Now past the midpoint of the fantasy football regular season, every waiver wire pickup comes with added importance. If you’re one of the fantasy owners battling for a playoff spot, it’s all about playing for the moment. You can’t afford to lose, and that means taking a chance on plenty of streamers and sleepers in good matchups. If you’re already in prime position for a playoff berth, it’s also important to look ahead and set up your lineup for success in future weeks. That will mean fantasy owners should look to the free agent wire for streaming options not only for the Week 8 waiver period, but also look at available options for Week 9 and beyond.
Of course, the process of doing this isn’t exact. You could pick up a player intent on starting them in Week 9 only to see them get hurt in Week 8. They may even getting traded or have a game postponed. But as long as you have one revolving door roster spot or a player that you have no intention of playing this week, you can look ahead and add a potential starter for next week. As much as we love handcuffs like Benny Snell and Tony Pollard, they only have value if the starters in front of them, James Conner and Ezekiel Elliott, go down. So, if you’re debating keeping one of them or adding a potential Week 9 flex play, it’s probably best to take the flex play even though an injury could give the player you’re dropping more value. In short, never bank on injuries happening.
However, speaking of injuries, if your league has IR spots, now is the time to use them to stash available players. Guys like Sony Michel, Dallas Goedert, Allen Lazard, Tevin Coleman, and Sammy Watkins all are dealing with injuries, so if they continue to be out and on waivers, feel free to scoop them up as injury stashes to be used at a later date.
No matter what moves you make, it’s important to realize that all of them are just educated guesses. Some will work out but others won’t. It’s all just a part of fantasy football. Injuries happen, breakouts come out of nowhere, and sometimes, coaches just mess with rotations and screw things up for fantasy owners (those who started Jerick McKinnon for the 49ers last week know all about that). Of course, if you guess right, like some may have on Jeff Wilson Jr. last week, it can pay huge dividends and save you either a waiver claim or FAAB money down the road.
The waiver wire is looking strong this week, as there seems to finally be better depth among the D/ST and TE streamers. There are some intriguing QB options, too and, per usual, there is plenty of RB and WR depth that can be added. Not all of these players will pan out, but with a few potential flex plays out there (Damien Harris, Zack Moss, and Sterling Shepard stand out), there are enough worthwhile pieces for owners to consider adding.
As always, you don’t have to make a move. You can wait and see what happens in Week 8 and then choose an object of affection at that point to target. But if you like a player enough, don’t be afraid to grab them. So long as you aren’t making a significant downgrade at a position and are just swapping bench options, you should have a chance to get ahead of the Week 9 curve and gain an edge on your leaguemates.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watchlist
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 8, looking forward to the players that could be waiver-wire targets to scoop before the season starts to use in future weeks. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are options you could pick up early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
Week 9 Waiver Wire Watchlist: Quarterback
Key QBs out because of byes: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield
Derek Carr, Raiders @ Chargers (33)
Carr has logged at least 264 passing yards and two TDs in five consecutive games dating back to the Raiders’ season opener. He should continue to find success against a Chargers team that has allowed 23.5 fantasy points per game (FPPG) to QBs this season, tied for the third-most in the NFL.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins @ Cardinals (30)
We don’t yet know what Tagovailoa is going to look like for the Dolphins, but he was a top-five pick in a strong rookie QB class. Given how good Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have done so far, it’s fair to wonder if Tua will have the same sort of impact. If he does, he will be a solid streamer and could be a nice fill-in for a Goff or Wentz type against a middle-of-the-pack Cardinals defense.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings vs. Lions (29)
Cousins has had a rocky year so far, but last year in two games against Detroit, he totaled 580 yards and five TDs through the air. The Lions defense is better this year, but Cousins has posted two three-TD games in his past four outings. He has a high ceiling and should have a solid floor against a Lions defense that has allowed the 11th-most total yards per game this season (380.5).
Drew Lock, Broncos @ Falcons (9)
The bad news: Lock has no TDs and four interceptions since returning from a shoulder injury suffered earlier in the season. The good news: He’s playing a Falcons team that has allowed the most FPPG to QBs this year (28.3). Lock’s woes could end in a favorable matchup, and he could be a sneaky streaming option or a buy-low play in DFS.
