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Can you believe we are in Week 10 of the NFL season? 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.
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. We often see a waiver gem help teams in the playoffs and this year should be no different. 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 notable waiver pickups from this year include Cordarrelle Patterson, Khalil Herbert, Pat Freiermuth, Darrel Williams, Chuba Hubbard, K.J. Osborn, Kadarius Toney, among others. Several of these players have made a sizeable impact on rosters everywhere. Last year, James Robinson, Mike Davis, Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson, and Jakobi Meyers fit these criteria and were instrumental in helping many fantasy rosters in the stretch run in 2020. 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. Many players have already made themselves known but that doesn't mean others won't appear. Here's a look at some players to target at each position.
PROACTIVE & REACTIVE WAIVER PICKUPS
Proactive & Reactive
Mike White, New York Jets - Zach Wilson is still dealing with a knee injury that could shelve him a few weeks, and they may elect to keep him on the bench to learn the game before rushing him back onto the field only for him to fall flat as we saw in the first quarter of the season. White came in, made plays, executed the short passing game to a tee, and showed that he can command the offense. We'll see White again in Week 10 vs the Bills. It's not the best matchup, but he's worth a flier in deeper, two-quarterback leagues.
Colt McCoy, Arizona - Could Arizona elect to keep Kyler Murray (ankle) sidelined in Week 10 in a winnable game against Carolina? A game where they are favored by 10 points. If so, Colt McCoy becomes a fantasy option in Superflex leagues. McCoy was 22-for-26 for 249 yards, 1 touchdown, plus 23 yards rushing last week against San Francisco.
P.J. Walker, Carolina - The Panthers are finding out that the second-round investment in Sam Darnold may not pay off. Darnold has a shoulder injury (fractured right scapula), which may be hindering his ability, but it also may have nothing to do with his lack of execution. The injury means Darnold will likely miss several weeks. Carolina has their bye in Week 13, so we may not see Darnold until Week 14, if at all if Walker performs well. Walker isn't a great answer for Carolina but he's the best they have outside of Darnold at the moment. They recently signed Matt Barkley, who may be the better choice at quarterback if Walker does not pan out. As of now, Walker knows the offense best so he'll get the start. If you're in a Superflex league and need a break at quarterback, Walker may be available to snag as a starter.
Taysom Hill, New Orleans - Trevor Siemian hasn't lit the league on fire and New Orleans lost last week to Atlanta with him under center. The Saints know that Hill gives them a different offensive strategy when he is in the game, so there is some hesitation to insert him into the lineup, but the question begs, how much of a leash is Sean Payton willing to give Siemian? If Hill is named starter, he brings immediate potential to your fantasy roster as a Jalen Hurts-esque dual-threat option. Even a poor outing will still yield decent fantasy results.
Jacoby Brissett, Miami - Tua Tagovailoa is dealing with a finger injury that kept him out of last week's game. If it continues to give him troubles, we may see another week of Brissett under center. Miami isn't exactly buzzing with fantasy success but they have BAL, at NYJ, CAR, NYG in their next four games - all decent matchups.
Ultra-deep proactive - Quarterbacks who could wind up starting at some point or maybe in Week 17, 18
- Kyle Trask, TB - If the Buccaneers have clinched the #1 seed, there will be no reason to start Tom Brady. We could see the first of Kyle Trask.
- Case Keenum, CLE - If Baker Mayfield busts his shoulder again, it could sideline him indefinitely, thus moving Keenum into a starting role. If you're looking for an edge in a deep superflex league, he could be a pre-emptive pickup to target.
- Gardner Minshew, PHI - Jalen Hurts may provide good fantasy appeal but if he's not winning games, could Nick Siriani turn to Minshew to see if he can generate some passing offense with Philadelphia's group of receivers? It's possible, especially later in the season if they are out of the playoff hunt.
It's a challenge to find many running backs still available, especially in deeper leagues, but here are a few that you could benefit from.
Jordan Howard, Philadelphia - Miles Sanders may be out for another few weeks and the Eagles don't have their bye until Week 14. We could see Howard in the backfield for at least another two-to-three weeks. In two games, Howard has over 120 rushing yards with three rushing touchdowns. He has fantasy appeal and he is likely available. How long he keeps this up is anyone's guess, but...ride the wave.
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England - Damien Harris has a head injury and may miss time. The only problem is, Stevenson has a similar injury. If Stevenson can show he is more ready than Harris, he could see action beginning this week. Stevenson has shown the ability to be an effective runner and receiver and would have immediate fantasy appeal if he can play while Harris sits.
Sony Michel, Los Angeles - If Darrell Henderson were to miss time, Sony Michel would earn the role as lead back on the Rams high-scoring offense. Michel has shown some flash in limited action this season. If he were to be thrust into more snaps, his fantasy appeal would climb dramatically.
Eno Benjamin, Arizona - Chase Edmonds is out with a high ankle sprain and is all but droppable in season-long leagues. James Conner is having a career year but his injury history is long and worrisome. Could he buck the trend and be a league-winner all season? Yes. If he gets dinged or worse, injured, we could see an immediate switch to Eno Benjamin as a solution in Arizona's backfield Benjamin, has already shown signs of strong play, and his role will increase even without a Conner injury. Injuries happen often and suddenly across the league, especially in the running back position. Be proactive and consider targeting Benjamin, who could handle a dual-threat versatile role for Arizona.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans - Ingram still has some gas left in the tank and he may be called upon for an extended role at some point this season. He knows Sean Payton's offense and can fill in at any time. Consider him as a proactive target.
