The roster percentages for this column are updated every Friday morning, and any players from Thursday’s Falcons-Panthers game have been taken out.
Each week of the NFL season, we will identify fantasy football waiver-wire pickups specifically for those of you looking for streaming options in deeper formats (including IDP leagues). These are players available in a majority of ESPN Fantasy leagues who have enticing matchups in the week ahead that make them worthy of consideration for your lineup.
While you might notice some overlap with Field Yates’ pickup column that publishes on Mondays, an important distinction is that the options mentioned in this column are focused solely on this week’s matchup and not the players’ values for the remainder of the season.
Do you need replacement options for injured players? Or are you merely dealing with depth issues? A roundtable of fantasy analysts and NFL Nation reporters will join me to identify some choice names to consider each week.
Here are some of our favorites for Week 8:
Speaking of historically generous pass defenses facing efficient offenses, this setup for Garoppolo should see him bounce back nicely from last week’s poor fantasy showing. Seattle is sitting 29th in pressure rate, so Jimmy G should have time to throw. Even with a depleted crew of receivers and a thin backfield, there are enough playmakers still in the mix to support Garoppolo in this soft matchup. -J.M.
I know Hyde isn’t an exciting young back with breakout potential, but luckily there are no “style points” in fantasy. And he should definitely get the volume as long as Chris Carson is out of the lineup. Hyde had 15 carries for 68 yards and a TD in Week 7 — not to mention 1,070 yards in Houston last season. ESPN Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson said they have a couple of other pass-catching backs they might use in a rotational role, but they specifically liked Hyde in free agency because he has “the size and physicality to approximate what Carson gives Seattle on early downs.” -Mike Triplett, NFL Nation Saints reporter
Far more efficient last week than peer Devin Singletary and with nearly equal touch and snap rates in the win over the Jets, Moss is seemingly rising in the Buffalo backfield. Earning an endorsement for a second straight week in this space, there are some key positives to consider with the rookie. Moss was the primary goal-line back earlier in the season, while the team has rarely deployed Singletary in such scenarios since the start of last season. Another angle in his favor is New England has struggled against the rush, allowing a generous 4.6 yards per carry to backs and more than 24 fantasy points per game to backfields, leaving room for both Buffalo backs to flirt with flex value this weekend. -J.M.
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers (57.0% rostered; at Seahawks)
The talented rookie wideout has everything going for him this week. He is coming off a career-best performance against a tough New England Patriots defense, Deebo Samuel will miss Week 8 with an injury, and the 49ers face the hapless Seahawks secondary, which has allowed the most fantasy points to wideouts (by a mile) this season. -Tom Carpenter, ESPN Fantasy editor
A first-round draft pick who just tapped into his potential in Week 7 is enticing enough. But throw in the fact that the 49ers’ leading receiver, Deebo Samuel, is expected to miss this week’s game with a hamstring injury. Then consider that San Francisco is about to face a vulnerable Seahawks pass defense that has allowed by far the most fantasy points to WRs this season. Finally, ESPN 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner said Aiyuk has been growing more comfortable and taking on a bigger role in the offense in recent weeks. This feels like a no-brainer as a Week 8 pickup with the chance to be a savvy long-term addition as well.-Triplett
If you play in a 12-to-14-team league with non-PPR scoring, I would give Peoples-Jones a look as a WR3/4. The rookie out of Michigan caught all three of his targets for 56 yards and a game-winning score in Week 7 against the Bengals. And with Odell Beckham Jr. down for the season with a knee injury, Peoples-Jones will get snaps in Cleveland’s three-WR sets. He has the skills to create explosive plays, and there will be opportunities here versus the Raiders’ zone-heavy defensive scheme. -Matt Bowen, NFL writer and analyst
If you’re scanning the wire, you want upside and what better way to find it than with a super-sized receiver in a new-look offense? Williams has scored in three of his past four games and logic would suggest that the Rams will do everything they can do to take away Tua Tagovailoa‘s primary read in DeVante Parker. With Los Angeles on short rest and Miami off its bye, look for a creative game plan to get this 6-foot-5 athlete in favorable spots for his rookie signal-caller. -Kyle Soppe, ESPN Fantasy researcher
The Colts’ bye this past week sort of hid Burton’s breakout Week 6 performance from the fantasy market. Since coming back from injury, Burton has been a key target for Philip Rivers and creative usage even saw him score on the ground in that epic comeback against the Bengals a few weeks back. Next up is a meeting with a Lions back seven that has been solid in coverage against tight ends, but Burton’s healthy target share should support another solid showing.-J.M.
