Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The NFL is a show-me league, meaning your playing time on the field is determined not by your reputation or career statistics, but by how you perform in the present.
No one is finding that out more than St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy. After finishing second among all rookie rushers in 2013 with 973 yards and seven touchdowns, Stacy has been banged up and ineffective in 2014, paving the way for hungry backups Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason to prove themselves on the big stage.
Scenarios like the one in St. Louis play out seemingly every week in the NFL. The Washington Redskins pulled the plug on Kirk Cousins and allowed Colt McCoy to quarterback them to a comeback win Sunday, while the Buffalo Bills turned to Kyle Orton three weeks ago and never looked back.
So why is this important to you, Joe Fantasy Owner? It means that if you’re scouring the waiver wire, it’s all about finding the hot hand. Players who produce inevitably will have more time on the field, and that means more opportunities for fantasy points. Everybody wins! Well, sometimes anyways.
Let’s examine some waiver wire pickups who could continue their hot streaks into Week 8.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill is starting to receive some attention in the fantasy world, and deservedly so. Still available in most standard leagues, Tannehill has eclipsed the 20-point mark for three consecutive weeks in standard-scoring formats, and he completed 25 of 32 passes in his best game of the season Sunday. The Dolphins take on the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars next weekend, so if your QB isn’t getting the job done, it’s time to roll with Tannehill.
Other quarterbacks to watch: Kyle Orton, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III, Austin Davis
Running Back: Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams
As noted above, the NFL is all about production, and Mason is stepping up in a huge way. The rookie out of Auburn gashed the Seattle Seahawks for 85 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries Sunday, vaulting him over Stacy and Cunningham as the new lead back in St. Louis. The Rams will rely heavily on the run game as long as young quarterback Austin Davis is at the helm, so grab Mason ASAP if you can.
Other running backs to watch: Bryce Brown, Darren McFadden, Anthony Dixon, Denard Robinson, Benny Cunningham
Wide Receiver: Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson quietly has been the most-targeted wide receiver in Jacksonville this season, and he finally turned that into a big day Sunday, breaking free for a 31-yard touchdown catch in the Jaguars’ first win of the season. Rookie quarterbacks need a trusted target, and Robinson might be emerging as that guy, making him an intriguing option going forward. The Jags play host to the average-at-best Miami Dolphins next week.
Other wide receivers to watch: Odell Beckham Jr., Doug Baldwin, Brandon LaFell, Davante Adams, Andre Holmes
Tight End: Charles Clay, Dolphins
Remember that dynamic playmaker who racked up 759 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season? He showed flashes of his 2013 self Sunday, hauling in a 13-yard touchdown catch to earn his first double-digit fantasy performance of the year. Sure, it’s only one game, but the Dolphins get the Jaguars next week, so if you need a spot start at tight end, you can do much worse than Clay.
Other tight ends to watch: Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Jared Cook, Coby Fleener
Photo via Jeffy Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images