Top 7 Fantasy Waiver Pickups for Week 8
We're going retro with this week's Waiver Pickups. Journey with me back all the way to Week 1, that innocent, simple time when the Saints were Super Bowl contenders, Kevin Smith seemed like a legitimate fantasy pick, and wondering whether this was Roy Helu's breakout year was not a laughing matter. That warm September breeze feels good, I have to say.
And man, that early September was a different age. High on Rashad Jennings for Week 1? Sure, why not? How about Jonathan Dwyer? Sounds good by me. And I think that Leonard Hankerson might break out in Washington. Go for it! That Week 1 was surely a different age...
But that age has come again, my friends. Some of the players on this list might already be owned in your league. But more likely, they were once owned and have since been dropped. And if that's the case, consider yourself a lucky beneficiary for this week. This is numberFire's top Week 8 pickups, powered by the wonder of math and our projections model.
Top 7 Fantasy Football Waiver Pickups for Week 8
RB Rashad Jennings - Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 7 Fantasy Points: 15
Leagues Owned: 13.6%
It's only Tuesday, and already Maurice Jones-Drew has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Packers. He could be out multiple weeks. Know what that means? It's Jennings time again!
Jennings has not been extraordinarily effective so far this year; his -0.07 Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush is about consistent with the NFL average for running backs. But it's the quantity, not the quality, that has me excited. This past week, against the Raiders, Jennings had 21 rushing attempts once MJD left the game. Know what other Jaguars backs had a carry in relief? Good luck trying to find an answer, because there were none.
Only one other Jaguars RB has even had one carry so far this year: Jalen Parmele, who has exactly one carry for zero yards on the year. And considering the Jaguars' penchant for running the ball - 55.4% of their plays have been runs so far this season - expect Jennings to get his fair share of work, even if the Packers get ahead early.
RB La'Rod Stephens-Howling - Arizona Cardinals
Week 7 Fantasy Points: 20
Leagues Owned: 10.5%
The Cardinals backfield confounds me. La'Rod Stephens-Howling seemed to be the obvious first choice as a starter. Then William Powell busts out of nowhere and gets 70 yards on 13 carries in Week 6, leaving fantasy owners (including myself) scrambling for Powell. And then, just like that, LSH goes off for 20 FP. The Cardinals are positively Shanahan-like in their delivery.
So that's it; I'm going all in on Stephens-Howling. That Week 6, when Powell "busted out"? Remember that it was LSH who was given the first crack at the job: he had six carries over Arizona's first four drives while Powell only had one. LSH was afforded the same opportunity in Week 7, but this time, he took advantage, with 11 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown by the end of Arizona's third drive. Powell, meanwhile, only finished with four carries and one target on the day.
The opposing schedule certainly isn't pretty for Arizona, with San Francisco, Green Bay, and a bye coming up in the next three weeks. But don't let that throw you off the groove, as both the Niners and the Packers allowed double-digit FP days to opposing running backs in Week 7.
RB Jonathan Dwyer - Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 7 Fantasy Points: 12
Leagues Owned: 18.5%
If you followed numberFire on Twitter, you would have seen that we recommended to pick him up late last week because of Redman and Mendenhall's injuries. If you listened to us, you're welcome for the free 12 points.
But even with that said, I'm not a huge Dwyer fan this week for exactly that reason: what will happen when Redman and/or Mendenhall return? It's unknown whether either one will be healthy for Sunday's game against Washington, and if they are, how much they will play. There is a limited upside factor here.
But if both Jennings and Stephens-Howling are gone on your waiver wire, Dwyer is worth the flier for the buyer to see what comes out of that Steelers backfield. His stock will never be higher. His 17 total rushes on Sunday showed he doesn't easily tire. And especially against a Redskins defense that allowed touchdowns to both Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown last week, Pittsburgh will likely throw him right into the fire. Don't be a liar, you know he's worth the pickup.
RB Phillip Tanner - Dallas Cowboys
Week 7 Fantasy Points: 3
Leagues Owned: 0.9%
Those top three guys gone? Don't fret, because there's one other player worth a flier in desperate situations, and he's from America's Team.
I mentioned Tanner as a long-shot pickup last Thursday, and it seems the Cowboys' worst fears have materialized. Felix Jones is clearly not an every down back, as evidenced by the close-to-50/50 split he managed with Tanner in Week 7 (15 carries for Jones, 13 for Tanner). But even worse is the injury concerns; Jones is dealing with a bruised knee heading into Week 8. With DeMarco Murray's status also uncertain, Tanner could have value this week as a one-and-done pickup.
