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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.
Dak Prescott is performing like a bordeline
QB1 and will get the start Wk 9 according to Jerry Jones.
Prescott, DAL – Prescott is available in about 15-40
percent of fantasy leagues – despite the much-deserved hype surrounding
his impressive rookie campaign. He was off to his worst start
of his young pro career until he turned it around in the fourth
quarter and led a comeback OT victory – registering his best fantasy
day thus far with 287-2-1 and adding 38 rushing yards and a TD
on the ground. He and the Cowboys are facing the Browns in Week
Mariota, TEN – The Titans passing game looks to be
improving at a good time, as DeMarco Murray’s workload needs diminishing.
Mariota (60 -90 percent owned) was sharp in Week 8 (81 percent
completion rate, 270-2-0) and is a talented, mobile QB with plenty
of upside. The Titans will look to push the ball downfield when
they travel to San Diego in Week 9 and use Derrick Henry a bit
Bradford, MIN – It’ll be interesting to see what Bradford
(20-40 percent owned) can accomplish Monday night with Stefon
Diggs back against the Bears. I’ll be updating with those developments,
but he’s already an excellent candidate for a bye week plug-in
for fantasy owners without the services of Carson Palmer, Andy
Dalton, Kirk Cousins and the glorious Tom Brady in Week 9. The
Lions pass defense is among the worst in the league, surrendering
(on average) 31 percent more fantasy points to opposing QBs.
UPDATE: Bradford had a weak Monday
night game, missing some throws and eventually totaling 228-1-0
– numbers that made him look a lot better than he was. Diggs
is awesome and the Vikings might open things up a bit against
Detroit, but I’m much less enthusiastic about this recommendation
after watching Minnesota offense struggle against Chicago’s
Fitzpatrick, NYJ – Fitzpatrick was mediocre in good
Week 8 matchup with the Browns, completing just 16-of-34 passes
for 228-1-0, but he didn’t turn the ball over. He’s also the only
viable QB they have at this point and he’ll have an interesting
matchup in Week 9 facing a decimated Miami secondary. The Dolphins
pass rush is the defense’s lone redeeming quality, so if Fitzpatrick
gets okay protection, he could do well enough to serve as a desperation
Taylor, BUF – Taylor finished with 183-0-0 in Week
8 (he doesn’t have any receivers!) and 26 yards and a TD on the
ground – and a week without turnovers was basically his only laudable
success against the Pats. He’s not a good start in Week 9 facing
Osweiler, HOU – Rumors of lost confidence could provide
some insight into Osweiler’s struggles, which continued in his
forgettable 186-1-1 performance in a win over the Lions. Osweiler
may win some games, but he’s not getting the ball to DeAndre Hopkins,
Will Fuller is dealing with a leg injury suffered in Week 8, and
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz also left the game with a head injury. The
Week 9 bye should serve this team well.
Sproles, PHI – Sproles is owned in about 60-85 percent
of fantasy leagues but might be available in yours – and he’s
running well and looking much more lively than most veterans in
their 12th season. He ran for 86 yards and 5-17-0 receiving in
the loss to Dallas but looks like the Eagles’ top option at RB
heading into Week 9 against the Giants.
UPDATE: The Eagles are still undecided as of Tuesday morning if
Sproles has surpassed Ryan Mathews as the lead back, but regardless
of what they say, he’s the top add if available.
Hightower, NO – After Mark Ingram was benched for fumbling
early in the game, Hightower (1-10 percent owned) took over and
ran for 102 yards and a TD on 26 carries, helping the Saints secure
a tough victory against the Seahawks. He’s on my radar heading
into Week 9 facing the 49ers, even if Ingram regains the coaching
staff’s confidence. So far, it looks like the Saints are committed
to spreading the carries around and going with a hot-hand approach.
