Fantasy football Week 8 waiver wire targets
Priority free agents
1) RB Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles: Miles Sanders was carted off after suffering an ankle injury in Week 7, just at a time in which head coach Nick Sirianni decided running the football might actually help the team. The injury appeared serious enough to cost Sanders a few games or so, and initial reports call it a sprain. Gainwell, a versatile rookie, will see an uptick in touches. He had been utilized barely enough in the passing game early in the year to warrant a speculative waiver add prior to bye weeks, but his role trailed off leading up to Sanders getting hurt. Boston Scott will be factored into the backfield to a degree, but we saw last year he isn’t capable of shouldering more than a handful of touches per week. Gainwell is a must-add in all formats. His current FAAB price is based on the speculative idea we won’t see Sanders for two or three weeks.
2) QB Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints: Prior to the Week 6 bye, Winston was included in this space as a stash option, mostly due to his extremely easy schedule for the next month or so. The Week 7 game has yet to be played at publishing time, and it will be updated with any news that may affect this recommendation. Michael Thomas (ankle) could be activated over the upcoming week or two, and WR Tre’Quan Smith’s return will take some pressure off receiver Marquez Callaway. Winston’s upcoming opponents after Seattle (which is a cake matchup): TB, ATL, @TEN, @PHI, BUF, and DAL … Excluding Philly and Buffalo, we’re looking at four top-eight matchups.
3) RB Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots: Everyone behind Damien Harris in this backfield is a crapshoot in terms of weekly fantasy utility, so keep that in mind. In Week 6, we saw Bolden get slightly dinged up and Rhamondre Stevenson seemingly return to Bill Belichick’s good graces, only for the rookie to become a healthy scratch once again this past weekend as Bolden returned and J.J. Taylor was active. The latter scored twice on the turf in a blowout win, but Bolden has PPR staying power as long as he’s healthy.
6) WR Russell Gage Jr., Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have started to come around of late as head coach Arthur Smith’s system is being digested, and we saw Gage remind us in Week 7 why he was a preseason sleeper. Landing four of six targets for 67 yards and a score is likely his ceiling, but the Falcons will have to pass a ton, and Calvin Ridley isn’t getting an inch of breathing room right now. Gage will disappear some weeks as the game plan favors throwing to the running backs, and not every contest will afford Matt Ryan the luxury of making Ridley, Gage and Kyle Pitts relevant. That said, Gage absolutely is worthy of a roster spot with upcoming meetings against Carolina, New Orleans, Dallas, New England, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Carolina again, San Francisco, and Detroit before finally heading to Buffalo in the fantasy championship week. That is one of the softest WR schedules you’ll find.
5) WR Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots: Two Patriots in the top five … not how this was drawn up. Bourne has managed to produce at least 10 PPR points in four of his last five outings, and the defensively challenged Patriots will ask Mac Jones to throw more than desired by the coaching staff. Bourne is pacing for his best fantasy season to date, and the latter four of his next five opponents (@LAC, @CAR, CLE, @ATL, TEN) are quite pleasant matchups for the position.
6) RB Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals: Last week, we noted whichever Bengals back between Perine and rookie Chris Evans would be active is the worth playing vs. Baltimore, and the veteran lived up to expectations. There was chatter going into the year that Joe Mixon would lose a decent number of touches to Perine, and we’ve seen 16 and 17 touches, respectively, go Perine’s direction in his last two games (missed Week 6 on the COVID list). One game was close, the other was a blowout, so we’ll take that as a sign this team is looking to keep Mixon as fresh as possible for a likely playoff push. The Bengals face a hapless New York Jets’ run defense in Week 8, but it swings to basically the opposite end of the spectrum vs. Cleveland ahead of Cincy’s Week 10 vacation. Roster Perine at least until then as the schedule stiffens after the break.
7) TE Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts: With at least 8.0 PPR points to his credit in the last four games, Alie-Cox has relevance in fantasy, especially since he scored four touchdowns in that window. He has a low-volume, moderate-upside profile and will provide better than a puncher’s chance of finding paydirt as gamers navigate upcoming bye weeks and current injuries. Each of his next five opponents have allowed at least two scores to the position this year, and four of those teams rank inside of the top 10 for TE matchups.
8) WR Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams: Every third game Jefferson has been a worthy fantasy contributor, but patterns like that are closer to meaningless than reliable. The more important trend to note is his sheer lack of utility in the games in which he doesn’t score a touchdown. We’re talking three times with fewer than five PPR points and one that topped out at 8.2. Los Angeles has a host of weapons, but upcoming matchups with CAR, @NO, @DAL, NE, @JAC, and TB will make Jefferson a viable flier play each week as we traverse bye weeks and injuries.
9) WR Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers: This one is lukewarm based on the situation, but the upcoming matchups are tremendous. Green Bay faces Arizona, KC and Seattle the next three weeks, which will keep Aaron Rodgers’ right arm plenty busy. The downside concern here is two-fold: Marquez Valdes-Scantling is eligible to return to cut into Lazard’s PT, and there’s also the unpredictability of which non-Davante Adams wideout will make a difference from week to week. If you can stomach as much risk as potential reward, Lazard has a hint of utility with a short run of staying power.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos vs. Washington Football Team: Bridgewater should get WR Jerry Jeudy back into the mix this week, and he still has a trio of capable pass-catchers in Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. Denver’s defense continues to take injury hits, and Teddy B. has thrown an average of 40 passes in his past three games. He has north of 260 yards and two scores in four of seven appearances, which is encouraging, but the real reason for his inclusion is the extent of how much Washington stinks vs. QBs. In 2021, the position has averaged 2.71 TDs and 311.1 yards per game, making this the top matchup. Six quarterbacks have at least 27 fantasy points scored against Washington this year.