Jeff Wilson, San Francisco - Wilson has recovered from a meniscus injury that had him sidelined all season to this point. Elijah Mitchell is playing well for the 49ers but Wilson knows the offense well and could be a fantasy option if Mitchell struggles or gets injured.
J.J. Taylor, New England - With head injuries to Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots have Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor left on the roster in terms of fantasy value. Taylor is in the mold of Dion Lewis. He can turn on a dime and be an effective receiver out of the backfield. Those characteristics and strengths can be utilized heavily in a Bill Belichick-led offense. Taylor's time could be coming soon enough.
Kene Nwangwu, Minnesota - Perhaps the ultimate proactive running back target in terms of going from nowhere to somewhere super-quick. Last week he popped a 98-yard kickoff for a touchdown. He has blazing speed and the coaches love this kid. Could his time come at some point this season? His road is a bit tougher with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison ahead of him on the depth chart, but if he's that good, the Vikings will find him snaps.
Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay - Remember Ronald Jones II? He was 22 yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing last year and he amassed 8 touchdowns. He got off to a tough start in 2021 and Leonard Fournette hasn't allowed him to take over the lead role. As we know, anything can happen. Injuries happen, COVID happens. We could see Jones getting another chance and if he's on your deep roster, you can have the opportunity to utilize him when/if that time comes.
Proactive & Reactive
Russell Gage, Atlanta, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland, Rashod Bateman, Baltimore, Elijah Moore, NY Jets - All of these receivers are likely already rostered, but they also have the opportunity for increased reps in the coming weeks. Gage benefits from Calvin Ridley's absence, Peoples-Jones has seen an increase in usage due to Odell Beckham's release, and Rashod Bateman is finally healthy. Moore is coming off a two-score game in Week 8 and has shown signs of life as a fantasy option in the second half of the season. All the aforementioned receivers are fantasy-worthy options as the last starter in your lineup.
Tim Patrick, Denver - Teddy Bridgewater is having a decent year and he's looking towards Tim Patrick more, especially in the red zone. Patrick has two scores since Week 6 and he has the potential to be a consistent fantasy option as a flex starter moving forward.
Jamal Agnew, Jacksonville - The Jaguars lost D.J. Chark for the season and Jamal Agnew has climbed up the depth chart and has become a popular target for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Agnew has 20 catches in the last four games and reached 19% team target numbers in Week 9. He's someone to consider if available on the waiver wire.
Terrace Marshall, Carolina - The Panthers receivers have struggled with Sam Darnold under center, especially recently. Marshall missed some time in the concussion protocol but he is back now and could find himself seeing an increase in targets with P.J. Walker at quarterback. Don't forget about Marshall. His time is coming.
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay - Antonio Brown's now worrisome ankle has elevated Tyler Johnson into an increase in snaps and targets. Johnson's team target percentage jumped up to 15% in his last game. He has 7 catches for 81 yards in his last two games (both without Brown). If you're looking for a diamond in the rough on a strong offense, Johnson is a decent bet.
James Washington, Pittsburgh - Injuries to JuJu Smth-Schuster and Chase Claypool open the door for James Washington to find some fantasy value. He is an option for the Steelers, who are in dire need of wide receiver help. Consider adding him with the possibility of starting him if he shows decent usage in a tough matchup against the Chargers in Week 11.
Kenny Golladay, NY Giants - Golladay has been a fade all season long, however, perhaps the tide will change on the talented receiver. The Giants are running out of receivers with injuries to Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard, and Golladay himself. He is trending in the right direction and may just find his niche as a potential fantasy starter in the second half of the season.
Proactive and Reactive
Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh - He has five games of three catches or more and has scored three times in the last two games. The losses of JuJu Smith-Schuster for the season and Chase Claypool (toe//groin) for a few weeks means Freiermuth should see an increase in usage in the Steelers passing game. He is a decent fantasy start moving forward, especially if the touchdowns and high team target percentage continue.
Dan Arnold, Jacksonville - Like Jamal Agnew, Dan Arnold had 20 catches in the last four games. He appears to be one of the better fantasy receiver options on the Jaguars moving forward. He is coming off a team-high 22% team target share in Week 9 and is poised for a strong second half.
Cole Kmet, Chicago - The Bears and Justin Fields may be starting to figure out their passing game and Cole Kmet has been a key target for them catching 18 passes in the last four games. In Week 9 he led the team with a 28% team target share. While he has not scored yet this season, Kmet is looking like his second half could be a decent spike in comparison to the first half.
Evan Engram, NY Giants - Engram has recovered from an early-season calf injury and has turned on the production recently catching 24 passes in the last six games, with two touchdowns. His 16% team target share for the season is tied for second on the team. With the string of recent injuries in the receiving corps, it has climbed to as high as 24% in Week 7 and 18% in Week 9.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta - The Falcons are looking for answers while Calvin Ridley is away from the game. While Kyle Pitts and Russell Gage should benefit the most, Hurst could also see an increase in involvement. He has six games of two receptions or more and should benefit as defenses will key in on stopping Pitts. Also, if Pitts were to miss time, Hurst would become an instant fantasy option.
Good luck this week and go make those moves that will get you the trophy!
Questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome. Hit me up on Twitter.