UPDATE: Hightower seems to have a few more touches coming his
way and the 49ers are the worst in the league against opposing
West, KC –UPDATE:
After Spencer Ware left with a concussion, West took over lead
back duties and finished with 14 carries for 52 yards in Kansas
City's Week 8 win over the Colts. He added 2-8-0 on three targets,
but isn’t much of a pass-catching back as Ware or Jamaal
Charles (knee), who didn’t play in Week 8 and isn’t
looking too good for the tilt with Jacksonville. West (5-25 percent
owned) could start if Ware doesn't get cleared in time for this
week’s contest. He’ll be one of the top waiver selections
despite it being short-term help since Ware is likely to return
Kelley, WAS – Kelley (20-60 percent owned) had a solid
trip to London, finishing Week 8 with 87 rushing yards and a TD
in the OT tie with the Bengals. He’s on a bye this week, but should
be added in all formats despite a difficult Week 10 matchup with
the Vikings – since Matt Jones has struggled with fumbling and
Smith, TB – Smith worked as the backup to Jacquizz
Rodgers (foot/ankle) on Sunday. With HC Dirk Koetter not sounding
too optimistic about Rodgers playing this week, it looks like
Smith will be a solid pickup. He’s got big-play potential and
is a versatile back who’ll log a decent workload if Doug Martin
(hamstring) can’t suit up.
Henry, TEN – Henry (40-75 percent owned) had a breakout
performance on Thursday against the Jags, running for 60 yards
and a TD on 16 carries and adding 4-37-0 on five targets. DeMarco
Murray got an MRI on his toe and it came back negative, but the
Titans will likely use Henry more (in the passing game, as well)
UPDATE: Still no word if Murray will be limited this week, but
there is no way I’m convinced that that toe injury won’t
give Henry more looks going forward. He was electric coming out
of the backfield last week, even if it was against the Jags.
Prosise, SEA – Prosise (5-15 percent owned) had 23
rushing yards on four carries but added 4-80-0 on four targets
Sunday – a breakthrough performance for the rookie back. He’ll
likely see his usage in the passing game increase going forward
and could be worth a snag in deeper leagues or PPR formats.
Morris, DAL – This is your weekly reminder to roster
Morris (15-50 percent owned) as a handcuff to Ezekiel Elliott,
as well as a heads-up that he might get more work if the Cowboys
get out to a decent lead against the Browns in Week 9.
Lewis, NE –UPDATE:
I’m actually dropping James White in one league because
my roster is devastated by a combination of injuries and bye weeks,
and Lewis (about 25-65 percent owned in redrafts) could be the
main guy once the Pats return for action in Week 10. That’s
not a sure thing, mind you – but White has probably already
passed his peak fantasy value. This is obviously only an option
in leagues with deeper benches and for sufficiently prepared owners
who aren’t hobbled by the same problems as I am.
Rodgers, TB – It was fun while it lasted! Rodgers ran
for 69 yards and a TD in Week 8 but could be looking at a multi-week
UPDATE: He was wearing a walking boot Monday, so it’s safe
to say he won’t play Thursday.
Thompson, WAS – Thompson ran for just 14 yards on seven
carries in London but added 5-27-0 receiving. He’s the PPR guy
to own in the Washington backfield.
Booker, DEN – Booker’s 54 rushing yards and TD, as
well as 5-30-0 receiving, were slightly overshadowed by a fumble
on another sure TD run, a vulture score by Juwan Thompson, and
a shoulder injury that briefly forced him out of the game in the
first quarter. Hopefully he’s good to go for Week 9 at Oakland.
UPDATE: Booker looks good to go for Week 9, but is undergoing
more tests. Kapri Bibbs, who was a longshot even to make the Broncos
final roster, will assume lead RB duties if Booker can’t
Barber, TB – Barber didn’t do much in Week 8 but could
have a much larger role going forward with Rodgers likely to miss
some time. Stay tuned – it looks like Smith projects to lead the
backfield in touches on Thursday night but I’ll provide more info
UPDATE: The Falcons are more vulnerable against the pass, which
is where Smith will make his hay but Barber strikes me as the
best shot for goal line carries and short yardage. Mike James
could snag some carries as well, but my money is on Smith for
the most short-term fantasy value.
Blue, HOU – Blue had 41 yards on nine carries and briefly
left with a rib injury, but returned to action. He’s still a viable
deep-league waiver add and is right behind Lamar Miller in Houston.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Sanu, ATL – Sanu’s 9-84-1 led the Falcons in receiving
on Sunday, and it was his best and most efficient (10 targets)
performance of the season. Sanu is owned in about 50 percent of
leagues and offers marginal upside but he could obviously see
more looks if Julio Jones is forced to miss any snaps with his
most recent, undisclosed injury.
Hill, KC – The speedy rookie hauled in 5-98-1 on six
targets and added a 7-yard rush on Sunday in the win over Indy,
giving him three TDs in his last four games. He’ll be a popular
pickup this week and faces the Jags in Week 9. His numbers won’t
be consistent, but he has upside in favorable matchups.
