10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets Heading Into Week 8
The fantasy community can never get enough. We become locked in to information around the league from midnight on Sunday morning when Adam Schefter starts tweeting out anticipated inactives until after Sunday Night Football. The weekends are our cram sessions before the games start and everything resets on Tuesday.
Week 8 is nearly upon us with two fantasy-friendly teams out on bye (Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys). With players out and a couple of key injury situations, we’ll take a first look at the list of waiver-wire adds as we reach the halfway mark of the season.
Our target list for waivers will be a mix of players that can make an immediate impact to your squad or have stash potential for Week 9 and beyond. Depending on your bench size, you can adjust your claims based on our expectations for the upcoming games and their potential rest-of-season outlooks.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Yahoo! Ownership: 57%
Matthew Stafford sits at the edge of our waiver-add limit (60%), but it’s hard to overlook a four-touchdown performance even with just two teams on bye. Stafford was able to take advantage of a seemingly tough matchup as Minnesota entered Week 7 with the sixth-best Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Marvin Jones disagreed with that ranking.
Regardless, Stafford is 11th in Passing Success Rate and has primarily been affected by Detroit’s tendency to balance the offense. However, Kerryon Johnson left their Week 7 matchup early in the first quarter and was seen in a brace on the sideline. His absence may force Stafford to take to the air more often with only Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic to back up Johnson. But it may not matter who’s in the backfield.
The New York Giants’ performances on defense have been…suboptimal. They’ve allowed the second-most passing yards per play and have been outdone by only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in inviting opposing quarterbacks to pass. New York is in the bottom 10 for Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and middle of the pack in generating sacks. Stafford has a clear path to replicating his Week 7 performance with a plus matchup ahead of him in Week 8.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Yahoo! Ownership: 48%
Another quarterback coming off a four-touchdown performance, but Jacoby Brissett has almost seamlessly transitioned into life as an NFL starter that we hardly remember him as a backup as of two months ago.
Brissett is QB17 on the season, scoring 17.4 fantasy points per game. He’s 14th in Passing Success Rate and has been effective in both the short to intermediate game as well as deep passing. Brissett is now third in the league in touchdown rate, emphasizing his efficiency.
Give credit where it’s due, though. Frank Reich has quickly brought the once understudy along with a balanced approach to the offense. The Indianapolis Colts entered Week 7 with the third-lowest passing rate in neutral game scripts (45.6%) and only a week removed from a game where Brissett attempted only 29 passes. The Colts' offensive staff has been highly effective at game planning and has maximized Brissett’s talents, giving the franchise hope in their competitive division.
Indianapolis now plays host to the reeling Denver Broncos, who just lost to a combination of Matt Moore and a hobbled Patrick Mahomes. The Broncos are not the same defensive unit as in years past as they sit right at league average as a passing defense. They’re not even generating interior pressure, either, ranking 23rd in sack rate going against a Colts offensive line that’s ranked fourth in pass protection. Indianapolis used the bye to get healthy and will look to take advantage of a plus matchup with the playoffs on their mind.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Cam Newton (44% ownership) is expected to be back at practice ahead of the team’s Week 8 contest against the San Francisco 49ers. While he’s questionable at best for Week 8, the Carolina Panthers enter a neutral stretch of games starting with the Tennessee Titans at home in Week 9. Ryan Tannehill (5%) has seemingly cured the Titans' woes at quarterback. His Week 7 stat line of 312-2-1 marks the first time a Titans’ quarterback has passed for more than 300 yards and multiple touchdowns since Week 12 of last season. They’ll now face Tampa Bay’s pass-funnel defense (allowing 345.4 passing yards per game the past five weeks) coming off of their bye. Mitchell Trubisky (25%) returned from injury to face the New Orleans Saints’ 14th-ranked passing defense. The negative game script throughout the second half certainly helped, but Trubisky didn’t throw an interception and still finished with 20.0 fantasy points. The Bears host the Chargers in Week 8, a team just gave up 300 passing yards to Tannehill. We’ve seen the ceiling for Trubisky in the past, making him a viable streaming option this week.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
Yahoo! Ownership: 60%
Jamaal Williams was at 14% ownership for the Week 7 waiver wire target report and has since jumped to 60%. Since he sits right on the edge of target recommendation status, it’s worth looking out on the wire for him. Aaron Jones still controlled the backfield, but Williams’ presence was integral to the Green Bay Packers’ win in Week 7.
