- It’s a light week on fantasy football waivers, but with Marshawn Lynch on the shelf for at least a month, Raiders RBs Jalen Richard and Doug Martin should be owned in every league.
Four more teams—the Falcons, Cowboys, Chargers and Titans—go on bye in Week 8, and then Week 9 deals the fantasy community the first six-team bye week of the season. Fantasy owners aren’t likely to find much help on the waiver wire this week, though, with Week 7 being relatively quiet in terms of injuries and role changes. However, a trade between the Raiders and Cowboys on Monday changed the fantasy fortunes for a couple of backs in Oakland, who were already two of the most interesting players on the waiver wire this week. Michael Beller and John Paulsen focus on those two players, and also consider the value of a third widely available back, to kick off our look at the Week 8 waiver wire.
Michael Beller: Am I missing something, John, or does this feel like the lightest wire of the season?. There are still players to target, but the ones at the top of my list didn't even play in Week 7. With Marshawn Lynch out for a month, and with Amari Cooper now in Dallas, I'd be trying to get Jalen Richard and/or Doug Martin wherever I can. Both should be owned, but if you can only have one, who are you giving the priority?
John Paulsen: It does seem like a fairly light week on the wire, probably because there weren’t too many long-term injuries in Week 7. The Oakland situation is interesting because it looks like Lynch will be out a while. Richard has played nearly three times as many snaps as Martin this season, but the Raiders used him mainly as a pass-catcher—he has 31 receptions and only 11 carries. Meanwhile, Martin has toted the ball 27 times and caught four passes (three in the first two weeks) as the third back in the rotation. Given this usage, I think Jon Gruden will install Martin in Lynch’s role, while Richard’s role will remain relatively unchanged. He should get a few more carries, especially if Martin struggles, but if he’s going to take over this backfield, it may take a while. I would favor Martin in standard formats and target Richard in PPR leagues.
Beller: I have the same read on the situation in Oakland. I grabbed Martin late last week in the one league I’m in where he was available, and I’m happy for it. At the very least, I think he has value as a depth back with 22 teams still set to go on bye over the next five weeks.
Moving to Buffalo, LeSean McCoy is in concussion protocol, and if he has to miss any time Chris Ivory would take over as the starter in Buffalo. That’s not exactly the most lucrative spot, but Ivory did total 106 yards on 19 touches in the Bills’ 37–5 loss to the Colts on Sunday. McCoy may not miss more than a game, and the Bills host the Patriots in Week 8, which could result in a terrible game script. I’ll put in a claim for Ivory in most spots, but I'm not making him a major priority. Where are you on him?
Paulsen: Don’t forget that Ivory also turned 23 touches into 126 total yards when McCoy missed the Minnesota game in Week 3. Buffalo should be able to run the ball on the Patriots in Week 8, but you’re right that the game script may work against Ivory, assuming he finds himself in a starting role. He did see 19 touches in Week 7 with his team on the wrong end of a blowout, so I would expect that we’d have him ranked as a low-end RB2 on volume alone. With McCoy’s absence likely being one week at the most, I wouldn’t devote much FAAB resources unless I was desperate for a plug-and-play option this week.
Beller: When a player like Ivory, who only has short-term value, is worthy of breaking out for the discussion portion of our waiver wire column, you know it’s a light week on the wire. With that, let’s get to the rest of the players who should be getting the attention of the fantasy community early this week. As always, all players have ownership rates of 40% or less on at least two of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS.
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Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
Jones played sparingly in Week 7, getting six carries and one target. He turned that minimal opportunity into 28 yards from scrimmage and his first career touchdown in the Buccaneers’ 26–23 overtime win over the Browns. Peyton Barber dominated work out of the backfield but struggled again, running for 30 yards on 11 carries. Jones didn’t do much in this game to suggest that he’ll be a significant weapon in Tampa Bay’s offense in the near future, but Barber’s continued struggles could force the coaching staff in a new direction. What’s more, Barber brings nothing to the table as a receiver, and the Buccaneers’ offense is a whole lot more dangerous throwing the ball than it is running it. The mere chance that Jones will finally get an extended look in place of Barber makes him worth a speculative add in most leagues.
Marlon Mack, Colts
Mack is above the 40% ownership-rate threshold, sitting in the low-50s across the three sites, but he was so good in Week 7 that we have to mention him, just in case anyone reading this plays in one of those leagues where he remains available. If Mack is out there in your league, he’s not just the top player on the wire. You should feel comfortable emptying your FAAB wallet or using the No. 1 waiver priority to get him. He won’t get to play the Bills every week, but he could go down as a league-winner playing alongside a healthy Andrew Luck. Other players just barely above the 40% threshold worthy of adding include Wendell Smallwood, Duke Johnson and Nyheim Hines.
