Fantasy Football waiver wire targets for Week 9 of 2021 NFL season

Jeremy McNichols was a late addition to the waiver article, as it was reported Monday morning that Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury that could sideline him for 6-10 weeks. Henry was making an MVP case as a runner, picking up 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He has 82 more carries than any other back, with 288 more yards and four more rushing touchdowns. He has accounted for 55 percent of the Titans’ touches this season. Obviously, the Titans or your fantasy team cannot simply replace Henry. The Titans did sign Adrian Peterson, who will share the backfield with McNichols. McNichols does not have more than two carries in a game this season, but he has seen receiving usage, having 12 targets in a game this season. He should be the lead back at least initially as he knows the offense and will certainly play a role as the pass-catching option. Peterson could handle the ground work, but he has never been much of a pass catcher. The most likely scenario initially is a committee on the ground, with McNichols seeing the passing work. I would prefer McNichols as of now, but AP is definitely worth grabbing on the waiver wire this week. The Titans could also swing a trade this week — luckily we will know before waivers run. Some trade candidates are: Marlon Mack, Melvin Gordon, David Johnson or Phillip Lindsay, Ty’Son Williams, Ronald Jones, or one that I know fantasy players want to see but may not be too realistic: D’Ernest Johnson. A trade would definitely change things, but if they do not make a deal, we are looking at a McNichols-Peterson backfield. McNichols has the higher upside at this point in their career, but Peterson definitely brings a safe floor if he sees the usage that we are anticipating. The Titans RBs join Boston Scott as the top pickups this week. This also likely means the Titans throw more moving forward, so don’t give up on Julio Jones just yet.

For the second straight week this article was set to kick off with an Eagles running back (until the Henry news). Last week it was Kenneth Gainwell, whom coaches, beat reporters and others talked up as the new lead back in Miles Sanders‘ absence. Well, the lead back in Week 8 was actually Scott, who played 44 percent of the snaps and had 12 carries and the lone RB target. Scott went for 60 yards and two touchdowns, on his way to scoring 18 fantasy points. The game script was one the Eagles were not accustom to as they were playing with a lead — and a big one at that. Scott was used heavily early on and was the only back to see any work through the air. Scott had two carries inside the 10 in Week 8, turning both into touchdowns. That is, after he had three carries inside the 10 last week and led the Eagles in carries after Sanders exited. Jordan Howard saw three carries inside the 10, turning them into two touchdowns. He finished with 12 carries for 57 yards and two scores on 24 percent of the snaps. While Scott is one of the top adds of the week, Howard should also be added as a deeper option. But, its unlikely the Eagles play with a lead like this again, so his usage remains hard to trust. Gainwell’s role did not change with Sanders out, he remains the pass-catching specialist, but in a game that the Eagles did not have to throw much — they only attempted 16 passes. He should fair better against the Chargers next week. Do not drop him just yet, but he is purely just a flex option moving forward.

Teams on Bye in Week 9: Buccaneers, Washington, Lions, Seahawks

Check if available: Michael Carter, Elijah Mitchell

You can drop: David Johnson, Robby Anderson, Laviska Shenault Jr., Trevor Lawrence, Ricky Seals-Jones, Damien Williams, Brandon Bolden

Do not drop: Antonio Gibson, Julio Jones, DeVonta Smith, Kenneth Gainwell, Odell Beckham, Allen Robinson (holding those last two WRs in case of a trade)

Quarterbacks

Saints QB Taysom Hill is expected to be back for Week 9, which is great for the Saints who just lost Jameis Winston to a significant knee injury. Hill brings a high rushing upside as the starting QB, which is great for fantasy. Last year in his four starts, he scored between 17.5 and 24.2 fantasy points each week. He rushed for over 40 yards each week and had two games with multiple rushing touchdowns. He brings a safe floor and some upside, enough to keep him in the QB1 discussion each week. He is the top QB add of Week 9. Trevor Siemian can be streamed in two-QB leagues if Hill is not ready for Week 9.

Colts QB Carson Wentz threw for 231 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, while adding in 11 rushing yards against the Titans. Look it won’t always be pretty with Wentz, but he did score over 18 fantasy points. He has topped 17 fantasy points in every game but one, bringing a safe floor each week. He has also thrown for multiple passing touchdowns in five straight games. He is a reliable streaming option, especially with the Jets and Jaguars on the schedule the next two weeks.

