Waiver Wire Weekly: Struggling quarterbacks could make key additions


Gregory Shamus, Getty Images | TNS

Daniel Jones (8) of the New York Giants throws a second-half pass against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Oct. 27, at Ford Field in Detroit. The Lions won the game 31-26.

By Adin Link, Staff Writer

We’re entering Week 9 of the fantasy football season, meaning playoffs lurk just around the corner. This is the time where injuries and bye weeks can really throw fantasy rosters for a loop. With the Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals on byes, fantasy teams will be without the starpower of players like Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, Cooper Kupp, Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.

If you find yourself scrambling to replace one of those big-time stars, look for the following players to fill in and make an impact.

*The %OWN statistic is based on ESPN standard leagues on Oct. 29.



Sam Darnold, New York Jets, %OWN: 13.7%

Darnold has certainly not been anything to write home about since returning to NFL action in Week 6, putting together two lackluster performances in a row. But if there’s anything that can jumpstart a quarterback and get them back on the right track, it’s a game against the winless Miami Dolphins.

The tanking Dolphins have proven to be a great matchup for opposing fantasy quarterbacks and there’s no reason for that to change with Darnold. He has shown flashes of great potential this season and has plenty of offensive weapons in Le’Veon Bell, Robby Anderson, Demaryius Thomas and Jamison Crowder.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants, %OWN: 30.7%

Transitioning from one New York quarterback to another, Jones had an excellent performance on Sunday in a losing effort to the Detroit Lions. He seemed unfazed by the Giants’ shortcomings on defense, continuing to keep his team in the game on every drive. Jones had his best game of the year since his first start in Week 3, going 28 of 41 for 322 yards and four touchdowns.

Next up, Jones will play the first prime-time game of his career on Monday night against the Cowboys. Look for him to build on some early career success and his strong connection with fellow rookie Darius Slayton.

Running Backs

Mark Walton, Miami Dolphins, %OWN: 17.7%

Even though Walton did not necessarily post a stat line that would merit fantasy owners adding him off the waiver wire, he’s actually in a position that will likely bring him a lot of opportunities in the future. Many were wondering who would see an uptick in usage with the Dolphins trading incumbent starter Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals ahead of their Monday night game against the Steelers.

It was Walton — and not fellow Miami back Kalen Ballage — who received a majority of the carries, as he ran the ball 11 times compared to three for Ballage. Walton will again be the leading back for Miami in Week 9, and will face a much more inviting matchup with the New York Jets.

Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers, %OWN: 11.3%

Samuels finds himself in an opportunistic situation as he returns from a knee injury — he may be the healthiest running back on the Steelers roster. Both starter James Conner and backup Benny Snell suffered injuries in the Steelers’ Monday Night matchup, leaving Samuels ready to benefit from increased opportunities in Week 9.

The Steelers will play a tough Indianapolis Colts defense on Sunday, but Samuels’ dynamic abilities make him a factor in both the running and passing game. It’s fair to assume that Samuels will be heavily involved in Pittsburgh’s game plan.

Wide Receivers

Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills, %OWN: 25.8%

Beasley went the first six weeks of the season without finding the end zone, making his fantasy value virtually nonexistent. But he’s now scored each of the last two weeks, suggesting a growing rapport with second-year Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Against the Eagles last week, Beasley hauled in three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. He has made a career on being a safety blanket for quarterbacks with his ability to get open and catch the football. Expect Josh Allen to continue looking for Beasley as he becomes more aware of the latter’s skill.

Darius Slayton, New York Giants, %OWN: 9.8%

Slayton had the best game of his young career on Sunday, catching two passes — both touchdowns — for 50 total yards. He appears to be building a strong connection with fellow rookie Jones in the Giants offense. Both of Slayton’s touchdowns came on long passes that displayed his big-play potential. Fantasy owners can expect more splash-play opportunities out of Slayton while he works into the short and intermediate passing game as well.

Tight Ends

Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans, %OWN: 2.8%

With regular starting tight end Delanie Walker sidelined with an ankle injury, Smith was thrust into action in Week 8. With little to no production before Sunday, he was left off almost 97% of fantasy rosters.

But by Sunday, Smith may become a hot commodity. In his first game as the starter, he caught six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. With new quarterback Ryan Tannehill completely changing the face of Tennessee’s offense, and Walker still nursing his ankle, Smith is trending way up for fantasy teams in need of a tight end.

Chris Herndon, New York Jets, %OWN: 22.7%

Herndon has had a rough start to the 2019 season, though it has nothing to do with his play. He’s been kept out of action the entire year so far, first because of a suspension and then because of a hamstring injury.

Herndon finally figures to suit up for the first time on Sunday for a matchup against one of the league’s worst teams — the Miami Dolphins. He displayed great talent last year and will become a main target for Darnold once Herndon finally gets on the field.