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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 9

By Matt Schauf 3:05pm EDT 10/31/23

Waiver Wire Targets

 

Shallow Leagues

Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals

Blind-bid recommendation: 5-15%

How’s McBride’s role going to look while Zach Ertz is out? Well, the first game merely found McBride leading the Cardinals and all NFL TEs in targets (14). He racked up 10 receptions for 95 yards and a TD in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens.

That marked the first TD Baltimore has allowed to a TE this year. The Ravens entered Sunday having allowed just 28 TE receptions across seven games, and 29.0 yards per game to the position. No TE had posted more than 52 yards on them.

McBride’s big game followed Arizona opening the season with the league’s fourth-most TE targets and fifth-most TE receptions through seven games. So his role should remain strong.

He gets a tough matchup with the Browns in Week 9 but might already be worth starting on a weekly basis, depending on your other option(s).

 

12-Team Leagues

Derek Carr, QB, New Orleans Saints

Rostered: 37%
Blind-bid recommendation: 5-15%

Carr struggled for a while after spraining the AC joint in his throwing shoulder in Week 3.

But the last three weeks suggest his arm is now fine. Carr ranks second among QBs in passing yards per game (321.3) over that span and ninth in total fantasy points.

The Saints’ next five weeks include upside matchups with the Bears (this week), Atlanta (Week 12), and Detroit (Week 13).

Carr’s a potential tourniquet if you just lost Kirk Cousins for the season.

Devin Singletary, RB, Houston Texans

Rostered: 20%
Blind-bid recommendation: 10-20%.


The Texans’ backfield is officially split.

Singletary averaged just 5.4 carries and 1.0 targets per game across the first five weeks. The past two games, however, have seen him edge Dameon Pierce 26-25 in touches. Singletary has also led in rushing yards per game (44.0) and PPR points (13.5) over that time.

We’re not betting on Singletary completely taking over the backfield, but Houston has no reason to lean back toward Pierce right now. And an injury to his teammate would obviously push even more work to Singletary.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Buffalo Bills

Rostered: 3%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Fournette agreed to terms on a deal to join the Bills’ practice squad Monday. Last we saw him with the Buccaneers in 2022, he finished as the RB13 in PPR points per game (14.1) and ranked third among backs with 77 receptions. 

Don’t bet on his Buffalo time coming close to that. Fournette goes from a QB (Tom Brady) who boosted RB target volume to one (Josh Allen) who hurts it with his scrambling ability.

We’re betting Buffalo views Fournette as at least a potential upgrade on Latavius Murray and Damien Harris. But can he take more work away from James Cook than they did? We’ll see.

For now, we’re not betting on Fournette passing Cook. And he might still have to contend with Murray for weekly touches. All that comes in an offense that ranks just:

  • 19th in RB carries per game
  • 26th in RB receptions per game
  • 22nd in RB touches per game

Bidding for Fournette is fine this week, in case he does lead the Bills backfield at some point. Just don’t go out of your way to land him.

Royce Freeman, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Rostered: 22%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Darrell Henderson led Freeman in touches for the second straight game, but Freeman actually played four more snaps and ran two more routes. And he has outperformed his teammate.

Yards after contact per attempt:

  • Freeman 3.9
  • Henderson 2.3

Missed tackles forced per attempt:

  • Freeman 0.33
  • Henderson 0.03

PFF rushing grade:

  • Freeman 83.6
  • Henderson 56.7

It wouldn’t be shocking if Freeman gets more work over the next two weeks. Of course, QB Matthew Stafford’s right-thumb injury adds a challenge to the whole offense. And Kyren Williams can return after the next two games.

Week 9 holds a matchup with the Packers, who have been seventh most friendly to RB scoring by our adjusted fantasy points allowed. There’s room for both Rams RBs to be usable in that one.

After that comes a Week 10 bye and then a Week 11 matchup with a tough Seattle run defense. Then Williams’ potential return.

Rashid Shaheed, WR, New Orleans Saints

Rostered: 36%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

For the second time in three weeks, the speedster exceeded 80 receiving yards with a TD vs. the Colts. He now ranks second behind Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill in receptions (10) and receiving yards (390) on throws of 20+ yards.

Week 9 brings the Bears, who rank just 29th in pass-defense DVOA. That makes Shaheed a potential starting option if byes leave you in need for Week 9. 

And he’s holdable as a week-to-week option beyond that – but also cuttable if you need the roster spot at some point.

Demario Douglas, WR, New England Patriots

Rostered: 3%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Douglas leads the Patriots in targets (13) over the past two weeks and is coming off a nice Week 8 performance vs. the Dolphins in which he hauled in a team-high 5 receptions.

With Kendrick Bourne set to miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL, the sixth-round rookie has an opportunity to steady his role – and perhaps even increase it.

This week, in particular, brings the league’s best scoring matchup for WRs (Washington) and will likely not include WR DeVante Parker. He suffered a concussion in Week 8.

