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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.
With Geno Smith suffering a torn ACL, Ryan
Fitzpatrick is back in the saddle as the Jets starting QB.
Fitzpatrick, NYJ – Yup, he’s back. After Geno Smith
went down with a knee injury, Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a comeback
victory over the Ravens, completing 9-of-14 passes for 120 yards
and a TD. He’s likely to get another start in Week 8 facing the
Browns, who are the worst defense against opposing fantasy QBs
according to our Strength
of Schedule matrix. He’s still about 5-20 percent owned but
will likely be available in your league for a hilarious (but somehow
Taylor, BUF – The Pats are tough, but Taylor is still
only 60-75 percent owned and makes things happen. He’s without
huge upside but also without a terrible floor because he can use
his legs (at least 25 rushing yards in his last six games and
two rushing TDs this season) and doesn’t turn it over that much
(nine passing TDs and just two INTs and a fumble on the season).
He’s worth considering in his last viable fantasy start until
Week 11 or 12 (his next five are NE, @SEA, BYE, @CIN, JAC).
Osweiler, HOU – I’ll update this again tomorrow after
he faces his former team on Monday night, but as of right now,
Osweiler is about 10-35 percent owned and has the second or third
best matchup in Week 8 facing the Lions.
UPDATE: Osweiler was comically
unprepared to face his old team, and the memes announcing he’s
wanted for robbery (because of his four-year, $72 million contract
with $37 million guaranteed) in Houston were priceless. A bounceback
seems likely against the Lions, who will struggle to contain the
Texans’ multiple offensive weapons.
Manning, NYG – Manning’s dreary 196-0-0 stat line may
have helped the team win, but his fantasy owners got the shaft.
The Giants are on a bye in Week 8.
Cousins, WAS – Cousins resurrected a disastrous fantasy
outing with a big fourth quarter and finished with 301-1-0, a
lost fumble, 19 rushing yards and a rushing TD. He’ll be under
a lot of pressure next week against the Bengals but is worth a
look in deeper and two-QB formats.
Dalton, CIN – Dalton continued his steady play with
308-2-0 in the win over Cleveland – numbers that were aided significantly
by a just-before-halftime 48-yard Hail Mary heave that was pulled
down (one-handed) by A.J. Green. He should be fine to start as
a second-tier QB1 next week facing Washington.
Kaepernick, SF – Kaep wasn’t any better this week against
the Bucs, but he managed 143-1-1 passing and 84 rushing yards.
He’s on a bye Week 8.
Jones, PIT – Jones finished with 281-1-1 in the loss
to New England but didn’t embarrass himself filling in for Big
Ben. He and the Steelers get a well-timed Week 8 bye.
Keenum, LAR – Keenum threw for 291 passing yards, completing
32-of-53 attempts. He threw for one TD and four INT. He is also
on a Week 8 bye, and the world is a better place because of that.
UPDATE: Fisher is still sticking with Keenum, as of Tuesday morning.
Perhaps he will change his mind after the Rams lose by 30 points
to the Panthers in Week 9?
Rodgers, TB – I covered him in my Week
6 column and he played very well in Week 7, posting 154 yards
on 26 carries and adding 1-9-0 receiving. He failed to get in
the end zone, but that could change next week against the Raiders.
Keep an eye on the development of rookie Peyton Barber and the
imminent return of Doug Martin and his soft-tissue injury (hamstring),
but scoop up Rodgers if he’s out there in your league. His ownership
is all over the place, ranging from 35 percent in ESPN leagues
to almost 90 percent in more competitive formats.
UPDATE: Martin is without a timetable to return, Barber is looking
good and I’m estimating Rodgers to get at least 15-20 touches
in Week 8 – good enough for a high-end RB2.
Thompson, WAS – I’ve been a fan of Thompson’s for
a while, and he had a nice fantasy day on Sunday (12 carries
for 73 yards; 7-40-0 on seven targets) after Matt Jones may have
fumbled away the starting job. We’ll keep you updated on the depth
chart developments, but I really like Thompson’s upside in PPR
leagues going forward, and I’ve held onto him in the FFToday
Staff League despite a slow start.
UPDATE: Jay Gruden admitted that Jones will likely see his touches
go down, but I’d caution against rolling Thompson out in
too many non-PPR leagues. The receptions are a big part of his
Booker, DEN – I’ll be watching Booker closely tonight
(Monday) as he’s supposed to get more touches. Update tomorrow.
For now, he’s worth adding to your waiver queue because of his
upside in the passing game and the favorable matchups over the
next few weeks.
UPDATE: Booker out-snapped C.J. Anderson and picked up 83 yards
and a TD on 17 carries, while Anderson rolled for 107 and a TD.
