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Waiver Wired
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Waiver Wire: Week 8

by Adam Levitan
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

For the second time in three weeks, we have a big shot at securing plug-n-play running backs off the waiver wire. And while I don’t think we have any Branden Olivers or Ronnie Hillmans here, we do have three guys with big-time opportunities.

There is not much slam dunk separation between any of Bryce Brown, Tre Mason and Denard Robinson. We have schedule issues, offensive line issues and game flow issues involved in all three. So just like in Week 6, think about exactly what you need (upside, win now vs. stash, PPR vs. non, bye weeks) before putting your claims in.

On to the Week 8 assets. Here is how I would rank the players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues right now. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow.

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Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2.5 million Fantasy Football league for Week 8’s games. It’s only $25 to join and first prize is $500,000. Starts Sunday, October 26th at 1pm ET. Here’s the link.

Quarterbacks
1. Carson Palmer
2. Robert Griffin III
3. Ryan Tannehill
4. Johnny Manziel
5. Jake Locker

Running backs
1. Bryce Brown
2. Tre Mason
3. Denard Robinson
4. Anthony Dixon
5. Travaris Cadet
6. Bobby Rainey
7. Benny Cunningham
8. Jonas Gray
9. Charles Sims

Wide receivers
1. Doug Baldwin
2. Allen Robinson
3. Brandon LaFell
4. Davante Adams
5. Jermaine Kearse
6. Hakeem Nicks
* Josh Gordon is owned in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add at WR

Tight ends
1. Kyle Rudolph
2. Charles Clay
3. Clay Harbor
4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
* Owen Daniels is owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add at TE

Defense/Special Teams
1. Dolphins
2. Cowboys
3. Chiefs

Kickers
1. Cody Parkey
2. Chandler Catanzaro
3. Nick Folk

QUARTERBACKS
1. Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
What shoulder issue? Carson Palmer has looked strong since returning two games ago, chucking the ball 75 times to produce 503 yards and four touchdowns. Now he gets another plus matchup, this time at home against an Eagles defense that makes plays but is easily burnable in the secondary. Palmer, with weapons all over the field, is a borderline QB1.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Robert Griffin III, Redskins – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Kirk Cousins was finally told to hit the showers, getting benched in favor of Colt McCoy Sunday. If it wasn’t already clear, Robert Griffin III will get his starting job back as soon as his dislocated ankle is medically cleared. That could come as soon as this week, although that’s an extreme long shot. The most likely return date for Griffin appears to be Week 9 or immediately following the Week 10 bye. Regardless, if you’re in need of quarterback help RG3 is worth stashing despite his preseason and Week 1 struggles. He has weaponry, a passer-friendly scheme and dual-threat ability.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
The plug-n-play streamer of the week is Ryan Tannehill, who faces a Jags defense that is playing much better yet is starting to get banged up. They lost MLB Paul Posluszny and DE Andre Branch on Sunday. Meanwhile, Tannehill comes into this game having gone over 240 passing yards in three straight games with six touchdowns and 44.0 rush yards per day during that span. It’s a nice spot for Tannehill, an underrated weapon on read-option plays, to stay hot.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Johnny Manziel, Browns – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
Brian Hoyer laid such a big egg at Jacksonville on Sunday that coach Mike Pettine admitted he thought about going to Johnny Manziel. So what happens if Hoyer loses to the 0-6 Raiders at home Sunday? It’ll be Johnny Football time. There’s enough upside in Manziel’s legs to make a deep-league add, especially when we consider Josh Gordon should be back Week 12.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

