Waiver Wizard 2019 Week 8

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

Where did the time go?

For all of the waiting, anticipating, research, analysis and hype that inevitably occurs with the buildup to a new season, once it finally arrives… it goes way too quickly! With Week 7 now officially in the books we have passed the halfway mark through the regular season in most leagues, and are in the depths of roster management overload due to byes. Thankfully for owners, Week 8 is a relatively light slate in terms of who isn't available with only the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens on hiatus - this means that the juggling can hopefully be kept to a minimum. With that said, here are my thoughts on the latest news and notes from around the league this morning.

Patrick Mahomes injury, and what it means for you

I made the comment on Twitter earlier that it was bad enough that the consensus top running back missed time earlier this year with Saquon Barkley dealing with a high ankle sprain. Now the top quarterback in the league will also miss a chunk of the season, calling into question whether or not (once again) the "Madden Curse" is an actual thing or not.

Superstitions aside, his injury is what it is at this point. Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap that the trainers had to forcibly adjust on the field prior to assisting him off. The video was gruesome enough, and the pain that Mahomes was in immediately following was evident to anyone watching. Luckily for both his Fantasy owners and NFL fans around the country, the extent of the damage was minimal otherwise, with his ligaments around the injury only being "stretched" and not torn, and the bone itself not broken. Though early reports projected a timetable of roughly 3-5 weeks in terms of a recovery time, the latest news that broke from Adam Schefter on Sunday that that there is a distinct possibility that he could return sooner than that. Head coach Andy Reid was hesitant to put a particular timetable upon his return, but did confirm that his progress has been steady during his rehab efforts.

This of course begs the question - what to do in the meantime.

The Chiefs face the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings at home the next two weeks, before traveling to Tennessee to face the Titans during Week 10. Assuming that backup Matt Moore plays well enough to keep the team competitive during the majority of those contests, I seriously doubt that there will be any pressure to rush Mahomes back. As is, the Chiefs already have a two-game lead within their division, and outside of the Oakland Raiders making a push it seems doubtful that anyone else will challenge for the AFC West.

Plenty of analysts have provided their recommendation on who owners should grab to fill the void, and though I agree with a few of their choices, I'll give my own thoughts here.

The "easiest" recommendation was to endorse Sam Darnold. Yes, the same Darnold that just completed one of the worst statistical performances ever recorded by a quarterback last night. The common thought is that an easy schedule during the short term would be enough to make him a viable solution. I'll strongly disagree. Darnold, to put it in the nicest terms that I possibly can, appeared lost last night. His offensive line failed to protect him, forcing missed throws and rushed attempts. Even worse was Darnold's mechanics, as several of the interceptions could be attributed to him throwing off of his back foot, airmailing the ball directly to a cornerback or safety. A lack of true receiving threats further hurts his case. Robby Anderson is a one-trick pony that needs time for his routes to develop, and Jamison Crowder will only aid in short throws to move the chains. Otherwise the team only has remaining, with tight end Chris Herndon still sidelined with a hamstring injury.

None of the bodes well, so I'd say just to avoid it.

So, who can you look to instead?

I'm not going to sugarcoat things, the options aren't fantastic for quarterbacks owned in less than 25 percent of standard-size formats (other experts use a 50 percent benchmark, but I'll assume you are in a more competitive format).

Mason Rudolph is expected to return this week after being cleared from concussion protocol, and a week of rest will surely aid James Conner. The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line is strong enough to afford him protection, and he still has both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson on the perimeter.

Ryan Tannehill looked surprisingly competent last weekend, and faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a defense that has been burned in the past. He showed great chemistry with the team's athletic wideouts Corey Davis and A.J. Brown, and the Tennessee Titans offensive line is one of the best in the league. Tannehill also offers a slight rushing floor as well, which furthers his value.

I'd additionally look to avoid Kyle Allen (facing San Francisco), Case Keenum (Minnesota), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Pittsburgh) and Andy Dalton (Los Angeles Rams).