Longer term, you should temper your excitement for a rookie WR in an offense that ranks 27th in yards per drive and 31st in points per game.

Quentin Johnston, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Rostered: 19%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Johnston saw season highs in targets (6), catches (5), and receiving yards (50) in Week 8 vs. the Bears.

The first-year wideout also saw his targets come much closer to the line of scrimmage, with an 8.5-yard average depth of target. Part of Johnston’s early struggles have been due to being deployed as a downfield threat only.

We’re hoping the Chargers will continue to give Johnston more short-range looks, which would allow him to exploit the after-catch skills that stood out in his prospect profile

It’s still too early to consider the rookie a lineup option in most fantasy leagues, but he’s an attractive stash.

Taysom Hill, TE, New Orleans Saints

Rostered: 35%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Hill has exceeded 12 PPR points in three straight games, with varied usage.

First came a career-high 7 receptions on a career-high 8 targets in the Week 6 loss to Houston. Hill delivered another 4-50 receiving, plus 18 yards and a TD on 5 carries the following week.

He saw less receiving work last Sunday with TE Juwan Johnson back but turned a season-high-tying 9 carries into 63 yards and 2 TDs. Hill’s 12 routes for the game also kept him close with Johnson (18) and Foster Moreau (14).

The only thing we know for sure about Hill is that we can’t count on a reliable weekly role. But we also know there’s always upside. That’s more than you can say for most of this year’s TEs.

Luke Musgrave, TE, Green Bay Packers

Rostered: 22%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Musgrave has struggled to be a consistent fantasy option in 2023 between injuries and the increasingly poor play of QB Jordan Love.

But he’s tied for ninth in yards after catch per reception (4.8), ranks ninth in catch rate (77.9%), and sits 15th in air yards per game (32.5) among 30 TEs who’ve seen at least 20 targets.

That’s enough to make Musgrave an option, especially in a week that finds Sam LaPorta, Evan Engram, and George Kittle on bye. Week 10 takes Travis Kelce and Dallas Goedert out of consideration.

Michael Mayer, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

Rostered: 19%
Blind-bid recommendation: 1-3%

Don’t mistake Mayer’s mere 2 targets in Monday night’s loss to Detroit as a decline in his role. In fact, the rookie ran a route on a season-high 82.1% of Jimmy Garoppolo dropbacks.

The offense just sucked. And that will limit Mayer’s upside going forward. It might even keep him from helping your fantasy lineup at all.

But if you’re operating with a shaky lead TE right now and want to stash a backup with some upside, this is an early second-round pick who served as the lead target in his college offense. The Raiders clearly need to change some things vs. how they’ve operated to date. A few more looks for Mayer wouldn’t hurt.

  

Deep Leagues

Taylor Heinicke, QB, Atlanta Falcons (Superflex)

Rostered: 1%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Desmond Ridder was cleared from a concussion mid-game Sunday, yet he rode the bench in favor of Heinicke.

HC Arthur Smith left the door open for Ridder to return to the starting lineup, but the plan is to name a starter on Wednesday.

Heinicke proved solid in relief against Tennessee, throwing for 175 yards and 1 TD on 12-of-21 passing. He’d carry spot-start value, at least in the short-term, with upcoming matchups vs. Minnesota and Arizona.

Pierre Strong, RB, Cleveland Browns

Rostered: 10%
Blind-bid recommendation: 1-3%

Cleveland’s RB usage broke down like this in Week 8:

  • Kareem Hunt: 27 snaps, 11 routes, 14 carries
  • Jerome Ford: 26 snaps, 10 routes, 9 carries
  • Pierre Strong: 24 snaps 10 routes, 10 carries

Strong has impressed on limited use so far. That includes 4.6 yards per carry, 3.58 yards after contact per attempt, and 41 yards on his lone Browns reception to date.

Ford suiting up at Seattle was a mild surprise, given that he was reportedly battling a high-ankle sprain. Hunt also appeared on the Week 8 injury report with a thigh issue. Any setbacks for either player would obviously leave more snaps and touches available to Cleveland’s speedy RB3.

Jalin Hyatt, WR, New York Giants

Rostered: 5%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Hyatt has flashed the deep ball skill set that surfaced often at Tennessee.

On eight deep-ball opportunities (20+ air yards), Hyatt has caught four for 164 yards. His average depth of target is near the top of the league at almost 24 yards.

Hyatt was held off the stat sheet in Week 8, but we can trace that to Tyrod Taylor’s rib injury. New York attempted only 14 passes for the game. And now Daniel Jones is expected to start Week 9.

Sure, Jones has underwhelmed in 2023. But he’s obviously an upgrade over last week’s situation.

Khalil Shakir, WR, Buffalo Bills

Rostered: 1%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Shakir’s Week 8 breakout coincided with Dawson Knox’s trip to IR. 

