Fantasy Overview, Week 8

Get yourself caught up on what's going on in the league as we enter Week 8 of the NFL season. Here's my take on the fantasy landscape around the league and how you can benefit. 

This week's topic is geared more towards those in deeper leagues with 12+ teams and 20+ roster spots. Some comments and thoughts will still apply to others who don't specifically fit those criteria, but for the most part, this is for those who have limited choices on the waiver wire. 

The Week 6 Fantasy Overview included my thoughts on players to target for the fantasy playoffs (Week 14, 15, 16). Feel free to revisit that article, because a lot of those thoughts and opinions still apply. This week I want to focus on some proactive waiver wire claims that could propel your team forward if one or more of these pickups hit. Keep in mind, a proactive waiver claim isn't intended to be a quick solution, but more of a shark move that has the potential to give your lineup a boost. Examples of proactive waiver pickups from this year include Orleans Darkwa, Nelson Agholor, Jermaine Kearse, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, among others. Last year, Bilal Powell fit these criteria and was a league winner for many teams. These waiver pickups weren't expected to amount to much when picked up, but the potential for success was there. Making good on such moves can fix or strengthen your team and/or your season. Here's a look at some players to target at each position. 

PROACTIVE & REACTIVE WAIVER PICKUPS

QUARTERBACK

Reactive & Proactive

Matt Moore, MIA - Jay Cutler was underperforming before injuring his ribs in Week 7. The team has stated that he will return to start at quarterback when healthy, but if Matt Moore can come in and make a difference, don't be shocked to see Miami stay with the hot hand. Moore organized a comeback victory over the Jets last week and finished with 188 yards and 2 touchdown passes on 13-of-21 passing. Another win on Thursday night in front of a national audience in Baltimore will increase the chances of a quarterback controversy.

Reactive & Proactive

Jacoby Brissett, IND - Brissett is coming off a horrendous game against Jacksonville where the Colts allowed 10 sacks and scored zero points. Some people may have thrown Brissett to the waivers after that performance, especially thinking Andrew Luck will return soon. There are whispers suggesting Luck may not be back until the 2018 season, which would be a huge shock, but also good news for Brissett. Keep in mind, Brissett has not had a game with more than one touchdown pass, but he does have three rushing touchdowns and three games with 20 yards rushing or more. He's not the best option, but he's an option, especially for those who are in 2-quarterback leagues or superflex leagues. 

Reactive

Blake Bortles, JAX - The Jaguars have a bye this week, which might lead to Bortles finding his way to a few waiver wires. Jacksonville is sitting 4-3 and is tied for first withTennessee in the AFC South. I don't see Bortles as a must-have waiver claim, simply due to the presence of Leonard Fournette, but in the event Bortles has turned the corner, he's a decent waiver claim with some favorable games coming up. Make a note of Jacksonville's playoff schedule though, which is a bit of a challenge (vs SEA, vs HOU, at SF). 

Reactive

Josh McCown, NYJ - In case you haven't realized, the Jets are not tanking this year and Josh McCown has been playing well, reaching at least two total touchdowns in each of the last three games, including four last week at Miami. There's a chance McCown is on your waiver wire and if you're looking for a bye week fill-in, there are worse options. 

Reactive

C.J. Beathard, SF - Brian Hoyer was benched in favor of the younger, more mobile C.J. Beathard. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has decided that Beathard is the better option for his offense, so we should take notice. Unlike Brett Hundley in Green Bay, Beathard has shown that he can, and will pass the ball when needed (36 and 38 pass attempts in the lst two weeks). His mobile ability also gives him additional value as a fantasy option. 

Proactive

Drew Stanton or Blain Gabbert, ARI - The Cardinals will be without Carson Palmer (arm) for an extended time period with a possible return in Week 15 or 16. Taking over for Arizona will be veteran and career backup, Drew Stanton. Stanton is a career 52% passer who has more interceptions than touchdowns (20 vs 14) in his seven years in the league. The expectations aren't high for Stanton, but we've seen other quarterbacks come of age after years of riding the bench. Rich Gannon comes to mind, as does Steve Beuerlein. Don't shy away from Blaine Gabbert as an alternative option. He's the next man up if Stanton can't get any traction. 

RUNNING BACK

Proactive

Seattle running backs - It's entirely possible that one of Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise or J.D. McKissic will separate themselves from the others with a strong performance in the next few weeks. Seattle has already had their bye, which is always good news when picking up a running back from waivers. My gut says Prosise or McKissic is the best bet to target because they are the most mobile. Seattle's offensive line issues don't give me enough trust with Rawls or Lacy, but the speedier backs could benefit. 

