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Waiver Wire Watch: Players to Pick Up Week 8

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Ishmael Butler, James Harrison and David Bowie.

ACC

Alex Amidon, WR, Boston College

After catching just 20 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown last year, there wasn't much reason to expect Amidon to produce for Boston College this year. That has been far from the case, however, as the junior raced his way to 688 yards (16.8 YPC) and four touchdowns on 41 catches, establishing himself as one of the nation's absolute best receivers through the first month and a half of the season. With Florida State out of the way, Notre Dame on Nov. 10 is the only frightening defense left on Amidon's schedule. He should stay hot.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland

Diggs is a clear blue chip talent who for some reason chose to play at Maryland - an admirable move perhaps, but one that threatened to harm Diggs' best interests. Somehow, though, Diggs has risen above the challenge of playing with a bulls eye on him on a roster with very little talent, returning a kickoff for a touchdown and averaging 21.2 yards per catch, allowing him to turn the modest total of 21 catches into 453 yards and three touchdowns. He's getting hotter as time passes, too, as he has 307 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks. It appears as if Diggs is close to unstoppable.

BIG 12

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Boykin had a rough go of things in his first start against Iowa State, throwing three interceptions to one touchdown, but the dual threat looks like one of college football's most intriguing fantasy options after he showed improvement against Baylor on Saturday, throwing for 261 yards and four touchdowns while running for 56 yards and a fifth touchdown. The Texas Tech defense will be a very tough challenge for him this week, but Boykin should put up big fantasy numbers against Oklahoma State and West Virginia the following weeks.

Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State

It appeared as if Tracy Moore would be the lead receiver for Oklahoma State after catching eight passes for 106 yards and four touchdowns in his 2012 debut, but Moore hasn't scored since, while Stewart caught 19 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns the three following weeks. Even with challenging upcoming matchups with Iowa State, TCU and Kansas State, Cooper should remain a strong option in Big 12-only leagues as well as a good spot start in most other formats.

BIG EAST

Senorise Perry, RB, Louisville

Perry failed to impress in 2011, rushing for just 27 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, but the former wideout has really hit his stride this year and finds himself as a must-own in all formats. Despite sharing 99 carries with Jeremy Wright, Perry has 559 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. That includes 219 yards and six touchdowns the last two weeks. Louisville figures to lean heavily on both runners as the Cardinals head into the toughest part of their conference schedule, so both backs should remain productive.

Rushel Shell, RB, Pittsburgh

When you're a true freshman and you're making Ray Graham look relatively ordinary, you know you're good. A blue chip recruit, high expectations were always part of the equation with Shell, but few expected him to already be arguably better than Graham, who is one of the all-time best Pittsburgh running backs. But Graham saw just six carries against Louisville on Saturday, while the more physically imposing Shell received 18 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Shell's workload figures to decrease as Pittsburgh shows Graham veteran respect, but the Panthers are a good bet to go extra run-heavy to get both players as many carries as possible.

BIG TEN

Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana

Houston headed into last year in a timeshare, presumably due to unimpressive showings in practice. But when he got the ball he was a nearly matchup-proof playmaker, forcing his way into a workhorse role as he ran for 711 yards (5.5 YPC) and seven touchdowns in the final eight weeks of the year, playing a strictly conference schedule that featured road matchups against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State. That same routine is occurring this year - Houston reportedly didn't look good in fall practices, so Indiana made him a backup to enter the year. But when he got the ball, Houston again made it clear that he's too good to bench. He ran for a touchdown in each of the first four weeks and burned Ohio State on Saturday for 91 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries while adding a third touchdown on 37 yards receiving. With 14 catches and 32 carries the last three weeks, Houston is pulling away from his competition and is due for some huge games against Navy and Illinois.

Greg Garmon, RB, Iowa

Garmon's disappointing production to this point makes him no more than a deep-league and Big Ten thought, but with Mark Weisman (ankle) almost certainly out this week and Damon Bullock on shaky ground due to a concussion, Garmon should be expected to serve as Iowa's top runner against Penn State this week. He has just 35 yards on 14 carries, but a chance to play in the spotlight could be just what the top recruit needs to find himself as a runner at Iowa.

