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Fantasy football waiver wire for NFL Week 5: Justin Jackson, Tee Higgins among top pickups



Week 4 served as a reminder of the importance of flexibility and depth in the NFL. One game was postponed entirely and another delayed by a day, with a long day of uncertainty as the league worked to decide how to best proceed with the Chiefs-Patriots game originally scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday.

This season has already been and will continue to be unlike any other. It’s the reality of a season amid a pandemic. And this wasn’t something we didn’t expect; we just met the reality of the situation in a more glaring way this week.

One of the core truths of fantasy football is that we have so little control over what happens on Sundays. We must be willing to be flexible and dynamic. Along those lines, as it pertains to your roster, this is a year to work as hard as you can to cover your bases as much as possible.

Here’s the Week 5 ESPN Fantasy waiver wire column.

Note: Players in this column are available in more than 50% of leagues on ESPN.com.

Week 5 byes: Packers, Lions

Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (8.8%): The first step in this process is checking on Joshua Kelley, who was available in around 44% of leagues as of this writing. With Austin Ekeler out for multiple weeks, per Adam Schefter, Kelley is in line to start, but Jackson should serve as a useful counterpart. He’s an athletic pass-catcher, which could help him simulate some of what Ekeler did at a high level. He’s a 12-team-or-larger consideration for sure.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (32.6%): Schultz has become the player many thought Blake Jarwin would be prior to his season-ending knee injury, as Schultz is piling up catches and targets of late (24 targets in three weeks). The Cowboys’ defense is beyond description right now — though a sieve comes to mind — meaning Dak Prescott has and will continue to throw a ton. Schultz can stay busy in this offense.

D’Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns (0.0%): Nick Chubb is being placed on IR with an MCL injury and is expected to miss about six weeks, so we must now consider the possibility of a role for Johnson until Chubb returns. He stepped in on Sunday with 95 rushing yards as Kareem Hunt‘s backup and ran extremely well. The Browns have successfully folded two running backs into the mix this season, and while it’s hard to bank on Johnson being a part of your lineup right away, he’s a consideration. A stashable add.

Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (36.1%): Injuries have crushed the Raiders at wide receiver of late. Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards both missed Week 4. Renfrow has a total of 17 targets in his past two games and figures to remain busy for as long as the two rooks are banged up. He has 10 or more points in each of his past two games and is a solid player who won’t draw too much attention as long as Darren Waller is on the field. A good add who should slot into the flex spot in many leagues with 12 or more teams (or any league that plays with three wide receiver spots).

Scotty Miller, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11.3%): The Bucs’ top duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have been banged up already this season, and Godwin is a stretch to play this Thursday against the Bears. Miller earned Tom Brady‘s trust in training camp and has shown up early this season with double-digit scoring in three of four games (the three games in which he saw at least five targets). In the event Godwin sits on Thursday, Miller is already on the deeper-league flex consideration radar and should most certainly remain rostered in all leagues.

Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (27.8%): There are signs of a breakout from Shenault, who notched a career-high 86 receiving yards in Week 4. The Jaguars have been crafty and creative in the ways they’ve used Shenault, who has double-digit scoring in three of four games and an average of five targets per game. A fun stash to have on your roster for when the voluminous bye weeks hit.

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints (20.1%): Michael Thomas is bound to return soon, perhaps as early as Week 5. So let’s establish that his return could immediately render all other Saints wideouts unlikely to be in your fantasy lineups. But Smith has stepped up with Thomas out, posting 13 catches on 17 targets and a pair of touchdowns. I’d suggest adding and stashing Smith in any league, but for anyone who rosters Thomas, he’s a must-add for insurance purposes going forward.

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (25.0%): It feels almost sacrilegious to say, but if I were rostering a second Bengals wide receiver beyond Tyler Boyd, Higgins might be the pick. He posted another 77 receiving yards on four catches and seven targets in Week 4, looking the part of a player who was just one pick away from going in the NFL’s first round of the draft. Higgins is an athletic receiver with great size, and Joe Burrow has been money so far. Higgins is exactly the kind of upside wideout I like to have on my bench.

Quarterback adds: as stated above, Week 4 was a reminder of the need for flexibility in fantasy football. While rostering two quarterbacks is not a strategy I frequently employ in all other years, this is a season when most of my teams are rostering two quarterbacks just in case. I’ll try to highlight a few names per week to consider for your roster at this position.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins (28.0%): Three games with at least 20 points this season. It’s a roller-coaster ride, but often a fun one.

Gardner Minshew II, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (45.9%): Another quarterback with at least 20 points in three of four games. Minshew makes it happen.

Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (11.8%): The talent is obvious, and the upside is substantial. Herbert is going to be an excellent quarterback in time and is already a fantasy consideration.


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Lomachenko recovering from shoulder surgery



Recently dethroned lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko underwent right shoulder surgery Monday, according to his manager, Egis Klimas.

