, I think Henry is the logical pick here. His career got off to a bit of a slow start, but no running back has become more essential to a team’s offensive identity than Henry in Tennessee. He has led the NFL in rushing each of the past two seasons and has seven more rushing touchdowns than any other player since 2018. He might not offer much as a pass catcher, but his value as a runner is so high, it almost doesn’t matter. You could argue Ezekiel Elliott is the better player, but I don’t think anyone fits the Titans’ power run scheme better than Henry.

16. Detroit Lions
Original pick: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Redraft selection: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Time for a mini run on running backs. Taylor Decker has been a good, but not great offensive tackle for Detroit since he entered the league in 2016. That certainly carries a lot of value, but Ezekiel Elliott is a game-changing running back with his ability to make plays between the tackles and in the passing game. Zeke has roughly 1,800 more yards from scrimmage than Derrick Henry as well. Elliott’s biggest issue has been fumbling with 21 in his career. Still, he would undoubtedly be the best running back the Lions have had since Barry Sanders. An offense featuring Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott would be really exciting and difficult to stop.

17. Atlanta Falcons
Original pick: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Redraft selection: Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee State
Keanu Neal is far from a bust, but the best ability is availability and that is something Neal has struggled with quite a bit. He played in just four games across the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He returned in 2020 and looked like a quality starter again. However, healthy or not, Neal is not at the same level as Kevin Byard. One of the most overlooked players year in and year out, Byard burst onto the scene with a league-leading eight interceptions in 2017. It earned him Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods. He has not slowed down either. Only Xavien Howard has more interceptions from this draft class. Slotting him into this Falcons secondary would be a huge stabilizing factor.

18. Indianapolis Colts
Original pick: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Redraft selection: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Another pick that stays the same five years later, Ryan Kelly has been a rock in the center of the Colts defense. You might not hear about him much, but for interior offensive linemen, that’s a good thing. He was the first of the building blocks Indianapolis put into place to rebuild their offensive line. He might not be the most crucial piece of the puzzle, but the Colts would be much worse off without him.

19. Buffalo Bills
Original pick: Shaq Lawson, EDGE, Clemson
Redraft selection: Leonard Floyd, EDGE, Georgia
Buffalo was searching for a lean outside linebacker to rush the passer with this pick, but Shaq Lawson never really caught on in the NFL. His production and playtime makes him a situational rusher. Not what you are looking for in a first-round selection. Meanwhile, Leonard Floyd has turned into a three-down option at the position with better sack production. He took a big step in 2020, reaching double-digit sack numbers for the first time in his career. He might not be an elite edge rusher, but certainly a good addition to this Bills defense.

20. New York Jets
Original pick: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Redraft selection: Joe Thuney, G, North Carolina State
Darron Lee only lasted three years in New York before being traded to Kansas City for a mid-round pick. Despite all his athleticism, he never really developed into a reliable starter. If given a second chance, the Jets would likely bolster their offensive line. Joe Thuney is a player I think the Jets should have signed this offseason after an impressive five-year run with the Patriots. Building a solid offensive line for Ryan Fitzpatrick and eventually Sam Darnold likely would have changed the outlook of this franchise.

21. Washington
Original pick: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Redraft selection: Justin Simmons, S, Boston College
This turned out to be a very disappointing wide receiver class. Josh Doctson was one of several first-round receivers to flop at the next level. At least Washington moved down a spot to draft him? Yeah, that doesn’t make anyone feel much better about it. While the need is still high for Washington, there just is not a player worth selecting here. Justin Simmons on the other hand has developed into a top safety. He has a ton of interceptions, including a career-high five in 2020. Washington was working with the duo of Donte Whitner and Duke Ihenacho in 2016 at safety. Simmons would offer a healthy dose of stability that neither of those guys could bring to the table.

22. Houston Texans
Original pick: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Redraft selection: Matt Judon, EDGE, Grand Valley State
This was a tough decision. There are plenty who will argue that Will Fuller should be the pick again. He has explosive field-stretching ability and is coming off an exciting 2020 season. However, he has missed 27 games already in his career. He is actually fifth among receivers from this draft class alone, trailing Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Tyler Boyd and Sterling Shepard. Fuller is third in receiving touchdowns, but there is a big gap between him and Thomas, who is second. In the end, I think Houston would benefit from tabbing Matt Judon instead. He is a versatile pass rusher who would slot in nicely across from Whitney Mercilus. A front seven featuring those two, J.J. Watt (when healthy) and Jadeveon Clowney would be a scary one for the rest of the AFC South.

