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Waiver Wired
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D'Ernest Johnson saves the bye-week apocalypse on waiver wires

by John Daigle
Updated On: October 20, 2021, 1:53 am ET

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Welcome to the Week 7 edition of Waiver Wired for the 2021 season. Chaos is a ladder, so it only makes sense for some of the league's best offenses — Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings — to hit their byes at the same time so many players are either questionable or ruled out entirely for Sunday. We will diligently sift through all of those situations this week to ensure no stone is left unturned for our lineups.

As a refresher, The Drop List consists of players who are rostered in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and are no longer must-have assets, recommended additions are available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the Watch List contains in-depth notes on fringe waiver adds, and Deep Cuts includes player notes on those rostered in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

 

The Drop List

QB: Baker Mayfield, Trevor Lawrence

RB: Alexander Mattison, Trey Sermon

WR: -  

TE: Jared Cook, Robert Tonyan

Managers may be forced to drop either Kirk Cousins or Trevor Lawrence to make room for a streaming option in Week 7 and while neither are ideal players to part with, Lawrence, averaging an increased 5.8 scrambles in his last four starts, is an easier sell than Cousins, the overall QB10 in fantasy points per game, since Minnesota returns in an uptempo shootout against the Cowboys in Week 8...Dalvin Cook returned at full strength on Sunday, out-touching Alexander Mattison 31-3 despite the latter’s 153-yard performance in the interim the week prior. Strictly a contingency option for as long as Cook is healthy, Mattison, a league-winning stash in 10-team leagues, may not be able to stay rostered on shallower benches over Minnesota’s bye...With JaMycal Hasty (ankle) expected to be activated from injured reserve, reminder Trey Sermon didn’t play a single snap in the first half of Week 2 until the former sprained his ankle and Elijah Mitchell injured his shoulder. Sermon was slid into the Contingency Top 10 (see below) accordingly...Headed into Los Angeles’ bye as the TE14 in fantasy points per game, Cook, who has recorded one top-10 finish this year, is an expendable player for one of the prioritized pickups...Robert Tonyan’s weekly receiving yards to date: 8, 52, 6, 8, 8, 10. Godspeed.

 

Overall Top 5

1. Rashod Bateman
2. D'Ernest Johnson
3. Ricky Seals-Jones

4. Rhamondre Stevenson
5. Rashaad Penny

High-Stakes Top 5

1. D'Ernest Johnson
2. Rashaad Penny
3. DeeJay Dallas
4. Quez Watkins
5. JaMycal Hasty

For those looking to roster the best available player(s) regardless of position, the rankings above take into account every factor from the positional lists minus players’ actual positions for both recreational and high-stakes (FFPC, NFFC, etc.) formats, the latter which have far fewer viable players available with every passing week. These are listed in the precise order I would prioritize waiver claims in those leagues ahead of Week 6. Adjust accordingly for what you need on your roster — touches, high-upside bench stashes, targets, one-week spot-starters, etc.

 

Contingency Top 10

1. Alexander Mattison
2. Sony Michel
3. Samaje Perine
4. Ty’Son Williams
5. Trey Sermon
6. Peyton Barber
7. Ronald Jones
8. Jermar Jefferson
9. Carlos Hyde
10. Anthony McFarland

For those looking to stash the best available backup(s) with minimum standalone value, the rankings above were designed to help prioritize direct backups in the event a player in front of them were absent. These are listed in the precise order I would stash them ahead of Week 6. Presumed targets, touches, environment, remaining schedule, etc. are included in the process.

 

Quarterbacks

1. Tua Tagovailoa
2. Jameis Winston
3. Justin Fields

Running Backs

J.D. McKissic rostered in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 RB add if available.

1. D’Ernest Johnson
2. Rhamondre Stevenson
3. Rashaad Penny
4. DeeJay Dallas
5. Jaret Patterson
6. JaMycal Hasty
7. Demetric Felton
8. Ty’Son Williams
9. Devonta Freeman
10. Le’Veon Bell

Wide Receivers

Cole Beasley rostered in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 WR add if available.

Christian Kirk rostered in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 2 WR add if available.

1. Rashod Bateman
2. Darnell Mooney
3. Quez Watkins
4. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
5. Nico Collins

Tight Ends

Dallas Goedert rostered in 73 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 TE add if available.

