By Will Mirrer

Weekly recommended fantasy football free agent pickups, all under 50% ownership in ESPN leagues. Generally divided between “priority” value adds relevant to all teams, “bye week fill-in” adds relevant to teams dealing with byes at that position, and “speculative” adds.  Scroll down to the bottom of this post for easily referenced week 8 NFL bye weeks and league schedule.


  • Priority
    • Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (39.2% ownership)
      • Romo returns to this page for the third straight week – he needs to be picked up now while other owners are still focusing on dealing with quarterback bye weeks. Once Dez and Romo are back, this Dallas offense figures to pick up where it left off last season.  And if you’re weak at QB, well, Romo is the kind of guy who could swing a playoff matchup down the road, and that’s the kind of low cost, high upside we dream of here on the waiver wire.  He could be back as early as Week 11.
  • Bye Week Fill-In:
    • Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (24.4%)
      • With the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans on deck weeks 8 and 9, you can roll out FitzMagic as your quarterback bye week solution and hope Brandon Marshall makes the bearded one look good.  22 of 39 for 295 yards with two touchdowns week 7 against Belichick and the Patriots doesn’t hurt his cause, either.
    • Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (49.0%)
      • Flacco will have a nice week 8 matchup at home versus a struggling San Diego defense that was just shredded by the Raiders, and star safety Eric Weddle is hobbled by a groin injury.
  • Speculative:
    • Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (33.0%)
      • Carr was awesome this week, dismantling the Chargers’ secondary (again, down Weddle, but still) to the tune of a 24 for 31 line with 289 yards and three touchdowns.  As just noted above, the Chargers’ defense is nothing to write home about, but it was important to see Carr realize the upside we thought he might have early this season.  Why a speculative add, then, instead of a solid bye week fill-in?  The Raiders face the Jets this week, and were I gambling man, I’d put my money on Revis and Bowles over Carr and Del Rio.


  • Priority:
    • Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (42.6%)
      • Hopefully as a Randle owner you were already stashing Run DMC, but he’s still available in most formats. McFadden garnered 159 yards and a touchdown, so the extra touches that went to McFadden this week (and that reportedly were to go to Michael) may continue moving forward.  With Dez Bryant back soon and a Romo return on the horizon, whomever happens to lead the Dallas backfield should have real value when the fantasy football playoffs come knocking.
    • Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (18.8%)
      • Arian Foster is sadly done for the year with a torn Achilles. Based on early week usage during the last Foster injury, Blue is predicted to lead the Texans backfield week 8. Just don’t expect him to realize any of Foster’s upside in this sorry offense.
    • Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (0.0%)
      • Orleans came out of nowhere to lead the Giants in carries week 7 against the Cowboys and finished with a 8-48-1 line. One can’t be happy with such a muddled Giants backfield – Jennings, Vereen, and Williams were all still involved – but Darkwa at least presents the chance of becoming the leader of this New York carry committee.
  • Bye Week Fill-In:
    • Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (31.1%)
      • A viable bye week plug-in in PPR leagues – his pass-catching prowess and involvement in the Lions gameplan provides a relatively high floor, despite Ameer Abdullah’s presence.
    • Speculative:
      • David Cobb, Tennessee Titans (7.3%)
        • While Antonio Andrews did see more work on the ground week 7 (with 10 carries), it’s clear that Tennessee’s backfield is an unappetizing committee. David Cobb, a 5th round rookie running back, received buzz in August in advance of fantasy drafts before being placed on Injured Reserve with a calf injury.  He’ll be back week 9, and I’ll be surprised if he fails to carve out a meaningful role quickly.