Stream options if you can, and cross your fingers that Mahomes can return prior to the Week 12 bye.

Sanu is now in New England

For those who didn't catch the news from this morning, the Patriots traded a second-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for Mohamed Sanu. Known primarily for his versatility of either playing wide or in the slot, Sanu's presense shores up the ailing receiver core in Foxboro. Though he will likely be active this week for the upcoming game against Cleveland, I'd look for Sanu to carve out a bigger role after the team's Week 10 bye. Tom Brady (as is well documented) is all about trust, so establishing a relationship with him will be a priority for the former Atlanta Falcon.

His addition dims the outlook of both Philip Dorsett and Josh Gordon for the remainder of 2019, and also squashes any hopes of a breakout from Jakobi Meyers. All in all, this is a group that is too crowded to be interested in outside of Julian Edelman. Any sort of target spread will be marginal at best, making any one of these other options a bye-week fill-in at best.

From Johnson to Johnson in Detroit

Kerryon Johnson exited with a knee injury during the first quarter of the team's loss against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7, and early reports expect the former second-round pick out of Auburn to miss an extended period of time. No exact reports have been released from the team confirming either the extent or severity of the injury, but owners can expect to be without his services for some time. In his stead, Ty Johnson steps in as the new lead back for the team.

A well-sized back at 5'10 and 210 lbs., Johnson is a capable receiver who demonstrated 4.4 40-yard dash times at the Combine. Beat reporters have been singing his praise since being drafted, and he is now the clear-cut workhorse ahead of J.D. McKissic in the backfield. The Lions face the New York Giants in Week 8, a matchup that Johnson should heavily exploit (New York currently ranks 26th in the league in rush defense, allowing an average of 131 yards on the ground each game). Look for him to be the top waiver-wire recommendation of the week, and he can be slot in as a RB2 in most formats until further notice.



Screw you, Arizona

I'm not alone in the sentiment, now am I. The Cardinals pulled a bait-and-switch on the entire league, activating David Johnson for the game against the Giants and opting not to sign anyone from the practice squad as depth. Though he had the first carry of the game, the team quickly switched to Chase Edmonds the remainder of the contest, who ran all over New York. Citing that Johnson was only an "emergency option", Edmonds received all carries afterwards. Should Johnson miss more time licking his wounds further, Edmonds is a must-start and must-own in all formats. It is doubtful that the Cardinals troll us this bad yet again. We hope.





Grab the Steel Curtain DST

This was another pickup that I endorsed on all social media outlets as Pittsburgh went into their bye during Week 7, citing that proactive owners would reap the benefits of stashing them if at all possible. I'm not one to look too far ahead, but the team has one of the easiest schedules in the league upcoming.

Week 8 (Miami Dolphins) - The Dolphins have allowed the second-most INTs in the league (10) and have the third-worst passing YPG (192), additionally they have surrendered 24 sacks, fourth-worst.

Week 9 (Indianapolis Colts) - Though the Colts don't turnover the ball as frequently, they rank 24th in the league in passing YPG (221) - being at home helps this matchup as well.

Week 10 (Los Angeles Rams) - Jared Goff will be on the road. I don't really need to give more details than that. He's putrid away from Los Angeles.

Week 11 (@Cleveland) - The Brownies have allowed the most INTs in the league with 11, and only have five passing TDs to their credit all season. Even with their new additions on offense, this is a below-average unit at best.

Week 12 (@Cincinnati) - Woof. The Bengals offensive line is the worst in the NFL, and the Steelers will be in Andy Dalton's face all day.

Week 13 (Cleveland) - See above

Additionally, the Steelers are tied for third in the league as a unit with 8 INTs, and are tied for fifth in sacks with 20. Though they do allow points to be scored, they are a ferocious, attacking defense capable of generating pressure, and had 14 sacks in the three games leading up to their bye week. Now fully healthy, I like them as a year-long addition.