As the NFL season approaches its halfway point, many fantasy leaguers begin to eye projected playoff match-ups. First things first, however. Solidifying fantasy rosters during the Week 8-10 period is critical for owners anticipating a strong playoff run. Week 8 presents fascinating playoff implications, not so much for the games this weekend, but for the future. With so many teams having byes, owners–particularly in more shallow leagues–might find several strong players available on waivers after Week 8 and heading into Week 9. Those owners looking ahead should keep this strategy in mind. For the present, fantasy players face some challenges as Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, the N.Y. Giants, Philadelphia, and Baltimore all will take Week 8 off to trick-or-treat. Fear not, fantasy fanatics–Waiver Wire has a few Week 8 tricks to pull that should help treat you to a tasty victory. Also, be forewarned—this Halloween edition of the Waiver Wire pokes more fun the usual at our enjoyable fantasy football players and passions.
One Week 8 trick owners, especially in medium-sized or shallow leagues, must keep in mind is to study teams coming off their bye weeks. In this case, those squads include Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, and the N.Y. Jets. The WR2s, Ks, TEs, and Defenses from these squads (except the Jets’ Team Defense) are likely available in many leagues as their owners simply could not afford to carry them through the Week 7 bye. Grab any such promising players quickly and enjoy their services for the remainder of the season.
QB: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay. Several solid fantasy QBs take Week 8 off, setting up a mad one-week scramble for fill-ins. In deeper and even medium-sized leagues (especially those involving any owners who read the Waiver Wire), Freeman likely is long gone as owners anticipated his Week 8 match-up with Arizona. If not, pick him up and help your squad avoid an otherwise ghoulish output from the QB position.
QB: Matthew Stafford, Detroit. No, I do not have a life-sized cutout of Stafford in my office; though the way I write about the guy, perhaps he or the Lions should send one my way. Stafford should return from a Week 1 shoulder injury to lead the Lions at home against visiting Washington. The Lions took their bye in Week 7 and thus have had two weeks to prepare for this match-up. While Stafford recovered, Shaun Hill put up tremendous fantasy numbers in the Lions’ revamped offense. Here’s predicting Stafford continues that momentum.
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo. While there are many scary happenings this weekend, adding Fitzpatrick as a fill-in should not be one of them. We’ve covered this in past editions of the Waiver Wire. While Buffalo is bad, Fitzpatrick is a serviceable fantasy QB, especially for an owner in need. Granted, a road match-up against the Chiefs and their generally stingy defense is no treat. However, Fitzpatrick has produced multiple TD games on multiple occasions; plus, he can add sneaky value for fantasy owners with his scrambling ability.
QB: Jason Campbell, Oakland. A home match-up against Seattle is not necessarily terrifying for owners. Plus, those with an NFL package have the added bonus of then tuning in and watching all the entertaining Halloween get-ups on display among the Raider nation. Campbell has been banged up and will be serviceable at best; Seattle has been Jekyll and Hyde so far on defense this year. I am betting the Raiders have a decent day moving the ball and that Campbell, if starting, produces acceptable or better results as a one-week filler.
QB: Michael Vick, Philadelphia. For those owners wishing to spring a Halloween surprise on their league-mates, add Michael Vick even though the Eagles are on their bye. Andy Reid has made clear that Vick will be the Eagles’ starter when they resume playing in Week 9. As our regular readers know, the Waiver Wire called out Kevin Kolb as the most overrated QB coming out of pre-season and we anointed Vick a “Snatch Them” candidate early on. Kolb’s recent erratic play–he has had some good moments, to be fair–merely confirmed that the talent he possesses needs to be honed by more experience. Vick should remain the starter for the remainder of the season, barring injury. Or dog fighting. Ohhhhhhhhhh, that’s not fair–the man did pay the price for his crimes. My apologies . . . .
RB: Reggie Bush, New Orleans. Bush will return to the Saints’ line-up in Week 8. Owners in shallow or medium-sized redraft leagues likely cut Bush due to the length and severity of his early-season leg injury. Obviously, a healthy Bush is valuable fantasy commodity, particularly as the playoffs loom. Assuming Reggie lurks on your waiver wire, snap him up immediately.
RB: LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay. After doing his best “invisible man” impression in Weeks 5 and 6, LeGarrette Blount may have established himself as Tampa Bay’s go-to RB in Week 7, rushing for 72 yards on 11 carries. Blount was absent in the passing game, however, where Cadillac Williams was the focal point among the Bucs backs. Regardless, lead RBs are a valuable fantasy commodity, particularly in weeks involving a large amount of byes. Tampa Bay faces Arizona in Week 8, hardly a daunting defensive date. Blount makes a fun, speculative play on Halloween. Maybe he will don one of his old Oregon Duck uniforms and really scare some folks . . . .
