Fantasy football last-minute pickups for Week 8: A trio of QBs, an Eagles back and more

Each week of the NFL season, we will identify fantasy football waiver wire pickups specifically for those of you looking for streaming options in deeper formats (including IDP leagues). These are players available in a majority of ESPN Fantasy leagues (or close) who have enticing matchups in the week ahead that make them worthy of consideration for your lineups.

While you might notice some overlap with Field Yates’ pickup column that publishes on Mondays, an important distinction is that the options mentioned in this column are focused solely on this week’s matchup and not the players’ values for the remainder of the season.

Quarterback

Daniel Jones, New York Giants vs. Chiefs (45.1% rostered)

Jones has only thrown for more than 300 yards or multiple touchdowns once so far this season, but he faces a Chiefs defense that has allowed some exhilarating performances. Against this defense, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Taylor Heinicke and Ryan Tannehill have averaged 275.4 passing yards and 25.0 fantasy points. Last week, Jones won a game against a stout defense with multiple offensive playmakers absent, a sub-par running game, and a bad offensive line. Jones is on the QB1 radar.

Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts vs. Titans (30.1%)

Wentz has now had four consecutive games with two-plus passing touchdowns and no interceptions. Peyton Manning is the only other quarterback in Colts history to have matched this feat. The Colts won three games in that span, during which Wentz has averaged 250.8 passing yards. The Titans defense did the unthinkable last week and held Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in check. However, Tennessee has still allowed opposing quarterbacks to score 20.6 points per game.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings vs. Cowboys (61.8%)

The last time we saw Cousins on the field, he completed 33 of 48 pass attempts for 373 yards and three touchdowns in an overtime win over the Panthers back in Week 6. It was his ninth game with 300 passing yards, three TD passes, and no interceptions with the Vikings. No one else in Vikings history has more than four such efforts (Daunte Culpepper). Cousins next faces a Cowboys defense that has allowed 20.3 QB points per game. He’s once again on the streaming radar, and he’s been picked up in many leagues already this week.

Running back

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles at Lions (53.1%)

Sanders suffered a serious ankle injury last week, forcing the Eagles to turn to a combination of Gainwell and Boston Scott. Gainwell played on 35 snaps and ran 24 routes, catching 4 of 8 targets for 41 yards and a touchdown, while also running for 20 yards. Scott played on 23 snaps and ran 12 routes. However, Scott had more rushing attempts (7, compared to Gainwell’s 5). This was Scott’s first significant action of the season. Gainwell, whose roster percentage has more than doubled since this column debuted on Tuesday, is my preferred Eagles backfield option. The Lions allow the fourth-most RB points per game (28.7). I see Gainwell as an RB3/flex player with upside.

Wide receiver

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons vs. Panthers (12.1%)

In his first action since Week 2, Gage caught 4 of 6 targets for 67 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. Calvin Ridley is expected to rebound and last week against the Dolphins, he caught 4 of 10 targets for 26 yards and a touchdown. Ridley also allowed a defender to rip the football away from him, resulting in an interception, and he also dropped a screen pass. He doesn’t seem to be in sync with Matt Ryan so far this season, and there could be more going on in Atlanta behind the scenes that we do not know about. Against a Panthers defense that has struggled in recent games, Gage can be used as a WR3.

Darius Slayton, New York Giants at Chiefs (7.5%)

Slayton’s performance (5 catches, 9 targets, 63 yards) against the Panthers after missing three games due to a hamstring injury was impressive. During his 33 career games, he has averaged 15.4 yards per reception with four 100-yard games. During such games, Slayton has averaged 7.3 receptions, 126.5 receiving yards, and 1.5 touchdowns. This is the type of ceiling he provides fantasy managers in a Giants offense likely to be without multiple starting receivers this week against the Chiefs. Slayton is a WR3 against a Kansas City defense (275.7) that is allowing the seventh-most passing yards in the league.

