Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 9
Before searching the waiver wire for these recommendations, managers in shallower fantasy football leagues should first make sure some bigger names weren’t prematurely dropped.
For this column, a player must be rostered in under 30% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues, per FantasyPros’ consensus rate taken on Monday evening. So for our sake, it’s too late to grab Gardner Minshew (51%), Devin Singletary (67%), or Kenny Stills (51%). Perhaps some impatient investors even dumped Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, Kenyan Drake, Christian Kirk, or D.K. Metcalf at the worst possible moment.
Most of the following guys aren’t as exciting by comparison, but improving results, an expanded opportunity, and/or a favorable schedule put them on the fantasy map roughly midway through 2019.
Derek Carr (OAK): 22% Rostered (1% FAAB)
Carr is quietly having a strong season, completing 72.1% of his passes with a 103.6 quarterback rating. It hadn’t translated to fantasy success until the last two games, in which he combined for 578 passing yards and five touchdowns against Green Bay and Houston. He next encounters the Lions, who conversely ceded 660 passing yards and seven touchdowns to Kirk Cousins and Daniel Jones. Carr is gradually climbing his way up the QB rankings, and this game carries sneaky shootout potential.
Sam Darnold (NYJ): 19% Rostered (1% FAAB)
Darnold has thrown seven interceptions in his last two games and eight in three bouts since returning from mononucleosis. The Jaguars sacked him eight times on Sunday. A poor man’s Jameis Winston isn’t what anyone wants from their quarterback, but consider Gang Green’s schedule. The Jets play the Dolphins, Giants, Washington, Raiders, Bengals, and Dolphins once more from Weeks 9-14. All of those teams ranked 24th or worse in DVOA against the pass entering Week 8. Miami has mustered one interception all year, so Darnold still makes a reasonable streamer this weekend despite his troubling turnover woes.
Mark Walton (MIA): 19% Rostered (14% FAAB)
Hours after shipping Kenyan Drake to Arizona, the Dolphins fed Walton 14 times in Monday night’s clutch fall-from-ahead loss to the Steelers. The resulting 54 yards and fumble should keep his FAAB price from spiraling out of control. Before the trade cleared his path to starting status, he had received more snaps and carries in each game. While a heavy workload isn’t likely on a winless squad, Walton is already seeing steadier running work than Drake ever did. For those wondering about Kalen Ballage, he can stay on the waiver wire after garnering four touches on Monday.
Darrell Henderson (LAR): 25% Rostered (8% FAAB)
After playing a measly two snaps through Week 5, Henderson’s play count has risen in each of the last three contests (17, 26, 30). Getting 11 carries for the second straight week, he managed a more efficient 49 rushing yards alongside 20 more on two catches. Todd Gurley had 10 handoffs in the 24-10 wins over the Bengals. These baby steps could eventually lead to standalone flex value if the rookie can work his way into a committee.
Derrius Guice (WAS): 29% Rostered (7% FAAB)
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Washington head coach Bill Callahan said he expects Guice to return Week 11 against the Jets. In light of this news, he won’t be eligible for this column by next week. After missing his entire rookie season with a torn ACL, he mustered 38 yards in his NFL debut before tearing his meniscus. The injury risk is obviously high, and it could cause the 1-7 club to ease him back with severe caution. Yet the 22-year-old remains a superb talent with a far better chance of shifting a fantasy playoff matchup than other widely available backs. Anyone with the roster flexibility should store him away just in case.
Tra Carson (DET): 0% Rostered (1% FAAB)
When Detroit placed Kerryon Johnson on the IR, everyone rushed to grabbed Ty Johnson. The Lions, however, must not view the rookie as a featured back. Ten days after plucking him off waivers from the Packers, they started Carson. He managed just 34 yards on a team-high 12 carries against a Giants defense demolished by Chase Edmonds a week earlier. Much like when K. Johnson went down late last year, Detroit’s backfield now looks like a mess not worth the hassle. Carson played just 19 snaps, but T. Johnson led the way at a mere 25. J.D. McKissic (16) and Paul Perkins (six) also saw the field. Yet backfield options are limited this week, so Carson could at least be worth rostering in deep leagues in hopes of getting goal-line work.
Allen Lazard (GB): 11% Rostered (7% FAAB)
Lazard has hardly set the world ablaze since surfacing from Green Bay’s bench at Aaron Rodgers‘ behest to lead a fourth-quarter comeback in Week 6. He’s posted 42 yards in back-to-back bouts and has yet to top five catches or targets in a game. However, the undrafted rookie led all Packers receivers in snaps in each of the last two games. He’s arrived just in time to enjoy Rodgers’ resurgence, and a returning Davante Adams could give Lazard more space to operate. Although that’s assuming he carves out a bigger role than Geronimo Allison and/or Marquez Valdes-Scantling, it’s a risk worth taking for an effective pass-catcher who has a prominent fan in his two-time MVP quarterback.