WR: Kenny Britt, Tennessee. Britt was, along with Darren McFadden, co-Mr. Fantasy in Week 6: 225 yards and three TDs against the Eagles. Off the field, Britt has issues. On the field, he is creating issues for opposing defenses. Hoping his offensive explosion continues to create horror for secondaries in Week 8, owners should grab him and play the hot hand.
WR: Steve Johnson, Buffalo. In a bit of eerie Halloween deja vu, let’s review last week’s comments on the Bills’ Steve Johnson:
Just as fantasy owners cannot ignore Ryan Fitzpatrick’s multiple TD games, players likewise cannot entirely dismiss Bills WR Johnson, who enters Week 7 having caught at least one TD in three straight games. Johnson’s yardage totals are quite pedestrian–he has yet to exceed 66 yards in a game. On the other hand, he has been consistent–totaling at least 31 yards in each of his five games thus far. Buffalo’s next four opponents, Baltimore (Week 7), Kansas City (Week 8), Chicago (Week 9), and Detroit (Week 10) should afford Fitzpatrick plenty of opportunities to throw the ball. With Lee Evans occupying defenses, Johnson should continue to produce enough to serve as a fantasy WR4/5 with TD upside.
Sunday against the Ravens, Johnson continued his TD streak, but also exploded for 158 yards. The trend of Lee Evans occupying opposing defenses (Evans tallied three TDs himself) continued likewise. Johnson officially has arrived in the “Snatch Them” category.
WR: James Jones and Jordy Nelson, Green Bay. Injury to Jermichael Finley has opened the door for enhanced targets in Green Bay’s offense. Last week’s Waiver Wire highlighted Jones and Nelson as likely beneficiaries. Indeed, in Week 7, Jones led all Packer receivers with 107 yards and was second to Greg Jennings in targets, eight, and receptions, four. Nelson received almost as many targets, seven, and likewise hauled in four receptions. However, he produced merely 25 receiving yards. Jones beat Nelson out for the WR3 position coming out of camp and clearly remains the preferred play between the two. However, each presents value in deep and PPR leagues.
WR: Patrick Crayton, San Diego. Antonio Gates is playing hobbled and Malcolm Floyd remains out with an injury. Into this void has stepped former-Cowboy Crayton, who has grabbed at least six receptions in each of the past two weeks, producing 117 and 82 receiving yards, respectively. Floyd will miss Week 8’s game against Tennessee, setting up at least one more opportunity for Crayton to serve as the Chargers’ WR1.
TE: Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit. Pettigrew’s stock has risen dramatically in recent weeks. With stellar TE Dallas Clark now lost for the season and so many teams with Week 7 byes, Pettigrew makes a strong addition to fantasy squads, even in shallow leagues. Matthew Stafford’s return should allow Detroit’s offense to continue building upon its early season success, setting up continued positive fantasy games from Detroit’s blossoming young TE.
TE: Tony Moeaki, Kansas City. Reliable and done with his bye, Moeaki is like a horror-movie zombie. He plods along and almost always gets to his result in the end, about 50 yards receiving. Unfortunately, Moeaki has shown little upside following the Chiefs’ Week 4 bye. Prior to that time, he scored two TDs in three games. Since then, the Chiefs’ TE has not found the end zone. Meanwhile, the ephemeral Dwayne Bowe has lit up opponents for four TDs in the past two weeks. Perhaps opposing defenses now will key on Bowe in the red zone, opening up opportunity for Moeaki. Upcoming opponents Buffalo and Oakland invite speculation.
Indeed, Ravens’ TE Todd Heap added two TDs against the Bills in Week 7, Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis likewise produced two TDs against the Bills in Week 6, and the Jets TE Dustin Keller scored–you guessed it–two TDs against the Bills in Week 4. Find me another website that spotted this trend and I will point out another loyal reader of this column! Since Buffalo had a bye Week 5, these statistics demonstrate that for three straight games, the Bills have allowed an opposing TE to score twice against them. Awesome. Of course, streaks like this end the minute a fantasy owner notices and acts upon them, so consider yourself warned.
