If you have the top waiver priority heading into Week 10, you might be in luck, because we might have the most valuable resource in Fantasy available this week: A number one running back in a good offense, as Ronald Jones finally appeared to have his breakout game in Week 9.
The Buccaneers have spent most of the season stubbornly insisting on giving Peyton Barber the majority of the touches at running back, despite his 3.3 yards per carry average, and despite Jones consistently looking like the better player. And, even when Jones has gotten the majority of the work in previous games, it has usually come in the second half of games, when he was already running well — it was almost always Barber getting the first opportunities.
Things were different Sunday, however, as Jones got the start and rushed four times for 28 yards and a touchdown on the very first drive. Barber, on the other hand, didn't touch the ball until the fourth drive of the game, and was clearly just a role player in the game, with all four of his carries coming on that drive. While Dare Ogunbowale still saw time in obvious passing downs — and scored a touchdown of his own in a hurry-up situation late in the game — this was the first time we really saw the team commit to Jones from the start of a game. Jones even ran 18 routes in this one — his previous season-high was just 10, per Pro Football Focus.
Overall, Jones played 53% of the snaps Sunday, still a relatively small share for a starting running back, but with Barber playing just 11 overall compared to Jones' 42, it's clear who the primary option is. Ogunbowale may still have a presence as a passing downs' option, but let's hope this means Jones is the primary option overall moving forward.
The Bucs got 67 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries from Jones, with two catches for 15 yards on two targets, tying the most touches Jones has ever had in a game. It wasn't the most efficient game of Jones' career, but the process is more important than the result here, and the fact that the Buccaneers finally treated him like a starter is significant.
Jones is still available in nearly 40% of CBS Fantasy leagues, and figures to be the top target on waivers heading into Week 10. He'll be a must-add option heading into what could be an incredible matchup in Week 10, against a Cardinals defense allowing more than 100 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs. We've been waiting for Jones to get this chance since last season, and it looks like it's finally here.
Here's who else we'll be chasing on the waiver wire this week:
Early Waiver Targets
NE New England • #88
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
There were signs that Montgomery might have a role alongside Le'Veon Bell at the start of the season, but Jets coach Adam Gase pretty quickly settled on an RB rotation that saw Bell take the overwhelming majority of the snaps, leaving very little left over. However, with Bell heading for an MRI on his knee Monday, all of a sudden things look very unsettled for the Jets as they head into Week 10 against the Giants. It's a solid matchup if Bell is out, though it's hard to know whether Montgomery or Bilal Powell, who has seen his playing time increase in recent weeks, would be the primary beneficiary. We'll go with the assumption that Montgomery will see the majority of the work if Bell is out, though both may be worth adding on waivers if it looks like Bell is trending in the wrong direction by Tuesday evening.
Trey Edmunds RB
PIT Pittsburgh • #33
Age: 27 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Steelers are in a weird spot with Jaylen Samuels. He is clearly a valuable player, but it's not quite clear he's a running back. That's where the Steelers line him up, sure, but Samuels has never been used primarily as a traditional running back, and that's not necessarily how they used him in Week 9, even with James Conner out with a shoulder injury. Samuels had 21 touches Sunday, but 13 came on receptions, as he caught all 13 passes thrown his way for 73 yards, while adding just 10 yards on eight carries. The bulk of the production in the rushing game came from practice squad signee Trey Edmunds, an undrafted free agent who previously saw limited work with the Saints in 2017. Edmunds ran the ball 12 times for 73 yards Sunday, and while there doesn't seem to be any path to him becoming the lead back for the Steelers, if Conner and Benny Snell are still out in Week 10, Edmunds could continue to see a Fantasy relevant role in Week 10 against the Rams.
Zach Pascal WR
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
The Colts were missing their starting quarterback – Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury that could cost him multiple weeks — and their No. 1 wide receiver, and they nearly stole one from the Steelers Sunday. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer tossed three touchdowns in Brissett's absence, and Pascal stepped up as the top target in T.Y. Hilton's absence, hauling in five of six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Parris Campbell also showed solid playmaking abilities, catching five passes for 53 yards and picking up an additional 27 yards on three carries, but Pascal looks like the top option with Hilton out. With a prime matchup against the Dolphins on the way in Week 10, Pascal could be worth using as a starting Fantasy option, while even Hoyer should have some streaming appeal.
Mike Gesicki TE
MIA Miami • #88
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Despite their record, the Dolphins aren't entirely absent of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and they showed that Sunday against the Jets. Sunday's biggest breakout for them was Gesicki, a 2018 second rounder who has always had the physical ability, but hasn't done much with it in the NFL so far. He showed what he is capable of in Week 9 catching six passes for a team-high 95 yards, and that gives him at least 41 yards on three of the last four games. The Dolphins have been giving Gesicki more opportunities out of the slot — he was second in the NFL in slot snaps coming into Week 9 among all tight ends — and if this was a sign of how they will use him moving forward, Gesicki has the talent to become a startable tight end.
NE New England • #11
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
While Mark Walton was a bit of a dud (41 total yards), Gesicki, Preston Williams, and Devante Parker stood out in the team's first win. Williams led the team in targets with nine, catching five of them for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns — while fellow receiver Devante Parker also scored and reached double digits in Fantasy points in PPR scoring for the fifth straight game. Unfortunately, Williams suffered a season-ending ACL tear Sunday, cutting his rookie season short after 32 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns. That leaves Parker as the unquestioned No. 1 receiver for the Dolphins, a role that stands to make him Fantasy relevant moving forward. He should probably slot in as a starting-caliber flex option for Week 10, at least.
Keelan Cole WR
LV Las Vegas • #88
Age: 29 • Experience: 6 yrs.
With Marqise Lee place on IR and Dede Westbrook out with a shoulder injury, the Jaguars needed a wide receiver to step up, and Keelan Cole answered the call. On a day when not much was working for them — Gardner Minshew might have lost his starting job with Nick Foles coming back after the Week 10 bye — Cole was a rare bright spot, hauling in five of six passes for 80 yards. We'll see what the Jaguars' passing game looks like after the bye — Foles' return could change quite a bit — but Cole's performance Sunday shouldn't be ignored.
WAS Washington • #41
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Lions have been willing to give Ty Johnson an opportunity, but he just hasn't done much with it so far. McKissic is never going to be an every-down back, but he seems to have a locked-in role as the pass-catching back in Kerryon Johnson's absence. He ran the ball four times for 32 yards and added three catches on four targets for 40 yards and a touchdown Sunday, his second game in a row with three receptions. With six teams on bye in Week 10, chances are you might need some help at running back, and you could probably do worse for bye-week replacements than McKissic.
LV Las Vegas • #86
Age: 28 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Last season, the Seahawks tight ends caught just 50 passes, but they've been making use of them more this season, entering Week 9 with 38 receptions as a group. That despite the loss of breakout second-year player Will Dissly. The tight ends stepped up again Sunday, catching six passes, with four of them going to Hollister after Luke Willson left with an injury. Hollister's four catches went for 37 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the first two of his career. Hollister has basically no track record to speak of, but he has solid athleticism and could continue to feature given the team's issues up and down the depth chart.