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Pickups of the Week: Hightower and West, back in our fantasy plans

Andy Behrens
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Each week throughout the NFL season, we identify six players to target on fantasy waiver wires, plus a lightly owned D/ST. All are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues. Add as needed.

Tim Hightower, RB, New Orleans Saints, 4%

Saints running back Mark Ingram picked a very bad time to start fumbling — not that there’s ever a good time, of course. But with a stellar matchup looming against San Francisco’s horrid run defense (5.1 YPC allowed), Ingram was yanked from the backfield rotation on Sunday. He’s put the ball on the ground in back-to-back weeks, shaking the confidence of head coach Sean Payton. Tim Hightower piled up rushing yards against Seattle’s defense with Ingram sidelined, ultimately finishing with 102 on a whopping 26 carries. He was repeatedly denied at the goal line, but that was no great surprise because … well, because he isn’t an exceptional runner by NFL standards (3.9 career YPC). Hightower has earned Payton’s trust, however, and that’s no small thing.

Ingram wasn’t exactly tearing up the league prior to Week 7, when ball-security became a concern, so we should expect a committee arrangement for the foreseeable future:

Another messy six-team bye-week is approaching, so Hightower will rank as a viable RB2 against the Niners.

FAAB bid: $8

Antone Smith & Peyton Barber, RBs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 0% & 7% owned

Tampa Bay was already down to Plan C at running back, following significant injuries to both Doug Martin (hamstring) and Charles Sims (knee, IR). Then, in Sunday’s overtime loss to Oakland, Jacquizz Rodgers was sidelined by a foot/ankle issue of as-yet-unknown severity, resulting in extended playing time for veteran burner Antone Smith. The Bucs have a short week ahead, as the team hosts Atlanta on Thursday night, so there’s a very good chance that Smith and rookie Peyton Barber will share backfield touches in Week 9. Smith dominated the snaps against the Raiders on Sunday after ‘Quizz checked out, but Barber is just a week removed from a 12-carry, 84-yard effort at San Francisco. Both backs are on the fantasy radar in the week ahead. Barber doesn’t yet have a reception to his credit in the NFL and he caught only 11 balls at Auburn, so Smith figures to be Tampa’s primary receiving back. Antone hasn’t seen more than 23 carries in any pro season, however, so we shouldn’t assume he’ll have an every-down role on Thursday. Keep both backs in your waiver plans.

FAAB bid: $9 & $6

Charcandrick West, fantasy-relevant again. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Charcandrick West, fantasy-relevant again. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Charcandrick West, RB, Kansas City Chiefs, 7%

Spencer Ware has single-handedly carried his fantasy owners into playoff contention, but he now finds himself in the concussion protocol, at risk of missing the upcoming matchup with Jacksonville. Jamaal Charles was inactive at Indianapolis on Sunday, still dealing with discomfort in his surgically repaired knee, and he’s headed for a check-up with Dr. Andrews. So that’s terrifying. If neither Ware nor Charles can play in Week 9, Charcandrick West is in line for a massive workload. The Jaguars run defense isn’t anything special — 124.7 YPG allowed, 9 rush TDs — and West has already demonstrated that he’s a competent back, capable of handling a full workload. He delivered three consecutive games with over 120 scrimmage yards last season, before Ware asserted himself.

FAAB bid: $9

Kenny Britt, WR, Los Angeles Rams, 39%

Britt was sent to the discard pile in thousands of leagues last week, with the Rams on bye. He remains on pace for a 1200-yard season, however, and he currently ranks No. 22 at his position in per-game fantasy scoring and No. 14 in receiving yards. He’s legit, despite his team’s miserable quarterback situation. Britt has terrific size (6-foot-3) and deep-ball ability, and he’s drawn eight targets in each of his last two games. He’ll face the Panthers next Sunday and the Jets the following week, a pair of defenses that rank among the softest in the league against the pass. Carolina allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers, and New York isn’t far behind.

FAAB bid: $9

Kenny Britt remains on pace for career highs in catches and yards. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Kenny Britt remains on pace for career highs in catches and yards. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

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Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs, 3%

We’re at the halfway point in the season, and fifth-round rookie Tyreek Hill currently leads the Chiefs in touchdown receptions (4). His highlights are of the highest quality, too. Hill caught five balls for 98 yards and one score against the Colts on Sunday, which gives him three spikes in his last four games. He has rare speed (sub-4.3), which makes him a nightmare vertical threat. If you’re looking for a swing-for-the-fences option in a deep league, give him a long look. His targets won’t be consistent, but he has game-changing, field-flipping jets.

FAAB bid: $3

Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos, 12%

Plenty of lightly owned quarterbacks have friendly matchups ahead, so, in all likelihood, you won’t be hurting for replacement options at the position. Siemian travels to Oakland and New Orleans over the next two weeks, which means back-to-back games against bottom-five pass defenses. Siemian’s year-to-date performance hasn’t been uncommonly good — 202.9 YPG, 8 TDs, 87.1 rating — but he’s generally avoided disaster, and obviously the Broncos receiving corps is terrific. If you’re looking for short-term help, forced to play the wire, Siemian has a clear shot to produce a pair of multi-score games.

FAAB bid: $3

Eric Ebron, chain-mover. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Eric Ebron, chain-mover. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions, 37%

Ebron was understandably mass-dropped while battling multiple injuries, but he returned in Week 7 and had a busy afternoon against the Texans. Ebron hauled in seven of 10 targets, gaining a season-high 79 yards. He’s caught 25 of his 35 total targets this season, emerging as a more relevant and relied upon piece of Detroit’s post-Megatron passing offense. If he can remain healthy over the second-half of the season (and that’s clearly a big if), don’t be shocked if he ultimately delivers a top-10 positional finish.

FAAB bid: $5

Dallas Cowboys, 13%

Dallas’ team defense hasn’t been a significant fantasy factor just yet, but that doesn’t mean this group is worthless. The Cowboys rank seventh in the NFL in scoring defense, eleventh in yards allowed, and the team is tied for eleventh in takeaways (10). Next week, Dallas travels to Cleveland to face a recently concussed Cody Kessler and his winless Browns. It’s a favorable setup for Sean Lee & Co.

FAAB bid: $1

Additional adds to consider: Rob Kelley, RB, Washington, 35% (bye); Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 42% (at Bal); J.J. Nelson, WR, Arizona Cardinals, 2% (at Atl); Jeff Janis, WR, Green Bay Packers, 2% (vs. Ind); Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers, 7% (vs. NO); Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins, 21% (vs. NYJ);

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