Six teams are scheduled for byes in Week 9, and whether you’re going to get hit by starters resting this week or not, there are hidden gems ready to become waiver wire pickups that will bolster your chances of booking a spot in the fantasy football playoffs. Our list this week includes some rising talents that had booming performances in Week 8 as well as replacements for some banged up starters.
10. Travis Benjamin – Los Angeles Chargers WR (7.6 % owned in ESPN)
For the second time this season, Benjamin led his team in receiving yards on Sunday, corralling five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown while receiving nine targets from Philip Rivers in a 21-13 loss to the New England Patriots. It’s the most looks Benjamin has been given by the Bolts’ QB this season. Benjamin always makes sure to seize the opportunity when he’s given enough attention on offense. He had 105 receiving yards on five catches and eight targets back in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rivers will keep that in mind when the Chargers emerge from a Week 9 bye and face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who might key in on Keenan Allen and leave some tasty chances in the open field for Benjamin.
9. Paul Richardson – Seattle Seahawks WR (10.3 % owned in ESPN)
Last Sunday’s showdown between the Seahawks and the Houston Texans was a true barnburner and Richardson was among the reasons why that game will be remembered as a classic. The fourth-year wide receiver out of Colorado posted career-highs of 102 receiving yards and two touchdown grabs. He’s seen at least five targets in three of his last five games and appears to have secured a sustainable role on a Seahawks offense that has become less and less dependent on their sputtering run game.
You might find him to be an iffy start next Sunday against the Washington Redskins, but beyond that assignment is a three-game stretch against the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, and San Francisco 49ers—teams that have trouble containing opposing passing attacks.
8. Vernon Davis – Washington Redskins TE (13.8 % owned in ESPN)
Speaking of the Redskins, they might have to turn to old man Vernon Davis for primary tight end help in their passing game, at least in Week 9. Jordan Reed lasted for just two quarters in Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys after sustaining a hamstring injury, and early reports suggest that he’ll miss the game against the Seahawks next Sunday.
Davis could basically be the only reliable and functioning tight end for the Redskins in Week 9, with Niles Paul also added to the list of injured Washington players with a concussion. This puts the 33-year-old Davis in a prime position to enjoy a healthy amount of snaps and targets from Kirk Cousins versus a Seattle defense that just got torched for 400 plus passing yards by rookie Deshaun Watson in Week 8. On the season, Davis has 312 receiving yards with a touchdown on 17 catches.
7. Corey Davis– Tennessee Titans WR (24.0 % owned in ESPN)
Vernon isn’t the only Davis you should be scrambling to pick up from the waiver wire, as Corey Davis, who is likely available on your league’s wire after the previous owner’s patience thinned out on him, has a great chance of returning to action since going down in Week 2 with a hamstring injury. Tennessee’s aerial attack hasn’t exactly taken flight this season, as the Titans are just 26th in the league with 201.9 passing yards per game.
While that’s partly a product of Marcus Mariota’s brief absence, it’s also because the pieces around Mariota aren’t doing well. Eric Decker, for one, has failed so far to fulfill the attached promise on his fantasy sleeper status prior to the season with zero touchdowns to date.
Davis could be the one to ignite the Titans’ air attack. It’s not yet 100 percent he’ll play in Week 9, but if you have a droppable piece, Davis is going to be an ideal replacement to stash and use once he’s ready.
6. Josh McCown – New York Jets QB (25.9 % owned in ESPN)
How many more multiple-touchdown games will McCown have to put up before people realize he’s a better option than some established quarterbacks? By passing for 257 passing yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Falcons last Sunday, McCown extended his streak of multi-TD passes to four games with nine passing scores over that stretch against four interceptions.
5. Robby Anderson – New York Jets WR (26.4 % owned in ESPN)
Anderson put up another gem of a performance on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, racking up 104 receiving yards and a touchdown by securing all six passes from McCown. With that, Anderson now finds himself leading the Jets in receiving yards (435).
He’s playing for the Jets, so owners will have to stomach some Jets-y games from Anderson, but with McCown intent on slinging the ball until both his arms fall off, Anderson is going to be a threat to provide yardage any time he’s on the field.
4. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts RB (29.0 % owned in ESPN)
Frank Gore got more carries than Mack in Week 8 with 16 rushing attempts for 82 rushing yards, but Mack continues to out-snap the veteran thanks to the rookie’s explosiveness and pass-catching ability. In fact, Mack has appeared in more snaps than Gore in each of the last three games, gaining a career-high in Week 8 with 39 snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals. In that game, Mack had 27 rushing yards on 11 carries, and more notably, three catches for 36 receiving yards and a touchdown.
It’s just a matter of time before Mack completely wrestles away the starting running back gig in Indy.
3. JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers WR (29.1 % owned in ESPN)
Martavis Bryant doesn’t want to hear this, but Smith-Schuster’s star was born on Sunday thanks at his expense. With Bryant tucked deeply behind the Steelers’ rotation, Smith-Schuster was able to capitalize on the opportunity that opened up for him, and he’s making sure to create as much noise as he can while he’s featured on the field.
This was evident anew in Week 8 when Smith-Schuster made you remember his name by recording 193 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven catches against the Detroit Lions. That TD was his third in five weeks.
He’s not Antonio Brown, but he’s looking like the second-best receiver on a pass-heavy offense that’s finding its rhythm.
2. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens RB (32.1% owned in ESPN)
Collins continued to trend upwards with a booming performance last Thursday against the Miami Dolphins in which the former Arkansas Razorback rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries while producing 30 receiving yards on just two catches. He’s carved up a nice role on the Ravens’ passing and rushing attacks that could ultimately spell the decline of Baltimore’s usage of Javorius Allen, and conversely, make his involvement grow in the offense even further moving forward.
1. Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts TE (39.3 % owned in ESPN)
Doyle has become the primary option in the red-zone for the Colts’ passing offense this season. That is evident with his team-leading three completions inside the 20-yard line and two touchdown grabs when looked upon in the red zone. The rest of the Colts have a combined one red-zone receiving touchdown, courtesy of Donte Moncrief.
Doyle, however, is more than just a touchdown-dependent fantasy asset. He’s been regularly showered with an ample number of passes by quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who’s given the tight end at least seven targets in each of the Colts’ last four games.
Against the Bengals last Sunday, Doyle put up 121 receiving yards on 12 catches and 14 targets. He could have another big night in Week 9 against a Texans’ defense that allows the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.