Playing 65% of the snaps and posting a 71.7% route rate, the second-year WR tallied 6 catches for a team-high 92 yards. In fact, both the catches and the yardage marked career highs.

Knox was placed on IR following wrist surgery, so he’ll miss at least the next three games. Buffalo faces the Bengals, Broncos, and Jets over that stretch.

  

Streaming Options

Baker Mayfield, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mayfield used a late TD pass to Mike Evans against the Bills to go over 20 fantasy points (depending on your format) for the second straight game and fourth time this year. Houston this week brings a slightly positive matchup for QB scoring by our adjusted fantasy points allowed – certainly a more favorable spot than last Thursday night at Buffalo.

Gardner Minshew, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Minshew’s four starts to date have included three games of 41+ pass attempts. He has thrown 2 TD passes in each of his past two outings and gone over 300 yards passing twice. This week finds a Panthers D that’s been negative for opponent QB scoring. But Carolina sits just 15th in pass-defense DVOA. Not a pushover, but not a scary matchup.

Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers

Young has a shot to outscore Minshew on the other side of that matchup, especially if Indy decides to go run-heavy. Carolina does rank just 30th in run-defense DVOA. Young came out of the Week 7 bye to post season highs Sunday in yards per attempt (7.6), adjusted yards per attempt (8.2), and QB rating (103.6) in the first game with OC Thomas Brown as play caller. The biggest question here is upside. Young hasn’t reached 250 yards passing in a game yet.

Cade Otton, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Otton has seen 6 targets in two straight games. He hasn’t done much with them, averaging just 7.8 yards per catch across 9 receptions. But if you’re scraping to replace George Kittle, Evan Engram, or Sam LaPorta on this bye week, then you can find a little potential PPR help here.

Tyler Conklin, TE, New York Jets

Conklin’s coming off a 0-catch game in the OT win over the Giants, but that marked the first time since the opener he failed to catch at least three passes. Conklin’s role remained fine. His 29 routes ranked third on the team, behind only WRs Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard. Week 9 finds a Chargers D that has been the fifth-best scoring matchup for TEs.

Pack of Defenses:

  • New England Patriots DST
  • Tennessee Titans DST
  • Las Vegas Raiders DST
  • Indianapolis Colts DST

Not much separates this week’s options. New England gets the league’s third-best matchup by our adjusted fantasy points allowed. But Washington showed there’s bust risk as well, by scoring 31 points and allowing just 1 sack against the Eagles on Sunday.

The Raiders get the best matchup in the Giants, who have been even more sackable with Daniel Jones behind center than Tyrod Taylor.

The Titans get to face either a banged-up Kenny Pickett or Mitchell Trubisky.

And the Colts get the Panthers, who have been a positive scoring matchup for defenses. That has included ranking just 25th in scoring and allowing 4+ sacks in four of the past five games. That gives the Carolina matchup an attractive floor for your DST.

  

Drop Candidates

Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams

We don’t yet know as of this writing how long we should expect Stafford to be out. We do know, however, that he sits just 21st among QBs in fantasy points per game. We’ve been in favor of waiting for positive TD regression with a healthy Stafford. But there’s no need to cling to him through a right-thumb injury.

K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Osborn sits just 54th in PPR points per game so far in an offense that ranks first in pass attempts, second in passing yards, and second in passing TDs. His targets have picked up in the wake of WR Justin Jefferson’s hamstring injury. But Sunday marked the first time in that span Osborn reached 10 PPR points. With QB Kirk Cousins done for the year, it’s tough to imagine Osborn finding fantasy relevance the rest of the way.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Detroit Lions

Reynolds has proved more helpful so far than anyone expected him to be. But he also heads into the Week 9 bye off three straight games with 3 targets or fewer. Reynolds might rebound for some more decent fantasy outings, but he’s not worth holding through the bye if you’re eyeing anything else interesting -- especially after Tuesday's trade for WR Donovan Peoples-Jones.

 

Grab This Guy

Jonathan Mingo, WR, Panthers

Rostered: 6%
Blind-bid recommendation: 2-4%

Mingo appeared in this space back in Week 3. At that time, his rostered rate was double its current figure.

While he has stayed off the fantasy radar, Sunday's 4-62 line against Houston presented a step in the right direction. He set single-game highs in PFF receiving grade, yards after catch per reception, yards per route run, and yards per catch.

Beat writer David Newton tweeted Monday that Mingo is "starting to make positive strides." No major surprise there considering the Round 2 pick never lacked physical talent. Plus, he was fresh off a Week 7 bye.

Mingo should continue seeing heavy snaps for a Panthers squad playing for the long-term. And if Adam Thielen’s injury history grows, Mingo could turn into true fantasy factor down the stretch.

  

More on Week 9 Waiver Wire Pickups

Jared and Matt talk through the top options ahead of your waiver-wire run.

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