  •  Priority:
    • Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings (43.8%)
      • A 5th round rookie, Stefon Diggs started week 6 opposite Mike Wallace with Charles Johnson still ailing with an injury. He finished with 7 receptions for 129 yards on 9 targets.  He kept it up week 7 with 6 receptions, 108 yards and a touchdown on another 9 targets (highlighted by this beauty at the 30 second mark:  Expect his high target totals to continue – he and Bridgewater have a clear rapport.
  • Bye Week Fill-In:
    • Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (34.7%)
      • Remember, Jones might have been dropped Week 7 during the Bengals’ bye week by teams scrambling for bye week alternatives at the Flex.  Third in the Cincinnati target totem pole behind AJ Green and Eifert, there’s been enough volume to go around to leave Marvin Jones with inconsistent, high upside production. Remember, this guy is just two years removed from a ten touchdown season in an inferior offense.  He’s not going to do that again, and he’ll have his off weeks when Dalton funnels targets to an enviable alternative matchup, but the positives outweigh the negatives in this high-flying Red Rifle attack.
    • Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears (20.7%)
      • Another guy who may have been dropped week 7 during the Bears bye week by fantasy owners dealing with roster space limitations.  Back from injury in Week 6, Eddie Royal received 7 targets and finished with 5 catches for 49 yards. The Bears offense was already functional with Cutler back in the lineup, and looks improved with Alshon Jeffrey back as well. Alshon’s addition shouldn’t hurt Royal – Royal is out of sorts as a number one receiver anyway and should welcome a return to easier cornerback matchups he can actually win.
    • Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (16.1%)
      • With Brandon LaFell returning from IR week 7 against the Jets, it was instead Amendola who stepped up for Brady and the Patriots, pulling in 8 of 9 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown.  LaFell may still have more upside down the stretch, but if you need help right now, Amendola presents a safer play given Brady’s trust in him and LaFell’s case of the dropsies.
    • Ted Ginn, Carolina Panthers (33.8%)
      • He’s the number 2 receiver behind Greg Olsen in Carolina, and that counts for something with Superman at quarterback, including more consistent production than we probably expected from an underwhelming receiving talent.
  • Speculative:
    • Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (37.6%)
      • LaFell, in his first game all year week 7, was downright awful, dropping 6 passes (3 official drops). While it’s right to already worry whether LaFell will regain his top-25-WR 2014 form, that’s why this is a speculative add – his 2014 represents known upside in an incredible offense, so add him now and let’s see if Amendola continues to steal his targets, or whether LaFell can remember how to hold onto the ball.


  • Priority:
    • Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (41.7%)
      • Reed lit up the Bucs in week 7 for 11 catches, 72 yards and two touchdowns. If he was dropped in your league after his scary concussion, pick him up now, as Reed is an every week starter with the way Cousins focuses on the underneath target.
    • Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (27.3%)
      • Ebron returned from injury week 7 and picked up where he left off with 5 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.  The Lions offense looks competent again, and Ebron no longer looks like a total bust for the Detroit front office.  Expect Stafford to continue to feed him enough looks to make Ebron borderline start-worthy even when he can’t come through with a touchdown.
  • Speculative:
    • Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9.7%)
        • ASJ, a 2nd round draft pick in 2014, went down with an injury in week 2 after lighting up the Titans with two touchdowns week 1. He’s now likely to return week 8, and with his athleticism and Winston’s inability to throw downfield consistently as of yet, he may find ASJ an appealingly large target to feed.


(Remember, this list only includes defenses owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues and thus applies only to those who stream defenses weekly)

  • Minnesota Vikings (@Chicago Bears; 47.4%)
    • The Vikings have an excellent defensive wizard at head coach in Mike Zimmer, and the defense has unsurprisingly improved in Zimmer’s second year in charge. The Bears, while competent of late, always present the enticing potential of a Cutler turnover or two. I’d bet on the Vikings stop unit.


Week 8 NFL Bye Weeks:

Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins


Week 8 NFL Schedule:

Thursday, October 29:

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots, 8:25 PM ET

Sunday, November 1:

Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs, 9:30 AM ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 PM ET

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 PM

San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams, 1:00 PM

NY Giants at New Orleans Saints, 1:00 PM

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears, 1:00 PM

San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 PM

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 PM

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans, 1:00 PM

NY Jets at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 PM

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 PM

Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos, 8:30 PM

Monday, November 2:

Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers, 8:30 PM


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