Waiver-wire news changes fast and furiously throughout the week as injuries and depth-chart shenanigans overtake us. So be sure to follow me on Twitter by clicking on the link next to my headshot at the bottom of the column and I'll keep you updated as news warrants. Let's get to the best fantasy roster additions heading into Week 9:
Standard ESPN league finds
Jonas Gray, RB, New England Patriots (owned in 2.6 percent of ESPN leagues): His name is Jonas. From the same people who brought you Stevan Ridley, here's Gray, who's almost the same player hopefully minus the fumbling. All last week I tried to warn you that Shane Vereen -- who produced huge numbers in a Week 7 Thursday night game -- wasn't bulletproof, and here we go: Gray had 17 touches against the Chicago Bears compared with eight for Vereen. The Pats have found the latest in a long line of RBs who will mess with your best-laid plans. That's not to say Gray is now a pure fantasy starter. He isn't. But provided the Patriots don't acquire another RB by Tuesday's trade deadline, he now occupies the Ridley role, and week to week it will be tough to figure out the Pats' plans. Put it this way: If it's Vereen and Gray the rest of the way, I'd take Gray to score the most touchdowns.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots (25.8 percent): Has LaFell officially surpassed Julian Edelman as the Patriots' No. 1 wideout? Maybe not. He out-targeted Edelman 11-4 on Sunday, but that was literally the first game that's happened all year. However, LaFell's production has certainly been better of late. The past three weeks, he has 19 catches for 276 yards and three TDs, compared with Edelman's 14/149/0. In a thin waiver-wire week, LaFell looks like the best WR bet owned in fewer than half of ESPN leagues. If I'm hesitant to embrace LaFell fully, though, it's because he's been a flag player of mine in the past and something always seems to go wrong. He suddenly develops a case of the drops, he runs the wrong pattern, he gets hurt something. This isn't a Brian Quick scenario, where you can safely ignore production because by definition the player's situation is self-limiting. LaFell catches passes from a red-hot Tom Brady, but I admit I still have more than a grain of doubt.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (1.7 percent): Bryant graduates from speculative to solid add in one week. Don't overreact to Ben Roethlisberger's 522 Week 8 pass yards; he hasn't topped 300 yards in five of his first seven contests. And heck, Bryant has all of seven regular-season catches in his NFL career. But it's the way the Steelers are using him. It looked an awful lot to me like Bryant may have passed Markus Wheaton in the pecking order against the Indianapolis Colts, and the numbers bear this out: Bryant played 30 snaps in two-WR sets Sunday, compared with 11 for Wheaton. It's probably overaggressive to say Bryant is now a must-start, because Wheaton played well in Week 8, too, and could cancel out the rookie's production. But I do think Bryant is worth owning in all formats.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Baltimore Ravens (12.7 percent): Bernard Pierce was a surprise healthy scratch Sunday, as the Ravens went with Justin Forsett as their lead man and Taliaferro as the hammer. Is there value in being the hammer? Well, you get a lot of stat lines like this: 7 carries and 2 TDs. Take away the touchdowns and you're bummed, of course, but they sure are sweet when you get 'em. I don't think Taliaferro has rare qualities for a RB; mostly he's a big dude who's asked to run straight into the line. To be fair, though, each of his Week 8 scores featured a little bit of open-field weaving, and he also caught a couple of passes. Forsett is the guy you'd rather start, but for as long as he's ahead of Pierce, Taliaferro will give you a little something each week.
Cincinnati Bengals Defense (47.7 percent): Here's the paint-by-numbers portion of this column: Find the defense facing the Jacksonville Jaguars and recommend it. However, the Bengals' ownership levels are relatively close to 50 percent, so they may not be available in your league. You can also take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs (47.6 percent) facing Michael Vick and the hapless New York Jets, and the Cleveland Browns (47.6 percent) taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These are clearly the three plus matchups of the week. If you're in a deeper league where none of these D/STs are available, you can think about streaming Washington (11.4 percent) against a relatively generous Minnesota Vikings offense. That unit stood up fairly well Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
Other solid waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Bryce Brown, RB, Bills (20.2 percent).
