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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Jeff Wilson stepped in for Matt Breida
who aggravated his ankle injury during pregame warmups.
Winston, TB – With most fantasy teams into their first
week of the playoffs, there’s probably not too many one-QB teams
looking for capable starters, but as far as QB2s go, we’ll need
to address some fringe guys – starting with Winston. The embattled
QB completed 20 of his 30 passes for 249-2-0 in the Week 13 win
over the Panthers, also leading the team with 48 rushing yards.
He draws the Saints in Week 14, and this could be a game where
he’s allowed to finish what he started, even if he struggles and
the Bucs fall behind. There’s some upside in this matchup, even
if there’s plenty of risk.
Mayfield, CLE – A lot of folks are going to be turned
off Mayfield this week after he turned in a decidedly bad game
in a 29-13 loss to the Texans in Week 13. Mayfield completed just
29 of his 43 pass attempts for 397-1-3, and had a rough time dealing
with the Texans defense. The Panthers, on the other hand, haven’t
done all that well lately in pass defense and Mayfield and the
rest of the Browns could post significantly better numbers in
Mullens, SF – Mullens threw for 414-2-1 in the loss
to Seattle, showing that he can provide some useful stats even
in a poor matchup that turns into a blowout. Mullens isn’t afraid
of turning it over and has been dealing with a less-than-stellar
group of receivers the last couple of weeks, so maybe he’ll fare
even better next week at home against the Broncos. There’s plenty
of risk in using him as a QB2, but he’s got some upside.
Prescott, DAL – Prescott’s 248-1-0 (22 rushing yards,
lost fumble), even in an unlikely win over the Saints, shows why
he’s not a trustworthy fantasy QB. Still, he badly overthrew a
wide open Michael Gallup and didn’t connect much with Amari Cooper
in this one – so it’s possible he fares better against the scuffling
Eagles in Week 14.
Keenum, DEN – Keenum had just 151-1-0 in the win over
Cincinnati as the running game carried the day, and he’s more
of a low-end QB2 heading into Week 14 when he faces the 49ers
in San Francisco.
Allen, BUF – That’s two solid fantasy performances
in a row for Allen, who threw for 231-2-2 and rushed for 135 yards
in a 21-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 13. Allen is a must-add
in dynasty leagues and could be a sneaky add in keeper leagues,
since he could be a viable fantasy starter as soon as next season
if he continues to build on his game.
Jackson, SD – Jackson electrified the Chargers rushing
game in the second half on Sunday night, rushing for 63 yards
and a TD on eight carries after Austin Ekeler struggled to find
running room for most of the game. If Melvin Gordon can’t go next
week, Jackson will likely assume more of the early-down rushing
workload and relegate Ekeler to passing down/change of pace role.
Samuels, PIT – James Conner’s leg injury suffered in
the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game is being referred to
as just a bruise, but it doesn’t hurt top pick up Samuels if you’re
a Conner owner heading into a juicy Week 14 matchup with the Raiders.
Samuels won’t do a lot if Conner is good to go, but nobody wants
to lose an RB1 in the first round of the fantasy playoffs without
the necessary handcuff.
UPDATE: Conner will not play in
Week 14, making Samuels and Stevan Ridley the committee backs
to watch – with Samuels being the better fantasy bet and
one of the top waiver adds of the week.
Penny, SEA – So I guess that Penny will be seeing a
few touches as the Seahawks season winds down and they get a look
at their future at RB. Penny scored on a 20-yard TD run and finished
with 63 rushing yards in the win over San Francisco. He’s entrenched
in a committee at the moment, but should be on everybody’s radar
for the fantasy playoffs because of his shot at increased volume.
Wilson, SF – Breida aggravated an injury in pregame
warmups and saw fewer snaps that normal, and Wilson responded
with 61 rushing yards and 8-73-0 receiving (lost fumble). He’ll
get more touches moving forward and fill the Raheem Mostert role
in the offense, even if Breida gets healthy for Week 14.
UPDATE: Breida is listed as OUT for Week 14, turning over the
reins to Wilson for the matchup with Denver.
Richard, OAK – Richard finished with 95 rushing yards
and 3-31-0 receiving but lost a fumble. He, DeAndre Washington
and Doug Martin are handling the backfield touches for the Raiders,
so they might all both be worthy of a flex start this week against
the Steelers. But Richard is probably the best PPR option since
he’ll be catching some passes if they fall behind.
Ekeler, SD – Ekeler was bottled up by the Steelers
front seven (and by some unimaginative playcalling by the Chargers)
before seeing the bulk of snaps go to Jackson in the second half.
Ekeler will still be involved as a change of pace back if Gordon
is healthy for Week 14, but could lose the bell cow role they
envisioned for him even if Gordon sits another week out.
Hyde / T.J.
Yeldon, JAC – Hyde was ineffective in this snooze-fest
(36 rushing yards, fumble) and Yeldon finished with 16 rushing
yards and 7-49-0 receiving in this low-scoring 6-0 (base?) ball
game. Fournette’s Week 14 return spells the end of Hyde’s viability
and relegates Yeldon to a desperation flex role.
Wilkins / Nyheim
Hines, IND – As I mentioned above, this wasn’t a very
exciting game, and the RB numbers from the Colts weren’t great,
either. Marlon Mack ended up playing despite the Week 12 concussion
and had just 27 rushing yards, while Hines finished with 9-50-0
receiving. Wilkins wasn’t a factor.
Gore, MIA – Gore had just 21 rushing yards and one
catch for 10 yards while Kenyan Drake was the more productive
fantasy back, finding paydirt against the Bills.
Thompson, WAS –UPDATE: Thompson rushed just thrice
for 3 rushing yards and caught 3-18-0 yards in the loss to the
Eagles in Week 13. He’s off my fantasy radar as long as
Washington continues to deploy several backs and has Mark Sanchez
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Pettis, SF – We had him as a guy to consider last week,
and Pettis (5-10 percent owned) responded with 5-129-2 in the
los to Seattle. Mullens clearly likes him as a deep threat and
if the 49ers remain undermanned at WR (both Pierre Garcon and
Marquise Goodwin missed Week 13), he’s good for 5-10 targets a
Gallup, DAL – Prescott missed a wide open Gallup (5-20
percent owned) on what would have been a long TD pass but the
rookie still finished with 5-76-0 in a stunning win over New Orleans
on Thursday night. Gallup’s fantasy tock is on the rise and he’s
handling himself well considering the loss of his brother and
the adjustment to playing meaningful NFL games in a tight division
battle. He could see more targets this week facing the Eagles.
UPDATE: Gallup keeps looking better and better, facing the Eagles
this week before the Colts and Bucs in Weeks 15 and 16. He’s
a great add before the fantasy playoffs begin.
Samuel, CAR – Samuel (15-30 percent owned) is a big-play
machine who led the Panthers this week with 88 receiving yards
on six catches (11 targets), adding 8 rushing yards. He’s a good
bet to score next week against the Browns, and remains a high-upside
Taylor, TEN – Taylor (0-5 percent owned) was day-to-day
earlier in the week with a foot injury but hauled in 3-104-0 in
the win over the Jets. He’s a boom-or-bust fantasy WR heading
into what should be a favorable matchup with Jacksonville – a
team the Titans have owned recently.
Smith, TEN – Smith (20-45 percent owned) disappointed
with 2-29-0 in the win over the Jets, but he could play a bigger
factor in next week’s tilt with Jacksonville – who give up twice
as many points to opposing TEs as the average team.