Get your best Jim Mora impression ready, because we’re officially in the fantasy postseason. If you’ve made the playoffs, congratulations! You’ve survived the bye weeks, weathered the bad beats, and patched over the injuries. You’re a grinder, and you deserve to be here. Just remember, it’s skill when you win, and bad luck when you lose.
Now more than ever, your approach to the waiver wire matters. There’s no need to hang onto that wide receiver that will never sniff your starting lineup. Instead, think of players that could be starters if the right scenario plays out. Insurance running backs should be prioritized in the event of injuries or illness to players higher on the depth chart.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Percentages are based on Yahoo! leagues.
Rashaad Penny, Seattle (21%)
There was concern from this writer that Adrian Peterson could limit the ceiling of Rashaad Penny moving forward, but it wasn’t the case against the Texans. Penny dominated the backfield, turning 16 carries into 137 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now Pete Carroll has said Penny “deserves a shot” to be the starter, so I think he’s going to get a full run. He faces the tough Rams front seven in Week 15, but I’m still treating him as an RB2 moving forward.
D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland (13%)
After leaving Week 14’s matchup against the Ravens with a knee injury, Kareem Hunt is already listed as doubtful for this week. D’Ernest Johnson has already proved a capable fill-in when Hunt and Nick Chubb are inactive, so he’s an obvious add as the #2 on the depth chart. Johnson isn’t someone I’m starting, but he becomes a potential league-winner in the event of a Chubb injury.
Duke Johnson, Miami (0%)
After Penny and Johnson, things get a little hairy. We’re making speculative adds that have a lot of ifs attached. But the fact remains that three dozen players were in some stage of the COVID protocols in Week 14, and we could see more of the same as winter approaches. Enter Duke Johnson. If Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed cannot get off the COVID list in time for Week 15, Duke Johnson might be in for a large workload against the Jets. If either Gaskin or Ahmed return (or if Malcolm Brown completes his return from IR), Johnson’s value would vanish as quickly s it appeared.
Craig Reynolds, Detroit (1%)
Who? With Jamaal Williams landing on the COVID list and De’Andre Swift injured, Craig Reynolds got the surprise start and led Detroit’s backfield in Week 14. The third-year undrafted free agent rushed for 83 yards on 11 carries and generally impressed. Williams might be back in Week 15, but there are already reports of Swift going on IR. If the Lions start shutting down their more valuable assets like Williams, Swift, and even Jermar Jefferson, Reynolds could see some extended run. He’s a low-end flex play for me in Week 15 if the stars align, but his value is completely dependent on a lot of other factors.
Other names to consider:
Ameer Abdullah (11%) could end up the better play over Chuba Hubbard in Carolina in negative game scripts the next two weeks (Buffalo, Tampa Bay).
If Austin Ekeler’s injury threatens his availability for Thursday Night Football, both Justin Jackson (2%) and Joshua Kelley (0%) need to be picked up, with Jackson being the preferred add. Silver lining: it’s the Thursday game, so you can drop both and pivot to Sunday options if Ekeler is active.
This might be the last week to hold onto Ty Johnson (29%), as Michael Carter is expected to make his return from IR in Week 15 and slot back in as an every-week RB2.
Boston Scott (22%) is worth adding while we wait for updates on the Week 15 status of Miles Sanders, but keep an eye on Jordan Howard news, too. He could return in Week 15, which makes the Philly backfield even more of a crapshoot.
K.J. Osborn, Minnesota (4%)
Last week, we recommended K.J. Osborn, and he came through with a touchdown. Perhaps more prescriptive, however, are the 9 targets he saw in Week 14. As long as Adam Thielen (high ankle sprain) is out, Osborn can be treated as a WR3 with both upside and risk.
DeVante Parker, Miami (46%)
He’s battled injuries seemingly his whole career, but DeVante Parker should be a name to consider if you need wide receiver help. With Will Fuller no closer to a return and a backfield mired in COVID-19, Parker should find enough opportunity alongside Jaylen Waddle to return WR3 value. And with the Jets, Saints, and Titans on deck for the fantasy playoffs, the opportunity is there for Parker to become a solid contributor to your championship roster.
