Fantasy football can be an extremely fun game to play. It can also be highly frustrating at times. Nothing is more annoying than needing to make a last-minute waiver wire move because someone in your starting lineup is out for the week.
Sadly, there isn’t much you can do about it. However, I’m going to try and help.
Every week I will have six players you can grab off the waiver wire at the last minute and throw into your lineup. Some will succeed, while others will fail. Unfortunately, that’s how the game of fantasy football is played.
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Last-Minute Waiver Wire Pickups & Injury Replacements
All the players in this article are rostered in under 35% of ESPN leagues.
Derek Carr (QB – NO) vs. Chicago Bears (33.1% Rostered)
The former Fresno State star is one of my favorite streaming quarterback options this week. Carr completed 70.4% of his pass attempts for 310 yards, two touchdowns, and 18.3 fantasy points in Week 8. The veteran has thrown for at least 300 yards in half the games this season, including three consecutive matchups. Furthermore, he looked healthy in the win over the Indianapolis Colts after dealing with an AC joint sprain the past few weeks. More importantly, Carr has scored at least 16.3 fantasy points in three consecutive contests despite having only four passing touchdowns in those games.
While the veteran took advantage of a struggling young secondary in Week 8, he gets to do it again on Sunday. Chicago has struggled to slow down opposing quarterbacks, surrendering 18.9 fantasy points per game. Quarterbacks have scored at least 22 fantasy points in all but three games against the Bears, including four of the past six. Last week, Justin Herbert completed 77.5% of his pass attempts for 298 yards, three touchdowns, and 24 fantasy points in the win over the NFC North bottom dwellers. Fantasy players should expect Carr to have his fourth consecutive game with over 300 passing yards.
Hopefully, the New Orleans quarterback is available in your league. However, Mac Jones (5.6% rostered) is a solid backup option. The New England Patriots quarterback faces the Washington Commanders in their first game without Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Washington has surrendered 21.3 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, the second-most in the NFL. They have given up at least two passing touchdowns in every game but one since Week 1. Jones has two passing touchdowns in two consecutive games and should make it three on Sunday against the Commanders.
Justice Hill (RB – BAL) vs. Seattle Seahawks (24.9% Rostered)
The ugly truth is that the running back has been a nightmare for fantasy players. There aren’t many appealing options on the waiver wire this late in the season. However, Hill has some appeal. The former Oklahoma State star has been the No. 2 running back behind Gus Edwards. Yet, he is the RB35, averaging 7.3 half-point PPR fantasy points per game this year. More importantly, Hill has a clear role in the passing game. The veteran running back has averaged 2.5 receptions per game since Week 1, totaling three or more in three of the past four contests.
Meanwhile, Seattle acquired Leonard Williams from the New York Giants at the trade deadline, improving their run defense. Yet, the Seahawks have been good at slowing down opposing running backs until last week. However, Seattle has struggled with pass-catching running backs. They have surrendered 5.8 receptions for 41.5 receiving yards per game to running backs since week 1, giving up at least 35 receiving yards in all but one contest. Hopefully, Hill can take one of his receptions to the house and score double-digit fantasy points.
Royce Freeman (RB – LAR) vs. Green Bay Packers (22.2% Rostered)
Los Angeles has dealt with multiple injuries over the past few weeks. Kyren Williams is on injured reserve, while Matthew Stafford is dealing with a thumb injury on his throwing hand. Darrell Henderson Jr. and Freeman have split the backfield work over the past two weeks, with both running backs having one touchdown. However, Freeman has been the most productive runner. He has a higher yards per rushing attempt average (5.24 vs. 3.07), explosive run rate (4.8% vs. 3.3%), and yards after contact per rushing attempt (4.0 vs. 2.3) than Henderson (per Fantasy Points Data).
