By Jacob Camenker
The waiver wire has never been more important for fantasy football owners than it has been in 2020. Between the injury issues plaguing each position and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the season, every week brings with it a new challenge. This week, byes for the Vikings, Ravens, Dolphins, and Colts are thinning out the TE and D/ST position while plenty of top RBs (Dalvin Cook, Jonathan Taylor, and more) and pass-catching weapons (Adam Thielen, DeVante Parker, Mark Andrews, and more) are out, as well. Because of those byes and the Week 8 byes (Cardinals, Texans, Jaguars, Washington), owners will have to look for streamers and sleepers to plug into their lineups. That means keying in on not only the Week 7 waiver wire period, but looking ahead to Week 8 and grabbing a player that could potentially be the next “must-have pickup” or top streamer.
By now, fantasy owners should have a revolving door at one spot on their roster. If not, then good for you — you have some solid depth. But if you do shuffle players in and out like crazy, that’s not a bad thing either, as you are likely targeting matchup-based streamers. Is it nice to hang onto some handcuffs like Duke Johnson or Cordarrelle Patterson just in case the starters in front of them, David Johnson and David Montgomery, go down? Definitely. However, you can feel free to drop those handcuffs to grab a top streaming option or player with a bright future outlook, much like WR Christian Kirk.
Taking advantage of IR spots is also something that has to be done at this time of the year. If you’re in a league that has an IR option, scooping up a guy like Tevin Coleman, Dallas Goedert, or Sony Michel now and stashing them is a sensible move, as those players will be back soon.
Also, it’s important to remember that every roster move is just an educated guess. As is always the case, some will be right and some will be wrong, but that’s just part of the game. You can’t predict injuries (If you think you can, spoiler alert: They’re just guesses), and breakouts are hard to predict, too. That said, if you guess right, like those who had Chase Claypool or Justin Jackson on their rosters before their breakouts, picking up a player early can pay massive dividends, as you won’t have to use a waiver claim or figure out how much FAAB to spend on them.
This week is a solid one for waiver wire pickups at QB, RB, and WR. The TE and D/ST positions continue to be thin, but there are plenty of strong QB streamers (Teddy Bridgewater) and flex options (Scott, Kirk, Zack Moss, and even Antonio Brown) that can bolster winning lineups moving forward. Tight end and defense are a bit weaker during the bye weeks, but even they have a few worthwhile players available.
It you’re comfortable with your roster, you don’t have to make a move. If you like a player, grab them now before something happens that makes him more appealing to the rest of your league. So long as you aren’t dropping a top-tier player, swapping bech options to get ahead of the curve for Week 8 should pan out well.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watchlist
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 7, looking forward to the players that could be waiver-wire targets to scoop before the season starts to use in future weeks. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are options you could pick up early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
Week 8 Waiver Wire Watchlist: Quarterback
Key QBs out because of byes: Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Gardner Minshew, Kyle Allen
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (44)
Bridgewater is easily the top quarterback streamer in Week 8, as he gets to take on the Falcons in a Thursday night battle. The Falcons have allowed the most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to QBs this season (29.9). When Bridgewater faced them in Week 5, he threw for 313 yards and two TDs, and he should take advantage of Atlanta’s porous secondary once again, especially on a short week.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (32)
Speaking of valuable streamers, that’s exactly what Cousins will be against the Packers. Green Bay is worse against the run than they are against the pass, but they are surrendering 27.8 points per game this season. The Vikings will have to throw a lot to keep pace with the Packers thanks to a poor defense of their own (32 points per game allowed, second most in the NFL) so Cousins could have a nice day.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (30)
Garoppolo is taking on the Seahawks in Week 8. The Seahawks have allowed the second-most FPPG to QBs this year (25.4) and with Garoppolo and his receiving weapons getting healthier, he should have a chance to do well in this favorable matchup.