K: Nick Folk, N.Y. Jets. Folk’s stock rose as the Jets’ offense heated up moving into their bye week. In many leagues, however, fantasy owners likely cut Folk loose, hoping he would slip back to them through waivers coming into Week 8. Much like Jason would do to all those kids who maddeningly always “split up” only to wander to their deaths in the Friday the 13th series, fantasy owners must make their competitors pay. Grab Folk and ride his leg all the way through your fantasy playoffs.
K: Dan Carpenter, Miami. Carpenter is a higher-risk play at K. In four non-bye weeks this season, the Dolphins kicker has booted at least two FGs, with two three-FG games and an impressive five-FG performance Sunday against the Steelers. However, on two other occasions, Carpenter managed a mere two XPs and no FGs. Upcoming games against Cincinnati and Baltimore should afford the Dolphins’ offense sufficient opportunity to move the ball into FG range, making Carpenter anything but a scary play.
K: Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ offense is humming with the return of Ben Roethlisberger, putting up 28 and 22 points, respectively, since Big Ben resumed starting QB duties. Offensive production favors fantasy kickers and, with so many teams on byes in Weeks 8 and 9, Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed deserves a look. Pittsburgh’s next four opponents are New Orleans, Cincinnati, New England, and Oakland. The Steelers should continue their offensive momentum over this stretch, setting up multiple scoring opportunities for Reed each game. The biggest risk to fantasy owners at this point would be that the bulk of those opportunities are for XPs.
Team Defense, Kansas City. We pegged the Chiefs last week and ride the wave rolling into their home match-up against Buffalo in Week 8. Owners needing help at defense should grab Kansas City. Do not be too cocky, however, as the Bills have put up decent statistics in their many losing efforts this season. Still, with so many quality fantasy defenses off for the week, this match-up is enticing.
QB: Kerry Collins, Tennessee. The Titans face San Diego on the road this weekend. Looking more like Freddy Flintstone than Freddy Krueger of late, the Chargers defense is a shadow of its formidable self. Assuming Collins is tabbed to start, he could make an acceptable one-week filler for owners in need.
QB: Vince Young, Tennessee. See the above comments regarding Collins and heighten expectations if Young is starting and available on your waiver wire. In all but the most shallow leagues, fantasy owners likely kept Young on their rosters in Week 7, despite his injury status. For this reason, I did not place Young among our “Snatch Them” candidates. However, if Young is available on waivers, he would make a fine one-week addition.
QB: Max Hall, Arizona. Fans, both real and fantasy, wish Kurt Warner again would saddle up in the desert. This weekend, perhaps Hall can play like Warner for Halloween. The rookie QB had been decent and had elevated Larry Fitzgerald’s value prior to Hall’s Week 7 head injury. Given the enhanced concern over concussions, it is unclear at this time whether Hall will play in Week 8. Arizona has a favorable match up against visiting Tampa Bay, offering Hall a decent opportunity to shine. Again, with so many solid fantasy QBs riding the pine this weekend, fantasy owners need creatively to find one-week options, especially in deep leagues. Hall’s match-up invites speculation.
QB: Matt Moore, Carolina. Unlike werewolves or Frankenstein’s monster, Moore actually exists. To fantasy owners, he may be even more terrifying. However, he is a starter and did put up his first decent game of the year Sunday, throwing for over 300 yards and two TDs (with one INT) against San Francisco. With upcoming games against St. Louis, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay, Moore could be a serviceable fill-in for owners in league. If he is not presently on your league’s waiver wire, your league is deep and scary.
QB: Jon Kitna, Dallas. If Kitna’s NFL career were a car, it almost would be old enough to drive. That’s noteworthy generally, but for fantasy leaguers, Kitna likely is a terrifying prospect at QB. Yet, there he is, starting in Dallas now that Tony Romo is out with a broken clavicle (that’s the collar bone for you and me). The disarray in Dallas continues–see the separate Cafe Article on this topic; fantasy owners should not add Kitna unless they truly are desperate.
WR: David Gettis, Carolina. After producing no more than three receptions or 37 yards prior to Week 7, Gettis exploded against the 49ers, grabbing eight passes for 125 yards and two TDs. Gettis made the most of his nine targets, producing by far the best performance of the rookie’s career. Given the lack of any comparable performance, fantasy owners other than those in very deep leagues are best served watching a bit longer to determine if Gettis truly emerges as the Panthers’ #2 WR to Steve Smith. Assuming he does, Gettis will have value. Dynasty and keeper players in deep-rostered leagues may want to speculate now.
