• The uncertainty of Joe Flacco’s injury makes Lamar Jackson a strong pickup on this week’s thin waiver wire. Also, why you should add Rashaad Penny, Josh Reynolds and more.
By Michael Beller
November 12, 2018

This is shaping up to be a light week on the waiver wire, which isn’t a huge surprise this late in the season. Still, there are a handful of players who should be getting attention in all leagues, as well as plenty more who should pique the interest of owners in deeper formats. We start our weekly waiver discussion with the last quarterback taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, the only one who has yet to draw a start for his team this season. That may be coming to an end soon.

Michael Beller: The most interesting guy in this waiver wire column isn’t even on the wire in most leagues. The Ravens were on bye in Week 10, so their players are free agents in most standard fantasy setups. That means Lamar Jackson, who could start this week and beyond, is there for the taking in most leagues. Joe Flacco is dealing with a hip injury that could require surgery, and may force him to miss time even if he doesn’t have to go under the knife. What sort of priority are you placing on getting Jackson right now?

John Paulsen: There are varying reports on the severity of Flacco’s hip injury. The latest that I’ve seen—from Ian Rapoport—is that it’s more of a day-to-day injury, which would bode well for his availability for Week 11. Even if Flacco is out, there is some uncertainty about who would start in his place. The Athletic Baltimore said that the expectation is that the starter would be Jackson, but that the team could instead go with Robert Griffin as a Flacco stopgap. That said, Jackson is an intriguing addition for fantasy teams struggling at quarterback. Even if there’s only a 10% chance that he starts soon and is good, it may be worth it for owners who are streaming the position week to week. Jackson is a more crucial pickup for owners playing in two-quarterback or superflex leagues, where they can start two quarterbacks.

Beller: Moving all the way over to the country’s opposite coast, let’s talk about Rashaad Penny. His truthers had to wait three months for their hero to come through for them, but he finally did so on Sunday. Penny ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in the loss to the Rams in Week 10. I feel safe assuming that Chris Carson remains in control of this backfield when healthy—do you also think that's the case? Did Penny earn himself a larger role for the rest of the season with his big game against the Rams?

Paulsen: Mike Davis drew the start and got the first six running back touches (all carries) for 34 yards before Penny took his first carry for 38 yards, and then followed it up with an 18-yard touchdown run. After that, the work was split 50/50, with both receiving 10 touches. Penny turned those 10 additional carries into 52 yards, so even if we remove his 38- and 18-yard runs, he was still very effective running the ball. The Seahawks didn’t ignore Davis after Penny’s back-to-back big runs, so I think we’re looking at an even split between the two if Chris Carson remains out with the hip injury. When Carson returns, I would assume he’d still be in the lead role, but it would depend on how long he’s out. Penny is worthy of a pickup, but I wouldn’t break the bank given the committee nature of this backfield, even with Carson sidelined. The Seahawks are running the ball a ton, though, which certainly helps.

Beller: The formula seems to be working, too. With that, let’s get to our full breakdown of the Week 10 waiver wire. As always, all players have ownership rates of 40% or less on at least two of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS.

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Running Backs

Elijah McGuire, Jets

It’s hard to take much of anything at face value from the Jets’ 41–10 loss to the Bills, other than the fact that the Jets aren’t very good. McGuire retained a meaningful role, carrying the ball six times for 30 yards, and catching three of six targets for 27 yards. His 12 opportunities—carries plus targets—led the team, and chances are strong that Trenton Cannon, who got eight opportunities, wouldn’t be as involved in future games that aren’t completely out of hand by halftime. The Jets have a bye in Week 11.

Josh Adams, Eagles

Again, allow me to state my belief, as I did last week, that unless your league lets you start all three Eagles running backs as one player, figuring out this backfield is more of a headache than it is worth in fantasy leagues. Having said that, there are six teams on bye this week, which could have owners scrambling for anyone who can fog up a mirror for their starting lineups. Adams looked like the Eagles’ best bet as a runner in the 27-20 loss to the Cowboys, carrying the ball seven times for 47 yards. Over his last two games, he has 118 yards on 16 carries.

