The Jet Press

Fantasy Football: Top 5 waiver wire pickups for Week 8

By Chris Stephano
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Sep 27, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Alfred Blue (28) rushes during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Buccaneers 19-9. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Due to injuries and ever changing depth charts across fantasy football, there are valuable players on the wavier wire waiting to be claimed. If your fantasy team needs a boost, consider adding the following players.

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Although this common literary expression was first written long before fantasy football (or even football for that matter), it aptly describes an NFL season. No matter how carefully NFL general managers and coaches enter the off-season, no matter how shrewd their free agent signings are or methodical their draft preparation is, something could always go wrong.

Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, whose playoff hopes have been dashed following devastating injuries. If your fantasy team is faltering, realize that even the most brilliant minds across the NFL have their off years. And the average fan has far less information to go on than NFL insiders. Throw in some injuries and unpredictable depth charts, and it’s enough to make some fans slam their laptops shut in disgust.

If your fantasy team has not performed up to expectations yet, don’t give up. The same random events -injuries, depth chart changes and the like- that ruin teams could also be the key to your team’s salvation.

The following are the top 5 potential waiver wire pickups that could help power your fantasy team through the second half of the season.

Next: 5. Big shakeup in Dallas

Oct 25, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden (20) is pushed out of bounds by New York Giants strong safety Brandon Meriweather (22) in the first half during the NFL game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

5. Darren McFadden

Although it is clear that the former top five pick has potential, Darren McFadden has spent most of this season locked in as the Cowboys’ No. 2 running back behind Joseph Randle.

Yet, after five weeks of posting middling fantasy production, McFadden’s spot on the depth chart suddenly changed. An injury to Randle against the New York Giants last week, coupled with a monster game by McFadden (152 rushing yards and a touchdown), has set McFadden up to be the starter in Dallas going forward.

If McFadden is still available in your league, grab him. Even if your team doesn’t need a running back at the moment, McFadden could become a valuable trade chip down the road.

Next: 4. Wide receiving threat emerges in Miami

Nov 2, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) scores a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 37-0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

4. Rishard Matthews

Out of all the players on this list, Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver Rishard Matthews is the most likely to be already owned.

Although Matthews has emerged as one of the primary wide receiving threats in Miami, he does have a tendency to have boom or bust games. Matthews has amassed at least 75 receiving yards in four of his six games this season, but he has only combined for 50 yards receiving in the other two.

If the somewhat fickle nature of his production has scared other owners off, you should benefit from it. Matthews has posted some monster games already and should have plenty more left in the tank. Add him to your roster today.

Next: 3. New injury leaves Texans fans Blue

Sep 27, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Alfred Blue (28) runs as Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Bradley McDougald (30) defends during the first half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

3. Alfred Blue

After both Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster suffered devastating season-ending injuries, fantasy owners may be hesitant to draft running backs in the first-round next year.

At the very least, this season illustrates how essential it is for fantasy owners to understand team depth charts. As soon as Charles went down, owners raced to grab Charcandrick West. Now that Foster has been officially ruled out for the season (if not longer), the Alfred Blue sweepstakes have begun.

Blue’s career numbers are far from impressive (career 3.3 yards/ carry average) but he should be in line to get the majority of reps at running back for the rest of the season. Tentatively add Blue to your roster now, and be ready to act quickly if he loses the starting job.

Next: 2. Unheralded solution at tight end

Oct 18, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green (89) rushes with the football as Green Bay Packers linebacker Nate Palmer (51) defends during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

2. Ladarius Green

When assembling a fantasy team, its imperative to look beyond the star names and to follow production.

Case in point: the Chargers’ tight end position. Antonio Gates remains the star name, and at times he has lived up to his reputation (187 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in 2 games). However, a four-game suspension to start the season and recurring injuries have limited Gates’ long term effectiveness.

Enter Ladarius Green. Although he has failed to put up the numbers that Gates is capable of, Green has been a reliable target for Philip Rivers. Green has amassed at least 45 receiving yards in five of his six starts, and has scored a touchdown in four games.

With Gates still battling a balky knee, Green should be a solid play at tight end this week.

Next: 1. One Giant towers over the others

Oct 25, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa (26) dives for a touchdown pas Dallas Cowboys strong safety Barry Church (42) in the first half during the NFL game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

1. Orleans Darkwa

The Giants’ running back situation has become a giant mess, with Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa all potentially competing for carries.

Oddly enough, it was Darkwa who emerged as the Giants’ primary back last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He led the team in carries (8) and rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown.

Because Darkwa did not receive a single carry prior to last week, fantasy owners shouldn’t rush to crown him the Giants’ new lead back. However, Darkwa will be available in almost any league, and he could represent a high value pickup for desperate fantasy owners.

If you are in dire need of a running back, add Darkwa now. Otherwise, carefully monitor his situation and see if the Giants keep giving him reps in the weeks ahead.

Next: Fans shouldn't lose hope

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