Originally posted: October 20, 2016
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This list is presented to give a quick look at the top players who emerged as waiver wire options based on recent developments. There are other players listed below who are viable, if not excellent options, but not exactly based on what has recently transpired.
- Jay Ajayi (RB, Mia)
- Hunter Henry (TE, SD)
- Cameron Meredith (WR, Chi)
- James White (RB, NE)
- Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, TB) – Martin is out Week 7 and could miss multiple weeks.
- Kenny Britt (WR, LA)
- Brian Hoyer (QB, Chi)
- Devontae Booker (RB, Den)
- Mike Gillislee (RB, Buf) – Looks really good this year and looks really good to carry load in Week 7.
- Jack Doyle (TE, Ind)
- Dwayne Washington (RB, Det)
- Mohamed Sanu (WR, Atl)
- Knile Davis (RB, GB)
- Mike Davis (RB, SF) – Hyde is unlikely to play Week 7
- C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE, Hou)
- Kendall Wright (WR, Ten)
Final Note: You have to understand your expectations for these players, as we cannot rank them based on all factors. Some are better for this week; others have more upside for the long-term. We do our best to consider all factors.
The Best Options
Brian Hoyer (Chi) – The Bears are a bit of a mess, but they’ve played much better since Hoyer has taken over as quarterback. As we’ve stated for weeks, the Bears organization is ready to turn the page on Jay Cutler, and Hoyer has certainly done enough to win this job with four consecutive 300-yard games. Hoyer completed 30/49 passes for 302 yards in Week 6 against the Jaguars, but he failed to throw a TD pass. Hoyer has also done well the last couple weeks with Alshon Jeffery being a smaller factor, as he’s spreading the ball around and getting everyone involved. Jeffery got going in Week 6, and second-year WR Cameron Meredith has been a revelation since replacing Kevin White (leg). We’re not sure how much longer Hoyer can keep it up, but the Bears may continue to surprise throwing the ball with some good matchups upcoming (@GB, @TB, vs. Ten, vs. SF, @Det, vs. GB). They do have the Vikings in Week 8 (but likely for many Week 17 for the second matchup). It’s fair to say Hoyer has never played this well, so this should be it for Cutler. The team isn’t commenting on Cutler’s status long-term, but short-term they’ve given us a tip-off, and it’s Hoyer over Cutler for sure. In Week 7, Hoyer gets a really depleted Packer secondary, so he should keep the production coming.
Dak Prescott (Dal) – The start to Prescott’s career has been better in NFL terms than his fantasy numbers say, but those numbers have improved recently. He had his best fantasy day in Week 6 against the Packers, even without Dez Bryant (knee), completing 18/27 passes for 3 TDs and 1 INT. The rookie has played it a little safe at times, but he’s shown a ton of poise and is starting to take more downfield shots. There has been plenty to build off of after just six games for the rookie. Prescott does have some beatable matchups the next couple weeks (bye, vs. Phi, at Cle, at Pit), so he could continue to hold solid value as a streaming option. He could lose his job when Tony Romo is ready to play, which could be in Week 8 after their bye. But the Cowboys haven’t made a final decision about replacing their red-hot rookie QB with Romo in a few weeks. And even if Romo gets his job back, he’ll get hurt, so we still expect Dak to be viable in November and December.
Marcus Mariota (Ten) – Mariota’s second season isn’t off to a pretty start, playing with a limited set of receivers in the slowest offense in football. However, he getting it going against some bad defenses, and the Browns in Week 6 helped him complete 17/24 passes for 3 TDs and 1 INT and adding 7/64 rushing. We’re not counting on that each week, and he should have thrown 2 INTs in Week 6 in the first quarter. But he does have a beautiful slate of games coming up (vs. Ind, vs. Jac, at SD, vs. GB), which helps differentiate him from the other low-end guys. It also doesn’t hurt that Kendall Wright – who unlike their other wideouts actually had some quickness – is finally coming to life off his hamstring injury, so Mariota might be starting to heat up at the right time.
Joe Flacco (Bal) – Flacco has knocked the rust off coming back from his season-ending ACL tear in 2015, and while Steve Smith’s status is up in the air for Week 7, Flacco still has a solid group of receivers to toss it to right now. He completed 26/48 passes for 307 yards in Week 6 against the Giants. He may not have Smith for a little while, which is a concern, but the team fired OC Marc Trestman, who Flacco was very unhappy with, and we saw Flacco quickly put up 100+ yards on a pair of deep throws to Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman. We can now expect Flacco to take several deep shots each week, which will take advantage of his strength as a deep-ball thrower. He has some balance on offense now with Terrance West running well, and he has a nice set of games coming up (at NYJ, bye, vs. Pit, vs. Cle), so he’s worth a look as a streaming option. Flacco is dealing with a shoulder injury this week, so we’ll have to see what his deal it later in the week.
Sam Bradford (Min) – Bradford has been borderline brilliant, clicking amazingly with Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs, and even getting others like Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson involved. Even without Diggs, Bradford completed 22/30 passes for 271 yards and 2 TDs in Week 5 against the Texans. He’s still not a great fantasy producer because of a lack of volume, but the production should increase for a guy who’s completing 70% of his passes and who should get more and more comfortable in this environment. The Vikings are still running the ball, but it’s not exactly the identity of the offense, which is starting to shift more toward Bradford and the pass, so he has a chance in that regard. He won’t produce every week, since their stifling defense won’t have them playing from behind all that often, but he does have an underrated receiving corps from top to bottom, and he does have some nice matchups coming up (at Phi, at Chi, vs. Det, at Was). He’s in a good spot overall with the great Norv Turner running the offense.
Brock Osweiler (Hou) – Osweiler is a pretty easy guy to handicap. When he’s against a top-10 defense, forget him. When he’s up against a bottom 10 defense (or so), then he can be started. He has some really nice weapons in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, both of whom will help him to fantasy relevance when the matchup looks at least decent. Osweiler has produced in good matchups, but he predictably looked absolutely atrocious against the Vikings in Week 5, and he was also terrible in Week 6 against a bad Colt defense. What should be pointed out, though, is that he did manage to throw for 269/2, and he didn’t have Fuller, who was active but didn’t play a snap. With Hopkins and Fuller, he can deliver solid totals when the matchup is good. Forget him this week against Denver, but after that he’s got Det, @Jac, @Oak, SD, @GB, @Ind, and Jac, so he has nothing but beatable matchups for a month and a half after Denver this week.
