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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Derek Carr, OAK – Carr threw for 333-4-0 in the drubbing
of the Jets on Sunday, and while he’s only about 55-60 percent
owned in fantasy leagues, he’s a talented QB on a team that
throws the ball a lot. Carr should be owned in all 12-team leagues
and is worth a look if you’re struggling at the position
McCown, CLE – McCown (25-35 percent owned) was just 18-for-34
in his pass attempts but threw for 211 yards and 3 TDs in the
loss to Arizona. His next couple matchups before a Week 11 bye
are tough divisional games with the Bengals and Steelers, and
while he shouldn’t be a priority grab based on the difficult schedule,
it’s impossible to ignore his upside and the fact he’s thrown
11 TD to just 4 INTs this season.
UPDATE:It appears that McCown
is legitimately questionable for Thursday’s game, as he’s
dealing with a rib issue. Not good news for the passing game,
nor breakout TE Gary Barnidge.
Cutler, CHI – The Matt Forte injury will likely mean Cutler
(60 percent owned) and company lean more on Alshon Jeffery and
Martellus Bennett over the next few weeks. He threw just one TD
pass against the Vikings, but the matchup in San Diego next week
could be a shootout.
Taylor, BUF – Taylor is supposedly 100 percent after dealing
with a knee injury the past few weeks. He practiced and worked
with the first-team offense Monday and Rex Ryan announced he was
ready to go for Week 9. Taylor makes for a low-end risk/reward
QB1 against a Miami defense he beat up for 277 yards and three
scores Week 3.
Mariota, TEN – Mariota (35-50 percent owned) is
looking to get in a full practice on Wednesday, and the Titans
just fired Ken Whisenhunt. There’s not too many guys as
talented as Mariota in the NFL, and with many QB situations tenuous,
it’s possible he reemerges as a solid option during the
season’s second half.
Teddy Bridgewater, MIN – Bridgewater had a weak fantasy
day with just 187-1-1 and 21 rushing yards, as Minnesota kept
the ball on the ground in the first three quarters. He’s
still an excellent prospect but his fantasy value is fading as
other teams are more committed to airing it out and feature QBs
with more upside.
Smith, KC – Smith threw for just 145-2-0 but added 78 rushing
yards and a TD on the ground in the win over Detroit. With Jamaal
Charles out of the equation, he’s starting to look more like a
viable fantasy backup with spot-start upside.
Jameis Winston, TB – Winston also bolstered his 177-1-0
passing line with a rushing TD in the surprise victory over the
Falcons. When his receiving corps is more intact, he’ll
have bigger upside – and the Giants defense next week looks
like a nice matchup.
Foles, STL – Foles voided turning the ball over for the second
straight game and threw for 191-1-0 with a two-point conversion.
The TD was a long one – a 66-yard pass to probably his best passing
game weapon, Tavon Austin.
RB1: DeAngelo Williams had 20-plus carries
in each game during Bell's two-week suspension.
DeAngelo Williams, PIT – The Le’Veon Bell injury
(torn MCL) has assured that he’ll miss the remainder of
the season and vaults Williams (50 percent owned) into the top
spot on the waiver wire this week. He excelled in the bell cow
role in the season’s first two weeks and will be a solid
RB1 the rest of the way.
Jeremy Langford, CHI – If Matt Forte misses significant
time, Langford (10-20 percent owned) will assume most of the RB
duties in Chicago. There’s not a long list of RBs you must
add this week, but Langford is definitely near the top.
Bell, DET – Bell’s ankle appears to finally be healthy and
with Ameer Abdullah struggling, the veteran back (56 rushing yards
on seven carries Sunday) could see more work. He’s nowhere near
as valuable as the two backs listed above, but makes a decent
Vereen, NYG – Vereen (65-75 percent owned) has been used almost
exclusively in the Giants passing game, which is a potent unit.
As coverage continues to shift toward stopping the one-man wrecking
crew that is Odell Beckham, Vereen, Dwayne Harris and Rueben Randle
get more targets. With the TEs hurting, Vereen makes a solid add
in PPR leagues if he’s available.
Draughn, SF – I’m personally staying away from the mess
that is the San Fran RB situation, but the newly acquired Draughn
has the most upside of the healthy backs in the system. He’s a
deep-league RB3/flex at best. Gaskins didn’t do much with the
work he got last week. The Niners are completely lost and their
new QB is Blaine Gabbert. Yikes.
Smith, CHI – I’m mentioning Smith because he’s got
some explosiveness and a passing down role with the Bears could
be in the cards absent starter Matt Forte. While Langford will
tote the rock and shoulder most of the load, Smith’s history
with the Falcons shows he has an affinity for the end zone. He’s
not a high priority add by any means, but he may get some opportunities
at San Diego and St. Louis in weeks 9 and 10.
