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Fantasy Football: Jay Ajayi, Torrey Smith are must-adds in Week 7
2:27 | Fantasy
Fantasy Football: Jay Ajayi, Torrey Smith are must-adds in Week 7
Monday October 17th, 2016

Welcome to the Waiver Warehouse, your one-stop emporium for upgrades and Band-Aids. Each week we list the best widely available free agents for fantasy football. (We define “widely available” as being owned in less than half of all Yahoo leagues.) We’ll also list a few more names in the “window shopping” category—players worth monitoring or perhaps worth rostering in deeper leagues. In addition to a brief overview of each player, we’ll grade each player on talent, opportunity and schedule (with an emphasis on near-term schedule), then provide a composite grade. Please note that for quarterbacks, we replace the opportunity grade with a grade for the QB’s supporting cast.

We could all see Jay Ajayi’s 200-yard rushing day coming, right? OK, maybe not. But back in midsummer, before the Dolphins signed free-agent RB Arian Foster, a lot of fantasy analysts were projecting Ajayi to be a solid RB2. Foster’s arrival seemed to slam the door on Ajayi’s opportunity, but now the second year man from Boise State has kicked down that door. Expect a bidding war this week in FAAB leagues where Ajayi remains available. Who else is worth claiming this week? Read on ...

QUARTERBACKS

Brian Hoyer, Chicago Bears (20% owned)

Hoyer has thrown for more than 300 yards in each of his four starts for the Bears, with six TD passes and zero interceptions. He’s also completed 68.8% of his passes since coming to Chicago. Jay Cutler has about zero chance of getting his job back barring injury, so there’s no need to worry that Hoyer is merely working a temp assignment. There’s also no need to worry about Hoyer being short on weapons, as Cameron Meredith has emerged from the ether to become a fine sidekick to Alshon Jeffery. Hoyer has a solid matchup with the Packers on Thursday night, and though it will be followed by a tough matchup against the Vikings and then a bye, the journeyman QB’s longer-term outlook is still pretty rosy.

(Talent: C+ | Supporting cast: B+ | Schedule: B | OVERALL: B)

Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (27% owned)

Smith appeared to have a scrumptious matchup against the Raiders in Week 6, but instead of producing a statistical bonanza, he produced the sort of efficient but unrewarding numbers that fantasy owners have come to expect from him: 22 attempts, 19 completions, 224 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions. Now, Smith gets a really appealing Week 7 matchup against the porous Saints defense. He’s an obvious streaming candidate this week, but the range of possible outcomes is pretty wide for a risk-averse quarterback squaring off against one of the worst pass defenses in the league.

(Talent: B- | Supporting cast: B | Schedule: A | OVERALL: B)

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Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings (15% owned)

Bradford has a tough matchup in Philadelphia this week, but his rest-of-season schedule is pretty easy once he gets past the Eagles. Bradford has been playing perhaps the best football of his career since joining the Vikings. Thing is, the Vikings are only asking him to manage games, so the fantasy upside really isn’t all that high.

(Talent: B | Supporting cast: C+ | Schedule: B- | OVERALL: B-)

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (29% owned)

Another week, another busy but low-impact performance from Flacco. The ninth-year veteran is averaging 45.7 attempts per game but a pedestrian 6.02 yards per attempt, and he’s thrown just five TD passes in six games. As unimpressive as the numbers are, Flacco has a tempting matchup against the Jets this week, which gives him one-week streamer appeal.

(Talent: B- | Supporting cast: C+ | Schedule: B | OVERALL: C+)

Window shopping:

If you’re attempting to stream QBs in a larger league, you might want to claim Ryan Fitzpatrick a week early in advance of a highly favorable Week 8 matchup against the Browns. Cody Kessler’s 336-yard, two-TD performance against the Titans on Sunday may have been an anomaly, but he still makes a viable streaming option in 2-QB leagues. Case Keenum has averaged 286 passing yards over his last three starts, with five TDs and three INTs over that span, and might be a last-ditch streaming option this week against the Giants. The shortcomings of Trevor Siemian were laid bare in Denver’s Week 6 loss to San Diego, and no one will be clamoring to acquire his services for a difficult Week 7 matchup against the Texans. Siemian is worth owning in 2-QB leagues but has little value in leagues where you’re only required to start one quarterback. Colin Kaepernick simply isn’t an NFL-caliber passer anymore, but his running ability is keeping his fantasy value on life support.