5. Jake Locker, Titans – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s enough with Checkdown Charlie Whitehurst already. His limitations cost the Titans a game they should have won at Washington on Sunday, opening the door for Jake Locker to push through his thumb injury and get back on the field. The expectation is that he’ll do just that in time for this week’s home game against the Texans. We’re all aware of Locker’s floor, but he does have a strong arm that meshes well with starting “X” Justin Hunter. Hunter has played on 95.6 percent of the snaps over the last three weeks yet has seen just 12 targets – a stat that Locker should change.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Teddy Bridgewater, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Kyle Orton – Bridgewater has a dream matchup against Tampa’s “defense” this week, but Vegas is only projecting the Vikings to score 19 points. … Geno definitely gets an upgrade with Percy Harvin in the mix as well as a healthy Eric Decker. He’s back on the streamer and two-QB map. … Glennon is averaging 288.3 pass yards with six touchdowns in his three starts. … Orton and Sammy Watkins have a fine matchup against the Jets’ poor secondary. RUNNING BACKS
1. Bryce Brown, Bills – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Let’s start with talent. Brown has plenty of it, as he was the No. 1 overall high school running back in the country (ahead of Trent Richardson). He flashed that juice late in the 2012 season as an Eagle, taking the league by storm with a 43-347-4 line in his first two NFL starts. There are certainly warts, most notably a tendency to bump runs to the sideline and ball security issues. But this is a 6’0/222 back with 4.48 speed that is excellent in the pass game. OK, now let’s move to opportunity. The only reason Anthony Dixon was “ahead” of Brown was because Dixon is a stud on special teams. The Bills, who traded a fourth-round pick (high compensation by NFL standards) for Brown, couldn’t afford to dress him when they were already dressing Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Dixon. I’d expect Brown to start in an even timeshare at worst with Dixon and move ahead of him from there. Once Jackson returns from his groin injury (anywhere from 2-4 weeks), Brown will likely stick in the complementary, outside back, Spiller role. Note that the Bills have plus run matchups against the Packers and Raiders in Weeks 15 and 16, fantasy’s playoffs. I like Brown as a strong add, but he’s not going to be Branden Oliver or Ronnie Hillman. The offensive line issues (PFF’s No. 29 run-blocking unit) and short-term schedule (NYJ, Bye, KC, MIA, NYJ) are serious obstacles.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 10-team leagues

2. Tre Mason, Rams – Owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues
There was an all-out changing of the guard in St. Louis Sunday, as Tre Mason got 18 carries compared to two for Benny Cunningham and zero for Zac Stacy. Clearly the best natural runner for a team that has stated it will ride the “hot hand,” Mason is an excellent bet to be that hot hand for Jeff Fisher despite a fumble that nearly cost his team the game. So why isn’t he above Bryce Brown on this list? Game flow. Mason is a total zero in the pass game (especially in pass protection), leaving him as a strict two-down back. These kinds of runners need their team to have leads and get in the red zone so that they can gain volume and score touchdowns. When it doesn’t happen, we have massive holes in our fantasy box scores – Andre Williams, Alfred Morris and even Marshawn Lynch owners can attest to this. So will the Rams be getting leads in any of their next five games? You tell me: at KC, at SF, at ARZ, vs. DEN, at SD. I’ll certainly be trying to add Mason as starting running backs don’t grow on trees, but I’m not going berserk.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 10-team leagues

3. Denard Robinson, Jaguars – Owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues
Toby Gerhart failed and Storm Johnson failed, leaving “offensive weapon” Denard Robinson to start Sunday’s game against a Browns defense that was without two defensive line starters in Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. Note that this was already among the weakest run units in the league, getting hit for 5.07 YPC by Le’Veon Bell, Mark Ingram, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Shonn Greene and Bell again in their first five games. So I’ll be taking Robinson’s 22-127-1 with a grain of salt, especially considering this Jags offensive line is even worse than the Bills. That said, Robinson possesses some unique running skills with a similar frame to Chris Johnson, has wide receiver eligibility in Yahoo and has essentially been named the Jags’ starter by coach Gus Bradley. How many touches does that mean? Well, the Jags are averaging 18.0 RB carries per game so far and Robinson is a fair bet for 70 percent of them going forward. So 12.6 carries and 1-3 catches per game.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 10-team leagues