Andy Dalton, Cowboys (29)
Dalton may have performed poorly in his first start of the season against the Cardinals, but he has a chance to bounce back in consecutive outings against Washington (Week 7) and Philadelphia (Week 8). Dalton’s offensive weapons should have a chance to do some damage against an Eagles defense that has allowed the 10th-most passing TDs this year (11). He could go for 250 yards and two TDs to be a valuable streamer.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (28)
Tua might not be someone to start in Week 8, as his first opponent, the Rams, will prove to be a difficult test for the rookie. That said, he takes on the Cardinals, Chargers, Broncos, Jets, and Bengals in the five weeks following that, so he should be a strong streaming option at some point in that span if all goes well. You can still scoop him up if you need QB help, but don’t expect to use him until Week 9 or later.
Week 8 Waiver Wire Watch List: RB
Key RBs out because of byes: James Robinson, Kenyan Drake, David Johnson, Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Chase Edmonds
Zack Moss, Bills (48)
Moss’ ownership has declined as a result of him being sidelined with a toe injury for a few weeks and the fact that he played in just 25 percent of the Bills’ snaps against the Chiefs. That said, Moss still has just three fewer red-zone carries than Devin Singletary (10-7) and is a good handcuff and potential TD vulture to keep around even with tougher games against the Patriots and Seahawks upcoming.
J.D. McKissic, Washington (35)
McKissic saw a season-high eight carries against the Giants and has averaged 7.3 targets per game in his past three outings. He’s splitting carries with Antonio Gibson and appears to be the preferred checkdown option for the Washington offense, regardless of who the quarterback is. He has a lot of upside in PPR formats, especially since Washington is playing the Giants, Lions, Bengals, and Cowboys following their Week 8 bye.
Nyheim Hines, Colts (33)
After a stellar first week of the season, Hines’ production in the Indianapolis offense has dipped along with his role. That said, he is still averaging 4.5 targets per game and the Colts are taking on a Lions defense that has allowed the fourth-most FPPG to RBs this season (25.4) in Week 8. Hines could be a productive flex in that game, so feel free to grab him as his ownership continues to decline.
Frank Gore, Jets (30) | La’Mical Perine, Jets (16)
No, Gore isn’t the most exciting player on the market, but in his four games this season without Le’Veon Bell, Gore has carried the ball an average of 15 times. He’s averaging just 49 yards per game, but that would be good enough for flex production if he can get a TD. Perine represents the longer-term upside in the Jets’ backfield, so he may be worth adding if you don’t need a player that can go right away, but either way, these two players figure to be the lead options in the Jets backfield the rest of the season.
Sony Michel, Patriots (27)
Michel (quad, COVID list) could return to action soon for the Patriots as he is officially eligible to do so at this time. It’s unclear when he will return to New England, but once he does, he could take some carries away from Damien Harris, who had one great outing and one relatively unimpactful outing for the Patriots so far this year. The Patriots get to the face the Bills and Jets in consecutive weeks, so Michel could garner flex consideration if he’s healthy enough for those two games.
Jamaal Williams, Packers (26)
Williams is playing a more significant role in the Packers’ offense than expected, getting in on at least 51 percent of the offensive snaps in back-to-back games. That didn’t translate to production against the Bucs, but Tampa is very good against RBs. The Vikings and Jaguars, two of the next three Packers opponents, can be beaten in the secondary (Vikings) and against the run (Jaguars). Williams can find success in both areas, so scoop him up and consider him a potential flex play while some other runners are on bye or injured.
Tevin Coleman, 49ers (24) | JaMycal Hasty, 49ers (15) | Jeff Wilson Jr. (5)
Somebody is going to have to back up Jerick McKinnon with Raheem Mostert (ankle) out for about a month. Coleman (knee) was the top backup for the 49ers to start the season, but he is still on IR. It may be another week or two before he returns, but he’s worth keeping an eye on and potentially stashing in an IR spot. Meanwhile, Wilson will probably be the immediate backup to McKinnon unless he can’t come back from a calf injury. As such, Hasty will need to be watched too after totaling nine carries for 37 yards against the Rams in his first game with extended offensive action.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals (11)
UPDATE: With Joe Mixon declared out for Week 7, Bernard is a must-add.
