Yesterday was a brutal Sunday in the NFL, both in terms of injuries and the quality of play. With so many prominent fantasy players banged up and six more teams on bye in Week Eight (Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, and Tampa Bay), the waiver wire will once again be a popular destination.
As always, players listed here are owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Fantasy Football Week 8 Waiver Wire Pickups: Quarterback
Carson Palmer (40%), Oakland (bye)
With three interceptions in less than a half, I haven’t seen Palmer play this poorly since, well, last year. Is he an upgrade over Kyle Boller? Of course, but then again Jeff George would be too. Many will chalk this debacle up to rust or a lack of familiarity with his receivers, and while that played a role, it’s not as if Palmer was lighting up opposing secondaries last season. The matchup against Denver following this week’s bye looks tempting, but nothing I saw yesterday gives me confidence in the newly unretired Palmer.
Sam Bradford (37%), St. Louis
Perhaps Sunday’s performance from A.J. Feeley will give people a new appreciation for Bradford’s talents and willingness to take a beating behind a woeful offensive line. His ankle injury is a concern, but as I mentioned last week, there are plenty of good fantasy matchups left on the St. Louis schedule, particularly now that Brand Lloyd is in the mix.
Alex Smith (22%), San Francisco
Smith entered San Fran’s bye with six passing touchdowns in his last three games. The 49ers face Cleveland in Week Eight, but don’t read too much into the Browns’ gaudy numbers against opposing quarterbacks. Their opponents haven’t exactly been a who’s who of prolific signal callers.
Andy Dalton (20%), Cincinnati
I’ve listed Dalton in each of the last two columns, and I still like his matchup against the Seahawks this week. Their pass defense isn’t as good as the numbers indicated against Cleveland, and their tough run defense, coupled with the absence of the suspended Cedric Benson, should give the “Red Rifle” opportunities to air it out.
John Beck (9%), Washington
In his first start of the season, Beck ran for one touchdown and threw for another while racking up 279 passing yards. That’s now two straight weeks with a rushing score, and his ability to move around and extend plays stood out. Next up for Beck is a Buffalo pass defense who has allowed at least 292 passing yards in each of the last five games. That said, the loss of Santana Moss to a hand injury is a potential red flag.
Fantasy Football Week 8 Waiver Wire Pickups: Running Back
Knowshon Moreno (46%), Denver
With Willis McGahee’s broken hand almost certain to keep him out of action this week, Moreno is sure to be a hot waiver wire target. He rushed for 28 yards on seven carries in relief of McGahee this week, but he has failed to show any ability to live up to his lofty draft status over the course of his brief career. The Broncos take on Detroit next week, who has been victimized on the ground the last few weeks, but I have a hard time recommending Moreno outside of PPR leagues. It’s also worth noting that Lance Ball and Tim Tebow are more likely options around the goal line.
Ben Tate (42%), Houston
Obviously Arian Foster looks as healthy as ever, but Tate’s 104-yard performance on Sunday proved his value as a handcuff should Foster suffer any setbacks. Keep in mind that the Texans face Carolina and Indianapolis in Weeks 15 and 16, giving Tate even more value.
The good news is that Hardesty held up under a heavy workload on Sunday and compiled 122 total yards against a solid Seattle defensive front. The bad news is that he averaged fewer than three yards per carry and had just one run of over eight yards. If Peyton Hillis misses next week’s game against San Francisco, Hardesty would still be a flex option based on the workload despite a tough matchup, but that’s about it.
Maurice Morris (35%)/Keiland Williams (3%), Detroit
Morris and Williams essentially split the backfield touches with Jahvid Best out on Sunday. Morris got 31 of his 50 rushing yards on one play, but he was more involved in the passing game. Williams also looked decent on the ground and looks like the better short yardage option. Given the rumors about Best potentially missing the rest of the year, it’s worth stashing one of these guys just in case. Those rumors have obviously been denied, but you have to acknowledge Best’s lengthy injury history. Next week’s matchup with Denver isn’t quite as good as it may seem since the Broncos have yet to allow an opposing running back to rush for a score.
Delone Carter (19%), Indianapolis
With Joseph Addai aggravating his hamsting injury, Carter stepped in and ran for 89 yards and a TD on 10 carries while the Colts were being dismantled by New Orleans. The game was already out of hand when Addai was injured (yes, I know it was only the first quarter), so the severity of the injury is unclear. However, the Colts face a Tennessee defense that was just shredded on the ground and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of their last two games.
Bernard Scott (9%), Cincinnati
With Cedric Benson serving his suspension this week, Scott will get the start against Seattle. I like Scott’s skill set, but the Seahawks have been tough on opposing runners this year. Based on his workload, Scott becomes a decent flex option as a bye week fill-in.