4. Anthony Dixon, Bills – Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues
Anthony Dixon was active ahead of Bryce Brown in the first seven weeks because of his special teams contributions. Do not assume he’ll be a workhorse now that C.J. Spiller is out for the year and Fred Jackson is out 2-4 weeks. Dixon is a plodder at 6’1/233, one who ran a 4.65 at his combine and drew comparisons to Shonn Greene. He’s a power back, one that can complement Brown’s more explosive style. Dixon is still worth adding in most leagues because A)The Bills coaching staff doesn’t exactly have a sterling record of evaluating talent and B) Brown is an error repeater, something that could get him in the doghouse. At worst, Dixon will be the lesser part of a committee until Jackson returns – just note the Bills are far more pass heavy with Kyle Orton than they were with E.J. Manuel.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Travaris Cadet, Saints – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
Pierre Thomas (shoulder) will reportedly miss 2-3 weeks. Note that Travaris Cadet, who has 15 catches for 129 yards and one touchdown over the last three weeks, was starting to steal work anyway. Now he’ll have an even  bigger role as the passing back on a team that has to play Green Bay, at Carolina and San Francisco the next three weeks. Cadet is a good bet for 4-6 catches per game in those spots, especially if the Saints get behind. Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson essentially play a totally different position and will chop up Thomas’ 5.0 rushes per game on the year.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

6. Bobby Rainey, Bucs – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
I discussed in last week’s Waiver Wired (link) why I like Bobby Rainey as a speculative add. I’ll sum it up quickly again now. Doug Martin has been a liability since the beginning of last season as both a runner and a pass protector, averaging 2.89 YPC with zero runs of 20+ yards this season. Rainey has had his fumbling issues, but is averaging 4.85 YPC with three runs of 20+ so far. It should surprise no one if the 1-5 Bucs come out of the bye and give a bigger piece of the pie to Rainey.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

7. Benny Cunningham, Rams – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
Here’s the snap count from the Rams backfield Sunday: Tre Mason 27, Benny Cunningham 19, Zac Stacy 1. I’m not about to write Stacy off for the entire season, but Cunningham has been outplaying him since training camp. The shifty, pass-down complement to Mason is going to see enough work to stay on the RB3 radar, especially in PPR leagues. He has 100 rushing yards, three total touchdowns and 11 catches over the last four weeks. Given the Rams’ brutal upcoming schedule, they’re likely to be playing from behind a ton which means more Cunningham and less Mason.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

8. Jonas Gray, Patriots – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Patriots threw everyone a curveball in the wake of Stevan Ridley’s season-ending injury, promoting Jonas Gray off the practice squad the day of last Thursday’s game, not dressing James White and using Gray ahead of Brandon Bolden. But the Patriots didn’t even really try to run between the tackles against the Jets’ elite run defense, leaving Gray with just three carries. Will that be the case going forward? Who knows. But if Gray starts getting 8-10 carries a week as the big back, he’ll have some deep-league non-PPR value.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

9. Charles Sims, Bucs – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’ve discussed Doug Martin’s struggles repeatedly in this space, and we know Bobby Rainey is a nice player and not too much more. So what about Charles Sims? The Bucs used the No. 69 overall pick on this kid to be their passing back and he’s expected to resume practicing soon after August ankle surgery. It’s possible he could be making an impact in this struggling backfield as soon as Week 10 or 11, helping owners in deeper PPR leagues during bloated bye weeks.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team PPR leagues

