As Marlon Mack gets more carries, he becomes more fantasy-relevant
As fantasy owners deal with six more teams on a bye in Week 9 and the injuries keep piling up, the waiver wire becomes more and more useful. It is near the point of the season where fantasy owners should know what the dead weight on their roster is, and not be afraid to lose it.
Just because a player was drafted does not mean they need to stay on a roster if they aren't in the starting lineup (Tyrelle Pryor, Martavis Bryant are two examples). Now is the time to have the best roster possible, and that may include using the waiver wire.
Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh
Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets (25 percent owned)
Week after week, McCown appears in this space, but he's not getting picked up. He's had 10 touchdowns in the past four weeks. He's thrown for 194 yards or more in each of those four weeks and only had four interceptions. Granted, he plays for the Jets, but he has shown that he is capable as a fantasy fill-in for those needing a quarterback for the bye weeks. The Jets face Buffalo in Week 9, which is a tough matchup, but the Bills are still dealing with injuries in their secondary.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts (10 percent owned)
It hasn't been pretty, but over the past four games, Brissett has thrown for at least 200 yards. He has four touchdowns in that span and two interceptions. The Colts travel to Houston in Week 9, and while that defense is good, it's not unbeatable. Assuming that T.Y. Hilton stays with the team and isn't traded, Brissett has decent weapons as well. He's made Jack Doyle fantasy relevant and is a streaming option for the bye weeks.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts (45 percent owned)
The Colts have yet to go away from Frank Gore, but Mack is making a case to do so week after week. In Week 8, he was given the most carries of the year (11). He added three receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown. In the past two weeks, Mack has been more involved in the passing game, with four receptions for 40 yards in Week 7. He should be owned in all formats, especially PPR.
Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris, RB, Dallas Cowboys (34 and 38 percent owned)
Late Monday night, it was announced that Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension was back on (that's the short version). In which case it means, for now (the suspension still can be appealed), McFadden and Morris are the running backs in Dallas. It's hard to predict which will have more fantasy value, but while Elliott is out, both should be owned until one has a strong hold on the lead job.
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens (34 percent owned)
The Ravens have finally admitted that they have a new starting running back in Collins. After his Thursday night rushing totals of 113 yards on 18 carries, the team would be foolish to not give him more work. He added 30 receiving yards on two receptions as well. He's been getting more carries each week, but he's finally overtaken Terrance West and Buck Allen. Allen will still see work on passing downs, but Collins should be owned in all leagues.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (49 percent owned)
If for some reason Smith-Schuster is unowned, pick him up. With Martavis Bryant working his way out of the Steelers lineup, Smith-Schuster is the clear No. 2 in Pittsburgh. He had 10 targets in Week 8, his season high. He caught seven of them for 193 yards and a touchdown. He actually has four touchdowns on the season and provides the Steelers with another solid option in the passing game opposite Antonio Brown. He's a WR3 with upside moving forward.
Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle Seahawks (39 and 32 percent owned)
Both Seahawks wide receivers aren't must-owns, but if they are available, each should be added to rosters to get through the bye weeks. In Week 8, both had great games, with Lockett putting up 121 yards on six receptions and Richardson adding 105 yards and two touchdowns. Russell Wilson is looking to throw, and while he won’t have 41 pass attempts every week, as long as the running game doesn’t produce, he will let it fly often.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets (28 percent owned)
It's still hard to recommend a Jets skill position player not named Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but with Josh McCown playing as well as he is, someone needs to catch the ball. Anderson had six receptions for 104 yards in Week 8, his highest total for both this season. He also has three touchdowns on the year. Anderson will be a risky start, as he has four games with less than 40 yards and four games with 59 or more yards. But he should be able to help fantasy owners get through the bye weeks.
Tre McBride, WR, Chicago Bears (0 percent owned)
Each week, there is a player to consider in deeper leagues. This week, it's McBride. While the Bears have struggled with their passing game in recent weeks, Mitchell Trubisky was looking for McBride against New Orleans. He had five targets and he caught three of them for 92 yards, the most on the team. Kendall Wright still had more targets, but the Bears are looking for anyone possible to help move the football through the air. McBride is only recommended worth adding in very deep leagues.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons (47 percent owned)
Hooper had four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown, but his good games are bookended by games where he is non-existent. As frustrating as this is for fantasy owners, Hooper is worth an add for those desperate for a tight end, but he is only a TE2 for Week 9. The Falcons play the Panthers, who have allowed just two touchdown catches to tight ends this season.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (12 percent owned)
With Jordan Reed injured (again), Davis is the Redskins’ starting tight end. While this offense has struggled, Davis will still see targets as Kirk Cousins looks for his tight ends. Reed and Davis were eating into each other's fantasy value. If Reed is out (which is the likely scenario), Davis becomes a TE2. In Week 3 when Reed was out, Davis had five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Detroit Lions (48 percent owned)
The Lions have actually been a solid fantasy option so far this season, and their schedule is great for the next few weeks. They face the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers in Week 9, followed by games against the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears. Detroit’s season rounds out with games against the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. None of those games are scary for a DST. The Lions face the Bears again and the Bengals in the fantasy playoffs, but fantasy owners shouldn't worry about that yet.
Arizona Cardinals (36 percent owned)
The Cardinals travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers, who have struggled on offense. With rookie C.J. Beathard at quarterback, the team has only scored 44 points in three games. He has two touchdowns to contribute to those 44 points and three interceptions. The 49ers have such little faith in Beathard that they just traded for Jimmy Garoppolo, even though he won't start in Week 9. The Cardinals DST is a good streaming option for Week 9.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Josh McCown photo courtesy of www.newyorkjets.com)