0 of 8
Tony Ding/Associated Press
NFL bye weeks can be the bane of even the best fantasy football squads. After all, fantasy stars aren’t going to help your squad when they’re not playing.
When managers are deep into bye-week season—as we are entering Week 9—the waiver wire becomes incredibly valuable.
This is particularly true in 2020, where injuries have also decimated many fantasy lineups. Standouts like Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas and Nick Chubb have already missed significant time or are done for the year. George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kenny Golladay, T.Y. Hilton and Tevin Coleman were all injured in Week 8, too.
With mere days before the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers kick off Week 9, managers have little time to determine their top waiver-wire targets.
Here, we’ll examine nine players who are rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and who warrant a waiver claim ahead of Thursday Night Football.
1 of 8
David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Having a starting quarterback on bye is an easy way to lose an otherwise favorable fantasy matchup. Many managers may find themselves in such a situation with Joe Burrow and streaming options like Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield on bye in Week 9.
While there aren’t a ton of enticing waiver-wire options, Denver Broncos signal-caller Drew Lock could deliver. He’s coming off a spectacular comeback victory that could kick off a breakout campaign.
“This is a really good milestone for Drew,” running back Phillip Lindsay told reporters after the game. “Stepping up, being a leader and overcoming stuff.”
Lock finished the game with 248 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He could have similar or better numbers in Week 9 against an Atlanta Falcons team that ranks 31st against the pass and 22nd in points allowed.
Lock is rostered in only 9 percent of Yahoo leagues and 5 percent of ESPN leagues.
2 of 8
Duane Burleson/Associated Press
Two Indianapolis Colts running backs are worth checking out on the wire this week.
Jordan Wilkins took control of the Colts’ running game against the Detroit Lions and finished with 113 scrimmage yards a reception and a touchdown. He’s rostered in just 1 percent of Yahoo and ESPN leagues.
Fellow back Nyheim Hines caught three passes, had 62 scrimmage yards and found the end zone twice. He’s rostered in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues and 35 percent of ESPN leagues.
Both backs are worth picking up, but Hines has the higher floor because of his proven pass-catching ability. He has caught at least three passes in five of his seven outings this season, and he’s averaging roughly four receptions and 41 scrimmage yards. While these aren’t overwhelming numbers, they’re enough to make Hines a fairly consistent low-end flex option in points-per-reception leagues.
On the other hand, Wilkins’ value will hinge largely on rookie running back Jonathan Taylor’s role moving forward. Week 8 marked the first time in 2020 that Wilkins has logged more than nine carries in a single game (he had 20 against the Lions).
Head coach Frank Reich told reporters that Taylor has “a little bit of an ankle injury,” which could explain why he had only 11 carries Sunday. Indianapolis could very well go back to Taylor as its leading rusher, but Wilkins is worth a look for at least the short term.
3 of 8
Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press
Darrell Henderson Jr. suffered a thigh injury against the Miami Dolphins, which forced the Los Angeles Rams to lean on Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers. Brown led the duo with 10 carries and two receptions, which makes him the potential handcuff to target this week.
It’s unclear just how serious Henderson’s injury is, and the Rams are on bye this week anyway. Therefore, Brown is only worth a flier if you don’t have more pressing needs to address.
There’s a good chance that Henderson will be back for Week 10, though as the Green Bay Packers have showed in recent weeks with their handling of Aaron Jones, teams with running back depth can be cautious with their starters.
Brown has consistently seen touches—he had 10 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown in Week 7—and could be an emergency play even if Henderson is healthy coming out of the bye. He’s reached double-digit touches in five of his eight games this season.
Brown is rostered in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues and 36 percent of ESPN leagues.
4 of 8
Danny Karnik/Associated Press
Detroit Lions star receiver Kenny Golladay “is expected to be out this week and will be considered week-to-week going forward” because of the hip injury he suffered Sunday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
That could make Marvin Jones Jr. a fantastic long-term option for fantasy managers.
