Six teams are on bye weeks this weekend, with six more to follow in Week 9 for those of you who like to plan ahead. After watching every Green Bay Packers wide receiver limited to 15 yards or less, you might worry about whether your Lambeau locks are worth anything after their bye week.
Chicago isn’t a place to go for help as John Fox’s crew threw only seven passes against the Carolina Panthers. It was the fewest passes thrown in a win since Tim Tebow’s Denver days when the same John Fox was his head coach.
Meanwhile, the wide receiver who suffered the ignominy of being cut by the wide receiver-needy Bears could emerge as the go-to guy in Buffalo. And Blake Bortles… 300 yards? He still couldn’t throw multiple touchdown passes, but is he relevant again?
Green Bay, Arizona, Jacksonville, The LA Rams, New York Giants, and Tennessee Titans are the bye teams for Week 8. Each bye team except the Giants has a fantasy-relevant player who could use the week to recover but will leave us wondering if they are in the mix for Week 9 or not.
What do we make of Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense? If Sunday night was the best they could do, is it time to reassess a few players there? We better get started before we forget why we’re here. These are my thoughts about who the best waiver wire additions are going into Week 8.
RB: Aaron Jones and the Jaguars backups
If someone was silly enough to cut Aaron Jones after his Week 6 dud, pick him up. It doesn’t matter that he is on a bye this week. He is the premier runner in Green Bay from here on out. If you are looking ahead to Week 9, be careful with the Jaguars’ TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory. There is no telling how their workload changes upon Leonard Fournette’s return. There is a gamble involved with either. Go for these guys instead:
RB Jalen Richard & DeAndre Washington
For a one-week flyer, either of these backs is worth a chance while Marshawn Lynch serves his one-game suspension. Washington will be the early down back, with Richard reprising his role on third- and passing downs. Looking ahead, Jalen Richard is worth picking up for the season. Even before getting himself tossed out of last Thursday’s game, Marshawn Lynch already yielded a significant number of snaps to Richard. Lynch has seen limited touches in the Raiders’ offense. Richard’s role was already expanding. He offers the continued potential for NFL fantasy points after Lynch returns.
RB Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler found the end zone again this week. He seems to have cemented the role of change-of-pace back to Melvin Gordon’s workhorse role at the expense of Branden Oliver. Ekeler is explosive in the short passing game and can speed around the edges, too. Look for him to see more touches throughout the season.
RB Marlon Mack
Something has to happen in Indianapolis. Frank Gore will continue to be the primary running back, but between Robert Turbin’s injury and the search for something or someone exciting for the Colts’ fans to watch, look for Mack to be put on display. He will see more touches in the passing game and give Gore a rest once in a while. With the continued demise of Indianapolis’ offensive line, Gore might have trouble finishing this season at the pace he is going, giving you another reason to roster Mack.
RB Latavius Murray
Murray was picked up by thousands of NFL fantasy owners after Dalvin Cook’s injury and then cut just as quickly after Jerick McKinnon appeared to be the better choice in Week 6. If you are in the 60% of leagues where Murray is available, he needs to be in your starting lineup, especially against opponents with weak run defense.
WR: Ted Ginn Jr, and Brandon Coleman
Ironically, it took Ginn until after Willie Snead’s return from suspension to click with Drew Brees. With Snead’s hamstring woes limiting him and Michael Thomas going against the top corners of the opposing team every week, Ginn is emerging as a valued Drew Brees target. Brandon Coleman is also in the mix, especially with three end zone targets these past two weeks. With a gunslinger like the Saints have behind center, Thomas, Ginn, and Coleman can all sustain respectable fantasy upside in New Orleans.
WR Deonte Thompson
Buffalo may have finally found another wide receiver. Deonte Thompson played his first game as a Bill and is already the only wide receiver on the team to have a 100-yard receiving day, albeit in just four receptions. Jordan Matthews will be better next week as he regains trust in his fractured thumb, but Andre Holmes and rookie Zay Jones have shown no interest in taking on the role of a deep threat for Tyrod Taylor. As Buffalo’s schedule gets easier, Thompson could emerge as a solid wide receiver play. Teammate Jordan Matthews should see more targets, too.
WR Demarcus Robinson
Previously, I touted Chris Conley as a weekly sleeper in Kansas City’s offense. With Conley done for the season, Demarcus Robinson emerged as the alternate threat after Tyreek Hill in the Chiefs’ passing game. In other seasons, that would amount to nothing. But as long as Alex Smith’s transformation into an NFL fantasy hero quarterback continues, Robinson is a smart roster addition.
TE: Darren Fells
Darren Fells is coming off Detroit’s bye week having caught three touchdowns in the past two games and missing a fourth by inches. The former basketball player’s 6’7” height (and 270 pounds) make him too big a red zone target for Matt Stafford to ignore. I am guessing the Lions spent the bye week getting him more aligned with the mainstream offense. Eric Ebron may have just lost his last chance to live up to his hype.
TE Tyler Kroft
Tyler Kroft is about to start a four-week stretch playing against teams with below-average tight end fantasy defenses. We all know how Andy Dalton loves to throw to tight ends. Kroft can be played most weeks for the rest of the season.
TE OJ Howard
Cameron Brate is still the guy in Tampa Bay, but OJ Howard is figuring things out. For the second week in a row, Howard blocked his way across the line and emerged wide open for an easy touchdown target for Jameis Winston. There is a reason the Buccaneers are using more two-tight end sets this year. Winston can make both of them fantasy worthy.
QB Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton’s ownership varies widely in the five fantasy organizations I monitor. If he is available, he is a great streamer this week against Indianapolis. Dalton is a predictably risky play against good defenses and a great play against weaker ones. Week 8 could end with Dalton ranked as a top-five fantasy quarterback, similar to his production against Cleveland earlier in the season. If you can also add the tight end, Kroft, you might have a powerful stack for Week 8.
QB Matt Moore
It is never a great idea to get overly excited about an adrenaline-charged, unexpected relief role leading to continued NFL fantasy excellence as a starter. But there was a reason Miami fans were okay with Matt Moore starting over Jay Cutler. Miami could have a very difficult decision to make when Cutler returns from his multiple cracked ribs, probably after at least two games with Matt Moore under center. Moore is no lock to produce, but with a dearth of quarterbacks out there, he might be worth a desperation bet.
QB Josh McCown
Josh McCown is not the fanciest option available, but he is producing fantasy points at a consistent rate. At home against the Falcons this week, he is as good a streamer as anybody else.
D/ST: Cincinnati, New Orleans, Miami
The best defense streamers this week might be the New Orleans Saints against the one-dimensional Chicago Bears. Or it could just as well be the Bengals beating up on the Indianapolis Colts. But I would take the Dolphins against the offensively challenged Ravens on Thursday night.
So that’s that. Get your claims in and be ready for Week 8. Then check the wire every day to see if someone dropped a good player due to bye weeks. Especially if you are in the playoff hunt, it is better to play a weak hand for one Sunday than lose a valuable piece of your team for the playoff run. But if someone else dropped that valuable piece, be ready to pluck him off the wire right away!
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