Waiver Wire: Week 9

Adam Levitan
Rotoworld
Adam Levitan has notes on 31 players to consider adding to your squad. Michael Vick is back in the saddle

Waiver Wire: Week 9

Adam Levitan has notes on 31 players to consider adding to your squad. Michael Vick is back in the saddle

The bloated bye weeks are back, and I love it. All the depth we’ve established by grinding the waiver wire will give us a massive advantage with six teams off this week, and it’s a reminder that we constantly need to be looking ahead. When deciding between Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims, think about when you need help. When thinking if you should be stashing Kyle Rudolph, examine your tight end situation. When does your QB1 have a bye? Can Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III help you?

On to the Week 9 assets. Here is how I would rank the players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues right now. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow.

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Quarterbacks
1. Michael Vick
2. Robert Griffin III
3. Kyle Orton
4. Alex Smith
5. Brian Hoyer

Running backs
1. Bobby Rainey
2. Charles Sims
3. Lorenzo Taliaferro
4. Jonas Gray
5. Bryce Brown
6. Anthony Dixon
7. Jonathan Stewart
8. DeAngelo Williams
9. Andre Williams

Wide receivers
1. Donte Moncrief
2. Andrew Hawkins
3. Brandon LaFell
4. Justin Hunter
5. Davante Adams
6. Allen Robinson
7. Martavis Bryant
* Josh Gordon is owned in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add at WR.

Tight ends
1. Kyle Rudolph
2. Tyler Eifert
3. Jace Amaro
4. Crockett Gillmore

Defense/Special Teams
1. Browns
2. Vikings
3. Cowboys
* The Chiefs are 58 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. If available, they’d be my No. 2 D/ST add.

Kickers
1. Randy Bullock
2. Shaun Suisham
3. Cairo Santos


QUARTERBACKS
1. Michael Vick, Jets – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Jets put Geno Smith in a position to fail and he did. Now they’re turning to Michael Vick. Vick is 34, injury prone and turnover prone, but this guy can still fill a box score. He knows the Marty Mornhinweg scheme like the back of his hand from their time together in Philadelphia and has a ton of juice left in his legs – Vick ran for 69 yards on eight carries after relieving Smith in Week 8. Also note that Percy Harvin is in town, Jace Amaro is coming on (see the tight end section) and Eric Decker’s hamstring appears healthy. In the first four games of last season, Vick averaged 270.0 passing yards, 1.2 pass TDs, 57.0 rush yards and 0.5 rush TDs. As a Philip Rivers owner, I can’t wait to use Vick in Week 10 against the Steelers (when Rivers is on a bye). If forced, Vick has a decent floor at Kansas City this week thanks to his legs.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Robert Griffin III, Redskins – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
Despite Colt McCoy’s impressive performance on Monday night, the Redskins confirmed that Robert Griffin III will be their quarterback once his ankle is 100 percent. When will that be? Well, it could be as soon as Week 9 against the Vikings, but I suspect it will be immediately after the Week 10 bye. Either way, Griffin will immediately bring high-end QB2 appeal thanks to Jay Gruden’s passer-friendly scheme, plus weaponry and RG3’s legs.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Kyle Orton, Bills – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
In four starts this season, Kyle Orton is averaging 282.0 pass yards and 2.2 touchdowns per game. It shows just how inept E.J. Manuel truly was. Squeezing the most out of Sammy Watkins, Orton is a good bet to sustain QB2 value with three of his next four games at home and plus matchups against the Packers and Raiders in the fantasy playoffs. Just note the Bills are on a bye this week.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

4. Alex Smith, Chiefs – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
There are plenty of streaming options this week with Brian Hoyer (see below), Teddy Bridgewater against the Redskins and Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Eagles. I like Alex Smith as the top streamer. The Jets still have PFF’s No. 1 run defense, which has led to opponents simply taking to the air against their brutal secondary. No team has given up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Jets. So even though Smith will be his usual Captain Checkdown self, the volume should be there.
Recommendation: Should be considered as a streamer

5. Brian Hoyer, Browns – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
This is streaming play as Brian Hoyer and the Browns host the Bucs Sunday. This Tampa defense is beyond inept against the pass, giving up the fourth-most fantasy points in the league to opposing quarterbacks. That includes a value-meeting showing from Teddy Bridgewater in Week 8 and a humiliation at the hands of Joe Flacco in Week 6. I’d like Hoyer more if Jordan Cameron (questionable, concussion) can get cleared. We know he’s short on pass-game weapons already.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Teddy Bridgewater, Zach Mettenberger – Fitzpatrick has a dream matchup (home vs. Eagles), but the Texans will just use him as a game manager. … Teddy didn’t exactly light it on fire against the Bucs’ woeful pass defense. There’s only QB2 upside here. … The Mett Show was not poised in his first NFL start, but used garbage time to finish with 299 yards and two touchdowns. His big arm and aggressive nature will keep him on the QB2 map when the Titans come out of their bye against the Steelers in Week 11.

