1) Craig Reynolds (1A) or Jordan Mason (1B)
Like the header says, both Craig Reynolds and Jordan Mason crack the top spot today because finding RBs on the waiver wire at this point in the season is about as easy as finding functioning brain cells amongst the cast of Jersey Shore.
Both RBs in are in similar situations as well so they split the top ranking, with Reynolds barely edging Jordan Mason if you have to pick between the two.
Both RBs have the potential to lead their team’s backfield this upcoming weekend, while both also have the potential to fade into complete obscurity if their respective backfield mates end up being healthy.
Reynolds tops the list because if Montgomery is injured then Reynolds will likely see a significant workload considering the Lions have shown they are unwilling to use Gibbs as a true every-down back at this point in his early career, as evidenced by the fact that Gibb’s season-high is 12 fantasy points even though Montgomery has already missed a game Gibbs has played in.
This block by Craig Reynolds is the definition of MCDC football
— Evan Fox (@evanfoxy) October 15, 2023
Reynolds also beats out Mason because Gibbs has been held out of the past two contests with his own injury, so at this current moment Reynolds is the starter until Gibbs is able to prove he’s healthy.
Jordan Mason on the other hand will compete with Elijah Mitchell, who is healthy and played in last week’s game, for snaps even if McCaffery is out.
Plus, based on early reporting it seems like Montgomery is more likely to miss time than McCaffery considering Sports Illustrated has already reported Montgomery “will miss some time” with his injury.
Reynolds also now has at least seven carries and six fantasy points in back-to-back weeks, and if Montgomery and Gibbs are both out Sunday, Reynolds would profile as a virtual RB1 given the Lions’ dependence on the ground game and the dominance of their offensive line.
This screen to Craig Reynolds is excellent. During the game, I had wished that he would have kept towards the sideline but he would have had a DB right behind him and probably chasing him down. I think he made the right move by cutting to the middle of the field. #OnePride pic.twitter.com/aVGLgg5iTr
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) October 17, 2023
When it comes to the Jordan Mason situation, Mason had five carries for 27 yards and a TD with a 24% snap share on Sunday compared to Elijah “Eli” Mitchell’s two carries for negative three yards with an 11% snap share (per FantasyPros).
While the narrative in the immediate aftermath of the 49ers’ most-recent game seemed to be that Mason had overtaken Mitchell for the 49ers RB2 job, it is worth noting last week was Mitchell’s first action since he injured his knee in Week 3 after receiving 11 carries, so perhaps the carry disparity between Mason and Mitchell in Week 6 was due to the 49ers being cautions with Mitchell in his first game back or Mitchell being on a pitch count – considering he has been the 49ers’ undisputed RB2 for two years running now.
Although, Mason does have at least five carries and a TD in back-to-back weeks now, so if CMC is inactive in Week 7 and reporting comes out during the week that Mason will lead the backfield, he is certainly still an incredibly intriguing option and would profile as an RB2 – especially for any fantasy managers suffering bye-week or injury woes among their RBs.
Chasin' Mason ???? @jpmason27
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 9, 2023
Both the Lions and 49ers have genius running schemes and elite offensive lines that will set up whoever their lead back is for success, and both teams are also entirely built around the run in terms of their team identity and using their rushing success to set up the rest of their playbooks.
Keep in eye on reports during the week, but you likely can’t go wrong with either RB here if both Montgomery and CMC are ruled out in Week 7.
.@49ers take the lead on the Jordan Mason touchdown!
— NFL (@NFL) October 15, 2023
2) Kendrick Bourne
It’s insanely difficult, and almost downright impossible, to find a team’s WR1 available on waivers at this point in the season; however, the Patriots’ laughably horrendous offensive attack has resulted in Kendrick Bourne being exactly that.
Available in 80% of leagues, so far Bourne leads all Patriots in: receptions (by 10), targets (by 16), receiving yards (by over 100), TD receptions, catches for 20+ yards, YAC, and receptions resulting in 1st downs (per ESPN).
Bourne is the only playmaker the Pats have on the outside, and while he likely wouldn’t be any other team’s top wideout, he would still be at least a WR2/3 and a useful asset on any team.
Kendrick Bourne was the best Patriot on the field yesterday. Easily. pic.twitter.com/LxbJ5oYBeC
— Savage (@SavageSports_) October 16, 2023
Bourne is the only member of the Patriots receiving group that can create separation on an even semi-regular basis, and offers the only semblance of explosion and a deep-threat that this offense can muster with its current roster.
He also has shown ability to make chicken salad out of chicken shit in terms of breaking tackles after the catch and weaving through defenders, doing the most he possibly can with his often limited opportunities.