Ryan Tannehill (Mia) – Tannehill has looked shaky at times this season behind a banged up offensive line – but they finally had all of their starters in the lineup in Week 6. He completed 24/32 passes for 252 yards in Week 6 against the Steelers, but he did have a TD called back by a penalty and DeVante Parker dropped a TD. Jarvis Landry is rock-solid out of the slot, but Tannehill really needs second-year WR Parker to stay healthy and make some plays for him on a consistent basis. If he has those two, he’s got a chance to produce (on the low) with volume. Tannehill has actually thrown the deep ball better this year and a lot of their issues haven’t been on him (they didn’t run many plays Weeks 4-5). If you need to dig deeper, he does have some good matchups coming up. Of particular interest are vs. NYJ, @SD, vs. SF, and @NYJ. He’s not consistent or reliable, but on the low-end he’s still fairly appealing.
Alex Smith (KC) – Smith is once again hanging around on most waivers wire as a streaming option in any given week – and he’s once again proven to be a pain in the rear. He was great in Week 6, but he threw only 22 passes. He completed 19/22 passes for 224 yards with no TDs or INTs in Week 6 against the Raiders. They do have more weapons than usual with Chris Conley and Tyreek Hill, plus TE Travis Kelce and WR Jeremy Maclin are heavily involved to give him a chance at fantasy success, and he also needs to run every week to boost his fantasy output. Smith isn’t a guy to use against a good defense, and he’s game-flow dependent, but he does have some very good matchups coming up (vs. NO, @Ind, vs. Jac, at Car), and he’ll have a guy named Jamaal Charles a full-go to help provide a spark on offense.
The Next Best Things
Colin Kaepernick (SF) – This is a bad team and he’s not a good QB, but it was only a matter of time until he became the starter. In his first action as a starter in 2016, Kap completed 13/29 passes for 182 yards and 1 TD and he added 8/66 rushing against the Bills in Week 6. The switch to Kaepernick helped Torrey Smith come to life with a deep strike in their first game together, but it was a lucky play and a bad throw. But Kap does have a cannon to get Smith the ball deep. In addition, Kaepernick’s athleticism and running ability can be taken advantage of in Kelly’s offense. Kap may not keep this job and we hate to even list him, but for the immediate future he does have two good matchups upcoming at home vs. TB (then a bye) and NO. On the chance that he’s still starting late in the season, and he’s already been named the Week 7 starter, if you’re in a deep or 2-QB league, he does have a good schedule Weeks 13-16 @Chi, vs. NYJ, @Atl, and @LA.
Trevor Siemian (Den) – Rookie QB Paxton Lynch’s numbers actually weren’t too bad in his first NFL start in Week 5, but he struggled mightily and the team turned back to Siemian in Week 6. Siemian (left shoulder) returned and started Thursday at San Diego, but he didn’t play well and needed 50 attempts to get to 230/1, so he’ll have to play better and prove healthier to have much confidence in him. He’s a guy to avoid this week against the Texans, but he then has a great three-game stretch vs. SD, @Oak, and @NO, so if he can heal up he’ll have a chance to produce as we close out October and welcome in November.
The Obvious Choices
Jay Ajayi (Mia) – This backfield has been a bit of a disaster, as expected, but Ajayi has clearly established himself as the best option here going forward. Even with Arian Foster (hamstring) back in the lineup in Week 6, Ajayi remained the top back, and he rewarded the move by posting 25/204/2 rushing and 1/3 receiving on 2 targets against the Steelers. His Week 6 rushing total bettered his rushing total for the entire season. He iced the game with 62-yard TD run in the final minutes, and he out-touched Foster 26 to 5 while playing a healthy 69% of the snaps. It looks like Ajayi will at least stick as the early-down back going, since Foster’s best chance of staying healthy is a reduced role as a receiving specialist. Ajayi has looked like much more determined and confident runner the last couple weeks, putting his preseason and early-season struggles behind him. The Dolphins also need to establish a running game every week to keep Ryan Tannehill from getting killed, and this O-line finally had all their starters playing in Week 6, so Ajayi has a chance to make a fantasy impact going forward.
James White (NE) – White usually needs an ideal situation to be very impactful, playing from behind or playing with Tom Brady. He didn’t have those situations early in the year, but he’s made an impact with Brady out. White posted 8/47/2 receiving on 9 targets and 7/19 rushing in Week 6 against the Bengals. He was around 35% of the snaps Weeks 3-4, but up to 48% of the snaps in Week 5 with Brady and then up to 61% in Week 6, which is pretty revealing. White has looked very good this year and it’s pretty clear they Patriots trust him considerably. The Pats this week signed RB Tyler Gaffney back onto their practice squad this week, which may not be a great sign for Dion Lewis, who is eligible to come off PUP this week but is still unable to practice with his knee. White is expected to remain heavily involved in the offense for the foreseeable future, and it’s still uncertain when Lewis could be activated. He has until Week Eleven to start practicing, and it’s anyone guess how Lewis’ situation will shake out.
Bilal Powell (NYJ) – The Jets were seriously riding Matt Forte very early in the season, but that’s stopped recently, with Powell posting 6/41 receiving on 8 targets and 4/10 rushing in Week 5 against the Steelers. His snaps were in the 20% range Weeks 1-2, but over the last two weeks leading up to Week 6, he was at about 50%, which is a significant jump. Powell then played 72% of the snaps in Week 6, which is a huge number. He has essentially taken back his role as the passing back over Forte, so he obviously has value in PPR formats. Powell would be a fantasy difference-maker if Forte missed time, but the Jet defense is brutal right now, which should give Powell a boost in terms of opportunity with them usually playing from behind.