The necessary handcuffs: Malcom Brown, Rams; Spencer Ware, Chiefs; Giovani Bernard, Bengals; Jaylen Samuels, Steelers; Rod Smith, Cowboys; Jamaal Williams, Packers; Chase Edmonds, Cardinals

To be a true handcuff at this point of the season, a back must be behind a clear workhorse, be under our 40% ownership rate threshold, and stand to inherit the lion’s share of the touches should the starter go down. If you are invested in Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, Joe Mixon, James Conner, Ezekiel Elliott, Aaron Jones or David Johnson, you must go get their handcuffs while you still can.

Frank Gore, Dolphins

Gore continues to lead the Miami backfield, getting 13 carries on Sunday compared with Kenyan Drake’s eight. Gore ran for 90 yards in the 31-12 loss to the Packers, becoming the first player in NFL history with 14 consecutive 500-yard seasons. His heavy workload isn’t translating into consistent fantasy success, and the Dolphins have a bye in Week 11, which takes him off the board in the last heavy bye week of the season. Still, he can provide some depth to teams in standard-sized leagues for the stretch run.

BASKIN: Appreciating an Under-Appreciated Player in Frank Gore

Theo Riddick, Lions

Riddick caught six of seven targets for 60 yards in the Lions’ 34–22 loss to the Bears in Week 10. He didn’t have much of a role in the first half, but with the Lions trailing 26-7 to start the second half, he got more involved in the offense. This was essentially an ideal game script for Riddick’s fantasy value, which should display the low floor and ceiling he brings into every game. He’s a depth back in full PPR formats, and nothing more.

Nyheim Hines, Colts

Hines was a non-factor in the Colts’ 29-26 win over the Jaguars, running three times for three yards and catching three passes for 19 yards. He dropped the lone target he didn’t catch, and that would have turned into a big play, which would have made his day look a whole lot better. Like Gore and Riddick, Hines is just a depth back, but there is some legitimate upside here considering how well Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense are playing at this point of the season. With Marlon Mack healthy, Hines is going to do most of his damage through the air, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing with Luck back at or near the height of his powers.

Wide Receivers

Josh Reynolds, Rams

Cooper Kupp suffered a torn ACL in the Rams’ 36–31 win over the Seahawks in Week 10, opening the door for Reynolds to play 95% of the snaps in one of the best offenses in the league. Reynolds stepped in for Kupp when he missed a couple games with a knee injury in October, and caught three passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ Week 8 win over the Packers. Tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett would likely see more targets, as well, but Reynolds would step right into the role vacated by Kupp. Even if he isn’t as equipped to make it what Kupp has, he’d be on the fantasy radar in most leagues for the rest of the season.

Donte Moncrief, Jaguars

Moncrief had one of his best games of the season in Week 10, catching three of four targets for 98 yards and a touchdown. It’s been a relatively quiet season for the fifth-year receiver out of Mississippi, but he’s becoming the most consistent receiver in Jacksonville. He has 38 targets over his last five games, hauling in 20 of them for 304 yards and one score. Sure, those numbers don’t jump off the page, but there’s something to be said for a guy averaging nearly eight targets per game. Eight teams still have byes across the next two weeks, including the Rams and Chiefs in Week 12. Moncrief may not start more than once for you, but he could pay off in a big way in that one outing.

Anthony Miller, Bears

Miller shined in the Bears’ 34–22 win over the Lions, catching five of six targets for 122 yards and a touchdown. What’s more, he did it in Allen Robinson’s return to the field, and the No. 1 receiver in Chicago had a great day, as well, hauling in six passes for 133 yards and two scores. In other words, Miller didn’t simply take advantage of a default ascension up the depth chart, as he did when Robinson was out. He’s turning himself into a key player in the Chicago offense, and Mitchell Trubisky has been the top fantasy scorer at quarterback over the last six weeks. The Bears host the Vikings in Week 11 before getting a return matchup with this very beatable Lions defense on Thanksgiving Day.