Gabriel Davis, Buffalo (3%)
Emmanuel Sanders went out with a knee injury in Week 14, and sophomore receiver Gabriel Davis slotted right into the role, turning a season-high 65 snaps into 8 targets, 5 receptions, 43 yards, and a score. Davis could still be the fourth option in the passing game, but he provides enough of a big-play threat in the Bills offense to be considered a WR4 with upside.
Other names to consider:
Amon-Ra St. Brown (6%) had his second 12-target week in a row. It’s not a good offense, but he could be emerging as Detroit’s version of a WR1.
Rookie Josh Palmer (2%) filled in for Keenan Allen in two-wide sets, and Jalen Guyton (15%) projects as a big-play threat if Allen or Mike Williams can’t get cleared in time for Thursday Night Football.
Rashod Bateman (36%) finally had his breakout game, catching 7 passes for 103 yards. It’s unclear who the starting QB will be in Baltimore in Week 15 with Lamar Jackson’s low ankle sprain, but I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing for The Bateman. I think Bateman could approach WR3 value, especially if Green Bay builds an early lead.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (10%) gets a Raiders defense that has been tough to pass against, but DPJ led the Browns in both snaps and routes run in Week 14 and could continue to soak up targets vacated by Kareem Hunt. The question for any Browns receiver is whether the volume will be there.
Tyler Conklin, Minnesota (47%)
Except for Austin Hooper, Week 14 was not friendly to tight end streamers. In fact, you were probably disappointed unless you had Hooper, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, or Dawson Knox. Such is life in the world of tight ends. For this week, I’m going back to the well and choosing to remember better days—specifically, days where I could count on a decent floor from Tyler Conklin. With Adam Thielen out, I would have expected more of the vacated targets to find their way to Conklin, so I’m going to bank on that happening in the coming weeks. Let’s face it: there aren’t many options here.
Rickey Seals-Jones, Washington (20%)
Speaking of better days, I’m old enough to remember when Rickey Seals-Jones slotted into the Logan Thomas role seamlessly. In Week 14, RSJ was actually out-snapped by John Bates, but I’m hoping it’s just an anomaly. If you’re desperate at tight end (most of us are), I still believe we could see Seals-Jones get back on track against Philadelphia, who rank at the bottom of the league against the position.
Other names to consider:
James O’Shaugnessy (1%) is getting the usage you like to see, but I’m not sure I want to clench all the way through the first round of the playoffs. My glute muscles can’t take it. If O’Shaugnessy doesn’t come through this week, I promise I won’t recommend him for Week 16.
Gerald Everett (31%) showed his basement-level floor in Week 13 but has been targeted consistently since Russell Wilson’s return from injury.
Taysom Hill, New Orleans (50%)
Another ugly game, another QB1 fantasy output for Taysom Hill. Quarterbacks with rushing upside are basically a cheat code in fantasy, so if this league-winner is still available in your league, he needs to be scooped up right away. We keep assuming the bottom will fall out for Hill, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Justin Fields, Chicago (19%)
Maybe you’re noticing a theme here. The performances are sloppy and the offense is limited, but Justin Field’s rushing upside can cover all the flaws for fantasy. Keep an eye on the injury report in Chicago, however, as Fields is dealing with injuries to his ribs and his non-throwing hand.
Ben Roethlisberger, Washington (39%)
It hasn’t always looked pretty, but Big Ben has managed to play his way into fantasy relevance again. Tennesse is giving up the 3rd-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, and Roethlisberger should be able to utilize the many weapons he has at his disposal.
You may find fewer team defenses available this week, as managers are hoarding defenses for future matchups and for the purpose of depriving YOU of their services. Nevertheless, here are some worthy defensive streamers to consider.
Miami (47%) vs. New York Jets
Philadelphia (20%) vs. Washington
Minnesota (39%) @ Chicago
Photos by Stephen Lew, Ian Johnson & George Walker/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)