Khalil Herbert Set to Dominate Your Week 8 Waiver Wire

Chicago Bears RB Khalil Herbert
Chicago Bears RB Khalil Herbert
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 8 - The number for this week's column is 3, which is the day that most of the best waiver wire options at running back were drafted last April. NFL teams exercised some major restraint in waiting until the 24th pick or later to draft the first running backs the last three years. A team had taken a back in the top 10 in each of the prior four years. But if the recent outbursts of late selections such as Khalil Herbert and Elijah Mitchell are any indication, teams should wait even longer. And fantasy players should likely be quicker to accept productivity from backs that scouts told them might peak as special teams contributors.

Roster percentages are for ESPN/Yahoo.

Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears

64%/59%

I wasn't surprised to see Herbert dominate the Bears backfield in touches on Sunday. He had a near-even split of both carries and snaps with Damien Williams in Week 5, but then Williams landed on the COVID list and Herbert excelled with 97 yards on 19 carries as the featured back against the Packers. But I was surprised to see Herbert have so much success against the Buccaneers. Their defense was No. 1 in DVOA against the run in 2020 and No. 5 through six weeks this season. By now, most teams don't even try to run on the Bucs. Teams run 78% less often with the Bucs matchup than they typically do. But Herbert managed 18 carries despite a five-touchdown loss and ran for 100 yards. That makes him just the second running back to reach the century mark on the Bucs since the start of 2020—Dalvin Cook did it in Week 14 last year. Herbert also had the best efficiency among backs with at least 10 carries against the Bucs defense with 5.6 yards per carry.

In short, Herbert is a trustworthy RB2 if not better. His 4.8 yards per carry land him in the top 10 of backs with 50 or more carries this season, and his 77% versus 17% Sunday snap share disparity with his teammate Williams shows a trend toward a bell-cow role. It's mildly surprising to see Herbert miss the leaderboards of yards after contact per attempt and avoided tackle rate. But I think his standout 3.1 yards before contact per attempt before Sunday's game shows off his incredible vision and instincts. He doesn't have the efficiency-friendly third-down role of some of the other metric leaders such as Chase Edmonds (4.2), Kenny Gainwell (3.8), or Tony Pollard (3.4). He doesn't have the sub-4.40s speed that Raheem Mostert and Phillip Lindsay used to routinely turn the corner in their best seasons—Herbert ran a 4.46s 40 at his Pro Day. And while the Bears line is dramatically better as run-blockers (4.45 adjusted line yards, 11th) than in pass protection (12.4% adjusted sack rate, 32nd), they aren't star-makers up front. No, Herbert looks like 2021's version of James Robinson. Teams missed when they let him fall to the sixth round of the draft.

If Herbert had Robinson's assured workload this season, then he'd earn the same 100% FAB recommendation I gave Robinson when his talent and role became clear last season. But Herbert doesn't have that. David Montgomery is three weeks into an estimated four- to six-week absence because of a sprained knee. He seems likely to return to action after the Bears' Week 11 bye and could reassert a leading workload with the team. But much like Alex Collins, Herbert is so impressive that I just wouldn't leave him on the waiver wire no matter the expected competition. Montgomery may take longer to return than the initial estimates. The Bears could trade him. Or they could decide that Herbert is their future at the position and play him more down the stretch. If Herbert is on your wire like he is in more than a third of leagues, spend what it takes to acquire him.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 41%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers

76%/77%

I'm still not sure what the holdouts are waiting to see with Mitchell. He has played 60% or more of snaps in his four healthy games. He has taken between 17 and 19 carries in his three healthy games with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. He rendered fellow rookie Trey Sermon a total afterthought with two snaps in Week 5 and none on Sunday. And he has produced with his opportunities. Mitchell has averaged an excellent 4.7 yards per carry and scored a pair of touchdowns this season. Maybe it was the Week 6 bye. Maybe it is a sixth-round draft status. But whatever the case, be sure to pick Mitchell up if he remains available in your league. If you play Yahoo!, he'll be listed as "Eli Mitchell."