Reactive & Proactive

Andre Ellington, ARI - The Cardinals have their bye this week and Andre Ellington missed Week 7 with a quadriceps injury. Some people may have tossed him to the waiver wire, especially with the emergence of Adrian Peterson. Drew Stanton has a career yards-per-attempt average of 6.28 yards That projects to several shorter passes, which is right in Ellington's wheelhouse. I foresee an uptick in usage in the coming weeks which plays right into Ellington increasing his fantasy value. 

Proactive

Danny Woodhead, BAL - Remember him? He may be on your waiver wire. Woodhead could return around Week 11 after being placed on injured reserve for a Week 1 hamstring injury. Woodhead was going to be a key offensive piece for the Ravens before his unfortunate injury derailed him and the Ravens options at running back. No back has stepped their game up enough to think that Woodhead won't have a big role when he returns. 

Reactive

Aaron Jones, GB - Aaron Jones may still be hanging around on a few waiver wires because people think Ty Montgomery is going to reclaim his lead role, but that may not be the case. Green Bay is also on bye this week, which is another reason why Jones might still be a free agent in your league. Jones has shown that he can play a key role for the Packers offense and last week he out-snapped Montgomery 44 to 7. He has scored a touchdown in three of the last four games and looks to be rising while Montgomery is falling. The tide is turning in Green Bay with Jones looking like the back to own the rest of the season. 

Proactive

Marlon Mack, IND - Make no mistake, Frank Gore's snap counts are dropping and Marlon Mack's snaps are increasing. Mack is arguably the best receiving back on the team and his involvement in the passing game could be on the upswing. The Colts had four receptions to running backs last week against Jacksonville. All four went to Mack. He has two rushing touchdowns on 32 carries compared to two rushing touchdowns on 94 carries for Gore. Don't be surprised to see Mack involved more as the season wears on, especially if Indianapolis continues to fall further down the ranks in the AFC South. 

Proactive

Malcolm Brown, LAR - The understudy to Todd Gurley is clearly Malcolm Brown with nobody else close. If Gurley tweaks his ankle, injures his hamstring, gets turf toe, bangs his shoulder, etc - the winner in the handcuff fantasy sweepstakes is Brown. In limited action, Brown has looked capable and productive. Being on a potent offense definitely helps his chances of finding value if and when called upon. If Brown is available in your league (chances are he is), consider the acquisition, if you have the roster space. 

Proactive

Rex Burkhead, NE - The Patriots running backs are a hot mess with snap counts and production coming from all areas including James White, Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. An injury or ball security issues could open the door for one to emerge. If one were to become the go-to back either as a rusher or a receiver, the fantasy value for that player will go through the roof. Burkhead is among that group and deserves to be on your roster for the "just in case" opportunity that could arise. 

Proactive

Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington, OAK - Both Raiders backs have a one-game audition to make a statement for increased playing time, while Marshawn Lynch serves a one-game suspension. Lynch has been less than stellar in his seven games this season, reaching over 70 yards rushing once with only two touchdowns in that span. It's possible that Lynch will return with a vengeance, but his lack of stardom and production in the first half of the season doesn't make me feel excited about the second half. The door is open for another back to emerge. I wouldn't rule out that back being Richard or Washington. 

Proactive

Damien Williams or Kenyan Drake, MIA - I really don't like this pickup, but the data prefers Williams over Kenyan Drake. Jay Ajayi is having problems with his ailing knee and it's apparent when he runs. Perhaps rest will help, but he has no benefit of a bye week. That already happened in Week 1. My advice is to sell Ajayi if you're able to, but I don't particularly like Damien Williams as the backup. We'll see how Ajayi performs this week against Baltimore, who averages 145.3 yards rushing allowed per game. There's a chance he bounces back, but in the event that he still struggles, it may be wise to consider looking at other alternatives. 

WIDE RECEIVER

Proactive

Josh Doctson, WAS - Washington is starting to get Josh Doctson more involved on offense while phasing out Terrelle Pryor more and more. I would not be surprised to see a reversal by Week 10 or later. Doctson appears to be the future while Pryor seems more like the experiment. I can envision a scenario where Doctson takes over Pryor's role and the production follows. Ryan Grant is another receiver for Washington who is making a move to more playing time, but I don't see him replacing Jamison Crowder's targets without an injury. 

