NFL fantasy waiver wire: Week 14 (first round playoffs)
Did you do just enough to get you the win in your league and make the playoffs? Or are you already in the playoffs because you have been one of the top teams all season? For me, it was a must win to get a first-round bye in one league and to capture a spot in another.
The one league I clinched the first-round bye in, was the league in which I have all PAC-12 players. After struggling early in the season, I have finished on a seven-game win streak and went from being completely out of the playoffs to the second best team in the league.
In another league, it was my all-SEC team. Due to the injuries to former Georgia players, Sony Michel and A.J. Green, my team has taken a hit. I also had to deal with Matt Stafford, Kenyan Drake and Jordan Reed’s struggles with no real WR depth. I was still so close to making the playoffs in a 12-man league that takes eight to the playoffs. Oh well, there’s always next year.
But for those of you who have made it to the playoffs, let’s not waste any more time and jump right into the waivers this week. Since you’re looking at this now and you’re in the playoffs, something might have been going right for you over the season. As we start the playoff matchups, we’ll be looking for the best available players to help us win it all.
Have you found your replacement for Kareem Hunt yet? Did you fall under the impression that A.J. Green was actually going to do something for you before he was carted off? How about Trubisky continuing to miss time? Or maybe it was Greg Olsen getting injured again this season that makes you want to find a replacement? Well, let’s look at what we have available to us this week!
- Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, 47.3 percent availability
- Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns, 42.8 percent availability
- Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans, 80.4 percent availability
- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, 48.5 percent availability
- Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills, 96.3 percent availability
Prescott didn’t have a great game against the Saints last Thursday, but he helped manage the game after finding RB Ezekiel Elliot for the touchdown and building a 13-0 halftime. He has continued to find WR Amari Cooper. The two of them should be looking to play well against the Eagles and keep sole lead of the NFC East.
Mayfield and the Browns got caught trying to do something against one of the best teams in the NFL, the Houston Texans. I do expect Mayfield to be able to rebound from a tough loss, in which he threw three interceptions. He did manage to throw for nearly 400 yards, but against the Carolina Panthers this week, things will likely be different. Mayfield could still throw just as many yards, but there won’t be as many turnovers either.
Mariota has continued to be a solid pick up week after week over the past few weeks. The only week in which he played bad was the week against the Colts, in which he got injured and left the game. If he can remain healthy, he could be the starting QB you need on your roster to get you over in your league, especially with the schedule he has left. Make sure you add him before it gets too late!
Jackson has stepped in well for the Ravens. It’s weird that each week he and the Ravens manage to win in a different way. Jackson doesn’t really have the explosive ability that we expect from our QBs in the fantasy world, but he could fill in for those of us who still have QBs who have been injured or just aren’t producing.
Allen is another rookie QB we expect to finish strong this season. He is finally healthy and looks great with what he has been able to do with the Bills offense. He has an easy schedule ahead of him for the rest of the season, so we could see him put up the numbers that give him a chance to finish as one of the top rookies in the NFL. He could also help us all get a win in our leagues and hopefully power you through to the championship.
- Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles, 33.3 percent availability
- Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens, 45.3 percent availability
- Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, 42.4 percent availability
- Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts, 69.7 percent availability
- Jaylen Samuel, Pittsburgh Steelers, 96.8 percent availability
We didn’t really see much of Adams in the Eagles’ win against the Redskins, but that was because the Eagles finally found a way to move the ball through the air, as QB Carson Wentz was able to throw for 300+ yards and two touchdowns. I do expect Adams to be used a bit more in their next game against the Dallas Cowboys in a must win situation.
Like Adams, Edwards wasn’t used as much as we’d hope for, but he will definitely be in for a nice finish to the season, especially with Collins likely continuing to be out! Edwards and QB Jackson have fueled the Ravens to three straight wins. They could be looking to upset the Chiefs as they continue to stay in the playoff hunt. Edwards has a lot to do with the game management and he could help you manage a win in your league!
Henry has been on this list weekly. In a week that saw the Titans offense open up, Henry found himself in the end zone again! In a tough defensive game against the Jaguars this week, the ball may be given to Henry more than Dion Lewis or anyone else on the Titans’ roster. We saw how the Colts had to approach the Jaguars in a losing effort, but can Henry and the Titans do it on the winning side?
Speaking of the Colts, Hines emerged as one of the top targets for QB Andrew Luck and the Colts in their 6-0 loss against the Jaguars. In a PPR league, that is huge because of the number of receptions he had in the game. If he can continue to be involved in the offense for the Colts in their next game against Houston, he might start getting some more attempts at rushes too. But it’s good the Colts finally figured out how to balance their offense.