Alfonso Smith (1%), Arizona
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Beanie Wells got dinged up this week. With Wells on the sideline, Smith stepped in and rushed for a score against the Steelers. He finished with 17 rushing yards on five carries, and he also filled in for Wells in Week Three with 75 total yards. Wells has typically been a slow healer, but Smith isn’t a particularly attractive option with the Ravens up next on the schedule. LaRod Stephens-Howling will also take over on passing downs, further limiting Smith’s value.
Kregg Lumpkin (1%), Tampa Bay (bye)
Early reports are that Earnest Graham has a torn Achilles, which would end his season. The Bucs have the bye week for LeGarrette Blount’s knee to get healthy, but if that isn’t enough time, Lumpkin would be the de facto starter. He struggled on the ground against the Bears, tallying just 15 yards on eight carries. Lumpkin did catch six balls for 37 yards, which makes him far more intriguing in PPR leagues should Blount remain out.
Fantasy Football Week 8 Waiver Wire Pickups: Wide Receiver
Michael Crabtree (38%), San Francisco
I’ve been on the Crabtree bandwagon for a couple weeks, and even with Joe Haden looming on Sunday, his ownership percentage is way too low. It’s probably a week where you think twice about starting him, but his foot seems healthy and there are a number of great matchups left on the San Francisco schedule.
Steve Breaston (29%), Kansas City
With five catches and 64 yards on Sunday, Breaston has at least 50 yards in four straight games. One of those games was against the Chargers, who just gave up three scores to a number two wideout and travel to Arrowhead on Sunday.
Antonio Brown (29%), Pittsburgh
Brown had a career day with seven catches for 102 yards against the woeful Arizona secondary. With Hines Ward banged up, Brown seized the opportunity as the Steelers went to more wide open offensive sets. The Steelers continue to struggle at establishing the run game (as my fellow Rashard Mendenhall owners can attest), which could mean more big games from Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh passing attack.
Greg Little (29%), Cleveland
The rookie receiver now has at least five catches in three straight games and led the Browns with seven targets on Sunday. The yardage was disappointing, but he’s emerging as a strong PPR league option and remains a solid red zone target. Beware this week, as the 49ers have given up just one TD to an opposing wideout since Week Two. Still, the Browns are sure to force feed Little the ball either way.
Jabar Gaffney (19%), Washington
With Santana Moss out with a hand injury, Gaffney will be asked to step up as the number one wideout. He has significantly more value in PPR leagues, but with the exception of a matchup with the 49ers, there are some decent matchups on Washington’s schedule over the next month or so. Terrence Austin has also showed some chemistry with Beck, so keep an eye on him as well.
Demaryius Thomas (9%), Denver
The numbers, three catches for 27 yards and a score, don’t necessarily stand out. But the 10 targets do. Thomas did have a couple drops, but he’s sure to be a huge part of the Denver passing game with Brandon Lloyd now in St. Louis. He’s worth adding in any format.
Michael Jenkins (7%), Minnesota
As I said four weeks ago, the numbers might be tempting, but don’t go pick him up. Sometimes old advice is the best advice, like never eat yellow snow.
Fantasy Football Week 8 Waiver Wire Pickups: Tight End
Jermaine Gresham (42%), Cincinnati
As I mentioned above, I think the Bengals will be forced to throw it a decent amount against Seattle. While that is good news for Gresham in and of itself, it’s worth noting that the Seahawks have given up a touchdown to an opposing tight end in two of the last three games.
Heath Miller (31%), Pittsburgh
Always one of Roethlisberger’s favorite red zone targets, Miller now has touchdowns in two of the last three weeks. The Patriots have given up a couple big games to opposing tight ends, making Miller a decent bye week fill-in.
Visanthe Shiancoe (19%), Minnesota
A solid tight end can be a young quarterback’s best friend, which could help Shiancoe re-emerge as a fantasy factor over the remainder of the year. Next week Minnesota takes on a Carolina defense that just got lit up by Fred Davis, which makes Shiancoe a reasonable option if you’re desperate.
Streaming Defense(s) of the Week
Cincinnati (24%) at Seattle
The Bengals have been a terrific fantasy defense this season, and words can’t do justice to the ineptitude of the Seattle offense on Sunday. Charlie Whitehurst actually made Seattle fans pine for Tarvaris Jackson, maybe even Dan McGwire from the early 90s. That Seahawks-Browns game could have single-handedly killed any interest for football in London. Hell, it almost killed interest in my own home.
Have any questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@andybottoms).