Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, Week 9: Expert Advice on Isaiah Likely, Justin Fields, More

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, Week 9: Expert Advice on Isaiah Likely, Justin Fields, More article feature image

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Likely.

No matter how deep your league is, Week 8 offered plenty of injuries and potential breakout performances to make sure your waiver wire has intriguing names on it — not to mention a hectic NFL Trade Deadline has impacted a number of clubs.

Our fantasy football analysts break down key names you'll be either bidding on or considering with your top waiver claim.

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Josh Palmer
Rondale Moore
Isaiah Likely
Chase Edmonds
Justin Fields
Sam Ehlinger
Kalif Raymond

WR Josh Palmer, Chargers

Sean Koerner: With Mike Williams (ankle) expected to miss at least four weeks, Palmer should be able to provide WR3/4 value.

Palmer is a versatile WR who was able to operate as a lower aDot (7.1) possession receiver with Keenan Allen out, but he may be asked to become more of a downfield/red-zone threat with Williams sidelined. This is one of the reasons why I liked him as a high-upside stash entering the season.

Chris Raybon: Palmer offers WR3/4 value for as long as Williams is out. Per data from PFF, Palmer has an 85% route participation rate on the season, but has been targeted on only 15.7% of his routes.

You’d like to see the latter a bit higher, but it’s just enough given his route participation. His 7.1 aDOT and 9.1 yards per reception also leave much to be desired, but there’s room for growth if he inherits Williams' old role (Williams averaged 13.4 YPR and a 12.4 aDOT).

Mike Triplett: Palmer is my favorite kind of waiver-wire target because of his combination of untapped upside and opportunity. The 2021 third-round draft pick hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations from this past summer when he was one of the breakout players of the preseason.

But injuries have played a role in that. And now he should have a big opportunity with Williams sidelined and Allen still not back to 100%. Better yet, he’ll be facing a Falcons defense on Sunday that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.

Samantha Previte: Palmer missed Week 7 due to a concussion, but he is likely to return in Week 9. He would be my preferred add over DeAndre Carter, though Carter did see a season-high 94% of snaps in Week 7.

I anticipate Allen — if healthy — will be L.A.’s WR1 while Williams is out, followed by Palmer and Carter, with Gerald Everett also seeing additional targets.

The Chargers have a somewhat soft schedule coming up with the Falcons, 49ers, Chiefs, Cardinals, Raiders, Dolphins and Titans lined up over the next seven weeks — five of which rank bottom ten in pass DVOA.

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WR Rondale Moore, Cardinals

Koerner: Moore should already be rostered in most leagues as he has been the clear No. 2 WR in Arizona's offense, averaging a 95% routes run rate since he returned in Week 4.

A.J. Green, Robbie Anderson and Greg Dortch have been rotating in the No. 3 slot and none of them are a threat to Moore at the moment. Moore's become a high-floor WR3/Flex option.

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Raybon: Even with DeAndre Hopkins back, Moore should be considered a WR3 in full-PPR and a WR3/4 in other formats. He’s averaging 4.0 catches, 5.0 targets, 61.5 yards and 0.5 TDs in two games since Hopkins returned.

Even with just 5-6 targets per game, Moore is a threat to catch 4-5 passes because he runs high-percentage routes near the line of scrimmage (4.5 aDOT), enabling him to post a 75% catch rate. Moore also rarely comes off the field, having run a route on 95% of the team’s dropbacks since returning in Week 4.

Triplett: Moore was back in the slot more frequently in Week 8, and his volume returned as a result (seven catches for a season-high 92 yards and a touchdown).

He now has at least six catches in three of Arizona’s last four games. I wouldn’t go crazy with my FAAB here, but Moore should be as reliable as any fill-in you can find while Marquise Brown remains sidelined by injury.

He played 99% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps in Week 7 and has averaged more than 90% in the five games he has played.

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TE Isaiah Likely, Ravens

Koerner: Likely is a talented tight end I have been calling for a breakout all season. We finally got it last week after Andrews departed the game, posting a 6/77/1 line with an 81% route participation.

If Andrews ends up sitting on Monday, my model would move Likely all the way up to second at the position! He’s worth a speculative add in case Andrews misses time.

Raybon: Likely is a TE1 if Andrews continues to miss time. It was only a matter of time before the rookie fourth-round pick out of Coastal Carolina broke out after catching 12-of-12 targets for 144 yards and a TD in the preseason.

Likely won’t have standalone value with Andrews in the lineup, however, as Andrews’ presence limits Likely’s route participation rate to the 40-50% range.

Previte: Likely is coming off of a breakout game on Thursday night against the Buccaneers. He caught six-of-seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown with star tight end Mark Andrews dealing with a shoulder injury.

Andrews’ shoulder injury is not believed to be serious, but with the loss of Bateman and the uncertainty of Andrews’ status heading into Week 9, Likely will likely be a popular waiver claim at just 5% rostered. He would immediately vault into the TE1 conversation if Andrews sits.

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RB Chase Edmonds, Broncos

Koerner: Edmonds is worth an add if you want to invest in a potential three-way RBBC in Denver.

