It's not hyperbole to say that Jamaal Charles is in the discussion for who is the most indispensable player to his team in the NFL. Consider what he's meant to the Kansas City Chiefs this season: Entering Week 5, only Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte had accounted for a higher percentage of a team's yards from scrimmage (31.2 percent) than Charles, who had racked up 30.9 percent for the Chiefs. On Sunday, Charles suffered the second torn ACL of his career, a bummer for one of the exciting young talents in the game, and a person I have great respect for having worked for the Chiefs for two of Charles' NFL seasons.
Many have asked what this injury means for the Kansas City backfield going forward. Specifically, who is in line to take over as the starter for the Chiefs? While it's unlikely anyone will see quite the workload that Charles has -- his balanced skill set as a receiver on top of his running ability led to a meaningful workload -- there's an unlikely name that has vaulted onto the fantasy radar as the top waiver add for Week 6.
Note: Players owned in more than 50 percent of leagues are not eligible for this list.
Charcandrick West, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (0.3 percent): Before the season, Knile Davis was the running back tagged as the handcuff to Charles, though following the injury to Charles, West earned seven carries (for 31 yards) while Davis received just two. West may not dominate the workload in a fashion that rivals what Charles did for the Chiefs, but he's the presumptive starter in an offense that has relied on the run. He should be owned in all leagues.
Knile Davis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (23.5 percent): And while signs point to West having the first shot at carries, Davis shouldn't be entirely ignored. He was a third-round pick with outstanding speed and terrific measurables, but he's struggled with reliability (fumbles and dropped passes). West is the first KC back to add, but Davis can be added in leagues of 12 teams or larger, too.
Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints (29.0 percent): The Ball State product was a hit in training camp, and he's carried that over to the regular season. With 30 targets and 21 catches in his past four games (including a six-catch, 141-yard effort in Week 5), Snead has emerged in the Saints' offense as a weekly go-to target. He's addable in leagues of all sizes.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (48.5 percent): Hurns was on our list last week, but we'll include him again to both ensure he surpasses the 50 percent threshold that removes him from consideration for this column and to remind people just how well he has played this season. He has at least 60 yards in each of his five games this season and just posted a 17-point fantasy effort in Week 5.
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns (4.2 percent): McCown has been red-hot over the past three games, posting a combined line of 96-for-141, 1,154 yards, seven total touchdowns and just one interception. He's an absolute must-add in two-quarterback leagues and also viable in single-quarterback leagues. His numbers aren't the byproduct of simply junk-time stats. McCown has performed well. It should be noted that McCown sprained his ankle in Week 5, but he is hopeful to be ready for Week 6 versus Denver, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports.
Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (39.0 percent): We've mentioned Sims in this space before, and even though the Buccaneers are on a bye in Week 6, he's a name to keep in mind. He has double-digit fantasy points in three straight games, despite just 85 rushing yards. Sims' calling card is his pass-catching ability; he has now gone three straight games with either a receiving touchdown or at least 80 receiving yards. A valuable PPR pickup.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens (32.9 percent): Another player we touched upon last week, Aiken served as Baltimore's No. 1 wide receiver in Week 5 and managed a four-catch, 78-yard day. The outlook for Aiken changes upon the return of Steve Smith Sr., but with bye weeks upon us, he's a usable piece if Smith sits again in Week 6.
Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns (37.5 percent): Barnidge presented the highlight of the weekend on an amazing touchdown catch, and he's also emerged as a steady tight end option. He has three straight games with at least 13 fantasy points. He's a usable starter right away.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington (4.7 percent): If you play in a PPR league, Crowder has value until DeSean Jackson returns. He has 39 PPR points in his past three games, including an eight-reception, 87-yard game in Week 5.
Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens (1.5 percent): Justin Forsett has been great the past two weeks, but an ankle injury kept him off the field for the overtime period against the Browns in Week 5. Allen, a fourth-round rookie out of USC, handled eight rushes for 58 yards (including a 44-yard scamper). He has value if Forsett can't play in Week 6.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago Bears (5.2 percent): Wilson has been a buzzy name in fantasy circles before, as he has very good natural tools at 6-foot-4 and about 200 pounds. With Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal banged up, Wilson has capitalized with consecutive games of six catches and at least 80 receiving yards. He's on the radar until both return.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (19.1 percent): Obviously worth owning in two-QB leagues, but with bye weeks upon us, Cutler is largely available. He's provided his share of fantasy ups and downs during his career, but in deeper leagues, you could do a lot worse.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Green Bay Packers (6.7 percent): Montgomery's offensive role could be limited when Davante Adams returns, but the rookie out of Stanford is an electric athlete who has fit in well with the Packers. He scored in Week 5 to register his first career double-digit scoring outing.
Jaelen Strong, WR, Houston Texans (1.4 percent): Yes, Strong had just two catches in Week 5, though both resulted in scores. One was a Hail Mary, the other a busted coverage. But if Cecil Shorts III or Nate Washington miss extended time, it's an open door for the third-round rookie out of Arizona State to see more reps.
Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams (42.5 percent): I'll echo a sentiment I've previously expressed on Austin: If I add him, it's to be patient on him. He has 14 touchdowns in 33 NFL games, but his usage is still not consistent enough for me to trust him each week in my lineup. He had just two catches in Week 5 (for six yards), but he salvaged the day on the strength of a TD.
Antonio Andrews, RB, Tennessee Titans (22.0 percent): Full disclosure: I'm avoiding the Titans' backfield if I can, but we'll put Andrews on the radar because he earned the first shot at goal line duties for Tennessee and capitalized with a score on Sunday. A deeper-league RB with a low ceiling.
Zach Zenner, RB, Detroit Lions (0.4 percent): He got 11 total touches in Week 5, and he just might be the best between-the-tackles back in Detroit. Zenner was a preseason stud who could see a more prominent role as the weeks roll along.