We’re nearing the halfway mark of the fantasy football regular season, and if you’re like me, you’re bound to be frustrated with at least one of your teams. My “deep at WR” auction roster with CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins, and DeVonta Smith has not provided me with an advantage at the position as I expected. Instead, this trio has rotated giving me near goose eggs, while backup options Gabe Davis and Jordan Addison have lit up my bench. As life goes.
I understand the temptation to give up — this game we all love is notoriously frustrating. This week, however, I urge you to keep on pressing. We have a deep bench of exciting, if slightly under-the-radar, waiver targets that could help turn your roster around in a hurry. Let’s turn those 1-4 starts into 8-4 finishes and begin a momentous surge into the fantasy playoffs.
As a reminder, here are explanations for each section of the article. Read the descriptions below to determine whether “Home-League Waiver Targets” or “Deeper-League Targets” is more relevant for your particular league:
- Home-League Waiver Targets: This section focuses on the typical “home league” with friends, family members, and co-workers. These leagues typically include starting lineups of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2-3 WRs, 1 TE, 1-2 FLEX, 1 K, 1 D/ST, and 5-7 BENCH spots. I will use ESPN & Yahoo rostership percentages to gauge which players are available in a typical league. To qualify as a waiver target, the player must be rostered in <40% of leagues on either Yahoo or ESPN.
- Deeper-League Targets: This section will be focused on deeper leagues, which typically have additional starting lineup slots and deeper benches compared to the typical home league. Drafters who play in tournament contests on FFPC, NFFC, or similar should find this section helpful. To qualify as a deeper-league target, the player must be rostered in <50% of FFPC Main Event leagues.
Additionally, FAAB recommended bid percentages are given. These should generally be interpreted as a % of your original FAAB budget, not your current FAAB budget, though obviously keep in mind team- and league-specific considerations when making your bids.
For each list, I will rank the players in order based on how I would prioritize adding them to your teams. I will also include a “Drop List” of commonly rostered players that I would be comfortable parting ways with in order to add these targets to your team.
Top 10 Home-League Waiver Targets
Rostership: 41% Yahoo, 37% ESPN
FAAB Recommendation: 20-30%
With Khalil Herbert (ankle) expected to miss multiple weeks, including a potential short-term I.R. stint, Roschon Johnson is primed to serve as the primary ball carrier on the Bears’ suddenly streaking offense. There are a few complications, however. Johnson is dealing with his own injury issues (concussion, missed most of week 5), meaning he’s unlikely to be cleared to play in Week 6. D’Onta Foreman will likely have a chance to be the lead back in Week 6, and if he performs well, he could force a committee when Johnson returns. Second, we now have multiple years of data suggesting that RBs on Justin Fields-led offenses often struggle to put up consistent fantasy points. Despite these negative factors, we are at a point in the fantasy calendar where finding a starting RB off the waiver wire — even if only for a 2-4 week stretch — is extremely valuable due to the scarcity of viable performers at the position. RB-desperate teams can consider FAAB bids up to 20% to get a handful of low-end RB2 projected weeks from “Rojo”. Keep in mind, however, that you very likely will NOT be able to start him in Week 6 due to his concussion.
Rostership: 1% Yahoo, 0% ESPN
FAAB Recommendation: 3-8%
As of this writing, the extent of James Conner’s knee injury is unknown. What we do know is the knee injury immediately forced Conner out of Sunday’s game. While he was out, TCU UDFA rookie RB Emari Demercado played all but one snap after Conner’s departure. Corey Clement was the other gameday active RB and did not play a single snap. That usage shows the feisty Cardinals trust Demercado to some extent — otherwise, we would’ve seen a more significant split with Clement. Demercado was also reasonably effective on his touches, carrying the ball 10 times for 45 yards and a TD, while adding one reception for 12 yards on three targets. He also possesses intriguing, but not off-the-charts, size/speed measurables, weighing 213 pounds with 4.44 speed. However, we can’t ignore that the preseason presumed RB2, Keaontay Ingram, missed Sunday’s game due to a neck injury. Before Conner’s injury, usage suggested that Ingram was Conner’s direct backup for early-down carries, while Demercado had earned the long-down-and-distance role. While that usage suggests Ingram may be the favorite for the “Conner role” if the starter misses time, he has also been abysmal from an efficiency standpoint in his limited NFL playing time, rushing for just 75 yards on 39 carries (1.9 YPC).
Readers who have read this many words about Emari Demercado vs. Keaontay Ingram should be lauded for their dedication to the game of fantasy football — so let me get to the point. This is an extremely uncertain situation. Going into the season, I think the Cardinals wanted Ingram to be the backup to James Conner on early downs, but his poor performance combined with a neck injury has allowed Demercado an opportunity to prove his worth. I think he played well enough Sunday to be the favorite to lead Arizona’s RB committee going forward, as long as Conner is out. Given that we still don’t know the extent of his injury and it’s an uncertain situation, I’m recommending a modest 3-8% bid on Demercado.
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