RUNNING BACKS
1. Bobby Rainey, Bucs – Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues
We know what Bobby Rainey is. He’s “just a guy” kind of back, but one that is certainly capable of filling the box score in the right spot. Operating as the Bucs feature runner over the final seven games of the last season, Rainey averaged 18.4 carries for 69.5 yards and scored five touchdowns. He’s also posted a 100-yard game already this season (Week against the Rams) and has 22 catches in seven games. If Doug Martin (ankle) can’t go against the Browns Sunday, Rainey will almost certainly start and play the majority of snaps. Third-round rookie Charles Sims will likely start off as a pass-game specialist and work his way up from there. So if you need a short-term RB2/3 type for the immediate future, Rainey is definitely your best bet.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Charles Sims, Bucs – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
We’ve seen this coming for a while now. Doug Martin has been among the most ineffective backs in the league for the last two seasons, struggling as both a runner (3.36 YPC) and a pass protector (57th among 58 qualifiers per PFF). Now he’s battling an ankle injury that knocked him out of Sunday’s loss to the Vikings and rumors the Bucs put him on the block ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline. This Lovie Smith inherited Martin, so there won’t be too much loyalty here. Enter Charles Sims, a rookie Lovie used a third-round pick on in May. Sims is a pass-game specialist, excelling as both a receiver and protector while drawing some poor man’s Matt Forte comps. He’s set to return from his ankle surgery as soon as this week and will begin a push toward the top of the depth chart. Three-down ability is a must when projecting RB stats for bad teams, giving Sims a good shot to make a box-score impact. If needing a short-term boost, I’d add Bobby Rainey (more below). If looking at the big picture, I like Sims.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Bernard Pierce was a somewhat surprising healthy scratch Sunday, hammering home what was already becoming clear: Lorenzo Taliaferro is directly behind Justin Forsett on the depth chart. That’s a decent-sized role, as the Ravens have been a bit hesitant to really pound the 197-pound Forsett. He’s averaging a reasonable but not crazy 14.1 carries per game over the last six. Taliaferro’s real value is in where he’s being used, as the 226-pounder is handling short-yardage and scored on two runs from inside the 10-yard line Sunday. Owners hunting the waiver wire for touchdowns during this bloated bye week could do worse than Taliaferro against the Steelers.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Jonas Gray, Patriots – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Here are the RB snap counts for the Patriots in Sunday’s blowout of the Bears: Shane Vereen 33-of-74, Jonas Gray 29, James White 12, Brandon Bolden 0. As noted over the weekend in our player news blurbs, Gray has taken over first-string big back duties from Stevan Ridley (knee, out for season). So what does that mean? Well, in games the Patriots are leading and trying to churn the clock, Gray will get a bunch of carries. He’ll also be a decent bet for goal-line work. Owners just need to realize that in games the Patriots get behind -- or don’t think they can run the ball -- Gray could get a zero. We saw that play out as Bill Belichick didn’t even want to test the Jets’ elite run defense in Week 7. Use the schedule and Vegas lines to figure out when you can take a shot on Gray.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Bryce Brown, Bills – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
5. Anthony Dixon, Bills – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
In the first game since the Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller injuries, Anthony Dixon played on 43-of-57 snaps and got 22 carries with no targets. Predictably, he returned zero value as he accumulated just 44 yards. Bryce Brown played on just 14 snaps, equally ineffective with seven rushes for 15 yards and no catches on one target. Now the Bills go on a bye and have some more tough matchups right after it (KC, MIA, NYJ). The reason I’d still give the edge to Brown is because once Fred Jackson (knee) returns, Dixon will fade and Brown will stick in the C.J. Spiller role (13.5 touches per game). The Bills face Green Bay and Oakland in Weeks 15 and 16, fantasy winning time.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

6. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
7. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Not too long ago, Jonathan Stewart was one of the NFL’s rising studs at the running back position. Then a bunch of injuries coupled with an opportunity-limiting timeshare completely took him off the radar. Stewart was back in a big way last week, ripping through tackles in an impressive 16-79-0 performance against Seattle’s still-strong run defense. I was prepared to have Stewart much higher on this list, but then word came down that DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will be back for Thursday’s game against the Saints. Couple that with Cam Newton’s goal-line running ability, and we just don’t have much upside right now. The real payoff with rostering these guys is in the schedule. The Panthers face the Saints, Bucs and Browns in Weeks 14-16, three of the weaker defenses in the NFL. If another injury strikes (which given history is pretty likely), we’ll have a reasonable RB2/flex on our hands in whoever is left standing.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

