It’s fitting that Sunday was Halloween because that slate of games was strange—and for some, it was downright frightening. Buckle up, folks, it’s about to get scarier. There are four teams on their bye weeks in Week 9: Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Football Team. That’s a ton of fantasy-relevant players who won’t be in your lineups this week, though it’s not as bad as the atrocity of Week 7.
With the fantasy playoffs looming, it’s more important than ever to successfully maneuver the waiver wire. And if you have an open roster spot or two, use those to stash high-upside, under-the-radar players. You never know when you’ll have to rely on them. If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @ZachCohenFB!
Carson Wentz (QB - IND)
Week 8 Stat Line: 18.34 points, 231 passing yards, 3 passing TD, 2 interceptions, 11 rushing yards
Don’t look now, but Wentz is quietly having a good fantasy season. He’s produced about 17–22 points in every game, excluding when he posted 7.76 points in Week 3. He’s also thrown just three interceptions all year, two of which came in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee. I get your reservations for picking up Wentz, especially since his mistakes have been pretty dreadful. The truth is he’s a better option than most available quarterbacks. FantasyPros says Wentz’s consensus ownership is a bit high at 43.1%, which is a resource I constantly use when writing this column. It’s just a really tough time to find viable quarterbacks off the waivers. Wentz faces the Jets and Jaguars in back-to-back weeks, thus making him a sneaky stream at the position and an even better depth piece for your roster.
Tua Tagovailoa (QB - MIA)
Week 8 Stat Line: 15.2 points, 205 passing yards, 1 interception, 10 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
I put Tagovailoa here for two weeks straight before leaving him off ahead of his matchup against the Bills. He actually put up a pretty decent performance against the No. 1 defense in fantasy points allowed (FPA) for quarterbacks. That makes me think he deserves a roster spot in all formats. Sure, Tagovailoa isn’t a perfect quarterback. But he’s coming off two games of 20+ points. Looking ahead, he faces a Texans defense that’s been VERY susceptible to fantasy quarterbacks; they’re a top-three team in FPA.
If you need some quarterback depth or a desperate streaming option this week, Tagovailoa is a fine option.
Justin Fields (QB - CHI)
Week 8 Stat Line: 25.3 points, 175 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 103 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
Is it finally time for you to start Fields in fantasy? As Lee Corso would say: Not so fast, my friend. Nonetheless, Fields looked fantastic on Sunday. One more game like this and I’d say he’ll definitely be worth a spot in your starting lineup. He ran 10 times—whether as a designed carry or on a crazy broken play—for 103 yards. Not many quarterbacks see that type of production. Again, it was only one game, so no need to rush him into your lineups just yet. It’s certainly promising enough to make him a must-add in all leagues if he’s still available. FantasyPros says Fields is rostered in just 20% of leagues.
Taysom Hill (QB - NO)
Week 8 Stat Line: Inactive
Hill was a late addition to my waiver column due to Jameis Winston‘s season-ending injury. Hill missed the past two games with a concussion, though he should be back in time for the Saints’ juicy Week 9 matchup against Atlanta. While we don’t know if Hill will start over Trevor Siemian yet, he did average 21.05 fantasy points in four starts last season––two of which came against the Falcons. He’s a sneaky good addition.
Players to watch: Mike White, Jimmy Garoppolo
Ty Johnson (RB - NYJ)
Week 8 Stat Line: 19.6 points, 15 rushing yards, 5 catches on 6 targets, 71 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
Johnson has posted double-digit points in three straight games now, nearly cementing himself as the main pass-catching back in the Jets’ offense. He even saw one additional target last week en route to a 13-point performance… all without scoring a touchdown. Johnson is quietly becoming a viable flex play, mostly due to how frequently New York has been/will need to throw the ball. Michael Carter is clearly the team’s primary back based on his snap count and target share, but Johnson has seen enough usage to make him worth a waiver pickup. (Side note: I write my columns with PPR formats in mind. I don’t think Johnson is worth a pickup in non-PPR leagues, yet.)
Boston Scott (RB - PHI)
Week 8 Stat Line: 18 points, 60 rushing yards, 2 rushing TD, 0 catches on 1 target
Following Miles Sanders’ injury last week, I said you should be prepared for the Eagles to split carries between Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell. I was mostly right as Scott, Gainwell, and Jordan Howard saw a similar number of carries.
- Gainwell: 13 carries, 0 targets, 20 snaps
- Scott: 12 carries, 1 target, 29 snaps
- Howard: 12 carries, 0 targets, 16 snaps
Take all of this with a grain of salt, though. The Eagles were dominating the entire game, so naturally, they abandoned the passing game. If you read my waivers column last week, you should’ve expected Scott to outperform Gainwell because Gainwell has been Philadelphia’s primary receiving back so far. Simply put, Gainwell gets more work when the Eagles play from behind or in a close game. For their upcoming tilt against the Chargers, I’m expecting a bit less work for Scott. Still, you should definitely pick him up if you need a running back.
Carlos Hyde (RB - JAX)
Week 8 Stat Line: 13.2 points, 32 rushing yards, 6 catches on 8 targets, 40 receiving yards
When James Robinson left the game with an ankle injury, I’m sure many people groaned upon hearing Hyde’s name. Hyde responded with a 66% snap share among the Jaguars’ running backs, with the rest going to Robinson pre-injury and Dare Ogunbowale. Aside from two rushes and a target for Ogunbowale, Hyde owned Jacksonville’s backfield. As of Monday, it’s unclear whether Robinson’s heel injury will sideline him for their Week 9 matchup versus Buffalo. Even if Robinson is ruled healthy enough to play by Wednesday, Hyde could be worth a stash if you have a spot to give. He has greater upside than most available running backs.
