Welcome to The Big Lead's weekly fantasy football waiver wire column. It pairs wonderfully with our weekly start 'em, sit 'em post. Week 5 promises to be another exciting set of games, but first we must analyze the performances of Week 4 and see if there's any value to be found on the fantasy margins.
Here are the five best fantasy football waiver wire options for Week 5. (All stats via ESPN PPR leagues)
Jaleel McLaughlin, RB, Denver Broncos (Available in 99 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
The Broncos were a fantasy black hole last season and while there was some mild optimism surrounding Javonte Williams this season expectations were not high. So far they've mostly been the same as last year but this past Sunday may have brought to light an unexpected talent. McLaughlin, an undrafted rookie out of Youngstown State, stepped in against the Bears after Williams left with a hip injury and did pretty well. He recorded seven carries for 72 yards and three catches for 32 yards, including a TD. That's great per-touch production. Was the Bears' defense helping? For sure. But with Williams' immediate availability up in the air, McLaughlin is worth a flier. And given he is the NCAA's all-time rushing leader, maybe there's more to him.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Washington Commanders (Available in 87 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
The Commanders' offense as a whole has been a pleasant surprise. It seems Sam Howell has some juice. And while it took until Week 4 for Samuel to put up a respectable stat line, he's already established himself as a reliable target for his young quarterback. He's put up at least 50 yards in three of the team's four opening games and the coaching staff loves to use him in the run game, too. With Washington going up against Chicago this week Samuel is a pretty good bet to get a lot of touches and a few opportunities to score.
Jake Ferguson, TE, Dallas Cowboys (Available in 75 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Given how hard it is to find tight end production in the fantasy game it is stunning that Ferguson is still this available. But that's the loss of those who do not read this column. Ferguson still has a ways to go before he's considered a top end fantasy option at the position but he is clearly in the good graces of Dak Prescott, with at least seven targets in three of the team's four games. Dallas has a tough matchup this week against the Niners so temper your expectations in terms of immediate payoff but he's growing into a legit TE1 before our very eyes.
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Arizona Cardinals (Available in 97 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Just hear me out. We all know the Cardinals have been the surprise of the NFL in terms of actually being competitive on a week-to-week basis. They aren't going to win many games this season but Dobbs has stepped in and produced big-time. His first week was heinous but the last three outings have ranged from good to great in terms of fantasy production. Dobbs is putting up decent passing stats since he's often playing from behind and has the freedom to take off as well. The combination of those two factors have led to him becoming more productive than names like Joe Burrow. If your QB room is in dire shape, Dobbs is absolutely worth a claim, and should be considered as a weekly options for those with less than stellar options at the position.
Brett Maher, K, Los Angeles Rams (Available in 81 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
It is unusual to have a kicker on these lists but Maher's performance this weekend stood out. He had 14 points, which is a great day for a kicker, but he also attempted five field goals. Which suggests that he's in the sweet spot for a fantasy kicker -- part of an offense good enough to move the ball but not good enough to consistently score touchdowns. Fantasy kickers who kick XPs all game are not particularly valuable, but guys who regularly attempt 40 or 50-yard field goals? That's the good stuff. Anybody who doesn't have one of the two or three best kickers in the game should constantly be looking for an edge at the position and Maher should be in a position to put up good point totals every week.