The Next Best Things
Devontae Booker (Den) – Booker is going to be involved most weeks as the clear #2 RB behind C.J. Anderson. The rookie RB can’t afford to fumble again, but he remains a very good handcuff option, as he’d be a must-start fantasy option if Anderson missed time. Anderson is also struggling to run the ball as they’ve had some key injuries that have hurt their running game (RT Donald Stephenson and TE Virgil Green), so Booker ended up playing 41% of the snaps in Week 5 after being in the mid-20 range in terms of snaps previously. In Week 6, Booker played only 21% of the snaps (they were playing from behind, which hurts him), but Booker flashed big time with 5/46 rushing and he had 2/7 on 2 targets, so he’s clearly ascending. Booker deserves and will get more opportunities in their offense, HC Gary Kubiak told reporters. Kubiak is starting to trust Booker more as a rookie in pass protection and likes the “good stuff” he’s done so far. The team’s running game sputtered with RB C.J. Anderson in the Week Six loss to San Diego. While Anderson had only 37 yards on his 10 carries, Booker looked a lot more dynamic with 46 yards on only 5 carries. We don’t think Booker will overtake a healthy CJA, but he’s clearly on the rise.
Jacquizz Rodgers (TB) – Rodgers played for HC Dirk Koetter in Atlanta, and with Doug Martin out with a hamstring injury, the veteran was seeing touches behind Charles Sims. Rodgers had only 6/25 rushing and 1/4 receiving in Week 4 against the Broncos. However, Sims (knee) was placed on IR, and Rodgers played 93% of the snaps and handled 35 touches in Week 5. When Martin’s back, Rodgers should hold a speck of value as a changeup and third-down back, but Martin (hamstring) wasn’t able to practice Monday coming off a bye, raising some concern that he may not be able to return to action Sunday in San Francisco. The team is confident in Rodgers handling a big workload for a second consecutive game and won’t force Martin back into action, so Rodgers may have a lot of value one more week. Martin has officially been ruled out, so Rodgers is in our top-10 this week.
Mike Gillislee (Buf) – We really like rookie Jonathan Williams, but the fact is he’s not going to be the guy if LeSean McCoy is out, since Gillislee is a veteran who has more experience. Gillislee has clearly established himself as the top backup here, and ran well yet again in Week 6 with 6/60/1 rushing against the 49ers. He’s been on the field a fair amount (23% of the snaps in Week 6), since they can’t expect McCoy to handle every touch in this backfield. In fact, McCoy’s injury scare in Week 6 was a clear reminder how close Gillislee is to having serious fantasy value and McCoy is likely out this week (ESPN is reporting he will not play). Gillislee looks like a great play for those in RB need, as Miami has been run on most of the time this year and they won’t change how they play offense if McCoy is out, which means they will give Gillislee a lot of work. If McCoy is officially out, Gillislee will be in our top-10.
Dwayne Washington (Det) – Washington before he got hurt vaulted ahead of Zach Zenner for the #3 RB job on game days, and he should have a bigger role as early-down back once he back from his sprained foot/ankle. The Lions did sign veteran RB Justin Forsett, but he’s currently running on empty. Zenner isn’t as talented as Washington, so when he’s right physically, a large role should be there for Washington, who was dropped in many leagues the last few weeks. They need his size in the running game, and Theo Riddick (ankle) is banged up himself, so they help. We’d expect him to vault ahead of Forsett and the below-average Zenner, possibly starting Week 7.
Chris Ivory (Jac) – Ivory started to emerge as the lead back here in Week 6, with T.J. Yeldon proving yet again to be an inefficient player in the early part of the season. Yeldon started, but Ivory was in early and finished with 11/32/1 rushing and 2/3 receiving against the Bears in Week 6, scoring on a 1-yard plunge. Ivory should continue to see the goal-line work ahead of Yeldon, and Ivory is their best hope to get this stagnant running game on track, as he actually gets positive yardage on most of his runs, unlike Yeldon. Ivory played 40% of the snaps in Week 6 and is probably a good bet to get at least 50% of their snaps and touches as long as he’s healthy.
DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard (Oak) – We loved his college tape and liked what we saw out of Washington in the preseason, but it doesn’t look like he will eventually unseat Latavius Murray as the starter, and Washington clearly has some competition from Richard right now just for touches behind Murray. The Raiders used a full-blown committee between the two rookie RBs with Murray out of the lineup the last two weeks. Washington out-snapped Richard 58% to 25% and was the better option in Week 6 with 10/49 rushing while Richard posted 4/8 rushing and 2/5 receiving against the Chiefs. This backfield has turned into a three-headed attack when Murray is in the lineup. Murray is still the top early-down back for now, but the Raiders are clearly going to mix in Washington and Richard in all situations. Washington has some value no matter who is “starting” here, so we still like him more than Richard.
Knile Davis (GB) – The Packers traded for Davis on Tuesday (10/18), and Eddie Lacy is on IR with James Starks also out for a month, so Davis should be the lead back here for several weeks. Davis has been very underwhelming, but he does have some talent and can possibly produce with a lot of volume. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he does have some long speed. If you’re desperate, he’s got a chance to get 15+ touches, but that is not expected to happen in Week 7, since he needs to pick up the offense. With Week 7 being a short week and some guy named Don Jackson from Nevada and Ty Montgomery will carry the load. However, in 1-2 weeks, Davis has a good chance to earn the lead job for as long as Starks is out, and keep in mind Starks has been bad this year.
Matt Asiata (Min) – While Adrian Peterson is out, Asiata will likely handle 35% of the work, perhaps a little more if Jerick McKinnon isn’t healthy and effective and/or if they have a big lead. Both were the case in Week 5, and Asiata’s snaps were up to 46%. Asiata is the goal line back, plus he can pass protect well and catch the ball. He posted 14/55/1 rushing and 3/46 receiving against the Texans in Week 5. What he doesn’t have is the explosiveness to be a true difference-maker, but he’ll have a chance to get you 8-12 points any given week.
Darren Sproles (Phi) – Sproles is still sitting out on a quite a few waiver wires, and HC Doug Pederson will be getting him involved every week. Sproles finished with 4/20 rushing and just 1/4 receiving on 1 target against the Redskins in Week 6, but he did play a healthy 44% of the snaps. The Eagles are pretty week-to-week with how they use all their RBs, but at least Sproles is a lock to get snaps and touches each week. With bye weeks starting to set in, Sproles is certainly a viable flex option in PPR formats, as he’s capable of coming through at any given time.
