Welcome to the eighth edition of Waiver Wired for the 2015 season. As is always the case, this column is your guide to the best players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Some of these players are plug-and-play options who can help this week while others are stashes who may become useful in the future.

Each profiled player comes with a recommendation of what size league they should be owned. This does not mean they cannot be owned in shallower leagues, but they are not must-adds in the smaller formats. Also, a watch list will follow every position group. These are players who could be useful in deeper formats, but they are not yet must-own players in shallower leagues. Finally, the deep cuts section highlights running backs and wide receivers who are owned in less than five percent of Yahoo leagues. Now that the explanation is out of the way, let’s move on to the action.

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The Drop List
QB: Peyton Manning, Colin Kaepernick
RB: 
C.J. Anderson, C.J. Spiller, Alfred Morris
WR: 
Pierre Garcon, Andre Johnson, Torrey Smith
TE: 
Owen Daniels, Larry Donnell

My desire to kick Peyton Manning to the curb is not as strong now that his bye week has passed, but he still is not someone I expect to develop into a serviceable starter this season. Ditto on C.J. Anderson with the added caveat that he has likely fallen well behind Ronnie Hillman on the depth chart. Alfred Morris played 10 snaps against the Bucs, Pierre Garcon is averaging 9.5 yards a catch, and Larry Donnell has less than 40 yards receiving in every game. All three are touchdown-or-bust options, and those do not need to be owned in 10-team leagues.

Quarterbacks
1. Tyrod Taylor
2. Derek Carr
3. Marcus Mariota
4. Jay Cutler

Running backs
*James Starks owned in 52 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 4 add if available.
1. Darren McFadden
2. Ryan Mathews
3. Duke Johnson
4. Alfred Blue
5. Chris Polk
6. Christine Michael
7. Branden Oliver

Wide receivers
*Stefon Diggs owned in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
1. Marvin Jones
2. Michael Floyd
3. Stevie Johnson
4. Danny Amendola
5. Eddie Royal
6. Roddy White
7. Tavon Austin

Tight ends
*Jordan Reed owned in 59 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
1. Ladarius Green
2. Eric Ebron
3. Benjamin Watson

Defense/Special Teams
1. Dallas Cowboys
2. Tennessee Titans
Looking Ahead: Cincinnati Bengals

Kickers
1. Cairo Santos
2. Nick Folk
3. Phil Dawson
Looking Ahead: Chris Boswell

QUARTERBACKS
1. Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
Tyrod Taylor is fully expected to return after the bye week, and he will at least be usable against the Dolphins Week 9 and the Patriots Week 11. He will not be a recommended option against the Jets Week 10, but two out of three ain’t bad. Taylor is the fifth-highest scoring quarterback per game this season. He needs to be owned in most formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

2. Derek Carr, Raiders – Owned In 35 percent of Yahoo leagues
I absolutely whiffed on Derek Carr last week. He completely obliterated a Chargers’ secondary which had shut down Aaron Rodgers the week before. Carr now has multiple touchdowns in four of his last five games, has not thrown more than one interception in a game all season, and is averaging almost 280 yards in the five games he has completed. It will be difficult to trust Carr this week against the Jets, but he has several great matchups including two against the Chiefs over the final 10 weeks of the year.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

3. Marcus Mariota, Titans – Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues
Marcus Mariota is expected to return this week from a sprained MCL, and though he was not playing well before the injury, he is an interesting spot start against the Texans. The rookie has struggled to push downfield, connecting on just 3-of-21 targets of 20-plus yards according to Pro Football Focus. That means Mariota needs his receivers to create big yards after the catch, and the Texans are coming off a game where they gave up 256 yards after the catch to the Dolphins. As long as he is healthy enough to play, Mariota is worth a look as a streamer in deeper formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

4. Jay Cutler, Bears – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Like Carr, Jay Cutler is a quarterback who has played well as of late, but also like Carr, the schedule is not kind to him the next several weeks. Cutler will be usable against the Chargers Week 9, but he will be almost impossible to trust this week against the Vikings – who have not given up more than 20 fantasy points to a quarterback this season – Week 10 against the Rams, Week 11 against the Broncos or on Thanksgiving day against Green Bay, who always have his number. The schedule lightens up after that, but that many bad matchups in a row make him nothing more than a stash in deeper leagues despite the health of Alshon Jeffery.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.
 