Speculative standard-league finds
Bobby Rainey, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20.9 percent): It's not that Doug Martin played terribly in Week 8. He had a few moments; you can sometimes see the combination of power and acceleration that's mostly hidden because he plays behind a bad offensive line in perhaps the NFL's most disappointing offense. Instead, it's that Martin can't stay on the field. He folded over backward Sunday and got his ankle trapped beneath him, and left the game in the third quarter. Did Rainey do anything in Martin's absence? No. It feels pretty unlikely that anyone is primed to go ballistic playing in that backfield. But the Bucs have to be maddened by Martin's incapacity to stay healthy. So maybe Rainey gets a crack, or maybe it's rookie Charles Sims (2.6 percent), who could be worth a look despite never having posted a regular-season carry.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts (0.5 percent): In Week 8, Hakeem Nicks had a first-quarter red zone target clang off his hands and wasn't open all that much, whereas Moncrief was open all day and ended up with seven grabs for 113 yards. Now, there are a few bummers here for Moncrief's standard-league value. First, Reggie Wayne's elbow could get healthy for Week 9. Also, even if Wayne is out, the Colts run just about as many two-WR sets as any team in the NFL, and Moncrief took exactly one snap in a two-WR set Sunday. But if Indy takes an honest look at what it has, it'll see this 6-foot-2, 211-pound rookie runs circles around the similarly-sized but slowing-down Nicks.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions (0.8 percent): Riddick doesn't do much as a rusher, but he's a Reggie Bush clone in the receiving game, consistently taking short dump-offs and taking them long distances. He got a whopping 12 targets Sunday in London, and frankly wearing that No. 25 uniform, he looks an awful lot like a young Bush from his New Orleans Saints days. The Lions are off this week and Bush's injured ankle will have time to improve, but I'm unconvinced The Prez will keep his health. We'll be hearing more from Riddick.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (10.7 percent): As I mentioned on the "deep" list last week, Adams is now Aaron Rodgers' clear-cut No. 3 WR over Jarrett Boykin, and the rookie has seen at least eight targets in two of his past three contests. By definition, third receivers are tough to trust because game flow can ruin their prospects, but if there's any QB whose No. 3 is speculatively ownable (after the Packers' Week 9 bye), it's A-Rod.
Other speculative standard-league waiver adds, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals (37.6 percent); Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (20.4 percent); Anthony Dixon, RB, Bills (33.5 percent); Benny Cunningham, RB, Rams (11.7 percent); Andre Holmes, WR, Raiders (32.6 percent); Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers (14.1 percent); Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars (24.9 percent); Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns (22.7 percent).
Travaris Cadet, RB, Saints (7.4 percent): The Saints play the Carolina Panthers Thursday night, and neither the injured Pierre Thomas nor the injured Khiry Robinson is likely to play. That leaves only Cadet behind workhorse Mark Ingram. Cadet caught only four passes in a shootout Sunday night, so assuming that he's a PPR monster waiting to happen is overly optimistic, but it's possible. Cadet is the kind of waterbug who could absolutely give you one of those surprise Darren Sproles megayardage games with just a few catches.
Kenny Britt, WR, St. Louis Rams (1.5 percent): Brian Quick suffered a dislocated left shoulder and torn rotator cuff Sunday and will miss the rest of the season. The Rams will also be without starting left tackle Jake Long (torn ACL), so investing heavily in any of the team's offensive weapons is probably folly. But Britt is pretty much all that's left in this receiving corps, though Stedman Bailey (0.1 percent) did get some run late in Week 8. We all know Britt's deal: talented dude, but something always goes awry.
Kenny Stills, WR, Saints (5.3 percent): Boom? Meet bust. That's been the up-and-down story of every ancillary Saints receiver for the entire Drew Brees Era. Heck, Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks have a hard time finding enough to eat in the same week, let alone a third guy, but Stills does have at least 57 yards receiving in three of his past four.
Other solid waiver adds for deep-leaguers, about whom I've written in previous weeks: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings (10.6 percent); Austin Davis, QB, Rams (15.0 percent); Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys (9.3 percent); Alfred Blue, RB, Texans (7.3 percent); Antone Smith, RB Falcons (32.8 percent); Juwan Thompson, RB, Broncos (1.1 percent); Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers (41.0 percent); John Brown, WR, Cardinals (3.7 percent); Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins (5.3 percent); Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks (0.7 percent); Jermaine Kearse, WR, Seahawks (15.7 percent); Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles (10.9 percent); Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers (1.4 percent); Tim Wright, TE, Patriots (5.0 percent).