Welcome to the Week 9 Waiver Wire, fake footballers. Whether you’re in a battle for first place or simply scrapping to stay out of the cellar, finding value in the free agent pool is the easiest way to improve your team. The road to championships is rarely easy, however. None of the waiver options listed here are without limitations. For a more significant impact to your fantasy fortunes, turn to the trading block. Start exploring your trade options now because the deadline tends to creep up when you least expect it and most need the help. Until you can swing a deal to better your team, these guys will have to do:
Better late than never: Jake Locker, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon, Josh McCown
Matt Barkley is the last quarterback standing for the Eagles after Week 8 and he’s probably available in your league if you’re desperate. I’d much prefer Locker, Keenum, or Glennon to Barkley, but if Nick Foles returns to practice this week and is ready to go against the Raiders, he would slot in between Locker and Keenum.
If you preemptively moved in on Darrius Heyward-Bey last week, Andre Brown presents a similar opportunity right now. Brown is eligible to return against the Raiders after the Giants’ Week 9 bye. You’ll lose some roster flexibility if you grab him this week, but Brown could pay huge dividends in Week 10 and beyond. On the other hand, he could end up splitting carries with Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis, and eventually David Wilson. The potential reward outweighs the risk in this case, especially considering the otherwise slim pickings at running back this week.
Speaking of splitting carries, Montee Ball carved out a larger role in the Denver backfield on Sunday while Ronnie Hillman rode the pine. His 11 carries for 37 yards were nothing special, but it’s promising that his 4-yard touchdown came at a point in the game when the Broncos were trailing, as opposed to in garbage time. Knowshon Moreno is still the Denver back to own, but if Ball can maintain John Fox’s trust in important situations and Hillman stays in the doghouse, Ball’s stock rises significantly.
Andre Ellington grabbed the fake football headlines on Sunday in Rashard Mendenhall’s absence. Meanwhile, Stepfan Taylor quietly handled the other half of Arizona’s carries (14 to Ellington’s 15). It’s clear that the Cardinals have no intentions of going with a featured back, so Taylor could have some sneaky value going forward should Mendy continue to miss time.
Jonathan Stewart was back at practice last week, but I’m skeptical that his eventual return will be as triumphant as the other Jon Stewart’s return to The Daily Show. DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert aren’t going anywhere, so Stewart’s workload might never justify fantasy ownership.
Better late than never: Jarrett Boykin, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Aaron Dobson
Marvin Jones put a fantasy beat-down on every wide receiver not named Calvin Johnson on Sunday, catching all 8 of his targets for 122 yards and 4 (Four!) touchdowns. Beware the lesson Roy Helu taught us last week regarding multi-TD efforts out of nowhere. Still, even if Jones isn’t scoring multiple times every week, he should hold value as the Bengals’ #2 wideout opposite A.J. Green.
Kenny Stills caught his own pair of scores and Lance Moore also found the end zone as the Saints topped the Bills on Sunday. It’s nice to see Moore contributing again for New Orleans, but he and Stills both pay a penance to receive passes from Drew Brees. The Lord Breesus works in mysterious ways and the love he has for his many receivers manifests itself in different ways each week. All the Saints’ Week 9 TDs could end up in the hands of Darren Sproles and Marques Colston for all we know. With that said, the injury to Jimmy Graham definitely opens the door for guys like Stills and Moore to see more targets in the weeks to come.
Drew Davis started in place of Roddy White against the Cardinals on Sunday and caught 5 passes for 77 yards and score. White will regain his starting spot when healthy, but Davis is a nice deep-league option until then.
The Rams are a mess and Chris Givens still doesn’t have a touchdown yet this season. On the other hand, he’s easily been the most productive St. Louis wide receiver in terms of yardage. His 354 receiving yards are 70 more than Austin Pettis has this year, but Pettis has hogged the teams TDs. It’s hard to trust Givens given his situation, but look at Zac Stacy’s performance Monday night. There’s fantasy value to be mined from the Rams personnel. Givens burned those who drafted him, but he could still be of use to the owners willing to give him a second chance.
The Vikings train wreck of a season continued on Sunday night against the Packers, but they were obviously trying to get Cordarrelle Patterson more involved in the offense. Patterson is raw and all three of his possible quarterbacks are shaky at best, but the rookie wideout’s value will rise as his usage increases.
Timothy Wright rebounded from a lackluster Week 7 performance to deliver 48 yards and a touchdown on 5 receptions in Week 8 against Carolina. His 8 targets tied him for third-most among tight ends on Sunday with Tony Gonzalez and Charles Clay. That’s pretty good company for a guy owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues and less than 1% of ESPN leagues. Mike Williams is done for the season, so these gaudy target numbers for Wright should continue to pile up.
So which tight ends saw more targets than Wright? Jordan Reed, noted above, was one of them (14 targets) and Scott Chandler was the other (11). Chandler has flashed upside in the past, but always fades back into inconsistency eventually. Regardless, he’s played the security blanket role well for Thad Lewis lately, taking a lot of the targets that were being aimed at Robert Woods under E.J. Manuel’s command. For now, it seems like the fates of Chandler and Lewis are intertwined. All bets are off when Manuel returns.