I liken the Buffalo Bills' situation to Minnesota's with Asiata and McKinnon. Asiata was more prepared to start immediately but McKinnon clearly had the most potential for fantasy football owners. It's the same with Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown.
The waiver wire is an opportunity game. You can't always take a wait-and-see approach with free agents because someone else may take a chance on a player and find a steal, while you and your reservations will be left with nothing.
Keep that in mind as we peruse the top waiver pickups for Week 8.
5. Gavin Escobar, TE, Cowboys
There will be a feeding frenzy for Escobar this week after he scored two touchdowns against the New York Giants, his third in the past two games. The Dallas Cowboys seem to be saying to defenses: "OK, you want to take away Dez Bryant, you want to take away Jason Witten, fine. We have another reliable big target in the red zone in Escobar."
The reason Escobar's not ranked higher is because he had been targeted only three times in the previous five games. Fantasy football owners have to see if the past two weeks is the emergence of a trend or an aberration.
Leave it to your Chicago Bears to get an offensive player back on track. Clay carried a lot of potential into this season after finishing with 750 yards and six touchdowns in 2013. But he hadn't scored all season until Sunday at Soldier Field. And he has some favorable matchups on the schedule, including the Jaguars and Jets.
3. Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals
Confession time. I've never been a big fan of Palmer from his Bengals and Raiders days. It's hard to get excited about a quarterback who has had 30 or more touchdowns only once in his career, and that was with the Bengals in 2005.
But Palmer has thrown for two touchdowns in each of the three games in which he has played this season. He has missed time with a nerve problem in his neck, but Peyton Manning had a neck injury, too, and he has been just fine (in fact, he has played better than ever from a fantasy perspective) in the 2 1/2 seasons since he has returned to football.
The yardage will come for Palmer as he develops a rapport with an underrated group of targets that includes wide receiver Michael Floyd and running back Andre Ellington.
2. St. Louis Rams running backs
Any running back not named Zac Stacy, apparently. What happened to this guy, who was a second- or third-round pick in many fantasy drafts this summer? Stacy, who's nursing an ankle injury, has averaged 5.5 fantasy points per game (standard scoring) and looks like the Rams' third option behind Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason.
Mason was the star Sunday, picking up 85 yards and a score on 18 carries. That's surprising he got the bulk of the workload given that Mason (5-8, 207) is a bit smaller than Cunningham (5-10, 217), so I'm not quite convinced this pecking order will last. Cunningham was the bigger contributor in the passing game and added a score on Sunday as well.
But you can't turn your nose up at any potential starting running back at this late stage, so either back would make a good (and necessary) handcuff to Stacy.
Why two? Because there isn't a clear starter yet between Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown after both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson went down with long-term injuries Sunday. Brown is the favorite, but he has been inactive all season. Dixon took the majority of carries against the Vikings once the Bills lost Spiller and Jackson.
However, Dixon, a former San Francisco 49er, has been a plodding, goal-line type of back who has averaged a career 3.4 yards per carry (though he does boast more than 5 yards per tote this season). Brown had been an understudy to LeSean McCoy before the Eagles traded him to the Bills during the NFL draft. You want the understudy to McCoy.
Brown had a fantastic two-week stretch in 2012 in which he ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns against the Carolin Panthers, and 169 yards and another two scores against the Dallas Cowboys. In the last couple of weeks of the 2013 regular season, he found the end zone in games against the Bears and Cowboys, and rushed for 111 yards against the Bears.
I liken the Bills' situation to Minnesota's with Asiata and McKinnon. Asiata was more prepared to start immediately but McKinnon clearly had the most potential. It's the same with Dixon and Brown.
Don't worry about Brown's lack of playing time, he has been a healthy inactive for all seven weeks. With two starting quality running backs, the Bills likely needed to devote game-day roster spots to other positions. But even some teammates think Brown is the Bill's heir apparent.
"He's an every-down back," Jackson said, according to the Bills' official Twitter feed. "He can do it all. We won't miss a beat."
BONUS: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
What is he doing on this list? Many fantasy football owners may have passed on McKinnon to pick up then-starter Matt Asiata or dropped him when the Vikings offense slammed into a brick wall (thank Christian Ponder for that). If that's the case in your league, then know that McKinnon has steadily run his way back to relevance, gaining a total of 82 yards from scrimmage against the Lions in Week 6 and rushing for 103 yards against the Bills on Sunday -- his first 100-yard game rushing since Week 4 vs. the Atlanta Falcons.
McKinnon has yet to find the end zone, but it likely will happen soon. He has the Buccaneers, Redskins and Bears in the next three games. If McKinnon's still available in the free-agent pool, you have to strike now.
Who needs Percy Harvin? Clearly not the Seahawks. In one week, Baldwin fell just 10 yards yards shy of Harvin's receiving yardage for the season (133) and matched Harvin's one touchdown on the year.
This may sound like hindsight is 20/20, but I was a bit surprised Baldwin wasn't featured more in Seattle's offense when Golden Tate left for Detroit. He was a valued target in the second half of last season, catching four touchdowns and compiling at least 70 yards in each of four games, and then went on to play a prominent role in the Seahawks' Super Bowl run.