WR: Jordan Shipley, Cincinnati. Something must have been in the water the rookie WRs drank this weekend. Shipley, a rookie like Gettis, similarly turned in a career-best performance, snatching six passes for 131 yards and a TD against the Falcons. The former Longhorns’ statistics were buttressed by a 64-yard TD, his first of the season. While this big play certainly padded the numbers, fantasy owners should note that Shipley turned in a couple of respectable five-reception games early this season, including one 82-yard performance that similarly involved one big play (a 51-yarder). The somewhat volatile nature of Shipley’s performances, which have relied upon big plays to produce decent results, relegates him to “Watch Them” status for now. Again, owners in deep-rostered dynasty and keeper leagues may want to roster him immediately as he appears to be for real and should add long-term value.
WR: Dexter McCluster, Kansas City. Another rookie who likewise produced season-best totals for receptions, with five, and total rushing + receiving yards, with 69–one yard better than his Week 3 performance against the 49ers. The Chiefs are finding ways to involve the explosive McCluster in their offense. His four rushing attempts Sunday doubled the number Kansas City provided him in any of their earlier contests. Combined, his rushing attempts and receptions put the ball in McCluster’s hands a respectable nine times Sunday. If these trends continue, the rookie will generate decent fantasy value the remainder of the season.
WR?: DeAngelo Hall, Washington. Oh, wait, he’s a defensive back. I must have been confused by his four receptions (alright, interceptions) Sunday, including a 92-yarder for a TD. Think about it–Hall’s performance as a DB was WR2 worthy as he produced over 100 yards and a TD in what was an early game of Halloween horrors for Jay Cutler owners. Consistent with this Week’s light-hearted Halloween theme, we give Hall “Watch Them” kudos.
WR: Blair White, Indianapolis. Not the Blair Witch, but Blair White, opportunistic Indianapolis WR. Injuries to Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez, Austin Collie, and Dallas Clark–the latter three of whom remain either out or banged up–have opened the door for White. He did produce a TD in Week 3 but otherwise has flown under the fantasy radar, never producing more than 3 receptions or 27 yards. Further, White himself has suffered from a sore neck in recent practices. However, the Colts will be required to shuffle their priorities in the passing offense now that Dallas Clark is out for the season. While Reggie Wayne surely will benefit from even more looks, some other receiver or receivers likewise will receive additional opportunity. White may be the beneficiary; however, at this time, fantasy owners should review practice reports and then at least one week’s target information before rostering him.
TE: Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis. Halloween horrors came early for Dallas Clark owners as the uber-TE is out with a season-ending injury. Indianapolis had a Week 7 bye to integrate replacement Jacob Tamme into their offense. This Jacob is far less noteworthy than the shape-shifting “Jacob” of Twilight fame, but obviously has far more relevance to fantasy owners. A third-year player, Tamme should be familiar with the offense and he supposedly has looked good in practice. However, Clark’s absence may prompt Indianapolis to utilize more three and four WR sets, much as Jermichael Finley’s absence has prompted such formations in Green Bay. Accordingly, in all but the very deepest of leagues, fantasy owners are better off watching first to determine how the Colts redistribute Clark’s touches and to whom.
K: Olindo Mare, Seattle. An ideal environment for a fantasy kickers is to participate on good, but not great, offensive teams–squads that move the ball between the 20s but then bog down. Mare finds himself in just such a situation. The question for fantasy owners is whether the Seahawks’ offense is good enoughto consider Mare a reliable one-week filler. Twice this season, he has not even earned a FG attempt. On two other occasions, he garnered a single try, converting each time. Granted, Olindo booted an impressive five of five FGs Sunday, a performance that is sure to attract attention among owners seeking kicker help. However, fantasy players should beware–Mare may be an evil imp, set on disappointing fantasy players who jump on board his bandwagon. Thus, owners falling under his devilish spell might seize upon his 51-yarder in Week 7 and fail to notice that other than this kick, Mare has failed even to attempt a FG longer than 39 yards all season. In fairness, Olindo has yet to miss a FG either, so maybe the finger of blame (cue severed hand crawling across the stage) properly should point at Seattle’s anemic offense. Add Mare at your own risk. You could be rewarded handsomely; or, you could writhe in fantasy kicker pain.
QB: Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia. Michael Vick will return as the starter following the Eagles’ Week 8 bye. Kolb has limited short term value in redraft leagues and should be cut in all such formats.
TE: Dallas Clark, Indianapolis. Clark is out for the season. Owners in redraft leagues must cut him and find a serviceable option for the remainder of the season.
Scott Rozmus is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Scott in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Goose.
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