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa did not have a great Week 8 against the Bills. He threw for only 205 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. He did add 10 yards and a rushing touchdown on his way to a 15-point fantasy day. So why is he included here? Well, 15 fantasy points in the toughest matchup for QBs shows he brings a safe floor. But, he had topped 21 fantasy points the past two games in great matchups. That is exactly what he gets next week when he faces the Houston Texans. He is a strong streaming option in Week 9.

Bears QB Justin Fields played his best game as a pro in Week 8, ironically when coach Matt Nagy was out. Fields threw for just 175 yards with a touchdown and interception, but it’s what he did with his legs that is turning heads in the fantasy community. He rushed 10 times for 103 yards and one of the prettier touchdown runs you will see. He went off for over 25 fantasy points in Week 8. He only reached double-digit fantasy points once so far this season. But in the past three weeks he has rushed for 43, 38 and 103 yards, respectively. The hope is that this is the game that gets Fields going. His upside remains high due to his rushing ability. He is an upside grab right now on the waiver wire.

Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater has failed to take advantage of pretty good matchups the past two weeks, but he will get a third chance next week against the Cowboys. He threw for just 213 yards and one touchdown in Week 8, snapping a three-game, multi-touchdown streak. He is a deeper streaming option for those in need – especially if Dak Prescott plays, as the Broncos will likely need points to match that offense.

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo exploded for nearly 28 fantasy points in Week 8. It was by far his best fantasy day of the season, largely because he had two rushing touchdowns. Who does he think he is, Trey Lance? He still has to worry about Lance, but he is in play if you are in need of a QB in deeper formats.

Texans QB Tyrod Taylor is looking at a likely return in Week 9. He should be rostered in all two-QB formats, but could be valuable depth in deeper one-QB formats. He can be streamed in the right matchups due to his rushing ability. He scored nearly 24 fantasy points in Week 1 and 16.5 before getting injured in Week 2, rushing for 40 yards or a TD in those games. That is useful for fantasy.

Running backs

Jaguars RB Carlos Hyde could be in play in Week 9 as James Robinson is dealing with a bruised heel that has his status in question. Hyde played 66 percent of the snaps after Robinson exited Week 8. Robinson’s status needs to be monitored, but if he misses time, Hyde would be in for a large workload. Hyde saw nine carries and eight targets. He caught six of them for 40 yards, and added 32 yards on nine carries. All together he went for 13.2 fantasy points. Robinson had over 19 touches and fantasy points in four straight. Hyde is not Robinson, but if he starts, he should see upwards of 15 touches and that is enough to make him an RB2, with higher upside.

Jets RB Ty Johnson has a role despite the fact that Michael Carter is taking over the backfield. Johnson has seen 13 targets in the two games Mike White has played, as he has thrown 42 percent of his passes to running backs. He has topped 11 fantasy points in three straight. He is not the sexiest name on the list, but the pass game usage makes him a streamable option with the Jets playing on a short week this week.

Saints RB Mark Ingram played 29 percent of the snaps with six carries and two targets in his return to the Saints. He went for 52 yards, so not a ton of upside. But, he clearly has a role in this offense, and it could grow if Taysom Hill is the starter moving forward. Last year when Hill started the Saints ran on 52 percent of their plays, which would have been the second most over a full season. We also saw the Saints use Latavius Murray more during those games, so if that is the case, Ingram could have flex appeal in strong matchups. I was not interested in him in Houston, but in a Saints run heavy offense? He’s worth a shot.

Washington RB Jaret Patterson played 24 percent of the snaps in Week 8, seeing 11 carries and one target. He went for 46 yards. He had more opportunities than Antonio Gibson, who had eight carries and three targets. Gibson only played 31 percent of the snaps and has clearly been hampered by his shin injury. The Football Team will be on bye next week, giving Gibson time to heal up, but Patterson is worth stashing in deeper leagues given how long this injury has lingered.

Texans RB Rex Burkhead wrecked what fantasy Twitter had dubbed David Johnson week. Burkhead led the Texans RBs by playing 48 percent of the snaps. He saw four carries for a team-high 21 rushing yards and scored a touchdown. He also led their backs with four targets, catching three for 27 yards. This backfield is one that is likely best to be left avoided, but that usage means in deeper formats you can take a shot on him. If you are going even deeper, Scottie Phillips was the second RB here playing 26 percent of the snaps to go with five carries for 11 yards and three targets.