Yet, Freeman is rostered in 50.7% fewer leagues than Henderson despite both running backs scoring roughly 10 half-point PPR fantasy points last week. Meanwhile, the Packers have been a fantasy goldmine for opposing running backs. They have surrendered 22.5 fantasy points per game, the sixth-most in the NFL. Over their past four contests, Green Bay has given up 104.8 rushing yards, 1.3 touchdowns, and 23.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. According to Fantasy Points Data, the Packers have allowed the fifth-highest missed forced tackle rate per rushing attempt allowed during those four matchups (0.27).
Rashid Shaheed (WR – NO) vs. Chicago Bears (28.2% Rostered)
Shaheed made the Week 8 article and had a massive fantasy performance against the Indianapolis Colts. The second-year player was the WR4, scoring 22.8 half-point fantasy points after catching all three targets for 153 receiving yards and a touchdown. However, Shaheed has had multiple pop games lately. Over the past three weeks, the former undrafted free-agent wide receiver has been the WR7, averaging 5.7 targets and 15.1 fantasy points per game, scoring 17 or more twice. More importantly, he has an appealing matchup for the second consecutive week.
The Bears have struggled to slow down opposing wide receivers. They have given up at least one receiving touchdown to wide receivers in all but one game this season. Furthermore, wide receivers have averaged 165.7 receiving yards per game against Chicago since Week 1. According to Fantasy Points Data, the Bears surrender the eighth-highest yards per route run (1.59), rank seventh in catchable target rate (84.7%), and eighth in adjusted completion percentage (78.3%). Despite the addition of Montez Sweat, Chicago will struggle to slow down Derek Carr and Shaheed’s big-play abilities.
If Shaheed isn’t available in your league, Khalil Shakir (2.7% rostered) is an excellent backup option. He is coming off the best game in his career, catching all six targets for 92 receiving yards, totaling 12.2 fantasy points. The second-year wide receiver will continue to see more snaps and targets with Dawson Knox on injured reserve. More importantly, Shakir runs 77.9% of his routes from the slot (per Fantasy Points Data). Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals have the third-highest target rate to slot wide receivers this season (37.1%).
Demario Douglas (WR – NE) vs. Washington Commanders (17.4% Rostered)
Many won’t like the idea of starting a Patriots rookie wide receiver. However, Douglas has arguably been the top New England wide receiver not named Kendrick Bourne this season. The rookie has averaged only 4.7 half-point PPR fantasy points per game for the year. Yet, he’s been solid when given a reasonable target share. In the three games with more than three targets, Douglas has averaged 39.7 receiving yards and 6.9 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, he was the clear-cut go-to wide receiver last week after Bourne left the game with a season-ending injury.
Last week, the rookie led the team with seven targets, seeing nearly twice as many as any other Patriot. More importantly, he has accounted for 22% of the team’s target share over the past two weeks. Meanwhile, the Commanders have surrendered 35.9 fantasy points per game to wide receivers, the second-most in the NFL. Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver had 242 receiving yards, four touchdowns, and 56.7 fantasy points against the Commanders. With Bourne out for the year and DeVante Parker possibly out this week, Douglas should see double-digit targets in a fantasy-friendly matchup.
Cade Otton (TE – TB) vs. Houston Texans (6.6% Rostered)
Otton had a solid rookie season, averaging 4.5 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. Unfortunately, he has averaged only 5.2 fantasy points per game this season. However, the former Washington star has started to see an expanded role on offense. Over the past two weeks, he has had nine receptions on 12 targets for 70 receiving yards and 13.5 fantasy points despite not scoring a touchdown. Furthermore, Otton has averaged 37 receiving yards and 6.9 fantasy points per game in the three contests with more than four targets this year.
Meanwhile, the Texans have struggled to slow down opposing tight ends, surrendering 11.5 fantasy points per game, the sixth-most in the NFL. Furthermore, tight ends have scored a touchdown or had over 75 receiving yards in all but one game against Houston since Week 1. According to Fantasy Points Data, the Texans have the third-highest targeted rate to inline players this season. They also rank 13th in target rate to slot players. Otton has lined up inline or in the slot on nearly 80% of his routes. Don’t be surprised if he has a top-12 finish against Houston.