Week 9 Waiver Wire Watch List: RB
Key RBs out because of byes: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Kareem Hunt, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers
Damien Harris, Patriots (47)
Harris is currently the lead between-the-tackles back, and though Sony Michel (quad/COVID) could return soon, Harris may hold onto the role. He has seen 11 carries per game in his three appearances this year and is averaging a robust 5.4 yards per carry. The only thing holding him back is the Patriots’ lack of scoring ability, as they have trailed frequently in the games in which he has played. He has legitimate RB2 potential in a Week 9 matchup against the Jets and should certainly be owned in most fantasy leagues.
Zack Moss, Bills (47)
Moss is basically splitting snaps and touches with Devin Singletary. Moss outgained Singletary 72-47 against the Jets, yet he is still owned in under 50 percent of leagues. As long as there’s an even backfield split, Moss will be a flex option. In Week 9, the Bills are playing the Seahawks, a team that has allowed the most total yards per game (479.2) this season, so Moss could be in line for some solid work there.
Joshua Kelley, Chargers (43)
Kelley’s situation is similar to that of Moss. He is splitting carries with Justin Jackson in Austin Ekeler’s absence, and the Chargers seem content to ride the hot hand. That said, Jackson is owned in 61 percent of leagues compared to Kelley’s 43. Both backs will have a chance to succeed in Week 9 against the Raiders, and both will be speculative flex plays until Ekeler is ready to return to action.
Tevin Coleman, 49ers (30)
Coleman (knee) has been designated to return from IR by the 49ers and his 21-day practice window has opened. That means that the team will soon have him back in action. With Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson both out with ankle injuries and the coaching staff wary of Jerick McKinnon’s workload, Coleman could immediately return as the 49ers’ lead back. They face the Packers, Saints, and Rams after the Seahawks in Week 8, but if Coleman can establish himself as the goal-line back, he could be a strong RB2. Keep an eye on him — he well could win you a game down the stretch of the season.
La’Mical Perine, Jets (21)
Nobody wants to start players from the Jets, but Perine should be owned in most fantasy leagues. The fourth-round rookie is coming off a season-high 13 touches for 55 yards and a TD against the Bills. More important, he played a career-high 78 percent of the Bills’ snaps. As long as he keeps getting work, he will be a potential RB2 in good matchups. The Jets have games coming up against the Patriots, Chargers, Dolphins, and Raiders, and three of those teams rank in the top 10 of FPPG allowed to RBs (NE, MIA, LV).
Carlos Hyde, Seahawks (18) | DeeJay Dallas, Seahawks (8)
Chris Carson (foot) is listed as “week-to-week,” and the Seahawks will be cautious in bringing back their talented but oft-injured starter. That means Hyde or Dallas will be the starter for the Seahawks moving forward. If Hyde (hamstring) is healthy, he will be an RB2 every week. If not, it will be Dallas getting the volume. Grab either before a solid Week 9 matchup with a Bills team that has allowed a rushing TD in all but one of their games this season.
Gus Edwards, Ravens (16)
Mark Ingram (ankle) is still working his way back from a pre-bye injury. The Ravens have had an unpredictable backfield, but it appears that Edwards will be the leader in touches until Ingram can return. The Ravens are playing the Colts, Patriots, and Titans after the Steelers, and though the matchups look difficult, Edwards only needs a TD to be a reliable flex play. And his volume should make him a fringe-RB2 even despite his tough opponents.
Week 9 Waiver Wire Watch List: WR
Key WRs out because of byes: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins
Marvin Jones, Lions (49)
Jones’ ownership has dropped steadily throughout the season, and it especially dropped when he put up single-digit yardage totals in back-to-back weeks. However, he’s still a top-two pass-catching weapon on a solid offense, and gets to take on a Vikings team that has allowed the second-most FPPG to WRs this year (32.8) in Week 9. He’ll be a WR3 at least in that matchup, and it could spark him for a few somewhat favorable games against Washington, Carolina, and Houston.
