Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team league formats, unless specifically stated. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.
Bye weeks: Baltimore, Dallas
1-Week Plug & Play
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans
The Raiders may still be without WR Tyrell Williams (foot), and it probably won’t matter. This offense has enough weapons to keep Carr in the conversation of starting fantasy options, albeit with a capped ceiling. He is a competent option for the safe play, and the volume could increase if Houston’s passing game looks anything like Green Bay’s did in Week 7. The Texans gave up five passing strikes to Aaron Rodgers and has permitted nearly 295 yards per contest.
Matt Schaub, Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks
Are you a Dak Prescott or Lamar Jackson owner and need a replacement? Did you own Matt Ryan? How about Patrick Mahomes? Regardless of your ill, Schaub could tide over desperate gamers if Ryan misses time with his ankle injury. The Falcons have a Week 9 bye, which makes sitting Ryan wise in a lost season. Why risk causing long-term damage? At any rate, there is moderate peril in playing Schaub, but he has all of the tools around him to post respectable fantasy numbers. It might not be entirely clean getting there — after all, he’s the king of the Pick 6 — so you’ll have to accept the bad with the good.
Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins
Rudolph returns from his bye week and should be cleared from the concussion protocol. For as well as Devlin Hodges played in his lone start, Rudolph is expected to remain in the starting lineup vs. Miami. The Dolphins gave up a pair of scores to Josh Allen in Week 7 and allowed one per 7.1 completions (highest frequency) in the five games prior. Rudolph won’t be tasked with carrying the offense on his back, but he certainly can find the end zone two or three times via short-area passing or even from a long catch-and-run scenario. Gamers could do worse looking for a fringe starter, and he’s a strong choice in two-QB setups.
1-Week Plug & Play/stash & grab
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The former Miami Dolphin was included in this space last week as a “watch list” candidate. He did everything one could hope to see out of a possible waiver target making his first start for a new franchise, going 23-for-29 for 312 yards, two TDs and a pick. The Week 8 opponent, Tampa Bay, makes him a strong consideration for the starting lineup in a year that has seen his position decimated. Two fantasy starters are on bye, as well. The Buccaneers gave up the most yards (318.5) and fourth-most fantasy points per game prior to their Week 7 bye. Tennessee has tougher matchups ahead (at CAR, vs. KC), so don’t be married to Tannehill if he has another quality week.
Matt Moore, Kansas City Chiefs
Just keep an eye on him for now. If the veteran journeyman has a decent enough showing vs. the Green Bay Packers in Week 8, he’s worthy of a look until Mahomes returns. The Chiefs could be without their star quarterback around three or four weeks, and it may make sense for it to be four games with a bye week coming after that point. Moore has weapons around him, and his skill set translates well to a game manager in a West Coast system. Andy Reid’s creativity will help get the most out of him. Moore is best utilized as a QB2 or flex, but matchups after Green Bay: Minnesota, at Tennessee, and at the Los Angeles Chargers … less than ideal.
priority free agent
Ty Johnson, Detroit Lions
Kerryon Johnson left Week 7 with a knee injury and could miss time after failing to return. (Update: Johnson was place on IR and has a chance to return in eight weeks.) The Lions are likely to throw more than usual, but be prepared to pounce on Ty Johnson. He’s a versatile rookie, standing 5-foot-10, 210 pounds. Johnson snagged four balls for 28 yards vs. the Vikings and added another 29 on the ground. Any back with a shot at seeing a starter’s workload belongs on a fantasy roster. The Lions play the New York Giants in Week 8 — a defense that was shredded by Chase Edmonds for a trio of touchdowns after yielding four in the six outings leading up to that disaster. RB J.D. McKissic could even be worth a look in deeper setups as a PPR bench option. Don’t be shocked if Detroit turns to a free-agent veteran, such as C.J. Anderson.