Tight end

Dan Arnold, Jacksonville Jaguars at Seahawks (3.6%)

The Jaguars’ bye week came at a perfect time in order for Arnold to become more familiar with the offense. The two full games he has played for Jacksonville saw him run 55 routes and catch 8 of 13 targets for 91 yards. Urban Meyer is very high on Arnold, and the Seahawks defense (ranked 17th) has given up 13.2 TE points per game.

Tyler Conklin, Minnesota Vikings vs. Cowboys (17.3%)

In Week 6, Conklin caught 3 of 5 targets for 71 yards, a season-high. He thrives in high-scoring games and that’s exactly what’s on the menu against a Cowboys team that averages a league-worst 460.8 total yards and 34.2 points allowed. The Dallas defense also is allowing the 12th-most TE points (15.07). This season, Conklin has 13 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown at home.

Evan Engram, New York Giants vs. Chiefs (23.3%)

Engram just had one of his best games of the season. Overall, he has averaged 5.8 targets per game and this trend should continue until the Giants’ other playmakers return. For now, it’s Engram against a Chiefs defense that allows a lot of fantasy points (17.36) to tight ends. While he isn’t the most attractive streaming option, the stage is being set for a TE1 performance.

Defense/special teams

Philadelphia Eagles at Lions (13.9%)

As a unit, the Eagles defense has allowed on average the 16th-most yards (367.7) and the ninth-most points (26.4). Philadelphia is outside the top 20 among fantasy defenses, but has an advantage against the Lions offense. Detroit averages 334.4 total yards (24th) and 18.3 points (28th).

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Patriots (6.4%)

After allowing 76 points on the NFL scoreboard over the last two games, the Chargers are currently available in a high-percentage of leagues. Los Angeles probably used the bye week to regroup on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, if you don’t count last week’s demolition of the Jets, the Patriots are only averaging 20.8 points per contest — and that’s with a win over the Texans and the team’s other victory over the Jets included in the mix. The Chargers are in a great spot for a rebound.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Seahawks (1.2%)

This recommendation is 100% because of the matchup and 0% because the Jaguars D/ST unit can be considered good. Without Russell Wilson, Seattle has no offense. Geno Smith has struggled at quarterback. On Monday Night Football, he only threw for 167 yards, with DK Metcalf gaining 96 yards on just two receptions. Smith was also sacked five times. Seattle’s total offense against New Orleans was a paltry 219 yards. This season, the Jaguars D/ST has averaged 3.3 points per game. It can’t help but do better in this one.

Kicker

Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals at Jets (13.1%)

McPherson has made all four of his field goal attempts over the last two games. With the Jets defense allowing the most points per game to kickers, he should have many opportunities in Week 8.

Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles at Lions (1.6%)

Elliott has made either one or no field goals in three of his last five games. The Eagles offense should be able to move the ball up and down the field against the Lions defense. Detroit has allowed kickers the second-most points (10.86) in the league.

Michael Badgley, Indianapolis Colts vs. Titans (8.5%)

The rainy and windy conditions made it no easy feat for Badgley to convert all four kicks last week. In Lucas Oil Stadium, he won’t have to deal with the elements. Tennessee’s defense allows the 15th-most points per game (7.14) to kickers.

Individual Defensive Players (IDP)

Defensive Line

Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jets (5.4%)

Ja’Marr Chase gets a lot of attention for changing things for the Bengals offensively, but Hendrickson has had a similar effect on the defensive side of the ball. He’s tied for fourth in sacks and faces a struggling Jets offensive line with an immobile quarterback (Joe Flacco).

Linebacker

Nick Bolton, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Giants (13.6%)

The Chiefs haven’t had many bright spots on defense, but Bolton is one of them. Playing on 84% of the team’s defensive snaps in Week 7, he led the linebacking corps with double-digit tackles for the first time this season.

Defensive back

Kyle Dugger, New England Patriots vs. Chargers (11.6%)

Over the last three games, Dugger has recorded 27 total tackles and two interceptions. That trend should continue against the Chargers. Dugger offers DB1 upside.

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