Frank Gore, Dolphins
Gore had his least productive game in weeks in Miami’s 32–21 loss to Detroit, running 10 times for 29 yards. The silver lining, though, is that he out-touched Kenyan Drake again, and that Adam Gase insists that his backfield usage will not change. That means Gore still has value as a depth back through the bye-week portion of the schedule.
LeGarrette Blount, Lions
Both backs on the other side of Lions-Dolphins came through in a big way. While rookie Kerryon Johnson grabbed the headlines by running for 158 yards on 19 carries, Blount picked up 50 yards and a touchdown on 10 totes. Johnson is absolutely in command of the Detroit backfield, but Blount continues to get enough work to be fantasy-relevant, notably because the coaching staff trusts him at the goal-line. If Johnson were to get injured, Blount would step right into the starting role, as well. The Lions have already had their bye, making Blount an option for short-handed owners in every heavy bye week remaining on the schedule.
Raheem Mostert, 49ers
Matt Breida aggravated his ankle injury on his first carry in the 49ers’ 39–10 loss to the Rams, and while he did return, the team took it easy on him with the game out of hand by the first few minutes of the second half. Mostert got seven carries and four targets in the loss, turning 11 touches into 78 yards from scrimmage. Alfred Morris, meanwhile, ran the ball nine times for 25 yards after barely seeing the field in Week 6. It’s clear that Mostert is filling out the backside of the committee behind Breida. If the starter is forced to miss time with his ankle injury, Mostert would be expected to handle the majority of the touches coming out of San Francisco’s backfield.
Rashaad Penny, Seahawks
The Seahawks had a bye in Week 7, so this remains a speculative bet on what we saw from Penny in their win over the Raiders in Week 6. Penny ran for 70 yards on 11 carries that week, but much of his opportunity came in garbage time in a game that the Seahawks ultimately won 27–3. Chris Carson is entrenched as the starter, and Mike Davis is likely safe as the No. 2 back, but there remains a chance that Penny, a first-round pick just six months ago, will see his role increase after the bye.
D’Onta Foreman, Texans
Foreman’s stock took a major hit at both ends of last week. First, after appearing on track to return from the PUP list, where he has spent the entire season while rehabbing a ruptured Achilles, Foreman was quickly ruled out for Week 7 at the start of the week. Then on Sunday, Lamar Miller had his best game of the season, running for 100 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in the team’s 20-7 win over Jacksonville. Foreman is still worth a claim, especially for owners at the top of the standings who can take a shot on long-term potential, but he’s not as intriguing as he was one week ago.
Trenton Cannon, Jets
Bilal Powell suffered a neck injury in the Jets’ 37–17 loss to the Vikings in Week 7, and Cannon slid into his spot alongside Isaiah Crowell in the backfield. He got five targets, catching four of them for 69 yards. Much of that production came in garbage time, but Cannon would remain the team’s pass-catching, change-of-pace back if Powell misses any time. That makes him worth a claim in deeper formats.
Malcolm Brown, Rams
This one is really just for Todd Gurley owners. Brown wouldn’t give you the same production as Gurley should the star go down with an injury, but you must protect your investment. Now is the right time to handcuff Brown to Gurley.
Geronimo Allison, Packers
Allison is likely to return for the Packers in Week 8 after missing the team’s last two games with a hamstring injury. Allison has played four games this season, catching 19 of 29 targets for 289 yards and two touchdowns. That line translates to healthy per-game averages of 4.75 receptions, 7.25 targets, 72.25 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns. With Aaron Rodgers getting healthier by the week, the Packers offense is in as good of shape as it has been all season. The Packers visit Los Angeles to take on the Rams in what could be a shootout in Week 8.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals
Kirk was kept mostly silent in Denver’s 45–10 drubbing of Arizona on Thursday night, catching a few passes on the Cardinals’ final, meaningless drive to make his line look better than it was in reality. He hasn’t taken the next step to consistent production after first emerging for the Cardinals in Week 3, but there’s enough value here to believe in him as a depth receiver in all but the shallowest fantasy leagues. There’s also legitimate hope that new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, a disciple of Bruce Arians, will bring some much-needed life to the Cardinals after the team thankfully sent Mike McCoy packing.