Chris Thompson (Was) – Thompson, as expected, has emerged as the team’s passing-down back behind early-down back Matt Jones. He finished with 9/37 rushing and 3/29 receiving on 3 targets against the Eagles in Week 6. If 8-1 points in a PPR will satisfy you, Thompson has legit value in PPR formats, as he should catch a handful of passes each week. But he’s not the lead back type if Jones would go down with an injury. He also ideally needs the Redskins to be playing from behind for him to put up production, but he’s consistently been on the field every week and he played a healthy 49% of the snaps in Week 6.
Bobby Rainey (NYG) – Rainey may disappear from the offense if rookie Paul Perkins emerges as a serious force, but right now he’s a big factor for the Giants as their passing back. Rainey finished with 2/16 receiving on 3 targets and 6/13 rushing in Week 6 against the Ravens, but he did play 40% of their snaps. With Shane Vereen out possibly for the rest of the season, Rainey may be worth a look for those desperate for some PPR production even with Rashad Jennings back in action.
Kenneth Dixon (Bal) – Terrance West has finally given the Ravens some life in the running game, as they cut the ineffective Justin Forsett. The rookie Dixon returned from his knee injury in Week 5, but he’s yet to make any kind of an impact as the #2 RB. He finished with just 2/11 rushing and 1/1 receiving on 2 targets in Week 6 against the Giants, while playing only 12% of the snaps. He was one our favorite backs in this year’s draft class, and in the preseason he did show that his lack of ideal size may not prevent him from pushing the pile and breaking tackles in the NFL, and he’s got great lateral agility and excellent receiving ability. It’s not happening for him right now, but he could still carve out a larger role and/or see a huge bump in playing time if West gets hurt. At some point, he could easily still be a hot WW commodity, especially with West’s shaky history of being a consistent player, but for now he’s only a stash-and-hope guy.
C.J. Spiller (Sea) – The Seahawks signed Spiller before Week 4, and he immediately vaulted ahead of banged up rookie C.J. Prosise as the change-of-pace and passing back. He finished with 3/38 receiving on 6 targets and 1/-3 rushing in Week 6 against the Falcons but did play a decent 23% of the snaps. Spiller for most isn’t worth adding at this point, but GM John Schneider did say Thomas Rawls (fibula) is expected to miss all of October, so Spiller is likely to see weekly touches to give Christine Michael breathers, since there’s something up with Prosise and his wrist (they may not trust he can hang onto the ball).
Fozzy Whittaker (Car) – Starter Jonathan Stewart has a terrible track record of staying healthy, and he’s already missed a chunk of time with a hamstring injury. With Stewart out, Cameron Artis-Payne became the lead back and Fozzy worked as the change-of-pace back and passing back. With Stewart back in Week 6, Fozzy stayed in his role and posted 1/4 receiving on 2 targets and 1/-1 rushing against the Saints. Fozzy isn’t exactly game flow dependent, although he’s clearly better off when they are playing from behind. But based on how shaky their defense has been thus far, Fozzy could be in solid shape and active in the passing game. That wasn’t the case in Week 6, but he did play a decent 22% of the snaps.
Andre Ellington (Ari) – Ellington didn’t do much in Week 5, but he did play a decent 21% of the snaps, and when Carson Palmer returns he might start producing in the passing game, which could give him a legit chance to post 10+ points in a PPR for as long as he’s the clear #2 behind David Johnson. He’s a viable runner, but he’s a really good receiver, and they know that so we’d expect him to get 2-3 targets a game when Palmer returns, which is likely for their next game.
Wendell Smallwood (Phi) – Smallwood had a really tough preseason, missing a chunk of time with a quad strain before suffering a concussion in the third preseason game. All the missed time cost him a chance at winning the handcuff job out of training camp, but he exploded in Week 3 with the team essentially resting Ryan Mathews. He’s been back to a limited role with Mathews healthy, but he did score on a kick-return TD in Week 6 and he played 19% of the snaps. Mathews usually has a tough time staying healthy for too long, so Smallwood has a legit chance to be impactful at some point. He’s a viable stash-and-hope for those looking for some upside on the back end of the fantasy roster.
Paul Perkins (NYG) – We really like him as a prospect, but we haven’t talked him up much because he’s buried on the depth chart. But with Shane Vereen out for the season, Perkins quickly climbed his way up to fantasy relevance. He’s now also ahead of Orleans Darkwa based on Week 6, as Perkins posted 2/10 rushing and 2/16 receiving while Darkwa didn’t have a touch. We have no problem stashing him away as an upside guy, but we must point out that Perkins could still do very little or nothing at all in the coming weeks, as he still played behind Bobby Rainey and was out there for only 10% of their snaps in Week 6.
Rob Kelley (Was) – We don’t think much of his game, but if Matt Jones is out or starts fumbling regularly (Jones fumbled Week 5), then Kelley is the next man up. In fact, Kelley has earned more work in the backfield in the weeks to come, HC Jay Gruden told reporters. Kelley did break off a 45-yard run against the Eagles in Week 6 on his way to 5/59 rushing. Kelley, who played 12% of the snaps in Week 6, is worth a speculative add now in deeper leagues with nothing on the WW.
These are good options to stash away for later in the season. Many of them could be one injury away from being very relevant. They are organized by talent, situation, and likelihood that they’ll get a chance to play.
Alfred Morris (Dal) – Morris won’t have much fantasy value unless Ezekiel Elliott misses time because of an injury, but if that’s the case than Morris is a top-15 back in all formats. The Cowboys have three weeks from Oct. 23 to activate Darren McFadden him and then another three weeks to decide whether to add him to the 53-man roster, and it is possible that he’s used in a 3rd down role if Zeke misses time, but Morris is the guy to have.
Benny Cunningham (LA) – He may not be a sexy choice, but if Todd Gurley goes down, Cunningham is a lock for 15+ touches each week with Malcolm Brown also in the mix. Cunningham returned to the lineup in Week 6 after missing time with a hamstring injury.
Ka’Deem Carey (Chi) – The Bears are riding rookie Jordan Howard right now, but Carey has started to factor in more coming off his hamstring injury. With Jeremy Langford (ankle) still out, Carey is the top backup behind Howard for now.