Jamaal’s utility as a blocker, runner, and pass catcher is underrated in an offense that looked to be short-handed entering the day. His touchdown reception actually came on a play with both Williams and Jones on the field at the same time. With multiple running backs out in Week 8, Williams should at least have FLEX appeal with the Packers traveling to face the Mahomes-less Chiefs on Sunday night.
Brian Hill, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Yahoo! Ownership: 0%
Devonta Freeman thought it was wise to start a fight with Aaron Donald, but the real story was Ito Smith being severely hurt in pass protection. The sophomore running back was carted off the field after a gruesome head-to-head collision late in the first quarter. Brian Hill took over with both running backs out, but only logged seven total touches as the Atlanta Falcons imploded against the Los Angeles Rams.
Freeman should be back to resume his starting role, but Hill will likely take over for Smith. Ito entered Week 7 with a 35% snap share with nearly 24% of the running back touches. While it’s likely Freeman’s struggles will get lumped into the team’s offensive woes (26th in offensive adjusted line yards, -0.05 Adjusted Rushing NEP per play), Hill should get the work alongside Freeman against the 22nd-ranked Seattle rush defense.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Chase Edmonds (48%) already underwent an ownership surge in recent weeks, but if he is still in your league, he's a priority addition. Edmonds played 94% of snaps last week and could find himself in a committee with David Johnson, regardless of health. Dare Ogunbowale (1%) returns off a bye to face the Titans. The Chargers were able to move the ball quite effectively against Tennessee using Austin Ekeler as a receiver (7-118-1). Ogunbowale is in a three-way committee but has separated himself as the pass-catching back with 21 targets so far this season. While 42.9% of his targets have come while the team is trailing, Tannehill’s re-emergence onto the fantasy scene could create such a scenario, forcing Ogunbowale into action.
Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets
Yahoo! Ownership: 57%
Sam Darnold came back to the starting roster, and Jamison Crowder’s targets jump from three to nine in a single week. However, he wasn’t operating in his typical fashion. Crowder had an average depth of target (aDOT) of 8.1 through his final three seasons in Washington. That jumped to 10.1 in Darnold’s Week 6 return against the Dallas Cowboys. And this wasn’t on a small target sample. Crowder had the highest target share at 28% and still average two additional air yards on his targets.
While the usage will likely shift once Chris Herndon returns, the New York Jets have a stretch of positive matchups starting in Week 9. We can expect the targets to maintain throughout the rough outings against New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, but the real payoff will begin when the Jets travel to Miami to face the Dolphins.
Corey Davis and AJ Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Yahoo! Ownership: 41%, 17%
Tennessee entered Week 7 with the 6th-lowest passing rate overall and was even in the bottom half of the league for passing when in a negative game script (13th). While Ryan Tannehill passed on approximately 55.8% of his drop backs, he was efficient on his 29 attempts for 10.6 adjusted yards per attempt. Marcus Mariota hadn’t hit this mark since they faced Atlanta missing multiple defensive starters. But similar to both contests, the targets and market share for both Corey Davis and A.J. Brown significantly increased on their previous games.
The duo remains at home to face the Buccaneers, who have allowed 100-games to four different receivers. Two came in the same game. Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore were each only 10 yards away from accomplishing a similar feat. Corey Davis projects to have the stronger performance given his higher target share out of the slot (55.6%), but both are viable in Week 8.
Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots
Yahoo! Ownership: 41%, 5%
Another package deal. Josh Gordon, Matt LaCosse, and Ryan Izzo have all been ruled out for Monday Night Football along with Rex Burkhead. The mounting injuries have wiped out any depth the Patriots once had to a few players. Phillip Dorsett has already missed a game due to a hamstring injury, adding some risk to starting him. But there are some perks for playing with Tom Brady.
