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The Waiver Wizard Week 10
Having written this column for several years, I can say with all honestly that the NFL is cyclical in its core, down to the very nature of each week. Looking back, each year presents a “rookie receivers breaking out”, “star quarterbacks underperformed” or “running backs suffered devastating injuries” week, without fail. There is always a week when elite offenses seemingly sputter at the same time, or upsets end up ruining everyone’s survivor pools.
My least favorite week? The “those points helped absolutely no one” week. By far.
Welcome to Week 9.
C.J. Stroud, Joshua Dobbs (fresh off of being traded and beginning as the backup due to unfamiliarity with the playbook) and Barker Mayfield were some of the top scoring options at quarterback. Rachaad White, Keaton Mitchell and Alexander Mattison were some chart-toppers for running backs. Tank Dell, Noah Brown, Jalen Tolbert and Odell Beckham Jr. were some standouts at receiver. The icing on the cake was at tight end, with Dalton Schultz, Cole Kmet, Jonnu Smith, Jake Ferguson and Cade Otton being the poster children.
Sometimes, you just can’t win folks. The absurd number of players who were on bye did not help thanks in part to the league’s questionable schedule-making decisions, so this is simply a week to forget. Yes, there were a few names who stuck out that I feel will have relevance moving forward, but as a whole this was a fluky Joe Dolan-esque “sick of it” feel to it.
Lets dive in.
Joshua Dobbs (16 percent rostered) – Dobbs lead a furious comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, and was forced into duty due to the incumbent Jaren Hall (concussion) early on. After joining Minnesota on Wednesday after his trade from Arizona, Dobbs didn’t have much time to acclimate himself to the playbook, so he began the afternoon as the backup. An early blunder by allowing a safety in the end zone and a lost fumble was difficult to watch, but he certainly righted the ship. Dobbs completed 20-of-30 attempts for 158 yards and two scores, adding another 66 yards on the ground with a touchdown for good measure. His rushing upside is a major boon, and the soon return of Justin Jefferson will only further entrench his status as a back-end QB1 for the remainder of the season. Minnesota has some juicy matchups against New Orleans, Denver and Chicago upcoming.
FAAB: Dobbs is worth a $7-10 investment for teams that are looking to shore up the position, or if they have a starter (such as Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts) that hasn’t had a bye week yet.
Derek Carr (34 percent rostered) – Carr is a pickup that won’t necessarily win you a week outright, but it will prevent you from getting a donut for the week at the position. Since Week 5, Carr has thrown eight touchdowns to just two interceptions, and has completed over 65 percent of his passes during that span. He brings zero rushing upside to the table which hinders his overall ceiling, but as a one week “why not” option for team struggling to roster a full team in Week 10 (Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts are all on bye), he makes for a reasonable pivot option. Carr has enough weapons around him to put up a 250-2 game next week against Minnesota, which is serviceable enough to consider in a pinch.
FAAB: Carr is worth a $5-7 investment for teams with quarterbacks on a bye in Week 10. View him as the short-term band-aid pickup for the week, with Dobbs being the longer-term play.
Keaton Mitchell (1 percent rostered) – Mitchell put together a Devon Achane-esque performance on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, during Baltimore’s decisive 37-3 victory. Though he didn’t receive many overall touches, he made the most of his opportunities, piling up 138 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. With Gus Edwards operating as the team’s short-yardage and goal line option, Mitchell mainly saw carries between the 20’s. Outside of Cleveland, no team in the NFL enjoys running the ball as much as Baltimore, and the Ravens have ridden their ground game to an 7-2 record atop the AFC North. I’d expect more of the same when it comes to Mitchell – volume will be an issue, and his diminutive frame (just 5’9, 191 lbs.) suggests that he isn’t built for every-down usage. That said, I expect him to begin sapping snaps away from Justice Hill, with Edwards continuing to operate as the thumper. This might be a scenario best described as “I’m willing to spend a few bucks to add him as depth to my bench, but not necessarily trust him as an every week starter quite yet”. That said, I’d rather add him now before he blows up again and costs three times as much to acquire.
