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The Waiver Wizard Week 9
The Waiver Wizard Week 9
Usually when sitting down to write this weekly column, I would ordinarily spend about the same amount of time covering each positions top pickups and providing insight as to their relevance, both long and short-term.
Then weeks happen like this past one, where seemingly body-blow after body-blow was dealt to the quarterback spot, forcing managers to scramble for backup options around their league. The bevy of injuries is further complicated by the NFL’s heinous bye-week schedule for Week 9 (I’ll still never understand why they don’t spread this out better), with Trevor Lawrence, Brock Purdy, Jared Goff and Russell Wilson all sitting out.
Should you find yourself in the unenviable position of having Kirk Cousins (and to a lesser extent, Matthew Stafford, Tyrod Taylor or Kenny Pickett) as your starting option, thankfully there are some alternatives to consider that will not require trading for. Let’s dive in.
Will Levis (1 percent rostered) – Levis is the no-brainer endorsement of the week at the position, after he dazzled in his rookie debut for Tennessee. Though originally expected to split time with Malik Willis under center, Levis was the only player to actually throw a pass. He completed 19-of-29 attempts for 238 yards and four touchdowns, adding in 11 additional rushing yards. The Titans must be thrilled at how he remained poised under pressure, and how the presence of his big arm opened up an otherwise dormant aerial attack for the team. One can criticize Levis for always looking for the home-run ball, but given how officials dish out defensive pass interference calls coupled with the play-making ability of DeAndre Hopkins and Treylon Burks, having Levis under center really opens things up. The Titans still called more runs than pass plays, but Levis played admirably enough. Assuming the team doesn’t trade anyone at the deadline (most notably Derrick Henry), Levis has enough weapons surrounding him to generate streaming appeal.
FAAB: Levis is worth a $10-15 investment for teams looking to shore up the position after the apocalypse that was Week 8. He is an immediate streamer in deeper formats, with upside galore.
Sam Howell (30 percent rostered) – Howell has been featured in this column before, but after his massive performance against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, this is officially your last opportunity to grab him. In a more competitive game than most imagined, Washington was able to keep pace with the division-leading Eagles thanks largely in part to the arm of Howell. The Commanders finally remembered that Jahan Dotson actually exists, and opted for a pass-heavy approach. Howell completed 39-of-52 attempts for 397 yards and four touchdowns, one each to his top options. Howell has thrown for at least two touchdowns in three of the last four games, and adds in a small additional floor of rushing upside. His upcoming schedule is extremely difficult (@NE, @SEA, NYG, @DAL, MIA), but the Commanders will need to keep throwing in order to remain in games. On the season, Howell is inside the top-10 at the position – his rostership will need to reflect that soon.
FAAB: Howell is worth a $10-15 investment, and is my preferred pickup at the position entering Week 9. Howell has his short-comings (taking too many sacks, especially), but offers enough upside to warrant consideration in any size league.
Devin Singletary (33 percent rostered) – At some point, Houston will just need to give up the ghost on the Dameon Pierce experiment this year. It is difficult to pinpoint why Pierce has struggled so much to get going, considering that he has still received plenty of volume, but he has had a very difficult time finding holes to run through or generating yards after contact. Pierce has yet to eclipse 81 rushing yards in any game, and has 50 or less yards on the ground in 5 of his first 7 starts. In contrast, Singletary is the better receiving option of the two, and has shown in the past plenty of explosiveness when afforded the opportunity. Houston has outperformed expectations so far this season, but is over-reliant upon the arm talent of C.J. Stroud to keep them in contests. A shift to Singletary should be coming soon, and I’d rather be ahead of the curve if possible.
FAAB: Singletary is worth a $5-7 investment in deeper leagues, especially in PPR formats. At this point he is the better option over Pierce.
Tyjae Spears (36 percent rostered) – Attempting to predict the NFL’s trade deadline is nearly impossible – lets throw that out first and foremost. That said, rumors have been swirling for weeks about the Titans fielding calls on dealing away Derrick Henry (most notably to the Baltimore Ravens). Should that scenario come into fruition, Spears would obviously be the biggest benefactor, and would stand to double (or more) his weekly touches. What Tennessee will do is difficult to envision. The team played much better with rookie Will Levis under center, but a subpar 3-4 record in the AFC South has them multiple games behind Jacksonville. One has to figure that at best they would be playing for a wild card, but realistically doesn’t have the horses to keep up with the top teams in the conference. This is a speculative pickup worth making.
FAAB: Spears is worth a $5-7 investment in all formats, both as Henry insurance and as a proactive pickup with the trade deadline right around the corner.
Demario Douglas (2 percent rostered) – Douglas’ final stat line of 5 receptions for 25 yards on Sunday aren’t going to jump off the page for most, but his inclusion here is more about the scenario that he will find himself in, starting in Week 9. Tyquan Thorton was a healthy scratch last week. DeVante Parker left Sunday after sustaining a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit. Kendrick Bourne left the game with a right knee injury, and is slated to undergo an MRI on Monday afternoon to determine the extent of damage to his ligaments (it is expected to be an MCL sprain that will keep him out for multiple weeks). Simply put, Douglas is the last-man standing for New England in a locker room bereft of talent at the position. Traditionally I’ve been hesitant about endorsing Patriots players due to their unpredictable outcomes, but this situation screams for attention.
FAAB: Douglas is worth a $3-5 investment in deeper formats for those looking to shore up depth at the position.
Khalil Shakir (1 percent rostered) – Shakir broke out during Thursday Night’s 24-18 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching all six of his targets for 92 yards. Seeing more snaps in the absence of Dawson Knox, Shakir will look to keep the upward trend continuing with a pending shootout against Cincinnati in Week 9. Josh Allen is as locked-in as ever at the moment, and while Shakir finds the field in “11 personnel” sets, he should see enough targets to warrant consideration. A former fifth round pick from Boise State, Shakir’s speed is a nice compliment to Stefon Diggs and Dalton Kincaid working under routes.
FAAB: Shakir is worth a $3-5 investment in deeper formats as a bye-week FLEX option.
Trey McBride (8 percent rostered) – I don’t want to say I told you so, and I’m far from being the only person to recommend McBride entering last week but holy smokes, what a performance. FINALLY stepping out of the shadow of Zach Ertz, McBride went ballistic on Sunday, catching 10 passes for 95 yards and a score on 14 targets. Arizona’s struggles running the ball in the absence of James Conner have propelled the Cardinals into more of a pass-heavy approach, to the benefit of McBride. He will face stiffer competition against the Cleveland Browns in Week 9, before the schedule opens up considerably the remaining time that Ertz is recovering (ATL, @HOU, LAR afterwards). McBride has the upside to routinely finish within the top 7 at the position, and he needs to be a priority addition this upcoming week for all managers in all formats.
FAAB: McBride is worth a $15-20 investment in most formats, capable of shoring up an otherwise thin tight end position.