Watch List: 
Teddy Bridgewater is in a great spot this week against the Bears, but volume and touchdowns could be a concern. He has attempted more than 35 passes once this season and thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game in just 5-of-18 career starts. With the running game likely to work against Chicago, Teddy may put up a 250-1-1 line even in a good matchup. … Ryan Fitzpatrick has two touchdown passes in every game this season and is averaging 245 yards a contest. His ceiling is not high, but he is about as rock steady as QB2s get. … It sounds like Josh McCown (shoulder) could miss this week, leaving Johnny Manziel as the starter. Manziel attempted just 15 passes in his only other start this season. … Brian Hoyer did not play well, but he poured on the garbage time scoring. He now has six touchdowns total the last two weeks, but Tennessee’s secondary has actually been solid this season even through injuries. … Jameis Winston actually was not terrible against Washington, but Winston not being terrible has equated with him not throwing the ball much so far in his career.

RUNNING BACKS
1. Darren McFadden, Cowboys – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
Christine Michael got all the ink last week, but Darren McFadden got all the carries when it mattered. McFadden out-snapped Michael 61-to-7 with Joseph Randle sidelined most of the game with an oblique injury and gained 162 total yards on 31 touches. Randle is expected to miss “some time” with his injury, and McFadden should handle the load as long as Randle is sidelined. There is always the chance Michael will steal some of the work, but Michael has not shown the ability to climb a depth chart at any point in his career. Even in a tough matchup against Seattle this week, McFadden will be a solid RB2.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

2. Ryan Mathews, Eagles – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
Ryan Mathews more a speculative add at this point, but I can see an avenue in which he becomes a usable fantasy asset following the bye week. While Chip Kelly has been reluctant to give Mathews more work than DeMarco Murray to this point, the lack of touches for what has been the better running back this season is sure to be a topic of hot discussion in Philadelphia throughout the bye week. Mathews has seen 10 touches a game over the last three weeks, and there is a shot that number rises closer to the 15 range after the bye. With how effective he has been on a per-touch basis this season, that many touches would make him a reasonable FLEX option most weeks.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

3. Duke Johnson, Browns – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
With Isaiah Crowell and Robert Turbin rotating almost evenly on the early downs, the only constant in the Browns’ backfield the last two weeks has been Duke Johnson. Johnson has led the backfield in snaps every game since Week 2, and he is averaging over seven targets his last five games. Johnson also leads the backfield with seven red-zone touches over the last four games. He is easily the back to own in Cleveland, and he is a weekly FLEX play even in standard formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

4. Alfred Blue, Texans – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
5. Chris Polk, Texans – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
We might as well talk about these two together. I have put Alfred Blue ahead of Chris Polk because Blue has shown he can be a usable workhorse back, but the reality is neither of these players is likely to develop into a usable fantasy asset. Blue had one huge game Week 3, but he saw 14 carries total the first two weeks. He also offers almost nothing in the passing game, and the Texans lead the league in pass attempts and were even more pass heavy without Arian Foster in the lineup the first three weeks. Polk served as the primary backup to Foster last week, out-touching Blue 6-to-3 and out-snapping him 11-to-7. The duo will likely create a value-sapping committee which Polk could lead considering his superior skills in the passing game. There is also the possibility Jonathan Grimes steals touches. All three of Blue, Polk and Grimes had top-50 performances the first three weeks, and predicting who will lead the team in touches each week will be difficult. Let someone else blow their FAAB.
Recommendation: Blue should be owned in 12-team leagues. Polk should be owned in 14-team leagues.

