Another week of NFL action is in the books just means more opportunities to work the waiver wire in Week 9. It wasn’t a great week for quarterbacks or running backs; save for Patrick Mahomes and Dalvin Cook, respectively. Tight end has been another issue altogether. We did hit on Joe Burrow and Brandon Aiyuk in Week 8, but it was a rough one overall for our suggested pickups.
There were, as usual, more injuries that will have a fantasy impact. However, they aren’t as pertinent as the status of injuries we were already monitoring. They still provide us with some fill-ins with the Bengals, Brown, Eagles, and Rams all on bye. What might be most shocking is there were a couple of rookies who had strong performances without an injury to a player ahead of them on the depth chart.
NFL Week 9 Waiver Wire: Lock Your Carr
The Denver Broncos pulled the upset and got the win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday thanks in no small part to Drew Lock. The second-year pro threw for 248 yards and three scores against L.A. He struggled in his first two games back from injury, completing just 53 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and four interceptions. But Lock completed better than 63 percent of his passes on his way to being the QB7 through Sunday’s games.
He gets the Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, in Week 9. Only three quarterbacks have finished outside the top-12 against them; Teddy Bridgewater (in the rematch), Matthew Stafford, and Nick Foles. Lock is a solid option for those going without Burrow this week.
Las Vegas Raiders
Staying in the AFC West, we land on the most senior quarterback in the division. Derek Carr is in the middle of a career-year in real-life. That hasn’t necessarily translated to fantasy, though, where he’s just QB20 on the season. But he has had usable weeks, peaking as the QB9 in Week 5. He should be back on the streaming radar in Week 9 as Las Vegas takes on the divisional-foe Los Angeles Chargers.
They’ve allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and just traded away a member of their already depleted secondary. Lock was able to get himself untracked against them, scoring more than 20 fantasy points. Burrow (QB20), Bridgewater (QB21), and Gardner Minshew (QB14) are the only two passers to not crack the top-10 against the Chargers.
Despite the fairly even overall split of the carries, Zack Moss is the more desirable back going forward for the Buffalo Bills. Devin Singletary (14 carries, 86 yards) drew the start and had more yardage. But Moss (14/81/2) got the ball in high-leverage situations, including all the work inside the 10-yard line. Week 8 was also the first time Moss got the majority of the snaps. Perhaps Moss can help solve Buffalo’s rushing woes.
His Week 9 opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, are tough on backs but this could be a long-term play on the waiver wire. They’ve also allowed 145 yards to Chase Edmonds and 112 yards to Alexander Mattison in recent weeks. Moss obviously won’t score two touchdowns every week. And Josh Allen, who was playing at an MVP level earlier in the year, is always a threat to take it himself around the goal line. But Moss might be the next best option for a team that led the league in red-zone plays entering the week.
What seemed to be out of the ordinary actually has a logical explanation. Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich came out Monday and said rookie starting running back Jonathan Taylor is dealing with an ankle injury. Taylor still managed 11 totes but he could only turn them into 22 yards. Instead, third-year man Jordan Wilkins turned his 20 carries into 89 yards, also catching his lone target for 24 yards. This is Taylor’s role when healthy and Nyheim Hines gobbles up the receiving work pretty effectively.
There is also the matter of the Baltimore Ravens, Indy’s Week 9 opponent. They’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to backs in 2020. Though, if we’re being honest, four of the seven backs they’ve faced have been the RB17 or better. And two of the other types of performances came over the first two weeks. Wilkins might have a tough time reaching the top-15 considering he gets almost zero action through the air. But he can certainly be a top-24 play in Week 9.
New England Patriots
You cannot trust a New England Patriots running back. You cannot trust a New Patriots running back. You cannot tru…you get the idea. That’s typically the case but we may be seeing a shift in philosophy that has been looming since Tom Brady left for Tampa. James White has enjoyed the most stable role in this backfield, serving as a safety valve for Brady. But with the Patriots going with a more run-heavy approach with Cam Newton, Damien Harris might be emerging as the most trustworthy asset.
