The home stretch has commenced.
Most leagues have only six regular season weeks remaining. As the season moves along, our managerial perspectives should evolve. Are we in desperation mode and hoping to squeak into the playoffs? Are we in great shape and trying to bolster a juggernaut for domination in weeks 15-17? Are we simply trying to avoid our last place punishment?
Going forward, using a player’s playoff schedule to influence transactions isn’t out of the realm of reasonable strategy. Backup running backs are becoming more valuable, insurance for top talent is a priority.
Here are some players who, after Sunday’s first slate, have separated themselves from the pack in terms of potential waiver claims. As always, these names are rostered in fewer than 40% of leagues.
- Waiver Wire Advice
- Weekly Fantasy Football Expert Rankings
- Fantasy Football Start/Sit Advice
- Fantasy Football Trade Tools
Fantasy Football Early Waiver Wire Pickups to Target (Week 9)
I am going to include Tyjae Spears on this list until I am diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. He checks all the boxes. He’s looked good. He is Derrick Henry‘s clear handcuff. He is getting usage despite sharing a backfield with one of the best running backs in the league. If you need to scrape by in the short term, I understand not rostering Spears. He’s not a convincing start immediately. However, if you can afford to stash him, I don’t see many worlds where his workload doesn’t increase.
This is being written prior to Arizona’s game today. However, Demercado is coming off the heels of a game where he saw the field on 80% of the Cardinals’ snaps and touched the ball 17 times. Demercado can be started as a low-end flex until James Conner returns.
Kenneth Walker is playing well, which makes Charbonnet difficult to add. At least for now, Charbonnet cannot be started if Kenneth Walker is active. However, Walker missed a couple of games last season and dealt with some injuries this preseason as well. Charbonnet is a must-add for all Walker managers.
I’m not high on Freeman stock long-term. Kyren Williams will likely return in a few weeks and send Freeman packing. However, Freeman is an option if you’re scraping by and want to start a running back you know will be involved in their team’s offense. In his last two games, Freeman has 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.
There’s undeniable volatility with Shaheed. He’s scored fewer than eight points four times. He’s scored more than 18 points three times. If you can stomach that, he’s available in many leagues. His game-to-game ceiling isn’t exactly common among waiver-wire players.
Reed scored 12.3 fantasy points today, and it could have been many more. At one point, a Vikings defensive back stole a deep ball right out of his hands. Reed also made an incredible catch in the end zone but couldn’t get his feet down.
The Packers’ group of pass catchers is underwhelming, and Reed was a second-round pick this year. That’s a sizable investment, and he looks solid already. Things are looking up fantasy-wise for Jayden Reed.
In his last three games, Mayfield has thrown 121 passes. That type of volume is normally enough to give a quarterback a sustainably high floor in terms of fantasy points. Mayfield has exhibited that high floor – scoring more than 16 points in five of his seven games this season. He’s also averaging 17 rushing yards per game. Mayfield, on a long week of rest after playing Thursday, plays Houston and Tennessee in his next two games. He projects to be a solid option in both of those games.
Here is my verbal asterisk I am labeling “if he continues to be the starting quarterback.”
Levis’ performance against a competent Falcons defense should not be ignored. Today, in his first-ever start, Levis scored 27 fantasy points. I don’t see a world where the Titans can bench Levis after this performance, but anything is possible.
In the fantasy playoffs, Levis plays a middling Houston defense twice. It’s unlikely he will turn into a league-winning revelation, but a streaming candidate we can feel optimistic about is good enough if we’re playing matchups.
Howell was the fantasy QB1 this week (after Sunday’s first slate of games), and I still have no idea what to expect from him. The Commanders have no problem letting him throw a ton of passes, which is a good thing for fantasy prospects. However, the offensive line is still shoddy, and he’s had a few dud games. It wouldn’t surprise me if Howell maintains this streak of being supremely frustrating for fantasy managers. However, he’s shown his ceiling, and he’s definitely worthy of starting on your fantasy team with the right matchup. That could be an issue, though, because his schedule is not fantastic. The Commanders visit the Patriots and Seahawks in the next two weeks. During fantasy playoffs, Howell will face the 49ers, Jets and Rams.
Hill led the Saints in rushing yards this week, caught a pass, and threw a 44-yard pass. Here’s all you need to know about why Hill should be rostered:
At the moment, this week’s 0.5PPR TE8 is Tommy Tremble, who scored 7.4 points because he caught two passes for four yards and a touchdown. Whether we like it or not, Taysom Hill is a viable option at TE.
Minnesota Vikings Defense/Special Teams
The Minnesota Vikings play the Atlanta Falcons next weekend. The game is in Atlanta, so I doubt the Vikings will be significantly favored if favored at all. However, the point total should be pretty low. Prior to today, only eight teams have scored fewer points than the Falcons, and only three teams have turned the ball over more. After the Falcons, the Vikings take on the Saints, Broncos, and Bears, all of which are far from high-powered offenses.
Las Vegas Raiders Defense/Special Teams
If the Raiders host the Tommy DeVito-led Giants next weekend, don’t overthink it. They’re startable in a pinch.