6. Christine Michael, Cowboys – Owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues
I should know better than to put any belief in Christine Michael at this point, and his seven snaps even with Joseph Randle sidelined by an oblique injury were a painful manifestation of the qualifiers I inserted into his write up last week. He needs to be held where owned and added in deeper leagues because the opportunity is still there, but he is not worth starting until we see him actually involved in the offense.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

7. Branden Oliver, Chargers – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Melvin Gordon entered Week 7 questionable with an ankle injury, but his absence during the entire first half against the Raiders had little to do with the injury. Gordon looked healthy as he handled seven carries in the second half, and coach Mike McCoy indicated after the game Gordon had been benched. Branden Oliver had 15 touches in Gordon’s place and offers a lot more in the passing game than the rookie. Considering the Chargers are throwing on roughly two-thirds of their plays this season, that added passing dimension could lead to Oliver stealing a lot of Gordon’s former workload. The Chargers are not going to give up on a first-round pick after seven games, but Oliver should have a role moving forward. He is worth a speculative add in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

Watch List: Matt Jones once again disappointed in a great spot, and his 48 snaps were likely a function of game flow and Chris Thompson’s injury. Thompson has a chance to play this week, and Jones will likely return to being an inefficient 10-touch player once he returns. … Coach Tom Coughlin said Orleans Darkwa’s role in the offense Week 7 was by design, and he likely earned even more looks with his 8-48-1 performance. He is worth a speculative add in deeper leagues, but his workload will be uncertain in the Giants’ four-headed backfield. … Robert Turbin played more snaps than Isaiah Crowell, but Crowell saw more carries. Neither needs to be owned until the situation works itself out. Turbin is still the better add in deeper leagues. … David Johnson is not getting enough touches to be a must own anywhere, but he is a good stash in deep formats. … Tevin Coleman is just a handcuff at this point. … Karlos Williams should return after the bye week, but his workload should be limited with LeSean McCoy back healthy and effective. … Charles Sims is a good bet for 10 touches most weeks. He has some value in PPR formats. … Theo Riddick led the Lions’ backfield in snaps and is the only usable back on the roster at this point. … Dexter McCluster started and saw the most snaps, Antonio Andrews was the most effective and Bishop Sankey was nonexistent against the Falcons. David Cobb returns in two weeks and has the best chance at fantasy relevance out of the group, but he is unlikely to escape the black hole of Coach Whisenhunt’s committee. … Ahmad Bradshaw played just two fewer snaps than Frank Gore, but he only saw two touches. He is still a hold, but his passing-game role has yet to develop. … Knile Davis played three snaps last week. Charcandrick West played 56.

Deep Cuts: Chris Thompson might be the most usable of Washington’s backs in PPR formats. … Khiry Robinson vultured two touchdowns last week and surprisingly saw 15 touches against the Colts. He should be closer to five most weeks, but he always carries a touchdown threat. … James White showed he is the passing back to own if Dion Lewis goes down. … Chris Ivory continues to deal with nagging injuries, meaning Zac Stacy or Stevan Ridley could be in line for a start at some point this season. … Toby Gerhart was the Jaguars’ goal-line back against Buffalo, but that might not remain the case after he was stuffed four times from the one. … Mike Davis is a name to watch with Carlos Hyde struggling through a foot injury.

WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Marvin Jones, Bengals – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
Marvin Jones has been targeted at least eight times in three of the last four games and plays in one of the top-five passing offenses in the league. The sheer volume of options in the Bengals’ offense makes Jones more of a boom-or-bust option, but he should boom more than bust. He is a great WR3 moving forward, and he needs to be owned everywhere.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

2. Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
Michael Floyd only saw four targets Monday night in a game the Cardinals attempted just 29 passes, but he made a couple big plays and continued to be a factor around the end zone. Floyd has seen 16.2 percent of Carson Palmer’s targets the last two weeks and has four red-zone looks over that span. As long as he continues to see that percentage of the targets, he will be a weekly WR3 in one of the better passing offenses in the league. He is worth a look this week against the Browns’ banged-up secondary.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

