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Waiver Wired
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Waiver Wire: Week 9

by Raymond Summerlin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Welcome to the 9th edition of Waiver Wired for the 2017 season. One big bye week down, and one more to go this week. Thankfully, there are not many injuries to discuss – Jordan Reed will miss at least a week with a hamstring injury while Chris Hogan is dealing with a shoulder issue which could sideline him following the bye – but the biggest news was the NFL’s win in court on Monday which will cause Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension to immediately go into effect. That means the running back will be gone until Week 15 against the Raiders, a big blow to both the Cowboys’ and fantasy owners’ playoff hopes. Obviously, there is no replacement for Zeke, but there are some options out there on the wire.

As a reminder, the drop list consists of players who are no longer must-owns, recommended adds are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list consists of players worth keeping an eye on, and deep cuts are players owned in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

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The Drop List
QB: Philip Rivers
RB:
Mike Gillislee, Tarik Cohen
WR:
Terrelle Pryor, Willie Snead
TE:
Martellus Bennett

Rivers failed to take advantage of the matchup against the Patriots, has been up and down at best this season, and gets the Jaguars and Bills after the bye. Cohen has saved his last two fantasy games with a big catch and a goal-line touchdown, but he has played more than 20 snaps just once in the last five games. Gillislee might be fourth in the running back rotation at this point. Pryor’s demotion was made official when he played 28 fewer snaps than Josh Doctson against the Cowboys. Snead played just four snaps Week 8, and while coach Sean Payton says he will have a role down the stretch, we may be in the fantasy playoffs before Snead can comfortably be placed into lineups if it even happens this season. Bennett was not really a fantasy starter with Aaron Rodgers, and things are unlikely to get any better with Brett Hundley at center.

Quarterbacks
1. Jared Goff
2. Josh McCown
3. Jacoby Brissett

Running Backs
1. Alfred Morris
2. Darren McFadden
3. Marlon Mack
4. Alex Collins
5. Orleans Darkwa
6. Kenyan Drake
7. Damien Williams
8. Rex Burkhead
9. Wayne Gallman

Wide Receivers
1. JuJu Smith-Schuster
2. Josh Doctson
3. Paul Richardson
4. Cooper Kupp
5. Tyler Lockett
6. Corey Davis
7. Robby Anderson
8. Travis Benjamin
9. T.J. Jones

Tight Ends
1. Jack Doyle
2. Vernon Davis
3. Tyler Kroft
4. Austin Hooper
5. Ryan Griffin

Defense/Special Teams
1. Arizona Cardinals
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Detroit Lions
Looking Ahead: Detroit Lions

Kickers
1. Ka’imi Fairbairn
2. Blair Walsh
3. Graham Gano
Looking Ahead: Ryan Succop

QUARTERBACKS
1. Jared Goff, Rams – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
While the matchup may look scary based on what the Giants were last season, they have actually given up the fifth-most points per game to quarterbacks this year and have ceded at least 330 yards passing in three of their last four games. Philip Rivers was the only quarterback in that run not to top 330, but he threw three touchdowns. Goff has not proven to be reliable in bad matchups, but he has mostly gotten it done in good spots so far this year, and this one qualifies.

2. Josh McCown, Jets – Owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues
McCown is in a bad spot against the Bills, who limited him to 187 yards and zero passing touchdowns in Week 1 and have been stout against the pass all season, but he has multiple scores in each of his last four games and gets them at home this time around. McCown will not be ranked any better than the low teens, but there is not much else behind Goff on the wire.

3. Jacoby Brissett, Colts – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
This whole passing game might be best to avoid, but Brissett did throw multiple touchdowns for the first time in his career against the Bengals last week and faces a Texans defense which has given up massive games to Alex Smith and Russell Wilson in two of their last three games. Of course, they also shut down Kevin Hogan between those two performances, and Brissett is much closer to that level than Smith or Wilson. Even so, he is an option for desperate streamers.

