Each week, I'm tasked with picking the top waiver-wire targets for fantasy. That article is a more cursory glance at the waiver wire, helping the countless fantasy players in more casual leagues on NFL.com figure out who is worth adding to their roster.
However, for those of you in more intense or competitive leagues, this is the column for you. As the season progresses, this is where I'll highlight the players you want to be a week early on, as opposed to trying to win them in a waiver-wire bidding war after they've started to produce. Many of these players will hopefully graduate to the main waiver-wire column and already be on your roster. Of course, I can't promise anything. Fantasy is far from a guaranteed game, as we know all too well. Apologies for the truncated analysis. A few more things stacked up on my plate this week so I had to breeze through these picks.
Deep waiver targets for Week 9:
Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots - 20.9 percent owned
C.J. Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks - 11.9 percent owned
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens - 8.4 percent owned
Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens - 5.6 percent owned
DuJuan Harris, RB, San Francisco 49ers - 0.0 percent owned
Antone Smith, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 0.0 percent owned
DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders - 10.2 percent owned
Terron Ward, RB, Atlanta Falcons - 0.1 percent owned
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Denver Broncos - 0.5 percent owned
Kenneth Farrow, RB, San Diego Chargers - 0.0 percent owned
J.J. Nelson, WR, Arizona Cardinals - 1.3 percent owned
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs - 0.8 percent owned
Rishard Matthews, WR, Tennessee Titans - 2.9 percent owned
Seth Roberts, WR, Oakland Raiders - 0.8 percent owned
Russell Shepard, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 0.3 percent owned
Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers - 14.9 percent owned
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins - 7.7 percent owned
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans - 4.4 percent owned
Lance Kendricks, TE, Los Angeles Rams - 0.4 percent owned
Dion Lewis is returning soon-ish for the Patriots, and will likely regain his old pass-catching role from James White. He's a good stash. Kenneth Dixon and Javorious Allen could see more work as Baltimore returns from its bye. Terrance West entered the break injured and we don't yet know how healthy he is as he gets set to return to action.
C.J. Prosise got a vote of confidence from the Seahawks when they released C.J. Spiller, and he proved their confidence wasn't misplaced with his performance against the Saints. Prosise played on 43 percent of the snaps and set career highs in catches and carries (four each), receiving yards (80) and rushing yards (23). Prosise will be a tough start, as most of his fantasy production came thanks to 80 receiving yards lifted by a 43-yard reception on a trick play. Still, he's a dynamic player and clearly has a role in this offense moving forward.
Carlos Hyde should have healed up after his bye week, but DuJuan Harris looked like the ideal handcuff choice after Week 7. Hyde owners would be wise to hold onto him if possible. Antone Smith could find himself carrying heavy workload for the Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football if both Jacquizz Rodgers and Doug Martin are held out with injuries (foot and hamstring, respectively).
Terron Ward played the Tevin Coleman relief role for the Falcons in Week 8, compiling seven touches for 57 yards. Once Coleman returns, Ward's value goes kaput. But until then, he could be a low-end flex as Devonta Freeman deals with a hip pointer injury. Kapri Bibbs is nothing more than a handcuff to Devontae Booker, who left his Week 8 game briefly with an injury but returned and carried the vast majority of the touches for the Broncos. Lastly, Kenneth Farrow saw a few carries for the Chargers and will be the team's handcuff if Melvin Gordon goes down with an injury. This late in the year, it's not a bad idea to try and hang onto the backups for true featured backs like Gordon.
With Michael Floyd injured and playing poorly, J.J. Nelson is emerging in the Cardinals passing attack. He's on a bye this week but is a player to monitor after he posted an 8-79-2 stat line in Week 9 on a team-high 12 targets. Likewise, Tyreek Hill is carving out a role in the Chiefs passing attack. Despite playing just 30 percent of the snaps, Hill was third on the team in targets and scored his fourth receiving touchdown of the season. He's a boom-or-bust bye-week play this week.
The trio of Rishard Matthews, Seth Roberts, and Russell Shepard are all low target-volume, low snap count players with noses for the end zone. This group has scored five combined touchdowns in the last three weeks, and are solid flex plays in this bye-ravaged week.
It's far from a sure thing, but Ladarius Greenreturned to practice last week for the Steelers and could see game action soon (perhaps even in Week 9). He's a super talented tight end but hasn't seen the field all year after starting the season on the PUP. Still, tight end remains a fantasy wasteland so those with bench space could stash Green and hope for the best.
Both Vernon Davis and C.J. Fiedorowicz are heading into their byes in Week 9, but their recent run of production and usage in their respective offenses makes them worth a look for those with bench flexibility. Lance Kendricks is a low-end streaming option this week against the Panthers. He saw 17 targets in Weeks 6 and 7, racking up 89 yards and one touchdown.