CONFERENCE USA

Nathan Jeffery, RB, UTEP

Jeffery has yet to score this year, but that's primarily due to a combination of a groin injury and a brutal schedule. He's been active only for games against Oklahoma, Wisconsin, East Carolina, SMU and Tulsa, four of which allow less than 3.75 yards per carry. Considering he posted 177 yards on just 21 carries (8.4 YPC) against the Sooners in Week 1, Jeffery should put a beating on Tulane this week, the first remotely vulnerable defense he's faced. Jeffery's owners can finally expect a payday.

Kevin Grooms, RB, Marshall

Marshall has a loaded backfield with Steward Butler and Remi Watson both taking their share of touches, but Grooms has been the best of the bunch lately, receiving 36 carries the last three weeks and totaling 227 yards (6.3 YPC) and four touchdowns rushing despite facing two challenging tests in Purdue and Tulsa. The matchup is much more favorable this week, however, as the Thundering Herd faces a winless Southern Mississippi program that can't get anything going on offense. The result should be more clock-eating time than usual for the Herd, a task for which Grooms is the most qualified candidate.

INDEPENDENTS

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU

Michael Alisa appears to be a long way back in the rearview mirror, and Williams is semi-officially both the future and the present at running back for a BYU squad that tends to put up a bevy of points most days. Lately, those point totals have been due in no small part to Williams himself, who has 262 yards rushing (5.6 YPC) and four touchdowns in the last three games. He also showed a lot of skill as a receiver over that span, catching nine passes for 127 yards. He's worth adding in all formats, though he should probably be benched against a ruthless Notre Dame defense this week.

MAC

Bronson Hill, RB, Eastern Michigan

Dominique Sherrer, Javonti Greene and Dominique White were highly productive runners for Eastern Michigan at various points, and the three headed into this year as sort of co-starters at running back for the Eagles. White never saw a carry, though, and Greene and Sherrer fell on their faces, failing to combine for 300 yards or a single touchdown. So Eastern Michigan turned to Hill the last two weeks, and he's been absolutely ridiculous. On just 32 carries he has 353 yards and five touchdowns rushing against Kent State and Toledo. It doesn't matter who the opponent is - when a runner does that, he's a must-add in all formats.

Dalton Williams, QB, Akron

It might not be apparent when glancing at Akron's 1-6 record, but the Zips are the most competitive they've been in roughly half a decade, and Williams is the primary reason for it. He's averaging 315 yards passing per game while throwing for 19 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions, and that's despite facing two tough defenses in Central Florida and Tennessee. This week he has a home game against a Northern Illinois team that's all but guaranteed to force a shootout and seems ripe to give up more than 300 yards to Williams after being tested primarily against weak passing games to this point.

Mountain West

Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State

There are still other candidates who might emerge, but over the last two weeks Ajayi has gone a long way in establishing himself as the Boise State running back of the future. In an offense that runs 36 times per game, that means he can be a fantasy factor in the meantime, as well, even with D.J. Harper around. Ajayi has Ajayi has seen his carry count increase from one, to six, to nine, to 15 over the last four weeks, totaling 251 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries (8.1 YPC). The fact that he received his biggest workload yet against a formidable Fresno State squad bodes well for his consistency.

Richy Turner, WR, Nevada

Nevada had an extreme shortage of wide receivers entering the year, as Rishard Matthews (91 catches), Shane Anderson (40 catches), Corbin Louks (26 catches) and Tray Session (23 catches) graduated. Turner had no career catches and therefore wasn't on the radar, but he appears to have answered the call to step up, because he has 38 catches for 475 yards and two scores this year, with 21 of those catches and both touchdowns coming in the last three games. His role appears solidified, if not still escalating, so he's on the radar in most formats.

PAC-12

Cody Vaz, QB, Oregon State

There probably isn't a quarterback controversy at Oregon State, but Vaz's superb performance against a tough BYU defense on the road in his first start in Sean Mannion's place nonetheless indicates the potential for considerable short-term fantasy value. Mannion figures to miss about a month due to his meniscus tear, leaving two or three more games for Vaz, who completed 20-of-32 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns against the Cougars. There's no reason to think he won't stay hot against Utah, Washington and Arizona State. He's a worthwhile pickup in all formats.