Sammy Watkins, Chiefs (48)
Since suffering a hamstring injury in Week 5, Watkins has been sidelined, but he should return to action soon. Watkins will have a nice Week 11 matchup with the Raiders, and if you’re thinking even further ahead, the Chiefs play the Falcons in Week 16, so Watkins will have a terrific matchup during fantasy championship week. The point here is if you can get one of Patrick Mahomes’ top-three weapons, you should absolutely do it.
Cole Beasley, Bills (44)
Beasley has thrived in the Bills offense, especially in recent weeks with John Brown (calf) out of action. Beasley has averaged seven targets per game and just posted 11 catches for 112 yards against the Jets. He will continue to exploit excellent matchups and should be a top-end WR3 against the Seahawks in Week 9. The Seahawks are allowing a league-high 38.1 FPPG to WRs, nearly six points more than the next closest ranked team.
Sterling Shepard, Giants (32)
Shepard has played in just three games this season (two full games) and has averaged six targets per contest this year. He will be a safety valve for Daniel Jones moving forward, and with games against Washington, Cincinnati, and Seattle upcoming, Shepard could be a worthwhile WR3 in standard and may be even better in PPR formats because of his solid upcoming matchups.
Corey Davis, Titans (32)
So far this season, Davis is averaging 7.3 targets, 5.3 catches, and 60.3 yards per game. He also has two TDs in four games. He is a consistent WR3 who will continue to be a key cog in the Titans’ offense moving forward. Davis has a brutal schedule upcoming against the Bears, Colts (twice), and Ravens, but he is still worth having because of his volume. And in PPR leagues, he can certainly be a flex candidate despite those difficult opponents.
Allen Lazard, Packers (31)
Guess who returned to practice on Wednesday for the Packers? That’s right, Lazard. Lazard has been out with a core muscle injury since Week 3, but in his last outing, he had six catches for a whopping 146 yards and a TD against the Saints. Lazard will be Aaron Rodgers’ No. 2 target right away, and his upside in that role will be massive. Hopefully, he’ll be back in action for the Packers’ Week 10 game against the Jaguars at the latest, but either way, he’s a good bench stash as he gets healthier.
Tim Patrick, Broncos (25)
Patrick has been a staple of this list for some time, but now is really the time to add him. The Broncos are taking on the Falcons and their weak secondary in Week 9, and Patrick should have a chance to go off against a defense that allows the fifth-most FPPG to WRs (29.6).
N’Keal Harry, Patriots (17)
Harry has just six catches for 61 yards in his last four games and suffered a head injury against the 49ers that may knock him out of Week 8. So, why should you add him? Simple. The Patriots are playing the Jets in Week 9, and the Jets have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Patriots offense could use this as an opportunity to get back on track, and if Cam Newton targets Harry like he did in the first two games of the season (18 targets, 13 catches, 111 yards), Harry could end up being a solid starter.
Scotty Miller, Buccaneers (15)
Chris Godwin (finger) is set to miss Week 8 with an injury, and his status for Week 9 is uncertain as well. If Godwin is banged up, Miller could be a more reliable target for the Bucs now that he’s healthier. He had five catches for 73 yards the last time that the Bucs played the Saints, their Week 9 opponent, so should be a nice WR3/flex in that game unless Godwin returns and Antonio Brown plays a big role in his first game with Tampa Bay.
Rashard Higgins, Browns (15)
In the wake of Odell Beckham Jr.’s season-ending ACL tear, Higgins will take over as the Browns’ No. 2 receiver. He had over 100 yards against the Bengals replacing Beckham in Week 7, and although the Browns are on bye in Week 9, they face a highlyl favorable schedule of the Texans, Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans after that. If Higgins and Baker Mayfield develop chemistry, he could be a weekly starter henceforth.
Kendrick Bourne, 49ers (4)
As long as Deebo Samuel (hamstring) is out, Bourne will be the 49ers’ No. 2 receiver. in Week 9, the 49ers take on the Packers on a short week. If Jaire Alexander erases Brandon Aiyuk, Bourne could be in for a lot of targets, so feel free to trust him as a flex play in that contest.