Wide receivers

Dolphins WR DeVante Parker is available in over 80 percent of NFL.com leagues after missing the last couple weeks due to injury. Well, he returned in Week 8 and saw 11 targets, catching eight for 85 yards in a tough matchup against the Bills. Parker has at least seven targets in every game he has played and has nine or more in three of his last four. He has topped 16 fantasy points in his last two games and has at least eight in every game. He brings a safe floor and a decent ceiling. Enough at least for him to be a flex option in positive matchups. His upside is even higher and he should be rostered in a lot more leagues, especially with the Texans on tap.

Bills WR Cole Beasley saw a team-high 13 targets against the Dolphins. He also led the Bills in catches (10) and yards (110). It was his third game with 13 targets this season. In fact, he has nine-plus targets in four games, but the issue is in the other three he has four-or-less. He has been up and down, but with Dawson Knox sidelined, his volume should be a little safer. He remains in play as a flex option next week against the Jaguars.

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk saw a season-high seven targets in Week 8. That included one in the end zone and he also scored a two-point conversion. He caught four of the targets for 45 yards. It’s been a strange year for Aiyuk after looking like a star in the making as a rookie. But he is the same player that put up WR1 numbers down the stretch last season. Perhaps he has learned to be a pro, like Kyle Shanahan said he had to do, but for whatever reason, he earned more work this past week. He cannot be trusted to start just yet, but he brings more upside than you typically find on the waiver wire. He is worth taking a shot on after his Week 8.

Jaguars WR Jamal Agnew saw a team-high 12 targets in an ugly game for the Jaguars was. He caught six of them for 38 yards and a touchdown. Agnew has low-key been seeing consistent usage. He has seen at least six targets in three straight games — scoring double-digit fantasy points in each. In his last three games he has 10.9, 12.8 and 15.8 fantasy points, respectively, as the primary slot receiver for the Jaguars. He has a tough matchup against the Bills next week, but they should have to throw in order to keep up with that offense.

Jets WR Elijah Moore caught all six of his targets for 67 yards in Week 8. It was his second straight game with six targets and topping double-digit fantasy points. Moore is explosive but did not see much usage early on. He has been more involved as of late and the rebuilding Jets may look to get their second-round pick more involved. We have already seen them set Michael Carter free in the backfield. Moore is an upside stash that is trending in the right direction as of now.

Texans WR Nico Collins caught all four of his targets for 55 yards, going for a season-high 9.5 fantasy points. He has been more involved as of late, as the Texans second wide receiver. That isn’t a role that has been fantasy viable with Davis Mills, but that could change with Tyrod Taylor returning. He is purely a deeper stash right now.

Falcons WR Calvin Ridley is taking time off to focus on his mental health. Wishing him nothing but the best, and we all can’t wait to watch him play again if and when he chooses. Tajae Sharpe took advantage of his new opportunity, tying for the team lead in targets (six) and catches (five), while leading Atlanta with 58 receiving yards. He has actually been the receiver that has stepped up in both games Ridley missed (Russell Gage did not have a target in Week 8). In the London game against the Jets, Sharpe saw five targets catching four for 53 yards. He doesn’t bring a high ceiling, but the floor has been safe in games Ridley missed. He is a deeper league option.

Rams WR Van Jefferson has seen more opportunity as of late and made the most of it. He has 13 targets in his last two games, with at least six in each. He has topped 11 fantasy points in each of those games. In those two weeks he has seen more time in the slot, running 22 and 27 percent of his routes from there. He has also been more utilized in the red zone, seeing three targets there in those two games, after having just two in the first six weeks combined. Jefferson is here to stay as the Rams are shopping veteran DeSean Jackson. He will be up and down, but he is useable as the third receiving option on one of the best offenses in football. 

Tight ends

Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth played 78 percent of the snaps and saw seven targets, catching four for 44 yards and a touchdown. He saw increased usage after Eric Ebron injured his hamstring in practice last week. Freiermuth saw two red zone targets and topped 12 fantasy points for a second straight week. There are also rumors that Ebron could be on the trade block. Either way, the Steelers rookie tight end has played well and is a streaming option with Ebron sidelined.

Jaguars TE Dan Arnold saw 10 targets, the second-most on the Jaguars in Week 8. But he did lead them in catches (eight) and yards (68). While it was a season-high in targets, the usage is nothing new for Arnold. He has at least five targets in each of his last three games, with eight in two of them. He scored double-digit fantasy in the two games with at least targets. He is a TE2, but can be streamed in deeper leagues.

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