Proactive

Deonte Thompson, BUF - The Bills are looking for help at wide receiver with injuries to Jordan Matthews (still coming along) and the underperformance of Zay Jones. Deonte Thomspon caught all four targets for 107 yards last week against Tampa Bay. If he can wrestle away the starter role from Zay Jones, he could have some fantasy value going forward. 

Reactive

Mohamed Sanu, ATL - Sanu is back after being out two weeks with a hamstring injury. He had 6 catches for 65 yards in the loss to New England last week and looks to be a key piece of the Falcons passing game. In games where he was healthy, Sanu has totaled 6, 5, 4 and 6 receptions. He is second on the team in snaps despite being injured and he remains a big option for Matt Ryan. If he's available, he's a decent bye week filler and flex start if needed. 

Proactive

Brandon LaFell, CIN - LaFell had 64 receptions and 6 touchdowns last year. So far this year he's been relatively quiet, but he's second on the team in snaps and he's coming off a touchdown last week against Pittsburgh. He has three games of four catches or more this year and he has a favorable matchup this week vs. Indianapolis who have struggled against team's WR2s. He may be an adequate bye week filler, especially for Week 8. 

Proactive

Corey Davis, TEN - Top 5 wide receiver draft picks just don't grow on trees. They are a rare and talented breed and Corey Davis is no different. His hamstring injury and Week 1 re-injury have set him back, but he is expected to return after the Week 8 bye. It's possible that he may still be available on your waiver wire. If he is, grab him and reap the benefits in the second half of the season. 

Proactive

Kenny Golladay, DET - The Lions rookie wide receiver is battling a hamstring injury, but he's expected to return to the fold this week vs. Pittsburgh. He could have an immediate impact with Golden Tate out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury. Golladay has the skills to make plays all over the field, especially if given a decent number of targets. His biggest strength may be his presence in the red zone. He showed this in the preseason as well as Week 1. He is a player who feeds off success. Look for Detroit to get him involved in the game early to improve his confidence. 

Reactive

JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT - The Steelers look to be moving away from Martavis Bryant and gravitating to Smith-Schuster. As a rookie, he has outperformed expectations and looks to be a key player in the Steelers offense, especially in the red zone. He's a decent flex option or bye week filler this week and he's someone you can option in the flex after the Steelers Week 9 bye, especially if he continues to play at a high level. 

Proactive

Sammy Watkins, LAR - The rebound of Sammy Watkins is coming. The snaps are there for Watkins and the targets are increasing. He's too good of a player for the Rams to keep shelved and bottled up. I am convinced his time to shine will come. Keep him rostered for the inevitable rise to stardom. We saw it with Amari Cooper and we saw glimpses of a rebound for Eric Decker as well. Watkins' time is coming and the schedule will be more in his favor in the second half of the season.

Reactive

Brandon Coleman, NO - Willie Snead IV is dealing with a hamstring injury and he's coming off a suspension. He's currently getting phased out of the target shares in New Orleans while others have taken advantage of his absence. Brandon Coleman and Ted Ginn Jr are seeing the most snaps and targets behind Michael Thomas and it appears that it will stay that way. Some people believe Snead will bounce back, but my gut tells me Coleman and Ginn will benefit the most over the course of the year. 

Proactive

Trent Taylor, SF - The 49ers are starting to get Trent Taylor more involved in the offense. He's a quick-footed slot receiver with a lot of potential. He has two games of five catches this season and his game snaps have doubled since Week 1 and 2. He's one to watch as a potential PPR gem for a late season push. 

TIGHT END

Proactive

Greg Olsen, CAR - The Panthers expect Olsen to return from a broken foot by mid-November. If he's available on the waiver wire, go ahead and make room for him. He should be back after Carolina's Week 11 bye and possibly sooner. Say what you want about Cam Newton's leadership skills and qualities, but Olsen is the leader in the locker room and the huddle. The team misses him and he'll be welcomed back with plenty of looks upon his return. Olsen should be a key piece on your roster in plenty of time for your playoff push. 

Reactive

Tyler Kroft, CIN - The injury to Tyler Eifert opened the door for Kroft to become fantasy relevant. He has done so with three scores in his last three games. He's a low-end TE1 with a chance to score every game. I don't see him being a 6-7 catch per game type of receiver, but he has the ability to come through with a clutch touchdown despite big numbers. There are worse options. 

Good luck this week and go make those moves that will get you the trophy! 

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com