Week 9 Lookahead Waiver Wire Targets: Pick Up Justin Fields, Kyren Williams Before Sunday
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Fields.
We’ve put a bow on Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season and as head coach Bill Belichick would say, “We are on to Week 8.” Now it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball and see which players we should target on the waiver wire now for a big payoff later.
Reminder: Week 9 is Bye-Nado 1 with six teams — the Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Giants, Steelers and 49ers — on bye. You will need to find one-week replacements for Amari Cooper, Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Courtland Sutton, Saquon Barkley, Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk.
Week 9 Early Waiver Wire Targets
QB Justin Fields, Bears (40% rostered)
Perhaps I was a season (and a half) too early with my Justin Fields love.
Fields is the QB4 since Week 5 behind only Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. He was impressive against the Patriots on Monday night when he completed 13-of-21 attempts for 179 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The dual threat also tacked on 14 rushing attempts for 82 yards and one touchdown to earn QB5 honors in Week 7.
Fields’ mobility is a huge fantasy asset; the Year 2 quarterback is averaging over 50 rushing yards per game (85 over the last two weeks). I would shy away from starting him this weekend against the Cowboys, whose defense ranks second in defensive DVOA and first in pass DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.
After that, he should be a low-end QB1 come Week 9 against the Dolphins with six teams on bye. Miami is allowing the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and were carved up by the two mobile quarterbacks — Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen — they faced this year. Fields is an excellent option for Prescott or Wilson managers.
QB Taylor Heinicke, Commanders (7%)
Stepping in for an injured Carson Wentz, Heinicke looked solid in his season debut for the Commanders in Week 7. He completed 20-of-33 attempts for 203 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and led the team to an upset victory over the Packers.
Heinicke was up-and-down as the Commanders’ starter in 2021. He was the QB16 over 16 games played and completed 65% of his attempts for 3,419 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Like Fields, Heinicke is a dual threat and tacked on 313 rushing yards and one touchdown.
He is a serviceable streaming option during the Bye-Nado going up against the Vikings, whose defense ranks 24th in defensive DVOA. They allowed both mobile quarterbacks they faced this year — Jalen Hurts and Fields — to finish top 13 at the position.
WRs Joshua Palmer and DeAndre Carter, Chargers (22% and 5%)
Both Palmer and Carter could be in line for increased targets once the Chargers return from their Week 8 bye.
Keenan Allen returned from a five-game absence due to a hamstring injury in Week 7. The WR78 in half-PPR scoring, Allen caught two targets for 11 yards and didn’t play in the second half. It was somewhat predictable that he would be eased back into action after such a long absence.
Mike Williams stole the show with seven catches on nine targets for 86 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he was injured and will likely be sidelined for multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain.
Palmer missed last week due to a concussion, but he is likely to return after the bye. He would be my preferred add over Carter, though Carter did see a season-high 94% of snaps in Week 7.
I anticipate Allen 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.
RB D’Ernest Johnson, Browns (1%)
Johnson has no rushing attempts this season, but he could end up being a valuable fantasy asset if the Browns move on from Kareem Hunt, who is reportedly on the trading block.
It’s been the Nick Chubb Show in Cleveland and Hunt is stuck singing in the chorus. He is the RB25 in half PPR and the clear No. 2 behind Chubb, who is the overall RB2. Hunt is currently averaging 11.6 touches per game, which could be funneled to Johnson if Hunt ends up on a new squad.
There are numerous teams who could benefit from additional running back depth, including the Broncos, Bills, Rams, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Cardinals, Seahawks and Eagles, just to name a few. Johnson is worth a speculative add.
RB Kyren Williams, Rams (42%)
Williams was the Rams’ fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. He has missed the first six games of the season due to an ankle injury that required surgery, but has been designated to return from injured reserve.
The rookie could be in line for a hefty workload right out of the gate, which seems to be the plan according to The Athletic.
Cam Akers, who was expected to be the starter this year, is sidelined amid friction with the coaching staff. He seems likely to be traded, and now that Christian McCaffrey is officially off the table, the Rams may have to make do with what they have already.
With Akers sidelined, Darrell Henderson Jr. led the Rams’ backfield in Week 6. He saw 12 carries for 43 yards and scored a touchdown and added two receptions for nine yards. His health has waned throughout his career, however, which forced him to miss seven games in 2021.
This could be a split between Henderson and Williams (once activated), or Williams could be the No. 1 if Henderson were to ever be sidelined. He is worth an add in a backfield very much up for grabs.
TE Evan Engram, Jaguars (43%)
Over the last three weeks, Engram is quietly averaging 7.7 targets per game and is the TE9 in half-PPR scoring. He has yet to find the end zone this year, but his targets have kept him very much afloat for fantasy at a position often criticized for its volatility.
I do not love his upcoming matchup in Week 8 against the Broncos’ top-notch pass defense, but he has been relatively consistent playing on a team that often finds itself in negative game scripts.
In Weeks 9 and 10, he faces the Raiders and Chiefs, which should easily vault him into the TE1 conversation. Engram will be a nice, one-week fill in for Freiermuth or Kittle managers.