3. Stevie Johnson, Chargers – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
Stevie Johnson returned the lineup last week and immediately returned to a high-volume role, catching half of his eight targets for 50 yards. With reports suggesting Antonio Gates could miss more time with a knee injury, Johnson is a good bet to return to his early-season role in the offense. He is worth WR3 consideration in deeper formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

4. Danny Amendola, Patriots – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
Danny Amendola has proven himself to be mostly a fantasy tease over his career, but 15 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks means he can no longer be ignored. There is some important mitigating to be done, however. Amendola played more than 70 percent of the offensive snaps for the first time this season last week in a game the Patriots’ running backs attempted just five carries. The game plan set up perfectly for Amendola to have a big game, and, to his credit, he produced. It is also important to remember Brandon LaFell saw eight targets in his return from the PUP list, and though he dropped SIX of them, Tom Brady said they will continue to utilize LaFell in the offense. The question, then, is will Amendola be as involved in a game plan which does not fit his skill set as well once LaFell is back to himself? I would bet no, but Brady brings enough upside to this offense to make Amendola worth a shot in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

5. Eddie Royal, Bears – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
Eddie Royal has eight red-zone targets in five games this season including five in his last two. The Bears have consistently used Royal on the quick screens he routinely scored on in San Diego, and he should be able to convert on at least one of them soon enough. Royal still had seven targets with Alshon Jeffery in the lineup before the bye week, and he has a much bigger touchdown upside than people give him credit for. He is a not an exciting option by any means, but he is worth owning in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

6. Roddy White, Falcons – Owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues
Leonard Hankerson looks like he could be sidelined a few weeks, but Roddy White will not be a high-ceiling option even with Hankerson out of the picture. Hankerson played just eight snaps last week, but White was just targeted four times while Julio Jones dominated looks. White could be useful in deeper leagues while Hankerson is out, but he is at best a low-ceiling WR3.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

7. Tavon Austin, Rams – Owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues
Tavon Austin being the Rams’ most reliable receiving weapon could help explain why St. Louis is gaining the fewest yards per game through the air, but the fact remains that Austin is a big part of the offense. He has at least eight offensive opportunities (targets plus carries) in each of the last three games and five combined red-zone touches over that span. The red-zone involvement is likely to decrease with Todd Gurley finding his role, but Austin has a high enough floor to be useful in deeper formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

Watch List: Dorial Green-Beckham flopped in what could have been his best chance at a breakout game this season. He remains a hold, but coach Ken Whisenhunt seems determined to bring the rookie along at a snail’s pace. … Rueben Randle is averaging six targets a game over the last five, but he has scored double-digit fantasy points just twice over that span. He is getting the targets in a reasonably effective passing offense, but as has been the case for the majority of his career, he is struggling to turn them into fantasy points. … Terrance Williams has struggled for consistent fantasy value seeing 23 targets total the last three weeks, and Dez Bryant is expected to return this week. … Ted Ginn is the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver. That is useful in deeper leagues. … No one has stepped up in Nelson Agholor’s absence, meaning he will likely remain a starter once he returns from his ankle injury. … Tyler Lockett made a big play, but he played the same 55 percent of the offensive snaps he has seen all season. … Jamison Crowder will continue to be a PPR option while DeSean Jackson is out, but he does not have the upside for standard league consideration.

Deep Cuts: Justin Hunter played the most snaps of the Titans’ receivers with Harry Douglas sidelined. He only managed two catches for 17 yards, but he continues to get the playing time. … Nate Washington took full advantage of garbage time against the Dolphins and saw over nine targets a game when Arian Foster was out earlier in the year. … Chris Conley and Albert Wilson proved themselves worthy of an expanded workload, but they will be low-volume dart throws with Jeremy Maclin back. … Donteea Dye could be the No. 2 receiver for Tampa Bay next week if Vincent Jackson’s injury is serious. … Mohamed Sanu is good for five targets a game in a very good passing offense. … Chris Givens converted on one of his long targets and was close to converting a second Monday night against the Cardinals. Baltimore needs a receiver like him to emerge. … Nick Williams should serve as the No. 3 option in Atlanta as long as Leonard Hankerson is sidelined.

