The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 8 2020
With record turnouts at the polls expected throughout the country on November 3rd and precious little free time in my schedule to spare, I spent the better portion of my last Tuesday morning waiting in line at my town's local rec center, ready to cast my ballot. Even though the process took more time than usual due to the crowd, I was proud to let my voice be heard. I'm not going to get into politics here, nor should I (the aim of this article is to discuss Fantasy Football, after all). However, I did want to remind our readers to take the time to fulfill your civic duty - no matter which candidate you support. I have little doubt that next Tuesday will be insanely busy for many, fingers crossed our country sets an all-time record for submissions.
Week 7 is officially in the books, and it was highlighted by injuries to star players and insane statistical performances. The aforementioned injuries will directly lead to lasting opportunities for players that are widely available on the waiver wire - I'll discuss those in depth below.
All that said, let's quickly review each game and touch upon players that I'm willing to endorse moving forward.
Eagles 22, Giants 21
Good Lord, it is painful to be a New York fan. Even though both teams came into this contest with middling records, the outcome of this game would help shape the playoff picture for the woeful NFC East. In typical fashion, the Giants squandered major opportunities late in the game - most notably a lengthy quarterback run by Daniel Jones that should have resulted in a touchdown where the turf monster snagged his shoestring, and a dropped pass that went directly through the hands of Evan Engram that would have sealed the game. Jones continues to lead the Giants in rushing every week, and to make matters worse Devonta Freeman left in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Wayne Gallman played well in his absence, especially as an outlet for Jones in the passing game.
Boston Scott was largely ineffective in this game, and owners who are only looking at his final Fantasy points total are missing the larger picture. Held in check throughout the course of the game, Scott's day was salvaged at the last second with a 20-yard touchdown reception where safety Jabril Peppers somehow didn't make a play on the ball. Travis Fulgham continues to look every bit the part of a WR1 for the team, and came away with double-digit targets for the third straight week. No Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz led to a massive target share for Richard Rodgers, who caught six passes for 85 yards in a spot-start.
Waiver Wire targets: Wayne Gallman would be an upside RB3 if Freeman were to miss time with his injury. He's a capable pass-catcher and is widely available in all formats.
Lions 23, Falcons 22
Speaking of atrocious ways to lose a game - somehow Atlanta continues to find embarrassing ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. With the game all but sealed, all Todd Gurley had to do was fall down after getting a first down to clinch the win. Instead the astute Detroit defense parted the seas and let him score a touchdown, forcing one additional possession. Matthew Stafford made the most of their final chance, driving down the field and throwing a score to T.J. Hockenson with no time left. Falcons fans - woof. You have little to hang your hat on currently.
De'Andre Swift has continued his ascension as the back to own in Detroit - one truly wonders why the heck it took this long. Swift is a much more explosive, dynamic runner than Adrian Peterson, and is a dual-threat in the passing game. Hopefully owners bought low on him earlier when given the chance. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. power this offense, which continues to lean heavily on the arm of Stafford to keep competitive.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Browns 37, Bengals 34
Fantasy points galore! This game at first take seemed like it could be a blowout, with Joe Mixon forced to miss action and ho-hum backup Giovani Bernard entering as his replacement. Instead, Cleveland and Cincinnati battled back and forth all afternoon, and each quarterback played exceptionally well. For Cincinnati, Joe Burrow continues to impress me and his long-term outlook is sky high. Burrow is playing well enough to support all three receivers in Tyler Boyd (11/101/1), A.J Green (7/82) and Tee Higgins (5/71/1). Burrow's ability to add additional value on the ground is just icing on the cake.
Where has this Baker Mayfield been all year? Not only did Mayfield play well, he did so without Austin Hooper (appendectomy) and Odell Beckham Jr. missing the second half of the game after tearing his ACL. Mayfield found rookie tight end Harrison Bryant twice in the end zone, and further spread the ball around to Rashard Higgins (6/110), Donovan Peoples-Jones (3/56/1). Color me impressed. Kareem Hunt totaled more than 100 all-purpose yards and continues to be a plug-and-play RB1.
Waiver Wire targets: OBJ's injury obviously opens up targets - I'd expect Higgins to be the largest beneficiary as a downfield threat. Peoples-Jones made a phenomenal highlight reel catch to win the game, but I can't envision a major role for him going forward. Should Hooper miss an additional week while recovering, Bryant is a TE streamer to target in 12-team leagues or larger.