8. Andre Williams, Giants – Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues
Somewhat surprisingly, Rashad Jennings (knee) is not expected to return for Monday night’s home game against the Colts. That will lead to another spot-start for Andre Williams, although neither the Giants nor fantasy owners will be excited about it. Williams was downright bad in his two big chances before the bye, missing holes and looking indecisive while predictably not contributing in the pass game. His skill set is limiting. In a game the Giants could very well find themselves trailing again, Williams will be a risky flex option at best.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

Watch List: Theo Riddick, Travaris Cadet, Knile Davis, Marion Grice, Roy Helu – Riddick jumps off the screen. He’ll be a fine PPR play anytime Reggie Bush (ankle) sits. … Cadet is a great bet for 4-6 catches against the Panthers Thursday night. … Davis is your reminder to practice proper handcuffing strategy where it’s warranted. Knile, James Starks and Carlos Hyde are three of the best. … Grice has moved up to the No. 2 spot behind overworked Andre Ellington with Stepfan Taylor (calf) sidelined. … Helu, a better fit for the Gruden scheme, is starting to take more and more base work from Alfred Morris.

WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Donte Moncrief, Colts – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
With Reggie Wayne (elbow) sidelined, Hakeem Nicks drew the start opposite T.Y. Hilton Sunday. The dead-legged Nicks predictably embarrassed himself, posting 1-27-0 on six targets yet still playing on 60-of-66 snaps. Physical freak Donte Moncrief, on the other hand, did the exact opposite of embarrass himself. He went 7-113-1 on 12 targets despite playing on just 40 snaps. Wayne’s injury is not serious and he will be back sooner rather than later, but the Colts clearly have to shuffle the depth chart. Moncrief will be a talented No. 3 wideout operating with a generational quarterback, playing roughly half the snaps. The only downside is the amount of mouths to feed in Indy, which will keep Moncrief as a rocky WR3 once Wayne returns.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Andrew Hawkins, Browns – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
PPR streamers should be all over Andrew Hawkins this week. The Browns, with a sputtering run game, are facing a pass game’s dream in the Bucs. And they could very well be without Jordan Cameron, who has suffered another concussion. In games Cameron has missed all or part of this season, Hawkins is averaging 7.0 catches for 81.6 yards with one touchdown.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

3. Brandon LaFell, Patriots – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
I was wrong about Brandon LaFell. Previously a lock to confound and frustrate, he’s really found his stride as a go-to guy in New England. The Patriots have certainly noticed it, as LaFell has been in on 86.1 percent of the snaps over the last five weeks, producing 5.2 catches for 83.0 yards with four touchdowns during that span. LaFell would be higher on the list if not for an unfavorable upcoming schedule (DEN, bye, IND, DET, GB).
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Justin Hunter, Titans – Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s not a coincidence that Justin Hunter set a career-high in targets (10) in Zach Mettenberger’s first NFL start. This duo has chemistry dating back to the preseason, and the Mett Show’s aggressive, big-armed, vertical style is an ideal fit for Hunter’s skill set. Also note that Nate Washington went down with a sprained shoulder. Hunter, playing on 94.3 percent of the snaps over the last month, will carry plenty of WR3 upside after the bye.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Davante Adams, Packers – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Davante Adams has officially iced Jarrett Boykin in their No. 3 wideout competition. Even though Boykin is back healthy, Adams played on 68-of-71 snaps on Sunday night while Boykin saw just eight. There will be some headaches with the second-round rookie, but he’s a talented guy now playing every snap and gaining trust with Aaron Rodgers. Adams is worth holding through the bye week in most formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

6. Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’m not sure what people are waiting for on Allen Robinson, who played on 63-of-71 snaps Sunday. He’s miles ahead of Marqise Lee (23) and Allen Hurns (39), producing 5.6 catches for 70.0 yards over the last three weeks. He’s also scored in back-to-back games. Yes, much of Robinson’s production has come in garbage time, but that’s a skill annually exploited by sharp fantasy owners. The best part here is that Blake Bortles has tons and tons of room to improve on his high-ceiling skill set.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

7. Martavis Bryant, Steelers – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Markus Wheaton, plagued by flat-out horrendous play through the first seven weeks, finally showed up in Sunday’s win over the Colts. It’s too late though, as we can’t put the toothpaste named Martavis Bryant back into the tube. The snap count for PIT’s wideouts was Antonio Brown 83-of-84, Wheaton 34, Bryant 33, Lance Moore 22, Darrius Heyward-Bey 29. Bryant, who has been active for just two games in his NFL career and already has three touchdowns on seven targets, is a 6-foot-4 touchdown scorer. He’s on the WR4 radar despite his rotational, situational role.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

Watch List: Dwayne Bowe, Malcom Floyd, John Brown, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey – Bowe’s dream matchup this week gives him a little more upside than usual. … Floyd isn’t that exciting right now as he has to play at Miami and then has a bye. … I love Brown’s talent, but he’s still the clear-cut No. 3 wideout in ARZ. … Britt and Bailey are your new starting wideouts for the Austin Davis. Yikes.  