23. Minnesota Vikings
Original pick: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Redraft selection: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
For years, the Vikings have been attempting to build a good offensive line. In recent years, they have spent premium picks on Garrett Bradberry and Brian O’Neill. They could very well select another offensive lineman in the 2021 draft. Taking Taylor Decker back in 2016 was not an option, but in this scenario, he falls to them and gives them a quality left tackle to build around. He has never been flashy or in the All-Pro conversation, but Decker has done a good job protecting Matt Stafford’s blindside. On the other hand, Laquon Treadwell was a bust and Minnesota already had Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs on the roster. This just makes way more sense.

24. Cincinnati Bengals
Original pick: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Redraft selection: James Bradberry, CB, Samford
William Jackson turned out to be a solid selection for the Bengals, but it took him a few years to really get up to speed in the NFL. He missed his entire rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle and did not become the full-time starter until 2018. Conversely, James Bradberry was a Day 1 starter in Carolina and continued to progress throughout his career, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2020. He is disruptive and consistent on the outside and fills a huge need for the Bengals.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original pick: Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Redraft selection: William Jackson, CB, Houston
William Jackson weathers a very short drop and stays in the division. I just finished knocking him for taking a few years to get up to speed, but he has been a very reliable starter over the past three years. He might not be a lockdown, elite corner, but quality cover players are hard to come by. Even if he wouldn’t end up being an impact starter out of the gate, he would be a better option than Artie Burns. Burns got off to a decent start, but lost his job in 2018 and left Pittsburgh after the 2019 season.

26. Seattle Seahawks
Original pick: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Redraft selection: Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA
Germain Ifedi has carved out a solid career for himself as a guard in the NFL. That was not quite what the Seahawks were looking for when they selected him after trading back to No. 32 in the 2016 draft. There are not many offensive tackles worth taking in this spot, so Seattle turns to the defensive side of the line and grabs Kenny Clark. Defensive tackle was definitely a need for the team as well as they went on to take Jarran Reed in the second round. Clark fills a huge role as a run stuffer on the Packers defense. He earned the starting job in 2017 and really came into his own in 2019, making his first Pro Bowl appearance. Clark is a solid pass rusher as well, with 18.5 sacks in his career, but he makes his money stopping the run. Seattle was anywhere from middle of the pack to mediocre in run defense from 2017 to 2019. Clark would’ve helped them prevent that lull.

27. Green Bay Packers
Original pick: Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA
Redraft selection: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Green Bay misses out on Clark by one pick here, but instead grabs one of his college teammates. The word on Myles Jack coming out of school was that he had first-round potential, but knee injuries were going to cause him to drop. He went early in the second round on draft day back in 2016, but the Packers will not let him reach the end of round one here. While the Packers have found success mostly ignoring the position in recent years, I still stand by the idea that Clay Matthews would have been much more productive during his final seasons with the Packers if Green Bay had a true middle linebacker. Jack has the range to make plays from sideline to sideline and the instincts to make big plays in crucial moments.

28. Kansas City Chiefs
Original pick: Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
Redraft selection: Deion Jones, LB, LSU
Kansas City made out like bandits in 2016, trading down into the early second round and stealing Chris Jones. Jones has been off the board for a while in this redraft, but there are still players worthy of consideration here. Deion Jones feels like a great fit for the Chiefs. He could operate in space and thrive as a coverage linebacker on a team that desperately needed one next to an aging Derrick Johnson. Jones would fit even better come 2019 when Steve Spagnuolo came to town. His 11 career interceptions are the most by any linebacker and tied with Jalen Ramsey and James Bradberry for fourth most in this class.

29. Arizona Cardinals
Original pick: Robert Nkemdichie, DL, Ole Miss
Redraft selection: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Robert Nkemdichie did not work out in Arizona, or anywhere in the NFL for that matter. He only appeared in 29 career games, four more than the 49ers bust Joshua Garnett, who went the pick before Nkemdichie in 2016. Neither belonged in the first round. Jaylon Smith probably did. He, like Myles Jack, fell because of a knee injury. Smith missed the entire pre-draft process while rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in January at the Fiesta Bowl. He has struggled at times in the NFl, but his physical ability shines through sometimes. He has the speed and quickness to run sideline to sideline with mobile quarterbacks. He had a rocky 2021 season, but he has shown enough since his debut in 2017 to warrant a late-selection here.