The Eagles lean on their tight ends to move the chains more than any other team in the league. Even when down to third string on the depth chart due to injuries, Philly allocated eight targets to Rodgers this past week. Next up is a Dallas defense allowing 14.8 fantasy points to tight ends. In a uniquely good week for streamers at this position, Rodgers is among the most bankable given his place in such a friendly scheme.-J.M.
Defense/Special Teams (D/ST)
Denver Broncos (30.2% rostered; vs. Chargers)
Denver’s defense has tallied 14 sacks in its past three outings and prior to facing the Chiefs had been solid this season in terms of points allowed. While rookie slinger Justin Herbert has been fairly awesome thus far, it’s worth noting the Chargers have yielded the third-highest pressure rate to opposing defenses in the league, setting up some big-play potential for this group.-J.M.
New Orleans Saints (52.9% rostered; at Bears)
The Saints have struggled to produce big defensive plays since the opener against the Bucs, but they are facing a Chicago offense struggling to move the ball this season, as the Bears’ offense ranks in the bottom five in both yards and points per game.-J.M.
Individual Defensive Players (IDP)
Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles (13.8% rostered; vs. Cowboys)
With two big games in a row and Graham really heating up off the edge, this matchup against a patchwork Dallas offensive line offers potential for a big line from the proven vet. -J.M.
Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers (4.5% rostered; at Seahawks)
The 49ers have faced injuries in the front seven throughout the season, vaulting players such as Greenlaw into bigger roles. He has tallied at least six tackles in three straight games and given he’s on the field often, there’s a good chance he extends this streak to four games.-J.M.
Ryan Neal, Seattle Seahawks (8.4% rostered; vs. 49ers)
Seventeen total tackles the past two weeks signals Neal is both heavily targeted in the passing game and is helping stop runners that leak past the front seven. With a uniquely steady target and tackle rate, Neal is in a nice spot this week against the rival 49ers.-J.M.
San Francisco 49ers CB K’Waun Williams suspended 2 games for PED violation
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Already sidelined by a high ankle sprain, San Francisco 49ers cornerback K’Waun Williams will miss at least the next two games after the NFL suspended him Tuesday for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The earliest Williams can return from the two-game suspension is Tuesday, Dec. 8, after the Niners play the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
Jamar Taylor has handled slot corner duties in Williams’ absence. Williams is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Williams, who when healthy serves as the team’s primary nickel corner, has appeared in just six games this season as he’s dealt with hip, knee and ankle injuries. He suffered the ankle sprain in a Nov. 5 loss to the Green Bay Packers, has not played since and, even before the suspension, was not expected back in the next couple of weeks.
While Williams will remain out for at least the next couple of weeks, the 49ers are hoping to get some reinforcements back from injured reserve soon. The team opened the 21-day practice window for running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. on Tuesday, which means they could return as early as Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Mostert and Wilson have been on injured reserve with high ankle sprains; Mostert’s happened in a Week 6 win against the Rams, and Wilson’s came a week later against the New England Patriots.
The 49ers also signed safety Chris Edwards to the active roster on Tuesday. Edwards offers additional depth after the Niners placed strong safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Johnathan Cyprien on injured reserve in recent weeks.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coaches working remotely, source says
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jaguars defensive coaching staff is working away from the team facility because of intensive COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing, a league source confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Jaguars players are normally off Tuesday so that did not impact any practice, but it’s unclear at this point how Wednesday’s practice and Sunday’s home game against the Cleveland Browns will be affected.
The situation may be related to defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich, who did not participate in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh because of COVID protocols.
The Jaguars on Tuesday also placed kicker Chase McLaughlin on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
NFL Network was the first to report the defensive staff’s absence.
The Jaguars on Tuesday also placed defensive end Josh Allen (knee), cornerback D.J. Hayden (hamstring) and safety Daniel Thomas (arm) on injured reserve. Allen and Thomas are eligible to return to practice and play in three weeks, but Hayden is out for the season because he had already spent time on injured reserve this season with a hamstring injury.
New England Patriots’ Rex Burkhead indicates knee injury to end season
“Appreciate the support and all that have reached out the past couple of days. Look forward to attacking the process and coming back better than ever in 2021,” he wrote on Instagram.
Burkhead was carted to the locker room early in the third quarter of Sunday’s 27-20 loss after taking a direct hit on his right knee on a third-down run in which he was stopped short and remained down for an extended period of time.
The injury left the Patriots with just two running backs — Damien Harris and James White — for the remainder of the game. Sony Michel was activated off injured reserve Saturday but was inactive for Sunday’s game. Undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor was also inactive.
Entering Sunday, Burkhead had 63 rushes for 267 yards and three touchdowns to go with 23 receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.
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