Watch List: Jimmy Garoppolo will not start this week after being acquired by the 49ers on Monday night, and it is possible he is held out through the Week 11 bye. Even so, he needs to be added in all two-quarterback leagues and deep single-quarterback formats as well…Paxton Lynch could very well be the starter in Denver this time next week, but he did not set any fantasy records in his two starts as a rookie and has consistently been beaten out by Trevor Siemian, a damning statement if I have ever heard one…The Rams have played quarterbacks pretty well this season, and Eli Manning is averaging 131 yards and one score over his last two games. Getting Sterling Shepard back and not playing the Broncos or Seahawks will help, but he is still someone to avoid until further notice…Blake Bortles had a veritable explosion before the bye, but it is tough to expect the same this week against the Bengals, especially with Leonard Fournette back in the lineup…Brett Hundley will have to show better than he did before the bye to get back into the streaming conversation, especially with an underrated Lions defense up next…Jay Cutler will play this week in a solid matchup, but avoiding him will be the correct decision most weeks...It is possible Teddy Bridgewater starts Week 10 against Washington, and even if he does not it is becoming clear he will return soon. He continues to be a stash in two-quarterback formats.

~RUNNING BACKS
1. Alfred Morris, Cowboys – Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues
2. Darren McFadden, Cowboys – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
The long battle between the NFL and Ezekiel Elliott is all but over, and Zeke lost, meaning he will be suspended until Week 15. That leaves us with one question: Will Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden lead the backfield moving forward? I had been on the McFadden train because he is the better three-down option and was kept around despite being inactive every week for a reason, but this article – thanks goes to J.J. Zachariason for sharing it – in which OC Scott Linehan said they were preparing Morris for the starting job before Zeke’s suspension was put on hold the first time has pushed me the other way. Either way, both should be involved over the next six games, and it may end up being a fluid situation week to week. There is enough upside here to justify both being added in every format, but it is not a slam dunk either of these guys emerges as an RB1.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Marlon Mack, Colts – Owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues
Even with Frank Gore coming off a good game, the math has not changed for Mack. He is already locked in as the passing-down back – Mack has run 49 routes to just 22 for Gore the last two games – and had a season-high 11 carries against the Bengals. While Gore will likely continue to be the “lead back” while healthy -- assuming he is not traded on Tuesday -- Mack can be a fantasy starter even as the No. 2 option and will always have the upside of a bigger role. There is no reason for him to be available in 56 percent of leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

4. Alex Collins, Ravens – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
It turns out I gave up on Collins as a must-add one week too soon, and he punished me with 143 total yards against the Dolphins on Thursday night. More importantly, he caught two passes, his first catches of the season, and received a carry inside the red zone, again his first of the season. Both of those are great signs, but Buck Allen still saw 18 touches, had three attempts inside the red zone, and played just one fewer snap than Collins despite his success. I am concerned the Collins who was not involved in the passing game or scoring area while offering 60 empty yards a game will come back, especially with Danny Woodhead eligible to return after the Week 10 bye, but he is at least worth a shot coming off a great performance.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

5. Orleans Darkwa, Giants – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
Darkwa took a big step back following his breakout against the Broncos Week 6, recording just 35 yards on nine carries before the bye, and could end up being leapfrogged by Wayne Gallman in the next several weeks. That said, he still looks like the lead back right now, and the Giants have a favorable schedule against the run the rest of the way. If he establishes himself, he will be a fantasy starter.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

6. Kenyan Drake, Dolphins -- Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
7. Damien Williams, Dolphins -- Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
The trade deadline this year simply refuses to be normal, and the latest blockbuster sent Jay Ajayi to the Eagles in exchange for a fourth-round pick. The move leaves a massive hole in Miami's backfield, one which will be filled by both Drake and Williams. After coach Adam Gase called him the No. 2 back earlier this month, Drake is the better fantasy bet of the pair, but Williams has played more snaps this season and should be the primary back on passing downs. That said, neither is more than a speculative add playing in a timeshare for a bad offense behind a bad offensive line.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

8. Rex Burkhead, Patriots – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
It is important not to overreact to one game, especially with the Patriots, but Burkhead played 27 snaps, seven more than James White, and saw seven targets, one more than White. It is possible Burkhead’s usage was game-plan specific, but the Patriots have already made a change on early downs with Dion Lewis replacing Mike Gillislee. White has given them no reason to make a switch on passing downs, but Burkhead is worth adding to see what happens.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