30. Carolina Panthers
Original pick: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
Redraft selection: Matthew Ioannidis, DL, Temple
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but Matt Ioannidis is quietly one of the better interior pass rushers in the NFL. He has 22 sacks in his NFL career despite missing 13 games in 2020 due to injury. When healthy, he plays an important role on Washington’s defensive line. He would not fill exactly the same role the Panthers were looking for when they drafted Vernon Butler. Butler was about 20 pounds heavier and much more athletic. However, he only lasted three seasons in Carolina before leaving for Buffalo in free agency.

31. Denver Broncos
Original pick: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Redraft selection: Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
Spoiler alert: Paxton Lynch was not a good NFL quarterback. The former Memphis star struggled to adapt to the speed on defenses and ultimately finished with four career touchdowns and less than 800 total passing yards. In other words, he was a bust. While Denver needed to find its quarterback of the future, it also needed an offensive line. Peyton Manning limped to the Super Bowl after being battered all year behind the Broncos’ leaky pass protection. Cody Whitehair would not have solved every issue, but he would have been a really good start. He has been a starter since Day 1 in Chicago, missing just two games in his NFL career. He earned Pro Bowl recognition in 2018. Either he or Matt Paradis could kick to guard and give the Broncos a really strong interior of its offensive line.

32. Cleveland Browns
Original pick: Emmanuel Ogbah, EDGE, Oklahoma State
Redraft selection: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
The Patriots had to forfeit their first-round pick because of one of their many scandals, so we will add the Browns first pick of the second round as a bonus here. Emmanuel Ogbah has actually developed into a solid situational pass rusher, tallying 27 career sacks, including nine in 2020. Cleveland misused him though, as they did many players in the Hue Jackson era, and he found much more success playing elsewhere. Will Fuller could give the Browns the type of receiver they were looking for when they took Corey Coleman. Fuller entered the league as a straight line burner, but has developed into a solid No. 2 option. His injury history and recent suspension definitely hurt his value, but he would still be a good target for Jared Goff, whom the Browns took in the first round in this scenario.

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Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Plenty of replacement options for Dak Prescott

I’m back with some fantasy content this week. I had to pass on writing my waiver wire column last week because life just got a bit too busy. I guess that’s what happens though when you are buying a house.

Now that I’ve got a bit more free time on my hands, I am able to dive deep into that available players tab and help you find the best players to add to your roster for this week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA
For the fourth straight week, Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 20-plus fantasy points. He trailed only Patrick Mahomes in Week 5 among fantasy quarterbacks. Somehow, he is available in 80% (!!!!!) of ESPN leagues. If you are refusing to pick him up because Tua Tagovailoa could take over, you are missing out. He continues to put up huge numbers and heads into a Week 6 matchup with the Jets of all teams. While New York has had some success against Philip Rivers, Nick Mullens and Brett Rypien, that defense has given up 27.2 points per game when facing Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. Expect Fitzmagic to be closer to those two.

Tannehill looked sharp in the Titans’ return from an unexpected bye week. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
There are a lot of streaming options/potential Dak Prescott replacements for your lineup this week. Tannehill dazzled on Tuesday Night Football with three passing touchdowns and one more on the ground. It was against a Bills defense missing it’s best defensive player in Stephon Gilmore, but a good sign nonetheless. He faces a middle of the road Texans defense in Week 6 as well. I wouldn’t expect him to replicate his 29-point outing again, but should fill in nicely for the week if you are desperate for a new quarterback.

Justin Herbert, QB, LAC
This rookie came to play. Herbert put up big numbers again against the Saints, topping 22 points for the third time in his four career starts. Now his upside is capped a little bit by the Chargers tendency to run the ball a lot, but he also tends to take a few shots downfield every game. He is heading into a bye in Week 6, but has a ton of value when he returns to action. Herbert’s next five games after the break are against the Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins and Jets. That is about as favorable of a fantasy stretch as you can ask for. He is still available in about 65% of ESPN leagues, but after his showing on Monday Night, he won’t stick around long.

