Because league formats vary, one size doesn't fit all when it comes to your waiver wire. That's why I break possible free agent adds into three categories. Follow me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/HarrisFootball) for the latest on possible additions to your fantasy roster.
Addable In All Leagues
Duke Johnson, RB, CLE (owned in 32% of Yahoo leagues). Johnson was a big part of the Browns attack Sunday, first as a receiver. Early in the game, he lined up as a wideout with an empty backfield and made a crazy-great over-the-shoulder TD catch in the end zone. And on the game-tying drive late he was the feature back, getting those Devonta Freeman between-the-tackles carries, although he did get stuffed on the 1. I've been saying on my podcast, "If you like Ameer Abdullah, you have to like this guy," except the problem was the offense. I just don't trust the Browns to move it in a consisten way every week. And even after this game? I kind of feel the same way. It's still Josh McCown. And Isaiah Crowell is still there, and Robert Turbin could come back soon from injury. Still, a lot of fantasy owners need a running back, and Johnson is probably the best one available on your wire this week.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, ATL (20% owned). I'm not sure what to make of the Falcons receivers after Julio Jones. Roddy White and Hankerson played the same number of snaps in Week 4, and Hankerson had six grabs for 103 yards and a red-zone touchdown, while White had two catches for eight yards. For the season, White has played 36 more snaps than Hankerson, and has yet to top 100 yards receiving for the season. On film, I don't see anything: I don't see defenses paying more attention to White, or White looking like a finished player. I don't really have an explanation. I'm just kind of done expecting recalibration. I'll rank Hankerson higher than White for the foreseeable future.
Allen Hurns, WR, JAC (20% owned). Allen Robinson drew the tougher matchup this week against Vontae Davis and Hurns benefited to the tune of 11 catches and 116 yards. Robinson is the special talent in the Jaguars receiving corps and Hurns is a fast guy who's feast or famine. But so far this year that's worked out to at least 60 yards receiving in every game. With Blake Bortles as his QB, Hurns will be the very definition of feast or famine, but when he feasts, it tastes pretty good.
New York Giants Defense (9% owned). The Giants are injured and under-manned on the defensive front, but they've put up two solid games in a row, scoring 11 and 10 fantasy points in standard Yahoo leagues. Sunday night, they host a struggling 49ers offense whose quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, would probably have already been benched if the team had anyone good behind him. They don't. They have Blaine Gabbert. In his past two games combined, Kaep has zero touchdown passes and five interceptions with a total of 227 passing yards. The Giants are in prime streaming territory in Week 5.
Players listed in previous weeks who are still addable in all leagues: Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN (36%); Thomas Rawls, RB, SEA (48%); Rueben Randle, WR, NYG (39%).
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, IND? (2% owned). After Josh Robinson lost a fumble and was benched in Week 4, and Frank Gore lost another fumble near an opponent's goal line, the Colts reportedly reached out to Bradshaw and he could be nearing a return to Indy. Even if Bradshaw signs, I can't promise you he's more than a Gore insurance policy; on tape, Gore doesn't look significantly reduced from his 49ers days. He just keeps fumbling. Still, Bradshaw was tremendous as a pass catcher last season before breaking his leg, and even in that role he could find real fantasy value if Andrew Luck gets untracked.
Antonio Andrews, RB, TEN (9% owned). Andrews was the Titans' starting running back in Week 3. However, Ken Whisenhunt seems constitutionally incapable of sticking to one guy, and that's what keeps Andrews out of the "all leagues" category. We could look back on Week 5 and see Andrews with three touches. But he's big enough for feature-back work and ran with power and decisiveness that players like Bishop Sankey and Dexter McCluster don't always display.
Ted Ginn, WR, CAR (33% owned). With players like Ginn, maybe the best policy is just to close your eyes and take the plunge. We all know he's dramatically limited. But the tape shows that his two touchdowns Sunday both came on subtle underneath routes rather than long bombs. While it's tough to see him keeping up this pace, the Panthers have to throw to somebody on the outside. Of course, he faces the Seahawks in Week 5, so: yuck.
Tavon Austin, WR, STL (17% owned). Austin and any Rams receiver benefit from Todd Gurley's presence. As Sunday's contest wore on and Gurley found his footing, the Cardinals defense had to come further down into the box, and Austin made them pay. Like Ginn, Austin is a limited player who won't excel if defenses focus on him, but it's hard to ignore the fact that he's on pace for 12 touchdowns.
