Welcome to the 2023 season. We all begin the season with optimism for our players and a (mostly) healthy roster. But to win, you have to make moves that keep you ahead of the game. That’s what this weekly post is all about. Here, I’ll be looking at lightly rostered players who could benefit you this season. Here are some players to look for in Week 8. All roster percentages are courtesy of the NFL.
Tyson Bagent, Chicago Bears
Roster Percentage: .3
About: Bagent got the start and the win on Sunday. And he didn’t look bad doing it. The injury to Justin Fields is serious and will likely require a prolonged absence. In the midst of bye weeks, starting quarterbacks have value, especially when they play well like Bagent. He should be rostered.
P.J. Walker, Cleveland Browns
Roster Percentage: .1
About: For the second week, Walker stepped in for Deshaun Watson and led the Browns to a victory. It wasn’t a pretty performance—especially for fantasy—but Walker appears to be the go-to guy if Watson is unavailable. And Watson was incredibly non-committal when talking about starting in Week 8, so it’s best to have a backup plan.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons
Roster Percentage: 2.3
About: On a team with Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, we shouldn’t have to talk about this. And yet, on Sunday, in a crucial division game, we saw Patterson getting meaningful carries. At this point, I don’t know what Arthur Smith is doing in Atlanta, and you likely don’t either. It’s worth a flier.
Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
Roster Percentage: 3.9
About: Henderson was once the starter for the Rams. What was old is new again. With Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers on IR, it seemed it was Zach Evans’s time. Instead, the Rams went with veterans, led by Henderson, who has plenty of experience in the system. He should be rostered.
Royce Freeman, Los Angeles Rams
Roster Percentage: .8
About: Freeman was the other veteran who dominated the backfield touches for the Rams. I prefer Henderson and still like the upside of Evans, but Freeman should be rostered. He got carries and produced on Sunday.
Pierre Strong, Cleveland Browns
Roster Percentage: 0
About: When Jerome Ford left with an injury on Sunday, it was Strong who was grinding with the offense down the stretch. Yes, Kareem Hunt was involved and scored the touchdown, but Strong got plenty of touches. Hunt is working back into shape and dealing with his own injury, so Strong provides a nice injury hedge in case Ford misses time.
Jauan Jennings, San Francisco 49ers
Roster Percentage: .5
About: I mentioned Jennings last week after Deebo Samuel got injured. We got the word this week that he’ll miss at least Week 8 after also missing Week 7. Jennings has some explosive ability and should be second in line among receivers after Brandon Aiyuk. He’s worth a roster spot.
Demario Douglas, New England Patriots
Roster Percentage: .1
About: Douglas has been a consistent contributor for the Patriots, a team that seems to lack consistency and pop at receiver. He has only 14 receptions for 197 yards, but he seemed to have a connection with Mac Jones on Sunday. Given that the Patriots are looking for offense, he seems like a decent speculative add in deep leagues.
Adam Trautman, Denver Broncos
Roster Percentage: .1
About: I made the point about Trautman earlier in the season, but this comes back up because Greg Dulcich is back on IR. He can’t get his hamstrings healthy, meaning the Broncos need a tight end. Trautman is familiar with the Sean Payton offense and is atop the depth chart. He hasn’t been incredible, but he did have a touchdown in Week 6. He’s worth a roster spot.
Connor Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roster Percentage: .2
About: Pat Freiermuth went on IR, meaning the Steelers have an opening at tight end. While we might be tempted to think rookie Darnell Washington would be the guy, it’s been Heyward who’s seen an uptick in production. That hasn’t resulted in a ton—as he’s caught just five passes for 46 yards the past two games—but it might be worth a deep stash.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.