New England Patriots has passed at the 8th-highest rate in neutral situations and the 11th-highest rate in positive situations. So, if the Patriots are close or winning, they’re likely passing the ball. Tom Brady has attempted 228 passes prior to his Week 7 matchup. Of those 228 passes, only 3 of them have been attempted when the team has been behind by 7 points or more. With Gordon nursing multiple injuries, both players should be viable pickups with both getting involved in past games (Dorsett – 9 targets in Week 4, Meyers – 4 targets in Week 6).
Alex Erickson, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Yahoo! Ownership: 2%
Unfortunately for most, the guy catching passes on drag routes and sprinting down the sideline was not Tyler Boyd. It was the undrafted veteran Alex Erickson, now in his fourth season with the team. Auden Tate’s highlight-worthy catches and Boyd’s early-season success have earned them both top corner coverage, leaving Erickson to run free.
Erickson’s targets have increased the past three weeks along with his yardage totals culminating in an 8-137-0 stat line against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While your first instinct may be to dismiss Erickson as the third option on a bad offense, we’re still looking for both targets and production. Assuming the Rams approach the Bengals’ offense in a similar fashion, look for more of Erickson in Week 8.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Cole Beasley (29%) continues to see nearly six to seven targets per game with the Buffalo Bills’ schedule opening up for more positive game environments. Chris Conley (2%) nearly stole the show, leaving some of us to wonder about D.J. Chark moving forward. Diontae Johnson (14%) saw 20 targets in his three games with Mason Rudolph. Rudolph is expected back after his concussion suffered before their bye.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Yahoo! Ownership: 13%
Dallas Goedert’s calf injury earlier in the season hindered his start to the 2019 season. During his absence, Zach Ertz was able to reassert himself atop the tight end ranks with 10 targets per game the first three weeks, though he failed to find the end zone until Week 5. However, as Goedert’s worked his way back, his snaps have steadily increased, while Ertz’s have slowly trailed off. Ertz still has the edge, but Goedert’s usage can no longer be ignored.
The Philadelphia Eagles have attempted the second-most pass attempts in the league with two tight ends on the field. Goedert and Ertz are the third and fifth tight ends, respectively, with the most targets in two tight end sets. Plus, Goedert just out-targeted and out-produced Ertz in their Week 7 contest against the Dallas Cowboys. Adding Goedert isn’t an indictment on Ertz -- it’s the state of the Eagles’ passing game without DeSean Jackson. If only four to five targets and red zone work can get you the nod as a streamer, there are worse options at tight end than Goedert heading forward.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Eric Ebron (52%) is trying to lure fantasy managers back into starting him after a few big plays against the Houston Texans. His disappearing act is always in play, but the Indianapolis Colts are operating at full strength and a piece of that offense at a volatile position can be useful if a streaming option if needed. Noah Fant’s (17%) usage may get a boost as the rumors of Emmanuel Sanders getting traded continue to swell. The rookie is still very raw at the position, but the volume would be appreciated as he continues to learn the position.
Pittsburgh Steelers, D/ST
Yahoo! Ownership: 43%
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5th in sacks per game going up against a Dolphins team that's 30th in pass protection. Week 7 was the first time a team had not recorded multiple sacks against Miami, but that's not likely to repeat in Week 8. Pittsburgh will be at home and coming off of a bye after their two-turnover performance against the Chargers in Week 6. As massive home favorites, they’ll likely be the top-ranked defense for the week.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: With the majority of their starters back, the Indianapolis D/ST (12%) limited Deshaun Watson to his third-worst fantasy point total of the season. They logged two interceptions and a sack against the Texans, and the Broncos’ offensive line is only marginally better. Carolina D/ST (44%) are coming off a bye and are also viable against the 49ers. While San Francisco is undefeated, less than half of their touchdowns have come via the pass. Carolina has allowed one 100-yard rusher (Leonard Fournette, Week 5) and 48 of his 108 yards came on a single play. If the run game is stymied, there’s a chance the passing game will falter, too, as Jimmy Garoppolo has nearly averaged one interception per game so far this season.