Top 3 Waiver Wire Adds: Week 8

By Chip Bayless (click Howie for more Chip)

 

1) Gus Edwards

Refusing to put Edwards as your top claim this week would be like demanding a salary decrease at your next performance review or contract renewal.

In his first game returning from ACL surgery, Gus Edwards instantly became the clear #1 RB in the NFL’s #1 rushing offense. This fact alone merits significant fantasy value, as would any player becoming their team’s lead back overnight.

Although the risk remains that the Ravens backfield continues to be a dice roll each week, Edwards immediately being the lead back coming off his ACL injury speaks volumes considering Kenyan Drake just exploded for over 100 yards last week on under 20 carries in the wake of Dobbins’ injury.

Per Next Gen Stats, the snap share breakdown for Baltimore running backs on Sunday was: Gus Edwards (36.5%), Justice Hill (31.7%), and Kenyan Drake (25.4%).

Carry share combined with target share from the game shows Edwards also at the top with 50%, Drake in second with 35%, and Hill last with 15%.

Gus Edwards runs with the power and vision the Ravens love in their RBs, and his running style is a perfect fit for the offense considering Lamar Jackson’s skillset. Bulldozing through defenders and arm tackles, Edwards looks like he has the physicality to be an every-down back in this league.



Lamar Jackson’s athleticism allows him to make virtually any well-designed outside running play work to perfection with his open-field moves, decision-making, and pure speed.

Therefore, what the Ravens need out of their starting RB is a hard-nosed, between-the-tackles power rusher who can handle a full workload.

Additionally, the Ravens need that same halfback be an effective enough goal-line threat to deter defensive attention away from Jackson so Ravens can run their effective QB Power plays or designed goal-line runs with Lamar.

It looks like they’ve found that hard-nosed back in Edwards, and they’ve shown a willingness to ride the “Gus Bus” as Ravens fans called him in seasons past especially when they’ve dealt with a myriad of backfield injuries.

Despite all the positives about Edwards, if the Ravens refuse to commit to him next week despite this performance, then consider this backfield true Russian roulette as I would rather play a round with the Soviets than start another 2022 Ravens RB who flops after looking like they just stole the lead job.

Edwards unfortunately faces a Tampa Bay defense on Thursday that has given up the fewest fantasy points to running backs, but his workload makes him a must-start especially for RB-needy teams wracked by injuries.

Keep in mind, while talent level obviously makes a difference, about half or arguably more of a player’s value is ultimately determined by their role and their offensive success and scheme.

If Edwards retains his stranglehold on the Ravens lead-back job, he’ll likely end the year with some impressive season totals considering the Ravens are ranked:

  • 3rd in points
  • 11th in total yards
  • 4th in rushing yards
  • Tied for 6th in rushing touchdowns
  • Tied for 2nd in yards per carry

 

 

2) Mecole Hardman

While everyone’s top claim will likely be one of the RBs on this list or others, Mecole Hardman could be the most valuable season-long given his apparent role in the NFL’s best offense (based on points scored).

So far, the Chiefs lead the NFL in yards, passing yards, passing TDs, and points (notably by 40 points: KC has 223 points on the year – the next closest team hasn’t even scored 185).

I’ve liked Hardman for a few seasons now (probably add/dropped him 10x) as he always looked like an explosive receiver who was just one step slower than Tyreek Hill.

One step slower than Hill however is likely faster than everyone else on the field most games, and Hardman may have finally had his breakout game last week.

Hardman is nothing short of phenomenal after the catch with his agility, vision, and ability to dance around defenders like they’re wearing skates on a thin pond.

Much of his yardage especially at the beginning of his career was YAC with screens and bubble passes, but now Hardman is showing he can handle the responsibilities of being a team’s number one outside threat – and possibly their top receiving threat overall outside of Kelce.

Whilst the safer move is undoubtedly setting one of the best available RBs as your top claim, you’ll catch yourself wanting to do the same thing that guy with the stupid mustache did in a bunker in Berlin if Mecole just took over Tyreek’s old role.

After all, Hardman has double-digit fantasy points and at least four targets each of the past three weeks. Furthermore, last week it looked like the Chiefs ran several of the stereotypical Tyreek Hill plays with the trick plays, end-arounds, and the jet sweeps Hill used to have.

Mecole Hardman is the only one of the Chiefs starting receivers who has been with Mahomes for longer than this offseason.

It looks like the continuity, trust, and chemistry between the two impressive athletes is finally paying dividends.

Over the past three productive weeks, Hardman is averaging 49 receiving yards, 12 rushing yards, four targets, one TD, and 17 fantasy points per game.

Combined he has 11 receptions, 147 receiving yards, four TDs, and 13 targets over that span.



Unfortunately, the Chiefs are on a bye this week so if you were intending on starting him you’re out of luck.

But keep in mind Hardman had his 28-point potential breakout performance against a team that was statistically the 5th-worst fantasy matchup for receivers, so he at least supports FLEX consideration going forward with softer matchups.

 

 

3) D’Onta Foreman

Foreman could easily have been #2 on this list. His ranking and value should rely exclusively on how much you need an RB, how injured Hubbard ends up being, and/or how much you trust Foreman’s role in a potential timeshare with Hubbard and what you believe that role to be – given we’ve only seen one week of it.

There is of course the possibility the Panthers roll with the hot hand in Foreman regardless of Hubbard’s health.

Either way, Foreman certainly passes the eye test and looks like he’ll be a much more valuable running back ROS than the vast majority of the other dismal RB waiver-wire options available at the midway point in the season.

Like Hardman, I’ve believed Foreman was a little underrated since at least last season in terms of his overall film with limited reps, and his unique skill level.

Foreman has that rare size/speed combination every GM and coach froths at the mouth for, as his long strides and smooth running style often shows him gliding away from defenders like Derrick Henry.

In fact, throughout Foreman’s time filling in for Henry last season I was constantly in awe of how well he filled the role of the Titans’ top player, and almost looked like a mini-Henry.

Foreman displayed an ability to stiff arm and truck through defenders like his backfield counterpart last season, and it was much of the same on Sunday as he made a Bucs defense (that was giving up the least fantasy points to RBs at the time) look like they wanted no part of tackling Foreman for 60 minutes.

Foreman led all Panthers in rush attempts and yardage on Sunday with Hubbard exiting the game early.

Granted, a monumental chunk of Foreman’s yardage came on a dazzling 60-yard gash, but the bruising back still gained 58 yards on his other 14 carries while adding value with limited opportunities in the passing game.



After averaging an absolutely astounding 7.9 YPC against a stout Tampa Bay D, it will be tough to keep Foreman out of your lineup in Week 8 considering he faces a woeful Falcons team that has given up the 5th-most fantasy points to running backs thus far in 2022.

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