Booker will be a popular add this week, as he should be, but we
were on him heading into Week 6.
Barber, TB – The Bucs are probably eager to move on
from the dubious legacy of Martin, and with the injury to Charles
Sims, Barber (universally available) could get more work going
forward. He had 84 yards and a TD on 12 carries and might be an
excellent dynasty/keeper league speculative addition.
UPDATE: Barber got most of his carries late in the game, but he’ll
likely spell Rodgers and pick up 7-10 carries on Sunday. Again,
he’s a better dynasty add or deep-league handcuff than standard
Blue, HOU –UPDATE: Lamar Miller shuttled in
and out of the game following a shoulder injury and Blue (0-1
percent owned) looked quick and explosive during his runs. He
finished with 63 yards on 11 carries but lost a crucial fumble.
He’s worth adding in deeper formats but you’ll have
to follow the injury report and Miller’s status heading
Ajayi, MIA – The Boise State product ran for 200 yards
in his second straight game, going for 214 yards and a TD on 28
carries and adding 1-2-0 on his lone receiving target. He’s on
a Week 8 bye but appears to be a RB1 going forward, and his 75-98
percent ownership rate means you’re probably (but maybe not) too
late to grab him.
UPDATE: Ajayi no longer has Arian Foster to worry about, as the
oft-injured back abruptly announced his retirement Monday afternoon.
I’ve always enjoyed Foster’s insight and remarkable
candor as one of the most “woke” players in the league.
It’s been tough to see him struggle with soft tissue injuries.
This is great news for Ajayi owners and it was probably time for
Foster to call it a career in such a brutal sport.
Stewart, CAR – The Week 7 bye and Week 8 matchup against
the Cards mean Stewart may still be floating around. I’d like
to have him for weeks 11-12.
White, NE – White got off to a solid start and had
2-32-1 receiving, but LeGarrette Blount’s 127 rushing yards and
two scores helped make a high usage unnecessary. I’m not too worried,
because Dion Lewis hasn’t returned to practice yet and Brady seems
to like the shifty, third-year back from Wisconsin.
Ivory, JAC – Ivory had 48 rushing yards on five carries
and 2-3-0 receiving. I’d expect a lot more of him against the
Titans in Week 8.
UPDATE: I have a feeling the Jaguars are going to pound Ivory
against the Titans on Thursday, so this could become a battle
of the RBs. Ivory is seemingly healthy and should get 15-20 carries
if the Jags know what’s good for them.
Montgomery, GB – Montgomery had a monster game (even
without a TD), catching 10-66-0 on 13 targets and nine carries
for 60 rushing yards. It was one of the better performances for
the Green Bay offense looked all season, so there’s no little
reason to assume he won’t continue to get touches facing Atlanta
in Week 8.
UPDATE: He’s an RB in some formats now, so I’m adding
him here. Knile Davis might take a few carries away if he’s
ready to go, but Montgomery was so good last week I’m betting
on another 12-15 touches/targets.
Gillislee, BUF – The Bills pushed LeSean McCoy (hamstring)
back despite him clearly not being close to 100 percent, and it
limited Gillislee to just 20 rushing yards on five carries. I
expected a much bigger workload, and we may see one in Week 8
if McCoy is still hobbled.
UPDATE: The song remains the same for Week 8 against the Pats
– McCoy will test his hammy pre-game and Gillislee’s
value depends on McCoy’s status.
Kelley, WAS – Kelley could be in line for more looks
as well, notching 15 yards on four carries and hauling in his
first career TD on a one-yard goal line reception. As I mentioned
earlier, Jones may have lost the starting job.
Carey, CHI – Carey was more effective than Jordan Howard
against the tough run defense of the Packers on Thursday, rushing
for 48 yards on 10 carries. He’s probably going to split carries
with the rookie going forward.
UPDATE: Howard still seems like the better fantasy play, but the
more I look at this situation in Chicago, the more it seems unproductive
and feckless to play any Bears skill position players.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Adams, GB – I still don’t know how Adams made it back
from a Sunday concussion to play on Thursday, but that’s for the
doctors to mitigate and the team to cover up. Regardless, Adams’
13-132-2 (16 targets) came as quite a surprise to fantasy owners,
95 to 98 percent of whom failed to take advantage of his breakout
performance. Adams is always a risky play, but this kind of upside
makes him intriguing – especially with his ownership ranging from
about 15-50 percent.