RUNNING BACKS

Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins (30% owned)

Let the gold rush begin. Ajayi carved up the Steelers in Week 6, rushing 25 times for 204 yards and two TDs. Oddly enough, Ajayi’s watershed day came just as Arian Foster returned from a multi-week hamstring injury. The assumption was that Foster would reassume the lead-back role upon his return, or perhaps after splitting carries for a week to get his conditioning back. But Ajayi took an unofficial 48 snaps on Sunday, with Damien Williams taking 12 and Foster taking only 11. So where do we go from here? It seems strange to imagine Foster as a backup, but how could the Dolphins not let Ajayi get an extended look in a featured role? This hasn’t been the most logical of franchises in the recent past, but Ajayi figures to be Miami’s bell cow back in the weeks to come, with Foster likely being relegated to a third-down role. RB-needy owners might be tempted to bid 50% or more of their budget for Ajayi, and in light of the opportunity that awaits him, that sort of a splurge can easily be justified.

(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: A| Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: A-)

Dion Lewis, New England Patriots (25% owned)

Lewis will presumably be back at some point from the torn ACL he sustained last year and the subsequent cleanup procedure he needed earlier this year, though we’re not exactly sure when. A Brady-Lewis pairing could be oh-so delightful, just as it was last season. Stash Lewis if you can afford the buy-in and the roster spot.

(Lewis: Talent: A | Opportunity: B | Schedule: B | OVERALL: B+)

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Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars (43% owned)

After seemingly falling behind T.J. Yeldon on the depth chart, Ivory outcarried Yeldon 11-6 in the Jaguars’ Week 6 win over the Bears. Ivory turned his 11 carries into 32 yards and a touchdown, and he also caught a couple of passes for three yards. Averaging just 2.4 yards per carry in his first three games with the Jaguars, Ivory had a career average of 4.6 yards entering the season and still has a good chance to fulfill the offseason expectation that he’d handle a majority of Jacksonville’s early-down snaps. He’s worth a robust bid in standard-scoring leagues but much less in PPR leagues since he’s almost a complete non-factor in the passing game.

(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: B | Schedule: A- | OVERALL: B+)

Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos (27% owned)

Booker’s upward snap-count trend was halted at least temporarily, as he went from playing 41% of Denver’s snaps in Week 5 to playing 21% of the snaps in Week 6. Still, C.J. Anderson is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, and the Broncos have been reluctant to let Anderson shoulder a heavy workload. Booker is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, though he’s averaging fewer than six carries per game and has yet to score his first NFL touchdown. The talented rookie is an intriguing speculative play, and C.J. Anderson owners who haven’t grabbed him as a handcuff should consider doing so.

(Talent: B | Opportunity: C | Schedule: A- | OVERALL: B)

Bilal Powell, New York Jets (37% owned)

More useful in PPR leagues than standard-scoring leagues, Powell is getting quite a bit of work on passing downs but cedes early-down work to Matt Forte. Powell is worth owning in all formats and is probably already owned in highly competitive leagues.

(Talent: B | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: C | OVERALL: B-)

DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders (45% and 32% owned)

Richard could be marginalized once Latavius Murray is able to come back from a turf toe injury, which could be as early as this week. But turf toe can linger, and if Murray remains out, Washington and Richard will continue to share the workload for Oakland, with Washington getting the larger share. There wasn’t much of a load to go around in the Raiders’ disheartening 26-10 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday, with Washington carrying 10 times for 29 yards and failing to catch a pass, and Richard getting only 4-8-0 rushing and 2-5-0 receiving. Once Murray gets back, Washington will still have some fantasy utility as a change-of-pace back who should get 8-12 touches per game.