Darnell Mooney, Bears (3)
Allen Robinson is dealing with a concussion, so that could open up more opportunities for Mooney to make plays. Mooney has averaged only 33.7 yards per game this year, but Nick Foles has missed him on what could’ve been a couple of deep TDs. Eventually, they’ll connect on one, and it could come in a favorable three-game stretch against defenses that can be beaten through the air (Titans, Vikings, Packers).
Week 9 Waiver Wire Watch List: TE
Key TEs out because of byes: Richard Rodgers, Dallas Goedert, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant, David Njoku, Drew Sample
Dallas Goedert, Eagles (47)
Goedert (ankle) is on bye in Week 9, but after the Eagles opened his 21-day practice window to return from IR before Week 8, he should return to action by Week 10 at the latest. With Zach Ertz (ankle) out, Goedert will immediately become a top-10 fantasy tight end. Grab him now while he’s still available, especially if you’ve been relying on streamers at the tight end spot.
Eric Ebron, Steelers (44)
Ebron’s Week 8 matchup against the Ravens isn’t too kind, but he gets to take on the Cowboys and their weak defense in Week 9. The Cowboys are giving up 9.9 FPPG to TEs, so Ebron could have another good week, especially if Ben Roethlisberger keeps getting him the ball (Ebron saw a season-high eight targets against the Titans in Week 7).
Logan Thomas, Washington (24)
In his past two outings, Thomas has caught a TD. That includes one against the Giants, the team he is playing in Week 9. Thomas is getting consistent targets, and if he continues to establish himself as a red-zone threat, he should be a top-end streamer against lesser competition the rest of the way. The Giants would qualify as such.
Darren Fells, Texans (19)
Fells is another top TE coming off a bye and into a solid matchup. Fells’ Texans are taking on the Jaguars, a team that allows the fourth-most FPPG to TEs (12.3). Fells didn’t catch a pass for the Texans against the Packers, but prior to that, he had TDs in two consecutive games and was averaging four catches and 71 yards in those outings. He’s more TD-dependent than some other top streamers, but the matchup and his recent production are good enough to trust.
Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos (0)
In his first two NFL games, Okwuegbunam has totaled nine catches and 105 yards. He has seen 13 total targets and Drew Lock, his former college teammate, looked his way in the red zone a few times. Noah Fant may get the attention in Denver, but don’t sleep on Okwuegbunam as a sleeper. Besides, his opponent, the Falcons, allows the most FPPG to TEs this year (14) so there should be opportunity to make both Broncos fantasy-relevant.
Week 9 defense streamers and sleepers
D/STs out because of byes: Rams, Eagles, Bengals, Browns
Tennessee Titans (33) | Week 9 opponent: vs. Bears
New York Giants (25) | Week 9 opponent: @ Washington
Washington Football Team (20) | Week 9 opponent: vs. Giants
Arizona Cardinals (16) | Week 9 opponent: vs. Dolphins
Detroit Lions (2) | Week 9 opponent: @ Vikings
After a few weeks that were tough on defensive streamers, Week 9 is a bit friendlier from that standpoint. The Titans are once again a top streamer, as they get to take on a Bears offense that averages the fourth-fewest yards (308) and sixth-fewest points (19.7) per game this season. That gives Tennessee a nice floor.
New York and Washington are taking each other on in a rematch of a contest that took place in Week 7. That game was a low-scoring affair in which Washington allowed fewer than 240 yards and 13 offensive points while the Giants scooped and scored a Kyle Allen fumble. Both squads should take advantage of lackluster offenses, though Washington has the statistically better-rated defense.
The Cardinals and Lions both represent fliers against potentially shaky quarterbacks. Adding the Cardinals would be banking on Tua Tagovailoa struggling in just his second NFL start (and first on the road). Rookies are often prone to sacks and turnovers, so they wouldn’t be a bad option to consider. Meanwhile, the Lions have been playing better in recent weeks, allowing just 19 points per game in their last two, and Kirk Cousins is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions. Detroit could take advantage of that.
Either way, this looks like the best week of defensive streamers that fantasy owners have seen in some time, so that’s something to be thankful for.