While Michael Fabiano serves up the top waiver-wire options in fantasy football each week, I am here for those who need to dive a little deeper. Depending on your league, you may have no shot at the guys on Fabiano's list. Whether it's because of huge rosters, too many members or a low priority on the waiver wire (because you rule at fantasy), sometimes the top options simply aren't available. With that in mind, here are some deeper waiver-wire targets if you're scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Several of these "deep" waiver pickups have graduated to Fabiano's top-10 in recent weeks, such as Jonas Gray, Davante Adams, Odell Beckham, Andre Holmes, Branden Oliver, Malcom Floyd, Dwayne Allen, and Jace Amaro. This piece is here to try and help you get ahead of the competition, or find gems in deep leagues. Of course, for each of those successes, I recommend a Chad Henne-type. Welp, you can't win them all. Let's hope we can find a winner in this crop below.
Note: Given that so many quarterbacks are on a bye and there aren't a lot of trustworthy long-term candidates available, below are four matchup-based spot-starts for Week 9.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (72.3 percent owned): Smith traditionally wouldn't qualify for this column given his high ownership percentage in NFL.com leagues, but I wanted to mention him just in case. His matchup against the Jets is one of the best of the week, and if your QB1 is on a bye and Smith is available, he's a great option to swap in for Week 9.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans (5.2 percent owned):Ryan Fitzpatrick has proven that he is who we thought he was so far in 2014. He's only thrown multiple touchdowns twice this season, and hasn't scored more than 19 fantasy points in a game. However, if you're in need of a signal-caller this weekend, he's not going to get much better of a matchup than the Eagles, who are giving up gobs of points to quarterbacks and wide receivers this season.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (6.5 percent owned): Bridgewater has had a relatively erratic start to the season, as you might expect from a rookie quarterback. He's had highs (23.38 points against Atlanta) and lows (2.62 points against Detroit). If playing with fire in fantasy football is your kind of jam, then starting Teddy against the Redskins this weekend might be the move for you. Only the Jets are allowing more fantasy points to opposing field generals than the Redskins, and Cordarrelle Patterson might finally be coming alive for the Vikings offense. It's a risky move, but what championship was ever won without a fair amount of risk?
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns (5.8 percent owned): Aside from his 21.84-point outburst against the Tennessee Titans, Hoyer has yet to score more than 16 fantasy points in a game this season. However, like the rest of this motley crew, he has a solid matchup this weekend against the Buccaneers. Don't expect him to win you your week, but he could provide a very safe 15 to 20 fantasy points if you're in a pinch.
Lorenzo Taliaferro (2 percent owned): As Matt Franciscovich detailed in his "Committee Meetings" article this week, Taliaferro received three goal-line opportunities on Sunday and converted two of them for touchdowns. Bernard Pierce was a healthy scratch for the game, and I've long thought of Taliaferro as the back with the most upside in Baltimore. Forsett will remain the No. 1, but if Taliaferro continues to see short-yardage and goal-line work, he'll have value in deeper leagues. He's worth a speculative add in case he turns in a season akin to Lendale White's 2008 season -- 200 carries, 15 touchdowns.
Travaris Cadet (0.8 percent owned): This is really more of a PPR add, as the Saints will likely be without Pierre Thomas for at least one more week. Cadet caught four of his five targets against the Packers for 40 yards this past week. If you're thin at running back in a PPR league, Cadet could be worth slotting in as an RB2 or flex prior to his Thursday night tilt with the Carolina Panthers.
Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos (0.5 percent owned): Much like the situation with Taliaferro, repeated use at the goal line merits an inclusion in the deep dive. I have Thompson stashed in my dynasty league, and if you have the space on your bench in deeper leagues or are thin at running back, Thompson is worth a look.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (0.6 percent owned): It appears that Bryant might be the young Pittsburgh wide receiver to have a breakout year, and not Markus Wheaton as many (including me) thought during the offseason. Bryant finally cracked the starting lineup two weeks ago, and since then has posted seven catches on 12 targets for 123 yards and three touchdowns. He also dropped what could have been a 77-yard touchdown on Sunday against the Colts, for what it's worth. Bryant is a terror in the red zone with his 6-foot-4 frame and is also able to stretch teams deep with surprising speed. I'm sure he'll be targeted on waivers in plenty of leagues, but you should try to pick him up before it's too late.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (5 percent owned): I wasn't sure if Stills' usage and production would hold up after his five-catch, 103-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Lions in Week 7, but he was prominently featured in the Saints offense once again against the Packers. Stills caught all four of his targets (including a tough deep throw), but only notched 57 receiving yards. Nevertheless, over the last two weeks Stills has caught all nine of his targets and is being used on more than just go routes (finally!). He's a solid WR4 if this keeps up.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (0.1 percent owned): I had been waiting to include Moncrief in this column for weeks. However, I figured he'd have a slightly slower ascent to fantasy football relevance than his seven-catch, 133-yard one-touchdown performance this weekend. Eventually, the Colts will realize that using Hakeem Nicks on 60 offensive snaps (16 more than Moncrief) is the equivalent of having a middle-aged dad play wide receiver and make the switch to Moncrief as the starting WR3. Moncrief is an athletic freak, posting the combine's top numbers for wide receivers in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump. Reggie Wayne's return (he could be back this week) will hurt Moncrief's value a tad, but Andrew Luck's wide receivers are starting to get the Aaron Rodgers treatment from me, in that I'd rather own his backup pass-catchers than most WR2s on a different team (except for Nicks). Moncrief is a must-add in deeper leagues and a sneaky option in 10-team standard leagues.
Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams (1.1 percent owned): With the news coming out on Monday that Brian Quick will be out for the rest of the season, it'll be up to someone to pick up the slack in the Rams passing attack. My guess is that will fall on the shoulders of Britt. Over the last five games (all of which featured Quick) Britt was averaging 5.4 targets, three receptsions and 46.4 yards per game. Even if Britt only gains a few targets in the fallout from Quick's injury, he could rise to become a decent bye-week option as a third or fourth wide receiver, seeing as 12 teams will have their bye over the next two weeks.
Steve Johnson, San Francisco 49ers (3.7 percent owned): The 49ers were on a bye last week, and Johnson remains on the waivers in just over 96 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues. With a TON of fantasy wide receivers on byes this week, Johnson could be a great add given his relatively soft matchup against the Rams, who allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Johnson had five catches for 53 yards on six targets when these teams last squared off in Week 6.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0.5 percent owned): Hooray, ASJ finally found the end zone! If only he hadn't had that ugly fumble in overtime. Anyway, ASJ has carved a nice little role for himself in the Tampa offense, but it'll likely stay relatively small until this offense gets its act together. But with the scarcity of trust-worthy tight ends in fantasy these days, he's worth an add in super deep leagues.
Cooper Helfet and Luke Willson, Seattle Seahawks (0.1 and 0.5 percent owned): With Percy Harvin off to New York, Russell Wilson has been turning to his tight ends a bit more in recent weeks. Helfet caught a touchdown last week, and has 10 targets in the last two games. Willson has 10 targets in his last two games as well, but he missed Week 8 with a hamstring pull. So far, these two appear to be tied in a race for fantasy scraps in the Seahawks offense, but if I had to pick one for a spot start (or more) I'd go with Helfet. Willson is the better all-around athlete, but Helfet would have had back-to-back weeks with a touchdown had Wilson not made a terrible pass to him around the red zone ... twice ... on the same drive.
Timothy Wright, New England Patriots (3.3 percent owned): One week after putting up a goose egg in the stat sheets, Wright responded with seven catches on seven targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. He's still a very touchdown-dependent option (although who isn't at tight end these days?), but with the Patriots offense heating up he needs to be added in deeper leagues.
-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy and features writer for NFL.com who has mad respect for Fox Sports' Katie Nolan after she one-upped Madison Bumgarner and actually chugged six beers, unlike Bumgarner who mostly just pours them down his face. For more #hottakes on beer and fantasy football, follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar.