Week 8 is in the books, which means it’s time to supplement our fantasy rosters for the stretch run. In this week’s Waiver Wire FAAB Report, we’ll check in on several players whose performance, situations or usage changed for the better heading into Week 9.
The first player at each position will be a more widely available player to consider in standard 12-team leagues, with deep-league targets to follow. FAAB ranges will cover the following general guidelines:
- 0-1% FAAB: Can't hurt to roster if you have an open bench spot
- 2-10% FAAB: Immediate standalone value unlikely, but upside underrated
- 11-20% FAAB: Situation is great, and the player is trending up
- 21-35% FAAB: Player will be started in majority of leagues
- 36-50%+ FAAB: Serious change in workload that could lead to immediate high-end fantasy value
Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (10%)
The Denver Broncos’ passing offense has been a work in progress this season (to put it nicely). The team lost stud WR1 Courtland Sutton in Week 2, and various other talented skill players have missed time over the season’s first two months. Second-year QB Drew Lock went three straight starts without throwing a touchdown, missing two games with an injury along the way.
Lock is coming off a 248-yard, three-TD performance — both season highs — having led the Broncos to a come-from-behind win over the Los Angeles Chargers on a last-second toss to K.J. Hamler — the type of thing real-life QB1s are known for. Over the past two weeks, Lock has been unleashed to a degree, dropping back to pass 44 and 48 times after tallying only 34 and 28 during his two other full games this season.
The volume helped Lock finish as the QB7 in Week 8, though we have to consult the expected fantasy points metric to imagine such production over multiple weeks. Back in Week 6 — when the Broncos notoriously defeated the New England Patriots behind six Brandon McManus field goals — Lock registered the sixth-best expected fantasy point total (22.3). Underperforming such a metric by 17 fantasy points is not good, although it happened against the NFL’s third-best defense against fantasy quarterbacks. Week 7 was more of the same: Lock finished 13th in expected fantasy points but underperformed to the tune of QB22.
Lock has made eight big-time throws over the past three weeks — the guy can clearly make things happen in the passing game. But his six turnover-worthy plays (and five interceptions) have kept the second-year man from really turning heads in the fantasy realm.
Week 9 offers the perfect chance for Lock’s aggressive nature to win out. The Broncos visit the Atlanta Falcons, who allow the most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. Teddy Bridgewater and Matthew Stafford failed to light the Falcons up over the past two weeks with just one passing TD each, but over the previous six weeks opposing quarterbacks tallied the following number of passing TDs: 3, 2, 4, 4, 1 (plus three rushing TDs) and 4.
The Broncos visit the Raiders after their trip to Atlanta, another forgiving matchup. We’re not benching any top-12 fantasy signal-callers for the young gunslinger, but he’s a viable alternative for Joe Burrow this week and the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Matt Ryan in Week 10.
FAAB Recommendation: 2-3%
Indianapolis Colts RB Jordan Wilkins (1%)
Marlon Mack’s early-season injury appeared to set the stage for rookie second-rounder Jonathan Taylor to wreak havoc on fantasy opponents. The initial volume was encouraging, as Taylor garnered 16 red-zone carries and five rushes inside the 5-yard line from Weeks 2-6. He only managed an RB18 finish across those four weeks, but three rushing TDs and 10 receptions on as many targets foretold fantasy reliability to come.
Something apparently happened either during the Colts’ Week 7 bye or the first half of the team’s 41-21 dismantling of the Detroit Lions this week, because Taylor took a backseat to third-year RB Jordan Wilkins, who simply took over the early-down role in the second half. Wilkins ended up out-snapping Taylor 39-26 and turned 20 carries into 89 yards and a TD, with a 24-yard reception to boot. Taylor managed just 2.0 yards per carry on 11 totes on the day.
This is the exact type of situation we talked about monitoring last week — backup NFL running backs are typically more than capable of shouldering a starter’s workload. Colts quarterback Philip Rivers mentioned in a postgame interview that Taylor might have been dinged up, which could partly explain why Wilkins so thoroughly outplayed him — Wilkins earned a 68.1 PFF rushing grade for the week (16th among RBs with at least 10 carries) versus Taylor’s 51.1 (31st).
But there are other bad signs for Taylor: Wilkins forced five missed tackles on rushes, bringing his total to 18 on the season — Taylor hasn’t forced a missed tackle since Week 3. On the year, Wilkins has forced a missed tackle on over a third of his carries, while Taylor’s rate is only 7%.
This is likely not a changing of the guard. Taylor has No. 41-pick NFL Draft status, after all. But we have seen what the next chapter of this saga looks like, should it continue to unfold. Wilkins can handle the Colts’ early-down work and would be extremely valuable for fantasy purposes in that role. Scatback Nyheim Hines isn’t going anywhere — he blew up for two receiving scores on three catches this week.
However temporary, this was a significant workload shift that could have rest-of-season repercussions. The NFFC community certainly didn’t see it coming, with Wilkins rostered in only 16% of Online Championship leagues.
That’s sure to change this week. Wilkins is a priority handcuff for anyone rostering Taylor and a worthy lottery ticket for those with the means.
FAAB Recommendation: 15-20%
San Francisco 49ers RB Jamycal Hasty (42%)
Hasty has been snatched up in deeper leagues over the past few weeks, but he finally has a clear shot at RB1 usage ahead of Thursday night’s home tilt versus Green Bay. He certainly needs to be added in the half of Yahoo leagues where he is available.
We’ve detailed the undrafted rookie’s college credentials (5.8 yards per carry as a senior at Baylor; 25 receptions in each of his final three seasons) and have noted the fairly efficient production for the 49ers in spells over the past three weeks: 30 carries for 123 yards; two catches for 18; five missed tackles forced; one fumble (didn’t lose it).
Tevin Coleman returned in Week 8 from a lengthy absence but lasted only six snaps before tweaking the same knee that kept him out since Week 2. There is seemingly nowhere left for Kyle Shanahan to turn after teasing us with Hasty’s usage thus far. Jeff Wilson joined Raheem Mostert on the IR last week; Coleman won't play Thursday. Jerick McKinnon has been locked into passing-down work for a month.
The Green Bay Packers have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, and San Francisco will be without starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the foreseeable future. There’s always the potential for Green Bay to force the 49ers into comeback mode before an early-down RB can get his fair share of fantasy points. But after a month of moving parts in the S.F. RB room, Hasty appears to be on deck in a smash spot.
FAAB Recommendation: 15-20%
Seattle Seahawks RB DeeJay Dallas (25%)
Another potential handcuff with sky-high upside, rookie DeeJay Dallas emerged from the shadows of the Seattle RB hierarchy to post the RB4 performance of Week 8. The fourth-rounder out of Miami handled 18 of the team’s 20 rushes and out-snapped the dinged-up Travis Homer 54-7.
This was a Chris Carson-esque workload — and fantasy output — against the league’s toughest defense against fantasy RBs. Dallas had just 41 yards on 18 carries but managed to cross the goal line on the ground. And, like Carson, he did a little damage through the air as well, hauling in five catches (on five targets) for 17 yards and another TD.
This week’s visit to Buffalo is an intriguing spot should Dallas retain RB1 duties. Carson is still recovering from a Week 7 mid-foot sprain. PFF injury expert Mario Pilato noted that a Grade 1 sprain would cost the Seattle starter one week; a Grade 2 sprain could take up to five weeks to heal.
Anyone rostering Carson who bet on the wrong backup in past weeks will want to get in on the 5-foot-10, 215-pound rookie. Dallas wasn’t a prolific pass-catcher at The U, but he clearly possesses enough skills for Russell Wilson to look his way early and often. Let your appetite for navigating Seattle’s three-RB injury report guide your bidding this week.
FAAB Recommendation: 15-20%
Philadelphia Eagles WR Jalen Reagor (25%)
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Jalen Reagor in his first game back after suffering a thumb injury in Week 2. The 3-16-1 receiving line doesn’t jump off the page, but the rookie saw three red-zone targets — two in the end zone — and scored on a 2-yard TD grab. He also caught a 2-point conversion.
We already know Reagor is a legit deep threat for a team that just lost Desean Jackson. His 13.2 aDOT ranked 18th on the week even though it was dinged by the 2-yard TD catch. Reagor was on the field for 47 snaps compared to 60 and 59 for Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward, respectively, but no other Philly WR saw more than 10.
Savvy deep-leaguers already ran Reagor’s roster rate back to 100% in NFFC leagues, but those in 12-teamers need to get on board. We’ve only seen three games out of the electric first-rounder in 2020, and he’s flashed every time. The Eagles’ wide receiving group has been decimated by injuries for over a calendar year — a healthy Reagor is going to get all the work he can handle. Six targets and heavy red-zone usage after six weeks off is almost too good to be true.
The Eagles have a bye this week before a visit to the New York Giants, with Cleveland and Seattle after that. Find the space, make the add.
FAAB Recommendation: 20-25%
Chicago Bears WR Darnell Mooney (6%)
Mooney has quietly settled into a legitimate role within the Bears offense in recent weeks. The fifth-round rookie overtook Anthony Miller for WR2 duties long ago, topping out this week with 65 snaps and 45 routes run.
Mooney was finally able to make the most of the workload this week, bringing down five receptions and a touchdown on six targets en route to WR18 status. The blazing-fast rookie isn’t doing things the easy way, either — he has lined up wide on 79% of his snaps this season and owns the league’s 14th-highest aDOT (15.9) through eight weeks.
Unfortunately, the duo of passers targeting Mooney has been far from accurate, as he has seen only 28 catchable passes on 43 targets. Both Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky rank among the top eight in rate of uncatchable inaccurate passes this season. PFF’s Ian Hartitz put together this montage of inaccurate passes (sort of) heading Mooney’s way here:
Free Darnell Mooney pic.twitter.com/HZIaXwiUYm
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 28, 2020
Things aren’t always going to be pretty within the Bears offense, but Mooney has flashed downfield skills and established himself as the team’s WR2. Chicago’s schedule isn’t particularly attractive for WRs in the near-term, but the team gets the Houston Texans (Week 14) and Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 16) in the fantasy playoffs.
FAAB Recommendation: 4-6%
New England Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers (1%)
It’s tough to be overly excited about the New England Patriots passing attack after Cam Newton struggled again in Week 8 and the team ran the ball 34 times versus 32 dropbacks. The Patriots are averaging a paltry 192 passing yards per game through eight weeks — a bottom-four mark in the league.
Yet someone must catch the balls thrown further down the field than the Patriots RBs can run in three seconds or less. Julian Edelman is out with a knee injury, and N’Keal Harry missed Week 8 after suffering a concussion. He’s been largely ineffective anyway.
Second-year WR Jakobi Meyers picked up the slack this week with nine catches on 11 targets for 91 yards — it was the second straight game the former undrafted free agent led the team in all three categories. After barely seeing the field before Week 7, Meyers has split time almost evenly between the slot and out wide, racking up five explosive plays over two weeks with a respectable 13.2 aDOT.
Meyers seems to have usurped Damiere Byrd in the passing game’s pecking order. Byrd is running plenty of routes but has seen only 10 targets over the past three weeks. Meyers’ 81.6 PFF receiving grade was the seventh-best of Week 8, and he came in at 29th the week before (73.8).
This is, admittedly, a low-upside situation at the moment. Newton has thrown only one touchdown pass to a wide receiver so far in 2020. Still, there’s volume to be chased here and visits to the forgiving defenses of the New York Jets and Houston Texans in two of the next three weeks.
FAAB Recommendation: 1-2%
Detroit Lions WR Marvin Hall (0%)
Kenny Golladay left Sunday’s game with a hip injury, opening the door once again for fifth-year journeyman Marvin Hall to function as the team’s downfield threat. Back in Week 2 with Golladay nursing a hamstring, Hall stepped in and caught a 24-yard touchdown on two targets.
