Elijah McGuire, Christian Kirk among top last-minute pickups for Sunday

NOTE: This column has been updated to remove players from Thursday night's Panthers-Steelers game (DL Stephon Tuitt).

Each week of the NFL campaign we sift through the deeper options at each position with an eye on identifying streaming fantasy options with favorable matchups for you to pick up and plug into your lineup.

As bye weeks roll on and injuries mount, the need for replacement options grows. Here are players found on waiver wires in most ESPN leagues who can help fill those gaps in your roster.


Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Here's the thing about deploying fantasy players against the Falcons' defense: It's often quite fun. Only the Raiders have a weaker pass rush, with the Falcons getting pressure on opposing passers on just 23.1 percent of dropbacks, well below the league average of 29.4 percent. Passing efficiency often rises from a clean pocket versus facing pressure, aiding Mayfield's outcome spectrum on Sunday. Only the Bucs and Saints have ceded more than the 23.75 fantasy points per game to enemy arms the Falcons have surrendered this season. Mayfield, meanwhile, quietly leads the NFL in passing attempts the past month and has three straight games with multiple touchdowns and a legitimate shot at extending this streak in a game with a healthy total that opened at 51 points.

Eli Manning, New York Giants

Even as Vegas projects modest scoring in this Giants-49ers matchup, both Nick Mullens and Manning appear to be worthy streamers this week. The 49ers have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to QBs (19.4), while the Giants have yielded 17.1 to opposing passers. The Giants rate 30th in the league in pressuring passers since Week 5, while the 49ers have allowed the seventh-highest passer rating (98.8) to quarterbacks. During a heavy bye week, it helps to consider that volume can help fuel a respectable statistical showing from Manning (he's fourth in the NFL with 41 attempts per game since Week 4). Meanwhile, it's worth speculating if Mullens' breakout debut against the Raiders is the start of a trend, rather than outlier performance.

Running back

Elijah McGuire, New York Jets

Pickings are slim in the backfield this time of year, especially as bye weeks hit hard. In his season debut in Week 9, McGuire served the role vacated by an injured Bilal Powell, finishing second on the team in receiving yardage thanks to leading the backfield in routes and targets. Buffalo has allowed 46.7 receiving yards and nearly six receptions per game to opposing backfields, both proving more generous than league-average allowance rates. It's not exactly an exciting role, but with a legitimate shot at double-digit touches and, most importantly, rewarding receiving usage, McGuire makes for a worthy plug-and-play flex option this weekend.

Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions

Seventh among tailbacks with 6.3 targets per game, Riddick saw a jump in routes, targets and receptions this past Sunday with Matthew Stafford regularly under siege. The Bears have been stingy to opposing backs in terms of receiving production, but I'm willing to bet that Riddick's uptick in market share proves enduring for this division matchup. For one, Golden Tate and his team-leading market share and high-percentage role are no longer on the roster. When Stafford has been pressured this season, Tate still leads the Lions with 10 targets, while Riddick is second with nine. No other player has more than six. Secondly, the Bears have a devastating pass rush, which could lead to the Lions deploying Riddick on quick-hitting screens and dump-offs in the flat.

Wide receiver

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

Behind only Larry Fitzgerald on the team in routes, targets and receptions per game since Week 5, Kirk next faces a Kansas City secondary allowing 180.6 receiving yards per game to receivers, 10th most in the NFL. During the Cardinals' past four games, only J.J. Nelson has more air yards per target than Kirk's healthy 12.6 clip, signaling upside for this rookie receiver to see some rewarding vertical opportunities in a game that could very likely see Arizona get behind big and turn to a pass-heavy game script.

John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals

This one is all about banking on opportunity without much of a production pedigree. Ross has struggled to stay on the field so far in his NFL career, but has resumed practicing this week and could step into a nice batch of targets and routes with A.J. Green sidelined. Arguably one of the fastest players in the league, Ross could return value as a WR3 option on a single deep pass. Per the matchup metrics, the Saints have allowed 14.4 percent more fantasy points per game to receivers than any other team and a whopping 42 percent more fantasy production to the position than the league-average allowance.

Tight end

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

Available in 60 percent of ESPN leagues -- likely due to a long injury absence and the team's recent bye week -- Doyle was second on the Colts in routes run and tops in targets in Week 8. Doyle ran 21 routes in the win over the Raiders and earned a target on a team-high 33 percent of his routes. Eric Ebron, meanwhile, was limited to just 10 routes. Fading Ebron and streaming Doyle against a capable Jacksonville defense appears shrewd given this recent shift in opportunity rates.

C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals

If Chris Herndon of the New York Jets is already rostered in your league, maybe Cincinnati's main "move" tight end is floating in free agency. Andy Dalton is 12th in the NFL in targeting tight ends with 6.25 attempts per game. Stacking Dalton with Ross and Uzomah in daily fantasy and streaming this group in deeper and desperate re-draft scenarios could pay off, given the Saints seemingly invite fantasy-friendly showdowns each week.

Defense/special teams

Buffalo Bills and New York Jets

The rare game where both defensive units stand out as strong streaming candidates, both respective offenses feature largely inept quarterback play this season. Rookie Sam Darnold is leading the league in interceptions, while the Bills have turned over the ball on 19.6 percent of drives, third highest in the league (the Jets don't fare much better with the sixth-highest turnover rate per drive). On defense, the Jets have the sixth-highest blitz rate in the league and the Bills have yielded the third-fewest yards per dropback.

Individual defensive players


Jayon Brown, Tennessee Titans

Among 4-3 outside linebackers playing at least half of their team's defensive snaps, Brown is second only to the Vikings' Anthony Barr with seven quarterback pressures. The Titans are sending Brown as a pass-rusher on nearly 18 percent of his snaps, confirming his unique upside ahead of this AFC matchup with the Patriots.

Defensive back

Damontae Kazee, Atlanta Falcons

As excited as I am to stream Mayfield in a few deeper leagues this week, it wouldn't shock me to see the Falcons' secondary earn an interception or two in the process. An emergent ball hawk with a pick in four of his past five outings, Kazee is one of my favorite streaming candidates of the entire slate.