1. Ricky Seals-Jones
2. O.J. Howard
3. Mo Alie-Cox
4. Cole Kmet

Defense/Special Teams

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Las Vegas Raiders

Kickers

1. Nick Folk
2. Younghoe Koo
3. Wil Lutz

 

QUARTERBACKS

1. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins — Rostered in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 2-3% FAAB Bid)

Miami altered its gameplan entirely with Tagovailoa back in the fold, calling a season-high 37 passes, six of which Tua launched 20-plus yards downfield, in neutral game script against the Jaguars. A similar plan of attack is expected against the Falcons, which ranked as the stone-worst defense in creating pressure (34.8%) before leaving for their bye. Tua has also averaged a hint of rushing juice with 3.5 carries in his two full starts this year.
 

2. Jameis Winston, Saints — Rostered in 39 percent of Yahoo Leagues (1-2%)

Fresh off season-highs in pass attempts (30) and pass play rate (61%) from neutral game script in Week 5, Winston is now blessed with a Seahawks 'defense' that has allowed at least 21 points in every game since Week 2. Taysom Hill's pending availability could also offer Winston a higher ceiling in the red zone if the former is ruled out. Note that New Orleans' team total (24.8) has increased a full point in just 48 hours since initially opening.
 

3. Justin Fields, Bears — Rostered in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues (1%)

Whether it's Matt Nagy or OC Bill Lazor running the show, Tampa Bay's offense will undoubtedly wipe the dust off Chicago's playbook and ensure the Bears throw more than 27 pass attempts for the first time all year. Justin Fields' protection, which has been wrecked for the fourth-highest pressure rate allowed in his four starts, is a concern, but the volume is expected to be there since the Bucs have faced a league-high 41.8 pass attempts per game. Any scrambles we get while he inevitably has the ball in his hands more is the cherry on top.

 

Watch List: With Trey Lance fighting through a knee sprain (with no update, nonetheless) and a plethora of injuries to navigate, there's no need to keep him stashed any longer since we may not see him again during the fantasy regular season. Rely on streamers the rest of the way if necessary...Ryan Fitzpatrick's initial timeline was eight weeks from the season opener, which logically puts him back on the field following Washington's Week 9 bye. Plan accordingly for whatever your situation is under center.

 

RUNNING BACKS

1. D’Ernest Johnson, Browns — Rostered in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 8-10% FAAB Bid)

Johnson was in this exact situation for Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (calf) last year, totaling 17 touches behind Hunt in the four games Chubb missed with a knee sprain. Johnson also has Cleveland’s only running back carries (3) behind Chubb and Hunt this season. The difference from 2020 to now is the presence of Demetric Felton, who took 20 backfield snaps (and 36 as a wide receiver) in the preseason and, of course, was only shifted there twice to this point with Chubb or Hunt available through Week 6. It’s possible Felton is used there again out of necessity on Thursday, but Johnson’s lion’s share of touches as the team’s only true running back lend him a confident RB2 floor for a week all hands are needed on deck. He stands head and shoulders above the rest as a one-week filler — his presumed timeline as the interim starter since the Browns avoided placing Chubb on their three-week injured reserve. Feel free to bid over the suggested amount if you’re in need of a win.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

 

 

2. Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots – Rostered in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues (8-10%)

Stevenson was placed on the field for his one-yard score in Sunday’s loss because Damien Harris suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter. Even so, Stevenson quietly ran one more route than Brandon Bolden (9-8), registering the highest target share (14.2%) of any Patriots running back since the latter did so in place of James White in Week 4. The better long-term add over D’Ernest Johnson whether Harris is ruled out or not, Stevenson can still provide immediate relief as a touchdown-or-bust option given New England’s friendly projected game script as a seven-point favorite at home.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues
 

3. Rashaad Penny Seahawks – Rostered in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues (6-8%)

4. DeeJay Dallas, Seahawks – Rostered in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues (6-8%)

Pete Carroll, the same individual who said Chris Carson had “turned the corner” before placing him on injured reserve a few days later, said Penny is “raring to go” with “no restrictions” ahead of Monday night against New Orleans. Currently a touch-and-go situation since Alex Collins, who has handled 66% of Seattle’s backfield touches since Week 5, is considered day-to-day, Penny sits ahead of DeeJay Dallas if only because the former would likely integrate alongside Collins whereas Dallas’ chances of that are grim. Prioritize Penny ahead of Stevenson if Collins is eventually ruled out.

