I don’t know about you, but this is always a bit of a weird period on the waiver wire. Barring injuries, most offenses have found a rhythm, a routine of schemes and snap shares that helps fantasy GMs project both usage and scoring opportunities.
The players you pick up from now on probably won’t be “league-winning” additions. In fact, it’s more than likely that your waiver wire pickups will be rentals; players to fill a bye week or exploit a friendly matchup.
But as NFL coaches love to recite, every week matters – a single win can be the difference between making your fantasy playoffs or not. So, these players aren’t necessarily going to be “traditional” league-winning, every-week starters. But they could make all the difference on a given week, and that means they’re worth a spot on your roster.
Albert Wilson – Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins – 6% owned (ESPN)
There’s always something alluring about players like Albert Wilson. You know that, in any given week, he’s just one play away from a massive touchdown – or Wilson’s case in Week 6, two massive touchdowns. But you also know that those plays are an unsustainable path to fantasy success.
With Wilson, there are a couple of stats you need to know that make him worth picking up. He has racked up 320 yards after the catch: good enough for 4th in the league. The bigger factor is the team he’s playing for. The Dolphins are bottom 10 in the NFL in plays, and in the bottom half of the league in points and yards.
Wilson has carved out an important scoring role in a team that is built on splash plays. If you’re struggling at wide receiver, looking for a bye-week filler, or even just looking to spice up a strong team with some big-play potential, Albert Wilson is your man.
Taylor Gabriel – Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears – 32.6% owned (ESPN)
If the Dolphins have been lackluster on offense, the Bears haven’t been much better. In fact, Chicago rank dead last in the NFL in pass attempts, and 5th-worst in total offensive plays.
That’s why it might come as a bit of a surprise to see Taylor Gabriel‘s name show up on this list. He had never been much more than a deep burner in Atlanta, and despite an offseason move to Chicago seemed firmly locked behind Allen Robinson and Trey Burton in the theoretical pecking order.
That being said, Gabriel now has back-to-back games with at least 5 catches and at least 100 yards. He has pace to burn, and with a 21.4% catch rate and 100% catch rate (on catchable targets), Gabriel is earning the trust of and developing rapport with Mitch Trubisky. Targeting wide receivers with the trust of their quarterbacks and a significant target share is a solid blueprint for fantasy success.
Peyton Barber – Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 43.2% owned (ESPN)
It’s been a difficult time for Tampa Bay running backs this year. Their defense has been historically bad, meaning that the game script hasn’t ever really been there to allow any running backs enough carries for relevant usage. The Bucs rank joint-last with the Green Bay Packers when it comes to rushing attempts.
The Bucs defense isn’t going to get any better, but with Jameis Winston back at the helm of the offense, you can expect Peyton Barber to become more of a force for the rest of the year. Not only will the Bucs offense generate more redzone opportunities, but opposing defenses will have to account for Winston’s rushing ability, opening up lanes for Barber that weren’t there when Ryan Fitzpatrick was running the offense.
For as long as Tampa Bay continues to leak point, it isn’t going to be easy to predict Barber’s usage. But he is the primary running back for an offense that should be scoring plenty of points. Pick him up now before someone else snaps him up.
Keke Coutee – Wide Receiver, Houston Texans – 39.2% owned (ESPN)
It’s the year of the slot receiver – just ask Adam Thielen. After missing the first three games, Keke Coutee has jumped into the Texans offense and made a big splash, averaging 9 targets and just under 7 catches per game.
There are contextual factors to consider. DeAndre Hopkins remains the most dynamic receiving weapon on this team – Coutee was never going to threaten that. Deshaun Watson has continued to perform above expectation, solidifying his status as one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL.
The key to Coutee’s success on this team lies on two foundations. Firstly, this Texans offensive line is very #notgood. That means that, more often than not, Watson is going to need to get the ball out of his hands quickly – he can perform feats of escapology a la Russell Wilson, but that is not a sustainable foundation. So the second pillar of Coutee’s fantasy production? He is averaging 4.6 yards of separation – second-best in the NFL.
For every magic act Watson performs to launch the ball downfield to Hopkins or Will Fuller, you can expect him to look for Keke Coutee to move the chains.
by Ben Barton – @Baron_Barton