For most leagues the beginning of Week 8 marks the halfway point in the fantasy season. Hopefully most of you are priming your team to clinch a playoff spot or end the season on a high note. If you’re not one of those people, then odds are you need a big push to contend for the playoffs, and therefore need to turn to the waiver wire for help.
Jalen Richard/DeAndre Washington – Oakland Raiders – 2.8%/0.8% Owned (NFL.com Leagues)
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Marshawn Lynch run as fast as he did off the sideline Thursday night. For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was ejected from Thursday night’s game and suspended for Week 8 after making forcible contact with a referee. This situation is a simple “if this, then that.” If Marshawn Lynch is suspended, then Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington must replace him in the starting role. Both running backs split work exactly evenly (nine carries and four targets), and provide potential for a decent FLEX play.
Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – 50.4% Owned
My next two running backs are largely owned, but I feel that they’re available in enough leagues to feature them here. In the last four games, Aaron Jones has out-touched Ty Montgomery 72-48. The main reason for shying away from Jones in the past was the fact that he was in an RBBC (running back by committee, where there isn’t a clear starting back), but that is no longer the case. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers likely done for the season, Aaron Jones will be depended on by the Packers offense. Unlike Montgomery, Jones has proven that he can be productive with the load, averaging 5.9 yards per carry through four games. Aaron Jones needs to be owned and started in all leagues.
Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – 52.7% Owned
Another product of an RBBC, Murray has been avoided by almost half of owners in NFL.com leagues. In addition, Latavius Murray has dealt with an ankle injury in the past. Both reasons are why you can, and should, get him off the waiver wire now. Murray has been getting a ton of carries since star rookie Dalvin Cook went down (12, 15, and 18 in the last three games), and finally had his breakout game last Sunday. While he will compete with Jerick Mckinnon for touches, I believe Murray is the more talented back and will get the carries simply because the Vikings sought him out and signed him to a contract last offseason. Latavius Murray is worth picking up and is a good option moving forward.
Kenny Stills – Miami Dolphins – 5.6% Owned
Kenny Stills has been quiet for most of the season, but broke out last Sunday against the Jets. Part of the reason for his lack of production has been Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler. Part of the problem for some of Cutler’s receivers is they just don’t see targets, as the former Bears quarterback finds one receiver and forces him the ball. Cutler suffered a rib injury in the game and could be out for two or three weeks, leaving Matt Moore at the helm of the team. Kenny Stills has built chemistry with Matt Moore and stands to see more volume while Cutler is gone. Even with the short week, Stills is a decent option for Thursday night, particularly in PPR formats.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers – 2.3% Owned
When he’s not playing hide-and-seek in the endzone, JuJu Smith-Schuster is contesting for the WR2 spot on the Steelers’ depth chart. The rookie has climbed his way to being a decent option for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and has seen some fantasy value for it. The Steelers have passed for 2,518 yards (5th highest in the NFL) so far this season, and have a juicy three-game stretch coming up after Week 8 (Colts, Titans, Packers). Smith-Schuster could be a good option moving forward if the Steelers refuse to acknowledge Martavis Bryant’s presence, although it could depend on the matchup.
Deonte Thompson – Buffalo Bills – 0.1% Owned
Most of you probably don’t know who Deonte Thompson is, which is fair. Thompson was a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears until the team released him on October 11. Six days later Thompson was signed by the Buffalo Bills, and five days later he received 107 yards on four catches against the Buccaneers. The Bills don’t have anyone to throw to until Charles Clay comes back, and Thompson is a good deep threat wide receiver. While I don’t think he’s start-able each week, Thompson is worth a flier and could prove to be a good option in deeper leagues.
Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders – 58.9% Owned
The Oakland Raiders have had an odd season, but they almost looked like themselves Thursday against the Chiefs. Cook has averaged just under six targets a game this season, and finally broke out as he received 107 yards on six catches. If Derek Carr is truly back on track, Jared Cook could stand to see increased volume given his talent and size. Although he has only scored one touchdown this season, Cook is the 10th best tight end in standard scoring (9th if you don’t count injured Charles Clay), and is easily worth picking up and starting.
Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals – 2.1% Owned
With fellow tight end Tyler Eifert gone for the season, Tyler Kroft is left to fill in as the receiving tight end in Cincinnati. Kroft has 20 targets in the last four games while averaging 39.3 yards per game in the same span. He has benefited primarily from scoring touchdowns (which seems to be the key to picking a good tight end this season), scoring three in his last three games. The Bengals play defenses that are weak to the pass later this season (Colts, Titans, and Browns), and is worth picking up and starting, given how few options there are at tight end.
Zach Miller – Chicago Bears – 8.1% Owned
Thanks to their two defensive touchdowns, the Chicago Bears won on Sunday after passing the ball seven times. Tight end Zach Miller had three of those targets. Don’t get me wrong, three targets in one week is garbage (but if you think about it, Miller got 43% of the Bears’ targets!). Last Sunday aside, Miller has been a decent option for rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. As I mentioned before, the key to starting a good tight this season is finding one who has a chance to score touchdowns, and Zach Miller has scored twice in the last three games. Depending on the match-up, Miller could be a good streaming option at the very least.