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Fantasy football waiver wire: Browns turn to D’Ernest Johnson in a pinch

  • October 19, 2021

There’s a reason fantasy football lineups are looking incredibly thin this week. For the only time this season, six NFL teams will be on bye – so any injury issues with the teams who are in action are going to be multiplied.

Hopefully fantasy managers can have some backups step forward the way Khalil Herbert did in Week 6 for the Chicago Bears. With veteran Damien Williams on the COVID list, the rookie ran the ball 19 times for 97 yards and a touchdown while playing nearly 100% of the offensive snaps. 

Is there another Herbert available on this week’s waiver wire?

Recommended bids based on a free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) of $100 for the season. 

Best bets

RB D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns ($15). Timing is a major issue for the Browns. Nick Chubb won’t be available for their Thursday night clash with the Denver Broncos and Kareem Hunt is expected to miss at least a month. Both are sidelined by calf injuries. That leaves Johnson – and his three carries for 11 yards on the season – as the de facto starter. He did average 5.0 yards on 33 carries last season, and he’s this week’s top target because of the Browns’ run-heavy offense and QB Baker Mayfield’s questionable injury status.

Change-of-pace back Demetric Felton could also be a decent fall-back option in deep leagues.

RB Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots ($9). Stevenson had his most productive day as a pro – rushing for 23 yards and a score, and catching three passes for 39 more yards on Sunday. More important, he protected the ball, which could earn him even more playing time going forward.

WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins ($8). After catching a total of five passes the previous two weeks, Waddle was happy to see Tua Tagovailoa back at quarterback. He caught 10 passes for 70 yards and two red-zone scores in London. He should be back on the fantasy radar.

Tagovailoa could also be a solid emergency pickup this week coming back across the pond to face Atlanta.


RB Devonta Freeman, Baltimore Ravens ($7). Starter Latavius Murray suffered an ankle injury late last week, giving opportunities for touches – and touchdowns – to Freeman and Le’Veon Bell. Both veterans are worth a look this week if Murray can’t go. Freeman has a slight advantage, but don’t forget about rookie Ty’Son Williams returning to the rotation. 

WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts ($5). Hilton made his season debut after missing the first five weeks with a neck injury. He caught all four of his targets for 80 yards and did a good job of stretching the field, but he left the game early due to a quadriceps injury.

WR Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens ($5). Baltimore’s issues in the backfield could lead to a few more Lamar Jackson passes against the Bengals. Bateman was activated off injured reserve this week, led the team in targets and had four catches for 29 yards.

Deep leagues

RB Chris Evans, Cincinnati Bengals. With Samaje Perine on the Bengals’ COVID list, Evans had three receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown to go with 18 rushing yards in relief of starter Joe Mixon.

RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks. Penny could be this week’s Hilton or Bateman. Look for him to be activated from injured reserve with both Chris Carson and Alex Collins dealing with injuries.

TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Howard caught six of his seven targets on Thursday night for 49 yards and a TD. We all know how much Tom Brady loves his tight ends in the red zone.

Also, be sure to check last week’s waiver wire picks (Khalil Herbert, Donovan Peoples-Jones) to see if any of those players are still available in your league.

Follow Steve Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner

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