Those Giants the Cowboys are facing aren't exactly adept at stopping the run, either. DeMarco Murray managed 131 yards against them in Week 1, while Alfred Morris got pretty close with his 120 yards on 22 carries last week. Touchdowns happen with regularity in Cowboys/Giants games as well. Keep an eye on Dallas; if Tanner looks like he will be receiving a majority of carries this week; he's a sure-fire fantasy starter. And in case that happens, I want him on my team.
RBs You Won't See:
Jamie Harper: As long as CJ1K is actually running well for once, he shouldn't see the field often. Don't trust the vulture status.
WR Cecil Shorts - Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 7 Fantasy Points: 11
Leagues Owned: 1.9%
With Laurent Robinson out and Mike Thomas And His 45% Catch Rate being Mike Thomas And His 45% Catch Rate, Shorts stepped into the starting role for the Jaguars on Sunday against the Raiders. And he did not disappoint: a 45-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter spurred Cecil Shorts III's third double-digit fantasy day on the year.
However, he caught something even better than a touchdown catch for fantasy purposes this week: Blaine Gabbert's eye. Shorts The ThirdTM led the Jaguars with 10 targets on Sunday, 31.3% of Gabbert throws. Justin Blackmon had nine targets; nobody else on the team had more than four. Seeing as how Laurent Robinson doesn't look good to be playing Week 8 as he recovers from a concussion, Shorts should have another chance to assert his dominance.
And this Sunday, he should even have more chances. With Jennings in and MJD out in the lineup (see the Jennings section), the Jaguars may need to rely on their receivers more than usual. The Packers hold a lot of "We'll be playing from behind" potential for Jacksonville as well, which could compel Gabbert to air it out even more.
WR Andre Roberts - Arizona Cardinals
Week 7 Fantasy Points: 16
Leagues Owned: 35.9%
Andre Roberts was one of the most-dropped players in all of fantasy football last week, coming on the heels of his Week 6 outing with a single fantasy point against the Bills. But see, here's the thing about that game: his six targets were still second on the Cardinals and represented 17% of Kevin Kolb's throws. He was going to get his looks this past week, even with the new-old QB Skelton.
And true to form, against the Vikings it happened. Again. He led the Cardinals with nine targets, 25% of John Skelton's throws. He's now solidly in second for the Cardinals with 49 targets on the season (18 more than Early Doucet), and he has not had less than six targets in a single game since Week 2. He also hasn't been lower than second on the team in targets in a single game since before his Week 4 Miami breakout.
Whether you start Roberts will likely depend on the matchup, and this week against San Francisco isn't a great one. However, the upcoming Packers and Falcons have looked somewhat vulnerable by air, and those Week 13 and 15 matchups against the Jets and Lions, respectively, loom large as potential Roberts breakouts for when you're either fighting for a playoff spot or in the fantasy playoffs proper.
WR Leonard Hankerson - Washington Redskins
Week 7 Fantasy Points: 7
Leagues Owned: 43.9%
So Pierre Garcon's out until at least Week 11, huh? Well, Black Jesus is going to have to throw to somebody, and Leonard Hankerson seems to be the best bet.
Many this week will argue Santana Moss, but RGIII has not shown a large amount of trust in the aging receiver. Moss does not have more than five targets in a single game this entire year; Griffin threw to Moss exactly once in the first three quarters of this past week's game. But Hankerson, however, has gotten RGIII's trust: he has now posted three different games of at least seven targets so far this season. Hankerson has also led the team in two of the past four weeks (Buccaneers and Giants), finished one target behind in a third (Vikings), and RGIII was knocked out of the game in the fourth (Falcons).
43.9% of leagues is a high number of leagues to be owned in, but considering he was dropped in 4.9% of leagues last week (aka, the highest activity leagues that would also enjoy numberFire), he may be available in yours. Even if not, he's a solid candidate to buy low this week, as many leagues with trade deadlines are approaching that portion of the season as well.
WRs You Won't See:
Josh Gordon: I've recommended him in the past, but his current 39% catch rate scares the life-essence out of me. Especially with SD and BAL the next two weeks, he'll be too overpriced in an auction waiver league.
Kevin Walter: Still only the third best Texans target, fourth or fifth at worst, depending on the day.
Donald Jones: Despite his 10 FP, was only fourth on the Bills in targets. A bye then Houston the next two weeks doesn't help either.
Who I would pick up this week, in order (with auction waiver $, assuming a $100 spending limit)
1. Jennings ($28)
2. Stephens-Howling ($18)
3. Roberts ($15)
4. Dwyer ($12)
5. Shorts ($8)
6. Tanner ($8)
7. Hankerson ($5)