Jeremy McNichols/Adrian Peterson (RBs - TEN)
McNichols’ Week 8 Stat Line: 6.3 points, 33 rushing yards, 3 catches on 3 targets, 33 receiving yards
This might as well have read: “Derrick Henry’s replacement.” But before you jump at whoever that may be (McNichols? Peterson?), let’s talk about a couple of things. First and most obviously, there is no Derrick Henry 2.0. Whoever becomes Tennessee’s new RB1 isn’t going to perfectly replicate Henry’s usage, let alone his production. Second, Mike Vrabel and Co. could easily adjust the offense to compensate for a lack of a running game. What’s stopping them from throwing to A.J. Brown and Julio Jones more? Of course, there is still a chance the Titans keep handing the ball off 25+ times a game. That upside alone makes Henry’s replacement worth a pickup. As of now, McNichols is the only other back on the roster who’s played at least 25% of the team’s snaps. As for Peterson, can we really trust a 36-year-old running back to take 15+ carries a game? Even though he did that four times last season with the Lions, you should temper expectations for now. Both McNichols and Peterson are worth a roster spot, just don’t expect an automatic plug-and-play for your fantasy team.
Players to watch: Jordan Howard, Jaret Patterson, Rex Burkhead, Travis Homer
Jamison Crowder (WR - NYJ)
Week 8 Stat Line: 16.4 points, 8 catches on 9 targets, 84 receiving yards, receiving TD
Don’t look now, but Crowder is quickly becoming the Jets’ WR1. In the last four weeks, no other receiver on the team has averaged more targets per game than him. His role in the slot proved even more valuable on Sunday with Mike White making his first NFL start. (QB competition in the Big Apple? Kidding.) Crowder played four games this season and had a point range of 7.4-19.1. However, his Week 8 performance didn’t include a touchdown, thus establishing a relatively high floor for the veteran wideout. He’s simply the most reliable receiver in a Jets’ offense that is usually anything but reliable. His consensus ownership is at less than 20%, per FantasyPros. That’s way too low for someone who can be a decent weekly flex play.
Elijah Moore (WR - NYJ)
Week 8 Stat Line: 13.1 points, 6 catches on 6 targets, 67 receiving yards
May I interest you in another Jets player? The rookie wideout saw six targets in each of the last two weeks after failing to do much of anything all season. He even has one carry in each of those two games. I’m not totally sold on Moore as a must-add wide receiver since he was outsnapped by Denzel Mims and Keenan Cole in a close game. He’s definitely worth a stash, though—especially if White keeps channeling his inner Tom Brady.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR - SF)
Week 8 Stat Line: 13.1 points, 6 catches on 6 targets, 67 receiving yards
Well, well, well. After one heck of a rookie season, Aiyuk has been dragged through the mud by nearly everyone this season. That’s what happens when you crack six fantasy points just once in six games. I’m not sure if a lightbulb went off in Kyle Shanahan’s head or if Aiyuk found some of Michael’s Secret Stuff (that’s a Space Jam reference for all you young-ins) because Aiyuk was the 49ers’ WR1 on Sunday. He led the team’s wide receivers in snaps and routes run while seeing just two fewer targets than Deebo Samuel. It remains to be seen whether Aiyuk’s usage will stay the same this season, but there’s no denying his immense upside. It seems like Jimmy Garoppolo is the best thing to happen to Aiyuk’s fantasy relevance. He’s suddenly worth a roster spot again, though he’ll need a few more games like this one to prove he belongs for good.
Jamal Agnew (WR - JAX)
Week 8 Stat Line: 15.8 points, 6 catches on 12 targets, 38 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
I don’t think anyone expected to be writing about Jamal Agnew halfway through the fantasy season. Thanks, Urban.
All jokes aside—and there are a lot of them—Agnew has been what some fantasy pundits hoped Laviska Shenault would be. He’s a versatile, shifty runner who’s played nearly 70% of his snaps in the slot. He’s also become Trevor Lawrence’s favorite target; he leads Jacksonville in targets over the last three games. Agnew’s production has also increased from 10.9 points to 15.8 in that time. Clearly, the former cornerback has become enough of a fixture in the Jaguars’ offense to warrant a roster spot. And like Crowder, his role could allow him to be a weekly flex play by season’s end.
Players to watch: Van Jefferson, Tajae Sharpe, DeAndre Carter, Dante Pettis, Bryan Edwards
Pat Freiermuth (TE - PIT)
Week 8 Stat Line: 14.4 points, 4 catches on 7 targets, 44 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
I’ve been clamoring for Freiermuth in dynasty leagues since he was drafted by Pittsburgh in April. Luckily, there’s no better time than the present. Freiermuth has now seen seven targets in each of the last two games, capped off by a 78.4% snap share on Sunday. Of course, that’s likely due to Eric Ebron missing the game with a hamstring injury, but let’s be real, here: Ebron isn’t as good as Freiermuth, nor has he been used as much. Considering how thin the position is in fantasy, Freiermuth is worth a stash.
Dan Arnold (TE - JAX)
Week 8 Stat Line: 14.8 points, 8 catches on 10 targets, 68 receiving yards
You know it’s a weird season when there are multiple Jaguars and Jets players worthy of a waiver claim. That includes Arnold, who was traded to Jacksonville a month ago. Since then, he’s seen more than eight targets twice, including a 10-target game over the weekend. In fact, Arnold is second on the team in targets over the last four weeks. You can’t say that about many tight ends, especially ones who are available in less than 4% of leagues, per FantasyPros. If you need a tight end, Arnold is a sneaky option via waivers. Like Freiermuth, Arnold shouldn’t be a high priority.
Players to watch: Jordan Akins, Tyler Conklin, Foster Moreau (if Darren Waller misses time)
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