Tre’Quan Smith, Saints
Smith got six more targets in the Saints’ 24-23 win over the Ravens in Week 7, and while he caught just three for 44 yards, the fact that he was second on the team in targets bodes well for the rest of the season. Ted Ginn is on IR, and Smith is clearly ahead of Cameron Meredith, who got zero targets in the win against the Ravens, on the depth chart. Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram still hog most of the spotlight in New Orleans, but there’s enough production to go around in this offense to make Smith relevant in most leagues, at least through the bye-week portion of the schedule. Remember, the Saints have already had their bye, meaning Smith will be available to you in all of the next four weeks, when a total of 20 teams take a rest.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers
Williams popped another big play in Week 7, hooking up with Philip Rivers for a 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He caught three more passes for 43 yards, giving him a 4-118-1 line on four targets. Williams gets precious few opportunities, registering more than four targets in just two games this season, but he has made the most of them the last two weeks, racking up 236 yards and three scores. His big-play ability and the foundation of the Chargers’ offense makes him a worthy add in most formats. Keep in mind that the Chargers go on their bye in Week 8.
Jermaine Kearse, Jets
Kearse got shut out in the Jets’ 37-17 loss to the Vikings, failing to catch either of his two targets. That was a massive letdown, but nothing has changed since Quincy Enunwa went on the shelf with a high ankle sprain last week. Kearse will serve as the team’s primary slot receiver, and is as good a bet as anyone to lead the Jets in targets. Their bye isn’t until Week 11, giving Kearse plenty of value as a depth receiver through the fantasy regular season.
Tajae Sharpe, Titans
Sharpe had his best game of the season in Week 7, catching seven passes for 101 yards. His nine targets led the team, and it’s possible he’s stepping into a larger role for a team desperate to find some consistency through the air. The Titans have a bye in Week 8, but Sharpe is worth grabbing as a depth receiver with six teams going on bye in Weeks 9 and 11.
Chester Rogers, Colts
Rogers was relatively quiet in the Colts’ 37–5 dismantling of the Bills in Week 7, catching all four of his targets for 40 yards. The Colts took a 24–0 lead into the locker room at halftime, though, and Andrew Luck did very little throwing in the second half, finishing the game with just 23 pass attempts. T.Y. Hilton returned, and his presence will serve a blow to Rogers’ volume, but he has established himself as the No. 2 receiver on the team. The Colts are one of the six teams on bye in Week 9, which also reduces Rogers’ fantasy value, but he can help an owner needy of WR3 value in the remaining heavy bye weeks this season.
Donte Moncrief, Jaguars
Let’s first get one thing straight: No Jacksonville receiver is a reliable fantasy option. There is no consistency with respect to who leads the team in targets, receptions or yards from week to week, and the passing game is a mess at the moment, with the possibility of a quarterback change coming from inside or outside the building. Having said that, Moncrief got 10 targets in Week 7, his second game in the last three weeks with double-digit looks. Of course, those contests sandwiched a game in which he got zero targets, driving home the unpredictable nature of this passing attack. Still, anyone capable of getting 24 targets in two games is worth owning in all but the shallowest of fantasy leagues.
Jakeem Grant, Dolphins
Albert Wilson suffered a hip injury in Week 7 that is expected to cost him at least a few weeks, opening the door to a larger role in the offense for Grant. Grant has made the most of his limited opportunities this season, catching 16 of 26 targets for 216 yards and two scores. That wasn’t nearly enough to make him fantasy-relevant with Wilson healthy, but getting 1.6 fantasy points per target in half-PPR leagues is nothing to dismiss. Grant’s worth a look in deeper leagues.
Chris Herndon, Jets
Herndon found the end zone for the second straight game in Week 7, catching four of seven targets for 42 yards, including the 12-yard score from Sam Darnold. Herndon’s snap rate has actually decreased the last two weeks compared with where it was earlier in the season, but he’s getting more opportunities in the passing game, registering more targets in the team’s most recent two games (nine), than he did in its first five (seven). Owners desperate for help at tight end can take a shot the hot hand and hope that the last two weeks are a sign that he has earned Darnold’s trust.
Vance McDonald, Steelers
It’s a bit of surprise that McDonald remains as available as he is, given his performance in a potent Steelers offense. McDonald has 20 catches for 274 yards and a touchdown on the season, an average of 8.88 points per game in half-PPR leagues. Take out his first game of the season, in which he was still playing second fiddle to Jesse James, and he’s at 10.08 points per game. With Pittsburgh’s bye out of the way, McDonald will be on the TE1/2 border every week for the rest of the season.
Ben Watson, Saints
Hey, there are worse fates than having a solid role in an offense captained by Drew Brees, right? Any competent player is going to fall into a few productive games with Brees at the helm, as Watson did in Week 7. He caught all six of his targets for 43 yards and a touchdown in the team’s 24–23 win over the Ravens. The Saints have had their bye, which will keep Watson in the fantasy consciousness every week the rest of the season. He’s better cast as a streamer than a regular starter.