For the second time this season, Calvin Ridley was surprisingly inactive for the Falcons in Week 8 for personal reasons, and during the game he released a statement saying he was stepping away from the team for the time being. You can find his statement here.
Ridley hasn't had the best season on the field, but obviously, his off-field health is more important than that, so hopefully, the time he's taking off can help him get to where he needs to be. Ridley is one of the most entertaining players in the league when he's on the field, but it takes strength to step away from the game when you know it's what is best for you. I'm wishing him absolutely all of the best, and hopefully we'll see him back on the field soon.
Of course, his absence from the Falcons is going to leave holes for both the team and for Fantasy players who have been hoping Ridley would be a big part of their team, and you'll have to move forward with the assumption that he won't be available for the foreseeable future if you have him on your team.
The Falcons don't exactly have anyone you would be thrilled to pick up and start in Ridley's absence, as we saw in Sunday's game. Tajae Sharpe led the team in catches, yards, and targets, but with just five for 58, it's hard to get excited about the journeyman here. Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus combined for one catch on one target for 12 yards in the game, and while Gage does at least have a track record of Fantasy relevance, he's never been much more than a low-end starter at his best, so you don't need to make him a priority on the waiver wire.
What we'll likely see with Ridley out is a lot more of what we saw Sunday, with Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, and Mike Davis accounting for 17 of the team's 27 targets. If Davis was dropped in your league after last week, make sure he's not available, but that's only the case in about 14% of CBS Fantasy leagues right now.
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So, if you're looking for some Ridley replacements, you'll have to look elsewhere. Fortunately, there was no shortage of options to consider from Week 8's action, so you'll want to consider these guys:
- DeVante Parker 51% -- DeVante Parker had eight catches for 85 yards in a tough matchup against the Bills, giving him at least 77 yards in three of five games -- and at least seven targets in every game he's played. Injuries have been an issue for Parker throughout his career, but his current 16-game pace is 80 catches for 1,046 yards. He should be on more rosters after this week.
- Jarvis Landry 69% -- Landry was targeted eight times before leaving Week 7's win with an injury and then he earned 10 targets Sunday against the Steelers. We know Landry doesn't have a ton of upside, but he has at least five catches in all three games he has been healthy for and can be a viable starting PPR option, especially with Odell Beckham clearly not at 100%.
- Jamison Crowder 48% -- Mike White might have had the most shocking day of the season Sunday, putting up 405 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals. And while he leaned heavily on his running backs, as expected, Crowder also had eight catches on nine targets for 84 yards. He could be a viable PPR starter for Week 9.
- Brandon Aiyuk 48% -- If you aren't looking for a relatively safe 10-plus Fantasy points for your lineup next week, Aiyuk should be someone you're looking at. Obviously, Deebo Samuel has established himself as the clear No. 1 WR for the 49ers -- and one of the five best Fantasy options in the NFL -- but Aiyuk might have had his most promising day of the season Sunday, catching four for 45 yards on a season-high seven targets. Aiyuk actually led the team's wide receivers in snaps and routes run after routinely being second or even third most weeks. Maybe there's a breakout coming after all -- we know he has the talent.
Here's who else we'll be looking for in Week 9 on waivers:
Boston Scott RB
PHI Philadelphia • #35
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Well, the Eagles backfield was a big swing and a miss for Fantasy. Kenneth Gainwell did actually end up leading the team in carries with 13, but he didn't receive a target at all in the game and played just 16 snaps in the first three quarters before getting his opportunity late in the blowout. It was Scott who was the primary back early on in the game in both passing and rushing situations, and he ended up scoring a couple of touchdowns. What might be even more concerning for Gainwell is that Jordan Howard also out-snapped him in the first three quarters and scored two touchdowns of his own. Scott clearly looks like the back to roster, and if you're desperate for help in Week 9, Howard will be worth adding too against a Chargers team that has struggled against the run.
Carlos Hyde RB
JAC Jacksonville • #24
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
James Robinson exited Sunday's game against the Seahawks early with an ankle injury and wasn't able to return, which put Carlos Hyde in position to potentially be Fantasy relevant in Week 9. He won't be a high-end option for Fantasy, obviously, because this is still a pretty mediocre (to put it kindly) offense, and Hyde isn't nearly the playmaker Robinson is. But, if he gets the opportunity to be the lead back against the Bills, he'll be in the RB3 territory of the rankings.
CHI Chicago • #1
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fields finally had the kind of game we've been expecting from him all season long. He was okay passing the ball, but was a start on the ground, averaging 10.3 yards per carry, including one play where he turned what would have been a big sack into a brilliant touchdown run. He's got an abundance of talent, and if the Bears let him use it as they should, he's going to be excellent for Fantasy. Will they let him take advantage of it moving forward? Who knows, but when he finally flashes the upside, I'm going to go buy in.
WAS Washington • #32
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Washington has been cool with Antonio Gibson playing through his lingering shin injury, but this is the first time I think Fantasy players might need to be legitimately worried about him moving forward. Patterson led the team in rushing yards and attempts, while J.D. McKissic had a big game in the passing game, leaving Gibson as the No. 3 RB, in terms of production if not actual role. That doesn't mean that will be the case moving forward, but it's hard to argue you shouldn't be worried at all after this. Gibson relies pretty heavily on volume, big plays, and touchdowns in the running game because he really doesn't have much of a role in the passing game, and if Patterson is cutting into that, that's bad news. And, if Washington ever decides they want to rest Gibson and let that injury heal up, Paterson could be a top-20 RB.
PIT Pittsburgh • #88
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Pat Freiermuth's role was going to grow as the season went on no matter what, but with Eric Ebron out Sunday with an injury, Freiermuth played a season-high 72% of the snaps and was second on the team in targets. He's entered the streaming tight ends discussion and has the potential to be even more than that moving forward.
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