9. Wayne Gallman, Giants – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
I am still betting on Darkwa in New York’s backfield, but this situation has flipped too many times to have any confidence. It is possible it will not matter in the long run, but the Giants do have a favorable schedule the rest of the way.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List:
The Broncos keep saying they want Jamaal Charles to get more touches, but it has yet to happen. He has still not touched the ball more than 10 times in a game…Perhaps D’Onta Foreman’s demotion was a one-week thing based on him skipping practice on Friday, but both he and coach Bill O’Brien said that is not the case. That means he can be left on the wire, which is disappointing considering how well he has done when given carries so far in his career…Wendell Smallwood touched the ball just two times against the 49ers and played fewer snaps than Corey Clement, and now Jay Ajayi is in the pictured. He does not need to be rostered…Matt Breida caught a touchdown and saw some snaps late in a blowout loss, but we have been down this road before. This is still Carlos Hyde’s backfield, that is assuming he is not traded on Tuesday…Matt Forte will be a deep-league option again at some point this season when the Jets’ running game is in a better spot, but he is just a floor play while sharing time with Bilal PowellJonathan Stewart got his first rushing touchdown of the season, but Cameron Artis-Payne got the first two cracks from inside the five. The only value Stewart has at this point is the possibility he may fall into the end zone, and that chance appears to have taken a hit…Rob Kelley is in a similar position to Stewart in that he scored a touchdown this week but appears to be in a situation which is not going to result in many fantasy points moving forward. Kelley played just 12 snaps to 47 for Chris Thompson against Dallas, and Washington's offensive line is being held together by tape…Theo Riddick has not scored since Week 1 and has yet to top 55 yards this season…With Marshawn Lynch back, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are again low-upside handcuffs…As has been the case for weeks, the Seattle backfield is a situation to completely avoid…Leonard Fournette will return this week, and T.J. Yeldon may have jumped Chris Ivory for the No. 2 job…Danny Woodhead is eligible to return from injured reserve Week 11, but it is not clear if he will be ready then. Even so, he might be worth a speculative add for teams with a free bench spot.

Deep Cuts: As mentioned above, Yeldon may have earned No. 2 duties behind Fournette with a big performance before the bye. That spot is unlikely to return standalone fantasy value outside of extremely deep leagues, but Fournette does not have the best injury history…Alfred Blue appears to at least temporarily have jumped D’Onta Foreman on the depth chart. Foreman had been regularly seeing double-digit carries, so perhaps Blue can return similar workloads moving forward…Cameron Artis-Payne saw five touches against Tampa including two carries inside the five-yard line…There is a school of thought Rod Smith will be heavily involved with Ezekiel Elliott suspended. I do not necessarily subscribe to that viewpoint, but Smith might be worth a look in deep leagues…Devontae Booker appears to be Denver’s passing-down back, and he would likely take on the lead job if something happened to C.J. Anderson – it seems like the Broncos want to limit Jamaal Charles’ workload.

~WIDE RECEIVERS
1. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
Smith-Schuster jumps Josh Doctson in part because of his massive 7/193/1 line against the Lions but also because Mike Tomlin did not sound exactly excited to get Martavis Bryant back in the lineup after the game. The Steelers are on bye this week, but Smith-Schuster should be the No. 2 receiver the rest of the way and has a great schedule down the stretch.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Josh Doctson, Redskins – Owned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues
The box score was not exciting – one catch for a one-yard touchdown – but Doctson once again easily out-snapped Terrelle Pryor and is very clearly going to be a starting receiver in a good offense the rest of the way. Like Smith-Schuster, it is ridiculous he is not rostered in more leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Paul Richardson, Seahawks – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Tyler Lockett also had a big game against the Texans, but Richardson has been the more consistent fantasy option this season in part because of touchdowns. He has scored five in the last six games including three in the two weeks since the bye, and Richardson has four targets inside the 10 this season. With the running game nonexistent, Richardson should keep getting his chances, and Russell Wilson is playing too good for them not to count.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Cooper Kupp, Rams – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
Kupp has not topped 60 yards since Week 1 and has a tough matchup against the Giants this week, but touchdown opportunities matter. Kupp has four targets inside the 10 this season and was targeted five times in the red zone Week 7 alone. I continue to think he will be a WR3/FLEX option the rest of the season.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues
Lockett has not been as good as Richardson in fantasy this season in part because he has not been finding the end zone, but he now has 15 targets in two games since the bye week. As with Richardson, there is some concern the two receivers will cannibalize each other, leading to inconsistent production, but Russell Wilson is playing well enough right now to give all his receivers a look.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