FAAB: Mitchell is worth a $3-5 investment as an upside stash for a Baltimore team that enjoys pounding opponents into submission. I expect him to eat into Justice Hill’s share as the 1B option to Gus Edwards.
Ty Chandler (1 percent rostered) – You folks wanted a deep suggestion, so here goes nothing. Cam Akers appeared to suffer another Achilles injury in Week 9, after he was beginning to usurp Alexander Mattison in Minnesota. His season-ending injury brings Chandler back into the limelight, for a team that is desperate to rack up wins and stay in playoff consideration. Mattison has yet to score a rushing touchdown this entire season, and has averaged just 3.6 YPC. Chandler, a former fifth-round selection in 2022 from North Carolina, is now waiting in the wings and could be one of the season’s sneakiest pickups. For teams who are currently looking ahead to the playoffs and wishing to take a dart-throw that could pay off in the long run, he is certainly worth considering. Chandler has a very limited portfolio to draw conclusions from in the NFL, but he does possess elite speed (he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at his Combine) and is a one-cut and go runner.
FAAB: Chandler is worth a minimum bid as a high-upside stash for a Minnesota team that has struggled running the ball all year, and is looking for some spark in the backfield.
Jalen Tolbert (1 percent rostered) – This is another example of a player that I’m willing to play the long-game on, to see if they develop into a more prevalent role. I’ll be honest – the receiving position doesn’t have many waiver-wire standouts this week, but Tolbert is someone who I have been keeping an eye on for a while. Tolbert was drafted in the third-round last year from South Alabama, but was buried in the depth chart behind Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks. Prior to this week, he hadn’t caught a pass since the Cowboys Week 4 contest against New England, so he was more or less forgotten for Fantasy purposes. Tolbert ended up playing a major role this past weekend in the team’s 28-23 loss to Philadelphia, securing 3-of-5 targets for 49 yards and a touchdown. Both Gallup and Cooks have done little to separate themselves, which has given Tolbert the opportunity to see an increased snap share of late. Again, he is a long-term investment with upside. Treat him as such.
FAAB: Tolbert is worth a minimum bid as a long-term play for a Cowboys team that enjoys throwing the ball as much as anyone. As he continues to earn the trust of Dak Prescott, he should become a bigger part of their offense.
Kyle Phillips (1 percent rostered) – Sometimes when a switch happens under center, the focal point of an offense can change in an instant. With Ryan Tannehill sidelined for the immediate future while recovering from a nasty ankle injury, Will Levis’ presence has allowed Tennessee to run a more balanced offense. Levis has demonstrated a clear connection with Phillips, who led the Titans in receiving yards and receptions this past Thursday (4/68). DeAndre Hopkins should still be the straw that stirs the drink at receiver, but Phillips is an outstanding route runner with chain-moving potential, operating as the underneath presence. The Titans have fallen to a 3-5 record, and it makes all the sense in the world for them to continue playing Levis rather than Tannehill, to provide the rookie with plenty of experience for his sophomore season. Phillips, a 5’11, 190 lb. slant specialist, is worth a look in deep formats.
FAAB: Phillips is worth a minimum bid while Levis remains under center for Tennessee. Understand what he is – a volume-based Danny Amendola clone.
Luke Musgrave (17 percent rostered) – One might wonder why Musgrave makes the cut this week over other options such as Cade Otton, Jonnu Smith or Taysom Hill. Simply put, I trust his ability to stay relevant each week over theirs. Tight end this week, to put it mildly, was infuriating. I’m sifting through the mirages. Musgrave has four or more targets in three of his past four games, and caught a touchdown for the first time this year last week. The Packers have already passed their bye, which means that he will be available moving forward. Playing on a Green Bay team that isn’t expected to make the playoffs, but will be forced to pass to stay competitive in contests plays right into his wheelhouse. Musgrave hasn’t had the same breakout as Sam LaPorta or Michael Mayer yet, but he appears on the verge, and I’d prefer to be ahead of the curve. Green Bay’s upcoming schedule is difficult (@PIT, LAC, @DET, KC), and I expect them to be playing from behind often.
FAAB: Musgrave is worth a $5-7 investment for Fantasy managers looking to secure depth at the position. Treat him as a TE2 with upside.