UPDATE: Lots of questions about the Packers in the comments (thanks!),
but this is the week it is safe to resume starting anyone in the
offense, from Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to Adams and newly
designated RB Ty Montgomery. Maybe Knile Davis will even get some
LaFell, CIN – LaFell snagged 4-83-1 on five targets
from Dalton and now has 14-164-4 in his last three games, and
has at least two catches in every game this season. He’s improving
as a fantasy option and is owned in just 12.8 percent of ESPN
leagues and about 25-50 percent of more competitive formats. He’s
got an excellent matchup facing Washington in Cincinnati in Week
Enunwa, NYJ – I know you don’t want to take a Jet,
but hear me out. Enunwa is only about 50-60 percent owned and
doesn’t seem like the most exciting player on paper – but his
69-yard catch-and-run TD on Sunday was a
thing to behold. He’s the Jets most exciting playmaker and
he’s been flashing speed and strength that the Browns will have
difficulty containing in Week 8. I’ll be plugging him in a bunch
of DFS lineups next week and considering him for a spot start
in one or two of my season-long leagues.
UPDATE: I’m still loving the Enunwa factor as a risk-reward
play against the Browns.
Lee, JAC – With Allen Robinson drawing blanket coverage
these days, Lee has exploited the open space and is putting together
a solid season. His 7-107-0 on eight targets brings him to 29-337-0
on 38 targets over his first six games, and an average of about
5-56-0 makes him a decent WR4 in PPR leagues, despite fantasy
ownership well under 10 percent. In his third season after a decent
rookie year and injury-plagued 2015, Lee makes a low-ceiling,
moderate-floor addition in larger formats.
Shepard, TB – While the world added Adam Humphries,
Shepard finished with 5-77-1 (six targets) in the win over San
Francisco and had a nice unexpected breakout. This may be his
high-water mark for 2016, but he’s worth a look in deeper formats.
Barnidge, CLE – Barnidge had 6-66-0 on seven targets
in Week 7. He’s about 50-80 percent owned and may be utilized
a lot in Week 8 against the Jets, whose solid D-line could force
a lot of dumpoffs and quick reads.
UPDATE: I prefer Doyle to Barnidge, but I’m expecting 8-10
targets for the Browns TE.
Britt, LAR – Britt had just 3-43-0 on eight targets
in London Week 7, and while he’s to blame for a portion of the
Rams’ poor performance, Jeff Fisher is still inexplicably enthusiastic
about Keenum. Fisher said Britt quit on a post route that ended
up being intercepted and he’d consider a WR change before a QB
change. I guess there really is no cure for Jeff Fisher.
Tate, DET – Tate hauled in 6-93-0 on 12 targets in
the win over Washington – and you can all thank me for being the
voice of reason while a collective of waiver wire pundits republished
his fantasy obituary in a ubiquitous edema of brain-swelling groupthink.
Wright, TEN – Wright had just 2-12-0 on four targets
Sunday, but if you picked him up last week, you should keep him
rostered for the next few matchups.
Garcon, WAS – Garcon was a huge disappointment in Week
7, catching just two balls for 22 yards on five targets. He was
expected to pick up more targets with Jordan Reed inactive, but
DeSean Jackson had eight targets (5-35-0) and the backs got a
lot of dump-offs from Cousins.
Beasley, DAL – The Cowboys were on a Week 7 bye. Dez
Bryant is slated to return in Week 8 but that shouldn’t diminish
Beasley’s Welker-like role in the slot.
Thomas, NO – Finally, somebody who exceeded my expectations!
Thomas had 10-130-0 on 13 targets from Brees, and though he didn’t
find the end zone (he secured TDs in his last three games), there’s
no reason Thomas shouldn’t be owned in all formats moving forward.
Woods, BUF – Woods missed Week 7 with a foot injury,
and Justin Hunter struggled in his first start (2-25-0 on four
targets). Marquise Goodwin had a nice game, collecting 4-93-1.
UPDATE: Goodwin actually sustained a concussion Sunday and we
could see Hunter’s snaps continue to trend upward.
Henry, SD – Just when you think Henry has accepted
the torch from Antonio Gates, he disappears. Henry’s 1-16-0 on
three targets killed a handful of my DFS lineups and probably
had a hand in thousands of fantasy losses this week. His size
and ability still make him a must-own, but it’s disappointing
he couldn’t capitalize on such a prime matchup.
Doyle, IND – Doyle’s 9-78-1 on 10 targets was tops
among TE in PPR leagues and third (to Gronk and Delanie Walker)
in standard scoring formats. He’s a must-own in all formats
and has clearly earned the trust of his QB.
UPDATE: Doyle looks like a Top 5 TE this week. He’s going
to be a hot pick.
Fiedorowicz, HOU –UPDATE: Fiedorowicz (5-35-0
on seven targets Monday night) could see a ton of targets Sunday
against the Lions as the Texans go back to basics after the loss
to Denver. He’s the clear passing TE in an offense seeking
an identity – and that’s a good spot to be in.