While injuries continue to leave their mark on the fantasy landscape, the Week 8 outlook has already been impacted by something that happened off of the field. On Saturday, Seattle traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a conditional 2015 draft pick, shaking up the depth chart at the position for both teams. As it relates to this exercise, the biggest beneficiaries appear to be Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse (see below), both of whom could be available in your league.
Elsewhere, both of Buffalo’s starting running backs had to be carted off the field on Sunday while new ball carriers appear to be emerging for Jacksonville and St. Louis. And that’s just part of the waiver wire story this week with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay coming back from bye and the New York Giants and San Francisco taking Week 8 off.
Athlon Sports is here to help you sort through some of the potential free agent options. The players listed in our weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding on to all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may simply want to keep an eye on.
Teams on bye: New York Giants, San Francisco
Week 7 Recap: Joe Flacco didn’t repeat his five-touchdown performance from Week 6, but he did add two more to his season total. He also threw two picks, but it didn’t matter much in the Ravens’ 29-7 win over the Falcons. Flacco is still solidly among the top 10 QBs in fantasy scoring for the season.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
The bruised nerve in his shoulder doesn’t look it’s just going to go away, so Palmer definitely carries a fair amount of injury risk. However, he’s made two straight starts now and in the three games he has played, Palmer’s averaged 23 fantasy points per game (Athlon scoring). Even though it’s a small sample size, Palmer’s per-game average ranks him sixth among QBs for the season. Arizona has enough weapons and a solid enough offensive line, along with a pretty good defense that can create additional scoring opportunities, to at least put Palmer in a position where he can score 20 or more fantasy points on a weekly basis. The question becomes is that enough of a potential reward to accept the inherent risk that comes with Palmer’s shoulder?
Week 7 Recap: Mark Ingram played for the first time since breaking his hand in Week 2, but he was ineffective (10 att., 16 yds.) against Detroit’s front seven. Neither Ben Tate nor Isaiah Crowell (7 att., 18 yds.) could find any room to run against Jacksonville, as the Browns finished with just 69 yards rushing on 30 carries in the loss to the Jaguars. And Shane Vereen completely dominated the touches on offense (16 total, 114 yds., 2 TDs) in New England’s Thursday night win over the Jets, as Brandon Bolden caught one pass for four yards and didn’t get a single carry.
Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, Buffalo Bills
Sunday’s last-second win against Minnesota was a costly one for Buffalo’s backfield. C.J. Spiller broke his collarbone, most likely ending his season, while Fred Jackson could miss up to a month because of a groin injury. That left Dixon (13 att., 51 yds.) to carry the load. Dixon has been nothing special in his five seasons (3.4 ypc), but he could provide some value, especially if he gets 15-20 carries per game. Whether that happens or not could depend somewhat on Brown. Philadelphia’s seventh-round draft pick in 2012, Brown posted three 100-yard rushing games with the Eagles, including 347 in back-to-back contests in 2012. Acquired by Buffalo via trade during this year’s draft, Brown has yet to see any game action with the Bills, but that could change given the injury situation. Dixon may get the nod for the short term, but Brown carries more upside and seems to be a better fit to fill Spiller’s role after Jackson returns.
Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams
It has taken some time, but Mason may finally be taking over as the Rams’ No. 1 ball carrier. The third-round pick didn’t get a single carry in the team’s first four games, but he’s picked up 125 yards on 23 carries (5.4 ypc) over the last two. He led the way with 85 yards on 18 carries and scored his first career touchdown in the impressive win against Seattle on Sunday. Perhaps even more telling than Mason’s increased workload is the fact that starter Zac Stacy and backup Benny Cunningham combined for just two carries, and both of those were by Cunningham. Whether Mason has officially replaced Stacy atop the depth chart remains to be seen, but he’s definitely the hot hand right now and at minimum should be back on your radar.
Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars won their first game of the season thanks in large part to Robinson’s 127 yards rushing. Toby Gerhart was sidelined with a foot injury and rookie Storm Johnson got just six carries (16 yds., TD), leaving the rest up to Robinson. The former college quarterback, who also has been used as a wide receiver, wound up with 22 carries and averaged nearly six yards per tote (5.8 ypc) against the Browns. He also scored on an eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Even when Gerhart returns, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch may choose to stick with Robinson, since he’s been the Jags’ most productive back thus far. And in some leagues, Robinson may carry eligibility at both RB and WR, which only increases his appeal.