6. Corey Davis, Titans – Owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues
This is very simply a play on talent as it is not clear if Davis will even return this week or what his role will be when he gets back to a crowded pass-catching corps. That said, Davis saw 10 targets in his only healthy game, and the Titans’ offense has not been setting the world alight as of late. If he gets a big enough role, he has the talent to make it count.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

7. Robby Anderson, Jets – Owned in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues
It is tough to dismiss Anderson completely considering he has at least five targets in each of his last six games and has a touchdown or 75 yards in his last three, but he has been a hit-or-miss option most of the season and gets a tough matchup with the Bills on Thursday night. I will be much more excited about him against Tampa Bay in Week 10 if this usage continues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

8. Travis Benjamin, Chargers – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Benjamin’s outing against New England deserves more credence because he scored two big touchdowns the previous week, but he had a similar outburst against the Chiefs Week 3 before falling back off the map, and that was before Mike Williams entered the picture. It also does not help he is on bye this week and has the Jaguars and Bills after that, making him a tough sell outside of deep leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

9. T.J. Jones, Lions – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jones has 17 targets the last two games and has caught seven of them for 121 yards. Perhaps those looks dry up as Golden Tate gets healthier, but there will be opportunities to go around as long as Matthew Stafford is throwing 40-plus times a game. With a good matchup against the Packers up next, Jones will have some deep-league appeal this week.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: I would be beyond shocked if Calvin Johnson came out of retirement…Eric Decker has had one good game this season, and Corey Davis is expected back this week…John Brown was getting exciting, but Drew Stanton pretty much removes any fantasy value from the offense, especially the ancillary pieces…With Emmanuel Sanders on the way back, Bennie Fowler has lost all his value…Zay Jones actually was not terrible against the Raiders, but he still has a long way to go. He and Jordan Matthews can be left on the wire…I really do not know what to do with Jacksonville’s receivers. Both Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns blew up before the bye, but the Jags should get back to a run-first approach with Leonard Fournette healthy. Dede Westbrook is also expected to return from injured reserve this week, and while I find it difficult to believe a rookie who missed the first eight weeks will suddenly be given a full workload, he should steal some targets in an offense with few to offer. That makes this situation a stay-away even in deep leagues until it shakes out…Mike Wallace should be back this week, but Jeremy Maclin is also healthy, and there is not enough to go around in Baltimore's passing game…Robert Woods has not flashed a lot of upside, but he has been a reliable option in deep leagues and PPR formats…Mike Williams did play more snaps, but he still has yet to establish a fantasy-worthy role…Corey Coleman is eligible to return Week 11. It might not matter in this offense, but he is a good enough player to make some noise.

Deep Cuts: Mack Hollins continues to steal snaps from Torrey Smith and make big plays…No matter what happens between Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor, Ryan Grant’s role looks secure. Of course, it has not created much fantasy value to this point…John Ross has now played 11 snaps in his two active games. It is safe to say the Bengals are going to take it slow with the rookie…It is unlikely any Bears receiver becomes useful in fantasy, but Dontrelle Inman should get a shot once he gets up to speed. I also really like Tre McBride, but his three for 92 performance was likely a fluke…Brandon Coleman looks like he will keep the No. 3 receiver job for the foreseeable future, but it is not resulting in consistent targets…With Cole Beasley out with a concussion, fourth-round rookie Ryan Switzer should take over in the slot.

~TIGHT ENDS
1. Jack Doyle, Colts – Owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues
Doyle had been stacking targets for several weeks, but the blowup just had not happened. That changed against the Bengals, who he shredded for 121 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. Now he gets a great matchup against a Texans defense which has given up several big games this year including two touchdowns to Jimmy Graham last week.