Joe Mixon (foot) is dealing with an injury, and while he may not miss time, it’s worth keeping an eye on his handcuff in case he does or incase he suffers a setback. Bernard hasn’t been a full-time lead back in a long time, but he is one of the best fill-ins you can have at the position thanks to his pass-catching prowess. If he’s starting in a Week 9 game against the Titans, he will definitely be worth having around as a potential flex play.
Week 8 Waiver Wire Watch List: WR
Key WRs out because of byes: DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Terry McLaurin, DJ Chark, Keelan Cole, Laviska Shenault
Antonio Brown, Free Agent (54)
UPDATE: Brown has reached an agreement with the Buccaneers, giving him plenty of potential upside once he starts playing in Week 9.
Remember this guy? Yeah, he may return to the NFL. He is eligible to be reinstated from suspension after Week 8, and the Seahawks are among the teams interested in him, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. If Brown is signed, he could instantly become a top-30 receiver if he’s still the elite playmaker that he always has been. Of course, a lot depends on his situation, as well as what type of shape he’s in, but if you need a top-tier receiver, Brown is worth a shot despite being the ultimate wild card.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals (47)
Kirk will be on bye in Week 8, but he could be a hot commodity on the waiver wire nonetheless. He is playing a Seahawks team that has given up the most FPPG to WRs by a longshot (38.2) in Week 7, so he could build on his already skyrocketing value after posting two TDs and 86 yards against the Cowboys in Week 6. The Cardinals face the Dolphins, Bills, and Seahawks again post-bye, so Kirk could be trusted as WR3/flex in those matchups.
Cole Beasley, Bills (37)
Beasley is averaging just over six targets per game this season and has been trusted more as John Brown deals with a calf injury. The Bills take on the Patriots in Week 8, and while that game will be tough, they’ll take on the Seahawks who have, as previously mentioned, struggled against WRs this season. If Brown is still less than 100 percent, Beasley could be a high-end WR3 in that matchup and could make some more downfield plays than usual for the Bills.
Sterling Shepard, Giants (29)
In 68 snaps before suffering a toe injury, Shepard had been targeted by Daniel Jones 10 times and caught eight passes for 76 yards. Jones will likely rely on the fifth-year veteran as a mid-level security blanket, so he could rack up catches. The Bucs will be a tough Week 8 matchup, but after that, games against Washington, the Eagles, and the Bengals will make Shepard a potential flex play and WR3 option in PPR.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles (28) | Jalen Reagor, Eagles (14)
UPDATE: Jackson was placed on IR after Philadelphia’s game on Thursday night because of a high-ankle sprain.
Somebody has to step up and be the complementary receiver to Travis Fulgham. DeSean Jackson (hamstring) will return in Week 7, so he should get the first crack at it. Reagor, the Eagles’ first-round pick, may not be back until after the Eagles’ Week 9 bye while recovering from a thumb injury, but he has the speed needed to make an impact. Alshon Jeffery could also draw consideration here, but he is continuing to struggle as he looks to return from a foot injury. Jackson is probably the one to own given that the Eagles are taking on the woeful Cowboys in Week 8.
Corey Davis, Titans (27)
Before landing on the COVID list, Davis was averaging 6.3 targets and 68.7 yards per game as the Titans’ No. 1 receiver with A.J. Brown out. When Davis returns to action, he should continue to see looks from the red-hot Ryan Tannehill. That could make him a nice WR3 against the Bengals in Week 8.
Tim Patrick, Broncos (25)
Patrick has posted back-to-back 100-yard games and has posted double-digit standard fantasy points in three consecutive games. He should be owned in far more than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues and should continue to be one of the Broncos’ top-two receivers as the season goes along. He’s averaging 6.3 targets per game his last three outings and could do some damage in upcoming games against the Chiefs, Chargers, Falcons, and Raiders.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers (24)
Aaron Rodgers is having a terrific year, and at the moment, Valdes-Scantling is his No. 2 receiver. The Packers are playing the Vikings in Week 8 and will have a chance to torch their young cornerback group that has allowed the second-most FPPG to WRs this year (32.8). Feel free to pick up MVS and confidently start him in that matchup.
