The next few weeks of the NFL season are going to be extremely crucial for fantasy football owners, so waiver wire pickups are more important now than ever. With the fantasy playoffs inching closer and closer, owners need to pay more attention to gems that are still very much likely available on the waiver wire.
10. Adam Humphries – Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR (2.7% owned in ESPN)
If it weren’t for Michael Thomas losing his mind in last Sunday’s win by the New Orleans Saints over the Los Angeles Rams, Humphries would have ended as Week 9’s top fantasy scorer among all wide receivers. In Tampa Bay’s road loss to the Carolina Panthers, Humphries led his team with 82 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight catches and eight targets – second most behind Mike Evans’ 10.
Evans is still going to be the biggest magnet of targets for the Bucs downfield, but Humphries’ importance in the team’s passing attack is seemingly growing, having been targeted at least seven times in each of the last two weeks.
9. Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens TE (2.7% owned in ESPN)
Andrews isn’t a sexy name on an also non-sexy Baltimore offense, but that shouldn’t prevent real men of fantasy football from looking towards his direction. While Nick Boyle is the most visible Ravens tight end on the field, it is Andrews who’s getting most looks between the two in the end zone.
In fact, Andrews leads all Ravens in red zone targets with 10 on the season, catching three and scoring twice off of them. The Ravens are on a bye this week, but that should only make Andrews a more available commodity on the waiver wire.
8. Josh Adams – Philadelphia Eagles RB (3.0% owned in ESPN)
Adams caught the eye of some fantasy owners back in Week 8 when he paced the defending Super Bowl champions with 61 rushing yards on nine carries in the Eagles’ win in London over the Jacksonville Jaguars. While that performance alone does not mean he’ll eventually become the team’s RB1, it’s not a stretch to think either that he’s headed to that direction, considering that neither Corey Clement nor Wendell Smallwood has managed to secure that designation through the first nine weeks of the season.
7. Jeff Heuerman – Denver Broncos TE (7.9% owned in ESPN)
It’s probably time to start getting used to hearing Heuerman’s name. The obscure tight end was the fourth-highest fantasy scorer among tight ends in Week 9 thanks to a productive performance, albeit in a home loss to the Houston Texans in which he posted career-highs in catches (10), targets (11), and receiving yards (83), while also scoring a touchdown. That his out-of-nowhere offensive outburst came right in the very first game after the team shipped Demaryius Thomas to the Texans says a lot to reinforce the belief that Heuerman is going to see a bigger workload in the coming weeks.
6. Cordarrelle Patterson – New England Patriots WR (9.8% owned in ESPN)
If you had Patterson on your team (and started him) in Week 9, congratulations. In the win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, Patterson capitalized on the absence of running back Sony Michel and burned rubber for 61 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Should Michel return, Patterson’s fantasy value will definitely take a hit, but it’s still worth taking a flier on him so long as the rookie tailback’s status for Week 10’s matchup with the Tennessee Titans is up in the air.
5. Chris Herndon – New York Jets TE (12.6% owned in ESPN)
Herndon had a three-game touchdown streak from Week 6 to 8 and while he wasn’t able to find the end zone in Miami last Sunday, he caught all four targets for 62 yards. Despite all that, Herndon is still just owned 12.6 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. Maybe fantasy owners view the Jets’ offense too unstable that they just continue to ignore the existence of Herndon on the waiver wire, but that attitude towards the tight end needs to change.
4. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions RB (16.5% owned in ESPN)
Coming off a multi-week absence due to an injury, Riddick returned to action last Sunday but wasn’t fed a single carry out of the backfield. Instead, the veteran running back made his presence felt downfield, catching seven of eight targets for 36 rushing yards. Detroit looks settled with rookie Kerryon Johnson as the team’s RB1, but fantasy owners in PPR leagues should still find value in Riddick, who has 174 receiving yards on 30 receptions and 38 targets on the season.
3. Mike Davis – Seattle Seahawks RB (18.5% owned in ESPN)
Chris Carson aggravated his hip injury in last week’s home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, forcing him to exit the game prematurely. It also opened plenty of opportunity for Davis, who went on to rush for 62 yards on 15 carries and caught seven passes for 45 receiving yards. Davis is clearly ahead of Rashaad Penny in the running back pecking order in Seattle, and even if Carson gets the green light to play in Week 10, Davis is a solid handcuff given Carson’s seemingly brittle frame.
2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling – Green Bay Packers WR (20.7% owned in ESPN)
If you have two hands, Aaron Rodgers will find a way to get you the ball. It also helps if you’re talented, which is the case for Valdes-Scantling, who led the Packers in last Sunday’s road loss to the New England Patriots with 101 receiving yards on three receptions and six targets. Valdes-Scantling has gained the trust of Rodgers along with a steadier role in the Packers’ offense after news of Geronimo Allison missing at least six weeks to recover from hamstring and groin injuries.
1. Duke Johnson Jr. – Cleveland Browns RB (49.5% owned in ESPN)
Johnson reintroduced himself to fantasy football universe in Week 9 by leading the Browns against the Kansas City Chiefs with 78 receiving yards on nine receptions and nine targets. Nick Chubb is installed as Cleveland’s go-to running back, but the exit of Hue Jackson as the team’s head coach may have opened door to fantasy relevancy for Johnson.