Free-agent finds for Week 8
Waiver-wire news changes fast and furious throughout the week, as injuries and depth-chart shenanigans overtake us. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @CHarrisESPN, and I'll keep you updated as news warrants. Let's get to Week 8's best fantasy roster additions:
Standard ESPN League Finds
Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (owned in 0.1 percent of ESPN.com leagues): There were conflicting reports Monday about whether Doug Martin's shoulder injury is season-ending, but there doesn't seem to be much question that he will miss Thursday's game against the Carolina Panthers. James, a sixth-round rookie out of the University of Miami, figures to be the starter for as long as Martin is out. He's a big kid at 223 pounds and runs like it. He's powerful in close quarters and invites contact. A slow runner without many moves, James brought pre-draft comparisons to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, except he's probably a better pass-catcher than the Law Firm. Brian Leonard (0.1 percent) and newly acquired Bobby Rainey (0.5 percent) could get looks, but James is the one worth an add in case Martin is done. Thursday, however, doesn't figure to go well. The Panthers are tough.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (4.0 percent): Last week, I wavered over whether to put Reed on the standard list or the deep one and wound up putting him on the deep. I liked what I had seen, but he had only 17 catches in five games, so it was tough to envision him as a threat to the TE top 10. It's not so tough any longer. Sunday's breakout against the Chicago Bears was legit; Reed was all over the field, making athletic catches, running past defenders and driving hard for extra yards. He ended the day with nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. That will probably be his best stat line of the season, but with Fred Davis an afterthought and Robert Griffin III looking Reed's way, I do think the TE-needy in all leagues -- like, for instance, those waiting to see if Jimmy Graham will play in Week 8 -- should consider adding Reed.[+] EnlargeBenny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsJarrett Boykin had more catches in his first NFL start (8) than he had in his first 15 career games (6).
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay Packers (1.6 percent): Here's another player who graduates to the big boys' list after just one week on the deep. Boykin produced eight catches for 103 yards and a garbage-time TD in Week 7. Now, he didn't run in Randall Cobb's slot role; that was undrafted rookie Myles White (0.0 percent), who ran 23 routes out of the slot but caught only a single pass for nine yards. Rather, Boykin was on the outside, opposite Jordy Nelson, who saw a ton of Joe Haden. That raises the question whether it will be Boykin or White who stays more involved once James Jones returns from his knee injury. However, that question likely won't be answered in Week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings, because Jones doesn't seem likely to play. As such, Boykin could be flex-worthy Sunday.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Indianapolis Colts (3.8 percent): Reggie Wayne's season-ending ACL tear sends the Colts into their bye looking for solutions. Now, T.Y. Hilton figures to play just about every snap alongside DHB in two-receiver sets. But Hilton is already owned in all ESPN leagues, so if you're looking for a speculative add, you'll have to settle for Heyward-Bey. He did score on a pretty catch-and-run against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night and there's no doubting his speed, but his hands are legendarily inconsistent. LaVon Brazill (0.1 percent), who's back from suspension, will fill Hilton's old third-WR role and could be worth adding in deeper leagues.
Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants (18.1 percent): If you watched the Giants on Monday night, you know the solution to their backfield woes is not currently playing games for them. David Wilson's neck injury will keep him out for an extended period, Brandon Jacobs has a hamstring injury and isn't very good anyway, and Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox took turns being mediocre against the Vikings. That's why you should be adding Brown. He's eligible to play in Week 10, and an immodest workload awaits him. Put him on your bench for a couple of weeks then reap the rewards.
Carolina Panthers defense (41.1 percent): Let's make it a third week in a row for the Panthers as my No. 1 streaming D of the week. They haven't disappointed in either of the past two, scoring 12 standard-league fantasy points against the Vikings two weeks ago and 17 Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. This week, they get the Bucs on short rest, with no Martin. If this unit isn't available in your league, you might consider the New Orleans Saints (20.9 percent), returning home from a bye after a bitter loss to the New England Patriots and facing a Buffalo Bills offense that over the past five weeks has tacked nearly 2.5 extra fantasy points onto opposing fantasy defenses.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Zac Stacy, RB, Rams (10.2 percent); Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys (50.8 percent); Roy Helu, RB, Redskins (37.5 percent); Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals (18.3 percent); Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints (30.5 percent); Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks (22.8 percent); Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons (37.7 percent); Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys (50.1 percent); Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers (35.8 percent); Kendall Wright, WR, Titans (35.4 percent); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (21.7 percent); Coby Fleener, TE, Colts (31.0 percent); Garrett Graham, TE, Texans (30.0 percent).
Deeper League Finds
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans (2.4 percent): Locker returned from his hip injury to face the San Francisco 49ers and didn't look particularly great. Before the game was 24-0 in favor of the Niners, Locker was 11-of-16 for 104 yards and an interception. Most of his 326 yards came in extended garbage time, and 66 came on a little dump-off to Chris Johnson. That said, Locker has scored 27, 18 and 21 fantasy points in his past three starts, and more importantly, coming out of his team's Week 8 bye he'll face the Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars in back-to-back weeks, with a matchup against the Oakland Raiders in Week 12 to boot.
