Week 8 brought a rash of injuries around the NFL that were incredibly unfortunate to see. Both Le'Veon Bell and Steve Smith Sr. are done for the season, while Matt Forte was among the other names that left his team's game because of injury.
Let's start with the human side of this. It's a bummer to see any player get hurt, as these athletes work incredibly hard for the chance to play each Sunday. Injuries are an unfortunate reality of the NFL, and we were reminded of that this past Sunday. There were a number of players who were injured that impact fantasy football rosters, and replacements are a common theme on this week's waiver wire adds.
Note: As usual, players must be owned in less than 50 percent of leagues to qualify for this list.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (27.2 percent): With Bell (MCL) out for the season, Williams will vault into a starting role. We've seen him in that capacity already this season, as he started the team's first two games while Bell served a suspension. He was terrific, following up a 127-yard rushing effort in Week 1 with a three-touchdown performance in Week 2. He racked up 71 yards on nine carries in Week 8 and has value as a top-15 running back for the rest of the season.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears (2.8 percent): We're less certain of the timetable for Forte's return, but Langford is the name to know if Forte's injury is serious. He had 12 carries for 46 yards in Week 8 and already has seen some goal-line duty this year. Langford certainly isn't the pass-catcher that Forte is, but he's a big-bodied back who should see a significant workload until Forte returns. Colleague Chris Mortensen reports the team also could be interested in Montee Ball (who played for Bears coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase in Denver). We'll monitor that situation.
Stevie Johnson, WR, San Diego Chargers (28.7 percent): Head coach Mike McCoy said on Monday that Keenan Allen has a kidney issue and that he could miss some time. That leaves Johnson -- who has 24 catches, 283 yards and two touchdowns this season -- as the team's No. 1 wide receiver until Allen returns. He needs to be owned in all leagues. A top wide receiver waiver add this week.
Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers (27.6 percent): Floyd also immediately steps into a top-two receiver role for an offense that also saw its top tight end (Antonio Gates) limited to less than 50 percent of the snaps in Week 8 and Ladarius Green leave the game due to injury. Floyd had four catches for 92 yards and a pair of scores in Week 8. He's a vertical threat now likely to see extensive work in what has been the league's No. 1 passing offense (based on yards per game).
Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens (20.6 percent): The Ravens leaned heavily on Smith, as he shouldered a large load while the team has dealt with injuries and lack of depth at the position. Aiken is the de facto No. 1 receiver for this team now, as he has 25 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns through eight games. Keep this in mind, however: The Ravens are on a bye in Week 9.
Nate Washington, WR, Houston Texans (37.9 percent): Washington has had three notable games this season -- Weeks 1, 7 and 8 -- and with Cecil Shorts III banged up, Washington has emerged as the clear No. 2 target in the league's -- so far -- pass-happiest offense in terms of total attempts. It just doesn't feel like the running game will be consistent enough for Houston not to stay pass-reliant, making Washington an intriguing option when Houston returns to action in Week 10.
Kendall Gaskins, RB, San Francisco 49ers (0.1 percent): Here's the story: I don't have a ton of faith in whoever fills in for Carlos Hyde at running back until he returns. Reggie Bush was injured in Week 8, so too was Mike Davis. The team signed Shaun Draughn to a one-year deal Monday, may bring back Jarryd Hayne and promoted Gaskins from the practice squad (at the expense of waiving Hayne) this past Saturday. Gaskins can be added as the apparent next man up, but he's far from a sure thing this week.
Dwayne Harris, WR, New York Giants (3.1 percent): A deeper league add who makes this list in part because of the volume of the offense he plays in (Eli Manning threw it 41 times this past week) and also because he has been solid in the past five games: 18 catches, 221 yards, three touchdowns.
Vernon Davis, TE, Denver Broncos (15.2 percent): After being traded to Denver, we're a bit more intrigued by Davis. He managed 10 catches in his final two games as a 49er, but with just 439 yards in his past 20 games, is Davis no longer the player he used to be? Or was his output curtailed by poor QB play? I think he has top-10 to 12 tight end potential in Denver.
Need a QB fill-in?
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (20.0 percent): Since returning from injury, Cutler has been rock steady in four games, with seven total touchdowns and just two interceptions. He has averaged 18 fantasy points per game. He has a reasonable matchup in Week 9 vs. San Diego, and has Alshon Jeffery playing lights-out football alongside him.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17.4 percent): When finding a fill-in for your starter, there are two schools of thought: Look for the guy who offers the most upside, or the guy who has the highest floor. Winston might fit into that latter category, as he has posted at least 12 points in every game this season and 19 apiece in the past two. The arrow is pointing up.
Brian Hoyer, QB, Houston Texans (17.4 percent): We mentioned the passing volume for Houston earlier, and Hoyer looks likely to keep on slinging it. He has at least two touchdown passes in each of the past five games.
Need a TE?
There are so few sure things at tight end (it's essentially a party of one: Gronk), so with an allotment of byes coming up, here are some names of note with moderate upside:
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers (35.8 percent): He has three games with at least eight points this year. Miller had 10 catches and 105 yards in Week 8.
Crockett Gillmore, TE, Baltimore Ravens (13.8 percent): We noted Kamar Aiken above as a player who will need to step up for Baltimore in Smith's absence; the same goes for Gillmore.