There are a lot of names to discuss this week, so let's not dilly-dally. OK, maybe we take 10 seconds to reminisce about the Dilly Dilly ad campaign. Those were good times. Truly inspired marketing.
Alright, reminiscing over! To the waivers!
As always, these are the most intriguing players who are rostered in less than 60 percent of NFL.com leagues. If you have questions, my DMs are open: @MattOkada on Twitter ... or X ... or whatever it is.
The Magic, the Mania, the Mayhem -- call it whatever you want, Minshew was back in Week 7. The mustachioed man threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns and added 29 yards and two scores on the ground, as well. All in all, he hung 27.1 fantasy points on Cleveland, a team that had previously terrorized fantasy QBs. The upcoming matchups aren’t particularly good, but with Josh Downs breaking out (see below) and Jonathan Taylor returning to form, this Colts offense has sneaky firepower. Minshew's not an every-week start, by any means -- but if you’re streaming during bye weeks, he's probably one of your most intriguing options.
I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t this the quarterback who had you calling for Taylor Heinicke Time in the interest of saving Kyle Pitts and Drake London shares? Well, yes. He was that guy. But over the last three weeks, Ridder has started to figure out a bit of chemistry with his receivers and a modicum of throwing competency, too, averaging 295 passing yards per game over that span. Meanwhile, he’s also a rushing threat on a week-to-week basis, totaling a season-high 38 yards and his third rushing touchdown of the year in Sunday’s win. His last two games have each been marred by a trio of turnovers, but I don’t expect that to be a consistent issue. (Also, one of his fumbles in Week 7 was inches from being a second rushing TD instead.) Ridder is by no means a locked-and-loaded QB1, but he does get the Titans, Vikings and Cardinals over the next three weeks. He should be a fringe starter in all three of those soft matchups.
Yes, Howell was a disappointment in Week 7. (Apparently, the Giants have figured out a recipe on defense over the past couple weeks.) I’m not ditching the second-year pro just yet. In Week 8, he gets an Eagles matchup that has been among the best in the league for fantasy QBs -- including the Week 4 meeting between the two teams, where Howell tagged them for 330 total yards and 19.6 fantasy points. He is worth a streaming consideration in Sunday's game (this time at home), as you long as you can stomach the likely half-dozen sacks. Whether he sees your starting lineup the rest of the year or not can be determined by future you (and future me).
Remember a few weeks back when I completely lost it and recommended streaming Zach Wilson against the Broncos? Ha. Hold my beer, previous me. Undrafted free-agent rookie and Shepherd University product Tyson Bagent was shockingly solid in Sunday’s 30-12 win over the Raiders -- he completed 72.4 percent of his passes, threw a touchdown pass to D’Onta Foreman, protected the football and took only one sack. All against a soft Raiders defense, of course. Well, guess what? This week, the Bears get the Chargers, who have been the softest fantasy matchup for quarterbacks all season. The only QB they’ve held below 20 fantasy points was Aidan O’Connell, and even with O’Connell’s dud, they’ve allowed 23.74 PPG to the position. This is obviously more of a two-QB play or a desperation stream ... but it’s a viable one. (All assuming, of course, that Justin Fields does not return from an injury to his right thumb for Sunday night's game.)
GUY TO 'STACHE: If your roster is deep enough and you have a spot for Kyler Murray, he's worth squirreling away for the fantasy home stretch. The Cardinals QB returned to practice for the first time last week and could be activated from the PUP list in the next few weeks. While I am not particularly excited about starting him against either the Ravens or Browns (if he's activated for either of those games), I would absolutely consider playing him over the remainder of the year -- which includes great matchups against the Bears and Eagles in the fantasy playoffs.
