Week 6 fantasy football waiver wire: Keke Coutee stands out, Jay Ajayi's injury sets off a scramble


Sometimes the key to ranking your waiver claim is knowing which fantasy football free agents could be in it for the long haul and which ones are flashes in the pan or, at best, matchup streamers.

But then occasionally there’s game-changing jury news that changes the whole fantasy landscape.

There’s a mix of all three on Week 5’s waiver wire list.

1. Keke Coutee, WR, Texans

The numbers from the first two games of his career are jaw-dropping: 22 targets, 17 catches (a franchise record and third all time), a 100-yard game and a score in another.

Coutee is a shifty, speedy playmaker the Texans have deployed in a variety of routes and gadget plays. He has been compared to John Brown and Tyler Lockett, but early signs indicate he might be more versatile than either of them.

With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller drawing attention on the outside, Coutee is going to feast on man-on-man matchups. Don’t look now, but the Bills come to Houston next, and they’re a different team on the road than in Buffalo. Even the Jaguars in Week 7 favors him, since Hopkins and Fuller likely pair off against Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.

2. Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood, RB, Eagles

I hate to say it, but you should have seen it coming: A day after Jay Ajayi griped about the Eagles not running the ball enough, news broke Monday afternoon that he was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

Something I wrote in early September comes to mind: “I don’t fully comprehend what it is about Jay Ajayi that sets off my internal alarms. Maybe it’s his fragility (knee, foot, etc.) or his feast-or-famine productivity or even the reports that he didn’t study and was a problem guy in Miami.”

Well …

This development shakes up the running back landscape not only in Philadelphia but in fantasy, too, and potentially pitches Clement and Smallwood in star roles.

Let’s make one thing clear: There will be no singular bellcow back. Clement has been a key special teams contributor, and coach Doug Pederson frets that “you can’t tax him” too much. Smallwood sometimes has problems in pass protection and is far from a finished product, but he has rebounded nicely since almost losing a roster spot.

Both of them have to watch out for Darren Sproles if he can get back from a hamstring injury.

So which one do you want more? Clement, who just was activated from a quadriceps injury, is third on the team in red-zone rushing attempts; Smallwood is third in red-zone targets. Clement has more red-zone scores in his career but also has gotten more touches and targets when both are healthy. Both are versatile.

Clement has a little more burst and shiftiness than Smallwood, and when in doubt I go with talent — he was a pass-catching monster in the Super Bowl. “To me, the best runner on this team is Corey Clement,” NFL Network commentator LaDainian Tomlinson said on “NFL Total Access” Monday. “I think he makes this offense more balanced.”

But both Clement and Smallwood can be rostered, particularly since Clement has had some injury trouble dating back to college.

3. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons

I’m guilty as anyone else who overlooked Sanu. I thought before the season he’d completely be eclipsed by Calvin Ridley, but he’s posted a sneaky double-digit points total in each of the last three weeks. Certainly you’d play him against the woeful Buccaneers secondary, and the Giants don’t look all that daunting anymore.

Sanu is claimed in just 53 percent of ESPN leagues, 32 percent on Yahoo.

4. David Moore, WR, Seahawks

Moore had only three catches for 38 yards against the Rams, but he punched in two of those for scores. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has held high hopes for Moore since minicamp, when he called him “special” and a “very, very good athlete.”

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“He doesn’t look like it, but he’s a real strong kid, probably 218 pounds, and he’s physical,” Carroll said. “We’re really excited to see him like we did in preseason last year with run after catch stuff.”

In Week 6, the Seahawks play the Raiders, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points (NFL.com format) to wide receivers.

5. Case Keenum, QB, Broncos

Keenum had opportunities to score against the Chiefs and failed to cash in, but that wasn’t a problem against a decent Jets secondary, which yielded 377 yards and two touchdowns. Frankly, he’s an average quarterback, but an average quarterback occasionally can do a lot with this kind of supporting cast (Emmanuel Sanders, Phillip Lindsay, etc.).

Keenum next plays the Rams, Cardinals and Chiefs, who all are vulnerable against the pass. He’s still unclaimed in 30 to 80 percent of some leagues.

6. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Packers

With Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison hurt, Valdes-Scantling made the most of his opportunity, to the tune of 68 yards and a touchdown. He’s tall and rangy with some speed and has drawn comparisons to Brandon LaFell and Louis Murphy.

Valdes-Scantling is worth a stash until we see how healthy his fellow receivers are by the end of the week. The 49ers and Rams could make for nice matchups.

7. Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos

My gut tells me we’ll see Sutton on this list again (of course, I have some say in that). But Sutton strikes me as the type of playmaker who finds his way to a prominent role by season’s end. Against the Jets he caught two passes for 18 yards and a touchdown. Take a flier on Sutton when Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders face tough individual matchups.

8. Geoff Swaim, TE, Cowboys

The Cowboys’ approach to the tight end position seems to be “throw something against the wall and see what sticks.” Competing with the likes of Blake Jarwin and former Baylor power forward Rico Gathers, Swaim has emerged as the team’s third most targeted pass catcher (19, tied with Michael Gallup), according to nflsavant.com.

The caveat, though, is you might want to skip next week’s matchup against the Jaguars unless you’re desperate at the position.

9. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Patriots

I’ve been burned before recommending Patterson when he was in Minnesota, but if anyone can turn him into a consistent performer — more than a one-trick pony with deep speed — it’s the Patriots. You’d think Josh Gordon’s presence would mean Patterson wouldn’t be involved, but he has caught touchdowns in two straight weeks. He also is a dangerous kick returner. He can be played as a flier in deep leagues or as a dirt-cheap DFS option, but he’s best used in scoring formats that reward all-purpose yards.

plthompson@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @_phil_thompson

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