Andrew Quarless, TE, Packers (0.3 percent): Jermichael Finley's bruised spinal cord will cost him multiple games, leaving a vacancy in the Pack's starting lineup. Quarless had a 21-catch season in his rookie year of 2010 but has seven catches in the three seasons since. More of a blocker than a "move" tight end, it's not a fait accompli that Quarless will benefit most from Finley's absence. Brandon Bostick (0.1 percent) is a former basketball player with Finley's kind of crazy athleticism in a 6-foot-3, 260-pound frame. Neither of these tight ends is a must-add at the moment except in the deepest leagues, but each is worth monitoring given the situation.
Brandon Gibson, WR, Miami Dolphins (1.1 percent): I hope by now you understand Gibson's deal. He is reliable but gives you nothing after the catch. At a physical 205 pounds, he's kind of a nontraditional slot player, but that's where the Fins mostly use him and he vultured two red zone scores in Week 7. More valuable in a deep PPR league than anywhere else, Gibson does have 29 grabs on the season, compared to 31 for Brian Hartline and 27 for Mike Wallace.
Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox, RB, Giants (1.9 and 0.7 percent, respectively): As mentioned above, if I'm adding anyone from this backfield, it's Brown, who should return to action after New York's Week 9 bye. Monday night, we saw Hillis and Cox split the job in the absence of Jacobs, and while Hillis did convert a short score, neither man particularly impressed. Add the fact that Jacobs may be in the mix as soon as Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, provided his injured hamstring heals, and you have a situation for the desperate only.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/TUSP/Jay BiggerstaffLance Dunbar could make an already-messy backfield picture in Dallas that much more unclear.
Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys (1.5 percent): The Cowboys reportedly hope to get Dunbar back to practice this week, which could complicate things in their backfield. As of this writing, it appeared DeMarco Murray was due to miss another game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, and while Joseph Randle was adequate in a starting role in Week 7, he didn't blow anybody away. Phillip Tanner (0.2 percent) stole a 1-yard TD, and Randle was absolutely adequate otherwise, but no more. Dunbar is the best player of this backup trio, and if he's active for Week 8, I think he'll cut severely into the others' workloads. Overall, it's probably a situation to avoid, but Dunbar has talent.
Benjamin Watson, TE, Saints (0.3 percent): I mentioned lingering questions over Graham's injured foot, and if Graham can't go in Week 8, Watson will inherit his starting job. Watson's days as a dynamic downfield runner are about a decade in the rearview mirror, but he's still a big guy who can catch and rumble.
Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles (2.3 percent): Racking up stats in fluky situations in two straight games, Cooper continues to display a lack of separation skills, and I've seen enough of his rock-like hands in the past to know the drops are coming. There are too many speculative wide receivers out there for me to get excited about chasing Cooper's Week 6 and 7 results.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers, and Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (3.5 and 2.3 percent, respectively): Crabtree is already eligible to return, but his surgically repaired Achilles will require at least another month of recovery time before he's ready to play. Burleson will probably miss another game because of the broken arm he suffered in a car crash. Crabtree is the difference-maker here, and in November, you're going to see lots of folks suggesting you add him. And Burleson still hasn't really been replaced in the Lions' offense. The point is: If you're in a deeper league, beat the rush on these guys.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders (27.6 percent); Thad Lewis, QB, Bills (0.6 percent); Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants (34.4 percent); Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (2.2 percent); Khiry Robinson, RB, Saints (0.7 percent); Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (2.8 percent); Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots (2.9 percent); Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers (5.7 percent); Kris Durham, WR, Lions (0.6 percent); Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets (3.0 percent); Donnie Avery, WR, Chiefs (7.8 percent); Robert Woods, WR, Bills (8.2 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers (5.1 percent); Austin Collie, WR, Patriots (1.6 percent); Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins (43.6 percent); Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (31.6 percent); Jeff Cumberland, TE, Jets (4.1 percent).
FANTASY TOP HEADLINES
- Fantasy Baseball: H2H category mock draft
- Cockcroft: LABR-AL draft recap
- Fantasy Hockey Forecaster: Week 21
- 2014 NL-only LABR auction recap
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
FANTASY FOOTBALL: WEEK 8
Robert Griffin III is beginning to look like his dynamic self again. How will he fare against the Broncos this week? Rankings »
- ...While The Iron's Not Hot
- Matt Williamson lists his favorite buy-low trade targets for dynasty leagues.
- Should You Run The Risk?
- Christopher Harris breaks down DeMarco Murray and discusses his expectations for 2014.
- Offseason Focus
- The Fantasy Focus crew previews the NFC East and North for 2014.