Coates, PIT –UPDATE:
If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy enough to play this week, Coates
(who was nursing a finger injury before the bye) could be the
sneakiest pickup of all the WRs out there in more than 50 percent
of casual leagues (he’s more like 65-76 percent owned in
more competitive leagues). Dropped by many to make room for higher-upside
receivers in the wake of Big Ben’s latest ding, Coates is
a boom-or-bust receiver but one with an almost unlimited ceiling
in the Steelers’ offense.
Wright, TEN – Wright (10-25 percent owned) seems to
do most of his damage in even-numbered weeks in 2016, while he
did the opposite in 2014 and 2015 – seriously, check his game
logs, it’s actually kind of hilarious. Wright is still rotating
in and out of series but remains a solid home-run-hitting threat
in an offense that features a bevy of grinders. The Chargers defensive
backs could be faced with a tough task this week and its likely
Wright can break through with a big play or two. He’s averaged
six targets per game over his last three.
Nelson, ARI – Nelson saw 12 targets in Week 8 and caught
8-79-2. I removed him from two DFS entries right before lock because
I was worried he wouldn’t see enough red zone snaps…and that backfired,
didn’t it? Nelson is talented young player and while small, could
be an excellent slot receiver seeing more looks when the Cards
return from their Week 9 bye.
UPDATE: Nelson was named the new starter in three-WR sets alongside
Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown, with talented-but-goofy Michael
Floyd the odd man out. His value is skyrocketing.
Crowder, WAS – Crowder (45-85 percent owned) had a
big day on Sunday, but Washington is on a Week 9 bye. He’s definitely
worth an add if you can spare the bench space, which might be
a tough proposition with so many teams off this week. Crowder
has actually been one of the most consistent fantasy producers
this season, with 40-498-4 in eight games.
Pitta, BAL –UPDATE:
Just when I think it’s safe to drop Pitta (and I have), he emerges
once again with a decent matchup. His upside is limited, but if
you need an emergency fill-in to get you between 5-10 fantasy
points, he’s your guy. He’s about 45-65 percent owned and his
upside is definitely at its maximum facing the high-powered Steelers,
who get in some shootouts from time to time.
Brate, TB –UPDATE:
Brate (30-60 percent owned) may have more upside than Pitta, but
he’s probably less of a sure thing than both the other TEs listed
here. The Bucs don’t throw a lot to their TEs, and I wouldn’t
either if I had Mike Evans.
Hooper, ATL –UPDATE:
I was waiting to see if Tamme would be ruled out for Thursday
night, and he has been. So Hooper, a 6-3, 254-pound rookie out
of Stanford, gets a chance to follow up his 5-41-0 performance
against the Bucs. Hooper has caught everything thrown to him this
season (11-195-1 on 11 targets), making him a reasonably safe
fill-in option at TE especially in PPR formats.
Adams, GB – Adams had 12 catches for 74 yards and no
TDs against the Falcons on Sunday. He’s a target monster (30 in
his last two games) and makes for a solid WR2 play next week facing
LaFell, CIN – LaFell was targeted only twice by Dalton
in London, and caught just one ball for six yards. He’s a boom-or-bust
option most weeks and is on a Week 9 bye.
Enunwa, NYJ – I hope that Enunwa’s 4-93-1 on 11 targets
from Fitzpatrick helped some folks out this week, as I was bold
in my recommendation to add the playmaking WR.
Lee, JAC – Lee had an awful Week 8 (1-21-0, lost fumble)
but still is worth adding in deeper leagues for his moderate 10-15
point upside in PPR formats.
Shepard, TB – Shepard was targeted just three times
by Jameis Winston, but caught 2-24-1, including an impressive
and athletic 19-yard TD. He’s a TD-dependent WR5.
Barnidge, CLE – His seven targets from Josh McCown
were about par for the course, but he failed to make a big mark
this week, catching just 3-42-0. He’s got a decent matchup
Week 9 against the Cowboys, who let up a lot of short passes underneath
to TEs. His ownership shot up significantly this week, to about
75-85 percent, after it was revealed that his buddy Josh McCown
would be starting at QB.
UPDATE: I’m less psyched about him if Cody Kessler starts
again at QB against Dallas, but he’s easily a Top 10 TE
play and a solid second-tier option.