Although Dallas would play sparingly behind Collins and Penny if both are available, there’s a real chance he out-touches the latter in Penny’s first game off injured reserve if Collins is scratched; Penny hasn’t handled double-digit touches since December 2, 2019. Most recently leading Seattle’s backfield in carries (4), targets (5), and routes run (18) behind Collins on Sunday night, Dallas, who finished as the overall RB3 in his first career start in Week 8 last year, should garner equal FAAB to Penny — and yet he won’t from your league mates — rather than getting the cold shoulder as the team’s fourth-string back.

Recommendation: Both should be rostered in 12-team leagues if Alex Collins is ruled out
 

5. Jaret Patterson, Washington - Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (5-8%)

Antonio Gibson attempted to return after limping off the field with his fractured shin but was promptly removed after he was unable to fight through it. “Actually limited” despite OC Scott Turner’s refute, Gibson’s injury could/will eventually leave only J.D. McKissic (16 touches Sunday) and Patterson available among Washington’s backfield for the stretch run. Though McKissic would handle a majority of this backfield’s touches (as proven Sunday) in that scenario, getting ahead on Patterson now is a frugal choice. Move him ahead of Dallas if Alex Collins gets any amount of work at practice this week. There’s no need to add Patterson if you already roster McKissic.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues
 

6. JaMycal Hasty, 49ers – Rostered in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues (2-4%)

Friendly reminder Hasty drew 4-of-5 backfield targets as San Francisco’s third-down back in place of Raheem Mostert in Week 2, delivering all of his fantasy production as a receiver before rolling his ankle in the second half. With Hasty expected to be removed from injured reserve following last week’s release of Jacques Patrick, the 49ers will utilize their backfield similarly on Sunday since Elijah Mitchell also returns from the bye at full health.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team PPR leagues
 

7. Demetric Felton, Browns – Rostered in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Whether he’s a running back or a wide receiver is a moot point since Felton has multi-position eligibility on Yahoo. With 26 routes to D’Ernest Johnson’s seven (and nine targets to his one) all year, Felton can still be plucked off bare waiver wires to mask for bye weeks in PPR leagues.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team PPR leagues if Nick Chubb is ruled out
 

8. Ty’Son Williams, Ravens – Rostered in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues (4-6%)

9. Devonta Freeman, Ravens – Rostered in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues (2-4%)

10. Le’Veon Bell, Ravens – Rostered in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Coach John Harbaugh didn’t believe Latavius Murray’s ankle sprain to be “overly serious,” perhaps putting the veteran back on the field as early as Sunday against the Bengals. If not, we need only revisit Week 5 for evidence of how the Ravens will deploy their backfield, making the top-three bodies available and dispersing touches — eight for Murray, six for Ty’Son, four for Freeman in that game — evenly. The order above is exactly how I would prioritize this group if Murray can’t go. All can be ignored if Murray practices at any point ahead of Sunday. Williams is the only one I would keep stashed in deeper leagues regardless of Murray’s status, launching ahead of Hasty on this list if Latavius is sidelined throughout the week.

Recommendation: All can be stashed separately in 12-team leagues if Latavius Murray is ruled out

 

Watch List: Marlon Mack and David Johnson are among the names I'm throwing darts at in deeper leagues ahead of the November 2 trade deadline...Kenneth Gainwell handled 13 touches to Miles Sanders' 15 in Weeks 3 and 4, which is why he then highlighted the Waiver Wire column as a long-term addition. The issue is that Sanders' usage has inexplicably flipped since that time, out-touching Gainwell 27-4. With no real way of predicting whether the pendulum swung permanently, Gainwell can be dropped in shallower leagues if necessary...Kenyan Drake may have scored twice, but that end zone work occurred on only six touches and the same number of snaps (12) he received the week prior. He's at least returned to contingency land since Peyton Barber was healthy-scratched in game one under interim coach Rich Bisaccia.

Deep Cuts: Benny Snell's gruesome arm injury on Sunday night made life easier for the organization to activate Anthony McFarland from injured reserve. McFarland was inserted into the Contingency Top 10 (scroll up) accordingly...Only one week after recording an egg in the box score behind Myles Gaskin's 15 touches, Malcolm Brown was integrated back into Miami's offense for six touches behind Gaskin's seven and Salvon Ahmed's season-high mark of eight. Even Brian Flores doesn't have a grip on this backfield's week-to-week usage.

