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USATSI

If you've got two hands and a pair of functioning eyes and you're eligible at tight end, you've got a shot to be relevant at the position for Fantasy Football. Unless you're one of a handful of players with one of the true, must-start options at the tight end position, managing the position mostly involves cycling through a bunch of mostly unseemly options, hoping you stumble upon one of those rare, set-it-and-forget-it guys.

We might have a new one.

Cardinals tight end Trey McBride stepped into a significant role in Week 8, as hoped after Zach Ertz was placed on IR, and he immediately turned in one of the best performances by any player at the position his season. He caught 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, with his 26.5 PPR points Sunday against the Ravens the fourth-best score by any tight end this season.

It might end up being a flash in the pan, of course, and we've had a few false alarms already this season – Raiders rookie Michael Mayer followed up his seeming breakout in Week 6 with two catches for 13 yards, while Cole Kmet's 27.5-point was a bit more sustainable, as he had 15.2 the following week, but he has just two catches for 9 yards in two games since so you're probably still looking for help if you have him. But there are reasons to believe McBride might be for real.

For one thing, McBride's just a pretty talented player. He was a second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after a 1,100-yard season as a senior at Colorado State, which he followed up with a very strong 4.61 40-yard dash at 245 pounds at the Combine. McBride had a relatively quiet rookie season, but had some flashes late in the season, too.

Plus, this Cardinals under offensive coordinator Drew Petzing is featuring the tight end pretty heavily so far. Entering Week 8, 30% of the team's targets had gone to tight ends, the majority of them to Zach Ertz, who wasn't doing much with them. Giving those targets to McBride could be one way for this offense to show some more life, and we saw proof of that against a very good Ravens defense Sunday. 

That doesn't mean McBride won't be a flash in the pan himself, of course. But he's the best thing going at a position where, if you don't already have a reliable option, you should always be looking for an upgrade. He looks like a top-12 option right now and should be the top priority on waivers for anyone who doesn't already have a good TE. 

Here's who else we'll be looking to add ahead of Week 9: 

Week 9 Early Waiver Targets (Add/Drop)
WAS Washington • #1
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NE NE -2 O/U 40
OPP VS WR
14th
WR RNK
NR
ROSTERED
47%
Week 8 Stats
REC
8
TAR
10
REYDS
108
TD
1
FPTS
24.8
It's incredibly hard to know what to make of Dotson's best game of the season, especially since it's also … his first good game of the season – he hadn't topped 11 PPR points in any game before Sunday. We know Dotson has talent, as a 2022 first-round pick, but he just hasn't shown that talent often enough this season, and it's not like much changed for Dotson this week besides the results; he played 85% of the snaps Sunday, compared to 84% in Week 7. Of course, the production was incredible, and it's hard to ignore that from a talented player. I don't think Dotson is going to be worth trusting in Week 9 against the Patriots, but he probably should be rostered now, at least. It's worth noting the Eagles have had a lot of injuries in the secondary, and Terry McLaurin still had more targets Sunday.
SEA Seattle • #11
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ BAL BAL -5 O/U 43
OPP VS WR
11th
WR RNK
NR
ROSTERED
69%
Week 8 Stats
REC
3
TAR
4
REYDS
36
TD
1
FPTS
12.6
Smith-Njigba took a step back with DK Metcalf back from his one-game absence, but he kept producing, and that's what we want to see from a younger player. Smith-Njigba is an incredibly talented receiver stuck in a very crowded receiving group, with a QB who has taken a step backward from his impressive 2022 season, which had led to a disappointing start to his career. However, Smith-Njigba is starting to make plays more consistently, with a touchdown in consecutive games, and should continue to see his role increase as the season goes on. Like Dotson, you probably can't be super optimistic about using Smith-Njigba in Week 9, but I want him on my bench if I can make room.
TEN Tennessee • #8
Age: 24 • Experience: Rookie
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PIT PIT -3 O/U 36
OPP VS QB
10th
QB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
8%
Week 8 Stats
PAYDS
238
RUYDS
11
TD
4
INT
0
FPTS
34.6
You've gotta give Levis credit: He definitely didn't play scared in his first NFL start, and the Titans didn't act like they didn't trust him. That might sound like a low bar to clear, but it's absolutely not true of how they treated Malik Willis when Ryan Tannehill's injuries forced him into starting action as a rookie a year ago. And I'm not just damning with faint praise here: Levis looked legitimately good, aggressively pushing the ball down the field consistently and hitting on multiple big plays while leaning on veteran DeAndre Hopkins. Levis didn't show much as a runner, and this offense still figures to lean more run-heavy, so it's probably not a Fantasy QB1 profile unless Levis is just a star right away. But if you play in 2QB leagues or need some depth behind a shaky starter, Levis showed a lot of upside in Week 8.
MIN Minnesota • #31
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ ATL ATL -3.5 O/U 38.5
OPP VS RB
2nd
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
57%
Week 8 Stats
RUYDS
19
REC
1
REYDS
6
TD
1
FPTS
9.5
Akers continues to play a role for the Vikings, and that role might only grow after Kirk Cousins' expected season-ending Achilles injury Sunday. Akers is still the clear No. 2 back behind Alexander Mattison, but he also now has consecutive games with double-digit touches and has gotten key work near the end zone each of the past two games, culminating in a touchdown Sunday. It might just be a committee in a bad offense, but Akers has enough of a role to be worth rostering in most leagues.
CLE Cleveland • #20
Age: 25 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ARI CLE -7.5 O/U 39.5
OPP VS RB
29th
RB RNK
NR
ROSTERED
24%
Week 8 Stats
RUYDS
41
REC
1
REYDS
41
TD
0
FPTS/G
9.2
Strong still played a pretty solid role in Week 8 despite starter Jerome Ford being healthy enough to get nine carries, and he showed some juice. Strong rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries and hit on a big play in the passing game, taking his lone target for 41 yards. This might just be a three-way split moving forward, or Strong might even be relegated to a reserve role next week if Ford is feeling better. But he also showed he can make plays in this offense and could be one injury away from really mattering for Fantasy.
NO New Orleans • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CHI NO -6 O/U 41.5
OPP VS WR
18th
WR RNK
NR
ROSTERED
47%
Week 8 Stats
REC
3
TAR
3
REYDS
153
TD
1
FPTS
24.3
All Shaheed does is make plays, and at some point, the Saints have to make a commitment to getting him more involved in their offense, right? He scored for the second straight week Sunday while hitting on three catches of 40-plus yards. The problem? He got only three targets in a game where the Saints threw it 29 times. But with Michael Thomas looking a step (or two) slow and Chris Olave and Derek Carr still working on getting on the same page, Shaheed brings some poor-man's Gabe Davis potential to the table as a high-upside bye-week or injury replacement.