Let’s take a quick look back at how some of the top drafted players have done versus some of the top free agent pick ups this season.
Christian McCaffrey was the consensus first pick. He has not played since Week 2. James Robinson was an early season free agent add who has become a top-10, borderline top-five player at the position.
Lamar Jackson was probably one of the first two quarterbacks drafted and went in the first three rounds of your fantasy draft. He ranks 12th among quarterbacks in points per game. Justin Herbert started the season on the bench, but he took over the starting role in Week 2 and is now fourth in points per game, narrowly edging Patrick Mahomes.
If you drafted Michael Thomas, it was likely in the first round. So far this season, he ranks 160th among wide receivers in PPR scoring. Before the season started, almost no one knew who Travis Fulgam was. Now he is the eighth-best wide reciever in fantasy on a points per game basis.
The point of this is to illustrate the importance of the waiver wire. Obviously, you should not have drafted Justin Herbert over Lamar Jackson, or dropped Christian McCaffrey for James Robinson. The bottom line is just because you drafted well, you are not guaranteed a good season.
By now, we have hit the midway point of pretty much every fantasy league’s regular season. This would be a good time to check if your league has a trade deadline and starting making moves for the playoff push. Even if you think you are going to pull off a great trade, you should check out these players on the waiver wire.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF
The Jimmy G experience has been a bumpy one so far this season. Two weeks ago, he pulled apart the Rams defense for three touchdowns. This past week, he failed to find the end zone and registered a dud against New England. While he might be hard to trust in the long haul, this is the week to start him. Garoppolo faces a Seahawks defense allowing more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league. Kyler Murray racked up 36 points on Sunday night. Garoppolo likely won’t hit those highs, but you should feel comfortable starting him as a bye-week fill-in.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, CAR
Few quarterbacks have impressed me more than Teddy Bridgewater has this season. He is consistently running for this life, but he is still able to make plays and put up points. He has feasted on weaker defenses this year, putting up at least 19 points in three of his past four games. Atlanta comes to town in Week 8. I view Bridgewater as a low-risk, high-reward option on Thursday, regardless of Christian McCaffrey’s status. He would get a boost though if McCaffrey returns.
Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE
How is the guy that just lost his star receiver on this list? Well, Baker Mayfield has weirdly been better this year when targeting pretty much anyone other than Odell Beckham Jr. He has been far from prolific this season, but Mayfield is coming off a huge 29-point outing and now faces a Raiders secondary that just got carved up by Tom Brady. If you are desperate for quarterback help this week, you could do much worse than Mayfield.
Carlos Hyde, RB, SEA
Under normal circumstances, Hyde would be locked in as a top-20 option at running back with Chris Carson expected to be out. Unfortunately, Hyde faces a stout 49ers defense that is allowing the fewest points to opposing fantasy running backs this season. That doesn’t make him unplayable, but you may want to temper your expectations for this week. Still, Hyde figures to be very valuable for each week that Carson is out. He should he your top running back add this week, unless Chase Edmonds is still available.
Jamycal Hastings, RB, SF
He might be in a timeshare with Jerrick McKinnon, but on a team that runs as much as the 49ers do, Hastings still has a ton of fantasy value. He looked good in mop up duty against the Patriots after Jeff Wilson Jr. got hurt, picking up 57 yards on nine carries. In an expanded role against a middle of the road Seahawks run defense, Hastings should be in starting lineups this week and stay there as long as he and McKinnon are the only two healthy backs.
Damien Harris, RB, NE
Yes, counting on Patriots running backs is risky. I just really like what I have seen from Harris so far. He has averaged better than five yards per carry in two of this three games. Unfortunately, the offense just has not run through him enough with New England getting down early and abandoning the run. I would recommend stashing him on your roster now. Even if you don’t start him this week against the Bills, you will want to in Week 9 when he plays the Jets.
Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
Shepard finally got back on the football field after missing four weeks of action. He looked good in his return, hauling in six catches for 59 yards on eight targets and adding a touchdown. He is a must-have in PPR formats. I don’t know if I would recommend starting him quite yet with a visit trip to Tampa Bay up next, but he carries a lot of fantasy value going forward.
Cole Beasley, WR, BUF
I still don’t understand how, but Cole Beasley is a fantasy relevant wide receiver. He ranks 19th in PPR scoring, just ahead of Robert Woods. He has scored at least nine points in every game this season and just turned in his best performance yet with 22 points against the Jets. He is far from touchdown dependent either, only scoring two this season. If he starts finding the end zone, he could be locked into WR2 territory. He faces New England this week, but then gets Seattle and Arizona after that.
Corey Davis, WR, TEN
I have been touting Corey Davis as a fantasy relevant option all season. If you are in a PPR league, he is worth consideration. He is still struggling to put up a bunch of yards (just 35 against the Steelers), but he had six catches and a touchdown on ten targets. It is clear Ryan Tannehill trust Davis enough to look for him often. If he can start catching a few more balls downfield, he will work his way into starting lineups.
Richard Rodgers, TE, PHI
With Zach Ertz out and Dallas Goedert still on the mend, Richard Rodgers stepped into the starting role with six catches for 85 yards on eight targets. Carson Wentz loves throwing to his tight ends. With Miles Sanders potentially out again and the Eagles still are banged up at wide receiver, Rodgers figures to be involved again in Week 8. With a matchup against a reeling Cowboys team, Rodgers is a fringe starter this week.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN
This is reaching deep into the tight end pool, but I really like Irv Smith Jr. Heading into Minnesota’s bye this past week, he racked up eight catches for 119 yards over his past two games. He seems to be emerging as the top option at the position, finally surpassing Kyle Rudolph. He has a bit of a tough matchup against the Packers in Week 8, so I wouldn’t recommend starting him, but if you are looking for a sleeper tight end or play in deeper fantasy leagues, he should be on your radar.