(Washington: Talent: B- | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: B | OVERALL: B-)

(Richard: Talent: C+ | Opportunity: D | Schedule: B | OVERALL: C-)

Dwayne Washington, Detroit Lions (11% owned)

The Lions can’t run-block, and they don’t seem especially interested in establishing a ground game anyway. The guess here is that once Washington returns from an ankle injury, he’ll outsnap Justin Forsett and Zach Zenner, though pass-catching RB Theo Riddick will probably outsnap all three. Washington may have a good chance to average better than 10 carries a game, but that might not mean a lot. The Lions do face a weak Washington run defense in Week 7 and a below-average Houston run defense in Week 8, so if Washington is ready to roll this week, he has the potential to be a sneaky-good fantasy start.

(Talent: C+ | Opportunity: C | Schedule: B | OVERALL: C+)

Window shopping:

The eventual return of Doug Martin will squelch the fantasy value of Jacquizz Rodgers, though it’s not clear whether Martin will be ready for Week 7. Zach Zenner and Justin Forsett are only worth considering if both Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington remain sidelined. Some will hold out hope that Forsett can emerge as Detroit’s lead runner, but recent results suggest that he could be completely cooked. It appears that Kenneth Dixon won’t be taking Terrance West’s starting job on the merits, at least not any time soon, but Dixon is a talented rookie who’s just an injury away from a major role. With a handful of touches every week and steady goal-line work, Matt Asiata should be owned in deeper standard-scoring leagues. Chris Thompson is a versatile depth guy who could be helpful down the road.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears (51% owned)

Technically, we’re cheating with Meredith’s inclusion since he’s owned in more than half of Yahoo leagues, but it’s worth underscoring that he should be aggressively targeted in any league where he remains unowned. Meredith has 27 targets over the last two weeks and has turned them into 20 catches for 243 yards and a TD. Anonymous just a few short weeks ago, Meredith must now be treated as an every-week starter in all but the smallest of leagues.

(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: A | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: A-)

Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns (39% owned)

Cody Kessler’s 336-yard, two-TD performance on Sunday is all the more reason to grab Coleman, who’s due back from a broken hand in a week or two. If Kessler can continue to breathe life into the Cleveland passing game at least until veteran Josh McCown is able to return from a shoulder injury, there’s little reason to shy away from Coleman. The rookie first-round pick from Baylor demonstrated his considerable skill with a 5-104-2 performance in Week 2, the last game he played before breaking his hand. Coleman is worth 25% of your FAAB budget, maybe more.

(Talent: A- | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: B- | OVERALL: B+)

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Kenny Britt, Los Angeles Rams (9% owned)

Maybe now people will start taking this dude seriously. Britt erupted for 7-136-2 Sunday against the Lions and has produced at least 67 receiving yards in all but one game this season. It’s hard to believe that Britt is only 28. It seems like he’s been around forever, and it seems as if half of his career has been wiped out by various injuries. But now he’s playing some of the best football of his career, posting a 75% catch rate and averaging 16.4 yards per reception. Britt is on pace for 80 catches and 1,312 yards. He’s the only decent pass catcher the Rams have (sorry, Tavon Austin), which ups the odds of consistent production. Don’t be afraid to shell out 10% to 15% of your FAAB budget for Britt’s services.

(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: A- | Schedule: C+ | OVERALL: B+)

Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets (48% owned)

With Eric Decker on injured reserve, Enunwa will play a big role in the Jets’ passing game. Brandon Marshall figures to be the focus of opponents’ defensive attention, giving Enunwa plenty of chances to work against lesser cornerbacks.

(Talent: B- | Opportunity: A- | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B)

Chris Hogan, New England Patriots (38% owned)

A week after catching four of five targets for 114 yards against the Browns, Hogan was targeted only once against the Bengals in Week 6 but hauled in that lone throw for a 39-yard gain. With so many pass catchers at Tom Brady’s disposal, the target load is apt to be erratic for everyone except Rob Gronkowski and perhaps Julian Edelman. That said, the output of the Patriots’ passing game is so prolific that it’s still worth considering Hogan even if it’s hard to foresee when he’ll ring the bell.