WEEK 10 TAKEAWAYS: Rams Survive Seattle Part II, Mariota Cooks, Tyreek’s Celebration Worth the Penalty

Keke Coutee, Texans

The Texans had a bye in Week 10, giving Coutee another week to recover from his hamstring injury. Demaryius Thomas played well in his first game as a Texan back in Week 9, catching three passes for 61 yards, but it was what he didn’t do that should have the fantasy community still interested in Coutee. He didn’t stretch the field, nor did he rack up a ton of targets, getting just three on the afternoon. There’s still plenty of room for Coutee to carve out a meaningful role, as I discussed in a recent Target and Snap Report, and chances are strong that he’ll get most of the deep targets previously reserved for Will Fuller. The Texans have a bye in Week 10, but Coutee has a good chance of returning in Week 11.

Maurice Harris, Redskins

Harris followed up his big game in Week 9 by catching all five of his targets for 52 yards in Washington’s 16–3 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. While it wasn’t exactly a banner performance, Harris did lead the team in both receptions and yards for the second straight week. With Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder no closer to returning, and Paul Richardson out for the year, Harris should hold onto a large role in the offense for the foreseeable future.

Josh Doctson, Redskins

Doctson showed up for the second straight game, too, catching four passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. He has scored in both of his last two games, and is averaging just shy of six targets per game over his last five. He’s not going to be a regular fantasy starter, but, as we just noted with Harris, there aren’t too many mouths to feed in the Washington offense with Thompson, Crowder and Richardson all out.

John Ross, Bengals

The Bengals offense fell apart in its first game without A.J. Green, a terrible sign for the future if the star receiver’s foot injury causes him to miss more than the original two-game timetable assigned to his recovery. Ross took advantage of his larger role in the offense in the 51–14 loss to the Saints, catching two of six targets for 39 yards and a touchdown. It was discouraging to see him secure just one-third of his targets, but the fact that he led the team in looks bodes well for his immediate future. He’ll be droppable if and when Green returns, but should be owned in competitive leagues while the team’s best player is on the shelf.

Christian Kirk, Cardinals

Kirk was quiet on Sunday, catching two of six targets for eight yards in the Cardinals’ 26–14 loss to the Chiefs. He’s just a depth receiver, but it’s encouraging that he has at least six targets in each of his last four games. Byron Leftwich bringing some common sense to the offense by using David Johnson as a receiver does take a bit out of Kirk’s upside, but there’s still enough here to like him in deeper formats.

Dede Westbrook, Jaguars

Donte Moncrief scored the touchdown and led the Jaguars in receiveing yards, but it was Westbrook who had the most targets, getting 10 looks from Blake Bortles in the team’s 29–26 loss to the Colts. This is an impossible passing game to diagnose from week to week, and Moncrief does led the team in targets over the last five games. Still, Westbrook has enough of a role to make him worth consideration in deeper fantasy leagues.

JONES: Why the Jets Shouldn’t Wait Until the End of the Season to Fire Todd Bowles

Tight Ends

Jeff Heuerman, Broncos

Heuerman had easily his best game of the season in Week 9, catching 10 of 11 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown in Denver’s 19–17 loss to Houston. He led the team in targets, but it’s not as though anyone else’s workload was anomalously small. Emmanuel Sanders got nine targets, Courtland Sutton had five, and Phillip Lindsay had 17 carries while getting three looks from Case Keenum. In other words, Heuerman could absolutely be in line for a larger role in the offense now that Demaryius Thomas is gone.

Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals

Seals-Jones got nine targets in the Cardinals’ 26–14 loss to the Chiefs, catching five of them for 51 yards. He’s not someone you should feel confident grabbing if you’re planning on using him as a starter every week, but he is part of the streaming discussion at the position more often than not. The Cardinals host the Raiders in Week 11.

Jonnu Smith, Titans

The Titans have gotten nothing out of their tight ends after losing Delanie Walker to a season-ending injury in Week 1. That may finally be starting to change. Smith hauled in all three of his targets for 45 yards and a touchdown in the Titans’ 34–10 thrashing of the Patriots on Sunday. Smith doesn’t have more than three targets in a game this season, but he has hit paydirt in his last two games, with both scores coming on plays in the red zone on which he was Marcus Mariota’s first read. He may be touchdown-dependent, but the team is scheming him open when it gets into scoring range. That makes his touchdown dependency a little easier to handle.

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