Alas, the time of year when every player is questionable.
Weekly practice reports look like alphabet soup with the number of injury designations. For this reason (and many others), a diverse bench is a necessity. By diverse, I mean a mix of players who are both spot starters and speculative long-term plays. We love a K.J. Osborn, and we love a Quentin Johnston, albeit for different reasons.
As always, right now, we’re breaking down the first slate of games (Thursday + early Sunday) and looking for the first candidates to be waiver wire targets on Tuesday. I’ll include players rostered in fewer than 40% of leagues.
Fantasy Football Early Waiver Wire Pickups to Target (Week 7)
Spears barely avoids the 40% rostership threshold, and I suspect his rostership will actually decrease because the Titans have a bye next week.
This late-game screen pass saved his day.
The rookie Tyjae Spears showing what he can do! 🔥
— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2023
Spears’s efficiency makes him a low-level flex consideration, even with Derrick Henry active. However, if Henry were to miss any time, Spears would be an immediate start.
Spears was a 2023 third-round pick and, prior to today, had a 14% target share. That draft capital and usage are enough to keep him on our radars.
Charbonnet, like Spears, is a rookie and the second fiddle to a solid running back. Charbonnet was a second-round pick in April. He hasn’t seen Spears’ level of usage, though, partly because Kenneth Walker is a second-year pro and looking good.
Walker has dealt with his share of minor injuries in the last year, though, and should he miss a game for any reason, Charbonnet is an immediate consideration for your lineup.
The less sexy option in a timeshare on a team that doesn’t run the ball particularly well is never a fun inclusion here. However, given that everyone’s roster has injuries and bye weeks, it is necessary. Houston’s backfield appears to be a true timeshare, meaning Singletary projects to see double-digit touches weekly. Are we excited about what he does with those touches? Not particularly, but he’ll get them, and today, he ran for 58 yards, which isn’t nothing.
Miller rotated with Alvin Kamara early today. Given that Kamara is 28 years old, a candidate to get cut this offseason, and Miller was drafted in the third round this year, I’d be surprised if Miller’s involvement doesn’t increase as the season goes on. I’d be hesitant to start him until we see an official breakout game, though Miller is averaging just over five fantasy points per game.
Fantasy football’s underbelly has been rumbling about Mitchell for quite a while. It might all be smoke, but the race to find the next explosive-but-buried-in-a-depth-chart guy never ends. Mitchell, a 2023 undrafted free agent, was getting great reviews throughout the preseason and started the year on injured reserve.
He was activated prior to this morning’s game but did not receive a carry. He’s fast, both via eye test and his 4.37 40-yard dash. I think his hype centers around the idea that his competition for carries is Justice Hill and Gus Edwards. If Mitchell can flash that explosiveness when given a shot, it would be hard for the Ravens not to include him in their backfield rotation.
I’d be hesitant to start Hunt if Jerome Ford is healthy. You’d basically be praying for a touchdown, which happened today. If Ford goes down, however, Hunt becomes the Cleveland RB1, which is always a fantasy-relevant role.
It wasn’t long ago (April 2022) when Williams was selected 12th overall and considered to be the most explosive receiver in a stacked receiver class.
Due to a variety of reasons, including injury and suspension, he has never played more than 47% of snaps in an NFL game. Assuming he stays healthy for the rest of the season, he certainly will, and he’s in a receiver-friendly offense in Detroit. Williams is worth a roster spot for the upside alone.
Don’t look now. Patrick Mahomes might have a competent young receiver. Rice currently leads Kansas City wide receivers in target share (13%), receiving yards (245) and touchdowns (two). If his rapport with Mahomes keeps building, we all know the sky’s the limit. Rice is an urgent waiver wire addition.
Downs’ best games have come with Gardner Minshew at quarterback for the Colts rather than Anthony Richardson. Per Ian Rapoport, Richardson could undergo season-ending surgery. This connection was evident early; Downs saw three targets on the Colts’ first drive today.
Downs was selected in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, has played more than 70% of snaps in every game this season, and has tallied more than 13 points in three of his last four games.
He’s a weekly flex consideration in 12-team leagues.
Robinson’s path to targets isn’t excruciatingly difficult. In three games this year, he has 17 targets. His competition at receiver is Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, and Sterling Shepard. Robinson is the youngest of these receivers and was selected 43rd overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Giants had, and like still have, plans for him. He’s available in most leagues, and it’s worth seeing how his situation unfolds.
Shaheed is a big play threat along the lines of a less-developed Will Fuller. If you’re in a deep league and scraping for a fill-in, he could do the job because, as evidenced by his 34-yard touchdown today, all he needs is one play to become fantasy-relevant. With that skillset, there is obviously variance, as evidenced by Shaheed’s 14.6 total points in weeks 3-5.
Musgrave is currently the TE19 and missed nearly a whole game because of a concussion. Not including the concussion game, Musgrave is averaging 4.25 catches and 39.5 yards per game. His first five NFL games ever could be going worse. We’ve learned to have extremely low expectations for rookie TEs. (Sip your tea, Sam LaPorta managers). Musgrave was the 42nd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, which is a lofty investment. That gives me hope the Packers will continue including him in their game plan. His playing time isn’t an issue; he’s the Packers’ TE1. He just needs to put it together.
He’s far from a lock to score 25 points every week. Howell holds the ball, and the Commanders’ offensive line doesn’t do him any favors. However, he’s scored at least 19 points in all but one game this season. Next up for the Commanders are the Giants, Eagles, Patriots, Seahawks, and Giants again. Those are decent matchups for a QB. If you need a streaming option, you could do worse than Howell, who also has a fair amount of rushing potential.
Green Bay Packers Defense/Special Teams
The Packers had Week 6 off and head to Denver to take on the Broncos in week seven. Aside from the obvious strategic and player health advantages of having an extra week to rest and prepare, they take on the struggling Broncos. Russell Wilson has been sacked, on average, more than three times per game. Safety Darnell Savage and linebacker Quay Walker left week five’s game and could return next week. Cornerback Eric Stokes could make his season debut. Any combination of these players could help make Russell Wilson’s life difficult.