Week 7 Recap: As expected, Rueben Randle led the Giants in targets (nine), while finishing second in both catches (six) and yards (74) in the loss to the Cowboys. The Giants are on bye, but Randle will maintain his status as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver moving forward. Mohamed Sanu shared in the Bengals’ struggles against the Colts, catching just three of nine targets for 54 yards in the shutout loss. Brandon LeFell took a backseat to the Shane Vereen show on Thursday night, but he still topped all Patriot wide receivers in yards with 55. Arizona did a good job limiting Oakland’s big plays, as the Raiders had just one catch of 20 or more yards and it wasn’t by Andre Holmes (3 rec., 34 yds.).
Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks
It was quite a weekend for the defending Super Bowl champions, who bid farewell to Percy Harvin before losing to St. Louis on the road. Trading Harvin to the Jets may actually end up being addition by subtraction for the Seahawks and it’s definitely a positive from a fantasy standpoint for Baldwin and possibly Kearse. With Harvin gone, Baldwin is without question Russell Wilson’s No. 1 target, which was evident following the 11 targets Baldwin got against the Rams. He finished with seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown and there’s no reason to not expect similar production moving forward. Baldwin moves from borderline WR3/flex territory to becoming a pretty safe WR2 with upside. Kearse likewise also could benefit since he takes over as the starter opposite Baldwin. He averaged 16.7 yards on his three catches against St. Louis and Kearse in essence is now what Baldwin was when Harvin was still in Seattle.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans injured his groin in the Buccaneers’ Week 4 win in Pittsburgh. Originally expected to miss between two to four weeks, Evans returned last week against Baltimore, catching his second touchdown in as many games. Now coming off of the bye, Evans has had more time to heal and could be in position to capitalize. After getting off to a slow start, Evans has averaged seven targets over his last three games. He’s caught at least four passes in every game, but has been more productive since Mike Glennon took over for an injured Josh McCown. With the hope that Evans is back to close to being 100 percent healthy, the former Texas A&M star may be ready to show the rest of the league why he was the seventh player taken in May’s draft.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
Mike Wallace is the Dolphins’ No. 1 target, but the Miami wide receiver that has made the most waves recently has been Landry. The Fins’ second-round pick in May, Landry has averaged six targets over Miami’s last five games and he caught his first touchdown two weeks ago against Green Bay. This past Sunday, he tied tight end Charles Clay (see below) for second in targets (five) and matched Wallace’s 46 yards receiving in the win in Chicago. At minimum, Landry has replaced Brandon Gibson as the team’s slot receiver, so the rookie should see a fair amount of looks moving forward.
Week 7 Recap: Jordan Reed tied for the team lead in targets (six), catching five passes for 54 yards in the Redskins’ win over the Titans. Jimmy Graham ended up playing against Detroit and although he didn’t catch a pass (2 targets), his mere presence pretty much negated any impact Benjamin Watson’s (1 rec., 3 yds.) might have had otherwise.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
It’s just one game, but hopefully it’s the start of Clay’s return to fantasy relevance. After doing next to nothing over the first five games, Clay finished with a season-high 58 yards and, more importantly, caught his first touchdown pass since Week 14 of last season in the Dolphins’ road win in Chicago. Clay has been dealing with a knee injury since Week 1, but looked awfully spry against the Bears. I’m not ready to reinstall Clay as an every-week TE1 starting option, but he’s definitely someone I would keep a close eye on moving forward. Don’t forget, Clay was No. 7 in fantasy points among TEs last season.
Week 7 Recap: Buffalo’s DST did indeed bounce back on Sunday against Minnesota, registering five sacks and two INTs on its way to 12 fantasy points. Next up for the Bills, a visit to the Big Apple to play a Jets team that’s ranked sixth in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing DSTs.
Yes, the Colts have Andrew Luck, but maybe it’s time to start taking this defense a little more seriously. Following Sunday’s shutout of Cincinnati, Indianapolis’ DST has posted double-digit fantasy points in five straight games. The Colts have averaged four sacks per game during this span, along with a total of 11 takeaways. For the season, Indy’s DST is sixth in fantasy points and that’s after scoring just three total in the first two games (at DEN, PHI).
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.