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 26%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets

67%/62%

Carter started a bit closer to fantasy consideration than either Herbert or Mitchell as a fourth-round draft pick. But he slow-played his way to relevance with a start in a three-back time share and a steady snap share climb from 25% in Week 1 to 45%, 43%, 51%, 52%, and now 72% coming out of the Jets' Week 6 bye. Maybe that final rate reflects a temporary increase with Tevin Coleman out with a hamstring injury and Ty Johnson knocked out with a possible concussion. But I think it's prudent to be optimistic for Carter's development and spend up in FAB to secure a back who could be headed for a second-half rookie breakout. Carter was scouted as one of the best receiving backs in the 2021 class, and his nine targets on Sunday were six more than his previous best this season. With that sort of versatility, Carter could consistently provide RB2 value even if the Jets lose quarterback Zach Wilson for a few weeks and even if they tend to fall behind by multiple scores.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 11%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

26%/21%

In more competitive fantasy leagues, Gainwell may be my first recommendation that is actually available to you. And so while I may be only lukewarm on this Day 3 rookie back, I can condone a heavier FAB spend than my recommended 10% if your wire is lacking in other options. Gainwell has two major points in his fantasy favor. First, his 13.4% target share is 12th-highest at the position and would typically make the undersized (5-foot-9 and 200 pounds) Gainwell a J.D. McKissic kind of PPR option. Gainwell has almost identical carry (26 versus 29) and target totals (31 versus 34) to his divisional counterpart. Second, Gainwell could enjoy a short-term run as the featured Eagles back. Typical starter Miles Sanders suffered an ankle injury on Sunday that required a cart to get him to the locker room. Early reports suggest he will miss two or three weeks. Still, I wouldn't exhaust my remaining FAB for Gainwell. After Sanders left the field, Gainwell played more but did not dominate his teammate Boston Scott with a 51% versus 33% snap share. Meanwhile, the Eagles have averaged just 14.0 non-quarterback carries per game this season. That's the lowest in football and 4.0 carries fewer than the Giants in third-to-last place. While Jalen Hurts is the quarterback, this offense will run through him, pun intended. And so while Gainwell could have a temporary upside as a lesser version of D'Andre Swift, he seems unlikely to rival Khalil Herbert in temporary touch volume or weekly consistency.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 10%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Alex Collins, RB, Seattle Seahawks

51%/61%

Collins had a difficult time with the Saints defense on Monday night, but he's not the only one. The Saints entered the week with the No. 2 DVOA run defense, as the No. 1 cutter of rushing yards at 35% per carry, and as a top-10 cutter of run plays at 12% per game. For me, the more important numbers were Collins' 16 carries versus the six from former first-round pick Rashaad Penny in his return from injured reserve. Penny may play more than DeeJay Dallas did the previous two weeks, but Collins continues to look like the team's lead back and an RB2 in fantasy in his better matchups, at least until Chris Carson can return from his neck injury—which would be Week 10 at the earliest with Carson on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Collins has better matchups on the schedule the next two weeks. The Jaguars and Packers rank 22nd and 30th in run defense DVOA.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 7%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos

67%/74%

Jeudy is poised to play in Week 8 for the first time since he injured his ankle in Week 1. And I am ready for it. For one, Jeudy is a tremendously talented mid-first-round draft pick in his second season, a point when many of his comparable predecessors became NFL stars. Also, I'm tired of parroting the stat that Jeudy saw a target on 23% of his snaps in Week 1, a rate that would have bested Diontae Johnson's 21% rate in 2020 that led wide receivers with 50 or more targets. I need some new material.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 6%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills

74%/78%

Moss seems to have suffered the same waiver fate as Elijah Mitchell and his soon-to-be-discussed teammate Emmanuel Sanders. With the Bills on bye in Week 7, Moss slipped below the 80% roster threshold that I use in this column as a proxy for potential availability in fantasy. If Moss is available in your league, you probably already know whether you should pick him up. For all the heartache I have suffered untangling the Bills backfield splits, they have settled where most people expected at the start of the season. Moss has played 55% or more offensive snaps and seen 12 or more touches in four straight games. Devin Singletary has been at 45% or lower in his last four games and taken 10 or fewer touches in his last two. Singletary has an apparently sizable edge with 5.2 versus 3.9 yards per carry, but Moss' workloads are skewed toward power situations on third-and-shorts and near the end zone. Overall, Moss has an 18.5% avoided-tackle rate that is the best among backs with 25 or more carries. He's more effective than his basic statistics would on their own suggest, and with a fantasy-friendly red zone role, Moss is a flex option in even shallow formats.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 4%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Washington Football Team

47%/54%

Seals-Jones has been one of the rare handcuff-worthy tight ends in his time as a temporary starter. After playing between 10% and 18% of snaps the first three weeks, Seals-Jones has shot up to 93% or higher the last month with Logan Thomas sidelined for a hamstring injury. Since Week 4, Seals-Jones is 11th at his position with a 16.9% target share and tied for fourth with 1.9 expected touchdowns based on the air yards or his targets and their proximity to the end zone. He should be a top-10 option again in Week 8. Thomas is now eligible to return from injured reserve, but his initial recovery timetable was four weeks. With a bye in Week 9, Washington will almost certainly take the prudent path and hold Thomas out until Week 10.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 4%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

C.J. Uzomah, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

9%/19%

With Seals-Jones down to maybe his last week as a top-10 option at the position, Uzomah may strike you as a strange choice to list behind him with a modest 3% FAB recommendation. With two more touchdowns on Sunday, the Bengals tight end has tied Dawson Knox for the positional lead with five and could take that title for himself with Knox sidelined for several weeks with a broken hand. But Uzomah leads his position in something else—he has a 4.2-touchdown surplus over an expected total of just 0.8 touchdowns. That surplus nearly doubles the 2.3-touchdown one that Knox and Hunter Henry share in second place. Joe Burrow has flipped the script on his rookie deep passing concerns, but the fact that Uzomah has scored his touchdowns from 2, 22, 31, 32, and 55 yards from the end zone screams scoring regression. And if Uzomah isn't leading his position in touchdowns, he may fall short of even TE2 value in fantasy. Even on consistent 70% snap shares, Uzomah has a 9.2% target share that is just 34th-best at his position this season.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns

71%/63%

Landry made his return in Week 7 from a month-long absence for an MCL sprain and had the most Landry line possible: five catches for 37 yards on eight targets. He is the shallow target on maybe the most conservative offense in football and one that could be even more conservative if normal quarterback starter Baker Mayfield misses more time. But Landry retains modest fantasy value in his role, at least in PPR formats. He has averaged 6.9 targets and 13.6 PPR points per game since the start of last season (excluding Week 2 this year when he suffered his injury), good for 33rd-best among the wide receivers with four or more games played.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals

31%/64%

In between Maxx Williams' injury and Zach Ertz's arrival to replace him, Kirk played a season high 85% of the Cardinals' snaps in Week 6. I was curious to see if he could match that rate with Ertz in the lineup in Week 7, and he couldn't. Kirk reverted to a 72% share that, while still decent, remained in his typical 50% to 75% range from the first five weeks. Kirk has a 17.4% target share this season that is just 53rd among wide receivers. He probably needed that expanded role to consistently reach flex value. That said, he has an MVP candidate in Kyler Murray at quarterback and so maybe could sustain a touchdown surplus that has turned 2.7 expected scores into four actual ones. Especially when several teams are on bye, Kirk is a decent bet to score and is a flex consideration because of it.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills

71%/75%

Sanders is a near-perfect match for Kirk with a 17.5% target share and four actual touchdowns. And his latter total is better supported by 3.6 expected scores and seems likely to continue at least temporarily with teammate and red zone threat Dawson Knox sidelined with his hand injury. But Sanders was on bye last week while Kirk scored for the second straight game. I would rather roster Sanders, but he will likely be less expensive on the wire since he was out of sight and is therefore out of mind.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams

7%/9%

Jefferson has an exceptional quarterback in Matthew Stafford, three touchdowns in seven games, and the leaping ability to serve as an end zone target.

