There's a moment during every football season when I check the calendar and think: This year is flying by. We've reached that point. It's already Week 5 of the NFL season, which means that all but two NFL teams have played one quarter of their regular-season schedule. Anyone reading this column is closer to one third of the way through his or her fantasy regular-season schedule (the default length on ESPN.com is 13 weeks of a regular season). We're flying by.
Beyond that, bye weeks are here.
You probably took note of that tiny number next to the player you drafted before the season, but we always encourage people to largely make season-long decisions when drafting (unique exceptions can include drafting a player who is expected to fill in for a suspended player for a defined length, as was the case with Darren McFadden for Ezekiel Elliott before his suspension was overturned).
Bye weeks will proceed from now until Week 11. Here's a primer of which teams are off each week:
Week 5 (four teams): Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Washington
Week 6 (four teams): Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle
Week 7 (two teams): Detroit, Houston
Week 9 (six teams): Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh
Week 10 (four teams): Baltimore, Kansas City, Oakland, Philadelphia
Week 11 (four teams): Carolina, Indianapolis, New York Jets, San Francisco
Some notable players on byes who must be accounted for this week: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, C.J. Anderson, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder.
Without further ado, here's the Week 5 ESPN Fantasy waiver column. Note: players available in less than 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com do not qualify for this list.
Dazzling. What more is there to say about Watson's Week 4 performance? He made this list last week. And he will be a wildly popular add. He already is advancing so significantly; Watson looked terrific as a thrower in Week 4; and he has major upside with his running skills (another rushing touchdown on Sunday). Yes, he has top-12 quarterback upside the rest of the way.
The Vikings were dealt a devastating blow when Dalvin Cook left their Week 4 game with an ACL injury. That opens the door to Murray taking over as the workhorse back, as he dominated snaps after Cook departed. Murray doesn't have nearly the same ceiling as Cook, but he's a must add in leagues of any size, as he has a legit shot at 20 touches per week. A flex consideration or RB2, depending on league size.
With Darren Sproles out, we knew Smallwood was due for a larger role. And he delivered in Week 4, carrying 10 times and scoring a touchdown, while adding an encouraging four catches on six targets. He's a good bet to lead Eagles backs in snaps going forward, and he has plenty of value in points per reception leagues. An add in leagues of any size, especially 12 teams or larger.
The Saints have been thrilled with Kamara since drafting him in the third round, and it's apparent why. He's a marvel in the passing game, catching a career-high 10 passes in Week 4. The Saints head to their bye in Week 5, but Kamara will be a legit flex play consideration week-to-week in most PPR leagues. Even if not as involved as Mark Ingram in the ground game, he has a chance to challenge for 45 more receptions in his remaining 12 games. He's super talented.
Will Fuller V, WR, Houston Texans (18.9 percent)
Volume and talent matter in a major way in fantasy football. Fuller's talent is apparent: He's an exceptional vertical threat with his combination of size and speed, but he shouldn't be pigeonholed as simply that. He hauled in a pair of touchdowns in his season debut in Week 4. With Watson at the control panels, this offense suddenly has me very intrigued in Houston.
Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants (0.8 percent)
Have the Giants finally found their new lead back? Let's not go that far, but Gallman's effort on Sunday surely caught my eyes. He led the team in running back snaps played, and he posted 42 yards on 11 carries, along with a receiving touchdown. His forte coming out of Clemson was being a particularly adept pass-catching back. For a running back-needy owner in 12-team or larger leagues, he's a smart stash, especially if Paul Perkins' rib injury lingers into Week 5.
This is a bit of a wait-and-see suggestion, as both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams are uncertain for Week 5. That would thrust Jones, a fourth-round rookie, into a potential starting role. For a short-term fill-in, he's a name to know in the Green Bay backfield who would likely garner flex consideration for this Sunday.
Collins and I have this in common: We both rushed for more yards than Terrance West in Week 4: Collins had 82 yards, I had zero and West had minus-7. Collins has run hard over the past two weeks, posting an identical nine carries for 82 yards both times out. It really feels like just a matter of time until he earns more early-game carries. He's a speculative add for anyone looking to pad running back depth.
Funchess faced a savory two-game slate in Weeks 3 and 4, totaling 19 targets against the Saints and Patriots. He cashed in against the generous Patriots pass defense in Week 4 with seven catches and two touchdowns. If Week 4 builds the confidence of Cam Newton all the way back, the athletic Funchess could have weekly value.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (34.9 percent)
This rookie continues to make his mark for the Rams, piling up another touchdown on his five catches in Week 4. While he's the third option for the Rams' passing game, there is plenty to be enthused by with this offense. He's a worthwhile add for a deeper league, where he can be used as the flex in PPR scoring.
D'Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans (23.9 percent)
Lamar Miller was excellent in Week 4, so the threat of Foreman taking over as the starter imminently remains slim. But Foreman added 13 carries for 45 yards in Week 4, and he continues to see a steady role. Again, for anyone with needs for backfield depth in a deeper league, Foreman remains a name of note.
The Cardinals are still working to find how to best substitute for David Johnson, with Ellington having emerged as a clear pass-catching favorite. He snagged nine catches in Week 4, posting his second straight double-digit effort in PPR scoring. That's the play here: If you are in a PPR league, he has value in your flex in larger leagues (14 teams or more).
Jaron Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals (9.8 percent)
Brown has settled into a steadier role for the Cardinals of late, averaging 9.7 targets over his past three games and posting more than 10 fantasy points in PPR scoring in each of them. For a deep league flex play, Brown fits the bill.
Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets (1.3 percent)
McGuire is the third-string running back for the Jets, but this sixth-round pick has announced himself over the past couple of weeks. He had 10 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown in Week 4. The Jets will rely on Bilal Powell and Matt Forte (when the latter gets back from a turf toe injury), but this is a back-by-committee offense, and McGuire is a deep, deep league add.
Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers (3.1 percent)
We'll see whether Davante Adams misses time following a scary hit in Week 4. If he does, Allison is likely to take on a more prominent role in this offense (Randall Cobb's already busy workload will increase too); and when you have Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback, that's noteworthy. He's a deep league add.