With most of Week 6 in the books, it seemed like the biggest story heading into the waiver-wire period for Week 7 was going to be about Sam Darnold's return and the impact it had on the Jets' pass catchers. And then Hunter Henry happened.
Henry didn't need a prove-it week for Fantasy players, as he stepped back on the field for the Chargers on Sunday Night Football and dominated in his return from a knee fracture. Henry was targeted nine times by Philip Rivers and caught eight of them for 100 yards and two touchdowns, his first scores since December of 2017.
It's been a long road back for Henry, who missed nearly all of the 2018 season — he appeared in one playoff game but did not have a catch — recovering from a torn ACL, but he's been everything we hoped he would be in the limited time we've seen him on the field so far in 2019. He played 92% of the team's snaps in Week 1, catching four of five passes for 60 yards, and then played 66% of the snaps in his return in Week 6.
We know Rivers likes to lean on his tight ends, but Fantasy players haven't had a player in this offense they could rely on since Antonio Gates' peak. What Henry's return will mean for Keenan Allen and Mike Williams (81% owned and worth adding after his second double-digit target game in a row, where available) remains to be seen. But what it means for Fantasy is clear: The wasteland of tight end just got a bit less bleak.
Henry is the top player to target in all leagues on waivers in Week 7, a must-add player everywhere he is available, and you won't even consider sitting him until the Chargers Week 12 bye.
Sam Darnold made his return from a four-week absence due to a bout of Mono and he showed us what we've been missing from this Jets offense in Week 6. Though they couldn't quite sustain for the full 60 minutes in a win over the Cowboys, Fantasy players got a glimpse of the potential that put the likes of Darnold, Robby Anderson, and Jamison Crowder in the sleeper and breakout discussions before the season.
Darnold got the offense going early, finishing the game 23 of 32 for 338 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with just one interception. 125 of those yards went to Anderson, most coming on a 92-yard touchdown that perfectly summed up what the offense had been missing during the Luke Falk era. Anderson hauled in five of eight passes thrown his way overall and should be one of the top waiver priorities heading into Week 7 now that Darnold is back.
And Crowder should be right there behind him. He caught six of the nine passes thrown his way, both of which led the team, while finishing with 98 yards of his own. He was Darnold's safety blanket in the first game of the season and has 26 targets in the two games Darnold has played, compared to just 14 in the other three games.
Anderson brings the big-play ability, while Crowder keeps the chains moving, but we've learned this season they need Darnold to make it all work. The Jets like to keep their starters on the field as much as possible, which means there really isn't very much competition for targets outside of Anderson and Crowder, which means they should continue to see healthy work.
The only downside to adding Anderson and Crowder is the schedule, which sees them facing the Patriots in Week 7, followed by a matchup with the Jaguars. They will likely be low-end starters for those matchups, but then they face the Dolphins, Giants, Washington, Raiders, Bengals, and the Dolphins again in a six-week stretch beginning in Week 9 that could carry you through the Fantasy playoffs.
I don't want to say Anderson and Crowder could be league-winning adds, but given the way the schedule lines up, you'll want them on your side down the stretch.
Early Waiver Targets
MIN Minnesota • #25
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Part of why opportunities have been so scarce for the Vikings' wide receivers has been the massive workload they have put on Dalvin Cook. He entered Week 6 with 92 carries and 21 receptions, putting him on pace for 362 touches in 16 games, after he had just 258 in his first 15 career games. That pace slowed just a bit after Week 6, with Mattison taking on a bigger role, and it will be interesting to see if that becomes a pattern. We know the Vikings want to run the ball as much as anyone in the NFL, and Mattison had 63 yards on 14 carries Sunday, his best game of the season. If nothing else, Mattison is one of the best handcuffs in Fantasy, but maybe there's room for him to be something more than that even if Cook is healthy.
CAR Carolina • #10
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
This Panthers passing game hasn't been quite what he hoped it would be this season, but we're still seeing some flashes of it. D.J. Moore remains the clear top option, but Curtis Samuel showed what he can do when he gets room to make plays in Week 6, hauling in four of six passes for 70 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown, and he added an 8-yard touchdown run in the 37-26 win over the Buccaneers. Samuel has been consistently targeted in the Panthers' passing game, with 43 targets in six games (plus five carries), but he entered Week 6 having caught just 51.4% of the passes thrown his way. If he can Kyle Allen can continue to click or Cam Newton can return from his foot injury and find his form from the first half of 2018, Samuel still has the potential to be the breakout difference maker we were hoping he would be in draft season.
Auden Tate WR
CIN Cincinnati • #19
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
At 0-6, the Bengals are officially in "Evaluating for next year" mode, and that could mean plenty of opportunities for Tate moving forward. The eventual return of A.J. Green obviously looms, but Tate's 12 targets in Week 6 were double anyone else on the team, and he now has 34 over the last four games, as they are clearly looking to get him involved. The upcoming schedule against the Jaguars and Rams over the next two weeks could make things tough, but you can't ignore the workload Tate is getting right now.
KC Kansas City • #83
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Things have to be truly desperate to consider adding a player who had one target and no catches just a week ago, but chances are you are truly desperate at tight end these days. Things looked okay for a few weeks, but Evan Engram's knee injury, O.J. Howard's disappearance and Will Dissly's seeming season-ending injury in Week 6 have created as barren a landscape as ever at the position. So, Ricky Seal-Jones, who has a touchdown and at least three catches in two of the last three games, doesn't look so bad. He doesn't look so good, either, but the former wide receiver is athletic and getting work, and that puts him into the Fantasy discussion.
Mark Walton RB
MIA Miami • #22
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Three different running backs got meaningful work in Week 6 for the Dolphins, and Walton and Kenyan Drake actually topped double figures in Fantasy scoring in PPR leagues. I wouldn't expect the Dolphins to have multiple Fantasy relevant backfield options every week, but Walton got the start and was surprisingly effective in the passing game, so it's possible his role continues to grow in the coming weeks. After all, the Dolphins have to be looking ahead to next season, and it's pretty clear at this point they don't think Drake is much more than a situational guy. Maybe Walton, a former University of Miami standout, can emerge as something more than that. In deeper leagues, he's worth a stash.
ARI Arizona • #29
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Jamey Eisenberg liked Edmonds as one of the top waiver-wire claims for Week 6 when it looked like David Johnson may not play due to a back injury, and Edmonds had us wondering what might have been Sunday. He was effective in a limited role as both a runner and pass catcher, a valuable skill in an offense that wants to get the ball to the running back in a number of different ways — Edmonds scored on a play where he split out wide. Johnson, of course, still had a strong performance, scoring a couple of touchdowns of his own and nearing 100 total yards, so don't expect him to step aside anytime soon. However, if anything should happen to Johnson, Edmonds would be a must-own player, and without any obvious difference makers to add for Week 7, you can do worse than buying cheap on Edmonds and stashing him.