With so many injuries coming in the past few games, fantasy owners are struggling to find adequate replacements on an already-picked-clean waiver wire. The only real option is to turn to trades, but we already know that trades are hard to pull off because most owners only accept a trade if they feel they are clearly winning in the deal.
With that said, there are still a few options on the waiver wire for those who are looking for depth. Let's go through a few players you want to target, and a few that you will want to stay away from:
Karlos Williams: Williams has been a beast when he has been given the touches, but the Bills seem intent on trotting LeSean McCoy out there and watching him get 70 yards rushing and no scores most weeks. Even if McCoy plays this week, I'd give some serious consideration to playing Williams in the flex.
James White: When Dion Lewis went down, it left a void in the Patriots passing game that someone has to fill. LeGarrette Blount is a volume carry type of RB, and I'm not sure the coaching staff trusts Brandon Bolden enough to make him the passing-down guy. White on the other hand was a solid replacement for Lewis in Week 3, when he hauled in 4 catches for 26 yards. He's the RB to target in the Patriots backfield right now.
Brandon Bolden: Bolden has made his mark on special teams, but he now is looking for a chance to show what he can do in the backfield with Lewis out. The problem is White looks to be the first man on the list for touches, with Bolden behind him. My personal opinion is White is the guy you want, but Bolden is worth grabbing if you have a spot open.
James Starks: Starks is someone that you could actually steal via trade because most people don't understand his true value. The reality in Green Bay is Eddie Lacy looks a little overweight and slow this year, while Starks is locked, cocked, and ready to rock. Now with Packers Coach Mike McCarthy saying publicly he is their "No. 1 back right now," Starks has RB2 value just in time for the fantasy playoffs. I'd target him!
Wes Welker: Here's your fool's gold player this week. Welker is more name than game at this point of his career, and he doesn't have (a good) Peyton Manning throwing to him in the middle of the field in St. Louis. Instead, he has Nick Foles, who is not good at throwing intermediate passing routes. Add to that the Rams being dedicated to the run thanks to Todd Gurley, and you have all the makings of a fantasy bust that WAY too many people are running to the waiver wire to grab.
Dorial Green-Beckham: The Titans rookie was on the fantasy radar before the season because the Titans needed a playmaker at WR, but the team put the brakes on his playing time early on. The slow progression came to an end last week when he reeled in 5 of 10 targets for 77 yards. I would make sure he is owned in all formats right now!
Joique Bell: Bell isn't an all-out fool's gold player, but he isn't a must-own player that some websites are suggesting he is. Sure, he is atop the Lions RB depth chart, but the Lions season has been over for weeks now. And there is a real possibility that the team cleans house after the season, starting with Matthew Stafford. Bell should be owned in most formats, but isn't more than an RB3 most weeks.
Chris Givens: Givens is more of a deep league WR than a standard league one since his role isn't exactly set in stone. There is a lot of chatter out of Baltimore that Givens and Joe Flacco are building a nice rapport, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he is worth owning in standard formats. I have him in a few leagues, but more as a desperation add on my more WR-needy teams. With Steve Smith out, and Breshad Perriman looking like he will miss this season, the Ravens need Givens to step up his game in the worst way.
Cecil Shorts III: Shorts is back this week, and the Texans are talking like they are going to slide him in ahead of Nate Washington on the depth chart. This makes little sense to me given Shorts' injury history, and Washington's production in place of Shorts this year. I'd grab Washington over Shorts, and leave Shorts on the waiver wire if only he is available unless you are in desperate need of a WR.
On the Jaguars front, there is real concern for me about Allen Hurns' foot this week. He didn't practice on Wednesday, which says his availability for Week 10 is in question. He's been on the injury report almost every week this season, but has managed to play through those injuries and put up consistent fantasy numbers in the process. If he plays, you too have to play him. But, I'd also have a plan B just in case he sits.
Derek Carr – Raiders: Carr is one of the hottest young QBs in the NFL this year, right next to Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota. The difference between Carr and Bortles, and Mariota is the first two have playmakers at WR and the other doesn't. The Vikings have been stingy with QB fantasy points this season, ranking #4 with 17.5 PPG allowed. But Carr is a different type of QB that can make plays. I'd consider him a top 6-7 fantasy QB this week.
Blake Bortles – Jaguars: Bortles started the season as an undrafted fantasy QB that every big-box website was calling a bust. But he changed all that with his play on the field, and solidified himself as a legit QB1 after putting up 381 passing yards and 2 TDs against the Jets last week. The Ravens have a burnable secondary, and the Jaguars have a WR corps that is opening eyes around the league. I'll put Bortles right next to Carr in this week's standings (above or below).
James Starks – Packers: Starks is the new lead back for the Packers, and this is the perfect week for him to take over with the Lions giving up a generous 22.6 PPG to fantasy RBs this season, the 5th-most in the NFL. This is the week to play Starks as a RB, and even WR Davante Adams as a WR3.
LeGarrette Blount – Patriots: With Lewis out, and unproven RBs White and Bolden in, I am looking for the Patriots to lean on Blount a little more if/when they get ahead of the Giants' porous defense. He isn't a factor in the passing game at all, but I think the Patriots will be less likely to let White/Bolden steal carries than they were with Lewis. I consider Blount a top-10 RB this week in all formats.
