Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 7
Week 7 could be the first time some fantasy managers truly feel the burden of a bye week.
A handful of bottom-feeders (Jets, Dolphins, Raiders, Washington) took an early breather, sparing the last few slates of too much lost star power. This week, however, the Buccaneers, Browns, Panthers, and Steelers will rest. Unfortunately, there’s no replacing Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, or Odell Beckham Jr. on the waiver wire. Some appealing alternatives at least exist. Those working at full strength can instead turn their attention to running back handcuffs pushing their way to standalone value.
With the exception of the first player discussed, the following options all command a consensus rostered rate below 30%, as of Monday. Some are short-term stopgaps. Others, despite a suboptimal Week 7, could pay major dividends over the season’s second half.
Kirk Cousins (MIN): 36% Rostered (3% FAAB)
I’m cheating here since there’s not much passing talent both available in below 30 percent of leagues and usable – or even playing in Kyle Allen’s case – for Week 7. After amassing just 735 passing yards and three touchdowns in his first four concerning contests, Cousins has rebounded with 639 combined yards and six touchdowns against the Giants and Eagles. Both of those NFC East matchups were more favorable than a Detroit defense that shielded Patrick Mahomes from the end zone and entered Monday night third in opposing completion percentage, so he also doesn’t make the best streamer. Consecutive breakout performances from Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs is still a highly encouraging sign for a Minnesota aerial offense stuck in the mud throughout September.
Sam Darnold (NYJ): 12% Rostered (1% FAAB)
After missing four weeks with mononucleosis, Darnold instantly ignited Gang Green’s offense in a Week 6 upset over the Cowboys. By registering 338 passing yards and two touchdowns, the second-year signal-caller promptly reminded everyone of his preseason breakout buzz. He’s not usable in a brutal Week 7 draw against New England, but Darnold should resume his ascent in November with dates against the Dolphins, Giants, Washington, and Raiders, followed by Miami once more and Cincinnati to commence December. He shouldn’t be available to stream by the end of that run.
Jamaal Williams (GB): 17% Rostered (9% FAAB)
At least the Packers had an excuse for reigning in Aaron Jones this time. His playing time evaporated after dropping a would-be touchdown catch and coughing up a fumble in the first half. Williams, who was last seen going for zero yards on his lone Week 4 touch, stepped in to register 107 yards and a touchdown on 11 touches … in the first half. Jones’ managers especially won’t like it, but Williams will remain a presence in Green Bay’s offense after his teammate’s miscues. Enhanced red-zone work could quickly turn him into a weekly starter.
Chase Edmonds (ARI): 26% Rostered (7% FAAB)
David Johnson played through back tightness, but Edmonds still left his mark in a 34-33 win over Atlanta. In 20 snaps, he amassed 67 yards (34 rushing, 33 receiving) with his second touchdown in as many games. Of course, favorable opposition and Johnson’s health may have created the perfect storm to turn his understudy into a viable flex play. A week 7 battle with the Giants, however, paves the way for another high-scoring affair between subpar teams where Edmonds could matter in limited touches. Given Johnson’s back concerns, it’s at least wise for his investors to stash his backup on the bench.
Alexander Mattison (MIN): 19% Rostered (5% FAAB)
Mattison might be more than a mere handcuff. In a 38-20 win over the Eagles, the rookie out-gained Dalvin Cook with 63 yards on 14 carries. Four of those handoffs came inside the 20 on his season-high 21 snaps. While he only gets work in lopsided victories, the Vikings have obtained all four of their wins by 16 points or more. They could easily earn a fifth against Washington in Week 8 following a tougher Week 7 bout at Detroit. Even for those not buying his flex value as a complement to Cook, Mattison undoubtedly remains one of fantasy’s most valuable contingency plans if his teammate goes down.
Mark Walton (MIA): 2% Rostered (2% FAAB)
Walton drew the surprising start over Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. That only yielded six carries in a one-point loss to Washington, but he converted them into 32 yards while earning an additional 43 receiving yards. With Drake seemingly resigned to a limited role, the winless squad has little to lose from auditioning the 22-year-old as a leading rusher. Much like Drake, his real value would come in collecting dump-off catches while Miami plays from behind.
