Some funky stuff happens on the waiver wire. Seriously.
Let's pull back the curtain for a second on how this column comes together: While game action on Sunday (and Thursday and Monday nights) dictate the bulk of our waiver wire claim suggestions each week, the process of building this column is essentially a weeklong endeavor, combing through stats, projections, depth charts and, of course, watching games. I also monitor the top adds/drops by position each week, which can sometimes reveal things you would not have expected.
Case in point: O.J. Howard, who left the Buccaneers' Week 4 game against the Bears because of a knee issue, saw his roster percentage dip to 34.0 percent at the time this column was filed. Now, I understand that roster spots are fleeting and that injury was forecasted to cost him 2-4 weeks of time, but for a guy who had over 70 receiving yards per game in Weeks 1-3 at arguably the most difficult position to find quality fantasy output, it struck me that people were so quick to eject him from their roster.
This observation isn't made to point a finger at those who dropped Howard -- roster management is different for each person -- but rather to note that it's always worth scanning the waiver wire for players you may not think are available. Don't merely go to the waiver section of your league home and search for a specific player -- take some time to brainstorm all those available.
Because sometimes, the best available may surprise you.
Here's our look at the best available in the Week 7 ESPN Fantasy waiver wire adds.
Players must be available in over 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com to be eligible for this column.
Teams on a bye this week: Green Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts (25.6 percent): Another week, another Colts running back advanced into the waiver-wire fray. Mack missed time due to injury earlier this season, but returned in Week 6 and made his mark with 12 rushes for 89 yards. The way he was utilized suggested Indy views him as its top back in rushing situations, with Nyheim Hines the preference in passing and up-tempo situations. Mack deserves to be rostered in all leagues.
O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (34.0 percent): Howard's name is getting plenty of real estate in this column, as he continued his hot start to the season in Week 6, catching all four of his targets for 62 yards and a touchdown. He's now logged at least 13 fantasy points in three of five games this season, leaving early due to injury in one of the two that he didn't. He's a top-12 tight end the rest of the season.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers (43.8 percent): It takes just one play for Goodwin to make his day fantasy-relevant, as we were reminded on Monday night when he slipped behind the Green Bay defense for a 67-yard score. A litany of injuries (including Goodwin fighting through his own injuries) have impacted the 49ers' offense, but there's little doubt that Goodwin is a passing game focal point. He crushed it on Monday night, catching four of five targets for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears (32.4 percent): Fun. That's how to describe watching the Bears' offense this season, as Trubisky has now completed north of 70 percent of his passes in 2018, throwing 11 touchdowns in the process. He has nine touchdowns during his past two games, boasts a strong supporting cast and benefits from wizard-level playcalling from his coaching staff. Moreover, he has rushing upside that raises his floor, as he's racked up 100 rushing yards during the past two games and is averaging five rushes per game. He's a legit streaming option this week whose upside is too high to ignore.
Chester Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts (11.7 percent): A few things to note in regards to Rogers, who has been hot during the past three weeks: The Colts will have no choice but to throw it a ton this season. (Andrew Luck has averaged 54.7 attempts during the past three games!) Rogers has piled up targets (32 during the past three games), and as of this writing we don't know when T.Y. Hilton will return to the lineup. Rogers has been on here before, and after 55 yards and a touchdown in Week 6, he looks even more like a weekly flex option in deeper leagues.
Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (43.1 percent): Coming out of its bye, there was some question as to whether Tampa Bay would lean more on Ronald Jones, the 37th pick in this year's draft. Instead, it was Barber who continued to see the heavier workload, as he rushed 13 times for 84 yards and added four grabs plus a receiving touchdown. He's not going to be regularly ranked as more than a flex play, but as the lead back in Tampa Bay, he needs to be rostered in more leagues. There simply aren't that many running backs in fantasy football this season.
Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (10.5 percent): Until Devonta Freeman returns (he's now dealing with a foot injury), Ito Smith is going to have a weekly role for the Falcons. He's scored in three straight games and saw a career-high 11 rushes in Week 6. Sure, his efficiency was poor (22 rushing yards), but in a deeper league, he needs to be rostered for anyone looking for depth, especially if Freeman's health remains a factor going forward.