Cameron Artis-Payne (Car) – Jonathan Stewart was back in Week 6 off his hamstring injury, so CAP was back to being inactive. However, as we saw when Stewart was out of the lineup, CAP is the handcuff and the lead runner, and Stewart has a long history of injuries.
Tim Hightower (NO) – Hightower is currently the handcuff for Mark Ingram, as he’s the best option to handle early-down work among the Saint backups. We saw Hightower succeed as the top back in New Orleans last year after Mark Ingram went down late in the year.
The Obvious Choices/For Smaller Leagues
Cameron Meredith (Chi) – Meredith is the new #2 WR on the outside with Kevin White (leg) landing on the injured reserve. In Meredith’s first two starts, he’s posted 20/243/1 on 27 targets. In White’s first FOUR starts, he posted only 19/187/0 on 36 targets, so he’s been way better than the former #1 pick. He’s gone off the last two weeks, with consecutive 100-yard games, including an 11/113/0 receiving performance on 15 targets in Week 6 against the Jaguars, getting tackled at the 1 on one of his catches. He’s big receiver at 6’3”, 207 pounds, so he could develop into a red-zone weapon, and he has a pretty good set of wheels. Meredith is a former college QB at Illinois State, so he’s hardly a refined receiver in his second season. Still, opposing defenses are dead set on taking out Alshon Jeffery every week, so he’ll have a chance to produce playing with Brian Hoyer, who is playing well right now. Marquess Wilson (foot) is eligible to return in Week 7, but he’s still in a walking boot and doesn’t appear close to returning just yet.
Kenny Britt (LA) – Britt is the top target on the outside in this limited Rams passing game, and while Brian Quick has made noise lately, Britt’s still the most reliable option, and he’s caught at least 4 passes in all their games and he’s been 10+ points in PPR in 5 of his 6 games. Britt is on pace for 1,312 receiving yards in 2016. His current career high is 775 yards. Britt went nuts in Week 6, posting 7/136/2 receiving on 8 targets against the Lions, and he was stopped just short of the goal line going for a third TD. Britt hasn’t exactly been a consistent option in the past as primarily a big-play threat, and it doesn’t help that he’s playing in a limited passing offense, but it sure looks like he’s regained some of his form from his days with the Titans, and he now needs to be owned in all formats.
The Next Best Things
Mohamed Sanu (Atl) – Sanu is the #2 WR in this offense, but he’s at best the #4 offensive weapon behind Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, andTevin Coleman. Sanu did come through in a tough matchup against the Seahawks in Week 6, posting 5/47/1 receiving on a team-high 10 targets. He hasn’t done much to warrant lineup consideration, but we’re told that he’s probably been a lot more banged up than he and the team have let on. If that’s the case and he’s now healthier, there’s clear potential in this potent offense playing opposite Julio Jones, so pick up Sanu if he’s been dropped and let’s see what we see.
Chris Hogan (NE) – Hogan was predictably quiet with a shaky QB situation the first four weeks of the season, but he’s made some big plays for Tom Brady the last two weeks. However, he saw just 1 target in Week 6 against the Bengals, turning it into a 39-yard catch, so we can’t expect him to produce every week, although his 88% snap share against Cincy wasn’t a problem. He looks like a key receiver here, and his value will only go up if Julian Edelman succumbs to injury yet again, and/or if Rob Gronkowski misses more time. The guy gets open, and Brady will find him. He’s really their best option down the field and on the outside, so we’re fully expecting the big plays to continue.
Kendall Wright (Ten) – The Titans have absolutely no speed in their offense outside of Wright, so it’s not surprising that they are trying to get him more involved now that he’s finally healthy off his hamstring injury. He broke out against a bad Browns defense in Week 6, posting 8/133/1 receiving on 9 targets, scoring on a 48-yard pass from Marcus Mariota. Wright amazingly did this while playing only 35% of the snaps, so there’s room to grow in terms of his snap count. He did have just 3/23 receiving in first two games of the year, but he could be rounding into shape and he has the chance to Mariota’s second best target behind Delanie Walker with Tajae Sharpe vanishing and Andre Johnson looking like a slot TE out there.
Terrance Williams (Dal) – Williams is finally showing some signs of life, and that’s mostly without Dez Bryant. T-Will posted 4/75 receiving on 5 targets against the Packers in Week 6. He isn’t an ideal fit with Prescott’s dink-and-dunk style, but the rookie is getting a little more aggressive throwing it downfield, so Williams is back to being viable in non-PPR formats as he’s catching a high percentage of his passes these days. He really should be higher on this list based on his recent production, but we still don’t trust him fully, especially with the intriguing Brice Butler also involved. It does look like Bryant (knee) will be back after their Week 7 bye, so Williams will likely go back to being a secondary option for whoever is at QB. That could be a positive, though, as he’ll get better matchups.
Breshad Perriman (Bal) – Perriman is finally playing after missing his entire rookie season with a torn PCL. He’s rotated in behind starters Mike Wallace and Steve Smith, but he saw a bigger workload in Week 6 with Smith out of the lineup and played 67% of the snaps. Perriman finished with 3/48 receiving on 8 targets against the Giants, but he did make a downfield play. Perriman is still obviously a work in progress, but at least he’s finally healthy and contributing for this Ravens offense. He’s also a nice fit with the big-armed Joe Flacco, who wants to get the ball more vertical, which was why they fired Marc Trestman. He may not be ready to truly break out until 2017, since this is his rookie season for all intents and purposes, but he does stand out now on the WW for his pedigree alone.
Anquan Boldin (Det) – QB Matthew Stafford has a number of different weapons at his disposal, so Boldin isn’t going to put up huge numbers. Still, he could be a solid PPR option in deeper formats as the #3 WR here while Eric Ebron continues to have injury concerns. Boldin posted 8/60/1 receiving on 9 targets in Week 6 against the Rams, scoring on a goal-line target. Boldin is strictly a chain-mover at this stage in his career, but at least he should be good for a 4-5 catches most weeks, and he can score at any time. He’s looking especially appealing while Ebron is out of the lineup, and he played 85% of the snaps in Week 6. Boldin is in a great spot this week, too, with a good matchup in the slot with tough matchups for the outside WRs.
