The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 8 2021

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

I was trying to think of the most appropriate adjective to describe Week 7 of the Fantasy Football season.

Challenging? Harrowing? Frustrating? Ridiculous?

Many not-so-nice words came to mind, trust me. Mercifully, it is finally behind us. The most grueling test of roster management in recent memory has come and passed, and now players can finally get back to a somewhat more normal and less daunting set of circumstances.

Before it ultimately concluded with the Seattle vs. New Orleans game on Monday Night, Week 7 managed to give us a fair share of highlights (and many lowlights) which I'll touch on below. Thankfully, this was a relatively light week when it came to injuries for Fantasy-relevant players, so there shouldn't be a mad scramble to the waiver wire.

Byepocalypse, Byemageddon or Hell Week - whatever you want to refer to it as, adios and good riddance.


Patrick Mahomes seems like the logical starting point at the position, given his letdown performance against Tennessee. The Titans were in the backfield from the opening kick onward, forcing Mahomes to improvise nearly every play. Normally this wouldn't be a major issue, but both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill struggled to get open repeatedly, leading to a 20-of-35 passing performance for a paltry 206 yards and multiple turnovers. Are better days ahead for Mahomes? Certainly. Am I worried about the rest of his 2021 campaign? Not particularly. Week 7 was the first time this year that Mahomes didn't throw multiple touchdowns, and he has a get-right game against the porous New York Giants defense in Week 8. You'll see plenty of discussion about the demise and downfall of the Kansas City Chiefs on social media, but I'm not jumping to conclusions just yet. Even with his recent struggles, Mahomes remains a clear-cut no brainer starter.

Justin Fields - holy smokes. Fantasy players who were banking on a breakout rookie season from the Ohio State product have been sorely letdown, culminating with his five-turnover performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Fields presence coupled with the absence of David Montgomery has crippled this offense, and I don't see it getting better in the near future. Though Chicago would be best suited to let Fields experience adversity, one has to wonder if they opt to start Andy Dalton soon. It is a shame because I was rooting for him to do well, but Fields has given me little hope. Even more concerning is his lack of rushing yards, which was the buoy that was supposed to inflate his weekly floor.

Sam Darnold. Woof.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is still multiple weeks away from returning in Washington, and head coach Ron Rivera said that he would get another MRI on his hip in two weeks. Taylor Heinicke will continue to serve as the interim starter.

Tyrod Taylor is set to return for Houston, as he has fully recovered from his hamstring injury that kept him off the field since Week 2. He will immediately reclaim his job and relegate Davis Mills to the bench. The good news? His presence greatly helps Brandin Cooks. The bad news? Houston takes on the Los Angeles Rams stout defense in Week 8.

Congrats to Tom Brady for throwing his 600th touchdown pass. His stellar performance against Chicago was the fourth time this season he has thrown at least four touchdowns.

Zach Wilson was battered around by the New England Patriots, with the referees missing several egregious attempts by the defenders to take him out. Wilson ultimately suffered a PCL injury, and is expected to be sidelined for 2-to-4 weeks. The team opted to trade for Joe Flacco for help.


Running Back

Starting off with the bad news, Miles Sanders sustained a low-ankle sprain in his game against the Las Vegas Raiders, and he is being labeled as "week to week" by the club. His injury isn't being described as overly serious, but there is a significant chance that he sits in Week 8. Should that be the case, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott would split any backfield touches. This is a real shame, since it appeared that Sanders was finally a focal point of the gameplan in Philadelphia - previously they had been very reluctant to run the ball. Sanders had 9 or fewer rushing attempts in four of the first seven games this year. I'm not overly bullish on either replacement option, but I'd side with Gainwell if given the chance. He's worth a 10 percent bid in 12-team formats or larger.

Have a day, D'Andre Swift. Operating as the RB1 and WR1 for Detroit, Swift finished just shy of 150 all-purpose yards against the Los Angeles Rams. Swift isn't a volume-rusher, but he has caught at least four passes in every game this season, and his elusiveness in space makes him a real weapon. The majority of his weekly production typically comes in "garbage time", giving his Fantasy owners agita for the few hour and change. Funny enough, the more that Detroit gives him touches, the better their offense functions. Hopefully that trend continues.

It may have been a flash in the pan with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt due to return soon, but D'Ernest Johnson really opened my eyes in the Thursday night game against Denver. Johnson appeared shifty and difficult to tackle, but was also strong enough to run through defenders when he chose to do so. Though nothing is certain, it appears that Chubb will return in Week 8, which would result in Johnson inheriting Hunt's change-of-pace role. Hunt's role still gives Johnson enough touches to remain relevant as a FLEX choice in PPR formats.