At the very least, Jefferson looks like a breakout candidate for his third year in 2022, when the cap-strapped Rams might decide to release receiver Robert Woods to save close to $6 million in cap space. But I'm wondering if that breakout might happen in the second half this season. Jefferson's 13.7% target share and 1.2-touchdown surplus are not evidence that is the case. The former rate is outside the top 70 at his position. But Jefferson played 94% of snaps in Week 7. And while he nearly matched that rate with a 92% share in Week 2, he has landed in the 55%-to-80% range in the other five weeks. If I had the bench space, I would roster Jefferson for a week or two to see if he sustains his increase in playing time.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

78%/55%

After missing two weeks with a hamstring injury but playing in Week 6, Shepard suffered an apparent setback and sat out again in Week 7. I'm starting to consider that the Giants could be cursed at the skill positions. Still, Shepard deserves a bench spot for the fantasy teams that can afford to temporarily waste one in the middle of the bye weeks. The Giants have their off week in Week 10, and so Shepard may not provide much value before the second half of the season. But his 23.7% target share is 21st among receivers this year. Even if the Giants returned to full strength, Shepard would be a trustworthy flex option if one could trust him to find the field.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants

45%/46%

Toney is a higher-ceiling but lower-floor version of Shepard. That might sound implausible with Shepard's productivity in his four healthy games, but Toney saw a target on 37% of his snaps in Weeks 5 and 6, nearly double the 21% rate that earned Diontae Johnson the top spot among receivers with 50 or more targets in 2020. Toney is dealing with an ankle injury and, like Shepard, may not help fantasy teams until Week 11 and later. But he and Jerry Jeudy are the only waiver options at receiver this week that I could envision as WR2s in the fantasy playoffs.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

3%/5%

The Steelers had their bye in Week 7 and so have just one game of evidence of how they'll attempt to replace JuJu Smith-Schuster, out for the season with a shoulder injury. But if the one game foreshadows things, the rookie tight end Freiermuth may end up the biggest fantasy beneficiary. He set season highs with seven targets and a 60% snap share in Week 6. And as a rookie, he could enjoy a similar workload jump out of the bye as first-year Jets running back Michael Carter. Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada has raved about Freiermuth and clearly preferred him to the incumbent Eric Ebron even before the bye. Freiermuth has out-targeted the veteran tight end 20 to 13 so far this season.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers

13%/21%

Jimmy Garoppolo entered Week 7 with a 7.4% passing DVOA that rivaled his 10.8% and 9.3% rates from the last two seasons, the first of which was good enough to get the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He deserves better than to be buried by media for a poor performance in the driving rain and wind on Sunday night. But head coach Kyle Shanahan stopped short of offering his current starter a whole-hearted endorsement in the post-game press conference. And despite his demonstrated deficiencies as a passer at this point in his career, the rookie Lance offers too much fantasy potential to stay as stubborn as Shanahan could choose to be. Lance had a 41.4% carry share in Weeks 4 and 5. That would have lapped Lamar Jackson's 30.2% rate that led the position last year and would land Lance first this season ahead of Jalen Hurts (40.6%), ahead of Jackson (35.8%), and well ahead of Josh Allen (24.3%) in third place. That approach has real-world flaws, but it would be incredibly valuable in typical fantasy formats that weight rushing production dramatically more than passing production.