When talking about teams who need to figure out how to balance their offense, the Steelers aren’t one of them. But this week, at least for now, we will have wait and see what the status of James Conner is after a late injury in their Sunday night loss against the Chargers. If Conner can’t go, Samuel will be the one who will be leading the backfield. That might force the Steelers to pass the ball more than they would like to ensure that Samuel, their last remaining RB, doesn’t get hurt. Samuel will play a big role on both passing and running downs, as we saw in his late touchdown catch to tie the game at 30. Let’s keep an eye on this one before we get happy and add him for no reason.
- Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers, 88.7 percent availability
- Christain Kirk, Arizona Cardinals, 67.3 percent availability
- Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 58.9 percent availability
- Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos, 47.4 percent availability
- John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals, 81.5 percent availability
Sunday night against the Steelers was all about Keenan Allen going crazy on the defense and QB Phillip Rivers going for the hot hand. That doesn’t mean we ignore Williams. The Chargers will be playing one more game without RB Melvin Gordon and the ball should likely be spread around amongst the WRs and RBs. Williams will likely be in play for a big game against the Bengals.
Kirk has continued to be a part of the Cardinals’ passing attack. In fact, this past week against Green Bay, it was all the rookies on offense having their way with the Packers defense, which probably led to the immediate firing of head coach Mike McCarthy (read about it here). Kirk didn’t score a touchdown this week, but he could come up big on offense again, with their next opponent being the Lions. Expect a strong finish on the season for Kirk.
With DeSean Jackson out this past week, Humphries and Godwin took over on offense. Even with Jackson likely back in the lineup, I expect to see more receptions for Humphries, as he has become one of QB Jameis Winston’s favorite targets. He has posted back-to-back good weeks and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he and the Tampa offense take advantage of the Saints’ defense.
Sutton and the Broncos’ offense are always tough to figure out. Phillip Lindsay is the only Broncos player worth the weekly start in fantasy, but Sutton has the boom or bust factor to him. This game against the 49ers will be another game we see Sutton get a touchdown and more!
Ross might not have done much this week, but no one in the Bengals’ offense really did. With A.J. Green’s return cut short by a season-ending injury, Ross will remain the second option for the Bengals’ passing attack. He doesn’t get many targets, but could be expected to get a touchdown, like he has in the three weeks prior to their loss against the Broncos. I’m not expecting much from the Bengals, but maybe Ross can find the end zone again!
- Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers, 41.2 percent availability
- Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 91 percent availability
- Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans, 94.6 percent availability
- Jordan Thomas, Houston Texans, 99.3 percent availability
- Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers, 99.8 percent availability
McDonald hasn’t really been living up to the hype lately. You probably only have him because your starter got hurt. Well, if RB James Conner does miss some time, McDonald should start to get more targets to help ease the run game for Samuels. The Steelers are also in a must-win after dropping the last two games. Plus, we saw one of the best TEs in the game tear up the Raiders’ defense, so let’s hope McDonald can do just a bit more than he has been, like maybe a touchdown.
Brate has continued to be a good piece to have on our fantasy rosters. He had a quiet game in their win over the Panthers. That was only because the WRs and RBs were doing their job and Brate wasn’t needed much, but he will bounce back against the Saints this week and have a decent game for us as we look to win.
Smith and Ian Thomas have been injury replacement TEs for their team and haven’t always given us what we needed, but with both the Titans and Panthers fighting for a playoff spot, all pieces on their roster are addable.
We have seen some light from Smith, but it just hasn’t been enough to want to add him or start him. In their game against the Jaguars Thursday, Smith will likely get more touches and maybe a touchdown.
With Greg Olsen out of the season again, Ian Thomas will have to step up. He may not be as involved in the offense as we all wish, but with the Panthers TEs and WRs, Sunday could be the day. The Panthers are currently on a downward slope to missing the playoffs, but there are still games to be played. The first one is against Cleveland, so hopefully we’ll see Ian do something for the Panthers.
Jordan Thomas is a bright, young rookie on one of the best teams in the NFL. Thomas has been able to find himself the usage he deserves. QB DeShaun Watson likes to reward his teammates for great plays. Let’s continue to watch Thomas as he produces with the Texans and they continue to win games and their division.
Good luck to everyone who made the playoffs. I hope all this week’s additions help you get a big win as you advance into the next round! I would also like to inform you all that I will continue to be with you through it all, regardless of whether or not I win my fantasy league. So make sure to return next week for the waiver wire picks that will give you the win in your playoff/championship matchup!*
*Based on four team playoff and next week will be the last time