Week 10 Waiver Wire: Fantasy Football's Top Breakout Candidates and PickupsNovember 5, 2018
Fantasy football players on waiver wires are there for various reasons (e.g., lack of opportunities, more production, etc.), but a handful of them break out with excellent performances nearly every week.
Making the playoffs can come down to making the correct waiver-wire selections, especially as we enter the home stretch.
Here's a look at some Week 10 recommendations, alongside further analysis on four players below. Note that players who are rostered in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues were not considered for this list.
Week 10 Waiver Wire: Top Breakout Candidates and Pickups
Pittsburgh Steelers TE Jesse James (vs. Carolina Panthers): 10 percent
Cincinnati Bengals TE CJ Uzomah (vs. New Orleans Saints): 24 percent
Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (vs. New Orleans Saints): 23 percent
Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams (at Oakland Raiders): 45 percent
Los Angeles Chargers WR Tyrell Williams (at Oakland Raiders): 45 percent
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith (at Cincinnati Bengals): 29 percent
Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. (at Indianapolis Colts): 0 percent
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (at Kansas City Chiefs): 25 percent
Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson Jr. (vs. Atlanta Falcons): 47 percent
Washington Redskins WR Maurice Harris (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers): 0 percent
Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (vs. Miami Dolphins): 36 percent
San Francisco 49ers QB Nick Mullens (vs. New York Giants): 3 percent
Pittsburgh Steelers TE Jesse James (vs. Carolina Panthers)
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James could find pay dirt on Thursday against the Carolina Panthers, who have allowed five touchdowns to the position in their past four games, including two to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' O.J. Howard on Sunday.
Heading into Week 9, the Panthers had also allowed the second-most receiving yards to tight ends per game, according to Football Outsiders.
James caught five passes for 138 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 but has just 13 receptions (on 17 targets) for 138 yards in six games since.
Still, the matchup could present further opportunities for James, who has been on the field for more than 50 percent of offensive snaps in each of his past four games, per Football Reference.
Cincinnati Bengals TE CJ Uzomah and RB Giovani Bernard (vs. New Orleans Saints)
Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is expected to miss "some games" with a foot injury.
On one hand, losing Green could significantly slow down the Cincinnati attack, but the Bengals must attempt to replace his production (45 catches, 687 yards, six touchdowns). He also averages 9.5 targets per game.
That should mean work for the usual suspects (No. 2 wideout Tyler Boyd, No. 1 running back Joe Mixon), but the supporting cast could see more action.
Of note, Bengals tight end CJ Uzomah is a good add, as is running back Giovani Bernard if he's healthy (he's battling an MCL sprain that Tom Pelissero of NFL Network noted was a two-to-four week injury on October 5).
Uzomah did go catch-less against the Buccaneers in Week 8, but he played on 97 percent of offensive snaps. He caught 10 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in his previous three games.
A talented pass-catching back who also averages 4.2 yards per carry for his career, Bernard could be productive in points-per-reception leagues against the Saints. Cincinnati may need to pass more often to try to keep pace with the potent New Orleans offense, so he could be the beneficiary of some checkdowns.
Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson Jr. (vs. Atlanta Falcons)
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson Jr. saw more work under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who called his first game Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs after head coach Hue Jackson and ex-OC Todd Haley were relieved of their duties.
Johnson was an excellent weapon in the passing attack, catching all nine of his targets for 78 yards and two scores (he had just 29 targets in his previous eight games combined).
The ex-Miami star only saw one carry, as Nick Chubb handled the majority of the backfield work, but Johnson provides a boost to a pass game that hasn't seen consistent production.
Expect more work for Johnson moving forward. He's a good addition for Week 10 vs. the Atlanta Falcons, whom Football Outsiders marked with allowing the most receiving yards to running backs through eight weeks.
Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (at Kansas City Chiefs)
The Arizona Cardinals are in for a significant challenge versus the Chiefs, who had the highest-scoring offense in the NFL through eight weeks. If quarterback Patrick Mahomes comes out firing, Arizona must pass to keep up.
That could mean more work for rookie wideout Christian Kirk, who has shown an excellent rapport with first-year quarterback Josh Rosen. In his past six games, Kirk has accrued 26 catches for 379 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came with 34 seconds remaining against the San Francisco 49ers in an 18-15 win.
A second-round pick out of Texas A&M, Kirk received a pro player comparison of Minnesota Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, who called the Cardinal wideout a "fiery, fast wide receiver prospect who could make an immediate impact as a slot receiver and return man."
Kirk has made a significant impact already and should only continue to improve as he and Rosen gain more experience.