Every week, we compile a list of players that may be worth targeting off the waiver wire.
For players to appear on our list, they need to satisfy two factors: (1) they are owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues and (2) they did not appear on our previous week's list of potential additions. Of course, the other criteria is that we believe they could be useful to fantasy teams based on the depth of the league so I guess there are three factors.
As an example, a player like Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount that was on last week's pickup list won't appear on this week's list even though he is owned in only 36 percent (and rising) of Yahoo! leagues. That said, he is still worth adding if he's available in your league after his 120-yard, two-touchdown performance Sunday.
Here are some players potentially worth adding:
QB - Matthew Stafford, Lions (owned in 47 percent of Yahoo! leagues): In his first game since being injured in Week 1, Stafford threw four touchdowns including three to Calvin Johnson. Stafford, who was the first overall draft pick in 2009, threw the ball 45 times Sunday. Although he didn't complete a high percentage (only 26 passes), the Lions lead the NFL in pass attempts per game (43.4) so Stafford should continue to air it out in future weeks. Stafford does not have a favorable matchup for Week 9, however, against the Jets.
QB - Josh Freeman, Buccaneers (36 percent): In his year-and-a-half as the team's starting quarterback, Freeman has led the Bucs to a come-from-behind fourth-quarter victory in seventy-five percent of his wins (six of eight). While Freeman isn't a QB1 yet, he has three favorable matchups in the post-season (typically Weeks 14 to 16) against the Redskins, Lions and Seahawks. Freeman is on pace for 3,500-plus yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions in addition to 400-plus rushing yards.
RB - Keiland Williams, Redskins (two percent): Although the Redskins are on their bye in Week 9, it's possible that Williams will be the featured back when they face the Eagles in Week 10. Running back Ryan Torain left Sunday's game with a strained hamstring and later said he "had no idea" if the injury was serious. And it's unlikely that Clinton Portis, who has missed the past four games, will be healthy enough to return in Week 10. In the second half of the Lions' game, Williams carried the ball six times for 25 yards and a score plus he caught three passes for 28 yards.
RB - Kevin Smith, Lions (three percent): In Week 8, both Smith and rookie Jahvid Best had 12 carries each. In fact, Smith outgained Best by three yards (51 to 48). Not only did they have the same number of carries, but it was Smith—not Best—that played most of the second half. While Best is still the running back to own out of this duo, it could be more of a timeshare going forward. If you're in a deeper league or need some running back help, Smith is worth a look.
WR - Steve Breaston, Cardinals (41 percent): For a second time (in four games) this season, Breaston had a monster game: eight receptions for a career-high 147 yards. It was Breaston's first game back since having knee surgery and the quarterback situation in Arizona is a mess. Although Breaston was targeted 11 times on Sunday, inconsistency should be expected due to their erratic quarterback play as we've seen with Breaston through four games played: 132 yards, ten yards, 41 yards and 147 yards.
WR - Brandon Tate, Patriots (25 percent): When the Patriots traded away Randy Moss, Tate was the guy on the roster with the speed to fill the role as the downfield guy in the Patriots' offense. Instead Tate caught only one pass for three yards in his first two games of the post-Moss era. The third game was the charm. Tate finished with three receptions including a 65-yard touchdown to finish with 101 yards. At this point, it doesn't look like any Patriots receiver can be trusted to have a big week even though it can happen for any of them in any given week. Even though Deion Branch had only one reception for 21 yards, my preferred order of Patriots' receivers to own is Wes Welker, Branch and then Tate.
WR - Nate Burleson, Lions (nine percent): Since missing two games, Burleson has 17 receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns in three games. Burleson finished with seven receptions on nine targets on Sunday although his two-game touchdown streak ended. With MegaTron on the opposite side and versatile running backs in the backfield, Burleson should find himself exclusively in single coverage and is a decent option in point-per-reception (PPR) leagues.
WR - Anthony Armstrong, Redskins (nine percent): Several teams inlcuding the Redskins will likely be interested in making a waiver claim on the now (or soon-to-be) released Randy Moss. If that's the case, Armstrong's fantasy value would take a hit. Armstrong, who had a career-high 92 receiving yards last week, is second in the league in yards per reception (21.6) behind Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace. He has had a reception of at least 48 yards in three of his past five games. During that five-game span, Armstrong has 321 receiving yards and a touchdown.
WR - Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders (four percent): In one game, Heyward-Bey, the team's first-round pick in 2009, nearly equaled his production from his rookie season (124 receiving yards and a touchdown). Against the Seahawks last week, Heyward-Bey had five receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he had a 30-yard run. There is a good chance that the Raiders will be without Louis Murphy next week, which would make DHB the team's top option at wide receiver again.
Later in the week, I will release my Week 9 rankings by position at TheTipDrill.com in addition to other fantasy advice for Week 9 and the second half of the season.
Good luck in your Week 9 matchup(s) and in our free fantasy football contest for Week 9. (New entries welcome and encouraged.)