Standard ESPN league finds
Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams (owned in 2.3 percent of ESPN leagues): The Rams' backfield carousel goes 'round and 'round. They appeared to begin Sunday's game splitting halfback time among Mason, Benny Cunningham and Tavon Austin, but Mason got hot and wound up with 18 touches compared to 15 for the other two guys combined. I view Mason as a legitimate NFL-level talent with a bright future -- enough size, speed and quickness to be a three-down back -- but he isn't yet trustworthy in pass protection; on Sunday Mason came off the field in all throwing situations. That could change in the season's second half. But for now, you should view Mason as the head of a platoon who could ride the pine if the Rams fall behind. Zac Stacy can now be dropped in standard-sized leagues.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks (19.4 percent): With Percy Harvin gone, Baldwin assumed Seattle's No. 1 wideout role in Week 7 and wound up with 123 yards receiving on 11 targets and seven catches. Don't be blinded by the stats; no Seahawks WR is likely to produce like that on a weekly basis because Seattle runs a lot and has a lot of ancillary weapons. Instead, watch the tape and see Baldwin running free all day long. He is an agile route-runner with decent speed, and he reminds me of Julian Edelman. Like Edelman, Baldwin is best out of the slot and isn't an ideal red zone weapon, which might make him most attractive in PPR leagues.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (0.5 percent): Shoelace busted out in Week 7, with 22 carries for 127 yards; he had 20 carries in his entire rookie season. So can you believe? I'm skeptical, but if anyone is ever going to emerge from that Jags backfield, Robinson now appears to be the best bet. He is certainly a straight-line burner, and when he gets the corner he can make the kind of big play the Jaguars have lacked. But he's not a superior all-around athlete, nor do I see much evidence that he is elusive in close quarters. Given how badly every other Jacksonville RB has struggled every other week, you have to give Shoelace credit, but you also have to wonder if this performance was fluky. I think you add him in any league where you need a RB but make him prove it to you again.
Bryce Brown, RB, Buffalo Bills (1.3 percent): C.J. Spiller is out for the season with a broken collarbone, and Fred Jackson will miss multiple weeks with a groin injury. So unless the Bills sign a free agent like BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Michael Bush, they will roll into Week 8 with Brown and Anthony Dixon (0.2 percent) in their backfield. Brown hasn't even been active for a regular-season game this year, but fans remember a couple sparkling weeks he had with the Philadelphia Eagles two years ago. He possesses fantastic speed for a guy who goes 223 pounds, but he has been a one-trick pony who bounces everything outside. Oh, I guess he fumbles a lot too, so that's two tricks. All that said, Brown has more upside than almost any player you'll find on a waiver wire, and I would add him before Dixon, who could get a shot at the feature role but who looks like a plodder on tape.
Miami Dolphins defense (12.6 percent): The Jaguars got their first win in Week 7, but they still allowed a fairly mediocre Cleveland Browns defense to score eight fantasy points, including two sacks and three interceptions of Blake Bortles. The Fins generate sacks and turnovers in abundance, and without a truly scary-looking opponent until the Denver Broncos in Week 12, they could be a regular visitor to my D/ST top 10. They will be there this week anyway, I promise.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings (11.7 percent); Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos (12.0 percent); Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns (29.8 percent); Odell Beckham, WR, Giants (20.2 percent); Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (13.0 percent); Owen Daniels, TE, Ravens (22.1 percent)
Speculative standard-league finds
Jonas Gray, RB, New England Patriots (0.0 percent): Shane Vereen looked like the very definition of a feature back in Week 7, but surely you know the Pats well enough by now to know they often change their backfield plans. The other interesting development Thursday was Gray playing ahead of Brandon Bolden and James White (who was inactive). A powerful straight-line runner reminiscent of injured Stevan Ridley, Gray could benefit most if New England plays tricks with its RBs again.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Seahawks (4.6 percent): Kearse played in all two-receiver sets Sunday, graduating to a full-time job as a result of the Harvin trade. As I wrote above, if I'm speculating on anyone becoming relevant in a standard league, it's Doug Baldwin, but Kearse did have seven targets and three catches in Week 7. He is a flanker type without game-busting speed, but in this WR corps he's now what stands in for an end zone threat.