However, for those of you degenerates ... err I mean "die-hards," in more intense 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 get in on the waiver-wire bidding war post-breakout. Many of these players will hopefully graduate to the main waiver wire column, and if you're smart they'll already be on your roster. Of course, I can't promise anything. Fantasy is far from a guaranteed game, as we all know all too well, and we're reaching the point in the season where there aren't many stones left unturned. But who knows, maybe we'll find a few gems in the process.
Any way, enough blathering. On to the "Deep Dive" waiver wire targets for Week 8.
With Melvin Gordon still nursing an ankle injury, Oliver saw more touches on Sunday against Oakland. His 15 total touches (nine rush, six rec) were second-most on the team, trailing only Danny Woodhead (16, 11 rec, five rush). Given Gordon's struggles, Oliver could continue seeing some committee work, but the odds of him earning a HUGE amount of the touches in this offense aren't good unless Gordon re-aggravates his injury. The team is unlikely to turn completely away from their 2015 first-round pick so soon. Nevertheless, Oliver merits consideration in deeper leagues.
Stacy saw eight touches on Sunday, playing a bigger role early as Chris Ivory appeared to struggle through cramps or some sort of muscle tightness. Now, this is Ivory's backfield as long as he's healthy, but as we've seen over his career, he's not exactly an iron man when it comes to staying off of the trainer's table. Ivory owners would be wise to nab Stacy, as he seems like the main beneficiary if Ivory goes down.
Detroit continues to search for answers in their backfield, but at the very least they know who their top pass-catching back is. Riddick had eight targets again on Sunday (including the potential game-winner). He now has 50 targets on the year thanks to a role that looks set in stone. PPR owners definitely need to get ahold of Riddick ASAP.
The Cleveland ground attack hasn't been as dynamic as some hoped, which is why the team brought in Robert Turbin to replace the departed Terrance West. In his first two games with the team, Turbin has been the most effective rusher, by a small margin. He saw 15 carries over the last two weeks, averaging a team-best 3.8 yards per carry to total 57 yards. Those numbers aren't spectacular, but considering Isaiah Crowell averaged 2.2 yards per carry on 19 totes in the same span, you can see why Turbin makes the list this week. Give him a look in deeper leagues in case he begins to win a larger share of the backfield touches, but he's not startable until that happens.
I'm really not sure if this is a product of Julian Edelman not being 100 percent, or the Patriots game-planning, but Amendola saw 18 targets over the last two weeks, hauling in 15 of them for 191 yards and a touchdown. It feels risky buying into a Patriots pass-catcher not named Edelman or Gronk, but if Brady continues to consistently target Amendola, he'll have weekly WR3 appeal. Scoop him up in case this trend continues in the coming weeks.
I'm only adding Snead here because I thought he was more highly owned (and thus didn't include him in the regular column). He's the best wide receiver on the Saints. Get him on your roster for when the matchup is favorable.
Jones is enjoying a solid season in Cincinnati, and faces a plus-matchup next week against the Steelers coming off of his bye week. The Steelers are likely to key in on A.J. Green, which could open things up for Jones. He'll be a WR3 next week, and could have even more upside moving forward if the Bengals offense continues its torrid pace down the stretch.
Aiken has seen an average of eight targets per game over his last three games, catching two touchdowns during that span. Granted, Steve Smith was out for part of that, but that level of volume is tough to ignore. He'll face a Chargers secondary next week that has been generous to secondary receivers this season, which puts Aiken on the spot-start WR3 radar, once again.
Conley played well this week with Maclin on the sideline, but I wouldn't chase the points and start him or anything next week. He's still a very raw NFL wide receiver, but has other-worldly athleticism. I think he's worth a speculative add, but if Maclin returns next week Conley's upside takes a COLOSSAL hit.
With Davante Adams potentially returning after the bye, these two might see a tougher path to targets. However, the Packers receiving corps was hardly a picture of health prior to the team's bye, with Randall Cobb (shoulder) and James Jones (hamstring) both nursing injuries. These two youngsters are worth speculative adds in deeper leagues, because if any of the guys ahead of them go down (again), these two will have a big role in one of the NFL's top offenses.
Desperate streamers can look to Cumby for a spot start in Week 8. He was only targeted three times in Week 7, but one came in the red zone. Cumby and the Jets take on the Raiders next week, and the "Raiders can't defend tight ends" narrative came back into the fold this week, as Ladarius Green scored a touchdown and two 2-point conversions against them. That's why Cumby makes this list this week.
Gillmore finally returned to action last week after missing time with a calf injury, but his production was a bit disappointing. I still like Gillmore's talent and role in the Baltimore offense, but there is a worry that the team will deploy rookie Maxx Williams more, as he saw plenty of work while Gillmore was out. Nevertheless, Gillmore was on track for nice sleeper season before the calf injury slowed him down. He's worth a speculative add in case he gets back on that path.