Benny Snell Jr. (PIT): 2% Rostered (2% FAAB)
Already missing Jaylen Samuels to a knee injury, the Steelers lost James Conner late on Sunday night. In their place, Snell submitted 75 rushing yards on 17 handoffs. Conner has a well-timed bye week to heal his quad, so Snell might not get another chance at extended work. Yet his acquisition cost will rise dramatically if his teammate doesn’t have a positive prognosis early next week. Those who can toy with a roster spot — or need insurance for Conner — should consider stashing the rookie now. While he wouldn’t be a multi-faceted PPR menace like Conner or Samuels, any Steelers starting running back gets offered a ton of opportunities.
Auden Tate (CIN): 21% Rostered (7% FAAB)
Highlighted last week, Tate shined once more by securing five of 12 targets for 91 yards in Week 6. That gives him 34 targets in the last for games. That’s only four fewer than Tyler Boyd, who turned his seven into just 10 yards against Baltimore. A.J. Green could eventually return and spoil the fun, but worry about that roadblock when crossing it. Cincinnati could trade its star receiver anyway, which would cement Tate’s role as a starting wideout in a high-volume passing offense likely to feast in plenty more garbage-time situations.
Dante Pettis (SF): 22% Rostered (5% FAAB)
Buried deep into Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse, Pettis needed just six targets and 45 yards to set season highs in Week 6. He also established a new 2019 benchmark by playing 56 snaps, besting Week 5’s previous high of 47. The role of San Francisco’s No. 1 wide receiver remains up for grabs, and Pettis has already shown what he could do with the distinction when delivering 359 yards and three touchdowns in his final five games last season. If there’s ever a situation to take the flier on him as a bye-week replacement, it’s Week 7. As several stars sit out at the position, Pettis gets Washington.
Darius Slayton (NYG): 4% Rostered (1% FAAB)
For the second time this season, Sterling Shepard missed a game with concussion symptoms. No team is going to rush a player back in that situation, and the Giants also played Week 6 without Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram. Despite the depleted deck, Slayton managed only three catches or 32 yards last Thursday night. Don’t discard him just yet. The speedy newcomer drew eight targets fresh off procuring 62 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. The Giants go from encountering New England’s second-best passing defense to Arizona’s third-worst. Arizona’s six contests have also resulted in 50.8 cumulative points per game. Slayton is going to emerge as a not-so-sneaky streamer if given another chance to start alongside Golden Tate, who should be rostered and started across the board in Week 7.
Darren Fells (HOU): 2% Rostered (2% FAAB)
A two-touchdown Week 5 didn’t come with the appropriate volume to highlight Fells. Although he didn’t cross pay dirt in Week 6’s win over Kansas City, he set 2019 highs in targets (seven), catches (six), and receiving yards (69). Deshaun Watson still has Jordan Akins, Duke Johnson, and a loaded batch of wide receiver at his disposal. But the current state of tight end dictates that back-to-back impressive outings garners anyone attention. The TE10 (half-PPR) since the start of Week 3, Fells is a viable plug-in for those needing to replace Greg Olsen or O.J. Howard this week.
Ricky Seals-Jones (CLE): 3% Rostered (1% FAAB)
Like the 2019 Browns, Seals-Jones hasn’t met the hype. Often a trendy sleeper during his Arizona days, he got jettisoned to Cleveland, where he’s gradually sliding back into fantasy relevancy. The 24-year-old has banked two touchdowns in four games, totaling 143 yards in the process. Most managers probably can’t afford to stash him during a bye week, but don’t forget about a toolsy talent capable of clicking in a big way if Baker Mayfield finds his stride.
Kansas City Chiefs: 20% Rostered (1% FAAB)
Fresh off shutting out the Titans, the Broncos are the best widely available defense. They’re also facing the Chiefs, rendering them moot as a Week 7 option. Let’s instead turn to the other end of Thursday night’s matchup. Denver ranks 25th in offensive yards per game (336.2) and 26th in points scored (17.7) entering their AFC West showdown. While facing the Chiefs is often a tantalizing scenario for skill-position players, they’ve also compiled 10 takeaways this season. It’s hard to see Joe Flacco turning any game into a true shootout.