*This column ranks the most notable waiver wire pickups following week 7 of the NFL season( the Monday night game between the Steelers and Texans has yet to be played). These are general rankings based on player value and are not meant to be exact, especially between players of different positions. The players listed are all owned in less than half of ESPN Fantasy football leagues.
1. Jerick McKinnon, RB
Among the plethora of waiver options that have been available all year, McKinnon is arguably the most talented. In fact, as soon as Adrian Peterson was dismissed from the team, experts have touted McKinnon as a physical freak of nature that would surpass Matt Asiata on the depth chart sooner or later, and he did. Though lately there has been talk of Matt Asiata keeping a relevant role, McKinnon out touched Asiata 21-7 in week 7. As the Viking’s featured back the rest of way, not to mention there being just enough weapons in the passing game(Bridgewater, Patterson, Jennings) to prevent the exclusive focus of defenses, McKinnon should maintain RB2 value for the rest of the season.
2. Tre Mason, RB
3. Carson Palmer, QB
4. Bryce Brown, RB
5. Denard Robinson, RB
6. Ronnie Hillman, RB
7. Odell Beckham, WR
8. Owen Daniels, TE
9. Colts Defense, DEF
Running Back Rankings and Projections
As is usually the case, the top pickups are usually running backs who have gained increased roles due to injury or player demotion. We have this week’s running backs ranked and projected as follows:
1. Jerick McKinnon: rest of season RB2
2. Tre Mason: rest of season RB2
3. Bryce Brown: RB2 for approximately 4 weeks
4. Denard Robinson: rest of season RB3
5. Ronnie Hillman: RB2 for 1 or 2 more weeks, then a RB3/flex option
McKinnon and Mason are both feature backs who should presumably maintain that role for the rest of the season. Though the same holds for Denard Robinson, he’s not nearly as talented as McKinnon or Mason, and furthermore plays in a very ineffective Jacksonville offense(though that has somewhat improved with Blake Bortles as the starter). So we have Robinson pegged as a rest of the way RB3. And even if Robinson presumably maintains RB3 value the rest of the way, it would seem that the RB2 value that Bryce Brown would provide for a month is still more valuable, as there are always new pickups after all.(CJ Spiller is out for the year and Fred Jackson for at least a month. Past performances dictate that Brown holds legit RB2 talent.) Hillman is a strong add, but Montee Ball may be back in week 9. Even if the Broncos employ a Ball-Hillman committee, that would make Hillman nothing more than a RB3/flex option.