Recommended FAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Players on More Than 80% of Rosters to Add

Cordarrelle Patterson, RB/WR, Atlanta Falcons (95%/92%)
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (93%/92%)
Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (92%/94%)
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens (92%/93%)
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers (91%/93%)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (91%/89%)
Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins (90%/91%)
Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (89%/89%)
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (85%/95%)
Darrel Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (85%/90%)
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (83%/80%)
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos (82%/85%)
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (80%/90%)
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (80%/78%)
Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals (63%/81%)

Players on More Than 20% of Rosters You Can Drop

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (95%/95%)
Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons (87%/93%)
Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers (71%/61%)
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers (54%/66%)
Damien Williams, RB, Chicago Bears (53%/50%)
Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers (47%/60%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (38%/21%)
Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams (36%/43%)
DJ Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (35%/20%)
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31%/28%)
Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (29%/37%)
Mark Ingram, RB, Houston Texans (25%/36%)
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team (25%/14%)
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (22%/26%)

Comments

11 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2021, 11:30am

1 OBJ FAAB

Someone dropped OBJ in my league. Do you have a faab recommendation to spend?  Thanks!

4 Re: Beckham

In reply to by DAMdawgVU

I dropped Beckham's projected target share pretty significantly with my Week 8 projections, and he lands at 57th in my projected PPR points per game (9.1) among wide receivers the rest of the season.  It's a similar value to A.J. Green (9.5) and below some other possible waiver options who might not be too expensive like Emmanuel Sanders (11.6), Christian Kirk (11.3), Laviska Shenault (11.2), Kadarius Toney (11.0), and Jamison Crowder (10.5).  Maybe I'm misreading an injury situation that could improve.  But as I see things now, I wouldn't spend much to add Beckham unless you play in a deeper league.

3 Streaming QB for Lamar's bye

Any preference among these guys: Bridgewater, Heinecke, Winston, Daniel Jones. Right now, I'm leaning toward Teddy because of the matchup (home vs. WAS) and his situation improving with the return of Jerry Jeudy. He seems to have the least likelihood of outright implosion, though I am tempted by the Jameis Winston revenge game. 

5 Re: Week 8 QBs

With my first run of projections this week, I rank those QBs Bridgewater (18.6 proj. FanPts), Daniel Jones (18.2), Heinicke (17.5), and then Winston (16.2).  I would say you should monitor Bridgewater's practicing this week because the projections aren't smart enough to know he looked really hobbled last Thursday.  But Jones has a chance to fall in the projections, too, because I'm currently projecting his full array of receivers to play.

9 I would like Jones better if…

In reply to by Scott Spratt

I would like Jones better if I were confident he had either a healthy Toney or Shepard available for Monday Night Football. Both are really the only two reliable, get-open-quick options among the receivers. Without them, I don't see the Giants having much success throwing, despite their need to do so. Will keep an eye on Bridgewater's practice participation. Thanks, Scott!  

6 best tight end on waivers for week 8?

what do you think about the relative merits of:

Jared Cook

CJ Uzomah

Tommy Sweeney

or: Tyler Conklin, Mo Alie Cox, Pat Friermuth, Dan Arnold

 

 

7 Re: TE streamer

For Week 8 in PPR formats, I'd go with Jared Cook (8.7), Pat Freiermuth (8.4), C.J. Uzomah (7.7), Dan Arnold (7.4), Tyler Conklin (7.3), Mo Alie-Cox (5.3), and then Tommy Sweeney (4.7), in that order.

10 PPR WR pickup

In terms of rest of the way upside, how do you rank the following WR waiver pickups in PPR: OBJ, Russell Gage, KJ Osborn, Marvin Jones, Kendrick Bourne

11 I'm not Scott, but I would…

In reply to by super.mighty

I'm not Scott, but I would take Marvin Jones first in that group, by a healthy margin. Surprised he's on waivers. Sadly, and as Scott suggested above, the OBJ dream is probably gone, but I guess he'd be second by default, and then maybe Osborn.