Each week we help you prioritize the top fantasy pickups ahead of waiver deadlines, so as to safely navigate byes, injuries and the various other horrors of 2020. We’re without the Chiefs this week, which is gonna be a problem. All players listed below are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, and all are approved for immediate use.
Wide Receivers and tight ends to add
Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (30% rostered)
Is it possible that Samuel just played what will ultimately be the two best games of his season? Well, sure. He reached the end zone twice in Week 8, then delivered 105 receiving yards and another TD on Sunday. Let's appreciate the fact that with Carolina's receiving corps at full strength and Christian McCaffrey back in the mix, Samuel still saw nine targets against the Chiefs, catching every one of 'em. He added three carries for another 13 yards. OC Joe Brady continues to draw up opportunities for Samuel, and the fourth-year receiver continues to feast...
Samuel has made four house-calls over his last three games, catching 19 of 20 targets and averaging 5.9 YPC. He's clearly a decent bet to spike in any given week. Continue to flex him through the byes. Samuel's rushing role should continue in the weeks ahead, because CMC suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday that could force him to miss additional games.
Recommended offer, assuming $100 budget: $15
Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers (38%)
When last we saw Lazard, he was hauling in six balls for 146 yards and one score on eight targets against the Saints, making monster plays like this...
Unfortunately, he then landed on IR and required core muscle surgery, sidelining him for multiple weeks. He's resumed practicing, however, and seemed close to being active on Thursday night against the Niners. He's a good bet to return against Jacksonville's user-friendly defense next Sunday. If you can find a use for a 6-foot-5 receiver tied to an MVP-level quarterback, give Lazard a long look. He was understandably mass-dropped while injured, but he should be good-to-go soon.
Nelson Agholor, Las Vegas Raiders (24%)
If you're an Eagles fan, just look away. Or keep scrolling, because this Agholor stuff is just another layer of aggravation on an already messy season. The veteran wideout, who seemed to specialize in game-changing drops during his Philly years, is now thriving for Vegas. He's hauled in four touchdown receptions over his last five games. Things like this are happening pretty much every week...
Agholor ranks among the NFL leaders in average targeted air yards (14.2) and he tops the league in yards per reception (20.4). He's basically having the season many of us expected from Henry Ruggs. Agholor hasn't seen extreme target volume, but his opportunities have generally been high-value downfield shots. And, unlike prior seasons, he's not letting many chances slip through his fingers this year. He's a solid flex/WR3 moving forward.
Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns (41%)
Hooper missed multiple games following an appendectomy, but he's returned to practice and will presumably be good to go for the upcoming matchup with Houston. We shouldn't need to tell you that the Texans defense hasn't really stopped much of anything to this point in the season; they rank No. 23 against the pass and have allowed 18 passing scores over eight games. Hooper had seen 23 targets over his previous three games before surgery, and he's returning to a Beckham-less receiving corps. We can reasonably expect him to see 6-9 targets per game moving forward, which obviously gives him a shot at a strong second-half. Tight end has been a minefield of a position this season, so someone in every league should be interested in Hooper.
Other WR/TE options: Tim Patrick (he's a fixture in this space, but you guys refuse to make the add; he's coming off a season-high nine targets, with another touchdown), Jakobi Meyers (back-to-back games with double-digit targets, including a 12-catch, 169-yard performance on Monday night), Jalen Reagor (talented rookie is back from bye and coming off a 6-target game, playing 73 percent of the snaps), Richie James (coming off a monster performance in which he simply clowned Green Bay's secondary, but Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne should all return soon), Jakeem Grant (should see additional opportunities following the trade of Isaiah Ford and injury to Preston Williams), David Moore (just in case you have no investment in Seattle's offense), Jimmy Graham (spiked again in Week 9, still unattached in a majority of Yahoo leagues), Jordan Reed (no Kittle in our lives for several weeks, which is of course terrible), Irv Smith Jr. (two TDs on Sunday, but only 10 yards and four targets), Gerald Everett (saw nine targets prior to his bye and Seattle's generous pass D is on deck).
Running backs deserving attention
Duke Johnson, Houston Texans (16%)
David Johnson suffered a concussion on a huge shot by Myles Jack on Sunday, which left Duke to handle a full rushing workload. The understudy wasn't particularly efficient against Jacksonville (2.6 YPC), but he caught four balls for 32 yards and he broke the plane on a 1-yard plunge. If David can't clear the concussion protocol this week, Duke could be in line for 20-plus touches at Cleveland next Sunday. The Browns have allowed a pair of 100-yard rushers over their last three games, so it's hardly a stay-away matchup. Duke is also a good bet to see a season-high target total next week.
Kalen Ballage? KALEN BALLAGE! Los Angeles Chargers (1%)
Nothing has ever tested the concept of a post-Adam Gase production boost quite like this. If Ballage can, in fact, emerge as a fantasy relevant player in 2020 ... well, wow. He stepped into a significant backfield role for the Chargers on Sunday after Justin Jackson took a helmet to the knee on the game's first play. Ballage finished with a more-than-respectable 69 rushing yards and one score on 15 carries, adding two catches for 15 yards. He also fully Ballage'd another potential reception, swatting a well-thrown ball to the ground. But hey, you know the tape is never going to be perfectly clean with Ballage. He showed some legit downhill power against the Raiders, out-touching Joshua Kelley, 17 to 14.
If Jackson is going to miss time, Ballage should be playable next week against the Dolphins, his former team. Fire up those revenge-game takes, people.
Additional RBs of interest: Jordan Wilkins (we understand why you didn't rush to start him against Baltimore, but please note that he again out-touched Jonathan Taylor and his upcoming schedule is a gift), Malcolm Brown (back from bye and ready for his usual 8-12 touches), J.D. McKissic (just played 83 percent of the snaps for Washington and caught nine balls on 14 targets), Wayne Gallman (he's reached the end zone in three straight games, though Devonta Freeman should return soon).
Quarterbacks on the wire
Drew Lock, Denver Broncos (20%)
OK, so things weren't looking great for Lock throughout the first three quarters in Sunday's matchup with Atlanta. Those of us who streamed him in season-long leagues and/or started him in DFS were not entirely pleased. But when the fourth quarter hit and his team trailed by three touchdowns, Lock more than salvaged his day for fantasy purposes. Garbage-time binges have become his signature move. He finished with two passing scores in the game's final 15 minutes, one of which was a well-placed dart to Tim Patrick...
...and he added a 10-yard rushing TD inside the final two minutes. And thus a blowout became a somewhat more respectable loss. In the end, Lock managed to finish his afternoon as the week's overall QB4.
If you'd picked up Lock specifically for his matchup with Atlanta, feel free to keep him active over the next two weeks. Denver is about to face the Raiders and Dolphins, two defenses that rank in the bottom-half of the league against the pass. Lock's receiving corps is full of young talent and he can be an entertaining watch (when he's not throwing back-footed YOLO balls into traffic).
Various assorted QBs to consider: Teddy Bridgewater (hugely impressive 310-yard performance against KC and you have to love his weapons), Tua Tagovailoa (another week, another win for Tua, who passed for two scores and looked shifty on the ground).
New Orleans Saints (47%)
The Saints D had been a significant disappointment in the season's first half, but they absolutely demolished Tom Brady and the Bucs on Sunday night. New Orleans produced three sacks and three picks, allowing only three total points. It was a thorough mauling. Nick Mullens and whatever's left of the San Francisco receiving corps is up next for the Saints, so we can reasonably expect another multiple turnover performance. Add wherever you have defensive needs.
Another D to consider: Philadelphia Eagles (coming off a bye, available in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues, and preparing to face Daniel Jones).