2. Vernon Davis, Redskins – Owned in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jordan Reed is not going to play this week, and that means Davis is a streaming option. He has played five games without Reed during his two years in Washington, averaging 7.3 standard points and 11.1 PPR points in those contests including a 5/58/1 line against the Raiders in Week 3. The matchup in Seattle is not ideal, but Davis is still an option in every league.

3. Tyler Kroft, Bengals – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
While playing the Jaguars is bad for the entire offense, tight ends have fared better than other skill positions, and Kroft is a weekly touchdown threat with four red-zone targets in the last four games. He is by no means an exciting option, but desperate streamers could do worse.

4. Austin Hooper, Falcons – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
I have no idea what to do with Hooper at this point. His target share understandably took a massive hit when Mohamed Sanu returned in Week 7, but then he bounced back with a 4/47/1 line on six targets against the Jets on Sunday. The matchup with the Panthers this week is not great and he has a goose-egg floor, but Hooper will be a streaming option most weeks if he is going to get six or so targets a game.

5. Ryan Griffin, Texans – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Griffin will give the job back to C.J. Fiedorowicz soon and is coming off an extremely disappointing performance in what was a shootout in Seattle, but he plays for perhaps the most explosive offense in the league and has a good matchup against the Colts. That gets him one more shot.

Watch List: It is tough to tell if Delanie Walker will play at this point in the week. If he does not, Jonnu Smith will be worth a look in all leagues in a good matchup against the Ravens…Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett are both in a good spot against the Giants, but neither is reliable enough to stream…The Jets are a good matchup for Nick O’Leary, but he has five targets total the last two games…O.J. Howard came back to earth on Sunday, and the Saints are not a particularly good matchup…Ed Dickson keeps getting the targets, but he has 78 yards total the last three games…George Kittle’s snap share bounced back a bit last week, but he still was held to two catches on four targets…Eric Ebron was targeted six times including twice inside the 10 and had a long catch, but it is not worth jumping back on this roller coaster. Perhaps that changes if Ebron is traded before the deadline…A.J. Derby had been blanked before his score deep into garbage time on Monday night…Ben Watson got a touchdown last week, but he has 74 yards combined the last four games…C.J. Fiedorowicz is eligible to come off injured reserve Week 10, and Greg Olsen is eligible to return Week 12. Both will be weekly TE1 options when healthy, so teams with an open bench spot should look to roster them.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Arizona Cardinals – Owned in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues
Arizona has not been an outstanding option this year and has struggled to get pressure, but the 49ers have surpassed the Browns as the premier target for DST streamers with C.J. Beathard at quarterbacks, which will still be the case this week.

2. Buffalo Bills – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
Buffalo has not been getting to the quarterback, but they just keep forcing turnovers like they did twice while shutting down the Jets in Week 1.

3. Detroit Lions – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
Detroit’s defense is a lot like Buffalo’s in that it does not create pressure, but it has forced turnovers all year. That should continue against the Packers on Monday night.

Looking Ahead: The Lions get the Browns at home. With Jimmy Garoppolo soon to take over for the 49ers, that is as good a spot as there is for a defense. If Garoppolo does not play Week 10, the Giants will also be an option. 

KICKERS
1. Ka'imi Fairbairn, Texans – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Fairbairn kicks for an offense which is suddenly one of the most explosive in the league, and he has as good a matchup as possible at home against the Colts.

2. Blair Walsh, Seahawks – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Walsh has been a bit up and down so far this season, but Seattle’s offense has been good since the bye while Walsh has a great matchup against a defense which has faced 20 kicks so far this season including five on Sunday.

3. Graham Gano, Panthers – Owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues
Gano’s health is important to watch, but he played through his knee injury against the Bucs, hitting a short field goal and a couple extra points. If he is healthy, he will be a solid option at home against the Falcons. Phil Dawson could also be an option, but it is tough to trust that offense with Carson Palmer out.

Looking Ahead: Ryan Succop has some appeal this week against Baltimore, but he will be an even better option against the Bengals in Week 10. 

Raymond Summerlin
Raymond Summerlin is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter at @RMSummerlin.