Steelers 27, Titans 24
And then there was one. With Seattle losing in the Sunday Night game, Pittsburgh becomes the final undefeated team in the league. The return of Diontae Johnson was the biggest story for Pittsburgh, as he immediately led the team with 15 targets, resulting in a solid 9/80/2 line. Juju Smith-Schuster returned to life, catching nine passes for 85 yards on 14 targets, while rookie standout Chase Claypool saw just one target somehow. Yikes. Johnson's presence definitely hurts the continued breakout chances of Claypool. Johnson did come away with yet another injury in this game, but early reports suggest that it isn't serious and he isn't in danger of missing Week 8.
The return of Corey Davis cut down targets for both Jonnu Smith and A.J. Brown. Owners shouldn't forget that Brown was a big-play threat rather than a possession-based receiver in his rookie year. I'd expect a return to that role with Davis and Smith working underneath when necessary. Davis actually led Tennessee with 10 targets, including multiple shots in the end-zone. Owners who dropped Davis during his time on the COVID list may be regretting that.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Saints 27, Panthers 24
I glanced at an interesting statistic on Twitter that this was the first game in NFL history where both quarterbacks completed more than 80 percent of their attempts, which each throwing for more than 250 yards. Efficiency at its finest! In a winning effort and without the services of Michael Thomas (hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID), Brees found a new favorite target in rookie Marquez Callaway. It was assumed that Tre'Quan Smith would benefit the most as he had flashed in prior weeks, but Smith was largely held in check while Callaway and Alvin Kamara moved the ball underneath. Brees is playing fine, but it is painful to watch him continually throw checkdown after checkdown rather than ever taking a shot downfield.
For Carolina, Mike Davis was completely bottled up in this game on the ground, rushing for a paltry 12 yards on seven attempts. With the Panthers largely playing from behind this week and the Saints taking chunks off of the clock each possession, the team was forced to rely on the arm of Teddy Bridgewater. Ouch. D.J. Moore came away with two touchdowns in this contest (including a 74-yard play where he torched the defense) but still only had five targets. His overall usage is puzzling. The return of Curtis Samuel (6/48 through the air and a five-yard rushing score) severely hampers both Moore and Robby Anderson.
Waiver Wire targets: Samuel is currently floating around 30-percent ownership on ESPN - that number needs to be higher considering that he is used all over the field and is an obvious favorite of the coaching staff. I'd add him in 12-team leagues or deeper as a FLEX.
Bills 18, Jets 10
Once again, there is little to discuss on the New York side of the ball. Sam Darnold continues to play poorly, the coaching staff continues to give Frank Gore the ball for no reason at all, and they are dealing with a myriad of injuries. Jamison Crowder missed this contest, forcing rookie Denzel Mims to be the de-facto top receiving threat. Unless Crowder returns, I wouldn't start anyone on Gang-Green.
For as hot as Josh Allen started the season, he has begun to struggle mightily. The Jets defense should have posed little threat, yet Allen couldn't get anything going. With Devin Singletary struggling early, Buffalo leaned on rookie Zach Moss, who immediately appeared more explosive, especially as a receiver. Cole Beasley once again led the team in targets with 12, securing 11 catches for 112 yards. Beasley has been fantastic in PPR formats this year. Stefon Diggs came out of the game at one point, but was able to return later on.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Washington 25, Dallas 3
Part of me wants to feel bad for Dallas, since they are dealing with a horrific number of injuries at key positions. Then I remember that they hired Mike McCarthy as a coach, so issues like being unprepared each week and a lack of creativity on offense should have been foreseen. To Washington's credit, they were able to FINALLY feed Antonio Gibson - who subsequently rewarded them with a 20 carry, 128 rushing yard and a score effort. Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic were still (annoyingly) involved, but thankfully less so than in prior weeks. Terry McLaurin routinely torched the Dallas secondary, much to no one's surprise.
Dallas suffered another injury at quarterback, with Andy Dalton getting absolutely obliterated on a cheap shot by linebacker Jon Bostic. Dalton was relieved by Ben DiNucci, who I've never heard of prior to this week. With Dalton in the concussion protocol, it will be a race against time to see if he can pass through the league's tests prior to Sunday. If DiNucci were forced to start, the Philadelphia Eagles defense would the top streaming choice of the week. Though Amari Cooper still had a decent day, both CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup came away with zero receptions.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Packers 35, Texans 20
Welcome back to relevance, Aaron Rodgers. After Week 6's dud performance Rodgers came out on a mission, completing 23 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns. The fact that Green Bay was able to put up 35 points and absolutely manhandle Houston without Aaron Jones starting speaks volumes. Jamaal Williams assumed the starting role and played exceptionally well, compiling more than 100 all-purpose yards on 23 touches. To be fair, he had plenty of running room with the Houston defense attempting to triple and quadruple-team Davante Adams - and failing miserably. Adams finished with 13 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
With Houston playing from behind this once again turned into the DeSean Watson show, with Watson attempting 39 passes to just 22 rushing attempts total. David Johnson did little on the ground, but made up for it offensively with a receiving score. Randall Cobb had his best game of 2020 against his former team, but I wouldn't look too much into this performance. I'd still rank Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks comfortably ahead of him each week.