Let’s start with an easy one. Hubbard has made this column for a few weeks, but he’s now through the Carolina bye and still available in more than 50 percent of NFL.com leagues. I truly believe he has a shot to supplant Miles Sanders for the lead role, but even if he doesn’t, Hubbard remains one of the top handcuffs in fantasy (for a starter already dealing with injury). And whether or not Sanders is healthy, the Panthers get three of the best matchups for RBs over the next month, with games against the Texans, Colts and Bears). Hubbard is a must-roster player who could be a critical piece in fantasy playoff runs across the world.
Heading into Sunday, we did get a little bit of clarity on the Rams’ backfield expectations: purportedly, former starter Darrell Henderson and practice squad activation Royce Freeman would lead the way, with rookie Zach Evans relegated to backup duty. Surprise, surprise: The “coachspeak” was accurate in this case. Henderson led the group in snaps (58 percent) and touches (19) and scored on a goal-line touchdown run. Freeman was more efficient, posting 5.5 yards per carry on 12 totes. Both looked quite good, especially considering they weren’t even on an active roster the week prior. (Evans did nothing, by the way.) I think it’s possible Henderson gains a little more traction in this offense, given his previous tenure with the team and his success carrying the load straight off the couch in Week 7. He’s your priority add (especially with Kyren Williams now on injured reserve), while Freeman is a viable consolation pickup if needed.
I get it: Najee Harris is still (inexplicably) the lead back, and you don’t want to waste a waiver claim on a backup. It’s fair. And in very shallow leagues, I’m not casting judgement. But if you’re weighing using a roster spot on Jaylen Warren versus guys like Jamaal Williams, Dalvin Cook and Antonio Gibson ... I’m taking Warren every time. He’s managed double-digit fantasy points in three straight games and four of his last five as the backup. That’s flexable production. And if he ever gets the starting job (either through performance or injury), he could quickly become a consistent RB2.
We were all hurt by Demercado back in Week 6. So hurt, in fact, that he was fantasy’s most-dropped RB last week (dropped from 21 percent of leagues, to be exact). He responded with 75 total yards on 17 touches against the Seahawks in Week 7. Demercado played 78 percent of the offensive snaps (to a mere 19 percent for Damien Williams and zero for Keaontay Ingram). Clearly, 21 percent of you ignored my blurb in last week’s column that Demercado should be added, not dropped, as the most likely of the trio to ascend to a useful role. And ascend he did. Remember, this guy was an undrafted rookie who had nine touches through the first month of the season. Now that he’s had a couple weeks to acclimate to an expanded role, he seems capable of maintaining it. I’d snag him for the remaining extent of James Conner’s absence in Arizona.
Once again, Foreman got the start in Chicago, with Johnson still stuck in concussion protocol. And once again, Foreman was productive as the lead back -- this time to the tune of 120 total yards, three total touchdowns and a whopping 33 fantasy points. This was unsurprising against the struggling Raiders defense, so hopefully you started him. It also means I’m hesitating before crowning Foreman the unquestioned starter. Watch Johnson’s progression through the protocol this week -- I still believe he’s the more complete back and would be more productive for fantasy once healthy. With the soft Chargers defense on tap this Sunday night, you’re rolling out Foreman no matter what -- and quite possibly Johnson, as well, if he’s active.
Hunt was initially in this week's column as a 'stache, based on his continued success as the backup to Jerome Ford, but then news emerged that Ford could miss a few weeks with a high ankle sprain. The former-and-once-again Brown has posted 15-plus fantasy points in back-to-back games (scoring two touchdowns in Week 7) in a very limited role. While Pierre Strong is likely to get relevant touches (and should be a 'stache himself), I think Hunt gets the top spot on this depth chart while Ford is out.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: For starters, if you are dealing with injuries or have troublesome bye weeks in your future, take a look at Gus Edwards and Tyler Allgeier. Both are productive pieces in committee situations on teams committed to the run. They're as good as you're gonna get in terms of "spot starts" at the position. Meanwhile, the Patriots seem very keen on using Ezekiel Elliott, especially in the red zone. He actually out-carried Rhamondre Stevenson 11 to nine on Sunday and scored the goal-line touchdown, as well. If you can, tuck him away on your bench for emergency use. Lastly, don't look now, but Cam Akers might have some 'stache value in Minnesota. The former Ram totaled 12 touches for 61 yards (both more than Alexander Mattison) on Monday Night Football -- and Akers played 38.5 percent of snaps (Mattison played 53.8). There's little reason to think Akers couldn't be the team's RB1 in the near future.
