It’s officially fantasy playoff time and so you need someone to offer you intel. Hopefully, we can dig for a few gems to help you out with either your semifinals or finals. I’ll look to live vicariously through all of you, as I lost three separate leagues on that Zach Ertz overtime reception, knocking me out of one league where I held the lead for most points on the season, and another where I dominated from the get-go with Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, and Nick Chubb as my combo. Did I mention I also had Chris Godwin? I’m sorry all…I’m rambling. Let’s dive in and see what sneaky pickups with fewer folks rushing to the waiver wire could put you over the top this week!
DeAndre Washington (RB, Oakland Raiders)
DeAndre Washington has often been seen as a swiss army back in the same mold as James White in New England. He can slice and dice, but he just ain’t nice as a starting rusher. He may have made some new fans last week (I used him personally in DFS last week, so I see you DeAndre). Although he averaged less than 4 yards a touch, he also topped off his stat line with another 6 receptions on 7 targets and took a carry to pay dirt. If Josh Jacobs sits this week, use him as a low-end RB2, but he could also be a sneaky flex even if Jacobs plays, as they clearly don’t want to overuse a hindered back.
Darwin Thompson (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
I know. I know. We all saw what Darwin Thompson did in the preseason and got somewhat excited he may just steal this job from Damien Williams. Little did we know that Williams would perform respectfully up until the last month, where injuries and average have set him back. Williams will likely be held out another week, with a ribs injury as the Chiefs attempt to hold back talent for a playoff run, which would likely give Thompson a portion of his plays. Add on to the fact that Andy Reid and the coaching staff in Kansas City has essentially informed everyone that they don’t trust LeSean McCoy to continue on at a full carry load in the backfield, and maybe we just do get to see what Darwin Thompson can do. He’s no slam dunk, but if Williams continues to sit, you could do worse than the second back whose been essentially guaranteed touches. Flex him if ya got em.
Patrick Laird (RB, Miami Dolphins)
Ever since Kenyan Drake was shipped out to Arizona for a case of iced teas, we all knew that Miami would again go back to the well for their new “flavor of the week” back. Turns out it just wasn’t Kalen Ballage, who could possibly go down with one of the worst yards per carry averages of all time. Patrick Laird has performed admirably and could go into next year as the Dolphins number one back. Averaging 12.5 carries in the last two games, Laird is only slightly holding a backfield share with Myles Gaskin, and aside from Devante Parker, who is now sidelined with a concussion and is no guarantee to play this week, Laird could continue to see a huge touch share. He’s a high-end RB3 in my eyes.
Additional RB’s to consider: Raheem Mostert, Bilal Powell, Ty Montgomery
AJ Brown (WR, Tennessee Titans)
AJ Brown came into the season as a four-star recruit out of Mississippi that could be an instant impact player, and unfortunately, that was snuffed out by Marcus (meh) Mariota. He was cut from many rosters, and while he was showcased at times, nothing really became of his immense upside until Ryan Tannehill took the helm a few weeks back. Brown has a huge upside and a nice connection with Tannehill, and there isn’t much reason to think this won’t continue on. In 2 of his last 3 weeks, he has scored over 20 fantasy points. Watch some clips of this guy, he’s an immense treat to watch burn defenders. The upside of a number one, but could bust for a few catches, so let’s settle the difference and call him a solid number 2.
Robby Anderson (WR, New York Jets)
Robby Anderson has had a year. Off-field antics. Avoiding a mono-plagued quarterback. I have to assume being a Jets player is a pretty sweet gig, but still can’t come without some chaos. Anderson is finally settling in, and right for the fantasy holidays. He IS still owned in just a touch over 50 percent of ESPN leagues, but in leagues where a large portion of the league stopped paying attention a bit ago, you may have him sitting on your dusty, underserved waiver wire. In the past 3 weeks, Anderson has posted over 85 yards in every single matchup, and while he has an immensely difficult matchup against Baltimore this week, he’s built a rapport as Sam Darnold’s go-to guy. Lock him in as a WR3/high end flex.
Additional WR’s to consider: Zach Pascal, James Washington, Russell Gage, Cole Beasley
Tyler Higbee (TE, Los Angeles Rams)
Good gravy. Higbee is looking like a Rob Gronkowski and Tony Gonzalez’s lovechild. A beast to take down, Jared Goff has loved having him as a #1 tight end option since Gerald Everett went down. 7 receptions in the last two games and over 100 yards eclipsed in both, not only has Higbee potentially found a spot for the rest of the season, he may have taken Everett’s defacto #1 slot for next year. His ascension seems very much similar to Austin Hooper in Atlanta, and we see how that has gone. We have a missing on a milk carton Brandin Cooks, and Cooper Kupp has been EXTREMELY inconsistent, so Goff will accept any weapon he can get. Of the options available here, I’d put DeAndre Washington as my #1 priority, with Higbee close second. He’s essentially a risky TE1.
Ian Thomas (TE, Carolina Panthers)
The loss of someone as consistent, injury-free, and downright physical as Greg Olsen will be tough to replace, but the Panthers may just have it in Ian Thomas. Thomas is big, physical, and can get off the line with ease. There’s not much to go off of here, as he’s only had week 13 versus Washington to first dip his toe in the water, and then a single matchup without Greg in front of him to show off, but he ended last week’s matchup with 5 receptions, a touchdown, and over 50 yards receiving. The Panthers face off against Seattle this week, and if the Panthers decide to see what they have in Thomas, and hold Olsen back, this could be a solid fill in. He’s a TE2 with some risk, but has a ceiling of a TE1.
As I took over the column to help out Mr. Miller this week, I won’t do his looking back column, but his picks of Alexander Mattison and Rashaad Penny both faced issues due to either direct injuries to themselves, or the starters in front of them holding them back.
You’ll have your normal weekly writer back next week, but hopefully, my one-week calls can push you further up your prize ladder, or help you seal the deal. Happy fantasy battles, everyone!
-Matt Bevins (@MattQBList)