Mark Walton, Miami Dolphins
Reiterating last week’s inclusion, Walton belongs on all rosters. Any back with double-digit touches deserves to at least be owned, and the former Bengal has 27 utilizations in the past two games. With the right matchups, Walton is worth a start to cover byes. The upcoming schedule is anything but pretty, so consider him only if desperation has set it for a warm body at the position. His ability in the passing game can help offset facing tougher rushing defenses.
priority free agents
Kenny Stills, Houston Texans
Houston’s Will Fuller is out several weeks with another hamstring injury, making the veteran Stills a must-own option alongside DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller primarily serves as the deep threat in this offensive system — luckily Stills’ best attribute. The Texans have upcoming matchups vs. Oakland and at Jacksonville in the next two weeks before their bye. At a minimum, Oakland makes Stills a quality starting option, and Jacksonville permitted top-12 figures for yards per reception and fantasy points per touch by the position entering Week 7. Even Cincinnati’s Alex Erickson posted 137 yards on eight grabs against the Jaguars last Sunday.
Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts
Coming off of a career day, logging six receptions for 102 yards and a pair of scores on seven targets, Pascal has posted double-digit PPR points in three of his last four appearances. The Colts need a possession guy and someone to step up when T.Y Hilton is doubled — Pascal has helped fill that void. The upcoming schedule has some bumps but is mostly favorable. Denver, at Pittsburgh, Miami, and Jacksonville are ahead in the next month.
Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins
The rookie has appeared a few times in this space and it feels like he is worth reintroducing after a pretty good game with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Miami has looked his way no fewer than six times in every game since Week 1, and he saw five targets in that game, including his only TD reception of the year. He has double figures in four of six showings using PPR scoring, and Miami’s defense will continue to keep him involved as the Dolphins are forced to catch up more often than not. Miami faces the Steelers, Jets and Colts in the upcoming three weeks, with the bookends being on the road.
1-Week Plug & Play
Olabisi Johnson, Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
The 33rd pick of the 2019 draft’s seventh round, Johnson made the roster and has showed a hint of NFL-caliber talent thus far. He has at least four targets three of his past four contests, highlighted by an eight-look day in Week 7 that resulted in 4-40-1 with Adam Thielen (hamstring) on the sidelines. Given the short week, expect Thielen to sit out Thursday. Johnson has a great matchup in Week 8 for a one-week lineup option. The Redskins have given up a touchdown every 8.8 snares in 2019, helping create the 10th-best option in fantasy.
1-Week Plug & Play/grab & stash
Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Buffalo faces fantasy’s second-best opponent for PPR receivers in Week 8, and Beasley is coming off of his first score as a Bill. The former Cowboys receiver has seen six or more targets in four of six contests this year, and he has at least nine in three of them. Beasley has a brilliant matchup, and he belongs on rosters for depth with several more weeks of byes remaining. There is virtually no use for him in standard-scoring formats, unfortunately. Philadelphia is 43.1 percent better than average for exploitation in the last three weeks and 35.2 percent on the year. Seven different receivers have landed at least six balls vs. this defense in 2019. Upcoming opponents for Beasley: PHI, WAS, at CLE and at MIA.
Grab & stash
Auden Tate, Cincinnati Bengals
WR Alex Erickson is probably going to be the preferred receiving option, since gamers tend to react to big performances, but it was more of a matchup situation than Erickson surpassing Tate as the preferred fantasy option behind Tyler Boyd. It looks like A.J. Green is several weeks away yet, and Tate’s 6-foot-5 frame gives Andy Dalton the best target in the red zone. For gamers willing to bet on a TD, Tate, not Erickson, is the smarter option most weeks. Cincinnati faces the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8 before the bye. With five of eight games on the road to open the year, Cincy’s schedule becomes more favorable in the second half of 2019. Tate is a must-own if Green is traded.
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears
While the entire Chicago offense is in turmoil at the moment, the defense isn’t holding up its end of the bargain right now, either. The promising second-year receiver was sluggish to start 2019 campaign after missing so much time from offseason shoulder surgery. He has shown signs of life of late with 16 targets in the past two games. Miller has produced only 116 yards in that window, making him mostly unplayable. This could be a sign of him heating up, though, and after scoring seven times as a rookie, Miller belongs in reserve at the moment. Chicago hosts the Chargers this week, heads to Philly the next, and returns to Soldier Field for the Detroit Lions.