Andy Dalton, QB, DAL
There are a lot of quarterback options this week. Dalton stepped in for the injured Dak Prescott. He will be Dallas’ starter going forward. Even if he is not as talented as Prescott, Dalton has arguably the best receiving corps in the league to work with and a workhorse running back. Given that the Cowboys’ defense can’t stop anyone either, he is going to be throwing the ball a lot. He faces a tough Washington front seven behind a battered offensive line, but I still think Dalton will point up points right away.

Goff has been a bit inconsistent this season, but has three games with over 20 fantasy points. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jared Goff, QB, LAR
Turns out I recommended Goff a week too early. After a lackluster performance against the Giants, he tuned up Washington’s defense with 309 yards passing and three total touchdowns. It is hard to know which version of the Rams offense is going to show up at this point, but Goff faces a favorable matchup in Week 6 against the 49ers. Hard to imagine the 49ers being a team you want your fantasy quarterback to face, but their defense is ravaged by injuries. Ryan Fitzpatrick carved up the Niners’ secondary for the second-most points in fantasy this past week. If you are looking for a streaming option at quarterback, you could do much worse than Goff.

Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN
For those of you who drafted Mattison and hung onto him this long, your patience might be rewarded. Dalvin Cook went down with a groin injury early in the second half against Seattle. Mattison finished with a staggering 20 carries, most of which came in the second half. Minnesota ranks fourth in rushing yards and third in attempts under Gary Kubiak. If Cook misses any time at all, Mattison is a borderline RB1 for every week he does. He is probably best in standard scoring leagues, but he can catch a few passes out of the backfield as well. He faces the Falcons in Week 6, who are giving up the second-most points in the NFL. If he is available, go get him.

Damien Harris, RB, NE
Didn’t pick up Harris last week? It’s not too late, but you are running out of time. He had an expected bye week after his game against the Broncos was postponed, which means he will be playing the rest of the season. He has a chance to be the feature back, or as close as the Patriots will ever come to having one. He will now face the Broncos in Week 6. With Cam Newton likely to return, he could lose out on some carries, but Harris will still see enough attention to be fantasy relevant.

Chase Edmonds, RB, ARI
If you are in PPR leagues, Edmonds might already be off the waiver wire. If he is still there though, he could have some spot flex value for your team. He picked on a weak Jets defense in Week 5 and faces a below average Dolphins one in Week 6. Only earning eight total touches is a bit concerning, but he was definitely the more effective running back in the Cardinals’ backfield. I will be curious to see if his role continues to increase with Kenyan Drake struggling. He is worth stashing on your roster, just in case he claims lead back responsibilities.

Chase Claypool, WR, PIT
Where in the world did that come from? Destroyer of defenses Chase Claypool put up 11 more points than the next-highest scoring PPR receiver in Week 5. When Dionte Johnson went down with an injury, which has been a frequent occurrence this season, Claypool stepped up. Ben Roethlisberger seems to trust him already. While it is unlikely he will score four touchdowns again at any point this year, or maybe ever, Claypool carries value in fantasy. Even if Johnson does return for Week 6, Claypool is a big-play and red zone threat. He looks like a matchup-specific flex play at the very least.

Travis Fulgham, WR, PHI
Speaking of the next highest-scoring receiver in fantasy… Proceed with caution on this one. Travis Fulgham was on exactly 0.2 percent of rosters heading into Week 5. He had a monster week though against the Steelers. With 10 catches for 152 yard and a touchdown on 13 targets, Fulgham put up WR1 type production. But was it just a flash in the pan? Desean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffrey should eventually return to action. Until they do though, Fulgham should hold flex value, especially in PPR leagues. You might have to sit him against the Ravens, but you could consider starting him against the Giants and Cowboys after that.

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville
It might be time to get to know Laviska Shenault Jr. The rookie from Colorado has earned at least six targets in three straight games. He racked up seven catches for 79 yards in Week 5 while facing the Texans. What makes Shenault appealing is his consistency. He has scored at least eight points in every contest under PPR scoring. D.J. Chark is battling an ankle injury, which should open up even more targets heading Shenault’s way. If he can start finding his way into the end zone, this will be a guy you want starting in your lineup every week.

