Six more teams will be on bye this weekend, including some NFL fantasy powerhouses like New England, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and the LA Chargers. Chicago and Cleveland round out the half-dozen, leaving us to pick out streamers and waiver additions from the rest.
Fantasy advice columns are full of waiver advice that consists of the best of last weekend’s fantasy performers by second or third-string players. That’s not necessarily good advice. Unless the player’s role in the offense appears to change, what makes us assume he suddenly became a viable fantasy player halfway through the season? More often than not, we chase points in a fruitless hope that last week’s surprises have the same game under different circumstances against a different opponent the following week.
Some of the Week 8 performers offer hope of an increased role in their offense. But it is a better bet to see what makes for a one-week wonder and try to predict who might meet those parameters in the week coming up, not the week that was. It’s also important to track local news from teams coming off the bye. What new wrinkles have they added during their off week? Which players are likely to benefit from them?
Here are some waiver wire prospects for Week 9.
RB: Alex Collins, Marlon Mack, Orleans Darkwa
Baltimore’s Alex Collins is one of Week 8’s breakout performers, the kind I just cautioned about. But he is on my list not because of what he did against Miami Thursday, but because of what Javorius Allen did. Allen has been averaging about half the yards per carry as Collins all season, so that is not enough to suspect that Collins suddenly became the lead runner in Baltimore. But this week, Allen fumbled the ball near the goal line when he could have vultured a score from Collins. Collins already split the snaps and touches 50-50 for the first time. The fumble could push that share a little more in his favor. But even a 50% workload at 6.0 yards per carry makes Collins a good roster pickup this late in the season.
Marlon Mack also saw about 50% of the snaps with Frank Gore, although Gore had 20 touches to Mack’s 16. But 15-16 touches per game offers good NFL fantasy potential for Mack. Gore is hanging on to his starter status. Every time it looks like he’s done, he converts an important first down or makes the sack-saving block. But Mack scored touchdowns two weeks in a row, and Gore needs the rest. You won’t see Mack’s usage go down, that’s for sure.
Orleans Darkwa is on this list because the Giants did not add any wide receivers during their bye week. They will go forward with second-year Sterling Shepard as the senior statesman. This means they are committed to the running game for the rest of the year. They shifted players on their offensive line to reflect their run-first status. Darkwa was dropped by many after a disappointing Week 7 performance by all the Giants. But he still averaged over four yards per touch. The Giants face teams they should be able to run against, making Darkwa worth a roster spot. I am also watching to see how much work rookie Wayne Gallman gets. If the Giants trade Shane Vereen this week as rumored, Gallman becomes a PPR consideration as the passing back.
WR: Sterling Shepard, TJ Jones, Paul Richardson… Donte Moncrief?
JuJu Smith-Schuster is already owned in more than half the leagues, but if he is still available in yours, he is worth a roster spot. It sounds like Pittsburgh might move Martavis Bryant to their WR-4 after Smith-Schuster and Eli Rogers. JuJu was already seeing six targets per game before this week’s explosion and only needs one catch to create worthy fantasy points. Don’t give up too much though. He is a fringe WR-2 at best.
Eli Manning has to throw sometime. My money is on Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram getting about 80% of the targets. His running backs and even blocking tight end Rhett Ellison are further up the pecking order than the other wide receivers. If Shepard slipped through the bye week without being claimed, he needs to be on your roster.
Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett will see plenty of targets as Russell Wilson continues to pass the ball with abandon in the second half of the season. Doug Baldwin remains the WR-1, but the Seahawks have a few opponents coming up with shutdown corners. Richardson gets the nod over Lockett because he scores touchdowns. Lockett is not a bad consolation prize.
Watch the trade news out of Indianapolis. If the Colts really trade TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief becomes the only viable wide receiver play.
TE: Darren Fells, Tyler Higbee
There are only about six tight ends that warrant a regular roster spot this season. After that, anyone else is a coin flip every week. Look for who is playing the Giants and Browns because they are likely to score a touchdown. In bad weather games, passing may become more conservative and help a tight end. Other than that, I’m not even sure Jack Doyle is worth a roster spot.
Darren Fells of Detroit might be. He was targeted three times in the end zone this week. One went through his hands, one flew by before he could raise his hands, and the third resulted in an interference call. The point is, Eric Ebron is out. Darren Fells is as likely to score a touchdown as anybody else.
Tyler Higbee plays against the Giants in Week 9. The Giants have a stout fantasy defense against wide receivers but have given up an amazing eight touchdowns to tight ends in seven games.
QB: Jared Goff, Tyrod Taylor, Josh McCown
Jared Goff comes off his bye to face the Giants in an early east coast game. But he still may be the best streamer this week. In Week 8, only the Houston-Seattle game produced an NFL fantasy quarterback score of better than 19 points. Goff is playing a low-risk game, giving him as good a chance as anybody to provide a decent fantasy score.
Josh McCown continues to land on the leaderboard as a solid streamer. Eventually, someone has to roster him. In Week 9, he has to face the Bills’ tough defense, but he was the QB-3 versus the Falcon’s top-ten NFL fantasy quarterback defense this week, so he may be worth a shot.
If you are in the 33% of leagues where Tyrod Taylor is still available, grab him. The Bills’ passing game is coming around and Taylor has a run of good matchups ahead.
So, there you go. Some waiver wire magic that could help in the heavy bye weeks ahead or at least in Week 9. Check back at RealSport every day for updates and new advice and if you have an NFL fantasy question, send it to us at [email protected] so we print the answer in Wednesday’s NFL Fantasy mailbag.
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