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Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 8

We're past the halfway point of the regular fantasy football season, which means you'd better start making some serious moves if you have any weaknesses in your roster. Unfortunately, this is also the time of the year when the waiver wire is at its most desolate. But that's why I'm here. To navigate you through the dusty landscape of sparsely-owned players and lead you toward a possible oasis.

At least there are fewer teams on bye to contend with, as it's just the Ravens and Cowboys getting a breather this week. As a reminder, keep an eye out to see if anyone in your league happened to drop players from those teams to make space on their roster. It happens.

The following players are owned in approximately 10% or fewer of Yahoo leagues, so they won't be the flashiest names on the market. But if you're looking for a good spot start or just need some high-upside lottery tickets, these are your guys. Let's look at some potential waiver wire adds in deep leagues.

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Free Agent Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans - 5% owned

It was only a matter of time until Marcus Mariota found himself watching the offense from the sidelines. The fifth-year quarterback has been too inefficient for too long and there's finally another starting-caliber option behind him on the depth chart. It's a drastic understatement to say Tannehill wasn't exactly a world-beater in Miami, but he'll have a fresh start in a different offensive scheme.

He looked solid in his first start with the Titans, going 23-of-29 and racking up 312 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did so against an admittedly banged-up Chargers Defense, but one that'd given up the 8th-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs to that point. This week Tannehill should be able to improve on his stats against the Buccaneers, who are allowing the 4th-most fantasy points to the position.

Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh Steelers - 6% owned

Rudolph was listed here last week even though he was going into his bye week, so there's no reason to back off of him now. The sophomore QB has cleared the concussion protocol and should get to start against the cheat code known as the Miami Dolphins Defense. In fact, things should be relatively smooth sailing from here on out as Rudolph as the 7th-easiest strength of schedule moving forward.

In the only two games Rudolph has started and finished, he ranked as the QB17. To be fair to the young quarterback, though, his first game was against the vaunted 49ers Defense. Just how tough has San Francisco been to opposing passers? They've given up finishes of QB30, QB30, and QB32 to Jameis Winston, Jared Goff, and Baker Mayfield, respectively. Rudolph probably won't be a top tier option any time soon, but he's a reliable fill-in with a reasonable amount of upside based on his upcoming matchups.


Free Agent Running Backs

Ty Johnson, Detroit Lions - 2% owned

You don't get many freebies on the waivers this time of year for running backs, but Ty Johnson could legitimately prove to be a league winner. Kerryon Johnson suffered a knee injury in Detroit's loss to the Vikings on Sunday and is reported to miss "some time." While that vague statement could mean Kerryon is sidelined for a game or two, it could also be reminiscent of last year around this time when he ended up missing the rest of the season with -- you guessed it -- a knee injury.

Ty Johnson stepped in and was immediately gifted a workhorse-like touch count, including receiving work and goal-line carries. His 2.9 yards-per-carry left a lot to be desired, but he'll see softer defensive fronts over the next few games. J.D. McKissic also saw an uptick in production with Kerryon out, though he saw just half the touches Ty Johnson did.

Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers - 9% owned

The 49ers backfield is a well-oiled machine and Kyle Shanahan knows exactly how to operate it, regardless of the personnel on the field. Mostert may be third in the pecking order, but we've seen him perform well when he was boosted to the front of the line. Considering the two running backs in front of him, Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida, collect injuries like trading cards, Mostert is one of the better handcuffs available.

Should Coleman or Breida miss more time this year, Mostert would see plenty of work in one of the league's most consistently effective rushing attacks. San Francisco currently ranks 2nd in rushing yards-per-game.


Free Agent Wide Receivers

Olabisi Johnson, Minnesota Vikings - 0% owned

The rookie receiver out of Colorado State got a chance to shine in the Vikings offense once Adam Thielen went to the sidelines with a hamstring injury early in their Week 7 matchup with the Lions. Johnson brought in 4-of-8 targets for 40 yards and a touchdown in relief of Thielen, who is slated to miss Minnesota's Thursday night game against Washington.

We know the Vikings offense had been funneling through Dalvin Cook and the running game earlier in the season, but offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski has been unleashing Kirk Cousins over the last couple of games. Minnesota still relies on two primary receivers, which puts Johnson in a nice situation to thrive opposite Stefon Diggs. The team likely won't need to throw nearly as much against Washington, but it wouldn't be shocking to see the rookie put up season-high marks in all the major statistical categories on Thursday.

Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots - 6% owned

I've been pounding the drum for everyone to pick up N'Keal Harry prior to his return from IR, but this week I'm going to switch gears and focus on the now rather than the later. Meyers caught 5-of-5 targets for 47 yards against the Jets and is becoming a reliable option for Tom Brady while Josh Gordon is sidelined with a knee injury. The undrafted rookie saw more targets than Phillip Dorsett and is fighting to earn a permanent spot on the roster when Harry returns. He'll at least get a couple more weeks to showcase himself against the Browns and Ravens. If you're in a pinch, you could do a lot worse than Meyers, especially if Gordon fails to suit up once more.


Free Agent Tight Ends

Ricky Seals-Jones, Cleveland Browns - 3% owned

What more does this guy have to do to earn fantasy owners' affections in deep leagues? In the four weeks since he signed with Cleveland, Seals-Jones has caught 7-of-12 for 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He's making catches at crucial moments and has shown he has the burners necessary to turn any reception into a big play. The Browns offense as a whole looks out of sorts, but Seals-Jones has become a bright spot for the team. He gets a tough matchup this week against New England, but if you're desperate at the position he's someone you can plug into your lineup and hope for a handful of receptions.

Josh Oliver, Jacksonville Jaguars - 1% owned

The rookie tight end out of San Jose State appeared primed for a substantial role in Jacksonville's offense before suffering a severe hamstring injury in August. He wasn't involved this past week in his debut against Cincinnati but will surely see more action this week against the Jets and beyond. Jacksonville is terribly thin at the tight end position after losing Geoff Swaim and James O'Shaughnessy to injuries and considering Oliver's tremendous athletic profile, he should get more work once he finds his footing in the offense.

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