(Talent: B | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: B- | OVERALL: B-)

Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (1% owned)

I only made it through the first few steps of a 12-step program to break my Cordarrelle Patterson addiction. I know I’m not alone, because I’ve seen some of you in the group meetings, shuffling in bashfully, sitting in a circle and drinking weak coffee. But, man, it’s hard to kick the habit, isn’t it? Patterson has been targeted six times in each of the last two games, and the Vikings are making a concerted effort to keep him involved in the offense. He played 61% of the team’s offensive snaps against the Texans in Week 5, though Stefon Diggs’ absence obviously factored into the heavier snap count. Patterson’s raw tools are undeniably appealing, and the ceiling is sky-high, even if there’s about a 2% chance that he ever hits it. You know you’re not going to win the lottery, but you buy the ticket anyway, don’t you? The temptation is irresistible when the jackpot grows enormous, and the Patterson jackpot could theoretically be glorious.

(Talent: A- | Opportunity: C- | Schedule: C | OVERALL: C)

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Week Under Review: Something is clearly off with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers (1% owned)

The lone ray of light in the Packers’ 30-16 home loss to the Cowboys on Sunday was the play of Montgomery, who caught 10 of 12 targets for 98 yards and also ran three times for six yards. A third-round pick out of Stanford in 2015, Montgomery played an unusual role against Dallas, lining up in the backfield on roughly two-thirds of his unofficial 35 snaps and catching six passes for 52 yards from that position. Montgomery hadn’t caught a single pass in any of his five previous games, but he could reprise his Week 6 RB-WR hybrid role this Thursday against the Bears, since RB Eddie Lacy nursing a bad ankle and RB James Starks is out with a knee injury. It’s possible that a small investment in Montgomery will be completely wasted, and that he’ll quickly disappear from a passing game that’s been shrinking anyway. But with the Packers looking for a wide receiver to step up, and with Montgomery so impressively asserting himself in Week 6, a small investment is warranted.

(Talent: C+ | Opportunity: C | Schedule: C | OVERALL: C)

Window shopping:

Technically the Bills’ No. 1 receiver these days, Robert Woods is averaging a mere 9.6 yards per catch and has scored only one TD. The 49ers’ QB change from Blaine Gabbert to Colin Kaepernick bodes ill for Jeremy Kerley’s previously ascendant fantasy value, but it might revive the previously moribund fantasy value of Torrey Smith, who had 3-76-1 on seven targets in Kap’s first start of the season. It’s probably a mistake to give Cordarrelle Patterson a full entry in this column and relegate the dependable Adam Thielen to the “window shopping” category, but Thielen’s ceiling is lower than the roof in the Seven Dwarfs’ hut. Breshad Perriman saw a season-high eight targets on Sunday and might be nearing the point of consistent fantasy relevance. Cole Beasley will be on bye this week, and the return of Dez Bryant in Week 8 will chip away at Beasley’s value, but the little guy can still be an asset in PPR leagues. Mohamed Sanu had 5-47-1 Sunday on a season-high 10 targets and could be helpful in PPR leagues if he’s no longer hindered by the shoulder injury he’s been playing through. Anquan Boldin has 29 catches and three TDs, but he’s averaging just 8.4 yards per catch. Washington WRs Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder both offer consistent catch volume, but they’ve each exceed 60 receiving yards in a game only once this season.

NFL
Redskins TE Vernon Davis flagged for ridiculous excessive celebration penalty

The snap percentage of Dorial Green-Beckham has been trending upward, reaching 81% in Week 6, which suggests the talented but enigmatic DGB could be on the cusp of fantasy relevance. Brandon LaFell has scored three touchdowns in the last two weeks, which isn’t worth getting lathered up about, but he probably deserves to be owned in most leagues. It’s hard to get too worked up about longtime underachiever Kendall Wright, but his 8-133-1 performance against the Browns in Week 6 certainly raises an eyebrow. He might be worth adding in deep leagues and is at least worth monitoring otherwise. With Donte Moncrief still not ready to come back and Phillip Dorsett now dealing with a hamstring injury, the Colts’ Chester Rogers might be a viable Week 7 fantasy play against the Titans. The Chiefs’ No. 2 receiver, Chris Conley, might not be a bad Week-7-only play against a bad Saints defense. PPR specialist Eddie Royal is on a 77-catch pace but has exceed 57 receiving yards in just one of six games; he’s also dealing with a toe injury. With 22 receptions in five games and a catch rate of 73%, Marqise Lee deserves to be owned in most PPR leagues. Vincent Jackson and Adam Humphries are both averaging 6.2 targets per game, but Jackson is averaging an uncharacteristically low 11.5 yards per catch, Humphries is averaging 10.8 YPC, and only in the deepest of leagues would you consider rostering either of them.