Hall did much more than that on Sunday, running a season-high 33 routes and catching four passes on six targets for 113 yards. The 27-year-old has been sporadically breaking off big plays downfield all season — six of his eight receptions on the year have qualified as explosive plays (15 or more yards). He’s averaging an absurd 28.3 yards per route run, an 18.8 aDOT and has brought down two contested catches on three opportunities.
At 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Hall resembles Kenny Golladay about as much as Matt Patricia does Tim Allen. He's not going to be winning at the catch point like Babytron — he'll need to get behind defenses to make plays. Hall is averaging just 1.4 yards after the catch per reception and hasn’t made a defender miss this year.
Still, we’ve seen Matthew Stafford’s willingness to push the ball downfield. Hall’s 33 routes on Sunday nearly matched his entire season-long total. Golladay is likely out for a week or two, potentially longer. If Hall continues to see this type of volume, big plays are likely to follow.
FAAB Recommendation: 2-4%
Indianapolis Colts WR Marcus Johnson (1%)
The Colts lost T.Y. Hilton to a groin injury this week, though the veteran receiver’s targets didn’t immediately flow down the depth chart. By the time Hilton left the game in the third quarter, Indy had a sizable lead and largely iced away the game on the ground. After going 17-for-22 with three passing TDs in the first half, Philip Rivers only dropped back 13 times in the second half.
Johnson didn’t ball out by any means. In fact, his PFF receiving grade fell after a couple of solid weeks thanks in part to a dropped pass on only four targets. Johnson’s two receptions, however, went for 18 and 21 yards, bringing his season-long total of explosive pass plays to seven on 15 targets.
Zach Pascal is the most likely WR to take over slot duties for however long Hilton is out, leaving Johnson and rookie Michael Pittman on the outside. This isn’t a high-octane passing attack by any means, but Johnson has won downfield in his limited spots (15 targets). In the four weeks Johnson has been active, he ranks 11th in aDOT (17.4), fifth in yards per target (15.1) and eighth in yards per reception (19.3). These are all inflated by the small sample size, but 11 catches on 15 targets that deep is also quite efficient.
Next week against Baltimore is no time to fire up a deep threat connected to the arm of Philip Rivers. But Johnson is a name to monitor as Indianapolis recalibrates its passing game with Hilton out.
FAAB Recommendation: 1-2%
Houston Texans TE Jordan Akins (2%)
Third-year TE Jordan Akins was in the midst of a solid start to the 2020 season before suffering both an ankle injury and a concussion during the team’s Week 4 game against Minnesota. Through three-plus games, Akins had brought down 14 passes on 15 targets for 168 yards and a touchdown. His 5.93 yards after contact per reception ranked eighth among tight ends with more than five receptions.
In his absence, Darren Fells racked up 142 yards and two touchdowns over two weeks before turning in a goose egg in Week 7. Houston’s offense can clearly support a TE1, though it’s much easier when there’s only one option.
Akins was the preferred passing-game option before the injuries. Over the first three weeks of the season, the former third-rounder ran 99 routes compared to Fells’ 30. Akins’ aDOT was relatively shallow at 5.4, but that speaks to the team’s willingness to put the ball in his hands to let him make plays. He forced three missed tackles on 11 receptions through three games and hauled in his only contested target.
PFF’s Andrew Erickson spelled out the preseason argument for Akins as a third-year TE breakout candidate. With elite after-the-catch skills at 6-foot-4 and 243, Akins is a mismatch in many facets. Fells’ red-zone skills are a hindrance, but this scenario looked like it was favoring the younger, more athletic TE early on. Deshaun Watson has now hit these two for a combined 13 TEs since the beginning of 2019 (Fells 10, Akins 3).
With George Kittle the latest early-round TE to dispense from the fantasy map, you can do worse than toss a little coin at Akins ahead of the Texans’ visit to Jacksonville, which has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to TEs on the season.
FAAB Recommendation: 2-4%