Waiver Wire targets: None
Buccaneers 45, Raiders 20
The Pirate Bowl! Truth be told this battle was never particularly close. Tom Brady had his way with the Raiders defense, passing to any receiver that he wished all evening long. Rob Gronkowski continues to expand his role each week, and I thought that he appeared much spryer than in prior contests. His touchdown reception was a thing of beauty in the face of the defender. For those who haven't observed this earlier - when Chris Godwin is on the field and healthy, Mike Evans suffers greatly. To put it mildly, if this is what happens to Evans prior to Antonio Brown showing up - they might as well trade him. Please don't get me started on Scotty Miller. Please.
This was a game to forget for the Raiders, starting with Josh Jacobs. Sure, the offensive line had limited practice this last week while sorting through COVID issues - that doesn't excuse an effort like this. Also - following the NFL Draft everyone was talking about the explosiveness of this Las Vegas offense with Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards - where the heck have they been? Kudos to Nelson Agholor for being the lone wideout to show up consistently of late. Darren Waller remains a top-5 option. I get that folks aren't sure about adding Agholor because of his dropsies in the past, but this is his third straight game with a score.
Waiver Wire targets: Agholor is somehow owned in just two percent of leagues - that number is egregiously low.
Chiefs 43, Broncos 16
This game wasn't as close as the score suggests. Which says something, since statistically speaking this was the worst game of Patrick Mahomes season. Drew Lock kept throwing to the wrong team, and the Kansas City defense scored multiple touchdowns en route to this rout. The Chiefs statistics on paper are paltry to be sure - but keep in mind that they didn't have to do ANYTHING other than let the clock run. I wouldn't read too much into anything statistically here. The weather was also awful, which played a part.
Phillip Lindsay left this contest with a concussion, which is a shame since he was destroying the Chiefs defensive front play after play. Melvin Gordon's pending suspension due to a DUI hangs mightily here. No further news has been brought forward at this point. Tim Patrick and Noah Fant were quiet - Fant didn't seem 100 percent AT ALL in this game. He took to Twitter later on saying that he needed to play better, but his poor statistical performance was due to Lock, not him.
Waiver Wire targets: If Fant suffered a setback, Missouri rookie Albert Okwuegbunam could be considered an option to stream at tight end in 14-team or larger leagues.
49ers 33, Patriots 6
Anyone that follows me on Twitter knows what I'm immediately going to start off with here.
I hate Kyle Shanahan. With Raheem Mostert out it was widely expected to be Jerick McKinnon's backfield - as was the case earlier this year. A further assumption was that rookie JaMycal Hasty would receive some work to spell McKinnon when necessary.
Nope. Instead it was Jeff Wilson. Jeff. Freaking. Wilson. Look, I get it - he was activated prior to this game, so there was a chance that he would be involved. McKinnon also wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire the last two weeks either with his play. That said, Wilson had limited practices during the week and there was little to no indications that he would receive a carry. Much less start. After the game Shanahan stated that the team was attempting to rest McKinnon since he was banged up from usage the last few weeks. Which normally I'd understand if he experienced a full workload, but McKinnon had 11 touches TOTAL the last two weeks combined. I don't buy that line of logic, coach. Sorry.
Sadly for Wilson, he suffered an ankle injury during his third score of the evening, and is expected to land on San Francisco's I.R. There is a chance that Tevin Coleman returns for Week 8, which would further throw this backfield into chaos. If Coleman remains out, I'd be willing to stream JaMycal Hasty as a FLEX option. Otherwise I'm benching all of them.
Deebo Samuel came down with a hamstring injury, and early reports believe that he will at least be out Week 8, if not longer. His absence leaves this team horribly thin at the position, with just rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne left. Expect a healthy dose of the run game and George Kittle.
For the Patriots - this was about as bad as I've ever seen this team play. Cam Newton was atrocious, and was eventually benched in favor of Jarrett Stidham. The entire team did little to nothing. Folks may wish to consider streaming the Buffalo Bills against them next week.