Watch List: James Starks, Jonathan Stewart, Daniel Thomas, Joseph Randle, Daniel Herron – Starks’ ankle tweak didn’t seem too big of a deal. He should be fine to rotate with Eddie Lacy against the Saints. … Stewart would be a really weak play against the Seahawks Sunday. … Thomas appears to be locked in directly behind Lamar Miller. … Randle remains the handcuff to monster workhorse DeMarco Murray. … Herron is the backup to Trent Richardson (day to day, hamstring). WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
Percy Harvin was playing just 60.1 percent of the snaps as a Seahawk, but led the team with 26 targets through five games. As Evan Silva pointed out in this trade fallout column, Harvin’s presence also pushed Baldwin into that seldom-used outside role in Seattle’s offense. So now that Harvin is gone, Baldwin’s arrow is clearly pointing up. In Sunday’s loss at St. Louis, he played on 63-of-73 snaps, led the team in targets with a season-high 11 and posted 7-123-1. Now Baldwin gets to face a Panthers defense suffering from literally inept corner play. Antoine Cason, Melvin White and Charles Godfrey are all in the bottom-15 of PFF’s CB grades. Baldwin will be a WR3 in plus matchups like this one despite Seattle’s run-first, spread-the-wealth offense.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
At long last, the Jags finally expanded Allen Robinson’s route tree to include downfield throws Sunday. He responded with a 4-60-1 line on seven targets, playing on 67-of-74 snaps. Locked into a monster role opposite Cecil Shorts, Robinson has at least seven targets in each of the last five games. He’s a reasonable PPR WR3 weekly.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Brandon LaFell, Patriots – Owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Patriots appear to have settled on personnel among their wideouts a bit, especially with Brandon LaFell. He’s played on 87.5 percent of the snaps over the last four games, averaging 3.7 catches for 72.7 yards with three touchdowns during that span. The floor here is low because LaFell is not a very good player and the Patriots don’t feature anyone outside of Rob Gronkowski on a week-to-week basis, but the ceiling is reasonably high when you’re playing this many snaps with a rejuvenated Tom Brady.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Davante Adams, Packers – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jarrett Boykin (groin) returned to action after a three-week absence, but played on just 13-of-62 snaps while Adams got the other 49 at the No. 3 wideout spot. Yes, the one target was concerning. But I don’t give up on players with gobs of talent playing this much with Aaron Rodgers. Adams will be a WR4 with upside against the Saints’ leaky defense in Week 8.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jermaine Kearse was already playing 88 percent of the snaps before the Percy Harvin trade, so there’s not much room for him to gain value in terms of playing time. We saw that play out against the Rams, as Kearse went 3-50-0 while matching a season-high with seven targets. Harvin’s 5.2 targets will be spread out, with Kearse maybe seeing 1-2 more a week on average. That puts him on the WR4 radar in tasty matchups, like the one he has this week against Carolina.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

