We’re past the halfway point of the fantasy football regular season (the default setting on ESPN Fantasy is for the playoffs to be conducted Weeks 14-17 of the NFL regular season), with yet another typically fast season cruising by. How’s your squad holding up so far?
The agony and euphoria of fantasy football is tantalizing. Right now can be a good time to step back, assess your roster and giddy-up for the second half of the season. Think you’re out of it? That might not be the case: at this time last season, the Dolphins had just won two straight games — hello, Jay Ajayi! — but stood at 3-4 as they entered a Week 8 bye. They finished the season 10-6, a sensational feat given that the team cratered to 1-4 to begin the season (winning only in overtime in Week 3 against a Browns team that finished the season 1-15). Comparing fantasy football to “real” football doesn’t always work, but the idea of midseason turnarounds applies to both. If you’re struggling at the moment, remember that a late-season surge is within reach.
Maybe what your roster needs is a little fine-tuning, so without further ado, here is the Week 8 ESPN Fantasy waiver wire column.
Note: Players available in less than 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com do not qualify for this list.
Remaining bye weeks are as follows:
Week 8 (six teams): Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans
Week 9 (six teams): Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 10 (four teams): Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 11 (four teams): Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers
Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots (rostered in 20.4 percent of ESPN leagues): Lewis’ workload continued to expand in Week 8, as he saw a season-high 13 carries in the Patriots’ win over the Falcons. Over the past three weeks, he has handled 31 carries for 181 yards (5.84 yards per carry), looking the part of the team’s best running back for conventional running downs (i.e. first and second down). James White remains a major passing game factor, and Mike Gillislee will still get goal-line touches, but Lewis is a worthwhile add in 12-team (or larger) leagues for anyone looking for a useful back whose role could sustain in a high-level offense.
DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders (3.0 percent): With Marshawn Lynch set to sit out this week because of a suspension, someone is due to take over lead back duties in Oakland. Washington and Jalen Richard each had nine carries in Week 7, with Washington finding the end zone. Candidly, both looked better than Lynch has for much of 2017. If I had to start one in Week 8, I’d give the slight edge to Washington. Will he eventually emerge as the starter in Oakland?
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders (5.0 percent): Like Washington, Richard might have just one week’s worth of lineup utility. But in a deeper league, each player can be added and used in a flex spot, given that six teams are on byes this week and Lynch is set to sit. The advantage Richard has is that he’s such an adept pass-catcher. His value is expanded in points per reception leagues.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins (15.4 percent): Stills has made good on an opportunity to step into a No. 2 receiver role in Miami, with 10 catches on 13 targets, including three touchdowns, in the two games DeVante Parker has missed. Stills is an established speedster who could stay in that role with Miami playing Thursday night. While Matt Moore is set to start, that doesn’t impact Stills’ value monumentally. Still is on the flex radar in PPR scoring in 12-team or larger leagues.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, New Orleans Saints (44.0 percent): The speedy Ginn has been terrific of late, hauling in 11 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in the past two games. Willie Snead‘s health continues to be an issue that is impacting his full-time return to the lineup, but Ginn’s play also might allow New Orleans to be patient. With a pair of home games the next two weeks, Ginn projects to fit in the flex consideration, especially with 12 teams slated to hit a bye during that time. He’s an add in 12-team or larger leagues.
Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (10.7 percent): Finding a tight end isn’t easy, but with players such as Rob Gronkowski, Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Hunter Henry and others set to go on bye over the next two weeks, a lot of teams will need a spot starter. Kroft, essentially stepping in for Tyler Eifert, has 14 catches in his past three games and three touchdowns to go with it. He’s a usable tight end the next two weeks or for someone who might have been relying upon a player such as Charles Clay in that spot (or who has an upcoming bye to account for).
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (35.1 percent): As we mentioned with Kroft, it’s hard to find a trustable tight end week to week. Doyle’s volume the past two games has been terrific, as he has posted 18 total targets and 11 catches, including a score. Although Doyle has just one catch of more than 20 yards this season, he has consistently been involved as part of an Indy offense that has found itself playing from behind frequently. He’s a usable tight end, be it to replace a struggling starter or to fill in for a player who is injured or on a bye.
Alfred Morris, RB, Dallas Cowboys (36.7 percent): Although Ezekiel Elliott is set to play in Week 8, we don’t know if that will be case in Week 9 as we await the next step in the process tied to his suspension. With that said, both Morris and Darren McFadden should be added on a just-in-case basis. Morris would be the back I slightly prefer among Cowboys fill-ins, though it could prove to be a shared job.
Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys (41.8 percent): Much of what was written in regard to Morris applies here, as McFadden could take on a more prominent role very soon. Is it a guarantee? No. But the last time he was a starter in Dallas, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season. That was behind a more dominant offensive line performance than we’ve seen this season in Dallas, but the possibility of 12-15 touches per game makes McFadden a wise add.
Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (39.2 percent): Smallwood’s rostered percentage dipped over the past couple of weeks while he missed time because of a knee injury. While LeGarrette Blount remains the primary runner for the Eagles, Smallwood has value in a deeper league with PPR scoring, as he has a legit chance to lead the team in running back snaps going forward given his versatility as a runner and a receiver. He has handled 37 touches in his past three games played.
Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins (13.3 percent): A shifting in the winds in Washington at wide receiver? Perhaps, as Doctson seemingly overtook a good chunk of the snaps that Terrelle Pryor Sr. had previously handled. Doctson logged 54 of 64 snaps on Monday night, with Pryor playing just 30. A former first-round pick, Doctson has been hampered by injuries to date in his career, but is finally healthy and has enough talent to make him a speculative add in a deeper league whose role could continue to blossom in D.C.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (32.9 percent): Dalton had a strong start but slow finish to Week 7, and the Bengals have a really difficult upcoming schedule that includes trips to Jacksonville and Denver in the next four weeks, so let’s be clear: This is a Week 8 streaming suggestion. Dalton plays his only home game before Week 12 this Sunday against the Colts, an average defense that lost key starters Malik Hooker and John Simon to injury in Week 7. If you’re a Marcus Mariota owner or looking to replace a player such as Aaron Rodgers or Carson Palmer, Dalton has a week’s worth of value this upcoming Sunday.
Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets (12.0 percent): Let’s add another quarterback to the Week 8 streamer list, as McCown has averaged nearly 22 fantasy points his past two weeks, compiling six total touchdowns in the process. The Jets now face the Falcons, and though it isn’t a particularly strong matchup, in a week when there are six teams on byes, McCown, who has completed better than 69 percent of his passes this season, is a deeper league streamer to consider.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts (26.6 percent): Although Frank Gore is the clear-cut starter in Indianapolis and the most trusted back in this backfield, Mack moved one step closer to a larger role when the team placed Robert Turbin on injured reserve last week. Mack is the most explosive back in Indy and had nine touches in Week 7. He’s clearly behind Gore, and the best value he presents for now is when the team is far behind. But if you are looking for some running back depth, Mack is a forward-thinking stash add.
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams (19.5 percent): The Rams head into their bye in Week 8, but upon their return, make sure to keep Woods on the radar. The former Bill has at least five catches in four of his past five games and has averaged exactly seven targets per game in that stretch. He’s the most involved member of this passing game, particularly as Sammy Watkins continues to draw attention from opposing teams’ top cornerbacks.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (40.8 percent): Kupp is another Rams wide receiver to keep on the radar, as he just keeps on finding a way to make plays for this offense. He found the end zone once again for the Rams in Week 8, seeing a career-high 10 targets in the process. The Rams are off next week, but Kupp appears on the flex radar for deeper leagues with PPR scoring.
O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9.2 percent): The talented first-round pick played 69 percent of the Bucs’ offensive snaps in Week 7, the highest yet in his young NFL career. He caught six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, a demonstration of the ability that Tampa Bay is so excited about. However, it also came in a game in which Jameis Winston threw the ball 44 times, and Howard remains the No. 2 tight end in this passing game behind Cameron Brate. But with such a dearth of established options at the position, Howard checks in as an intriguing add-and-stash for someone angling for upside.
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens (32.5 percent): We continue to include Collins in this piece as an option for a deeper league with non-PPR scoring, as he has a fairly defined role until Terrance West (calf) returns. Collins has had at least nine carries in five straight games, with exactly zero catches. He’s a deeper league add to consider, with the hope of a goal-line look to chase a touchdown.
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (41.0 percent): In the past five games, Lee has accumulated 30 targets. He and Allen Hurns are perhaps best described as the co-No. 1 pass-catchers in Jacksonville. I’d prefer Lee, whom I view as a low-end WR4, as the Jaguars wide receiver to add and use in a deeper PPR league.