Week 10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Duke Johnson & More
Week 10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Duke Johnson & More
This isn’t the best week ever on the waiver wire for those of us still fighting the good fight. There were no “clear-cut” injury situations for running backs, so there is going to be a lot of guesswork on the waivers this week. David Johnson and David Montgomery might miss time; they might not. Duke Johnson might be on your waiver wire, or he might not. Mike Davis may have been dropped in your league, or he may not have been. You will all know your leagues better than I will, and most of the waiver work I do is focused on “high stakes” leagues, so it possible that some clear adds might not make it into the content on a weekly basis.
What is most important at this time of year is figuring out what kind of fantasy football team you have. Are you locked up in a playoff spot, or is your team struggling to make it in as the last seed? If you’re sitting at 8-1 right now, your entire bench should be high-upside handcuff RBs and WRs who can explode with more playing time. Zach Pascal shouldn’t be on the bench for a good time; Michael Pittman Jr. should.
Each week, we will look at three tiers of players: the “must adds” or players that we expect will be picked up in every league and in every format, the “borderline” tier, and the deep-league darts. The focus will be on 12-team PPR leagues as our frame of reference and as always, if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me on Twitter @DavisMattek or in the Daily Roto NFL Slack channel.
All players referenced in the Fantasy Football Waiver Wire column are under 50% owned in Yahoo! Fantasy Football Leagues. It is possible these players might be owned in your league.
Absolutely Should Be Owned In Every League, But You Will See There Name In Other Fantasy Football Waiver Pieces: Chase Edmonds, Brandin Cooks, Mecole Hardman, Austin Hooper, Henry Ruggs, Damien Harris, Phillip Lindsay, Laviska Shenault, Tee Higgins, Christian Kirk, Zack Moss, Jalen Reagor, Corey Davis
POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE MAKERS (THESE ARE PLAYERS WORTH > 25% OF YOUR FAAB, OR THE #1 OVERALL WAIVER CLAIM) FROM THE FANTASY FOOTBALL WAIVER WIRE
If Duke Johnson is out there on your waiver wire, he needs to be your highest priority add of the week. David Johnson sustained a concussion on the Texans’ first drive against the Jaguars on Sunday, which led to Duke playing 52 of the Texans 64 offensive snaps. Buddy Howell played only five offensive snaps. We have been clamoring for Duke to take over a larger role in the Texans backfield for two seasons now, and it appears that Week 10 is going to be his chance to do that. He would likely project for around 14-18 rushes and 4-6 targets as the starter in Houston.
If Duke is on your waiver wire, you can feel comfortable spending around 90% of your remaining FAAB on him. He will project as a top-10 RB if David Johnson is not able to play.
Anyone who played DFS this last week already knows the story here. Justin Jackson got injured on the first play of the game for the Chargers and came back in the game for one decoy play in the second half. Ballage made the most of the opportunity with 69 nice yards on 15 carries while also scoring a rushing touchdown. Josh Kelley out-snapped Ballage 43-31 and got more of the work in the passing game. Ballage is likely not a slam dunk add because Troymaine Pope lurks as a player who should be active next week for the Chargers. However, Ballage’s athletic profile is actually intriguing. Ballage is a massive RB at 6’2, 228 pounds but ran a 4.46 40 at the combine and has been mired in two of the worst situations in football in his short career with the pre-Flores Dolphins and Adam Gase Jets. I’m comfortable spending 10-15% this week on the Ballage lotto ticket because it does seem like the team is somewhat souring on Joshua Kelley and the health status of Justin Jackson and Troymaine Pope is not clear.
BORDERLINE STARTERS (THESE PLAYERS LIKELY ARE COMING OFF A GOOD GAME BUT DO NOT PROJECT AS MULTI-WEEK STARTERS, WORTH LESS THAN 25% OF YOUR FAAB) FROM THE FANTASY FOOTBALL WAIVER WIRE
Cordarelle Patterson/Ryan Nall
Even if David Montgomery didn’t get injured in this game, which he did, I would still want to be throwing some cheap darts at the random RBs in the Bears backfield. It almost defies the imagination of how bad Montgomery has been. He leads the NFL in points UNDER expectation in the backfield since Week 4, and that was before rushing the ball 14 times for 30 yards in this game against the weak Titans defense. Nall and Patterson are really the only players with RB snaps on the roster, though Artavis Pierce lurks as well if Montgomery were to miss time with his injury. None of these players are worth more than 5% of your remaining budget. I am personally partial to Patterson because he should get work as a pass-catcher as well. Nall is a fairly interesting “h-back” style player but is not an especially gifted athlete.
Tim Patrick/KJ Hamler
The Broncos are running one of the least efficient offenses in the NFL, which frequently causes them to be down double-digit points in the second half. This then translates into a mad dash to make up points in the second half. Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant are the clear alphas in this passing game, but Drew Lock now has three straight 40+ passing attempt games. This brings guys like Patrick (60 of 73 snaps played) and Hamler (55 of 72) into the fray for fantasy football. Hamler, in particular, continues to be interesting to me because of his insane long speed. He didn’t run at the combine, but it is estimated he would run in the 4.35’s in a timed 40. Given how bad Melvin Gordon has been as a rusher and the injury to Albert O, the Broncos should be running more 11 personnel and narrowing their target tree moving forward. Hamler should be owned in all 12-team PPR leagues.
Richie James Jr.
I know that Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne are likely to be back for the 49ers starting this week, but I am not sure how the 49ers put the lightning back in the bottle with Richie James. He had the best game of any 49ers WR so far this season on Thursday night against the Packers with 13-9-184-1 on 89% of the team’s snaps. It was also reported heading into the game that James himself was dealing with an ankle injury. James ran a 4.48 40 at the combine and is sort of the prototypical outside speed WR at the NFL level. He is maybe a little undersized at 5’9, 185, but this San Francisco offense desperately needs an injection of speed. He will likely take the backseat to Aiyuk in the short passing game, but I can clearly see him carving out a role as the primary boundary WR target for the rest of the season or at least until Deebo Samuel gets healthy (again). On WR-needy teams, I am comfortable spending up to 10% of my budget on James.
Michael Pittman Jr.
I don’t need to belate the point with Pittman Jr. very much. What I wrote last week “Rookie wide receivers have been so good to us this year, and I’m getting back on the train with Pittman Jr… As we have seen with Jalen Reagor, CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins, and all the other productive rookies, we want these guys with uncapped upsides on our rosters.” The immediate results for Pittman have been very meh as the Colts scored only 10 points against the Ravens, but Pittman stepped up to 87% of the Colts snaps on Sunday and was targeted seven times. Considering how average the rest of the pass-catching talent on the Colts roster is, I would be willing to bet that he leads them in targets in Weeks 10-17. Make sure to stash him on your roster this week.
With Myles Gaskin out against the Cardinals, the Dolphins had a hard time rushing the ball. Salvon Ahmed lead the team in rushing (we’ll talk about him a little later), and Tua was the teams’ second-leading rusher. Jordan Howard plodded his way to a touchdown and 19 yards on 10 rushes. It wouldn’t surprise me if Brieda returning sent Howard back to being a healthy scratch with Salvon Ahmed active ahead of Howard. Brieda wasn’t able to play this last week with a hamstring injury, but it is my presumption that if he was, he would have had a very healthy rushing share. Brieda is the lone explosive athlete on the Dolphins roster at the RB position (Malcolm Perry and Lynn Bowden just aren’t ready yet) and will probably go largely unnoticed on waivers this week because he didn’t play in Week Nine.
The Raiders had only 50 offensive snaps in their game against the Chargers. Booker played on 13 of them while Jacobs had a crushingly-bad 28 of 50 snaps. Booker had eight rushes on his 13 snaps and continues to look like the better rusher. Considering how often the Raiders rush around the goal line and their reliance on Jacobs, Booker would stand to earn a huge role if something was to happen to Josh Jacobs. At this time of the year, adding high-upside handcuffs is the name of the game, and to me, Booker looks like one of the highest upside guys who are out there in a vast majority of leagues.
DEEP LEAGUE TARGETS AND BENCH STASHES FROM THE FANTASY FOOTBALL WAIVER WIRE
Irv Smith Jr.
Every single week, it seems like Irv Smith Jr.’s role in the Minnesota passing game continues to expand. While he ran a limited number of routes against the Lions (and played only 21 snaps), I am not too concerned about the peripherals. What we are seeing is that Smith is getting a much higher number of targets per route run than he was earlier in the season, and the team is also specifically designing plays to throw him the ball in the red zone. In any tight end premium format, Smith Jr. needs to be owned, and I would consider him even a borderline start in these formats as well. The team has targeted Adam Thielen far less as the season has progressed, and Dalvin Cook is not going to score two touchdowns in every game the Vikings play this year.
I almost never write about QBs in the waiver wire section because 1) they are very unlikely to provide long-term value relative to their peers, and 2) many of you already have good QBs because you sort of need one of the studs to compete this year. However, Drew Lock is officially starting to interest me. He plays so poorly in the first half, and Pat Shurmur does such a terrible job of calling plays that the Broncos are always in a massive hole in the second half. That has trended Lock’s passing attempts way up, and he recorded 47 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. Adding that little bit of rushing upside to 35+ passing attempts to a cadre of talented pass catchers makes me think Lock has weekly top-12 upside.
Salvon Ahmed/Jakeem Grant
With Preston Williams getting injured in-game, Jakeem Grant had a larger role in the passing game for the Dolphins than expected. He still played only 29 snaps and shared time with Malcolm Perry and Mack Hollins. Grant is interesting because he is an extreme speedster (4.3 speed) and has had a decent targets per route run figure this year. Ahmed is maybe even more interesting if Matt Brieda is not able to play next week. Ahmed led the team in rushing and in snaps played out of the backfield. Our Laird was the primary third-down back and will retain that role, but there is a clear early-down role up for grabs in the Dolphins backfield while Gaskins is out.
Out of nowhere, Hollister led the Seattle tight ends in snaps and routes run against the Bills. Hollister racked up a season-high seven targets and secured five of them for 60 yards. With how inefficient Will Dissly and Greg Olsen have been this year, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Seahawks are looking to find anyone who can make a spark here. I’m adding Hollister for $1 in pretty much every league I am in this week because, well, we want to have pieces of one of the most explosive passing offenses in football. At such a disgusting position, we should be actively trying to find guys who correlate with the highest-scoring offense.
Look Ahead Defense Bids (5% of FAAB or less): Minnesota Vikings (They will get the Dallas Cowboys at home in Week 11), Las Vegas Raiders (they host the extremely error-prone Drew Lock in Week 10).