Jones caught three passes for 39 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday and has now had back-to-back strong fantasy outings. Against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7, he caught five passes for 80 yards.
Jones will likely be Matthew Stafford‘s go-to target in critical and red-zone situations, along with blossoming tight end T.J.Hockenson. He also happens to have a fantastic matchup looming in Week 9.
The Lions will visit the Minnesota Vikings, who rank 30th against the pass and 29th in points allowed. He’s currently rostered in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues and 54 percent of ESPN leagues.
5 of 8
Danny Karnik/Associated Press
While Jones is rostered in roughly half of fantasy leagues, fellow Lions wideout Marvin Hall is readily available. He’s rostered in less than 1 percent of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and is coming off of a breakout game against the Indianapolis Colts.
With Golladay out, Hall frequently lined up across from Jones and quickly gained the confidence of Stafford. He was targeted seven times and caught four passes for a team-high 113 yards.
Hall gained 73 of his 113 yards on a single reception, proving he can provide Detroit with some much-needed big-play ability.
While consistency hasn’t been a strong suit for Hall this season—he had only three receptions heading into Week 8—he’s worth a flier in deeper leagues. There’s no guarantee that his big game will lead to a more significant role, but if it does, managers will be happy to have him.
The Lions are kicking the tires on free agent Mohamed Sanu, which could take away some of Hall’s fantasy appeal. But he could be a one-week fill-in if nothing else, since he’ll facing the same questionable Vikings defense that Jones is in Week 9.
6 of 8
Brett Duke/Associated Press
Green Bay Packers wideout Allen Lazard didn’t play Sunday, but he did return to practice during the week. That suggests he will soon make his return from core muscle surgery.
Based on his early-season results, Lazard will be worth a starting spot once he’s back.
In his three appearances this season, Lazard averaged roughly four receptions and 85 receiving yards. He scored two touchdowns during that span.
It’s worth noting that No. 1 receiver Davante Adams didn’t play in Week 3, when Lazard racked up 146 yards and a score. However, Lazard still averaged over three receptions and 50 yards in two games with Adams.
While there’s no guarantee that Lazard will return Thursday to face the San Francisco 49ers, he’s one of the best long-term options available on the wire. He’s currently rostered in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues and 25 percent of ESPN leagues.
7 of 8
Chris Szagola/Associated Press
Philadelphia Eagles wideout Jalen Reagor is another long-term waiver target, largely because he’s on bye this week.
The rookie first-rounder returned Sunday from a five-week absence due to a thumb injury to catch three passes for 16 yards and a score against the Dallas Cowboys. He also ran once for six yards.
As Reagor continues to work his way back into the lineup, he should become more than just a touchdown-dependent flex option. In Weeks 1 and 2 before the injury, Reagor totaled five receptions and 96 receiving yards.
Three or four receptions and around 50 yards should be Reagor’s expected floor after the bye. He’s likely to have a high ceiling if he can establish himself as the No. 2 target opposite Travis Fulgham, particularly with Zach Ertz and DeSean Jackson both on injured reserve.
It’s worth scooping up Reagor while he remains available. He’s rostered in only 25 percent of Yahoo leagues and 14 percent of ESPN leagues.
8 of 8
AJ Mast/Associated Press
If you need a temporary replacement at tight end this week—whether it’s an injury fill-in for George Kittle or Zach Ertz or because Tyler Higbee is on bye—Indianapolis Colts tight end Trey Burton is worth a flier.
While he’s splitting time with both Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis seems intent on getting Burton involved in the offense.
Burton had only three catches for nine yards against the Detroit Lions in Week 8, but he scored a rushing touchdown for the second consecutive week. He now has three touchdowns in his last two games and has averaged four receptions over his last three.
Don’t consider Burton a long-term starting option, but he should have some value against a Baltimore Ravens defense that just surrendered 48 yards and a score to tight end Eric Ebron. If you’re in a pinch, Burton at least has enough red-zone potential to justify an emergency start.
Burton is rostered in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues and 9 percent of ESPN leagues.