Once upon a time, the NFL trade deadline didn't really mean much for Fantasy, but things have certainly changed in recent years. Mark Walton to step up as the Dolphins' primary running back — and makes Walton one of the top targets on waivers heading into Week 9, as Heath Cummings noted Sunday., with the Dolphins agreeing to trade Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals for a day three pick in 2020. That deal likely opens up an opportunity for
That's not exactly an Earth-shattering move, the way last season's Amari Cooper deal with the Cowboys ended up being, but it's a clear example of how value can be created at the deadline. And we got plenty of other signals Sunday that this year's deadline could matter as well.
Specifically, we learned from the NFL Network that former first-round running back Rashaad Penny could be on the block. The Seahawks would seem to be unlikely to recoup their first-round investment in Penny from the 2018 draft, but with Chris Carson looking like the every-down back they probably hoped Penny could be, moving a young, affordable running back like Penny could be one obvious avenue toward improving their roster.
And, depending on where Penny ends up, it could be a big deal for Fantasy. Penny hasn't quite been able to get his feet under him in his year-plus in the NFL, but the talent that made him the No. 27 overall pick remains clear. He rushed for 55 yards on eight carries in relief of Carson Sunday — who rushed for 90 yards on 20 carries in another typically excellent performance — and has rushed for 572 yards on 115 career carries, good for 4.97 yards per carry. Add in the flashes he has shown in the receiving game going back to college, and Penny still has the look of a potential difference maker in Fantasy if he ever gets 15-plus touches consistently.
Penny would be worth adding in all leagues if he ended up traded somewhere he could get that kind of work, which means he should be one of the top waiver-wire targets in the league in Week 9, just in case. Of course, there's always the question of where he — or Melvin Gordon, another player NFL Network mentions as a possible trade candidate — might end up. There aren't a lot of obvious spots, but there is one that stands out: Detroit.
The Lions are rumored to be looking to upgrade their roster, and running back is an obvious spot they could look after placing Kerryon Johnson on IR this week with a knee injury. We saw Ty Johnson (seven carries for 25 yards and one catch on four targets for 13 yards) and Tra Carson (12 carries for 34 yards) step into bigger roles in Kerryon Johnson's absence, and both would be worth adding in most formats this week if the Lions stand pat, though neither had the look of a league-winning add Sunday.
Fortunately, we know where Drake is headed now, and we'll know where Penny and any other potential trade candidates might end up well before waivers run in most leagues, with the trade deadline looming Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET. However, for those of you who can make adds over the next two days, or just want to get ahead on your claims, here's who else you should be looking at headed into Week 9:
Early Waiver Targets
Mark Walton RB
MIA Miami • #22
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Walton has been the Dolphins' most effective running back this season, actually finding room to operate while Drake and Kalen Ballage have often seemed stuck in the mud. Walton probably doesn't have huge upside in what remains one of the league's worst offenses, but he should see a significant role moving forward, with Ballage likely limited to more of the short-yardage work. Walton is likely looking at 15-plus touches per game, and even in the Dolphins' offense, that is probably enough to make him a low-end No. 2 running back most weeks. He should be the top priority on waivers this week.
ARI Arizona • #13
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
There's no question who Kyler Murray's No. 1 target is at this point. Murray was peppering Kirk with targets in the first four games of the season, as Kirk racked up 37 of them before suffering an ankle injury in Week 4 that kept him off the field for three straight games. He stepped right back on the field Sunday and drew 11 of Murray's 33 pass attempts against the Saints — nobody else had more than five targets. Efficiency remains an issue, as Kirk is still averaging below 7.0 yards per attempt for the season, but if nothing else, we know Kirk has a high-volume role in an offense that wants to pass the ball a lot. Kirk is still available in 27% of CBS Fantasy leagues, and should be a priority wherever available.
JAC Jacksonville • #15
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
The Jets made it easy for him at times, but Gardner Minshew earned most of the nearly 32 Fantasy points he scored Sunday, as he continuously made plays with his legs and his arm in the 29-15 win. Minshew completed 22 of 34 passes for a career-high three touchdowns, a nice bounceback performance following two subpar outings. Minshew may yet cede the starting job to Nick Foles at some point, but it won't be in Week 9, when he faces off against the Texans for the second time — this time likely without J.J. Watt. He scored 18.12 Fantasy points against the Texans in Week 2 in his first career start, and with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Jared Goff on bye, Minshew could be a borderline top-12 option for this matchup.
TEN Tennessee • #11
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
The Rams don't share their targets quite as equitably as they once did, but we saw Reynolds step up as a viable Fantasy option when he got an opportunity for an expanded role last season following Cooper Kupp's injury. Reynolds had 22 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns in those six games — not huge numbers, but enough to be worth putting on your radar. The Rams are on a bye in Week 9, so we'll see if Brandin Cooks is able to return from the concussion he suffered Sunday – the second time he has been in the concussion protocol this month and at least the fourth documented concussion of his career. If not Reynolds could step into the top three in the Rams' receiving hierarchy, a valuable spot for the stretch run.
DET Detroit • #80
Age: 35 • Experience: 13 yrs.
Consistency hasn't exactly been Amendola's calling card this season, but we've learned that when Matthew Stafford does look his way, he tends to do so over and over. Coming off an eight-catch, 105-yard performance in Week 7, Amendola had eight catches yet again for 95 yards Sunday. That gives him three games out of six with at least seven catches and 95 yards this season, and with a matchup on the way against the Raiders in Week 9, Amendola could be a viable starting option next week.
HOU Houston • #12
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Erickson probably doesn't need to be a huge priority on waivers this week, mostly because the Bengals are on a Week 9 bye and could have A.J. Green back when they return in Week 10, but we just can't ignore what Erickson has done the last two weeks. Between Weeks 7 and 8, Erickson has 14 catches for 234 yards on 21 targets, with catches of 48 and 52 yards. Green's return means we don't know what this Bengals receiving corps is likely to look like for the second half, but in a deeper league, Erickson has given us too much to ignore over the last few weeks.