Jay Cutler, QB, CHI (26% owned). Cutler made an unexpected return from his injured hammy and played well against the Raiders, though he did submit his signature horrendous fourth-quarter interception. Fortunately, after that he led a game-winning drive. Smokin' Jay represents the ultimate in truth-in-advertising. But if you're desperate for a signal caller, he's probably the best on your waiver wire.
Kamar Aiken, WR, BAL (2% owned). Steve Smith has four microfractures in his back and doesn't need surgery, but he'll miss at least Week 5 and perhaps more time. How spry he'll be when he returns is unknown. Maybe Aiken, the Ravens wideout who's seen the most targets of any non-Smith receiver, could benefit. Then again, Marlon Brown (0%) or newly acquired Chris Givens (3%) could be just as likely.
Players listed in previous weeks who are still speculative adds: Alex Smith, QB, KC (25%); Christine Michael, RB, DAL (9%); Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, BAL (4%); Ty Montgomery, WR, GB (13%); Richard Rodgers, TE, GB (17%); Crockett Gillmore, TE, BAL (18%).
Chris Thompson, RB, WAS (1% owned). While Alfred Morris and Matt Jones take the headlines and the fantasy ownership, Thompson keeps snagging a disproportionate amount of the work. Thompson is clearly a situational player—he plays in the spread and on third downs when the team trails. But that situation keeps occurring. Thompson has 22 touches on 85 snaps this year, compared to 70 touches on 121 snaps for Morris and 46 touches on 78 snaps for Jones. Most importantly, Jones is supposed to have the qualities of a receiving back, but Thompson has 11 catches compared to just three for Jones. PPR owners who were interested in using Lance Dunbar in deep leagues can think about Thompson as a replacement.
Willie Snead, WR, NO (5% owned). Brandin Cooks has been a disappointment and hasn't distinguished himself as a deep threat among the Saints receivers, perhaps mostly because nobody playing QB for the Saints is throwing deep. So Cooks finds himself running the same hooks and slants and skinny posts as everyone else in this offense, and getting more attention than someone like Snead, who doesn't boast great physical skills, but who makes catches. You've pretty much seen his ceiling, but it beats nothing.
Gary Barnidge, TE, CLE (11% owned). The fact that Rob Housler couldn't beat out career journeyman Barnidge for the Browns starting tight end job is a ringing indictment of Housler. Barnidge is a 30 year-old who'd never caught more than 13 passes in any of his six pro seasons. He's already got 16 grabs this year. It's a bonanza that probably can't last, but then again, Josh McCown sure likes to dump the ball off short.
Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN (0% owned). I was impressed by Diggs' NFL debut, which came about because Charles Johnson missed Sunday's game. Diggs played well ahead of Cordarrelle Patterson and made Aqib Talib's life miserable a couple times with some sharp route running. My guess is Diggs heads back to the bench as soon as Johnson is healthy, but it's worth noting that he performed better than Johnson has, and he did it against a very tough Denver defense.
Jamison Crowder, WR, WAS (0% owned). Kirk Cousins looked Crowder's way 12 times Sunday, and the results could've been even more impressive had Crowder been able to get his feet down on an end-zone catch. Ryan Grant (0%) is someone else I've mentioned in this space as a possible DeSean Jackson replacement, and he also got an end-zone target Sunday. But Crowder already looks more polished as a rookie than Grant does as a second-year player.
Zack Zenner, RB, DET (1% owned). There doesn't seem to be much value in any Lions running back right now, as that offensive line is struggling. But if Joique Bell stays out for multiple games with his bad knee/ankle, Zenner has a role. Ameer Abdullah hasn't proven he can break through tackles at the line of scrimmage, while Zenner should excel in such situations, which could lead to goal-line carries.
Players listed in previous weeks who are still addable in deep leagues: Michael Vick, QB, PIT (18%); Khiry Robinson, RB, NO (3%); Theo Riddick, RB, DET (4%); Buck Allen, RB, BAL (0%); Jeremy Langford, RB, CHI (1%); Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, TEN (18%); DeVante Parker, WR, MIA (17%); Scott Chandler, TE, NE (2%).
Christopher Harris is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner. He hosts the Harris Football Podcast every weekday. Find it on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and most other podcast apps, as well as at www.HarrisFootball.com.