McFadden, DAL – McFadden ran well (64 yards on 20 carries)
and added 6-49-0 receiving in a difficult matchup, lending some
credence to the possibility that he’ll emerge as a decent RB2,
especially once Tony Romo returns and Dez Bryant is 100 percent
healthy. Joseph Randle is injured and having a mental meltdown
and may not play for the Cowboys the rest of the season, if some
of the bizarre reports of him calling the police on himself are
UPDATE:Randle has been waived
by the Cowboys. He got his shot, and is obviously dealing with
issues far more serious than an oblique injury. I wish him well,
but he’s safe to expunge from fantasy rosters. This further
cements McFadden into the “bell cow” role DeMarco
Murray took up last season for the Cowboys.
Alfred Blue, HOU – Blue had a quiet day (38 rushing yards
on 14 carries and 5-33-0 receiving) but appears to be the main
RB option in Houston capable of RB2 numbers. He’s likely
unavailable in most formats by now.
Khiry Robinson, NO – As expected, Robinson didn’t
follow up his Week 7 breakout with anything of substance against
the Giants – even though there was plenty of offensive production
to go around. Robinson broke his leg and is out for the season.
Darkwa, NYG – Darkwa had just four carries for 23 rushing
yards in the passing-centric loss to New Orleans. They obviously
like the guy and want to get him carries, but he’s a TD-dependent
player stuck in a four-headed RB committee.
UPDATE:The Daily News reports
that Darkwa is dealing with a badly bruised tailbone, but is hopeful
to suit up for Week 9 against the Bucs.
UPDATE:Tolbert had one reception
for 40 yards but didn’t get any goal line rushing attempts
like in Week 7. He could be in line for more work facing the Packers,
but he can’t be trusted from a fantasy perspective unless
Jonathan Stewart and Fozzy Whitaker both go down.
Jones, WAS – Jones was on a Week 8 bye. We’ll see more as
the team prepares for a Week 9 matchup with New England.
UPDATE:Washington plans on
splitting carries between Alfred Morris and Jones in Week 9, according
to coaches. I like Jones’ passing game upside a little more.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Austin, STL – Austin makes a great complementary offensive
weapon to Todd Gurley and continues to see productive touches
in the Rams’ offense. He broke out for 4-98-1 and added 21 rushing
yards and a TD on three carries – though he did lose a fumble
in the win over San Fran. He’s a high-risk, high-reward WR3/flex
Floyd, SD – I should have considered Floyd more in prepping
for this week’s DFS matchups, but failed to take advantage of
his 4-92-2 game – despite the possibility of more involvement
with an injury to Antonio Gates. Keenan Allen left the Week 8
game with back spasms, so Floyd will likely continue to see targets
in the pass-heavy offense.
UPDATE:Allen has a kidney
issue that’ll keep him out indefinitely, and Floyd will
likely pick up some of the slack, along with Gates, Dontrelle
Inman and Stevie Johnson.
Snead, NO – Snead hauled in 7-76-2 and lost a fumble in Sunday’s
win over the Giants. He’s fully supplanted both veteran Marques
Colston and the promising Brandon Coleman as the No. 2 WR in New
Harris, NYG – Harris got dinged up but finished with 3-37-2
as the Giants-Saints game turned into a shootout. He’s a WR4 with
Andre Holmes, OAK – Holmes may not repeat the two-TD fantasy
performance of Sunday anytime soon, but he’s deep-league
red zone threat in an increasingly potent offense.
Aiken, BAL – With Steve Smith out for the rest of the season,
Aiken becomes the Ravens primary WR, at least until rookie Breshad
Perriman (knee) can get healthy and up to speed in the offense,
which will take at least 3-4 weeks. Aiken caught all six balls
thrown his way Sunday and finished with 6-62-0.
TE Ben Watson, NO – Watson keeps producing at a high level
in the Saints offense. He had 9-147-1 on 10 targets Sunday, and
he’s still going strong in his 12th NFL season.
Tamme, ATL – Matt Ryan has an unhealthy Tamme obsession, and
we must take advantage of it. The veteran TE had 10-103-1 on 12
targets Sunday vs. Tampa Bay, though that level of production
may have been a matchup-dependent anomaly.
TE Crockett Gillmore, BAL – Gillmore had just two catches
for 8 yards on Sunday, but one was a score. He’s a low-end
TE1 with upside given the right matchup.
Michael Crabtree, OAK – Crabtree’s 7-102-1 on 12
targets was a very nice payoff as I included him as my top WR
selection to feature last week. Targets are a real thing, folks.
Pay attention to them.
Amendola, NE – Thursday night was a bust for Amendola, who
had just one catch even though Tom Brady and the Pats had a prolific
passing game. It happens.
Rishard Matthews, MIA – Matthews also had 12 targets, but
caught 7-62-0. A solid game even without a TD.
Conley, KC – Jeremy Maclin’s return hurt Conley’s value, and
the fringe fantasy WR caught just 1-6-0.
Nate Washington, HOU – Washington followed up the Week
7 breakout with 4-74-1, not too shabby considering he is still
only just 35-50 percent owned.
Reed, WAS – After the Week 8 bye, Reed should be ready to
go against the Patriots, who will likely get ahead early and force
Kirk Cousins to throw to his favorite target.
TE Clive Walford, OAK – Walford had two receptions for
13 yards on Sunday. He’s best acquired in dynasty leagues,
as he may not see consistent production from week-to-week just