Fantasy football championships are won on Tuesdays. I’ll be providing you with weekly advice for navigating what could often be an intimidating waiver wire claim process. It’s a fun mix of deep stashes, dynasty roster changes, and FAAB suggestions. If you enjoy this article or want to discuss any of the players with me-I’m always happy to engage with readers and fellow dynasty degenerates on Twitter.
Marcus Mariota (Owned in 15.5% of ESPN Leagues)
Mariota has now strung together two successful fantasy weeks; throwing completing 37-53 (70%) of his passes for 468 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions over the last two games. He’s moving outside of the pocket again, too: after rushing just 24 times in his first 6 games, Mariota has 19 rushing attempts in his last three. In those games, he’s compiled 91 rushing yards and a touchdown. Mariota has a plethora of hurdles to jump through: he’s working with a wide receiving corps with little talent or experience beyond Corey Davis, he lost his safety net (Delanie Walker) early season and has spent the majority of the season battling an elbow injury which resulted in partial loss of feeling, in his throwing arm. Mariota has been successful despite being in a situation which doesn’t set him up to be.
That brings me to my main argument: next season, Mariota won’t be a Titan. It’s something I’ve been talking about since the preseason, but nobody else seems to want to. Mariota is currently earning a base salary of $705,000 and hitting the Titan’s salary cap at $7.7 million. If the Titan’s choose to exercise their 5th-year option on Mariota’s rookie contract, his salary will skyrocket to $21 million, all of which will hit their cap. That would force Tennessee to take on $14 million of their current $23 million in cap space, with other notable free agents like Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan to worry about signing. Since signing Mariota, the Titans have gone 21-27 (26-32 including this season)-including a 2017 playoff appearance. I’m not convinced that’s enough for Mariota to warrant $20 million/year, and if it’s not that means a change of scene and that’s enough opportunity for me to buy low on the former Oregon star. Mariota’s value doubles overnight in an offense with better weapons like the New York Giants, the Bengals, or could even see a swap between Mariota and his draft class-mate, Jameis Winston.
Mike Davis (Owned in 45.7% of ESPN Leagues)
It’s understandable to be weary committing to Davis in dynasty leagues; he hasn’t made a significant impact in his first three full NFL seasons. Davis, however, has had a lot of success this season-especially the last two weeks when he’s been without Chris Carson. He’s rushed 26 times for 120 yards while catching 11 of his 14 targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. Here’s the best part: you can get Davis cheap in Week 11.
Seattle has announced that Chris Carson (hip) will return for their Thursday Night Football match-up this week. That will likely lead a lot of owners to drop Davis (far below that 45% ownership)-it’s unlikely to me, however, that Carson gets a full workload in a short week. Instead, we’re likely to see what Pete Carroll has given us all season: a split committee system. Since Week 4, Davis has accounted for at least 1/3 of the RB snaps each game, including two games with over 70% of the shares. This is in an offense that’s rushed the ball 247 times, or almost 25 times a game. Add in Davis’ team-leading 26 targets (14 more than Penny, who is second on the team…and that’s about all he’s second in) and his team-leading 21 receptions and team-leading 110 receiving yards-you get some seriously good (and cheap upside). Wait for Davis to be dropped and grab him for free, he’s worth having as a flex option.
Chris Warren III (Owned in 0.2% of ESPN Leagues)
Full disclosure: I might be all of that 0.2% but I was blown away with Warren’s play this preseason. Warren tore it up: rushing for 292 yards on 58 attempts (5 yards/carry) and two touchdowns. Warren was an undrafted free agent in 2018, out of Texas. He’s surprisingly agile for someone of his size: 6’2”, 247 pounds-go watch game tape on him, it’s a smooth 247. Think of Warren like a lesser known version of Derrick Henry, except he actually has potential (cue angry Henry truthers clicking out of the article). You haven’t heard of Warren because he suffered a knee injury which landed him on IR at the end of the preseason. Oakland, however, seems focused on destroying their roster-and his veteran running back teammates (Lynch, Martin, and Richard) are all free agents after this season. In what’s expected to be a mass exodus of veterans and talent all three very well may be gone, and I find it hard to believe that Gruden will focus on running back in the draft-already having an excessive number of holes to fill elsewhere. He’s sneaky, free, and could pay off big time for dynasty owners who need to fill roster spots with potential.
Anthony Miller (owned in 13.4% of ESPN Leagues)
Consider Miller’s Week 10 performance less of a “break-out” and more of a “break-through”. He finally put it all together: his speed, ability to create separation, and participation in one of the NFL’s hottest offenses; catching 5 of his 6 targets for 122 yards and a touchdown. Miller’s seen an increased workload-since the Bears’ Week 5 bye, Miller has seen at least 40% of snaps in all but one game, compared to seeing less than 40% of snaps in every game prior to the bye. His targets have increased, also; he’s gotten at least 6 targets in each of his last 4 games, after seeing less than 5 targets in all but 1 of his prior games.
As the red-hot Trubisky (now QB7) continues to ascend to fantasy relevance, he’s bringing Miller with him. Since Week 8, Trubisky has focused on getting Miller the ball: vs the Jets in Week 8 Miller accounted for 24% of Trubisky’s targets and Week 9 vs the Bills he accounted for 30% of Trubisky’s targets. In both of those weeks, he led wide receivers in both targets and fantasy production. Allen Robinson’s return and Miller’s break-through are no coincidence; Robinson opens the field and allows for Miller to become a target monster-with touchdown upside. If this rookie is still on your waiver wire, get him while you can.
Hayden Hurst (Owned in 1.6% of ESPN Leagues)
Reports have come out of Baltimore that Joe Flacco may miss an extended period of time with a hip injury. Although Harbaugh has refused to rule out Flacco, he’s been seen on crutches-and when asked, his head coach has used less than convincing language to suggest that his 4-5 squad will not be relying on Lamar Jackson in Week 11. This is great news for Hurst, who has already been seeing an increased workload since returning from injury.
Hurst has out-snapped fellow draft-mate Mark Andrews in his games since Week 8 and has drawn an even split with Nick Boyle. Hurst also outperformed his tight end teammates in the preseason; catching 5 of his 7 targets (70%) for 41 yards and a touchdown. In the preseason, Jackson attempted 68 passes, compared to Flacco’s 16. Looking beyond the numbers, Jackson clearly clicks with Hurst. He favors the athletic rookie, who is much more useful as a receiver than he is as a blocker. Hurst, aged 25, was an interesting first round pick-leading most, including myself, to believe he was drafted to create Lamar Jackson’s offense. If things continue to go poorly with Flacco’s recovery, or the Ravens record, we could be seeing 6 weeks of Lamar’s offense for the rest of the season. That’s great for Hurst, especially in a schedule that features positive matchups against Oakland, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay. Hurst should be free, for now, and could be a championship difference making contributor for you.