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Week 8 Waiver Wire: Fantasy Projections for Top Pickups and Sleeper Targets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2017

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ Mast/Associated Press

The 2017 NFL season is nearing the halfway point, which means fantasy football owners should start getting a bit antsy about a slow start.

An owner could chalk up one or two rough weeks early in the year as bad luck. Maybe a key player had an underwhelming performance, or perhaps you encountered the wrong matchup at the wrong time. Bad luck can't be an excuse anymore for teams that are 2-5 or worse heading into Week 8.  

The good news is, plenty of solid players populate the waiver wire. Adding the right reinforcements at this point could help your team crawl out of the bottom of the standings and into a playoff seed.

               

Week 8 Waiver-Wire Targets

Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets

Matt Moore, QB, Miami Dolphins

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots

Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets

Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts

             

Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 22: Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets passes during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Here's a sentence that would've seemed crazy entering the 2017 season: Josh McCown is becoming a solid fantasy producer.

McCown threw for 209 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the New York Jets' 31-28 defeat to the Miami Dolphins. Over the last three weeks, the 38-year-old has averaged 252.3 yards and a little over two touchdowns a game.

ESPN's Trey Wingo noted how accurate McCown as been as well:

trey wingo @wingoz

Alex Smith leads NFL in completion % at 73. Only other QB completing 70% ? Josh McCown. Josh also completing league high 75% on 3rd down

Like Icarus, McCown flew too close to the sun on Sunday. His interception in the fourth quarter set up Miami's game-winning score and put a slight damper on an otherwise outstanding performance.

That interception also offered ammunition for fans who remain reticent about hopping aboard the McCown bandwagon.

Still, the Jets are matched up with the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before their bye in Week 10. Those three teams rank 27th, third and 31st in pass defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.

McCown hot streak could potentially continue into mid-November.

Projection: 250 yards, two touchdowns, one interception

                    

Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 08:  Marlon Mack #25 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of a game at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Get
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

As ESPN.com's Mike Clay noted, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano finally appeased the diehard Marlon Mack fans out there:

Mike Clay @MikeClayNFL

Marlon Mack truthers rejoice. The rookie out-snapped Frank Gore for the first time ever in Week 7 (32 to 22)

Mack carried the ball five times for 26 yards in the Colts' 27-0 defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also caught four passes for 40 yards. Together, his running and receiving contributions netted a solid if unspectacular return in Week 7.

The rookie getting more snaps than Frank Gore was the far bigger development. Of course, Pagano may have decided to play Mack more since Indianapolis was down 20-0 at halftime. He could've figured it was useless to have a veteran such as Gore risk injury in a blowout.

There's little reason not to give Mack a genuine shot at being the primary ball-carrier, though. He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry compared to Gore's 3.4 yards per carry. At 21 years old, he's also far more likely to help Indianapolis in the seasons ahead—and building for the future should be the Colts' priority after their 2-5 start.

Adding Mack now is worth the risk of Pagano keeping the rookie running back second in the depth chart.

Projection: 50 rushing yards, one touchdown, one reception for 10 yards

             

Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Mohamed Sanu #12 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a reception during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Never was the impact of Kyle Shanahan's departure more apparent than in the Atlanta Falcons' 23-7 defeat to the New England Patriots. The most potent offensive team in the NFL a year ago, Atlanta gained just 343 yards against what has been one of the league's worst defenses on Sunday night.

Mohamed Sanu, on the other hand, had a solid return to the team after a hamstring injury kept him out of the Falcons' Week 6 defeat to the Dolphins. Against the Patriots, Sanu had six receptions for 65 yards.

The presence of Julio Jones limits Sanu's fantasy ceiling. As long as Jones is healthy, Sanu will never be Matt Ryan's primary target.

The 28-year-old receiver has a relatively high baseline, though, since he's the secondary option in an offense that still has Matt Ryan under center. And for as much heat as offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has received, the Falcons are eighth in total offense and fourth in offensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders.

For fantasy owners after a more risk-averse wideout strategy, Sanu would be a good player to target.

Projection: Five receptions for 70 yards

           

Tyler Kroft, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Tyler Kroft #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a touch down catch in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Beyond the elite players at the position, tight ends are generally pretty hit or miss on a weekly basis. Ed Dickson can go from catching five passes for 175 yards in one game to getting seven passes for 54 yards in his next two outings.

Tight end is where you should be really willing to go out on a limb on the waiver wire.

Since Tyler Eifert went down with a season-ending back injury, Tyler Kroft has 17 receptions for 157 yards and three touchdowns.

Kroft's value is tied to his red-zone usage, as evidenced by his nine yards per catch this season. His three touchdown receptions over the last three weeks show he's gaining a level of trust with quarterback Andy Dalton.

Eifert's injury opened a door for Kroft, and the third-year player is making the most of his opportunity.

Projection: Four receptions for 40 yards