Bye weeks are beginning to wreak their havoc on fantasy teams. This week's victims: Owners of anyone on the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. Quarterback owners in particular are scrambling. A lot of owners fortunate enough to draft an elite fantasy QB like Drew Brees or Cam Newton didn't bother to take a backup knowing they already had an every-week starter.
Luckily, a few viable options remain on waivers in a lot of fantasy leagues. The following five QBs, ranked from worst to first, are owned in less than 60 percent of Yahoo! fantasy football leagues this week:
5. Carson Palmer -- Own percent: 45%. Through four games: 99-for-162 passing, 1,081 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs
Palmer has had to deal with injuries to his top three wideouts this season: Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford. While Ford is out for the season, Moore and Heyward-Bey will be on the field together and hopefully 100 percent healthy in Week 6 against the Atlanta Falcons coming off a bye. The matchup isn't great, and Palmer had a quiet outing in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos. BUT, he slung the ball well in his previous three matchups and has also done a nice job keeping the turnovers to a minimum. Palmer's upside is somewhat limited if the offense continues to struggle finding the end zone, but his downside also isn't as low as some of the other options on this list.
4. Josh Freeman -- Own percent: 40%. Through four games: 65-for-119 passing, 790 yards, 5 TDs, 4 INTs
Freeman is the consummate sleeper who can never seem to realize his immense potential as a fantasy option. His numbers are weak, especially if your league discounts interceptions. However, he does take on an atrocious Kansas City Chiefs secondary in Week 6, making him a sneaky-good stop-gap if you're desperate. The Chiefs have given up 10 passing touchdowns this year to just three interceptions, and are allowing 8.2 yards per attempt. Freeman also enters the game with an extra week of preparation, which can't hurt.
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick -- Own percent: 55%. Through five games: 88-for-151 passing, 1,057 yards, 12 TDs, 8 INTs
Fitzpatrick had an awful outing in Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers, but then again who hasn't struggled against the Niners this season? He averaged three touchdown passes per game in his first four outings thanks to a solid complement of running backs and red-zone receiving options. If your fantasy league doesn't deduct interceptions very heavily (or at all), feel free to move Fitzpatrick up this list.
2. Christian Ponder -- Own percent: 29%. Through five games: 109-for-158 passing, 1,082 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs
Ponder is very likely available in your league, and is also arguably the best fantasy option on this list. He certainly has the best defensive matchup, going up against a Washington Redskins secondary that has given up a league-high 13 touchdown passes and is allowing 8.2 yards per attempt. Ponder has been a solid quarterback on his own, completing 69 percent of his passes and rushing for over 30 yards in two outings. He isn't on a prolific offense, but he is consistent and won't lose you your fantasy matchup. What more do you want from a one-week quarterback?
1. Alex Smith -- Own percent: 51%. Through five games: 94-for-137 passing, 1,087 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT
Smith is having the best season of anyone on this list, so forgive him if the matchup isn't the best. The New York Giants have allowed eight touchdowns to eight interceptions, and have a reputation of getting to the quarterback despite an average sack total. Smith has taken impeccable care of the ball, however, and has thrown a touchdown in all but one outing this season. He does a nice job running the ball, too. If Smith is available in your league, snatch him up and don't look back.