We’ve now gone two straight weeks without any major injuries to fantasy football stars. Sure, one can argue that all of the good players are already injured. But that’s not much fun, so we’re going to celebrate the lack of serious injuries by giving you three players to target on waiver wires this week.
Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys
Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys
Here we go again. Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension has been reinstated. He still has legal options on the table, but, until further notice, we in the fantasy world are going to assume that he will be out for the next six weeks. Jerry Jones went on the radio in Dallas on Tuesday and suggested that Morris would be the team's primary back with Elliott suspended. He has been serving as the backup all season, but that doesn't mean much in Dallas. Elliott has played 83.8% of the team's snaps, and has handled 86.7% of the backfield touches. In other words, Morris's status as the backup doesn't necessarily guarantee that he'll slide into the starter's role, as he would in a traditional depth chart hierarchy. There are rumblings that the only reason McFadden was inactive every game this season was to ensure his health in case Elliott eventually had to serve the suspension. McFadden is just two seasons removed from a 1,089-yard campaign behind Dallas's offensive line, and he's easily a better receiver than Morris. Rod Smith, the third-year back out of Ohio State, could also factor into the backfield mix, with Jones calling him out on the radio, as well. For now, we'll give Morris a slight lead over McFadden in the race to replace Elliott, with Smith lurking as a vulture, especially in passing situations.
Robby Anderson, WR, Jets
Anderson had the best game of his young career in Week 8, catching all six of his targets for 104 yards and a touchdown. Anderson has now turned in three straight useful games, pulling down 13 of 23 targets for 215 yards and two scores, amounting to 11.17 points per game in standard-scoring leagues, and 15.5 points per game in PPR formats. Anderson had an 80% snap rate coming into the week, and is going to be a top option in the Jets passing game all season. That passing game has been surprisingly effective this season, with Josh McCown playing his usual brand of low-ceiling, competent quarterback. Anderson is a field-stretcher who, at 6' 3", can be a real problem for defenses in the red zone. The Jets don’t have their bye until Week 11, and that means Anderson will be on the WR3 radar the next two weeks. If you’re looking at thin roster with six more teams going on bye next week, Anderson can help. The Jets host the Bills on Thursday night in Week 9. The matchup isn’t great, but Anderson has done enough to warrant a waiver claim, with an eye on the rest of the season as much as on his short-term value.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens
Collins was back in command of the Baltimore backfield in Week 8, running for 113 yards on 18 carries. This is an impossible backfield to project from week to week, but at some point the Ravens coaching staff is going to have to acknowledge the fact that Collins has been the team’s most effective runner. He has rushed for at least 4.6 yards per carry in three of his last four games. The only game in which he came short of that number was also the lone contest over the last four weeks where Javorius Allen led the backfield. Despite Collins’s exploits, he got just two more touches than Allen, and he was certainly helped along by the game script. The Ravens led by multiple scores the entire second half, and took a 20–0 lead into the fourth quarter. That brand of game is always going to play into Collins’s hands, whereas one in which they trail will likely feature more Allen on the field. Still, with Collins giving the Ravens a real jolt on the ground, he needs to be owned in all fantasy formats. The Ravens will be on a long week in Week 9, taking on a Titans defense that’s no better than average against the run.
Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers
Martavis Bryant is playing, talking and seemingly sulking his way out of Pittsburgh. Smith-Schuster is taking advantage, already earning himself a bigger role in the offense in advance of the team’s Week 9 game with the Lions. He solidified that role with a monster performance in the 20-15 win over the Lions, catching seven of his 10 targets for 193 yards and one touchdown. The rookie out of USC is up to 24 catches on 37 targets for 424 yards and four touchdowns on the season. He barely had a presence in the offense in the team’s first two games, though he did manage to find the end zone in Week 2. He has averaged nearly six targets per game since then, and could be in line for more work outside the numbers after his Week 8 breakout. If that’s the case, he’ll likely have more opportunity to show what he can do deep down the field. The Steelers are on bye in Week 9, but Smith-Schuster will be back on the WR3 radar when they return to action in Week 10.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins
Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins
The Dolphins and Eagles surprised everyone on Tuesday morning by completing a trade that sent Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick. Ajayi's fantasy stock received a significant shot in the arm, but that's a story for another column. We're more concerned here with the situation he left behind in Miami. Ajayi was a true workhorse for the Dolphins, handling more than 70% of the team's backfield touches. Whatever we can glean from Drake's and Williams's usage should be considered with that in mind. Williams did play more snaps and get more touches over the team's first seven games, but that owes largely to the fact that he was, and likely still is, the team's third-down back. Drake got six carries last week, which was the most for any Miami back not named Ajayi this season. We know this is going to be a timeshare, but Drake has more of the characteristics of a primary running back than Williams. Both players are worth a claim with Ajayi out of the picture, but make Drake your preference. You should not break the bank for either. Our 4for4 colleague Josh Moore hit it on the head when he called both backs "likely-to-disappoint must-adds." While they have obvious value at the top of Miami's depth chart, their lackluster skill sets, combined with the limitations of the Dolphins offense, will likely prevent either from moving the needle very much in fantasy leagues.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
The Colts kept it surprisingly close in Cincinnati, nearly upsetting the Bengals and upending survivor leagues. That kept Mack’s snap rate lower than expected, though he did still play three more snaps than Frank Gore. What’s more, he was effective yet again, turning 14 touches into 63 total yards and a touchdown. We know that Mack will get plenty of work when the Colts fall behind, but it was encouraging to see him so heavily involved in a game that was played within an 11-point window all afternoon. At the very least, Mack is going to be on the RB2/3 and flex radar over the next two weeks, with six teams on bye in Week 9, and four more taking a rest in Week 10. He really should be owned in all competitive fantasy leagues.
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Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants
Darkwa was quiet in the Giants last game before their bye, running for 35 yards on nine carries against the Seahawks. With the bye week coming on the heels of his worst game since becoming the team’s starter, he seems to have fallen off the fantasy radar a bit. That’s a big mistake. Remember that in the two games before the Giants loss to the Seahawks, he had 186 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. He isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, running back to struggle against the Seahawks. The greater concern for Darkwa is the overall effectiveness of the Giants offense, but that’s his reality for the rest of the season. So long as he’s averaging 15-plus carries plus targets per game, which he should the rest of the season, he’ll carry plenty of fantasy relevance. Go get him if he’s out there in your league. The depth he provides remains vitally important, at least for the next three weeks.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Broncos
Keep a close eye on what Charles does on Monday Night Football. C.J. Anderson has been quiet the last two weeks, running for a total of 61 yards on 19 carries. Charles’s playing time hasn’t increased yet, but it could when the team visits the Chiefs on Monday. If it does, and if he finds success against his old team, he would likely enjoy that larger role for the rest of the season. Anderson has put up big numbers in two of Denver’s six games this season, and the offense simply hasn’t gotten enough consistent production out of the run game. With Trevor Siemian faltering in recent weeks, that lack of punch from the rushing attach has stood out starkly. The Broncos have been outscored in their last two games 44–10. If Charles gives them life on Monday night, he could provide fantasy value for the rest of the season.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks
This is why you invest in strong offenses led by great quarterbacks. They make everyone around them better, and give them all opportunities to make plays. Russell Wilson had one of his virtuoso performances in Week 8, throwing for 452 yards, 11.02 yards per attempt, four touchdowns and one interception in a thrilling 41–38 win over the Texans. Richardson was on the opposite end of six completions for 105 yards and two scores, and he also had a third touchdown called back because of a chop block by Thomas Rawls. The call was correct, but it had no effect on the play, though the chances of that costing Richardson owners a fantasy victory are slim. There will be days where these passes are going to Doug Baldwin or Tyler Lockett, but being tied to Wilson always gives Richardson a chance. With three heavy bye weeks still ahead of us, and the Seahawks bye in the rear-view mirror, Richardson is a noteworthy player through Week 11, at a minimum.
Corey Davis, WR, Titans
Davis hasn’t played since Week 2 because of a hamstring injury, but he is expected to make his return in Week 9. The fantasy community must keep its expectations for Davis in check. After all, we’re talking about a rookie receiver who missed most of training camp and the preseason, and has played exactly one full NFL game. Still, the Titans offense clearly lacks verticality and explosion in the passing game, something it expected to get out of Davis after making him the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft. The Western Michigan product can absolutely provide both of those traits, and his ceiling is undeniably high. It would be silly, however, to expect him to hit that ceiling immediately. He should be owned, and his upside is enormous, but think of him as a high-variance depth receiver until he proves otherwise. Of all the players listed in this week’s wavier wire, though, only Alex Collins and Juju Smith-Schuster can have the same sort of long-term impact in a best-case scenario as Davis.