Quincy Enunwa (NYJ) – Enunwa has been involved in this passing game since the season opener, as they’ve been using him as a big slot receiver. He could have a huge role for the rest of the year too, with WR Eric Decker down for the season. Enunwa a is big-bodied (6’2”, 225 pounds) slot receiver with below-average athleticism and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is clearly most comfortable throwing inside the numbers to his big WRs. Enunwa has even lined up on the outside and made some big plays. He’s clearly going to be on the field a lot in Chan Gailey’s offense, as they don’t use the TE much and like to go empty backfield. Enunwa had only 5 targets and 3 receptions for 42 yards in Week 6, which was a disappointment. But he did play 93% of the snaps, and he will continue to be on the field a ton.
Cole Beasley (Dal) – Beasley had only had 4 targets his previous two weeks heading into Week 6, but he’s otherwise been quite active with Dak Prescott dinking and dunking passes in the early going. We do worry about his ability to hold up, but he’s going to be active, especially with Dez Bryant (knee) dealing with his injury. Beasley caught all 6 of his targets for 58 yards and 2 TDs against the Packers in Week 6. For as long as Prescott is in the lineup, it looks like Beasley will have some juice for PPR formats out of the slot, and he’s certainly clicked with Tony Romo in the past.
Brandon LaFell (Cin) – LaFell was one of the most inefficient WRs in football in 2015, but he’s been better in 2016. He finished with 2/13/1 receiving on 5 targets against the Patriots in Week 6, scoring on a 5-yard pass. The Bengals have other targets available outside of A.J. Green, and TE Tyler Eifert should finally return soon, and rookie Tyler Boyd was active in Week 6. But LaFell will see his fair share of targets each week. He has been playing ahead of Boyd in 2-WR sets, and he will usually get solid matchups playing alongside Green and he continues to play over 90% of the snaps.
Ty Montgomery (GB) – With James Starks (knee) out of the lineup and Eddie Lacy playing through an ankle injury, the Packers got the versatile Montgomery more involved. Lining up in the backfield and out wide, Montgomery posted 10/98 receiving on 12 targets and 3/6 rushing. He could continue to be a featured part of this offense with Starks out Thursday night, and #3 WR Davante Adams left Week 6 early with a head injury (concussion). He’s worth a speculative add if his role in this offense is going to continue to grow, especially since Adams hasn’t been a very consistent receiver the last two years and is likely out. The team traded for RB Knile Davis, but he just joined the team 10/18, so Montgomery could get a lot of touches again in Week 7 and is an upside play this week for sure.
Victor Cruz (NYG) – It doesn’t look like Cruz has missed nearly two years of action, as he seemingly picked up right where he left off before his injury in 2014. The big challenge now is for the Giant passing game to get out of its funk, and for Eli Manning to get Cruz involved. That’s obviously worrisome, but if they can turn things around there’s production to be had in this offense, and defenses are usually focused on slowing down Odell Beckham. He didn’t have a good game in week 6, but he played 100% of the snaps and did flash a little and had 7 targets and was very active near the goal with 2-3 plays in which he had a chance to score.
Robert Woods (Buf) – Woods’ role has grown significantly after the Bills placed Sammy Watkins (foot) in the IR. He came through in Week 6 against the 49ers, finishing with 5/44/1 receiving on 6 targets, scoring on a red-zone targets. Woods isn’t the easiest guy to trust because he’ll disappear from time to time playing with the erratic Tyrod Taylor, but he has PPR value with Watkins set to miss at least through Week 12. Woods is in a contract year and is best used when they face a team capable of scoring a lot of points most weeks. Woods had a walking boot on his right foot in the locker room following Sunday’s win over the 49ers, however. He suffered the injury just before the half and played through it, but he’s been in a boot this week so it’s not looking great (although he’s going to try to play).
Adam Humphries (TB) – Humphries emerged as the slot WR in training camp, and he’s now overtaken Vincent Jackson as the #2 target for Jameis Winston. Humphries has brought some stability to the middle of the field with Buccaneers searching for a TE to step up – they did cut Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Humphries finished with 9/100 receiving on 12 targets in Week 3 against the Rams, but one of the best CBs in the NFL Chris Harris shut him down out of the slot in Week 4 (1/4 on 4 targets), as expected. Mike Evans is clearly the top target in this offense, but there’s room for Humphries to carve out a role and be PPR relevant, especially with V-Jax seemingly taking a step back the last year. Humphries isn’t going to be much of a threat down near the red zone, but it looks like he’s going to catch a 4-6 passes every week, and his role appears to be on the upswing with Jackson on IR.
Going as Deep as Possible
Pierre Garcon (Was) – Garcon isn’t a vital part of this passing game any longer, as he’s battling Jamison Crowder for targets behind DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. With Reed (concussion) out of the lineup in Week 6, Garcon posted 6/77 receiving on a team-high 11 targets against the Eagles. Garcon still has some value in deep PPR formats as a chain-mover for Kirk Cousins. Also, rookie Josh Doctson (Achilles) is in danger of going on IR, which would be good news for Garcon.
Jamison Crowder (Was) – The slippery slot WR’s role has shrunk a bit since Week 1, but he’s still involved every week with Kirk Cousins. With Jordan Reed (concussion) out of the lineup in Week 6, Crowder posted 3/52/1 receiving on 4 targets against the Eagles. He’s competing for the ball with several good players, but he’s a nifty option out of the slot, and he will likely stay fairly busy most weeks, so he’s going to be viable in PPR formats most weeks. He should be even more active for as long as Reed is out of the lineup.
Eddie Royal (Chi) – Royal has battled a calf injury recently, and he’s now dealing with a turf toe injury suffered in Week 6. He remained the slot receiver with Cameron Meredith taking over on the outside the last two weeks. Royal has been surprisingly a good red-zone receiver in the past – he had 15 TDs with the Chargers in 2013-14 – and he’s also good for 4-5 catches each week at least while he’s healthy, playing with the capable Brian Hoyer. Teams are looking to take Alshon Jeffery out, and Royal is critical to their offense when healthy, so Royal’s a good bet to produce with Hoyer playing well if he’s healthy (of course, he’s not leading up to Week 7, and he’s out for the Thursday game).
