Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) finds daylight after catching a pass against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (20) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) finds daylight after catching a pass against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (20) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to PFW's '9 route,' our guide to help you maximize the Week 10 fantasy football waiver wire. The buzz word this week is versatility. The first and last players on our list essentially are moonlighting at different positions than the ones they technically play, while smack dab in the middle readers will find a generational jack-of-all-trades.

We've also got a rising rookie receiver, potential plug-and-play running back and lots more to get to. First, though, a reminder that '9 route' eligibility is limited to players who are owned in no more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Just missing the cut this week are Raiders RBs Jalen Richard and Doug Martin, Titans RB Derrick Henry and Bucs WR Chris Godwin.

Without further ado, our top 9 waiver targets of the week:

9. Bengals WR John Ross

Ross has been inactive in four of the past five games because of a groin injury, the latest health setback for the No. 9 overall pick in 2017, who entered the league with a checkered durability track record. However, he could return Sunday vs. the Saints, just as A.J. Green begins a reported multi-week absence with a foot injury. The last time we saw Ross actually catching passes, back in Week 4, it included a 39-yard touchdown, ending fittingly with him limping into the end zone. But it also showcased the world-class speed that made him a top-10 pick, and Ross will never had a better chance to show Cincinnati it made the right decision to select him so high than Sunday vs. fantasy's most generous 'D' vs. wideouts (league-high 15 TDs allowed).

8. Patriots WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Sony Michel's eventual return from the knee injury that's sidelined him the past two weeks likely will relegate Patterson back to a reserve WR role. Until then, we can dream about the former first-rounder and All-Pro return specialist finally being maximized by a smart coaching staff. Patterson played 26 combined snaps over the past two games, almost all of them coming as a running back, and turned his 21 carries (including five in the red zone) into 99 yards (4.7 YPC) and a touchdown. Patterson's former coach, ex-Raiders boss Jack Del Rio, took exception this week on Twitter to the notion that the Patriots are the first club to earnestly use Patterson, one of the game's most dangerous players with the ball in his hands, a true tailback. Here are the facts: Patterson carried the ball 13 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns last season in Oakland. The touchdowns came from 43 and 47 yards out on his first 10 carries between Games 1-6. That means Oakland put Patterson and his 9.3-yard rushing clip on mothballs as a runner for all but three carries over the final 10 games. Again, it's exciting that a smart staff is using Patterson creatively ... for now.

7. Cardinals WR Christian Kirk

He entered the Week 9 bye on the heels of scoring the game-winning nine-yard touchdown vs. the Niners as part of his 3-42-1 receiving day on seven targets, tied for the second most he's commanded during an impressive rookie campaign.That was Game 1 under interim coordinator Byron Leftwich, and Game 2 comes at Arrowhead against the Chiefs, who have permitted the fifth-most yards (1,616) to opposing receivers. We said it two weeks ago: Kirk's R.O.S. arrow is pointing up.

6. Washington WR Maurice Harris

Until Sunday, you might not have heard of Harris, save perhaps for this absurd one-handed TD grab he made over Vikings former first-round CB Trae Waynes last season. However, Harris' table was made available vs. the Falcons this past weekend, when he started for injured slot WR Jamison Crowder and tallied game highs in targets (12), catches (10) and receiving yards (124). With fellow wiry speedster Paul Richardson landing on I.R. this week, that kind of usage might be semi-sustainable, at least for one more week with Washington visiting a laughably bad Bucs 'D' that's allowed 14 touchdowns to the position. We're reaching the point where we know what Josh Doctson is; it's time to find out whether Harris can be the dependable player he was Sunday — which his former first-round teammate hasn't yet to become.

5. Eagles RB Darren Sproles

Philadelphia's ground game needs a spark, which undrafted Josh Adams was the first to provide in weeks prior to the bye Sunday. But Sproles, who has been on the shelf with a hamstring injury since the opener, is the epitome of a spark plug, with a lot more skins on the wall than Adams, Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood. The venerable Sproles intends to retire after the season, and would it be that shocking if the Eagles have been slow playing it with his recovery with the plan of unleashing him for a stretch drive that begins Sunday against a Cowboys 'D' just wasted by Dion Lewis and now again without Sean Lee? In his last full game under Doug Pederson, Sproles commanded 14 chances, and he was at 12 prior to getting injured in the opener. Sproles' upside and track record, it says here, are worth gambling on.