Lomachenko previously had surgery on his right shoulder in May 2018. Klimas said this surgery was a result of both a pre-existing ailment and an injury suffered during the second round of Saturday night’s decision loss to Teofimo Lopez.

Lomachenko was very cautious in the first half of the contest, when Lopez built a significant lead on the scorecards. His late-rounds rally fell short, and Lomachenko lost his WBC, WBO and WBA titles.

He was examined Monday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache (who also oversaw his operation in 2018) and was told he would need surgery that day.

Lomachenko should be able to resume training by mid-January, according to Klimas.

“When he arrived to the States to prepare for the fight, he said in the Ukraine he felt the sharp pain in his right shoulder,” said Klimas, who noted that an MRI didnt reveal any significant injury to the shoulder. “We took him right away to Dr. ElAttrache to examine him.”

At six weeks out from the fight, Lomachenko was given an injection and alerted both the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association and the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

“We lost one week of training. We lost one week of sparring because the doctor forbid him to do much for a week after the injection,” Klimas said.

Klimas added that a few weeks later the pain flared up again during a sparring session. At that juncture, Lomachenko was given another injection and his father and trainer, Anatoly, “wanted out of the fight,” said Klimas.

Vasiliy Lomachenko said he would not pull out of the fight and made it clear to his team that if he dropped out, he would retire.

While news of the injury came out quickly after Saturday’s loss, Klimas insisted: “We didn’t want to look like we were looking for excuses or something.”

When Lomachenko heals up, Klimas says he wants a chance to get back the belts.

“If it’s possible, we would like to have the rematch,” Klimas said. “If they are so tough … are they willing to come back and do that?”


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Tiger considers playing in Houston before Masters



THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Tiger Woods is defending his Zozo Championship title this week with an eye on the Masters in three weeks.

And the run-up to what usually is the first major championship of the year is strange to say the least, he said.

So odd, in fact, that Woods said he is considering adding another tournament before the Masters, the Houston Open.


“I think my plan is just to play and practice,” he said at Sherwood Country Club, where the relocated Zozo Championship begins Thursday. “I don’t know if I’m going to play Houston or not. I’m not playing next week, and we’ll see how this week goes and make a decision from there.”

It would have been a good bet to figure that this week’s tournament would be the only one before the Masters, simply because Woods has never played the week before the Masters in any year since playing his first as a pro at Augusta National in 1997.

Asked how he would try to replicate his run-up to the Masters, Woods said: “You can’t.”

“It’s not normally this time of year,” he said. “It’s not normally played this way, the configuration of events. We’re not in a Florida swing. This is all different. This whole year’s been different for all of us.

“The fact that the Masters will be held in November, it’s unprecedented, never been done before. I can’t simulate the normal ramp-up that I normally have, and I don’t think anyone else can either. It will be different for all of us.”

Woods is making only his sixth start on the PGA Tour since the resumption of play following a 13-week pandemic shutdown. His best finish is a tie for 37th at the PGA Championship in August. He has slipped from 13th to 28th in the world.

His last start was a month ago at the U.S. Open, where he missed the cut and struggled again with back stiffness.

Woods played nine holes at Sherwood on Tuesday and looked good, something that can be said of many of his practice rounds. What he brings to the course when it counts is what ultimately matters; so far this year, he’s never had a reasonable chance of contending going into the weekend.

He has played only seven times in 2020, his best finish a tie for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

“My game’s definitely better than it was at the U.S. Open,” he said. “I feel a little bit more prepared, a little bit better, and hopefully that translates into playing the golf course.”

His Zozo victory in Japan seems ages ago. Woods went there with low expectations after taking a nine-week break following arthroscopic knee surgery. And after a slow start, he shot consecutive 64s to open the tournament and posted a three-shot win over Hideki Matsuyama.

It was his 82nd victory on the PGA Tour, tying the mark of Sam Snead.

As a past Masters champion, Woods is an honorary member of Augusta National, meaning he can play the course whenever he wants. He has done so numerous times in preparation for the Masters, but said he’s done so only once in November back in the fall of 2001 after the club made numerous changes to the layout.

He recalled cool, difficult conditions. “It can be awfully difficult and long and much different than what we play in April,” he said.

Woods said he has not been back to Augusta National since his stirring 2019 victory, his fifth Masters title. Everything about it this time will be different, from no spectators to different colors and to perhaps a more strenuous golf course.

Another huge difference would be Woods playing the week prior.

“The whole idea is to be ready in a few weeks and whether or not that’s playing one more event, whether that’s Houston or just playing here at Zozo, just making sure that I’m ready for Augusta,” Woods said.

Woods does have a strong history at Sherwood Country Club, which he played 12 times when it hosted his World Challenge charity event that has since moved to the Bahamas. Woods won that tournament five times and was runner-up on five other occasions.


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The Most Competitive Races Aren’t In Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania



In this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew keys in on the most competitive races of 2020. Spoiler: They’re not in Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, even though those states may be the most important ones in deciding the presidential race


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