Mecole Hardman, WR, KC
With Sammy Watkins set to miss some time due to injury, Hardman has an opportunity to step up. He is best-suited for standard leagues given his big-play nature. Few teams can take the top off a defense like the Chiefs can. However, he is definitely a boom-or-bust type play. He has not had more four targets in four of his five games this season. If you are willing to roll the dice on him in Week 6, he should have a slightly higher floor given that his targets should increase with less competition for Patrick Mahomes’ attention.

Mike Williams, WR, LAC
Williams got healthy and put up a huge statline against the Saints. He became the focus of the passing game when Keenan Allen exited with back spasms. Williams is always intriguing at his size from a fantasy perspective. He tends to draw a solid number of targets in the red zone, which creates a good floor for him. However, if Allen misses time, Williams becomes hugely valuable. However, with Los Angeles heading into a bye, Williams is nothing more than a roster stash that could help you when your other receivers are on a bye.

Eric Ebron, TE, PIT
If you are in a PPR league, Ebron does carry some solid value as a high-floor tight end. For the the third straight game, he earned at least five targets. Unfortunately, he has not picked up too many yards and only managed one touchdown. Ebron does get a favorable matchup with a Browns defense allowing the sixth most points to tight ends in PPR. What would really help Ebron’s fantasy prospects would be holding onto the football. He has fumbled twice in his past three games. As far as spot starters go, Ebron is a decent option.

Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN
If you are in deeper league or look for a deep sleeper at tight end this week, Irv Smith Jr. could be a sneaky play. After back-to-back games without a catch, Smith had four for 64 yards on five targets against the Seahawks. Given how little he has produced up to this point, counting on him replicating those numbers is foolish, but he gets a great matchup with a Falcons defense allowing the second most points in fantasy to opposing tight ends. They are still 8.7 points worse than the average after allowing zero points to Panthers tight ends in Week 5 (because the Panthers don’t have a pass catching tight end they feature in this offense). He is my favorite boom-or-bust candidate of the week at the position.

Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Jared Goff and Justin Jefferson highlight this week’s top adds

The importance of the waiver wire showed up big time in Week 3. If you were like me and started James Robinson, you are probably pretty happy with how your week went. If you are also like me and dropped Justin Jefferson to add Russell Gage, you were probably a bit frustrated.

Not every player you add from the waiver wire is going to be a winner and sometimes, you have to take the risk that it will be a complete dud. That’s what anyone who started Gardner Minshew this week found out. You can also hit it big and win your matchup as a result, as anyone who started Rex Burkhead found out. It’s not an exact science, but there is a usually a bit of a method to the madness.

Goff came up big with 321 yards and three total touchdowns against the Bills. (Wikimedia Commons)

Jared Goff, QB, LAR
After a lackluster Week 1, Jared Goff has stepped up in back-to-back weeks. He went over 23 fantasy points for the second straight week. He now gets matchups against the Giants and Washington over the next two weeks. It is unlikely that he scores three touchdowns each week, but his efficiency has picked up and he seems to be in a groove with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee. If you need a streaming option at quarterback, Goff is my top choice for the week.

Nick Foles, QB, CHI
Welcome back to fantasy relevance Nick Foles! He took the starting job from Mitch Trubisky and led the Bears to a comeback over the Falcons. Now, Foles won’t benefit from facing the worst fantasy (and potentially real life) defense in the league every week, but he looked comfortable in the starting role. He has to face an improving Colts defense and the Buccaneers in the next two weeks. It is probably worth stashing Foles on your roster as a bye week fill in.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA
If you haven’t hopped on the Fitzmagic train, it’s not too late. Fitzpatrick has scored 24 points in back-to-back weeks. Week 1’s dud against the Patriots aside, he has been one of the top five quarterbacks in scoring these past two weeks. He now faces a Seattle defense that is allowing the second most points to opposing quarterbacks through three games. The Seahawks will unquestionably be the favorite in that contest, but don’t be shocked if Fizpatrick puts up big numbers in a losing effort.

Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, SF
No one can stay healthy on the 49ers. Jeff Wilson Jr. is likely to be the latest beneficiary of taking the starting role. It is not a guarantee that Jerick McKinnon misses Week 4 against the Eagles, but Wilson got plenty of usage even with McKinnon in action this past week. Assuming McKinnon is limited, Wilson will suddenly be a top option. Now the Eagles defense is good against the run, but Wilson got involved in the passing game as well. It is unlikely he scores two touchdowns again, but Wilson could be a flex play if you are suffering from injuries.

Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA
The preseason hype of the Miami backfield centered on Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. Myles Gaskin has emerged as the lead back in the Dolphins running back by committee approach. His usage went to the next level against Jacksonville as he finished with 27 touches. That feels unsustainable and now he faces two tough run defenses in Seattle and San Francisco up next. I would not recommend starting him any time soon, but he is worth adding to your roster for running back depth. He won’t be available for too much longer.

Carlos Hyde, RB, SEA
Another potential injury fill in here. Chris Carson’s status is up in the air against the Dolphins. He suffered a knee injury on a questionable play from Trysten Hill and could be out for a week or two. Hyde has not been fantasy relevant up to this point, but he could be thrust in the starting role on a high-scoring offense. Seattle has moved away from running the ball as much this season, but Hyde was a 1,000 yard rusher a year ago for the Texans. He is about as good of a fill in the Seahawks can hope to have if Carson misses time.

Jefferson flashed the potential that made him a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. (Wikimedia Commons)

Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
There is the breakout we have all been waiting for. Justin Jefferson had five catches on six targets for 70 yards in his first two games. In Week 3, he came up with seven catches on nine targets for 175 yards and a touchdown. Now 71 of those yards came on his touchdown catch, but even if you remove that, a six-catch, 104-yard performance is more than impressive. If this is a sign of things to come, Jefferson is absolutely worth having on your roster. Maybe you were smarter than me and didn’t drop him in the first place. Either way, put in the waiver claim.

Allen Lazard, WR, GB
Maybe the Packers really didn’t need to draft a receiver. Allen Lazard stepped up big time with Davante Adams out. He torched the Saints secondary for 146 yards and a score on six catches. He might not see eight targets every week with Adams back in the fold, but he has emerged as the clear No. 2 receiver in this offense. It is unlikely he posts the same gaudy numbers he had against New Orleans every week, but he is worth grabbing if he is still available in your league.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SF
Even with Jimmy Garoppolo out, Aiyuk had a big week. He had five catches and 70 yards receiving. That alone would be a solid performance. He also added three carries for 31 yards and a touchdown due to all of San Francisco’s running back injuries. His versatility makes him an interesting prospect going forward. Deebo Samuel will eventually return, as soon as this week in fact, but Aiyuk looks to still have value in this offense as the number two receiver. Expect him to grow into this role as the season rolls on.

Cole Beasley, WR, BUF
I can’t believe I am writing this, but it might be worth picking up Cole Beasley in fantasy this week. He has quietly earned at least six targets in each of his first three games and took it to the next level against the Rams by hitting the century mark in receiving yards. With John Brown out, it is hard to imagine his target share shrinking in an offense that is putting up a lot of points. He faces a solid Raiders defense in Week 4, but gets a disappointing Titans secondary the week after that. As long as Brown is out, Beasley seems like he will be worth grabbing.

Jimmy Graham, TE, CHI
It still seems like the Bears overpaid Jimmy Graham, but he has a real connection with Nick Foles. Graham caught a pair of touchdown passes and earned a solid seven targets after Foles took over at quarterback. It is no secret that Foles likes to rely on his tight ends. Zach Ertz put up good numbers still whenever Foles filled in on the Eagles. It is unlikely Graham becomes an elite tight end option, but he should be viewed as a solid streaming option, even if he is playing against a Colts defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Eric Ebron, TE, PIT
Slowly but surely, Eric Ebron is carving out a role for himself in this offense. He actually led the Steelers in receptions, receiving yards and shared the team lead in targets. Not to mention he added a touchdown to his statline to complete a really impressive week of scoring. The tight end position has been one of the most frustrating to predict in fantasy this season. Outside of Travis Kelce, is is hard to find a consistent producer at the position. He is far from a slam dunk, but you could do a lot worse than Ebron going forward, especially if Diontae Johnson misses any time due to injury.

Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL
It was not the same type of dominant performance we saw in Week 2, but Dalton Schultz clearly has earned the trust of Dak Prescott. He had four more catches for 48 yards on six targets. That won’t win you your fantasy matchup, but Schultz is deservedly in the conversation as a fringe TE1. With both the 49ers’ Jordan Reed and Eagles’ Dallas Goedert going on IR, this would be a good time to snag him off waivers to hold down the position for a few weeks.