6. Hakeem Nicks, Colts – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
Reggie Wayne could miss 1-2 weeks with his elbow injury. In theory, it should be a big chance for Hakeem Nicks to slide in as an every-down player opposite T.Y. Hilton in a ridiculously explosive passing game. But Nicks looks even more washed up than Wayne has, likely sapped by the laundry list of lower-leg injuries. He’s been losing reps to young athletic freak Donte Moncrief early in games. Ideally, this is a situation I’d avoid unless really desperate.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Martavis Bryant, Paul Richardson, Jarvis Landry, Preston Parker, Corey Fuller, Donte Moncrief, Brian TymsMarkus Wheaton can be cut as he’s rotating with Bryant now. … Richardson was up to 43 snaps Sunday, eclipsing his previous career-high by 33. … Landry has officially passed Brandon Gibson in the slot. Gibson was a healthy scratch Sunday. … Preston Parker ate up all the slot reps vacated by Victor Cruz. … Fuller will be a dart-throw WR4 against the Falcons in London. … Moncrief is passing up Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart and now Reggie Wayne is hurt. … I’ll keep my eye on Tyms thanks to natural ability. TIGHT ENDS
1. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
The tight end spot is really barren right now. So if you need help and can afford to make an upside stash, Kyle Rudolph is your man. His initial timetable following sports hernia surgery on Sept. 23 was six weeks, which puts him in play for a return as soon as Week 9 – or maybe right after the Week 10 bye. Rudolph, a reliable red-zone weapon, would immediately get on the TE1 map as an asset for Teddy Bridgewater. He was playing the majority of his snaps out of the slot before going down.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Charles Clay, Dolphins – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
If a Week 8 plug-n-play is what you need, look to Charles Clay. Finally appearing over a knee injury that has he originally sustained in a team scrimmage during the summer, Clay put up a season-high 58 yards and scored a touchdown against the Bears Sunday. Now he gets the dream matchup for a tight end: Jacksonville.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Clay Harbor, Jaguars – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’ve already noted just how barren the tight end position is. So don’t overlook an athletic player who is playing 90.1 percent of the snaps over the last month for a team that projects to be trailing often. Clay Harbor is averaging 5.0 catches for 54.2 yards with one touchdown in his last four games, a sustainable mark.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
As the 1-5 Bucs come out of their bye, things will change. Perhaps Bobby Rainey passes Doug Martin, perhaps Charles Sims gets involved and maybe Austin Seferian-Jenkins grabs a bigger market share of the targets. Although ASJ has played on 92.3 percent of the snaps over the last three weeks, he has posted just 8-113-0 during that span on 15 targets. His athletic ability combined with capable Mike Glennon is capable of much more.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Jermaine Gresham, Jared Cook, Jace Amaro, Tim Wright, Cooper Helfet, Gavin Escobar, Coby Fleener – Gresham will see low-upside dump-off volume again if A.J. Green (toe) can’t return. … If you need 4-40-0, Cook is your man. … Amaro’s ride will be rocky as a part-time player with Geno Smith. … Wright has played on just 24.7 percent of the snaps over the last three weeks. … Helfet’s run will be short as Luke Willson (groin) could be back soon. … Escobar needs a Witten injury to raise his target count. … There are too many mouths to feed in Indy for Fleener to be anything more than a TE2.


DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Dolphins – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Jaguars actually won a game Sunday, but they still turned the ball over three times and took two sacks. In 4.5 NFL games, Blake Bortles has thrown a Kirk Cousins-esque 10 interceptions. The Dolphins, quietly playing some of the best defense in the league this season, are going to give the Jags all kinds of fits.

2. Cowboys – Owned in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Cowboys are talent deficient on defense and it shows as they’re ranked 27th in yards per play allowed. But that doesn’t matter when you never let your opponent have the ball. Dallas is allowing enemy offenses to run just 56.7 plays per game, tops in the league. And with a home date on a Monday night against popgun-armed Colt McCoy, there will be mistakes to capitalize on. McCoy threw at least one interception in 14 of his 21 starts with the Browns.

3. Chiefs – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
Yes, I’m aware of how well the Rams played while upsetting the Seahawks at home Sunday. Going into Arrowhead with Austin Davis is a whole other animal. The Chiefs have been installed as a six-point favorite with an over/under of 43, ideal conditions for a D/ST stream. Kansas City hasn’t’ given up more than 20 points in any of their last four games.

KICKERS
1. Cody Parkey, Eagles – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Cody Parkey’s ownership dipped only because the Eagles were on a bye in Week 7. Scoop him back up. The rookie out of Auburn was 12-of-13 through six games, buoyed by a red-zone offense that has scuffled. See the Chandler Catanzaro blurb for game-condition notes.

2. Chandler Catanzaro, Cardinals – Owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s way past time for fantasy owners to get on board here. Chandler Catanzaro is 15-of-15 on field goals this season, with at least two attempts in 6-of-7 games. A home spot against the Eagles with a healthy Carson Palmer is nearing ideal. The game should be both close, high-scoring and feature good weather – the three pillars of a K streamer.

3. Nick Folk, Jets – Owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues
A lot of owners will migrate toward Dolphins K Caleb Sturgis this week for his nice spot at Jacksonville. I’m off him because of a history of inconsistency (37-of-48, 77.1 percent in two-year career). Give me a guy that actually makes them in Nick Folk, who is 46-of-50 (92.0 percent) over the last two years. The Jets should be settling for field goals plenty against a solid Bills front.

Adam Levitan
Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.