TIGHT ENDS
1. Ladarius Green, Chargers – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
Ladarius Green was involved enough in the offense with Antonio Gates playing to deserve streaming consideration, but he is shaping up as a solid TE1 this week against Baltimore. The Union-Tribune San Diego’s Michael Gehlken says it “wouldn’t surprise” him if Gates missed multiple games with his sprained MCL, and Green has averaged almost 10 standard fantasy points a game without Gates in the lineup this year. If Gates does end up sitting, Green would be a must start.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues.

2. Eric Ebron, Lions – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
Eric Ebron is basically an every-down player whenever Brandon Pettigrew sits, and he has five targets or more in every game he has finished this season. He also has three red-zone targets in five games and seven of his 20 receptions have gone for 15-plus yards. He is a borderline TE1 every week, and he is worth a look in London against the Chiefs.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

3. Benjamin Watson, Saints – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
Considering Gary Barnidge has become a volume receiver for the first time in his career at age 30, I guess it is not that surprising Benjamin Watson is having something of a career resurgence at age 34. Watson’s 38 targets are already the most he has seen in any season since 2012, and he has at least five targets in each of the last three games including his 12 target explosion against the Falcons. More importantly, Watson has four red-zone targets over the last four games and was tackled twice at the one-yard line last week against the Colts. He has become a weekly threat for a touchdown, and that gives him value in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues.

Watch List: Richard Rodgers’ workload will be something to monitor with Davante Adams expected back this week. … Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ injury status is unclear, but the season-ending injury to Louis Murphy gives him a more certain workload once he returns. … Crockett Gillmore has six targets in three of his last four games. … Clive Walford has seen his snap percentage grow in each of the last four games. … Coby Fleener cannot be trusted as long as Dwayne Allen is in the lineup. … Heath Miller does not have more than three targets since Week 1.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Dallas Cowboys – Owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues
The defensive streaming options are not great this week, but Dallas is easily the best of the bunch. The Cowboys have recorded 10 sacks total the last three games after getting to the quarterback just three times through the first three weeks, and Seattle has given up at least four sacks in every game but one this season. Russell Wilson is also on pace to throw more interceptions than any season in his career. With the Cowboys pass rush back to full strength, they should be able to create some havoc at home.

2. Tennessee Titans – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Titans are a more risky streaming option, but they are in a good spot against Houston this week. Though their secondary has suffered some injuries, it remains the strength of the defense. This week they get a Texans’ offense which just lost its star running back and was already the most voluminous passing attack in the league. Houston will have to throw to move the offense, and that plays into the Titans’ strengths. Brian Hoyer should throw a couple picks in this game.

Looking Ahead: The Bengals get the Browns at home on Thursday night next week. That is almost too easy.

KICKERS
1. Cairo Santos, Chiefs – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Cairo Santos has been hit or miss this season, but he has attempted three field goals or more in three of his last four games including his 7-for-7 performance against the Bengals Week 4. This week he travels to London to kick off the pristine pitch at Wembley Stadium against a Lions squad which has the fourth-most field goals attempted against this season. Santos is a more volatile option than Nick Folk, but he also has a higher ceiling.

2. Nick Folk, Jets – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nick Folk has quietly put together a solid season, attempting three field goals in 4-of-6 games and scoring at least seven points in all but one contest. He has also hit the double-digit mark each of the last two weeks. This week he faces a Raiders team which has given up multiple field goal attempts in every game this season. He is a safe play.

3. Phil Dawson, 49ers – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
The pure ineptitude of Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ offense could sink Phil Dawson, but he will be kicking indoors against a Rams team which always gives up more field goals than average. Dawson is more of a GPP play in DFS circles, but there is four or five field goal upside here.

Looking Ahead: Nick Folk has another good matchup with the Jaguars next week, but there could be weather concerns at MetLife Stadium. Chris Boswell has been killing it since taking over the Steelers’ kicking job, and he gets the Raiders at home next week. 

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