Working the Waiver Wire: Week 8
By Kevin Payne
This column is geared toward “standard” 12-team leagues and based upon a $100 free-agent budget. Please, please adjust for your league based upon both the number of teams (I’m in a 24-team league, for example) and budget. This column is posted every Tuesday to, hopefully, accommodate the various waiver schedule. I’ll update it in the comments section during the week; please keep in mind a lot can change from Tuesday to Sunday.
Week 7 will be remembered as the week Peyton Manning set the all-time touchdown record, but there were many other notable occurrences. Seattle suddenly doesn’t look formidable, Dallas has a much better defense than everyone thought and Arizona looks like the best team in the NFC West. No team in the NFC South has a winning record, and the first major trade happened when the Seahawks sent Percy Harvin to the Jets. The Bills lost both of their top-2 running backs to injury leading to some interesting players to target on the waiver wire.
Robert Griffin, WAS – Griffin’s availability for Monday night’s game looks pretty iffy at this point, but a return to the field 2-3 weeks away seems like a reasonable expectation. Griffin plays on a team with a bad defense and in a division that can score points, both factors helping his fantasy value. It remains to be seen how much he’ll run given his injury history and inability to avoid big hits. Still, he has a nice set of receivers with DeSean Jackson stretching the field while Pierre Garcon, Niles Paul and Jordan Reed work routes underneath. FAAB: $10-15
Johnny Manziel, CLE – Manziel isn’t going to take over the quarterback spot this week for the Browns, but there should be some talk about him after Brian Hoyer struggled against a bad Jacksonville defense. If Hoyer struggles again this week against another bad defense in the Raiders, that chatter will get louder. Keep in mind that if Manziel takes over, he gets Josh Gordon back in a few weeks. FAAB: $1 or FCFS
Tre Mason, STL – Mason was supposed to be in a three-player committee against the Seahawks but impressed enough to get the lion’s share of carries. He finished the game with 18 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown, and while it’s not too late in the season he has fresh legs with virtually no touches until now. There’s a chance the Rams split the carries more evenly, but for now Mason looks like the best option to own in the St. Louis backfield. He has a nice matchup this week going up against the Chiefs defense. FAAB: $20-25
Anthony Dixon, BUF – The loss of both Fred Jackson and then C.J. Spiller opens an opportunity for Dixon, who was already receiving his share of touches. Dixon will now be the main running back for the Bills and the goal-line back given his stature and history. Bryce Brown (FAAB: $10-15) should work his way into the mix, as well. However, the fact that Brown hasn’t been active all season suggests Dixon will be the primary ball carrier. Spiller is done for the season, and Jackson is expected to miss at least four weeks, so Dixon is more than short-term rental. Brown could overtake Dixon as the primary ball carrier given what he did in Philadelphia when given the opportunity, but initially expect Dixon to shoulder most of the workload. FAAB: $20-25
Denard Robinson, JAC – Robinson was one of the bigger surprises this week, amassing 127 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Storm Johnson took a backseat to Robinson and the backfield gets a little murkier once Toby Gerhart returns from a foot injury. Robinson should be the main running back of the three given his performance, though he hadn’t received double-digit carries in any game until the Cleveland game. The Jaguars offensive line looked much better as a run-blocking unit Sunday, helping Robinson’s potential value. He’s not a lock for 20-plus touches every week but makes for a solid flex play when your players have byes. FAAB: $15-20
Jonas Gray, NE – Last week Brandon Bolden looked like a good add, this week it’s Gray. Surprisingly, it was Gray backing up Shane Vereen Thursday night, and while he only had three carries, it’s notable that he could have his role expanded. The former Notre Damer averaged 6.9 yards per carry his last year in college and would be the logical choice for goal-line work given his size. Josh McDaniels stated Monday on Gray would get more chances citing his work ethic and ability to pass block. Bill Belichick could change his mind on the backfield pecking order at any time, but Gray appears to have carved out a role for himself. FAAB: $5-10
Travaris Cadet, NO – Cadet found himself in the pass-catching RB role after Pierre Thomas left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury. This recommendation is geared toward full-point PPR formats as Cadet only has three carries this season. Mark Ingram is the primary ball carrier and handles the goal-line work, but Cadet has double-digit fantasy points in each of his last three games in PPR formats. The Saints offense looked back on track Sunday and return to the friendly confines of the Superdome this week to take on the Packers. FAAB: $4-8
Charles Sims, TB – This is another case of trying to stay ahead and get a guy before the buzz gets out about him and his waiver stock goes through the roof. Sims might be back at practice this week and could suit up for his first professional game Sunday. The 69th player taken in the draft, Sims had some sleeper buzz before injuring his ankle in preseason. The Buccaneers aren’t in “win-now” mode and with Doug Martin averaging a paltry 2.9 yards per carry they would be wise to give Sims an audition. Tampa Bay has raved about his pass-catching ability, so he’ll hold even more value in PPR formats. He’s a lottery ticket who could pay off if your team makes the fantasy playoffs. FAAB: $3-6
Doug Baldwin, SEA – It’s probably not a coincidence that Baldwin had his best fantasy game of the season and Percy Harvin wasn’t on the field. The Seahawks played from behind all game, helping Baldwin’s numbers, and their defense doesn’t appear to be as good as it was a season ago. This should result in Russell Wilson airing the ball out more and, provided they run the same ratio of runs and passes, someone is going to get Harvin’s targets. Also, Jermain Kearse ($4-8) is a deeper option, especially as one of the bigger targets for Wilson in the red zone.
Kenny Stills, NO – The Saints have lacked someone to stretch the field all season but may have found a solution in Kenny Stills. He got behind the Lions defense for a 46-yard touchdown and has the speed to be the deep threat New Orleans needs. The negative part here is he will be inconsistent as a fantasy option with Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks likely to see more targets. FAAB: $2-4
Martavus Bryant, PIT – The former teammate of Sammie Watkins, Bryant made a big splash Monday night with a long touchdown grab from Ben Roesthlisberger. Bryant has excellent size (6-4) and speed (4.42 40) and will be more involved with the Steelers offense now that he’s had time to figure out the playbook. Pittsburgh has been searching for a complement to Antonio Brown, and Bryant could be that player. FAAB: $1 or FCFS
Gavin Escobar, DAL – Escobar had four total targets over the Cowboys first five games but has seen his role grow in the offense the last two weeks. He has three touchdowns over that span and has established himself as a dependable red-zone target. At this point Escobar has more speed and athleticism than the aging Jason Witten and could be the more preferred target between the two for Tony Romo. FAAB: $3-6