Need a second opinion? Click here for 4for4 Football's breakdown of the Week 9 Waiver Wire.
Vernon Davis, TE, Redskins
Jordan Reed got hurt yet again in Week 8, this time leaving the Redskins loss to the Cowboys with a hamstring injury. Davis had just two receptions on four targets for 20 yards in the game, but we know the sort of player he can be. Even at 33 years old, he still features top-end speed for a tight end. The Redskins don’t alter their playbook much, if at all, with Reed out and Davis in, meaning he should see a healthy number of targets in Reed’s absence. Reed missed one game earlier this season with chest and toe injuries, and was limited in his return in the following week. In those games, Davis had five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown in the first game, and a pair of grabs for 89 yards in the second one. He’ll be in the TE1 picture as long as Reed is out.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts
Doyle put up his best game of the season in Week 8, catching 12 of 14 targets for 121 yards and a touchdown. He has 32 targets in his last three games, hauling in 25 of them for 215 yards and two scores. That translates to 11.17 points per game in standard-scoring leagues, and 19.5 points per game in PPR formats. The Colts offense isn’t the most reliable in the league, but Doyle has come on strong over the last three weeks. The Colts still have their bye ahead of them (Week 11), but Doyle has done enough to put himself on the TE1 radar every week he plays. I wouldn’t make him a priority if I were comfortable with my current starter, but if the position has been a trouble spot for you this year, Doyle can be someone you trust in most weeks the rest of the way.
Jared Goff, QB, Rams
Six teams go on bye in Week 9, including the Patriots, Chargers and Steelers. The Eagles, Chiefs and Raiders are among the four teams on bye in Week 10. If you’ve been leaning on Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Wentz, Alex Smith or Derek Carr at quarterback this season, now is the time to grab Goff as a streamer. The Rams visit the Giants in Week 9 and host the Texans in Week 10. Those teams were ranked 18th and 19th in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric (aFPA) heading into Week 8, before Russell Wilson hung 452 yards and four touchdowns on the Texans. Neither is a bad matchup for the new-look Rams. If you’re in need of a quarterback this week, Goff is almost certainly your best bet among quarterbacks likely to be available. The other starters with ownership rates less than 50% in Yahoo leagues are Eli Manning (vs. the Rams in Week 9), Trevor Siemian (at Eagles), Josh McCown (vs. Bills), Blake Bortles (vs. Bengals), Case Keenum (bye), Joe Flacco (at Titans), Jacoby Brissett (at Texans), Brett Hundley (vs. Lions), Matt Moore (vs. Raiders), Mitchell Trubisky (bye), C.J. Beathard (vs. Cardinals) and DeShone Kizer (bye).
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings
You’ve been watching the World Series, right? Home runs are all the rage. Want to try to hit one yourself? Bridgewater is the waiver wire’s version of a home run. The Vikings are on bye in Week 9. When they return, they will kick off one of the most interesting weeks of practice a team has had all season. Bridgewater is thought to be healthy after suffering a gruesome knee injury on the eve of the 2016 regular season. Sam Bradford, the quarterback brought in to replace him, still has no timetable to return from a knee injury of his own. Case Keenum has played well enough as the Vikings starter, helping guide the team to a 6–2 record. There would certainly be some risk for a division-leading team to hand the reins over to someone who hasn’t played a regular season game since the end of the 2015 season. Still, if Bridgewater truly is 100%, there’s no doubt that he increases the ceiling of the Minnesota offense, and brings an element to the table that Keenum simply cannot match. With Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and Jerick McKinnon at his disposal, Bridgewater could, at the very least, work his way onto the stream radar for the rest of the season.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
If you need an extended take on the fantasy impact of Garoppolo to the 49ers, you can get it here. In short, fantasy owners in traditional one-quarterback leagues should be looking at him as a streamer for the time being. He's a solid stream play in Week 9 going up against a Cardinals defense that is 25th in quarterback aFPA. He has a ceiling to be a fringe QB1 from week to week, but remember that, for all we've heard about him over the years, he has attempted 94 passes in his career.