TIGHT ENDS
1. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
As mentioned last week, the tight spot is really barren right now. So if you need help and can afford to make an upside stash, Kyle Rudolph is your man. He likely won’t be back until after the Week 10 bye, but will give owners a borderline TE1 option right away as a red-zone player that also lines up in the slot between the 20s. Rudolph has 13 touchdowns in his last 26 games.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Tyler Eifert, Bengals – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
There’s a chance Tyler Eifert (elbow) will come off IR with a designation to return for Week 11. Given that the Bengals offense is sputtering a bit with A.J. Green (toe, day to day) out and Marvin Jones (foot) out for the season, Eifert should return to a solid role. Jermaine Gresham has proven inept at anything other than catching the ball a few yards down the field and falling. Note that Eifert had 3-37-0 on three targets in the first half of Week 1 before suffering his injury. It looked like he was going to have a big role in this Hue Jackson scheme.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Jace Amaro, Jets – Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues
Michael Vick is injury-prone and turnover-prone. But one thing we know he can still do is move offenses, especially in the Marty Mornhinweg scheme he knows so well. So Amaro will carry a bit more upside as a TE2 going forward, especially after playing a season-high 55 snaps and running a season-high 40 pass routes in Sunday’s loss to the Bills.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

4. Crockett Gillmore, Ravens – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Ravens OC Gary Kubiak runs the most tight end friendly offense this side of Rob Chudzinski. So with Owen Daniels (knee) out another 1-3 weeks, Crockett Gillmore has a big opportunity on his hands. The third-round rookie out of Colorado State played on 52-of-66 snaps against the Bengals Sunday, catching just two balls for 23 yards on two targets. But Joe Flacco couldn’t get anything going, throwing for just 195 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. That shouldn’t be an issue against the Steelers this week, leaving Gillmore as a TE2 for desperate owners.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

Watch List: Tim Wright, Coby Fleener, Jared Cook, Clay Harbor, Austin Seferian-Jenkins – I’m not going to play whack-a-mole with Wright and Bill Belichick. His target count over the last six games is 1, 0, 5, 1, 0, 7. … If Fleener wasn’t in a Bromance with Andrew Luck, I wouldn’t even mention him. … Even with the Rams down to bare bones at wideout, Jared Cook will continue to give owners 4-40-0. … Harbor has enough athleticism to produce, but Blake Bortles is killing him. … ASJ’s game-losing fumble mars his first career touchdown.


DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Browns – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
Boosted a bit by the return of NT Ahtyba Rubin, the Browns defense held the Raiders to just 71 rushing yards in Week 8. Now they get another home game against a weak opponent with a bad running game: The Bucs. Mike Glennon has produced a total of 30 points and been picked off twice in the last two weeks.

2. Vikings – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
Colt McCoy was more than solid in Monday night’s win at Dallas. That doesn’t mean he’ll be solid again if he starts in Week 9 as the Redskins have a back-to-back road spot on a short week. The Vikings defense has actually been strong of late, giving up no more than 16 points in any of their last three games.

3. Cowboys – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
With these bloated bye weeks, it often pays to look ahead and stash a defense for the following week. That’s the play with Dallas. Although I wouldn’t love using them against Arizona Sunday, I would absolutely love to use them against ridiculously mistake-prone Blake Bortles and the Jags in Week 10.

KICKERS
1. Randy Bullock, Texans – Owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues
Randy Bullock, a 2012 fifth-rounder, is quietly rounding into form. He’s 6-of-6 on field goals the last two weeks and 15-of-17 on the season. Now Bullock and the Texans get to face an Eagles team that allows opponents tons of possessions thanks to their fastbreak offensive style. Bullock is at home in a game with an over/under of 48.5 and a tight line (Eagles by 2.5). It’s ideal conditions for kicker streaming.

2. Shaun Suisham, Steelers – Owned in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues
Here’s another ideal game flow spot as the Steelers are favored by 1.5 points and the over/under is 47.5. Suisham should have plenty of chances, especially with top Ravens corner Jimmy Smith (foot) not available to slow down Antonio Brown. The Steelers won’t have seven extra points and zero field-goal attempts again like they did in the freaky Week 8 blowout of the Colts.

3. Cairo Santos, Chiefs – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
A rookie out of Tulane, Santos is riding a streak of eight straight makes – including three from 40-49 yards out and one from 53. In a home game against the lowly Jets, there will be opportunities. Perhaps the Jets’ strong run defense will lead to some red-zone ineffectiveness for the Chiefs like it did last week for the Bills. Dan Carpenter ended up with three field goals to go with his four extra points.

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