Fantasy players operated under the assumption that Khalil Herbert would be rendered useless, squaring off against the deep and talented Tampa Bay defensive front. Most teams chose to completely abandon the run by the fourth quarter - not Chicago. Herbert gashed Tampa Bay for 5.6 yards a clip, finishing with 100 yards on the dot. His usage in the passing game was equally encouraging, catching five passes for 33 yards. Even with Damien Williams active, Herbert was still the featured player in the backfield. Until David Montgomery returns, Herbert is a mid-range RB2.

Can Denver please trade Melvin Gordon before the deadline? Gordon's presence is a thorn in the side to Javonte Williams apologists, myself included. I know that I'm high on the rookie, but anyone who watched the game against Denver HAD to notice Gordon's lackluster 8 carries for 18 rushing yards. The veteran looks like he runs in cement. Move on.

Josh Jacobs suffered a chest contusion against the Philadelphia Eagles, and was removed from the game in favor of Kenyan Drake. Thankfully for his Fantasy prospects, Las Vegas is on bye Week 8, and he should be perfectly fine for the November 7th contest against the New York Giants.




Wide Receiver

Cooper Kupp - man, oh man. "On fire" doesn't even begin to describe it. Kupp has seen at least 10 targets in every game this year, and Sunday marked his SIXTH TIME reaching 90 yards. He has officially set the record for most points scored through Week 7 by a receiver. I'd tell players to sell high, but I honestly don't know what would be a fair trade in return outside of someone like Derrick Henry.

It turns out that Ja'Marr Chase can see the stripes on an NFL-sized football AND he can catch them just fine. Chase is on a historic pace for a rookie receiver, including his 8-201-1 performance against Baltimore. He will be a mid-range second round selection next year. Color me impressed.

A.J. Brown is officially over Chipotle. Welcome back.

News broke Monday afternoon that Davante Adams has been placed in COVID-19 protocol due to a positive test result - this comes after earlier this season he said he was fully vaccinated. He will need two negative tests 24 hours apart before being activated, which means that he is almost certain to miss Week 8 against Arizona. Green Bay is VERY thin at receiver in his absence, with Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb being the lone remaining options left. I'd expect the Packers to transition into more of a run-first approach instead.

While scanning through the top scoring players at the position for Week 7, one name caught my eye - Khalif Raymond. Rostered in under 6 percent of standard formats, Raymond was thrust into the spotlight with Tyrell Williams (concussion) and Quintez Cephus (broken collarbone) out. Like many, I assumed that Amon-Ra St. Brown would be the biggest beneficiary of targets, but that appears to not be the case. Similar to D'Andre Swift that I mentioned earlier, Raymond will likely struggle in the first half of most weeks before seeing short-passes to pad his statistics while Detroit attempts to climb back into games. He has a very favorable matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8, and I'd be comfortable spending 5 percent of my budget to pick him up as a bye week fill-in if needed.

Even with Cincinnati turning to more of a pass-first approach, Tyler Boyd is having a hard time putting up points. He's failed to break the 40-yard mark in five games already this year, and he should be considered a FLEX option at best right now. It is a disappointing, if not altogether unsurprising development.

The New York Giants 2021 season has largely been a dumpster fire, especially at the receiver position. A focal point for the team during the offseason, New York initially appeared to be quite deep, but they have suffered a plague of injuries. The absence of Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard allowed for Dante Pettis to get another start, and he responded with his second consecutive five-reception game. If all three top-options miss another week, Pettis will remain a Hail Mary flier.




Tight End

All day long fans were battered over the head with this being "Tight end week" around the league. Yeesh, we get it already. To that end, there were some notable performances by lesser-owned options such as C.J. Uzomah (3-91-2) and Foster Moreau (6-60-1), but there were a fair share of duds as well.

Darren Waller popped up with a questionable tag on Saturday afternoon, throwing his Fantasy managers into a complete panic - the vast majority of all start/sit questions that I received centered on this dilemma. Waller had practiced in full earlier in the week, but had his ankle/heel area stepped on by a teammate in Friday's practice, causing him to miss the game. Currently described as "day to day" by interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, it is believed at this time that he didn't sustain any structural damage and that this shouldn't be a long-term issue. Similar to Josh Jacobs, Waller will greatly benefit from a week of rest with the Raiders on bye. Fingers crossed he comes back for Week 9 healthy.

Have a day, Kyle Pitts. The new focal point in Atlanta's offense posted a 7-163 line on 8 targets, and repeatedly abused Miami's secondary downfield. A physically dominant specimen, Pitts will continue to fall within my top-5 at the position each week, and his dynasty value is sky high. He is a unique blend of immense size and speed.

In his first game with Arizona, Zack Ertz found the end zone and tied A.J. Green for the team-lead in receiving yards. Ertz joins an all-star cast with the Cardinals, and he has re-entered TE1 discussion. My only concern is the number of mouths to feed, and how healthy Kyler Murray will be all season with shoddy play by his offensive line.