Waiver Wire targets: JaMycal Hasty, should Tevin Coleman miss next week. Keep an eye on practice reports. If Coleman is activated, TRUST NO ONE.
Chargers 39, Jaguars 29
Fun statistic? This was the first time in NFL history that an NFL game finished 39-29.
Man, how good is Justin Herbert. Wow. Truth be told, I'm running out of glowing compliments to bestow upon the rookie. He has a Howitzer for an arm, is very accurate, and has the ability to extend plays with his legs when necessary. Even though his passing touchdowns didn't go to Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry or Mike Williams, Herbert has the uncanny ability to progress through reads very quickly. Keenan Allen continues to get barraged with targets - at this point one has to wonder if his 10/125 game is a new floor. Jalen Guyton doesn't get many passes thrown his way, but when he does they often result in touchdowns. Guyton has averaged 54 YPC the last three weeks. Yes, 54. That isn't a typo.
To echo the famous quote "Your record says who you are" - the Jaguars are now 1-6 and there are rumblings that Gardner Minshew will be replaced soon. True, he hasn't played well, but it is doubtful that Mike Glennon is the real answer. The Jaguars offense flows through running back James Robinson, who has to be the biggest surprise of the year. D.J. Chark managed just one reception on seven targets, and Keelan Cole was very quiet in this one as well.
Waiver Wire targets: In a non-PPR format I'd throw a dart with Guyton during a bye week. Otherwise nothing doing here folks.
Cardinals 37, Seahawks 34
This was a roller-coaster game that was fun to watch, but it did come at a major price from an injury standpoint.
To the victors go the spoils. Give credit to Arizona, they clawed their way back into this one late and their defense was able to really step up in both the fourth quarter and overtime. Kyler Murray played extremely well again, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another. Four separate receiving options totaled more than 50 yards for Arizona (Hopkins, Edmonds, Fitzgerald and Arnold) with Christian Kirk scoring twice. Kenyan Drake was carted off late, and reports have begun to surface that he tore a ligament in his ankle, which will cause him to miss several weeks at a minimum. Chase Edmonds is without a doubt the pickup of the week in shallow leagues where he is available, especially with his usage as a receiver.
Russell Wilson threw the ball 50 times, completing 33 passes for three touchdowns, while adding 84 yards on the ground. Unfortunately for Seattle, he also threw three interceptions, all coming at rather costly times. Even with this minor blemish, he's still my frontrunner for league MVP. Chris Carson injured his foot and left the game in the second quarter, and is considered week-to-week. Carlos Hyde would be another player to target, and he is definitely available in more leagues than Edmonds (currently he's 5 percent owned on ESPN). Tyler Lockett went absolutely BALLISTIC in this contest, catching 15-of-20 targets for 200 yards and three touchdowns. All other receivers had five targets or less. Yikes.
Waiver Wire targets: As mentioned above, Edmonds and Hyde would be recommended pickups in all leagues. Edmonds is owned in nearly 60 percent of formats, with Hyde floating around 5 percent. Edmonds is the preferred candidate of the two. Both need to be owned in all formats.
Rams 24, Bears 10
Yet another game where the score didn't tell the full story. Challenged to play more physical after a horrible performance last week, Los Angeles came out on a mission in this one, recording four sacks and intercepting Nick Foles twice. Foles had absolutely zero time to throw when asked to, and had a difficult time completing any passes longer than five or six yards away from the line of scrimmage.
With Chicago's offense stalled the entire game the Rams called a very conservative game plan, which was good in hindsight since Jared Goff continues to struggle with accuracy issues. Oddly, Josh Reynolds finished with the most targets (8) on the team - he was able to gain separation from defenders all evening long. If Goff was more accurate, Reynolds numbers could have been even larger. It was good to see Cooper Kupp catch all six passes thrown his way after last week's debacle. Tyler Higbee was a surprise scratch, and in his absence, Gerald Everett caught four passes for 28 yards and a score. It would be a major surprise to see Higbee miss another game.
Can we all agree that David Montgomery isn't the answer in Chicago's backfield? I commented on Twitter late Monday evening that I just don't see any redeeming qualities about his play. His feet appear to be stuck in cement, he isn't elusive in the open field in the slightest, and it takes a full ten yards for him to gain a head of steam. I'm surprise that Chicago hasn't given someone else a shot in this backfield. Allen Robinson was largely held in check, and was pulled off the field late in the fourth quarter after taking a jarring hit to the back that led to him falling hard on his head/neck. Hopefully he is alright.
Waiver Wire targets: None