Yes, I cheated. Johnson is only available in 30 percent of leagues, below the cutoff for this column. But last week, I tried to follow the rules and sneak you Diontae in a special note, but it didn’t work. He shamed those 30 percent of leagues on Sunday by snagging five catches for 79 yards in his first game back from injury. He MUST be rostered in every league and should be started in most. Don’t make me do this again.
Believe it or not, Palmer's 133 yards and 18.3 fantasy points on Sunday aren’t even the entirety of the story. Perhaps more importantly, Palmer just looked the part for a second consecutive week. He has made impressive and crucial catches on the regular since taking over for Mike Williams, and with Austin Ekeler seemingly banged-up, Palmer is the No. 2 weapon in this entire offense right now. He has hit double-digit fantasy points in four straight games. Stop disrespecting this man. Like Diontae Johnson, Palmer should be rostered in every league and started in most.
I’ll ask one of our statisticians to find out how many waiver column appearances this makes for Rice, but I can guarantee you this: It’s too many. My "R" and "E" keys are worn out. Please pick him up. The rookie had his best game of the season in Sunday’s 31-17 win over the Chargers, recording 17 fantasy points on 60 yards and a touchdown. He’s now had 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in three straight. He ran a career-high 28 routes on Sunday (even with the addition of Mecole Hardman to the rotation). Perhaps most importantly, he seems to be a favorite target for Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes when K.C. reaches the red zone. After weeks of ‘stacheing Rice for the future, we’ve now reached the era of adding him for the present. Get him on your roster and consider him for your lineup.
What did Josh Downs do to 77 percent of you?! Even before Sunday, Downs had scored 47.7 fantasy points in Weeks 3 through 6, making him the WR25 over that span. Like a number of names above, I’ve been beating his drum for a while now. And yet he remains vastly available. Fortunately, I think this will be the last week I have to pull the drum out, considering the rookie’s performance in Week 7. Against the stifling Browns defense, Downs posted five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown on six targets -- all of which led the team. He is a dynamic playmaker who needs very little to produce for fantasy. But he’s also getting more and more involved. Another must-add. The real problem is how we’re going to fit all these guys onto our rosters.
Last week, I highlighted Bourne’s involvement in the Patriots' attack in Week 6 and noted that “their offense looked as functional as it has since that season opener -- maybe they'll make a connection and start featuring Bourne more often.” Well, they proceeded to feed Bourne a team-high seven targets in Sunday’s upset win over the Bills, which the speedster converted into six catches, 63 yards and a touchdown (16.3 fantasy points). And New England scored a season-high 29 points. Imagine that. At this point, Bourne appears to somewhat clearly be the team’s best receiver -- and while that would be a little more significant in a more high-flying offense, it’s enough to make him a valuable add in fantasy nonetheless.
GUYS TO 'STACHE: Michael F. Florio boldly predicted a breakout for rookie deep-threat Jalin Hyatt this past week, and Hyatt delivered (to a degree) with 75 receiving yards. The problem with Hyatt is his catch volume (nine on the season), but if that increases down the stretch, he could win you some weeks. With the absence of DK Metcalf for Seattle, another rookie finally had his breakout: Jaxon Smith-Njigba totaled 63 yards and a touchdown on four catches (seven targets). I'd be a little more excited if we didn't expect Metcalf's return sooner than later, but JSN is still worth a 'stache if you have space. I still like what we've seen from Michael Wilson in Arizona, and it's possible he'll get a QB upgrade in the near future with Kyler Murray back at practice. Finally, Odell Beckham Jr. was heavily involved (team-high seven targets) and looked solid in what was a sort of breakout game for the Ravens' new offensive system under Todd Monken. This one's highly speculative, but if Jackson keeps throwing for 300-plus yards, OBJ will have good games.