Davante Adams (GB) – Adams is still making mistakes and dropping passes, but he’s also been their #3 WR, and he’s scored in three of their five games. Wideout Ty Montgomery did emerge as a threat to his playing time in Week 6, and Adams left early with a concussion. Adams is at worst in the mix in the red zone with better matchups than Jordy Nelson, but we’ll have to see if he can hold off Montgomery for playing time going forward and he’s 50/50 to play Week 7.
Dorial Green-Beckham (Phi) – The Eagles are looking for a WR to emerge to play with Jordan Matthews, and Nelson Agholor has done a decent job filling the role so far. However, the Eagles are pleased with DGB right now he has clear potential to be a dangerous red-zone threat with his size (6’5”, 237 pounds), and the Eagles are getting him more involved each week. Green-Beckham had just 1/23 receiving on 4 targets in Week 6 against the Redskins, with Carson Wentz completing just 11 passes. He could eventually be a non-PPR option if he starts to play more, and the Eagles certainly have a star in the making with Wentz at QB. DGB also played 81% of the snaps in Week 6, which is promising.
Torrey Smith (SF) – Smith has a little bit of life once again with Colin Kaepernick back in at QB. He got loose for a 53-yard TD against the Bills in Week 6, finishing with 3/76/1 receiving on 7 targets. Kap has a strong arm, so he’s going to take deep shots to Smith every week, making him a boom-or-bust option going forward. Just keep in mind his big play in Week 6 was lucky because it was a horrible throw.
Eli Rogers (Pit) – The Steelers are quite banged up at WR right now, with Markus Wheaton dealing with a shoulder injury and Sammie Coatesdealing with a broken left index finger and lacerated hand. Rogers is just getting back to 100% himself after sitting out Weeks 4-5 because of turf toe. With the Steelers passing game stuck in neutral in Week 6, Rogers posted just 4/35 receiving on 5 targets against the Dolphins. Coates and Wheaton are going to play on the outside going forward, so Rogers has the chance to be active in the middle of the field playing out of the slot and could get a slight bump if Landry Jones has to play 1-2 weeks.
Kamar Aiken (Bal) – WR Steve Smith left Week 5 with an ankle injury, so he could miss a chunk of time because of the injury. Aiken is the logical replacement for Smith because he’s much-better suited to play out of the slot than Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, but Perriman is expected to the biggest beneficiary of two team developments — the switch to OC Marty Mornhinweg and the injury to Smith Sr. (ankle). Aiken, however, did play a healthy 78% of the snaps in Week 6. He posted 4/64 receiving on 6 targets in Week 6 against the Giants, and he should have a promising role as long as Smith is out.
Marqise Lee (Jac) – Lee is healthy for now, and he’s making some noise as the #3 WR this season. You might forget that he’s a former second-round pick in 2014 – he actually went ahead of Allen Robinson in the second round that year – but numerous hamstring injuries have slowed his career. If Lee can actually stay healthy for a stretch, there’s no reason he can’t make some contributions in this passing game with Blake Bortles. Lee caught all 6 of his targets for 61 yards in Week 6 against the Bears. It looks like he’s emerging a bit, and he seems to click with Bortles believe it or not. He played 73% of the snaps in Week 6.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Min) – The Vikings are going out of their way to get 2013 first-round WR involved in the offense recently, using him out of the backfield and with some short passes. He posted 4/39/1 receiving on 6 targets and added 1/7 rushing against the Texans in Week 5. Patterson might not ever be a true weapon as a receiver, but it looks like OC Norv Turner is going to give him a few touches each week to get his playmaking ability involved.
Brian Quick (LA) – Quick isn’t exactly a young prospect at this point at 27 years old, but he’s once again flashing his immense skillset after struggling to recover from a nasty shoulder injury in 2015. He’s scored three times this season, and he’s gone for 50+ yards in four straight games. He caught all 5 of his targets for 61 yards in Week 6 against the Lions. HC Jeff Fisher praised Quick earlier this year saying that the game has slowed down for the fifth-year WR after a strong couple weeks of practice to start the season. He’s certainly never been a consistent player, but he’s developed into a key receiver on the outside across from Kenny Britt.
Ted Ginn (Car) – Ginn is seeing weekly deep balls and carries in this offense still, even with Kelvin Benjamin back in the lineup this season. He finished with 5/54 receiving on 8 targets in Week 6 against the Saints. Ginn could go off any given week, so he’s worth a reach play in non-PPR formats, but he’s not going to be very consistent. Benjamin has disappeared at times, which can’t be bad news for Ginn.
Tyler Boyd (Cin) – The rookie Boyd made waves with his performance in the preseason, but he’s been quiet early in the season. He finished with 4/79 receiving on 5 targets in Week 6 against the Patriots. He’s still behind Brandon LaFell in 2-WR sets, but he has more upside than the shaky LaFell. Boyd could take awhile to become a legit fantasy option, but there are certainly opportunities for targets in this offense.
Chris Conley (KC) – Conley has emerged as the #2 WR across from Jeremy Maclin, but that doesn’t mean he holds a ton of fantasy value in this conservative passing game. He posted just 3/26 receiving on 4 targets against the Raiders in Week 6. He’s not a great match with QB Alex Smith, as he’s more of a vertical type and Smith of course doesn’t like to cut it lose too much. Conley is starting to emerge some in his second year, but he’s more of a guy to keep an eye at this point.
The Obvious Choices/For Smaller Leagues
Hunter Henry (SD) – The talented rookie Henry showed very well for himself with Antonio Gates out of the lineup, and frankly he looks like an upgrade over the future Hall of Famer. Gates returned to the lineup in Week 5 against the Raiders, but Henry still made the bigger impact with 3/74/1 receiving on 4 targets, ripping off a 59-yard gain and scoring on a 1-yard pass. Henry was our favorite rookie TE coming into the season, and Gates looks even more sluggish than he has in recent years. Even with Gates back, Henry should see plenty of targets going forward and in Week 6 he went off and continued to look like a great draft pick and a wonderful fit for this offense. Henry played 68% of the snaps in Week 6 and posted a monster 6/83/1 on 8 targets, and he looks like a monster.
The Next Best Things
Tyler Eifert (Cin) – The Bengals clearly need him in the middle of the field on the receiver-poor Bengals. HC Marvin Lewis did say that they’ll ease Eifert into the lineup once he gets back, so he’s unlikely to play a full complement of snaps in his first game back. Eifert actually had a back issue that kept him out of the lineup in Weeks 5-6, but he was working this week so he’s closing in on a return.