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Chicago Bears (31.7 percent): In back-to-back games, Gabriel has had north of 100 receiving yards, catching all 12 of his targets during that stretch. Yes, that's wildly efficient, but Gabriel is a player whom coach Matt Nagy is specifically designing plays for and this Chicago passing offense has been on a tear. If you're seeking some upside, Gabriel fits your bill. He's seen 29 targets during the past four games.
Willie Snead IV, WR, Baltimore Ravens (8.7 percent): Snead has settled into a nice role with the Ravens, seeing significant work among a group of wideouts that also includes Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Snead has seen his share of work, as he has 18 catches over his past three games (50-plus yards in each game) and has double-digit scoring in five of six games played this season. A wise flex-play addition.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (14.0 percent): It may not be that outlandish to say that Kirk is now the Cardinals' wide receiver you wish to roster most for the rest of the season. After six catches on seven targets in Week 6, he's up to 162 receiving yards during the past two weeks. He's talented, seeing good volume and in essence is a starter for Arizona. Kirk profiles as someone whose value will rise as the season goes on.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets (0.9 percent): With Quincy Enunwa dealing with an ankle injury, Kearse has a chance to emerge into a top wideout role for Gang Green. He captured nine of 10 targets in Week 6 for 94 yards. If you play in a deep league and are on the search for a flex consideration, Kearse -- who performed well in 2017 in a leading Jets receiver role -- should be considered.
C.J. Uzomah, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (14.6 percent): After injuries to both Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft, the Bengals are thin at tight end with Uzomah as the undisputed starter going forward. He played extensively in Week 6 (92 percent of the snaps), catching six of his seven targets for 54 yards. He figures to be a near every-down player for the Bengals going forward and is a legitimate starting option in 12-team or larger leagues.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (42.6 percent): With Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger on a bye, Mayfield has cooled off a bit during his past two starts, but here's some good news: He's thrown at least 40 passes in each of his three starts and now heads into a four-game stretch against the Buccaneers, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons. It's a window for Mayfield to make his way into lineups and find his stride as a fantasy quarterback, hopefully one who isn't deterred by an ankle injury that he suffered in Week 6 (that isn't likely to keep him off the field).
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (39.3 percent): There are some mitigating factors for Godwin, specifically that he's the Bucs' fourth or fifth receiving option in most weeks, but that hasn't yet prevented him from finding the end zone. He's scored in four out of five games this season, and while that is an unsustainable rate, he's a smart add in a deeper league as an upside flier. Tampa chucks it all over the yard, and Godwin is an ascending player.
Frank Gore, RB, Miami Dolphins (11.3 percent): Old reliable! Frank Gore continues to be a factor, picking up more than 100 yards in Week 6, the third straight game in which he's carried the football at least 11 times. Gore shares work with Kenyan Drake, but in a deeper league -- call it 14 teams or larger -- he's a back who is worth consideration, especially in non-PPR scoring.
Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins (6.1 percent): Wow, what a Sunday for Wilson and the Dolphins, as the wideout showed sensational open-field running to embarrass the Bears for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Will that wind up being his best game of the season? Most likely, but with 21 targets during his past three games, Wilson has shown himself to be a focal point of this passing game. He is a deeper-league flex consideration.
Jalen Richard, RB, Oakland Raiders (9.0 percent): The Raiders, who head into a bye this week, aren't very good, which is good news for Richard. He's caught six passes during three of his past four games while serving as the team's primary back in up-tempo situations on offense. If you're in a super deep league, Richard can be a flex play when the team returns from a bye.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams (.4 percent): While it seemed unlikely at the time he went down, Cooper Kupp returned to the game for the Rams in the second half of their Week 6 win after an early knee injury. But should that knee injury be something that bothers or limits Kupp going into Week 7, Reynolds is a deeper name to keep on the radar because of how good the L.A. offense is.