Danny Amendola (DET): 9% Rostered (6% FAAB)
As expected, Amendola regressed from Week 7’s eight catches and 105 yards. He only managed eight catches for 95 yards against the Giants. He has more targets (19) than Marvin Jones Jr. (18) and Kenny Golladay (10) in those contests, both of which saw Matthew Stafford eclipse 300 passing yards. Perhaps the 33-year-old slot receiver will prove the biggest benefactor from Johnson’s injury; Detroit could merely fill the void by passing more. With T.J. Hockenson fading into the background after a huge debut, this one-dimensional offense can foster three fantasy-relevant receivers. PPR players should especially take notice of Amendola, as Golden Tate was on pace to capture his fifth straight 90-catch campaign for Detroit before getting traded last season.
Chris Conley (JAC): 6% Rostered (4% FAAB)
Questionable with shoulder and neck injuries, Dede Westbrook started but exited Week 8’s victory early. Fresh off garnering 83 yards on seven targets against the Bengals, Conley turned another seven looks into 103 yards and his first touchdown (a 70-yarder) since Week 1. Capable of occasionally shining as Jacksonville’s third receiver in high-volume situations, the former Kansas City wideout could make some noise as Gardner Minshew‘s second target following D.J. Chark if Jacksonville exudes more caution with Westbrook this time.
Darius Slayton (NYG): 8% Rostered (2% FAAB)
Highlighted here two weeks ago, Slayton slithered to just two catches for 28 yards in an ideal matchup against Arizona. Back off most gamers’ radar, he made his two catches count against the Lions. Both grabs were touchdowns on contested jump balls. Two of his other five targets occurred in the end zone, and at least one probably should have drawn a pass interference call. As Sterling Shepard sits out due to his second concussion of the season, Slayton has emerged as Daniel Jones‘ primary downfield threat. The overall volume isn’t there yet, but this young connection could spark a high-reward WR4.
Alex Erickson (CIN): 5% Rostered (1% FAAB)
One unlikely outburst is easy to dismiss, but Erickson struck again. After a 137-yard Week 7, Erickson accrued a team-high 97 receiving yards last Sunday. Over the last three games, he has 18 catches on 27 targets. Before getting too excited, the Bengals could welcome back A.J. Green following their Week 9 bye. That makes Erickson no more than a deep-league stash for managers who can toy with a bench spot.
Russell Gage (ATL): 0% Rostered (1% FAAB)
A non-factor early in his rookie campaign, Gage caught four of eight targets for 44 yards through Week 7. In Atlanta’s first game after trading Mohamed Sanu, the sixth-round selection snagged seven of nine targets from Matt Schaub for 59 yards. His 47 snaps easily exceeded a previous peak of 16. While Calvin Ridley returned after hitting his head hard on the turf, it’s a situation to monitor as the Falcons enter their bye. Even at full strength, including Matt Ryan under center, Gage could assume Sanu’s role as a deep-league piece capable of exploding in the right spot.
Dallas Goedert (PHI): 22% Rostered (7% FAAB)
here are actually some solid tight ends worth adding for once. I’ve held off on touting Goedert since most teams can’t even support one viable tight end, let alone two. It’s time to shed that bias now that he’s found the end zone in consecutive contests. He’s caught 12 of 17 targets for 139 yards — 27 more than Ertz — over the last three games. Having played more than 35 snaps all but once this season and matching a career-high with 55 on Sunday, Goedert has ascended to borderline TE1 territory. Although far from a weekly lock, he sure beats stomaching Jason Witten and other meandering names hovering around the 12-15 range.
Darren Fells (HOU): 15% Rostered (5% FAAB)
T After securing his second two-touchdown game of 2019, Fells is tied with Austin Hooper for the most touchdowns (five) at the position. He’s also averaging 39.2 yards per game as the TE4 since the start of Week 3. Although he’s thrown in a few duds, it might be time to take him seriously now that Deshaun Watson is missing a top target in Will Fuller. Houston will travel to London to face the Jaguars, who just ceded two scores to Ryan Griffin.
Jonnu Smith (TEN): 10% Rostered (5% FAAB)
Starting in place of Delanie Walker, Smith led the Titans in targets (seven), catches (six), and receiving yards (78) in Week 8’s win over Tampa Bay while depositing his first touchdown of 2019. That gives him 142 yards over the last two outings with Walker nursing an ankle injury. Smith started flashing late last year, scoring three touchdowns in Tennessee’s final five games. Despite a difficult Week 9 draw against Carolina, Smith would make a serviceable starter once more if his teammate stays sidelined.
New York Jets: 10% Rostered (1% FAAB)
Remember that Jets schedule that’s so tantalizing for Darnold? It’s pretty darn good for their defense as well. Ranking 10th in defensive DVOA prior to a rough day at Jacksonville, they’re not as hopeless as the 1-6 record suggests. The schedule puts them in streamer territory all the way into the fantasy playoffs. Of course, they’ll need to prove worthy of that spot without the recently traded Leonard Williams against a somewhat improved Miami offense.