4. Seahawks RB Mike Davis

Chris Carson is ailing, and Davis, not first-rounder Rashaad Penny, is clearly the next man up — 22 touches for 107 yards vs. 7 for 22 following Carson's thigh injury Sunday vs. the Chargers. In seven starts for Seattle over the past season-plus, Davis has averaged 15 touches and 70 yards from scrimmage. He has three touchdowns in his past five games. It's relatively modest production, but that kind of opportunity shouldn't be ignored. Seattle visits the L.A. Rams Sunday, and if Carson were out, game script would seem to favor Davis, who catches virtually everything in sight and is more trusted in pass pro, over Penny.

3. Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

MVS is a bonafide star in the making, with a 20.1-receiving yard average and two 100-yard games over his past three outings. The numbers are glitzy, but we're more impressed by the trust Aaron Rodgers has shown in the fifth-rounder in crunch time, when he's come up with huge, high-difficulty catches in consecutive games. The dude is 6-foot-4 with sub 4.4 wheels; how he lasted until the final pick in Round 5 is a mystery, but it's easy to see why he's rising meteorically. And with Geronimo Allison going on I.R. this week, when Davante Adams could get the star treatment of Xavien Howard, it's also easy to envision another blow-up spot for a player who just might be the Packers' new Jordy Nelson.

2. Colts TE Jack Doyle

The timing of the Colts' Week 10 bye is fortuitous for TE-starved fantasy owners with a high waiver priority this week. Doyle returned from an unfamiliar five-game injury absence to a familiar role: Andrew Luck's go-to guy inside (team-high 6-70-1 receiving on seven targets in Oakland). After a week to rest his hip, Doyle could be poised for a big finish with a manageable slate beginning in Jacksonville and a suddenly mortal Jaguars' 'D' that allowed a touchdown to Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert the last time out. Doyle is basically a shoo-in for 6-7 targets, and the fact that one of them came in the red zone in Oakland, where Eric Ebron also scored, is an encouraging sign that both tight ends can continue to do work with Andrew Luck continuing to round back into prime form.

1. Browns RB Duke Johnson

There clearly were too many cooks overseeing Cleveland's offense not named Kitchens. In Game 1 under interim coordinator Freddie Kitchens, Duke Johnson went from a rumor to a ridiculously efficient matchup weapon in the passing game, converting his nine targets into nine catches for 78 yards and two scores — his best receiving day since Week 3 of his 2015 rookie campaign. We wrote in this space long before Hue Jackson's firing about the Browns' favorable fantasy schedule, which has the Falcons coming to town Sunday. Atlanta is the NFL's worst defense when it comes to covering backs, and few are as skilled in the passing game as Johnson. It will be a surprise if he doesn't have at least another 10 chances to make plays Sunday — more than enough to make Johnson an excellent FLEX play, if not RB7 overall again.


1. Baker Mayfield

2. Marcus Mariota

3. Alex Smith

4. Nick Mullens

5. Eli Manning

6. Derek Carr

7. Blake Bortles

8. Josh Rosen

9. Dak Prescott


1. Duke Johnson

2. Mike Davis

3. Darren Sproles

4. Elijah McGuire

5. Josh Adams

6. Rashaad Penny

7. Theo Riddick

8. Corey Clement

9. Malcolm Brown


1. Marquez Valdes-Scantling

2. Maurice Harris

3. Christian Kirk

4. Cordarrelle Patterson

5. John Ross

6. Taylor Gabriel

7. Tre'Quan Smith

8. Anthony Miller

9. Keke Coutee


1. Jack Doyle

2. C.J. Uzomah

3. Chris Herndon

4. Jeff Heuerman

5. Ricky Seals-Jones

6. Cameron Brate

7. Jesse James

8. Ed Dickson

9. Adam Shaheen