D.J. Foster, RB, Arizona State

Foster's amorphous, if not undefined, role in the Arizona State makes him a bit of a risk outside of Pac-12-only formats, but for at least this week his value is more stable than usual since Arizona State will need to play with extreme aggression to even slightly keep up with Oregon. Although he has just 45 carries and 20 catches in six games, Foster has turned those into 269 (6.0 yards per carry) and 297 yards (14.9 yards per catch), respectively, scoring twice in both categories. He's seen his role expand in the last two games as well, running 13 times while catching 11 passes. He could push for 20 touches against the Ducks.

SEC

Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas

Knile Davis is clearly limited in his return from a broken ankle, be it mental or physical reasons, and he clearly isn't himself. Johnson, on the other hand, is a formidable talent in his own right, and he's playing as well as ever. Johnson's productivity has forced Davis into a timeshare in the Arkansas backfield, and the explosive Johnson has produced to the tune of 158 yards and four touchdowns rushing the last two games (5.5 YPC), adding 20 yards and a fifth touchdown through the air. He should remain productive as Arkansas faces Mississippi and Tulsa the next two weeks.

Malcolm Johnson, TE, Mississippi State

Johnson is primarily a deep league and SEC-only consideration, but he's still a player to watch closely. He was expected to be a field-stretching starter at tight end for Mississippi State this year before an offseason pectoral injury occurred and knocked him out of the first five games, and he received very positive reviews in the offseason. He caught 11 passes for 206 yards (18.7 YPC) and three touchdowns last year, and in his first game back against Tennessee on Saturday he caught two passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. Even with senior Marcus Green at tight end, Johnson's explosiveness in the middle of the field probably can't be ignored by Mississippi State.

SUN BELT

Brelan Chancellor, WR, North Texas

The North Texas passing game is far from formidable, but Chancellor has nonetheless established himself as a fine fantasy option for the Mean Green, especially in Sun Belt-only leagues. He has 23 catches for 433 yards and five touchdowns, as well as 111 yards and another touchdown on the ground. This week, he has a home matchup against a Louisiana-Lafayette squad that will dare North Texas to a shootout, and the last time the Ragin' Cajuns played decent passing games (Troy on Sept. 8 and Oklahoma State on Sept. 15), they allowed a combined 940 yards and six touchdowns.

Drayton Calhoun, RB, Middle Tennessee

It's not clear who will step up at running back for Middle Tennessee with Benjamin Cunningham (knee) out for the year - all of Calhoun, Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley are candidates - but given that Calhoun went over double-digit carries twice this year and is a former LSU transfer, he might have a slight lead on the competition. There's in any case a huge void to fill with Cunningham gone, because Cunningham Ran for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns this year, including 509 yards and nine touchdowns in the last three weeks.


WAC

Ray Holley, RB, Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech is far too skilled for its WAC counterparts at this point, which means a blowout is likely when the Bulldogs take on an Idaho squad Saturday that just isn't prepared to hang with a team that just put up 57 points against Texas A&M. As the second running back for Tech, behind starter Kenneth Dixon, Holley figures to get a lot of garbage time work in the contest. He has 49 carries in the last three games despite two of them (Virginia and Texas A&M) being down-to-the-wire games, so he should push for 20 carries against Idaho.

DeLeon Eskridge, RB, San Jose State

Even by WAC standards, Eskridge is a mediocre talent at most despite his pedigree as a Minnesota transfer. His 414 yards and three touchdowns on 92 carries (4.5 YPC) aren't impressive, but he is the lead runner for San Jose State, and he has a nice matchup Saturday against UTSA. The Roadrunners have faced only one vaguely competent running game so far this year and they got lit up in that contest, allowing 301 yards and three touchdowns on the ground against Rice. With David Fales playing lights out at quarterback, San Jose should race to a big lead quickly, leaving Eskridge to kill the clock against an overwhelmed defense.