Fantasy Football Week 8 Waiver Wire: Brandon Aiyuk Is Rising Fast
Midway through the NFL season, fantasy managers can pick up on notable trends. Perhaps a revamped offense has made a significant jump with new skill players, or a play-caller's game plan features a specific position ripe for production. At times, you have to buy into an offensive system that churns out fantasy football gems.
Despite a loss, the Las Vegas Raiders field a top-10 offense that features a couple of players available in at least 70 percent of Yahoo leagues. One of them has flown under the radar despite scoring in each of his last three games.
For at least a few weeks, the San Francisco 49ers will likely see more production from two rookies because of injuries within the first unit. Prepare to set aside a budget for both players with head coach Kyle Shanahan continuing to plug new faces into his offensive scheme.
For Week 8, we'll take a look at eight players who are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and belong on your waiver-wire watch list.
QB Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders (29 Percent Rostered)
Although the Las Vegas Raiders lost 45-20 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, quarterback Derek Carr had a solid statistical outing against a top-10 pass defense that allowed just nine touchdowns through seven weeks. He threw for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Carr has routinely connected on deep throws to wideouts Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs III, which has provided a consistent boost to his numbers. He's recorded 261-plus passing yards in five out of six outings.
With Agholor and Ruggs able to stretch defenses, the Raiders field a potent aerial attack. In recent years, Carr's name didn't come up in fantasy football discussions, but he's on pace to pass for more than 4,600 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2020.
In Week 8, the Raiders will face the Cleveland Browns, who field the 30th-ranked pass defense and have allowed 16 touchdowns through the air. Carr should come to 300 passing yards with a couple of strikes to the end zone.
Because of Carr's tendency to take more deep shots, he's a season-long keeper. After the Browns, the Raiders will play four bottom-half pass defenses, including the Los Angeles Chargers (twice), Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets.
Free-Agent Budget (FAB): $5
RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots (47 Percent Rostered)
After running back Sony Michel landed on injured reserve with a knee injury and the reserve/COVID-19 list, Damien Harris came on strong, rushing for 100 yards on 17 carries in Week 4. He followed up with two underwhelming performances, logging a combined 16 rushing attempts for 77 yards.
Harris isn't heavily involved in the short passing game. He's registered two receptions for just 26 yards. Yet the second-year running back will continue to handle the majority of the carries while Michel is sidelined.
In Week 7, Harris recorded 10 carries for 58 yards. That's a good sign for his production going into a matchup with the Buffalo Bills' 21st-ranked run defense.
Although the New England Patriots have struggled to score, failing to eclipse 12 points in any of their last three contests, they could find success through the ground attack against a susceptible unit.
Furthermore, over the last two weeks, quarterback Cam Newton has thrown zero touchdowns and five interceptions. We may see the Patriots shift toward a heavy-run offense.
RB JaMycal Hasty, San Francisco 49ers (21 Percent Rostered)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan continues to prove he's a run-game wizard. Over the last two seasons, he's plugged Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. into the lineup with success.
Shanahan called Wilson's number Sunday, and he answered the bell with 17 carries for 112 yards and three touchdowns. On a sour note, he exited during the third quarter with a high ankle sprain, which usually sidelines players for multiple weeks.
With the game in hand, the 49ers turned to undrafted rookie JaMycal Hasty to handle most of the carries. He recorded nine rushing attempts for 57 yards and caught one pass for 16 yards. The Baylor product will likely see an expanded role while McKinnon handles primary pass-catching duties out of the backfield.
With Shanahan's ability to plug in and play different running backs, Hasty could have a few weeks of solid production while Wilson, Coleman (knee) and Mostert (high ankle sprain) recover from their injuries.
RB La'Mical Perine, New York Jets (16 Percent Rostered)
In Week 7, New York Jets head coach Adam Gase gave up play-calling duties, per Brian Costello of the New York Post.
As a play-caller, Gase featured 37-year-old Frank Gore out of the backfield. Under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, the Jets split touches between the veteran tailback and rookie fourth-rounder La'Mical Perine.