Bourne is also the only Pats wideout who has shown any ability to go up and high-point jump balls in addition to consistently making contested catches, so he’ll hopefully garner more looks going forward.
On Sunday, Bourne led the team with 11 targets, matching his season-high in addition to besting his season-high in receptions and receiving yards with 10 and 89, respectively. So he’s likely to be a hot name on the waiver wire this week.
Oh boy, this Kendrick Bourne catch yesterday….
In 2021, Bourne ranked 2nd in the entire NFL (!) in ESPN's catch score, which uses tracking data to assess catch difficulty. Was excommunicated last year in Patricia's offense; would like to see him w a role again! pic.twitter.com/QwR1YlOeaw
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) August 20, 2023
Additionally, no other New England WR caught more than one pass or had more than three targets.
Bourne has at least two catches and three targets in every game, and he actually has five targets, four catches, and 40+ receiving yards in 4/6 of his contests thus far. He’s also played over 50% of snaps in every game including two games handling over 85% of snaps (per FantasyPros).
Moreover, Bourne has accounted for 29% of all the Patriots’ air yards (per Next Gen Stats), and was fantasy’s 9th-highest scoring WR in Week 6.
Among all 2022 WRs, Bourne currently ranks:
- Tied for 22nd in receptions (per ESPN)
- Tied for 19th in targets (per ESPN)
- 19th in YAC (per ESPN)
- 14th in red zone target share (per Pro Football Reference)
- 31st in receptions per game (per Pro Football Reference)
- 38th in receiving yards (per ESPN)
- 38th in ADOT (per Pro Football Reference)
Kendrick Bourne pulls the @Patriots within 5!
— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2023
Facing Buffalo next week, the Patriots will need every ounce of firepower available in their passing game as they will likely be playing from behind against Josh Allen and the Bills.
3) Sam Howell
While watching Sam Howell and the Washington offense at times is like plucking pubic hairs, his numbers through six weeks of the season are worth notice considering the other top free-agent quarterbacks like C.J. Stroud and Matthew Stafford have likely been picked up in your league.
Howell has also shown a remarkable ability to be efficient despite a sometimes limited game script when it comes to Commander passing opportunities, as Rivera often loves running Brian Robinson into the ground and “controlling the clock”.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 10, 2023
In terms of this year’s crop of QBs, here’s how Howells stats compare:
- 5th in completions and attempts
- 10th in percentage of on-target throws (per Pro Football Reference)
- 9th in passing yards
- 8th in intended air yards and completed air yards (per Pro Football Reference)
- 10th in completion %
- 4th-lowest poor throw % (per Pro Football Reference)
- Tied for 9th in passing TDs
- 15th in passer rating
Rostered in 19% of ESPN leagues, this will likely be one of the last weeks Howell is still available if he has another productive outing in Week 7 against a Giants team that has looked abysmal on both sides of the ball at times.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? ????
Sam Howell finds Jahan Dotson in for the HUGE @Commanders TOUCHDOWN
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 1, 2023
Howell has shown, at minimum, above average anticipation and accuracy in the majority of his outings, and while he might lack some of the makings of a modern prototypical QB as far as some NFL GMs are concerned, Howell has enough mobility to extend plays when he needs to and more than enough arm strength to hit the throws Eric Bieniemy draws up.
In fact, Howell threw a 93 MPH fastball in high school as a junior, so the guy can huck the ball through the stadium wall if he needs to.
Free play? Find Terry
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) October 15, 2023
Furthermore, Howell does have a monumentally-tall tight end in Logan Thomas, a dominant RB in Brian Robinson, and a decent duo of WRs in Scary Terry and Curtis Samuel to spread the defensive focus relatively thin.
If Bieniemy intends on using Howell even 1/20th of the way he used Mahomes, you have to figure Howell at least makes for a decent streaming option this week, and he likely improves your backup QB situation on your fantasy team unless your backup QB is top-15 in PRK.
Sam Howell’s night will end on this TD pass. Good ball, trusting Dyami Brown. Howell misfired on two throws on drive but was exceptionally accurate all night otherwise.
19/25, 188 yards, 2 TDs.
Tonight won’t calm the Howell hype. Exciting performance. pic.twitter.com/FRPC7gtV4O
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) August 22, 2023
Beware though, Howell and the Commanders do have the 7th-highest pressure-per-dropback percentage (per Pro Football Reference) and Howell has been sacked the most of any NFL QB, so you patience might be required for Howell owners as he’s started relatively slow in most of his weeks.
First career 3 TD game for Sam Howell? ✔️
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) October 16, 2023