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WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Rashod Bateman, Ravens – Rostered in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues (10-12%)

His box score (4/29) may not show it, but Bateman’s debut was encouraging since he logged 65% of Baltimore’s snaps, accruing a 22.2% target share even though OC Greg Roman said he wouldn’t throw him “into the fire for every play.” Sammy Watkins’ (hamstring) pending return could force Bateman out of two-wide sets entirely, but odds are the veteran returns in the slot since that’s where he averaged 17.1 routes per game across three seasons with the Chiefs; Bateman ran a career-high 61.2% of his routes from the slot in 2020 but was primarily used on the boundary for 87.1% of his routes in 2019. I prefer Bateman over Mooney for the rest of the season if prioritizing your pickups with the home stretch in mind, too.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues
 

2. Darnell Mooney, Bears – Rostered in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 4-6% FAAB Bid)

Mooney has registered a team-high 28.6% target share in Justin Fields’ four starts to (admittedly) no avail, totaling 14/214/1 and 10.3 fantasy points per game in that span. The difference on Sunday is the presence of Tampa Bay’s secondary, leaking the fourth-most fantasy points to his position. Even the Bears will have no choice but to follow in the footsteps of those before them, continuing the trend of a league-high 41.8 pass attempts per game against the Bucs’ sieve of a cornerbacks room.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues
 

3. Quez Watkins, Eagles – Rostered in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues (2-4%)

Thursday night was a preview of Philadelphia’s transition from 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) to three-wide sets as their base package, gifting Watkins a 19.2% target share on a season-high rate of routes run (76.3%) on Jalen Hurts’ dropbacks. Although the upgrade from Zach Ertz to Goedert as the Eagles’ lone receiving tight end is a significant one — Goedert is actually capable of eclipsing 30 receiving yards on a heaping of snaps — Watkins is ensured increased on-field usage from this point forward. 

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues
 

4. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Titans – Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Julio Jones re-aggravated his hamstring injury on Monday night, seeing Westbrook-Ikhine step in for three targets on the third most routes (18) for Tennessee to close the game. Assuming Julio can’t go for a dream spot against Kansas City, Westbrook-Ikhine would presumably take the field across from A.J. Brown since that’s where the former ran a team-high 53 routes in Weeks 3 and 4 while Julio and AJB were on the mend.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues if Julio Jones is ruled out
 

5. Nico Collins, Texans – Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Simply put, Collins garnered a 13.9% target share in his first game action since Week 2 and is suddenly staring down the barrel of a projected three-score game script (+17) as a road dog in the desert. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

 

Watch List: Marquez Callaway's season-high eight targets prior to New Orleans' bye only happened because Deonte Harris, the team's best receiver to this point of the year, injured his hamstring following a 72-yard touchdown to open the game. One of Callaway's two touchdowns against Washington was also luck-boxed in the end zone on a Hail Mary to close the half. Harris is still the preferred pickup if forced to choose one until Michael Thomas, still reportedly "a couple weeks away", returns...For better or worse, Zach Pascal will be glued to the field against San Francisco if both T.Y. Hilton (quad) and Parris Campbell (foot) are ruled out. Note that Pascal failed to eclipse 48 receiving yards from Carson Wentz in his five starts alongside Michael Pittman prior to Hilton's return...Without DeVante Parker (hamstring), Preston Williams (groin), and Will Fuller (finger, IR) in London, Mack Hollins quietly ran a route on 100% of Tua Tagovailoa's dropbacks. It's a tumultuous situation since even Williams' return could force Hollins out of the starting lineup, but it's worth monitoring for that very reason. I rank them Parker > Williams > Hollins (behind Jaylen Waddle) pending who's available since Fuller is guaranteed to miss at least one more game. If handed the choice on a silver platter between Waddle or Bateman on eight-team waivers, I would still take Bateman since we genuinely don't know how/if Waddle will be leaned on once Parker and Fuller are healthy.

Deep Leagues: In the most Joe Judge decision possible the Giants turned to Dante Pettis once Kadarius Toney (foot) exited the game, shifting Sterling Shepard back into the slot and feeding Pettis a 21.5% target share on the second-most routes run among their receivers. Given the lack of available bodies at his position while Kenny Golladay (knee), Darius Slayton (hamstring), and Toney are shelved, Pettis makes some sense as an addition in ravaged 14-team leagues to help pad for bye weeks...Odell Beckham wasn't available at practice on Tuesday after injuring his shoulder against the Cardinals. His potential absence against the Broncos pins Donovan Peoples-Jones to the field as an every-down player after the latter led the Browns with a route run on 77.5% of Baker Mayfield's dropbacks on Sunday.

