Top Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 8

By Chip Bayless (click Howie for more Chip)




1) Emari Demercado

Because of to the shortage of available RBs at this point in the season and because of how the Cardinals backfield shook out in Week 7, Emari Demercado tops this list due to James Conner’s injury.

At the very least, if you roster James Conner, you absolutely need to put in a claim for Demercado.

With Conner on IR, Demercado would profile as an RB2 in 12-team leagues this week considering the lack of depth and true RB2s at the position, and considering he did finish as RB21 on the week.

Furthermore, with Demercado only receiving three carries the week prior and with Keaontay Ingram hype manufactured by believers in lizard people, Demercado was almost universally dropped after being a hot name amongst Week 6 waiver wire pickups, and is currently available in 84% of ESPN leagues.

On Sunday Demercado was the only Cardinals RB who received more than one carry as Ingram was a healthy scratch while Williams backed Demercado up.

Demercado answered the call to the tune of 4.5 yards per carry on 13 totes to go for 58 yards combined with five targets that he turned into four catches for an additional 17 yards. Impressively enough, Demercado led the team in receptions while leading the team in rushing yards (besting Josh Dobbs by 15).

Both times Demercado has been given 10+ carries this season, he’s averaged 4.5 YPC and has scored 10+ fantasy points. He’s also been involved in the passing game both times as he’s been targeted at least once and had 10+ receiving yards in both contests.

On the season, Demercado has over twice as many rushing yards as Ingram despite only receiving seven more carries, as Ingram is averaging a putrid 2.5 YPC compared to Demercado’s 4.0 clip (per ESPN).

Neither Ingram nor Damien Williams have more than 55 rushing yards on the season.

Demercado is also 2nd among Cardinals RBs to only James Conner in carries, rushing yards, rushing TDs, and rushes resulting in first downs. He also leads Arizona backs in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and YAC (per ESPN).

At the moment, it looks like Demercado is the de-facto every-down back for Cardinals and should have the opportunity to benefit from checkdowns, screens, and goal-line opportunities even if the game script is limited from a rushing standpoint.

Given the fact that James Conner has actually never played a full schedule in six seasons and the fact that he will miss at least two more week due to being placed on IR, Demercado is undoubtedly worth a claim even if you don’t own Conner with bye weeks and injuries already decimating the top class of RBs (yes I’m still salty about Chubb).

If you’re looking for one final piece of proof to blindly and irrationally convince you like you’re George Bush deciding to start a war in Iraq despite Bin Laden being born in Saudi Arabia, living in Afghanistan and being sheltered by Pakistan, look no further than the fact that Demercado has seen at least 35% of all Arizona snaps the past three weeks in a row (per FantasyPros), and he was already averaging a 29% snap share before Conner’s injury.

Facing Baltimore next week will be tough task for the undrafted rookie, but after leading the Cardinals in carries and receptions this past weekend there are likely no shortage of fantasy managers who have no choice but to plug in Demercado this week if their other RB2 options are in the Jerick McKinnon/Antonio Gibson tier due to injuries or bye weeks.



2) Baker Mayfield

At this point in the fantasy season most of the other trustworthy second-tier QBs are already likely owned from Stafford to Stroud to Howell, so if you’re in need of a QB this week Mayfield is likely your best option unless Tyrod Taylor gets the start again for the Giants in Week 8.

While Mayfield has his well-documented detractors, he has proven that he is at least a competent veteran quarterback, and on his best days he is capable of running an NFL offense to perfection.

Mayfield throws a very catchable ball too and seems to always throw a tight spiral, resulting in the 5th-lowest drop percentage (per Pro Football Reference).

Mayfield has undersold mobility, arm strength, and awareness all of which resulted him winning the Bucs QB1 job this summer, and led to a scoring the 10th-most points among fantasy QBs in Week 7.

The Tampa Bay coaches have shown trust in Mayfield so far this season as their games are frequently pass-heavy (in part due to their lack of rushing efficiency), and so far here’s how his stats stack up amongst 2023’s QBs so far:

Mayfield has one of the best receiver duos in the NFL at his disposal as well with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, both of whom have an insane catch radius and a penchant for creating YAC, both of which bolster Mayfield’s fantasy value.

Another factor working in his favor is the Bucs actually have an underrated offensive line when it comes to pass blocking and Mayfield usually gets the ball out quickly, resulting in the Bucs’ QB seeing the 5th-lowest pressure percentage and only being hit eight times this year (per Pro Football Reference).

It’s easy to make a case for a passer who gets hit as infrequently as any QB in the league and gets to throw to two towering, explosive receivers who would both start on every team in the NFL.

Baker has displayed a decent floor too, throwing for 200+ yards and scoring at least 10 fantasy points in in 4/6 of his games. So far, his fantasy PPG is above Stafford, Dak, Joe Burrow, and Geno Smith.

Mayfield is barely eligible for this list as he’s already owned in 28% of ESPN leagues, so if you’re in need of a QB in a 12-team league this will probably be the last week you can pick him up.



3) Dalton Kincaid

If you are breathing, with a pulse, and play in the NFL, you’re probably a viable option as a fantasy tight end. Seriously, fantasy TE prospects outside of the top five or six are so dismal that any TE who pops off for a career-high game like Kincaid did last week will instantly become one of the top waiver claims.

Moreover, Sean McDermott said Monday that fellow Bills TE Dawson Knox will have surgery on his wrist, so Kincaid’s volume should see a noticeable uptick with virtually no other Buffalo TEs to eat into his target share.

Kincaid led the Bills in catches and receiving yards this past weekend while finishing only four targets behind Diggs for the team-high. Despite missing a game due to injury, the rookie first-round pick has seen four targets or more and scored at least six fantasy points in the majority of his games – which is damn near fantasy TE gold if you don’t own Kelce/Hock/Andrews/LaPorta/Engram.

Among all TEs, the first-year Kincaid ranks:

Kincaid plays in one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the entire league and gets to catch passes from one of the NFL’s top-5 QBs. He’s also seen at least a 50% snap share in all of his healthy games and is averaging a 60% snap share on the season(per FantasyPros).

Despite being injured and missing a game, Kincaid is actually second to only Diggs on the Bills in receptions, 3rd in receiving yards, and 3rd in YAC (per ESPN).

With Knox out for the foreseeable future, Kincaid has gone from a dart throw of a start to a near lineup lock if you don’t have a TE who’s currently top-5 in PRK.

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