T.J. Yeldon – Jaguars: Fantasy owners always seem to be asking me if Yeldon is worth playing each week, and my answer is always the same: he is a top-20 fantasy RB, so he is worth playing as a RB2. With that said, Yeldon is again in my RB2 rankings against a Ravens defense that gives up 16.9 PPG to fantasy RBs this season. I wish Yeldon would score a little more, but that is why you also need to own either Robinson or Hurns in fantasy leagues!
Allen Robinson – Jaguars: Robinson is everything I expected him to be this season, and more! He currently ranks 9th for fantasy WRs in total points, and is tied for 2nd with 6 TDs on the season. Just as I said with Bortles, the Ravens have a weak secondary and Robinson has a strong drive to succeed. I'd play him as a strong WR1 this week in all formats, including DFS games.
Willie Snead – Saints: Snead is either hit or miss when it comes to statistical production, but this week I think he hits with the Redskins giving up 92 receptions, 1,314 yards and 11 TDs to WRs this season. Snead is behind Brandin Cooks on the depth chart, but that is what makes him such an interesting play this week.
Jordan Reed – Redskins: On the other side of the field for the Saints/Redskins game we have Reed as an interesting fantasy play. The Saints are giving up the 2nd-most fantasy points to TEs this season at 12.6 PPG, with a good portion of those points coming off the 7 TDs they've allowed to them. The Redskins have no running game, and the passing game is built to fit Jordan's skillset. I'd consider him a top-5 fantasy TE this week, and a solid DFS value play.
Philadelphia Eagles defense: The Eagles defense is owned in almost 90 percent of fantasy leagues, but they are started in only 31 percent of them, which tells me people like them but don't trust them. I find this funny because as of Week 10 the Eagles defense is ranked #6 in fantasy football, and tied for 2nd in interceptions with 12 on the season. They are trailing a bit in sacks with 19.0, but they make up for it with 164 points allowed (9th). The Dolphins are in a bit of a transition right now with a substitute head coach and a QB who's had back-to-back rough games in fantasy terms (609 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs).
Marcus Mariota – Titans: Mariota has shown that he obviously has the skills to succeed in the NFL as a starting quarterback with high-level games against the Colts and Saints this season (738 combined yards, 6 Ds, 2 INTs). The chink I see in his armor is when he plays better defenses (Bills and Dolphins), his stats drop dramatically (406 combined yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs). The Panthers have a tough defense, and I expect them to put pressure on the rookie this week and make him prove he can make adjustments quickly.
Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins: It's been two weeks since Tannehill has found the endzone with his arm, but he has 2 INTs over that span. This week he gets an Eagles defense that I've already talked about, making him a middle of the pack QB2 for me. I'd bet you can find other options at QB in most fantasy leagues, possibly guys like Tyrod Taylor, Carr, or Bortles.
Ronnie Hillman – Broncos: Hillman is locked into the dreaded "hot-hand" approach with C.J. Anderson for the Broncos, which dramatically reduces his fantasy value. Obviously he must be owned in case Anderson goes down, but right now he looks like the change-of-pace back for the Broncos. I'd sit him until his role is more substantial.
Eddie Lacy – Packers: Lacy has lost his job to Starks, and I am thanking my lucky stars that I don't own him in a single fantasy league. But if I did and I could get my hands on Starks, Williams, or White, I would almost certainly cut him at this point. His role is now relegated to change-of-pace duties, which means not on the fantasy radar for RBs.
Antonio Brown – Steelers: I am going to say right up front that I am sitting Brown in my ESPN league in which I am in 1st place. I am not telling you to do something so I can be like those other big-box website guys who want to use shock and awe to make headlines. Brown had a MONSTER game last week when he had the most receiving yards in NFL history without a touchdown attached to it. But Ben Roethlisberger is out and Landry Jones is back in, making Brown someone I am avoiding. He was clearly a different WR without Big Ben.
DeSean Jackson – Redskins: Jackson showed me a lot last week, totaling 15 yards on 3 catches. He has always been a deep threat kind of WR, and the Redskins are content trying to move the ball downfield with short passes. While the coaching staff is talking him up and saying his role will be expanded, I'm not sure he is the right fit for Jay Gruden's offensive scheme. With the Patriots likely to be ahead all game, I do expect the Redskins to pass a lot. But I could see the Patriots sitting back on the deep routes and limiting Jackson's targets.
Travis Kelce – Chiefs: The Chiefs face a Broncos defense this week that has been the best defense all season long, and now they are without their lone stud in Jamaal Charles. Charcandrick West showed he has the talent to play at the NFL level, but he won't force the Broncos to change up their plan like Charles would have. It's not like the Broncos have been blanking teams, but I also don't have enough faith in Alex Smith to take a chance on Kelce when there are guys like Gary Barnidge and Ben Watson on a lot of waiver wires.
Minnesota Vikings defense: The Vikings have a top-10 fantasy defense this season, but are still owned in just 45 percent of leagues. Their high ranking in defensive stats has more to do with the lack of points allowed (138) than it does with INTs (4) and sacks (19.0). Carr has shown he can possibly be one of the best QBs in the NFL in a few years, and the Vikings haven't been good at forcing INTs and racking up sack totals. I'd sit them this week and instead look for a streaming defense.