Week 9 Waiver Wire: What to do without Henry?

Four teams are on bye this week — Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington — and the most valuable player in fantasy football just suffered a crushing injury. So it’s pretty rough out there.

We’re here to offer a few solutions to your roster problems. Below, you’ll find a collection of recommended pickups who are available in over 50 percent of leagues. All players mentioned below are approved for immediate use.

Running backs to prioritize

Boston Scott and Jordan Howard just shared the sort of rushing workload that Miles Sanders can only dream of someday seeing. Five Eagles’ ball-carriers actually combined for a ridiculous 236 rushing yards against Detroit on Sunday, as Philly simply buried the winless Lions. Scott ran ahead of Howard, but each back carried a dozen times and found the end zone twice.

Here’s an example of the sort of tough-running we saw from Scott…

Notably, Kenneth Gainwell was barely a rumor while the game was undecided. The rookie didn’t even play a snap in the first quarter, while Scott was rolling.

Sanders was placed on IR after suffering an ankle injury a week ago, so he’ll be sidelined for multiple games. Scott is clearly at the top of Philly’s backfield hierarchy heading into a friendly matchup with the Chargers’ league-worst run defense.

Recommended waiver offer (assuming $100 budget): $21

You won’t find many people or institutions committed to anything quite as deeply and fully as the Ravens are committed to running the football. Baltimore has led the NFL in rushing attempts in each of the past three seasons, and, not surprisingly, the team is again near the top of the league. We need to care about this squad’s backfield, even when the names don’t necessarily excite us.

At 29, Devonta Freeman‘s most productive days as a runner might be behind him, but he’s nonetheless a key piece of the Ravens’ multi-back rotation. Freeman has found the end zone in back-to-back games…

…and he appears to be a preferred option in two-minute situations. He’s delivered a pair of three-catch games recently, too. As of this moment, Freeman seems to be the Baltimore back with the most bankable role. He’s approved for flexing against Minnesota in Week 9.

Offer: $8

Jeremy McNichols and Adrian Peterson, Tennessee Titans (7% and 2%)

Technically and officially, Jeremy McNichols was running as the understudy behind Derrick Henry in Tennessee. But McNichols has only handled seven carries on the season, which is 212 fewer than Henry’s league-leading total. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has indicated the team will likely rely on a committee of some sort in Henry’s absence. McNichols has been used primarily as a receiving threat this season. At 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, he has absolutely no stylistic similarities to Henry. He’s a near-lock to at least see an uptick in usage, however. He was a full-workload RB at the collegiate level at Boise State back in the day, gaining nearly 4,000 scrimmage yards over his final two seasons.

Tennessee has also signed high-mileage 36-year-old legend Adrian Peterson, one of the only men on the planet who, like Henry, understands all that’s involved in rushing for 2,000 yards over 16 games. He’s likely to fill an early-down rotational role, sharing snaps with McNichols. Peterson is a decade past his peak, but he was functional for the Lions a year ago. He can still plunge into the end-zone as needed. Preseason star Mekhi Sargent could be elevated from the Titans’ practice squad as well.

There’s no single human being who can possibly replace the production Henry was giving the Titans, of course. And a trade remains a possibility, too. For now, however, McNichols and Peterson are the pickups.  

Offer: $13 and $15

Various other add-worthy RBs: Carlos Hyde (after James Robinson exited with a heel injury on Sunday, Hyde handled 15 touches and gained 72 scrimmage yards), Latavius Murray (please try to limit yourself to just one Ravens RB), Jordan Howard (he basically delivered a stat line identical to Scott’s on Sunday, running as the team’s No. 2), Derrick Gore (suddenly he became the centerpiece of KC’s red-zone offense on Monday night, and it worked; no known relation to Frank, by the way), Jaret Patterson (he can’t help this week because Washington is headed into a bye, but it’s worth noting that he handled 11 carries in the loss to Denver, three more than Antonio Gibson).

Wide receivers and tight ends deserving attention

Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens (31% rostered)

Baltimore didn’t exactly ease the first-round rookie into the mix when he returned from IR back in Week 6. Rashod Bateman played 45 snaps in his regular season debut against the Chargers, then 46 the following week against Cincinnati. He’s seen 12 targets through two games and he’s coming off a three-catch, 80-yard effort against the Bengals. He has size, separation skills and after-the-catch ability, profiling as an ideal complement to Marquise Brown.