We have wished. We have waited. And now, we are rewarded. Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid had his breakout game on Sunday against the Patriots, pulling in a team-high eight catches (on eight targets) for 75 yards. Among a bevy of great plays, he was the target of choice on a crucial 4th-and-2 from the Patriots' 8-yard line late in the game (a conversion which led to a go-ahead touchdown three plays later). We saw usage, trust and talent all on display, while Dawson Knox managed only one catch for 10 yards on three targets. Moreover, Knox is set to have wrist surgery and miss an unknown amount of time. I don’t think this means Kincaid is suddenly Sam LaPorta -- that is, he’s not a must-start and should still be treated with caution. But he should absolutely be rostered in the vast majority of leagues and has a ton of late-season upside at a scarce position.
I tried to resist. I tried to ignore Hill and his one-of-a-kind usage. But after two straight games of 12-plus fantasy points with 49 and 50 receiving yards ... I have to include the Saints Army Knife in the column. I’m sorry. (Just by doing this, I guarantee he’ll disappear this week in Indy.) OK, but in all seriousness, Derek Carr has looked unbelievably hampered in recent weeks. That’s a boon for Hill on multiple fronts, giving him a chance for additional snaps at quarterback and making him valuable as a short-area target for Carr. Of course, Hill also scored a rushing touchdown on Thursday Night Football and is a threat to score from nearly any position in any alignment anywhere on the field. Keep in mind, starting Hill is typically a dart throw. It’s just looking like a more accurate dart throw of late.
Yet again, Thomas was a (fringe) TE1 in Week 7, on the merits of four catches for 51 yards (off six targets). He doesn’t have the long-term upside of Kincaid -- or the pure entertainment value of Hill -- but if you’re streaming the position, Thomas should consistently be on your radar, if not in your lineup. He’s a TE1 in points per game on the season and is seeing consistent opportunity.
GUY TO 'STACHE: Second-year Cardinals tight end Trey McBride has been taking on an increased role in recent weeks behind veteran leader Zach Ertz. Unfortunately, Ertz is now headed to injured reserve with a quad injury, opening the door for McBride to take a significant role in the Arizona passing game. He has TE1 upside down the stretch and is a great add if you're streaming the position.
The Dolphins don't have a world-beating defense by any means, but the unit has logged eight-plus fantasy points in four of its last six games (including on Sunday night against the Eagles offense, thanks to a touchdown). The Patriots (in Week 8) are a far less worrisome matchup, as evidenced by Miami’s nine fantasy points at New England in Week 2. The Dolphins are likely to be fired up coming off a loss to the Eagles. Mac Jones and Co. looked a bit better last Sunday, but they’re still one of the least productive offenses in the league. Fire up the Dolphins.
I know the Lions looked like a shell of themselves in the 38-6 loss to Baltimore on Sunday. And I know they logged -2 fantasy points. It wasn’t great. But every team has bad days. Prior to that game, Detroit had averaged 10.8 fantasy points per game in Weeks 3 through 6, all against sub-par offenses. They get another sub-par offense next Monday night when the Raiders come to town. Las Vegas hasn’t scored more than 21 points in a game all season. That’s bad. If Detroit's D is available, it might be one of the top pickups of the week. And double-check after waivers run, just in case someone rage drops the Lions' unit following the Ravens debacle.
Last week’s Indy stream went ... OK. Despite allowing 33 points (seven of which were really surrendered by the offense), the Colts' D scored 5.0 fantasy points thanks to two sacks and two interceptions. The Saints have been up and down as a matchup for D/STs. This feels like a week to exploit New Orleans' disjointed offense.