Travel back with me, if you will, to a distant time ... August. There we all were, collectively preparing our draft boards and readying for the season ahead. Whom to draft in Round 1? Which young quarterback am I prepared to hitch my wagon to? Is there a sleeper who can push my squad over the finish line?
Also, keeping an eye on that number listed next to each player. Nope, not the projections or where he ranked at his position in 2017. The player's bye week. My feeling entering drafts is to keep an eye on bye weeks but never allow them to dictate your draft strategy. The reality is, the team you draft is just your starting point. Trades and waiver-wire claims -- of course! -- allow a roster to be dynamic and change throughout the course of the season.
But back to the bye weeks. Over the next three weeks, exactly half the teams will go on a bye, including six this Sunday. So while those teams enjoy being not busy, you'll need to be busy on the waiver wire. A piece of advice: Given how many others in your league are almost assuredly looking to fill in for key players during the next few weeks as well, don't be afraid to act a week in advance. Your tight end is set to go on a Week 10 bye? Think a step ahead and act now.
Without further ado, the Week 9 waiver-wire column is here.
Reminder: Players must be available in more than 50 percent of leagues on ESPN.com to be eligible for this column. Teams on a bye this week: Bengals, Cardinals, Colts, Eagles, Giants, Jaguars.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6.1 percent). FitzMagic resumes his role as the Bucs' starter this week, and it's obvious why he leads this list. While he was benched for Jameis Winston following a forgettable performance against the Bears, he posted 25 points in each of the three games that he started and finished, while averaging more than 400 passing yards per game.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (48.2 percent). Finally. Finally, finally, finally. Jones, the clear-cut most explosive and talented back in Green Bay, finally got his chance to take on a workhorse role for the Packers this season, carrying the ball 12 times for 86 yards and adding a touchdown in Week 8. While Green Bay has had curious running back usage this season, let's hope that his standout performance catapults Mike McCarthy's confidence in him. If he gets the job to himself, he has RB2 upside in that offense.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (25.3 percent). The Chargers had their bye in Week 8, which contributed to Williams' roster percentage remaining relatively low. He has back-to-back games with more than 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. I see his value as similar to that of DeSean Jackson: Volume won't often be in his favor, but the upside is too good to ignore in a Chargers passing attack that is awesome.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (31.9 percent). Welcome back, Jack! After missing five games due to injury, Doyle returned to Indy's lineup in Week 8 and immediately reminded everyone just how impactful he can be. He caught six of seven targets for 70 yards and a touchdown. At a position with virtually no depth, Doyle is a no-brainer add in any sized league for those who need a tight end upgrade who will be available in Week 9 and beyond.
Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans (18.6 percent). Coutee missed the Texans' Week 8 game because of an injury but should return to the lineup soon. Following Will Fuller V's season-ending ACL tear, the Texans will need contributions from the wideouts opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Make no mistake about it, Coutee is a decidedly different player from Fuller, but it stands to reason that Houston -- barring an acquisition of a veteran wideout -- will rely on Coutee as the next man up.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (12.1 percent). There has been extensive buzz that the Broncos are considering a trade of Demaryius Thomas this week in advance of the Tuesday trade deadline, which would pave the way for plenty more of Sutton. And that's really all he has lacked this season -- opportunity -- as he has apparent skills in his 6-foot-4, 216-pound frame. This is the add to make in the event that Thomas gets dealt, as Sutton would immediately rise to flex status should that happen.
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (48.5 percent). This is not dissimilar to the thinking with Sutton, as DeSean Jackson also has been a speculated-upon trade commodity leading up to Tuesday's deadline. Godwin has four touchdown catches already and five of seven games with double-digit scoring. If Jackson were traded, Godwin would become a top-30 wide receiver play each week.
Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets (4.3 percent). The Jets' second-year runner is eligible to play as soon as this Sunday, which is very good news for a team that is razor thin at skill position players. Isaiah Crowell is the starter, but I expect McGuire to soon take on a notable role in this offense. He handled 88 carries as a rookie in 2017 and could be in line for that many the rest of the season following an injury to Bilal Powell. He's a smart add for anyone scouting running back depth.
Danny Amendola, WR, Miami Dolphins (46.2 percent). Though it would appear that fellow Dolphins wideout Kenny Stills will soon return, Amendola and others will shoulder a larger passing-game role with Albert Wilson on injured reserve. Amendola has 19 catches during his past three games, including five on six targets in Week 8. He's an add in leagues with 12 or more teams.
Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (39.0 percent). As the Eagles head into their bye, it's apparent that there is still no workhorse back for this offense. Smallwood led the team in running back touches in Week 8, carrying eight times and adding two catches (one for a score). Darren Sproles could return after the bye as well, meaning that Smallwood is a flex consideration in leagues with at least 12 teams. Still, he should be rostered in a much greater percentage of leagues.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, New England Patriots (1.4 percent). While this piece initially included Kenjon Barner, it was actually Patterson who served as the primary backup to James White in Week 8. With Sony Michel possible to return in Week 9, Patterson's value could evaporate, but if you are quite thin at running back, Patterson's 10 carries in Week 8 are enough to merit the acquisition for your roster.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (21.6 percent). This is a tough one, as although Parker had a monster Week 8 with six catches on nine targets for 134 yards, he was previously buried in the dog house in Miami and Kenny Stills should return soon. For now, consider Parker a smart upside add and hope that Miami allows him to carve out a consistent role. If so, he could emerge as a WR4 or WR3 if all goes well.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers (10.4 percent). With veteran Torrey Smith banged up, Moore saw his largest role of the season in Week 8, catching six passes for 90 yards and two carries for 39 total yards. He's a terrific athlete playing in an ascending offense. While Smith will soon return, it stands to reason that Moore's role will continue to grow. The first-round rookie is an upside add.
Willie Snead IV, WR, Baltimore Ravens (22.2 percent). Steady, reliable. That's what Snead has been so far this season in Baltimore, as he has four games with double-digit scoring so far this season. While he's found the end zone just once in 2018, he's a good example of a flex play. He has seen 28 targets during his past three games.
Tre'Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints (17.1 percent). While the production was modest for Smith in Week 8, his 77 percent snap count was notable, as he has established himself as the clear No. 2 wideout in the New Orleans' offense. Given that role, Smith is a wise player to add and stash, as he has a shot to evolve into a more focal point of what is one of the league's best passing offenses.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (20.4 percent). The exciting second-rounder found the end zone in Week 8, catching at least three passes for the seventh straight game. While the Arizona offense figures to funnel first through David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, Kirk's rapport with Josh Rosen puts him on the radar.
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (39.1 percent). While Marlon Mack has been that dude for the Colts' offense of late, Hines hasn't entirely disappeared off the radar. He's coming off of a career-high 78 rushing yards and remains a useful piece of the Indy passing game when called upon. When Indy trails in games, Hines stays busy.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (3.3 percent). He's not going away, at least not yet. Despite the fact that Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison returned to the Packers' lineup in Week 8, MVS still saw five targets, catching a touchdown and running more routes than either Cobb or Allison. Still a smart stash in deeper leagues.
Javorious "Buck" Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens (47.6 percent). While Alex Collins has played well of late and remains the preferred Ravens back, Allen gets consideration in the red zone. He has a touchdown in five of eight games played this season, averaging 8.5 touches per game.
Josh Adams, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (0.4 percent). While the Philly backfield is quite crowded, we saw more of Adams in Week 8 than we've seen this season. He piled up 61 yards on nine carries, showing good power and straight-line running skills. A deep-league bench stash.