Bateman was simply a terror at the collegiate level…

Lamar Jackson is averaging seven more pass attempts per week than he did a year ago and he’s producing career-highs in both yards per game (277.6) and Y/A (8.6). So yeah, the Ravens’ receiving corps can definitely support multiple viable fantasy starters in 2021. Bateman should be a high-priority pickup this week, with Baltimore coming out of its bye.

Offer: $12

Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders (42%)

If you play in any sort of PPR format (and most of you do), Hunter Renfrow really should not be available. He has at least five receptions in six of his seven games and he’s on pace for 124 targets and 969 receiving yards for the season. Renfrow is never not involved.

The Raiders have a series of exceedingly pass-friendly matchups ahead, so there’s no reason to think Renfrow’s usage will dip in the coming weeks. Very few widely available players have a weekly fantasy floor as high as his. If you can use a guy who basically always gives us six catches for 60 yards (or similar), go get him.

Offer: $9

DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins (35%)

It’s completely understandable that DeVante Parker found his way to the discard pile in so many leagues after missing three weeks with a hamstring issue. But after drawing 11 targets in his return, he deserves a spot somewhere in any 12-teamer. Parker finished with eight catches for 85 yards in a degree-of-difficulty matchup with Buffalo. This week, he gets a home matchup with Houston’s defense, a group that’s allowed 8.6 yards per pass attempt for the year (and was just shamed by Matthew Stafford). Parker has seen at least seven targets in every game he’s played this season, so volume is never a concern.

Offer: $7

Additional WRs to consider: Darnell Mooney (he just saw a season-high nine targets against San Francisco, the fifth time this year he’s drawn at least seven), Van Jefferson Jr. (he’s seen 13 targets over the past two weeks and rarely comes off the field), Jamison Crowder (any time you can add Mike White’s No. 1 option, you have to do it), Elijah Moore (in fact, any time you can get White’s No. 3 option, maybe you gotta do that, too), Zach Pascal (he was targeted eight times against Tennessee and it seems unlikely T.Y. Hilton will be available on Thursday night after suffering a concussion on Sunday).

TEs deserving attention: Pat Freiermuth (the rookie has drawn seven targets in each of Pittsburgh’s last two games and he delivered a highlight TD against Cleveland on Sunday), Tyler Conklin (follow the targets at this position, people), Dan Arnold (he saw ten chances in Sunday’s loss, hauling in eight for 68 yards).

Quarterbacks on the wire

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints (2%)

As of this writing, we can’t even say with certainty that Taysom Hill will be at the controls of the Saints’ offense against Atlanta. After all, Trevor Siemian just orchestrated a win over Tom Brady and the Bucs, stepping in for the injured Jameis Winston. But early reports suggest Hill will be active in Week 9, and we all learned last year that he’s basically a lock for 20-plus fantasy points in any game that he starts behind center. He rushed for 209 yards and four TDs in his four starts at QB last season, plus he completed 71.9 percent of his throws for another four scores. Not every pass was surgical, but he was effective enough. New Orleans gets Atlanta, Tennessee and Philly over the next three weeks, all exploitable matchups. Add as needed.

Offer: $7

Other QBs of interest: Tyrod Taylor (he’s returning soon from IR and his services are desperately needed), Tua Tagovailoa (no, he wasn’t great on Sunday, but he gets the Texans this week and DeVante Parker is back in the fold), Mike White? Mike White! (this emerging legend just completed 82% of his attempts for 405 yards and three scores against the Bengals, directing a late, improbable comeback).

Defenses to target

New Orleans Saints (46%)

The Saints just generated three takeaways against Tampa Bay’s Death Star offense, plus they sacked Tom Brady three times. Cameron Jordan is still making noise and Marshon Lattimore has been excellent throughout the season. The Falcons are on deck, so we can assume 2-3 sacks and another INT or two. We should also note that New Orleans gets Miami and Carolina in the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs.

Offer: $1

Carolina Panthers (43%)

Carolina’s D was dumped in tens of thousands of leagues last week after the messy effort against the Giants, but the unit was plenty useful on Sunday, holding Atlanta to 13 points, sacking Matt Ryan three times and forcing two turnovers. This week, the Panthers are at home facing Mac Jones, a rookie QB who’s played as well as any, yet he’s still tossed six interceptions. It should be another double-digit scoring week for Carolina.

Offer: $1

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