Every once in a while, fantasy football can still surprise you.
A rookie running back did just that in Week 6. Chances are that by midseason, other rookies or second- or third-year players will do the same. They key is predicting which ones will click just in time to help you make the playoffs.
Sometimes it requires an educated guess or going with your gut. I did that with a few weeks ago by picking up Justin Herbert.
Sometimes it requires a little patience while an opportunity develop.
These decisions won’t always pan out, but staying pat with your roster can be just as risky.
Here are 10 waiver wire options for Week 7.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Lions
True story: I drafted Swift in my main league, dropped him after two weeks for Myles Gaskin and then picked him back up on a lark as a temporary injury replacement for Dalvin Cook.
And congratulations if you waited patiently for Swift to get a real shot. He received more than five carries for the first time this season, tallying 116 yards on 14 rushing attempts against the Jaguars — and this was with Adrian Peterson also having a nice game.
You also have to think the rookie has a medium to high floor because of his usage in the passing game: He has had at least four targets in four of five games.
Next week’s matchup looks really appetizing if you’re in need of a flex, especially with Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor and Cook on a bye.
Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals
Higgins had his biggest day for catches (six) and yards (125), though it’s his third straight week without a trip to the end zone.
Perhaps that changes next week against the Browns, who held the rookie to three catches for 35 yards in his first NFL action in Week 2. That seems like a lifetime ago, and since then, the Browns have given up at least two touchdowns to wide receivers each week with the exception of the Colts (and full disclosure, one the Steelers’ scores came on a run by Chase Claypool).
The bottom line is that Higgins has Joe Burrow’s trust. He has targeted Higgins at least seven times in each of the last four games, and Higgins has had double-digit fantasy points in three of those games.
Justin Jackson, RB, Chargers
There was such a big run on Joshua Kelley that it left Jackson available in about half of ESPN and Yahoo leagues. L.A.'s offensive line had its challenges against the Saints in Week 5, but Jackson looked more explosive running behind the blocks from his line, averaging 4.7 yards to Kelley’s 2.6.
Perhaps with the extra week of preparation, the Chargers can work out the kinks against a Jaguars defense reeling from allowing 156 yards and three touchdowns to the Lions’ combination of D’Andre Swift and Adrian Peterson.
La’Mical Perine, RB, Jets
Perine’s 27 yards on seven carries won’t warrant much attention, but there’s absolutely no reason the woeful Jets shouldn’t keep going to him. The rebuilding franchise gains nothing from trotting out ancient wonder Frank Gore.
“I know there were a couple of opportunities that Perine will probably go back and look at and wish he could have that play back,” coach Adam Gase told the New York Post. “We just gotta keep getting him more and more carries. Hopefully in the next game, we can get the carries the way we want them.”
Let’s hope Perine gets enough touches against the Bills to break a big one.
Darren Fells, TE, Texans
We hear enough about Jordan Akins being the better scoring threat and athlete, but Fells has been getting the job done with Akins sidelined with an ankle injury. Fells had 85 yards and a touchdown against the Titans.
The Packers, the Texans’ next opponent, just let (thought to be washed up) Rob Gronkowski have his get-right game.
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team
Thomas scored his first touchdown since Week 1 — and the Giants secondary isn’t the pushover the Cowboys have been. They’ve given up four touchdowns to tight ends so far.
If Kyle Allen is going to take full advantage of Dallas’ generosity, he’ll have to toss more than a handful of targets to someone other than Terry McLaurin.
Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens
You have to be somewhat ruthless in fantasy football. Being proactive helps, too. No one cheers for an injury, but if Mark Ingram’s bad ankle keeps him on the shelf past the bye week, it could help clear up that three-headed monster of a backfield for the Ravens (and not in the good way).
Edwards got the most carries Sunday and always has the best chance of getting a goal line touchdown. He’s a textbook flier option in deep leagues.
Brandon McManus, K, Broncos
The Patriots aren’t known for giving up major fantasy points to kickers. But how does 24 grab you? McManus rattled off six straight field goals (including two 50-yarders), thanks in part to a perfect combination of timely takeaways (interception, fumble) and the offense’s inability to fully capitalize on some great opportunities.
Next week’s matchup against the Chiefs might seem risky because the Broncos will have to keep up on the scoreboard, but how often have you seen an underdog division rival put up a fight on their home field? The Week 8 home game against the Chargers looks even better.
Anthony Firkser, TE, Titans
When I say Firkser’s eight catches for 113 yards and one touchdown (25.3 fantasy points in PPR leagues) helped literally no one, I mean no one. He’s rostered in 0.1% of ESPN leagues.
But he inherited Jonnu Smith’s work when Smith went down with an ankle injury. Obviously, keep tabs on Smith’s status, but if it helps ease your concerns about Firkser as a deep-league candidate, consider that Ryan Tannehill has kept the tight end position involved during his hot streak and the Steelers allowed just five catches for 52 yards on a horrendous day for the Browns.
The Titans-Steelers game has the makings of a shootout.
Dolphins defense/special teams
We’re just going to have face it: Miami’s defense isn’t the fantasy gift it used to be. At least it has transformed into a viable DST.
Would you believe it if I told you the Dolphins have posted double-digit fantasy points in three of the last four games? What about if I showed you a nifty stats chart?
The Dolphins are still available in about 55% of NFL.com leagues.