Harris has gotten 10-plus carries in three of four games he’s been active and has hit the century mark in two of them. New England lost all four games; hopefully easing at some concern over his being phased out by game script. He isn’t without worry, though. White isn’t likely completely gone from this offense and Rex Burkhead is the quintessential vulture. But Harris has been playing for Sony Michel and has given no reasons why he shouldn’t continue doing so.
Gus Edwards/J.K. Dobbins
For one week, at least, fantasy players finally got a glimpse of how the Baltimore Ravens backfield would produce with just two mouths to feed as opposed to three. The results were both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins finishing in the top-15 in Week 8. Should Mark Ingram (ankle) miss another week, Edwards and Dobbins could be right back in the top-15 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Which of the two should be a priority might depend on your format. Edwards had one more carry and got the lone tote inside the 10-yard line so it’s likely him if your league is standard scoring. But Dobbins out-gained him (113 to 87) and was the preferred third-down option. He should be first-priority in PPR leagues.
Things have a way of coming full circle in sports. That usually manifests in the form of a veteran player signing for a final year, or even a one-day, contract to retire as a member of the team that drafted them. For Marvin Jones, it’s a little different. He was generally drafted toward the end of the eighth round or so as part of what was supposed to be a high-octane passing attack. He is just the WR52 on the year. In Week 8, however, he was the WR8.
A large part of why he was able to reach the ranking he did in Week 8 was because he caught two touchdowns. He caught two of them against the Colts; his just his second and third of the year. But he also got more opportunity due to Kenny Golladay exiting early with a hip injury. Golladay has already missed three games this season so perhaps Detroit takes the extra precautious approach. The Lions face the Minnesota Vikings who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers; just ask Davante Adams.
We have had reason to suspect this was coming but it was nice to actually see Chicago Bears rookie receiver Darnell Mooney on the receiving end of a deep pass from Foles. For one thing, the Bears need all the offense they can muster. But, more important for fantasy purposes, it was the process paying off. Mooney has received three-plus targets in every game and has at least five in every game from Week 3 on.
Anthony Miller led Chicago in targets in Week 8 but that includes Allen Robinson; something no one should expect to happen again barring injury. He also still played fewer snaps than Mooney yet again. If one of these two performances was an outlier, it’s probably Miller’s. Sunday was his first game with more than four grabs all season. He’ll need to put together a couple more outing like this to regain the trust he began the year with. But the Tennessee Titans (seventh-most points to wide receivers) on tap, Mooney could yet again crack the top-16 like he did this week.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are probably the most injury-riddled team in the NFL. They’re already down one All-Pro pass-rusher and two other key pieces from their vaunted defense. They are also without their top running back and lost his backup in what was his first game back. Now they will be without stud tight end George Kittle for basically the rest of the season. All of this is to say someone has to catch passes and in Week 8, at least, Kendrick Bourne was one of those people.
Bourne registered just one fewer target and had just 10 fewer yards than Brandon Aiyuk who led the 49ers in both categories. He’ll make for a better asset in PPR than standard, touchdowns will be harder to come by with Jimmy Garoppolo also set to miss an extended period of time. Nick Mullens has shown he can get the ball to his playmakers and with Deebo Samuel set to miss a couple more games, Bourne could be a nice FLEX play.
Another week, another rushing touchdown for Trey Burton. No, he hasn’t switched positions. He has just landed in one of the friendliest offenses for tight ends in the NFL. Frank Reich’s system helped revive the career of Eric Ebron and might be doing the same with Burton. He’s already surpassed his yardage and touchdown totals from 2019 with the Bears and he’s done so in half the games.
Mo Alie-Cox started in this role but got injured a few weeks back. This has allowed Burton to emerge for Reich, whom we won a Super Bowl as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. There are obvious risks. Philip Rivers hasn’t been great this year, Jack Doyle isn’t going away, and Burton is still a part-time player. Indy also plays the Ravens in Week 9. Their sturdy defense has been just okay at stopping tight ends and allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers Eric Ebron to catch four passes for 48 yards and a score.