Waiver Wire Madness: Week 8
October 20, 2014 | Jeff
Lesser owned options at the quarterback position didn’t contribute much in Week 7, but we have two players who aren’t in the weekly QB1 conversation that we will touch on. First, Ryan Tannehill (Owned: 35% Yahoo, 13% ESPN) had another nice game in Week 7, throwing for 277 yards and two touchdowns while also chipping in with 48 rushing yards. Tannehill has been decent in recent weeks and he draws the Jacksonville Jaguars defense in Week 8. Take a look at Tanny if you are in need of bye week help or are the streaming type. Carson Palmer (Owned: 42% Yahoo, 10% ESPN) was decent against Oakland last week (253 yards, two scores) and is getting back into form after missing time with a shoulder injury. Palmer is good enough to be in the weekly streaming conversation and he faces Philadelphia in Week 8.
One more option worth checking out is Robert Griffin III (Owned: 30% Yahoo, 73% ESPN) who could be returning to lead Washington in the next couple weeks. Kirk Cousins’ Week 7 benching all but ensured that RGIII will take over the starting job when his ankle is ready. If you’re in need of quarterback help, check out our old pal Bob Griffin this week.
With so many waiver wire options swimming around the waiver pool this week, let’s just break them down by order of importance:
Branden Oliver (Owned: 86% Yahoo, 84% ESPN) is owned in most leagues by this point, but Oliver, Ronnie Hillman (Owned: 58% Yahoo, 12% ESPN) and Jerick McKinnon (Owned: 58% Yahoo, 12% ESPN) are the top choices if the rest of your league has been gone on a European vacation for the last two weeks with no internet connection. Send them a post card and thank them for the new players.
If those three top options are gone, as they should be, I like Tre Mason (Owned: 16% Yahoo, 2% ESPN) most of the remaining options. Mason made his NFL debut in Week 6 and followed it up with a nice effort in Week 7 as the lead back in St. Louis. Benny Cunningham (Owned: 13% Yahoo, 2% ESPN) will still be handling the passing down work for the Rams (and is also a decent bench add in PPR leagues) but Mason is the top dog and the best addition this week.
Next up, we have the Buffalo Bills replacement duo of Anthony Dixon (Owned: 4% Yahoo, 0% ESPN) and Bryce Brown (Owned: 6% Yahoo, 1% ESPN). With C.J. Spiller out for the season and the ageless Fred Jackson out for at least a couple weeks, these two guys will be handling the bulk of Buffalo’s running game work. The issue here is that we aren’t 100% sure how the work will be divided between Brown and Dixon but all signs point toward Dixon, who is 6’1’’, 233 lbs, to handle the short yardage work with Bryce Brown handling the passing game work. The Bills did cough up a draft pick for Brown over the offseason so they most likely would take this opportunity to see what they have with the 23-year-old. Brown is the first add, followed by Dixon.
Denard Robinson (Owned: 9% Yahoo, 1% ESPN) is another solid add this week and is just a hair behind Bryce Brown in my waiver order this week. “Shoelace” cranked out 127 yards and 22 Week 7 carries and looks to have left Storm Johnson, Jordan Todman, and Toby Gerhart in the dust. While it appears that Robinson could be a safe bet for touches moving forward, the Jaguars offense may prevent him from ascending in the running back ranks. Jacksonville ranks 29th in NFL rushing attempts per game and 30th in rushing yards per game. Robinson should definitely be added but I would pump the brakes on starting him in Week 8 against Miami.
Jonas Gray (Owned: 1% Yahoo, 0% ESPN) only handled three carries last Thursday but New England went to the air for most of their win against the New York Jets. Gray is a nice add this week with potential to handle New England’s early down work during the fantasy stretch run.
Stepfan Taylor (Owned: 1% Yahoo, 1% ESPN) finally got some work in Arizona and scored two touchdowns in Week 7. Andre Ellington is still in charge of this backfield, so Taylor is just a speculative bench addition at the moment.
Before we finish with the running backs, James Starks (Owned: 14% Yahoo, 50% ESPN) is getting nearly as many touches as Eddie Lacy these days so make sure he isn’t sitting around on the waiver wire.
There weren’t a ton of noteworthy performances from unknown wide receivers in Week 7, but before we dig into this week’s possible pickups, go ahead and make sure that Andre Holmes (Owned: 50% Yahoo, 18% ESPN) and Davante Adams (Owned: 13% Yahoo, 1% ESPN) are owned in your league. We have covered both of those young wide outs here in previous weeks, but they should be mentioned again in case they slipped through the cracks on any waiver wires. Both have great upsides and are perfect bench/spot start material.