Gore had 11 touches compared to 13 for Perine. They both logged 11 carries apiece, though the younger back scored on a five-yard run and caught two passes for 16 yards.
At 0-7, the Jets should take a look at their youth rather than players closer to retirement. Going forward, Perine will likely see an expanded role while Gore's touches fade through the second half of the season.
The Jets offense isn't an enticing unit, but managers should acquire Perine in hopes that he turns 12-to-15 touches per game into RB2-level production in points-per-reception leagues.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers (49 Percent Rostered)
The 49ers offense took another hit in addition to Jeff Wilson Jr.'s high ankle sprain. Wideout Deebo Samuel exited in the fourth quarter Sunday with a hamstring ailment.
The team thinks Samuel's injury could sideline him for a short period. In the meantime, managers can pick up Brandon Aiyuk, who's coming off his best game as a pro after he hauled in six out of seven targets for 115 yards.
Aiyuk will likely go into the next game as the clear-cut lead wide receiver. As a secondary target to tight end George Kittle, he could still have a big game. The 49ers will face the Seattle Seahawks' 32nd-ranked pass defense in a favorable matchup for head coach Kyle Shanahan's aerial attack.
Samuel broke his foot during the offseason. With another injury to the second-year wideout, the 49ers may not rush him back to action at significantly less than 100 percent. Aiyuk should be a hot waiver-wire add this week.
WR Nelson Agholor, Las Vegas Raiders (4 Percent Rostered)
This suggestion is a bit overdue. Nelson Agholor has revived his career and become the Raiders' deep perimeter threat. He leads the team in touchdown receptions (four), three of those scores on catches of 20 yards or more.
In Week 7, Agholor started strong with a touchdown during the first quarter, but he had some issues with drops through the second half. Despite a rough stretch, the sixth-year veteran has likely earned quarterback Derek Carr's trust and should see more targets going forward.
Agholor's productivity has capped rookie first-rounder Henry Ruggs III's production. The No. 12 overall pick has seen just three targets in three out of four games.
Coming off his first 100-plus-yard outing since Week 2 of last year, Agholor has made his way back onto the fantasy radar as the Raiders' lead wideout. As noted above for Carr, the Silver and Black will face the Browns, Chargers (twice), Falcons and Jets in the coming weeks, and all of those teams have pass defenses that rank in the bottom half of the league.
TE Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles (9 Percent Rostered)
As the Philadelphia Eagles' pass-catching corps battles injuries, quarterback Carson Wentz has continued to move the needle with the next man up.
Richard Rodgers could see plenty of targets with fellow tight ends Zach Ertz (high ankle sprain) and Dallas Goedert (fractured ankle) on injured reserve. The latter is eligible to rejoin the active roster, but there is not a clear timetable for his return.
As the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart, Rodgers could build on a solid Week 7 showing in which he caught six passes for 85 yards, leading the team in both categories in Thursday's game.
In Week 8, the Eagles will play the Dallas Cowboys, who rank 10th in points allowed to tight ends, per FantasyPros. The unit gave up four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown to Logan Thomas of the Washington Football Team on Sunday.
In addition to Rodgers' favorable upcoming matchup, his target share will give him a chance to rack up points through yardage or red-zone opportunities until either Goedert or Ertz returns to action.
TE Harrison Bryant, Cleveland Browns (1 Percent Rostered)
The Cleveland Browns may have a budding fantasy playmaker at tight end. Harrison Bryant started over David Njoku for Austin Hooper (appendicitis) on Sunday and hauled in four out of five targets for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
Bryant, a rookie fourth-rounder, could lead the position for another week. According to cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, Hooper may sit out until after the Browns' Week 9 bye.
In Week 8, the Browns will face the Raiders, who gave up five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown to Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski on Sunday.
Bryant may also have a solid role for the remainder of the season. Per Cabot, Njoku wants to leave Cleveland by the Nov. 3 trade deadline. And in a text message to NFL insider Josina Anderson, wideout Odell Beckham Jr. said he tore his ACL.
If the Browns trade Njoku, head coach Kevin Stefanski may use more two-tight end sets, which would set up Bryant for a high-upside fantasy finish in 2020.
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