Russell Gage, Falcons (18)
Matt Ryan finally got back into a groove against the Vikings, and Gage did, too. He caught four passes for 65 yards and was much more effective with Julio Jones back in the lineup. The Falcons play the Panthers and Broncos in Weeks 8 and 9, so Gage could end up being a nice play in those matchups.
Week 8 Waiver Wire Watch List: TE
Key TEs out because of byes: Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Tyler Eifert, Logan Thomas, Dan Arnold
Dallas Goedert, Eagles (49) | Richard Rodgers, Eagles (2)
Goedert (ankle) is eligible to come off IR as of Week 7, but he it doesn’t seem like he will be activated before the Eagles’ Thursday night game. Perhaps he could be back in action in Week 8 if all goes well, but even if he takes longer to return — Week 10 seems like the top target date — he makes sense as a speculative stash for TE-needy teams. Meanwhile, Rodgers will be the top TE for the Eagles with Zach Ertz (ankle) and Goedert sidelined, and with a couple of good matchups against the Giants (Week 7) and Cowboys (Week 8) on deck, he’s a worthwhile streamer at the position. Feel free to target him if you need help there.
Trey Burton, Colts (22)
Burton is averaging 5.6 targets per game in his three appearances for the Colts, and he should continue to be the top target at the position with Mo Alie-Cox dealing with a knee injury. Burton is on bye in Week 7, but then he gets to take on the Lions, Ravens, Titans, and Packers. Three of those games should be favorable matchups, so Burton can be trusted as a top target of Philip Rivers.
Anthony Firkser, Titans (10)
If Jonnu Smith (ankle) has to miss time, Firkser will be the top option at TE for the Titans. Ryan Tannehill loves targeting the position, as evidenced by Firkser’s eight catches for 113 yards and a TD against the Texans after Smith exited. Firkser would be a top-12 play against the Bengals in Week 8, so keep an eye on him before Week 7 against the Steelers (another game that he would be playable in if Smith is out).
Ian Thomas, Colts (8)
Thomas hasn’t done a lot this year, but the Falcons give up the second-most FPPG to TEs (14.3). Thomas had just one target against the Falcons and has had two or fewer targets in all but one game this year, but if you really need TE help, his matchup is good enough to trust just as a one-week streamer.
David Njoku, Browns (3) | Harrison Bryant, Browns (0)
With Austin Hooper (appendix) likely out at least two weeks, someone will have to step up at TE for the Browns. Over the past three weeks, Hooper had been averaging over seven targets per game the past three weeks, so there will be plenty of opportunities for whichever TE gets more snaps.
Week 8 defense streamers and sleepers
D/STs out because of byes: Cardinals, Washington, Jaguars, Texans
Tennessee Titans (30) | Week 8 opponent: @ Bengals
Dallas Cowboys (30) | Week 8 opponent: @ Eagles
Las Vegas Raiders (1) | Week 8 opponent: @ Browns
It’s not a great week for defensive streamers with Washington and Jacksonville, two of the better offenses to exploit, out this week.
The Titans and the Raiders are options because of the QBs they’re facing. The Titans get to take on Joe Burrow, who has struggled under pressure this year, while the Raiders play Baker Mayfield, who is prone to the occasional clunker and is dealing with a rib injury. Both defenses will have a chance to rattle the QBs they take on, and though they may not be high-confidence plays, they surely could succeed if Mayfield or Burrow struggles with turnovers.
Meanwhile, with the Cowboys, you’d be hoping that Dallas can get some pressure on Wentz and force him into mistakes. While it’s not fun to trust a beatable defense like Dallas, they at least have a shot against an Eagles offense that allows 8.3 FPPG to D/ST units this year.
Other teams to watch are the Chargers (@ Broncos) and Eagles (vs. Cowboys), but both of those teams are well above the 50-percent threshold at this point. Perhaps if one unit struggles in Week 7, they’ll end up being available.