 

TIGHT ENDS

1. Ricky Seals-Jones, Washington — Rostered in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 8-10% FAAB Bid)

Why Seals-Jones is still available is beyond me. In the last two weeks alone, the 26-year-old has been on the field for 141-of-142 offensive snaps, running a route on 83 of Taylor Heinicke’s 93 dropbacks while registering an 18.7% target share on 7.5 targets per game. He’s a better play than Hunter Henry, Zach Ertz, and Robert Tonyan this week among those rostered in over 50% of Yahoo leagues. Consider him a one-for-one replacement for Logan Thomas (hamstring, IR) until the latter returns, whenever that may be.
 

2. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers — Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Howard’s involvement behind Cameron Brate has progressively increased in three consecutive games, running a route on 33.3% < 38% < 44.1% of Tom Brady’s dropbacks in that span. His 11 targets are also equivalent to Brate’s opportunity in that time, most recently registering his highest target share (16.6%) since last year’s regular-season opener. With Rob Gronkowski (fractured ribs) eyeing another absence against Chicago, Howard’s usage should continue to rise as a confident bye-week replacement for Dawson Knox or Dalton Schultz.
 

3. Mo Alie-Cox, Colts — Rostered in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Alie-Cox hasn’t actually experienced a usage change the past two weeks, trailing Jack Doyle in total routes run (34-18), but the former has been sprinkled seven targets (13.2%), including Carson Wentz’s only end zone target, to Doyle’s two in that time since he’s the outright better player. With T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and Parris Campbell (foot) unclear for Sunday, Alie-Cox’s outlook is a more reasonable bet at a onesie position littered with byes than chasing that vacant opportunity by log-jamming Zach Pascal into one of your three ever so important receiver slots.
 

4. Cole Kmet, Bears — Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Kmet has soaked up 16 of Chicago’s 18 tight end targets from Justin Fields since Week 3. This is purely a bet on Chicago’s game plan becoming matchup-oriented, attacking the Bucs through the air whether Matt Nagy wants to or not.

 

Watch List: Cleveland's final injury report ahead of Thursday will ultimately tell us whether one of or neither Austin Hooper and David Njoku will be useful as deep-league streamers against Denver. For what it's worth, Njoku was limited with a knee injury on Monday after unsurprisingly running fewer routes than Hooper (26-17) against the Cardinals.

Deep Leagues: Tommy Sweeney is the name to be ahead of in TE-Premium leagues after Dawson Knox broke his hand in Monday night's loss. As it stands, Sweeney is the only other tight end on Buffalo's active roster behind Knox...Steelers ran a season-high rate of 12 personnel (23%) in their first game without JuJu Smith-Schuster, seeing Pat Freiermuth record season-highs in snaps (45, 60%) and targets (7, 17.5%). He's a fine stash in deeper leagues if you can afford the roster space over Pittsburgh's bye...Friendly reminder Ross Dwelley ran a route on 76.3% of Trey Lance's dropbacks in place of George Kittle before San Francisco hit its bye.

 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. New Orleans Saints – Rostered in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues

Geno Smith.
 

2. Miami Dolphins – Rostered in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues

Trevor Lawrence was able to muster 319 yards and 7.7 yards per attempt in London since the Dolphins were short both Byron Jones and Xavien Howard in their league-high rate of Cover-1 personnel. Assuming both are available against the Falcons, it's a terrific matchup for Miami's defense to right the ship at home.
 

3. Las Vegas Raiders – Rostered in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues

Fresh off a nine-sack performance in interim coach Rich Bisaccia's debut, consider Las Vegas' defense a floor-based option since Jalen Hurts has averaged two sacks (with four fumbles) in six starts this year.
 

Watch List: The Chargers, weak against the running game in particular, fortuitously get the Patriots and Eagles out of the bye...San Francisco is lent the Colts and Bears over the next two weeks if they were dropped anywhere during the bye.

 

KICKERS

Only a fool wouldn’t pass the ball to Michael Jordan in his prime, so it only makes sense that I pull each week’s kicker streamers from Denny Carter’s column and #adjust them accordingly. For in-depth analysis, you can read his entire piece here:
 

1. Nick Folk, Patriots – Rostered in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues

2. Younghoe Koo, Falcons – Rostered in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues

3. Wil Lutz, Saints – Rostered in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues

 

John Daigle

John Daigle is an Emmy and FSWA award winner who has been covering the NFL and fantasy football for over a decade, working with NBC Sports EDGE for almost four years. He enjoys watching golf and Jon Moxley, not necessarily in that order. You can follow him on Twitter @notJDaigle.