Here are the top fantasy football pickups emerging from Week 8. Read the full Waiver Wire column here!
Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots. It's time to give LaFell proper respect. He ripped off 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Bears to lead the team in receiving. He's already had some big games followed by busts this year, but what we really liked about LaFell's stat line Sunday was that he also led the team in targets (11). He seems to have taken over Julian Edelman's role as Tom Brady's go-to receiver and should be owned in far more than one-third of fantasy football leagues.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers. One week after scoring in his NFL debut, the rookie hauled in TDs Nos. 2 and 3 in a monster game against the Colts. The 6-4 Bryant has immediately caught Ben Roethlisberger’s attention and is quickly asserting himself in the Steelers offense where we thought Markus Wheaton would make an impact. He's clearly behind Antonio Brown, but Bryant is worth stashing for the second half.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts. Another rookie receiver who blew up Sunday, Moncrief torched the Steelers with the Colts going into comeback mode early. While the lopsided score certainly helped Moncrief to a huge day, his breakout may not be a total fluke considering it came with Reggie Wayne (elbow) inactive. Though Hakeem Nicks drew the start in Wayne’s absence, it was Moncrief who stole the spotlight. Keep him in mind, especially if you own Wayne.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. Stewart actually looked healthy and spry Sunday in his second game back from a knee injury. He turned 16 carries into 79 yards (4.9 ypc) in a very tough matchup against the Seahawks and even caught three passes for 15 yards. More importantly, he emerged healthy. As the Panthers’ lead back, Stewart will be worth stashing ahead of a favorable Week 9 matchup against the Saints, provided DeAngelo Williams isn’t back and stealing significant carries (unlikely).
Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers. Rainey has already appeared among the top pickups when Doug Martin was hurt earlier this year, but he’s back again and available in roughly three-quarters of fantasy leagues. Martin was ineffective once again Sunday and left with an ankle injury, leaving Rainey as the feature back for Tampa. It was starting to feel like Martin was on thin ice anyway, so it could be Rainey’s backfield next week at Cleveland whether Martin is healthy or not.
Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers. If you’re looking to play the long game in the Bucs’ backfield, take a look at the rookie out of West Virginia. Sims has been stashed on the I.R./recall list with a fractured ankle this season and is eligible to return in Week 9. The Buccaneers will likely ease him into action, but don’t be surprised if Sims is carrying the mail for Tampa down the stretch.
Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots. It was hinted this week that Gray would be New England’s “big back” behind Shane Vereen this week. Sure enough, Gray rolled up a team-high 17 carries for 86 yards even got a few goal-line totes in Sunday’s blowout of the Bears; Vereen had just five carries, while rookie James White had six and Brandon Bolden had zero. Gray’s role will fluctuate from week to week, but he’s the No. 2 to own in New England right now.