Jack Doyle (Ind) – He’s been a large factor here all year, and while he had only 4 targets in Week 6, he caught all four for 53 yards and a TD and he looked pretty good doing it. Dwayne Allen is hurt yet again and should miss multiple weeks, so Doyle’s role is on the upswing. He’s a very sneaky add right now in all leagues, and he could be something of a savior in deeper leagues.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (Hou) – We’ve always liked him, but it’s been slow-going, obviously. He’s also been tough to back in 2016 because Ryan Griffin is still in the mix. Griffin did have 5 targets and 3/31 in Week 6, but he played only 31% of the snap. CJF played 62% of the snaps and caught the game-tying TD with less than a minute left in the game. His production and ascension has been impressive enough not to merit a long look as a TE pickup. He has the talent to continue to rise, for sure.
Charles Clay (Buf) – He seems to have responded to our “Once-a-Month Chuck” nickname and has come to life the last three weeks after OC Anthony Lynn said that they need to get Clay more involved. Clay led the Bills in receiving in Week 6, posting 5/52 receiving on 7 targets against the 49ers. QB Tyrod Taylor might not have a choice but to keep Clay active with Sammy Watkins (foot) landing on the IR. He’ll likely disappoint you if you use him, but he does have a chance to be active going forward.
Cameron Brate (TB) – The Buccaneers finally cut ties with troubled TE Austin “Nefarious” Jenkins, opening up a big role for Brate going forward. As the starter, Brate posted 5/67 receiving on 8 targets against the Broncos in Week 4, and that was on the heels of a 2-TD game in Week 3. Our guy Greg Cosell liked what he’s seen from the athletic Brate on film the last two years, and he’s suddenly in the streaming conversation, especially since Vincent Jackson’s role in this passing game has dwindled. We did see in Week 5 that he can’t do it every week, as he had only 1 catch (for 36 yards at least), but Jackson’s on IR so Brate’s value is likely on the rise. Updated: 10/18
Ladarius Green (Pit) – Green (ankle/head) is planning on returning when he’s first eligible in Week 7 against the Patriots, but the Steelers’ plans for him aren’t really known. He did warm up vigorously before the Week 6 and was reportedly moving well. He’ll need to beat Jesse James for playing time, who hasn’t added much to this passing game outside of being a big body in the red zone. The Steelers did give Green a fat contract in the off-season, so they could look to work him in more and more each week to bring even more athleticism to this receiving corps.
Jesse James (Pit) – James has taken over the Heath Miller role in this offense as the big target in the middle of the field for Ben Roethlisberger. With the Steelers passing game stuck in neutral in Week 6, James posted just 2/13 receiving on 3 targets against the Dolphins. He should remain a factor down by the end zone because of his size (6’7”, 261 pounds). For as long as Ladarius Green is out of the lineup, James is a streaming option who will likely need to score to come through for fantasy. However, Green claims to be feeling a lot better, and he could come off PUP list this week, so James could see his playing time dip.
Vernon Davis (Was) – Davis is only viable for as long as Jordan Reed is out of the lineup, but they could play it cautious with their star TE with his checkered history of concussions. Davis started and posted 2/50/1 receiving on 4 targets against the Eagles in Week 6, as fellow TE Niles Paul didn’t see a target. The Redskins will face off against a bad Lions defense this week, so he could be a low-end streamer if Reed is out again, which seems likely through Thursday’s practice (10/20).
Clive Walford (Oak) – The Raiders don’t exactly have a third option yet in their passing game behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and Walford is certainly in a position to succeed here with an improving quarterback in Derek Carr. Walford sat out Week 5 with a knee injury, but he returned in Week 6 and caught both of his targets for 25 yards against the Chiefs. He is a young receiver who is still improving, and he’d be in a better position to succeed if he could stay on the field the majority of the time.
Larry Donnell (NYG) – The Giants haven’t gotten very little production out of their TE spot this year, but Donnell has been the closest thing to fantasy relevant over Will Tye. Donnell posted 6/34 receiving on 7 targets in Week 6 against the Ravens after missing the previous week with a concussion. He’ll be competing with Tye for targets here, but at least he’s a big target for Eli Manning down near the end zone.
Lance Kendricks (LA) – Kendricks has had some success in the red zone in the past, and he scored his first TD of the season in Week 6. He finished with 5/34/1 receiving on 8 targets against the Lions, scoring on a 15-yard pass. He’ll likely need to score a TD to come through for fantasy, but at least he’s seeing weekly targets playing with QB Case Keenum.
Jacob Tamme (Atl) – Ultimately, Tamme is an ancillary player in a pretty good offense, one that looks like it’s starting to figure things out. That makes him viable off the Waiver Wire, but as an every-week start, he’s bound to disappoint. He’s come up very small recently, including in Week 6 against the Seahawks, posting 2/16 receiving on 3 targets. There are too many mouths to feed here, and in Tamme’s general area of the field, where he succeeds the most, the Falcons can get more explosive plays out of their running backs. That will keep him pretty inconsistent.
Adam Vinatieri (Ind) – He’s kicked 2, 2, 2, 2. 5, and 3 FGs on the season and is on a pace through six weeks to kick 42.6 FGs. Despite being on a shaky team, he should be used until proven otherwise.
Matt Bryant (Atl) – He’s off to a great start, kicking 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, and 1 FGs in his six games. Although Week 6 was his worst showing of the season, it’s fair to say the Falcon offense and team are legit at this point, so Bryant is a strong option kicking mostly indoors.
Mason Crosby (Min) – Other than his Week 2 game against the Vikings, Crosby has kicked 2, 2, 3, and 3 FGs, and he’s the #2 PK in fantasy the last two weeks. The offense is struggling greatly, but that seems to be helping his chances because they do move the ball, even with a struggling Aaron Rodgers.
Dustin Hopkins (Was) – He cooled off a little after a very hot start, but he was back with a solid 11 points in Week 6, and through six weeks he’s on pace for 40 FGs, so he’s viable for sure in a decent Redskin offense.
Source: Fantasy Guru
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