We have also discussed Andrew Hawkins (Owned: 29% Yahoo, 10% ESPN) and Cecil Shorts (Owned: 56% Yahoo, 87% ESPN) here in previous weeks, but both of them need some attention. Shorts has seen some seriously high target totals with 25 total over the last two weeks. He should be able to convert more than the three passes he caught in Week 7, so he is a decent flex play even with the progress of the young Jacksonville receivers. Hawkins has been a target monster every week outside of Week 6, so he should be snagged in PPR leagues for at least the next few weeks until Josh Gordon returns.
Doug Baldwin (Owned: 22% Yahoo, 20% ESPN) was the man for Seattle with Percy Harvin now out of the picture. Baldwin hauled in seven of 11 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown as Seattle fell to St. Louis. Dougie is the top target for Wilson going forward and has a shot to be a flex fill-in during bye weeks. I am still not convinced that Wilson and the Seahawks will throw enough to keep Baldwin relevant every week, especially once their tight ends get healthy. However, he should be owned at this point.
Odell Beckham Jr. (Owned: 50% Yahoo, 20% ESPN) caught only four passes in Week 7 but two of them went for touchdowns. Beckham has now scored thrice in his first three games with the Giants and will remain busy with Victor Cruz out for the season with a knee injury. If you need wide receiver help, Beckham is the best bet among the Week 8 waiver wire options.
Kenny Stills (Owned: 10% Yahoo, 4% ESPN) went off in Week 7 for 103 yards and a score as he caught all five of his targets. This fantasy outburst from Stills came while Jimmy Graham was largely used as a “decoy,” but it wasn’t much of an uptick in work for Stills on the day. The five targets Stills received were right in line with his normal workload as he averages 4.0 targets per game so this is simply an example of the streaky capabilities that Stills possesses. The good days are great but the rest of Kenny Stills’ performances will sink your teams. Leave him on the wire, as he is best suited for DFS tournaments.
Stevie Johnson (Owned: 7% Yahoo, 6% ESPN) has seen a nice improvement in his play over the last two weeks, and he caught five passes for 79 yards and a score in Week 7. Despite Johnson’s involvement in the San Francisco offense, he still played less snaps (26) than Anquan Boldin (63), Michael Crabtree (62) and even Brandon Lloyd (45). It would take a serious injury to Boldin or Crabtree to open up the playing time needed to make Johnson a consistent weekly contributor. Don’t waste a waiver claim on Johnson but keep an eye on him as the season moves along.
Week 7 provided plenty of white noise from fantasy tight ends, giving us a bit of muck to sift through on our way to finding helpful contributors. First, we will touch on the tight ends who should be safely ignored, followed by some mid-level options who are available in the majority of leagues.
Gavin Escobar (Owned: 1% Yahoo, 0% ESPN) played on 26 of Dallas’ 63 snaps in Week 7 and caught all three of his targets for 65 yards and two touchdowns. This gives Escobar three touchdowns on five targets over the last two weeks which are far from sustainable numbers and he still plays a fraction of the snaps that Jason Witten (63 of 63 snaps in Week 7) handles.
Cooper Helfet (Owned: 0% Yahoo, 0% ESPN) led the Seattle Seahawks tight ends in snaps and production in Week 7 but will only continue to see the field as long as Luke Willson and Zach Miller remain out. Willson may be back in Week 8, so Helfet is a dicey bet to contribute many more useable weeks moving forward.
Jeff Cumberland (Owned: 1% Yahoo, 0% ESPN) caught his first touchdown of the season in Week 7, but his 50 receiving yard effort was only his 2nd game with over 18 receiving yards on the year. If you are enamored with Jets tight ends, you’d rather own rookie Jace Amaro.
Daniel Fells (Owned: 2% Yahoo, 0% ESPN) played only 18 snaps on Sunday and his lone target was caught for a touchdown. Leave him alone.
Lance Kendricks (Owned: 1% Yahoo, 0% ESPN) has three scores on the year but has only caught more than two passes in a game twice in 2014. I’m not a fan of attempting to predict touchdowns by backup tight ends, so Kendricks is nothing more than a weekly touchdown dependent long shot.
Dwayne Allen (Owned: 63% Yahoo, 28% ESPN) caught his fifth touchdown of the year in Week 7 and has been a decent fantasy contributor so far in 2014. Allen hasn’t caught more than four passes in any single game yet this season so he will be reliant on touchdowns to keep him in the TE1 picture. He is a decent bet as a fill-in or streamer as long as his quarterback continues to put up insane numbers.
Owen Daniels (Owned: 48% Yahoo, 22% ESPN) received his biggest workload of the season in Week 7, catching six of nine targets for 58 yards and a score. Daniels’ production has been streaky since Dennis Pitta’s season-ending injury, but he is averaging 6.3 targets per game over his last four outings. Daniels is a borderline TE1 during bye weeks for those in need.
Charles Clay (Owned: 40% Yahoo, 13% ESPN) finally reached the end zone on Sunday, and has received at least four targets in each of Miami’s games this season. He isn’t the safest bet in fantasy land, but he is firmly in the TE2 picture for those in need and he gets Jacksonville in Week 8.