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (0.4 percent): Bryant made his regular-season debut Monday night and flashed the size/speed combo that made him an intriguing dynasty-league prospect this spring. At 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds, Bryant runs a 4.42 40 and is an explosive leaper, which makes him a candidate to be the Steelers' No. 1 outside threat someday. He was never much of a dominator in college, though, and it's hard to see him instantly rising to fantasy stardom in his rookie year, but his 35-yard bomb TD in Week 7 was accompanied by a couple other deep shots. He's worth watching.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins, and Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals (12.7 and 9.6 percent, respectively): After Week 3, some folks were calling for Tannehill's job, but in three games since then he has a 72.3 percent completion rate, 799 passing yards, 6 TDs and 3 INTs and has run 14 times for 132 yards. I'm not saying you can trust him as a top-10 option because I think he's still sometimes squirrelly under pressure. But I defended him last month and I think he makes a nice QB streamer. As for Palmer, his first two games back from injury haven't produced big statistical days, but he looked better on tape in Week 7. He's a wild man winging the ball all over the place. One of these weeks he'll throw four picks, but another one of these weeks he'll toss for 400 yards and four touchdowns. If you need upside and don't mind scary downside, Palmer also is streamable.
Other speculative standard-league waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Storm Johnson, RB, Jaguars (6.5 percent); Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (25.2 percent); Benny Cunningham, RB, Rams (1.8 percent); Andre Holmes, WR, Raiders (18.1 percent); Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots (7.1 percent); Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers (15.0 percent); Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars (1.3 percent); Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns (10.1 percent)
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals (0.9 percent): The Cardinals ran a whopping 37 times Sunday, and while Andre Ellington got 24 of those carries, Taylor looked the best I've seen him while totaling 59 yards from scrimmage. His two TDs are absolutely not worth chasing -- the second came after Ellington touched the ball on eight straight plays -- but deep-leaguers counting on Ellington might consider cuffing Taylor to their young star. He would inherit the job should Ellington's string of minor injuries turn serious.
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys (1.1 percent): Fantasy owners got a brutal vision of their possible future near the end of Sunday's first half, when DeMarco Murray twisted his ankle without contact and had to leave the game. Randle and Lance Dunbar (1.7 percent) split snaps (and two carries) in Murray's absence, then the potential fantasy MVP returned for the second half. As you're well aware, Murray is on pace to set a record for the most totes in a season, and he has been injury-prone. If he goes down, I doubt Randle gets the job for himself, as Dunbar has been effective too. But anyone running regularly behind that incredible O-line would have value.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks (0.6 percent): Here's my third Seahawks wideout of the week. Seattle typically uses three-plus WRs on about two-thirds of its snaps, meaning that while Richardson won't have the full workload of Baldwin and Kearse, he will be out there a bunch. The rookie caught all four of his targets Sunday for 33 yards but didn't get a chance to show off his sprinter's speed. Draftniks give Richardson the kind of big-play upside of DeSean Jackson, though obviously he has much to prove before attaining that lofty status.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (1.1 percent): Adams seems to have bypassed Jarrett Boykin to serve as Aaron Rodgers' No. 3 WR, and the Packers go with three-plus WRs on about 80 percent of their offensive snaps. This can be a valuable role, and Adams caught his second TD in three games Sunday. However, that was his only target of the contest, and he hasn't eclipsed three targets in four of six games. True fantasy value will probably come only if Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb gets hurt.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings (9.9 percent); Austin Davis, QB, Rams (5.0 percent); Antone Smith, RB, Falcons (11.7 percent); Juwan Thompson, RB, Broncos (0.7 percent); Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens (14.6 percent); Chris Polk, RB, Eagles (0.5 percent); Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers (16.8 percent); Louis Murphy, WR, Buccaneers (0.2 percent); Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins (0.9 percent); Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles (7.0 percent); Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts (28.4 percent); Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers (0.5 percent); Tim Wright, TE, Patriots (3.7 percent); Jace Amaro, TE, Jets (2.9 percent)