There is a path for Edmonds to eventually take over the Javonte Williams role without needing an injury to either Latavius Murray or Melvin Gordon. However, the most likely outcome is Edmonds will struggle to offer RB3/Flex upside unless either Murray or Gordon misses time.

Raybon: Edmonds is nothing more than an end-of-bench stash in deeper leagues after being traded from Miami to Denver.

There are plenty of red flags with Edmonds. He fell out of favor extremely fast in Miami for a player who was signed to a two-year, $12.6 million deal with $6.1 million guaranteed by the new regime this offseason. Running backs are notorious for not aging well and dropping off around their age-27 season, but is the decline simply starting a year early for Edmonds, who won’t be 27 until April 2023?

Per PFF, Edmonds averaged 2.66 yards after contact per carry in his first four seasons, but he is averaging just 1.74 yards per carry this year. Is the sample small at just 42 carries? Absolutely. But Dolphins brass clearly seemed to think it warranted moving on, and the Broncos are creating an average of just 1.11 yards before contact per carry for their running backs, which is fewer than the Dolphins (1.23).

Triplett: It’s hard for me to get excited about Edmonds joining another crowded backfield. If anything, it just further diminishes the value of fellow Broncos backs Gordon and Murray.

The RB moves before Tuesday’s trade deadline felt like a game of musical chairs. But one underrated potential winner is Colts backup Deon Jackson, who could inherit some of Nyheim Hines’ role in the passing game. Jackson caught 10 passes three weeks ago when both Jonathan Taylor and Hines were sidelined by injuries.

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QB Justin Fields, Bears

Koerner: Fields has seen an increase in designed rush attempts over the past couple of weeks, which helps make up for his lack of passing production. Plus, the Bears brought in Chase Claypool, who is an immediate upgrade as Fields’ No. 2 WR.

Fields has the talent and the upside to become a low-end QB1 in the right matchups, but he’s still more of a 2QB/Superflex option and he’s likely unavailable in those formats.

Raybon: Fields’ fantasy finishes in Weeks 1-4 were QB23, QB28, QB32 and QB25. In Weeks 5-8, he was QB12, QB9, QB5 and QB5.

An increase in designed runs should keep him trending upward: He averaged 3.5 designed runs per game in Weeks 1-6, but 8.5 in Weeks 7-8. The acquisition of Claypool from the Steelers should also help. Fields is on the QB1 fringe going forward.

Triplett: Fields was the clear target among waiver-wire QBs this week even before the Bears traded for Claypool.

Obviously, that trade won’t turn Fields into a high-volume passer overnight — he hasn’t surpassed 208 passing yards in a game this season and has just seven passing TD passes through eight games. But it can’t hurt a young QB who has made some legitimate strides as a passer in recent weeks.

The real reason you want Fields in fantasy is his rushing upside. Depending on your league’s scoring system, he has ranked as high as a top-4 fantasy QB over the past three weeks while averaging 77 rushing yards per game. He’s an ideal candidate to fill in for bye weeks or injuries — with the upside to develop into even more.

Previte: Frankly, I was wary of starting Fields in what should have been a difficult matchup against Dallas’ defense, which ranked No. 2 in defensive DVOA entering the week.

He posted his best fantasy performance of the year in the Bears’ 49-29 loss, completing 17-of-23 attempts for 151 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also rushed eight times for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Fields has been trending up after a fairly rough start and is the QB6 on a per-game basis since Week 5. The dual threat is averaging 53 rushing yards per game, which gives him a nice floor. He also has a new weapon to work with after Chicago acquired Claypool from Pittsburgh.

He should offer fringe QB1 streaming value over the next three weeks against the Dolphins, Lions and Falcons, all of which rank bottom eight in defensive DVOA.

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QB Sam Ehlinger, Colts

Koerner: Ehlinger had a rough debut last week, but he still carries enough rushing upside to own in 2QB/Superflex formats.

He’s expected to have the starting job for the remainder of the season, which means he has job security. It may take him a few starts to finally hit his stride.

Raybon: Ehlinger’s first start showed some reasons for optimism from both a fantasy and real-life perspective.

He dropped back 28 times and attempted 23 passes, but still eclipsed 200 yards, averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. He also scrambled three times and saw three additional designed runs, so he should be able to put up more than 15 rushing yards most weeks. He’s a mid-range QB2 with QB1 upside.

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WR Kalif Raymond, Lions

Koerner: Raymond is on the WR3/4 cusp this week as he has been heating up lately. He has either cleared five receptions and/or 75 yards in three straight games.

Following the T.J. Hockenson trade, he could pick up an extra target or two as well. Considering there are six teams on bye this week, Raymond makes for a nice streaming option if he’s the top available WR in your league.

Raybon: Raymond has operated as Detroit's No. 2 WR over Josh Reynolds the last two weeks, running a route on 93% of the team’s dropbacks. Raymond parlayed that usage into back-to-back games with at least 75 yards receiving.

He’s been targeted on 17.2% of routes this season, a figure which could grow with Hockenson out of the picture. Raymond should be a WR3/4 for the next month or so until D.J. Chark (IR; ankle) and Jameson Williams (IR; knee) return.

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