TIGHT ENDS

Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers (34% owned)

Let’s face it: Henry is a more valuable fantasy asset than fellow Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. Over his last four games, the 21-year old Henry has caught 18 of 24 targets for 290 yards and three TDs. Now little more than a red-zone threat, Gates might steal a few TD catches from Henry, but the talent-laden rookie is destined to play a key role in the San Diego offense all season long. In fact, he might be the most impactful pass catcher at Philip Rivers’ disposal these days. Henry is the top waiver target among the widely available TEs and is worth around 25% of your FAAB budget if you’re hurting at the position.

(Talent: A- | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: B | OVERALL: A-)

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (19% owned)

Now widely available after being dropped by many of his owners during his bye week, Brate is a solid if unspectacular option at tight end. He’s averaging 5.6 targets, 3.4 catches and 39.4 yards per game. Brate has favorable matchups coming up in the next three weeks against the 49ers, Raiders and Falcons. A solid streaming option.

(Talent: C+ | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: A- | OVERALL: B)

Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (24% owned)

Clay’s ownership percentage suggests that fantasy owners aren’t taking him seriously, but with Sammy Watkins out of commission and the Bills having few other viable weapons at wide receiver, Clay should see steady volume in the Buffalo passing game. He’s had five receptions in three consecutive games, with 172 yards over that span. Clay won’t provide many big plays, but he’s a safe (if boring) bet for volume.

(Talent: C | Opportunity: A- | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B-)

Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers (9% owned)

Green is eligible to come off the PUP list this week. It’s not clear whether he’ll come off right away, and even if he does, the torn meniscus sustained by Ben Roethlisberger would dampen enthusiasm for Green upon his return. But once Big Ben is back in the lineup and Green has proven to be over his ankle injury, it’s possible that Green could return TE1 value. That possibility is at least three weeks off, but if you’re planning ahead for the stretch run, a bid for Green might make sense.

(Talent: B- | Opportunity: B- | Schedule: B | OVERALL: B-)

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Ben Roethlisberger's injury comes at the worst possible time for Steelers

C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans (1% owned)

If you’re too cash-strapped to pay the freight for Hunter Henry, consider this discount TE alternative. Fiedorowicz has come on over the last three weeks, catching 14 of 20 targets for 194 yards and two TDs over that span. If Will Fuller’s hamstring injury lingers, Fiedorowicz could continue to get a steady diet of targets out of necessity. Unfortunately, a daunting matchup against the Broncos this week makes him a poor bet for Week 7.

(Talent: C+ | Opportunity: B- | Schedule: C- | OVERALL: C+)

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (11% owned)

Dwayne Allen left Sunday night’s game against the Texans with an ankle injury, and if Allen misses any time, Doyle becomes the No. 1 tight end in a Colts offense that uses its TEs pretty heavily in the passing game. Doyle had 4-53-1 against Houston and has caught 20 of 23 targets this season. He had a pair of TD catches against the Lions in Week 1. Bid on Doyle only if the Allen injury is likely to keep him out in Week 7.

(Talent: C | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: C+ | OVERALL: C)

Window shopping: If Jordan Reed remains sidelined by a concussion, Vernon Davis (who had 50 receiving yards and a TD catch on Sunday) will make an excellent Week 7 streamer against the Lions, who have trouble defending TEs. Austin Seferian-Jenkins played 34% of the offensive snaps in his Jets debut, and he might be asked to make even bigger contributions in the weeks to come now that Eric Decker is on injured reserve. Virgil Green had three catches for 21 yards in his first game back from a calf injury and might be able to provide TE depth in larger leagues.

 

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