TE C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets: There’s definite risk in stumping for Uzomah, even with a wonderful matchup, just because this offense has so many outlets for the football. Running the risk he could be lost in the mix, understand what kind of possible peril you’re assuming. The Jets have played pretty well vs. wide receivers, which is Cincy’s strength, but running backs and tight ends have chewed them up. In the past five weeks, New York looked more like gangrene than Gang Green. TEs have averaged 18.8 PPR points on the eighth-most catches and yards per game. Two of the 30 grabs have scored.
TE Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers have allowed serious volume to the position — the eighth-most catches and 11th-highest yardage averages since Week 2 — but this is the seventh-best opponent to face for ease of touchdowns by TEs. One in every 7.8 grabs has found the end zone, which bodes well for a guy who … only finds the end zone. Johnson has six total grabs and three scores in 2021. The level of risk here cannot be understated, yet the appeal is obvious. With Darren Waller (injured) and Mark Andrews on bye, gamers may find themselves willing to gamble.
PK Chase McLaughlin, Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: The past two weeks haven’t exactly gone McLaughlin’s way, but we’re encouraged about this one. These teams always battle each other like it’s the last game they’ll ever play, and offensive injuries on Cleveland’s behalf could lead to a low-scoring affair. Some of it depends on what version of Browns defense shows up. The Steelers have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to the position on the strength of 11-for-11 kicking for each field goals and extra points. Five of six opponents have at least seven fantasy points, and McLaughlin has attempted two or more FGAs in four of the past five outings.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST vs New York Jets: It may seem odd to have so many Bengals in one waiver article, but here we are … not to discredit the success of Cincinnati this year, we’ll chalk this one up to all that is the New York Jets offense. QB Zach Wilson has a sprained knee and will miss a few weeks, so we’re likely looking at Mike White as the Week 8 starter. Versus New England last week, coming in cold, he threw 32 times, completing a respectable 62.5 percent of them, for 202 yards, one TD and a pair of picks. QB Josh Johnson is the only other passer on the team, so he’s likely to get elevated from the practice squad. In the event he starts, this matchup play holds true. Only five teams have more sacks than the Bengals this year, and this defense is just two away from the league lead. Sacks and pressure tend to create mistakes, especially from inexperienced QBs.
Atlanta Falcons D/ST vs. Carolina Panthers: Sam Darnold was benched last week and replaced by P.J. Walker — an experiment that didn’t go any better — somehow worse, in fact. Even though Darnold has closely resembled the New York version of himself the last three weeks, he should return to the lineup. Atlanta’s defense doesn’t have much going for it from an accomplishment standpoint, so this one is all about banking on Darnold being awful once again. In the past five weeks, only four offenses have allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing defensive teams — and two of those squads required special teams TDs to make it happen.
Grab & stash
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins: While recommending Tua as the Deshaun Watson trade winds approach hurricane speeds isn’t exactly safe, risk-averse owners see an opportunity to roster him after consecutive games with 26-plus-point fantasy days, including career-high 33.5 points vs. Atlanta. Granted, both of those performances came against easily exploitable defenses, but Tagovailoa mustering fantasy-relevant stats vs. Houston (Week 9) and Baltimore (Week 10) after Buffalo has its way with him this upcoming week isn’t out of the question. Stash him for now as by weeks pick up to four teams after only two being on the nearest slate.
TE Foster Moreau, Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders have a Week 8 bye, but if you have the room it wouldn’t hurt to stash Moreau through his week off in case Darren Waller’s injury situation has him out once Week 9 arrives. Don’t spend any FAAB on him, nor should you drop a player with future utility. Vegas returns to face the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively, and both are friendly enough opponents for tight ends. The position is a staple in this passing game, and Moreau can build on his Week 7 performance if given the same role.
TE Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team: Another recommendation for people that have extra storage space: Thomas is appearing on more and more waiver wires of late, and he’s entering the final week of his projected absence. The issue here is you’ll have to tie up a spot for two games as Washington goes on bye in Week 9. Fortunately, we have only two teams on bye this week. Upon his return, in Week 10, Thomas has three straight weeks vs. top-10 matchups in his favor.
Keep your eye on ’em
WR Nico Collins, Houston Texans: Collins went on IR with a shoulder injury and returned to the field for his first game back in Week 6. This past Sunday, rookie quarterback Davis Mills was awful, and Collins “paced” the team in yardage. Don’t laugh … okay, it’s a gut-buster … the total was just 28 yards. Woof. Collins’ five targets make him mildly attractive, and the return of quarterback Tyrod Taylor figures to help. The large-bodied rookie receiver will be worth keeping an eye on, especially if veteran wideout Brandin Cooks is traded prior to the deadline as this team is in the throes of a full-on rebuild.
WR Kalif Raymond, Detroit Lions: Each week, Detroit’s receiving corps is among the toughest to predict. Raymond emerged vs. the LA Rams in Week 7, going for 6-115-0 on eight targets. He has 16 total utilizations in the last two games and six-plus in four of his last five appearances. Watch how the target distribution plays out this week vs. Philadelphia ahead of Detroit’s Week 9 bye before investing.