DaeSean Hamilton, Denver Broncos
We saw flashes from him as a rookie late in the year when asked to do more. The trade of Emmanuel Sanders opens up more looks behind Courtland Sutton, and Hamilton could enjoy a few games with meaningful looks. There’s still an issue trusting Denver’s line and Joe Flacco, but Hamilton is worth a roster spot in most settings. He has flex utility with the right matchups.
Priority Free Agent/1-week plug & Play
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
While Washington hasn’t necessarily been terrible vs. TEs, allowing only two touchdowns over 31 catches thus far, the idea here is we’ve see more of Rudolph in the last two games than the previous five contests combined. He has nine targets, eight receptions, 94 yards and a score in the last two weeks. Adam Thielen suffered a hamstring injury in Week 7 and did not return. Minnesota does battle Thursday night, making Thielen unlikely to play. His extended absence would mean more work for the veteran tight end. Kansas City and Dallas are ahead for the Vikings in Weeks 9 and 10, respectively — favorable opponents for the position.
1-Week Plug & Play
Josh Hill, New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals
This is predicated on Jared Cook missing another game. Arizona is horrendous at stopping tight ends, and if you’re a streamer or lost a starter, Hill makes for an intriguing waiver play. He scored in Week 7 with Cook on the shelf, and New Orleans could also be missing WR Tre’Quan Smith and running back Alvin Kamara again. Hill is worth tossing a buck or two at in competitive or deeper leagues, but he probably can be landed at no cost in more causal settings.
Benjamin Watson, New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns
The Patriots brought back Watson after briefly releasing the 16-year veteran. Cleveland sat out of Week 7 action and brings a defense that has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in six appearances into Gillette Stadium. New England is always difficult to project, so don’t invest heavily. If you’re in dire straits at the position, Watson could be a cheap play for a touchdown in a strong matchup.
1-Week Plug & Play/Grab & Stash
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Repeat from last week: Brate comes back from his bye week. He has scored in consecutive games and has a pair of excellent matchups after the hiatus. Tampa returns to face the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks, or two of the five best matchups. Brate has a strong track record in fantasy when given the chance, and O.J. Howard clearly isn’t getting the job done.
1-Week Plug & Play
Cody Parkey, Tennessee Titans vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After doinking yet another kick, Parkey settled down and made his lone field goal and two extra points vs. the LA Chargers in Week 7. The Buccaneers come back from a week off and take a defense that has allowed nearly three field goal attempts per contest to the Music City. In three of Tampa’s six games the opposing kicker has attempted at least four field goals. These squads match up rather well for a battle in which every point may matter.
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks
The visiting ‘Hawks have permitted the sixth-most field goal attempts in 2019 (tied), while 15 of the 17 extra point tries have connected. Bryant could see more chances if Matt Ryan misses action with an ankle injury and the offense isn’t quite as sharp with Matt Schaub under center. Seattle has allowed a trio field goal attempts in three of the last four outings.
1-Week Plug & Play/Priority free agent
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins
Pretty much any decent defense facing Miami deserves a fantasy start. The Steelers overwhelmed Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offensive line in Week 6 before going on vacation. The rested defense has logged double figures in fantasy points in four straight contests, and there’s a reasonable chance the Steelers are on your wire after the bye week. Upcoming opponents include Indianapolis, the Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland, Cincy, and Cleveland again.
1-Week Plug & Play
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons
Even if Matt Ryan (ankle) plays, the Seahawks are a quality fantasy option. It seems logical Ryan will rest one week before the bye, making Matt Schaub the starter. As mentioned above, Schaub can have a good fantasy game but also make mistakes that benefit Seattle’s fantasy defense. The Atlanta offensive line is all sorts of awful, and there isn’t much of a running game to keep Seattle on its toes. Atlanta has turned it over 12 times in seven games, giving up 19 sacks along the way.
Detroit Lions vs. New York Giants
The incoming Giants face a defense that scored zero fantasy points in Week 7 as Minnesota racked up 503 yards of offense and hung 42 on the board. Against more susceptible offenses, such as New York’s, the Lions have mustered respectable numbers. In the three games prior to the disaster vs. the Vikings, the Lions managed to take away the ball eight total times.