The end of the fantasy football regular season is a bittersweet time. The dream of the playoffs has come true for some of our squads. Other teams have fallen just short. When it comes to our most torturous teams, there’s often a sweet relief attached to elimination. My blood pressure will surely drop now that I’ll never again need to look at the roster where I drafted Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, David Wilson, Michael Vick, and Fred Davis as starters. Ultimately, I hope you’ve all managed to make the fake postseason in some portion of your leagues. If so, congratulations – you’ve done the hard part and put yourself in a position to win it all.
With that in mind, the Week 14 Waiver Wire and all other subsequent articles in this series will shift into playoff mode. Consequently, I’m making a couple assumptions for still-alive managers going forward:
1. Playoff-bound teams are either set at quarterback or have a solid streaming plan in place for the final weeks. I’ll make an effort to highlight exceptional streaming options available in most leagues; otherwise, the QB blurbs in this series will skew towards replacing injured starters and other 2-QB league waiver targets.
2. In the single-elimination format of the playoffs, managers are more interested in win-now options than rest-of-season options. I won’t turn a blind eye towards long term potential, but players with great match-ups or potential for high usage will be at a premium in these waiver ranks.
Please let me know in the comments if you oppose either of these assumptions. Otherwise, here are the Week 13 waiver wire targets. Good luck in the playoffs!
Standard League Streaming Options:
All of the above QBs are available in more than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues. Meanwhile, many of fake football’s best quarterbacks have awful match-ups in Week 14. My rankings for the week aren’t done yet, but Josh McCown will rank ahead of the following passers: Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Matt Ryan, and Andrew Luck. If you’ve been paying attention over the past few weeks, this shouldn’t be news. Mike Glennon, in perhaps more of a surprise, will also rank ahead of some or most of those listed QBs. I won’t necessarily give the same treatment to Palmer, Fitzpatrick, and Keenum, but they’re solid options in deeper leagues where you might be rostering someone like Andy Dalton or Ben Roethlisberger.
Deep League Options:
For those of you in 2-QB leagues or otherwise extremely deep formats where most relevant signal callers are already owned, take a look at E.J. Manuel, who may still be available as a result of his 4-game injury earlier this year. He had a nice outing Sunday against Atlanta, passing for 210 yards to go with scores through the air and on the ground. Manuel faces the Buccaneers this week. They are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season and Manuel should be able to exploit that with a finally-healthy offense around him.
Christian Ponder left Minnesota’s win against Chicago in the second quarter with a concussion. Passing duties fell to the sometimes passable Matt Cassel. He was just that on Sunday, completing 61% of his passes for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Cassel appears to be in line for the Week 14 start if Ponder is out, but keep Josh Freeman in mind if you’re truly desperate.
I talked about Cleveland’s quarterback carousel last week and sure enough, it took another spin on Sunday when Brandon Weeden suffered a concussion against the Jaguars. He played the entire game, so there’s hope he’ll be ready for the Patriots this week. If Weeden and Jason Campbell (concussed in Week 12) are unable to suit up this week, Alex Tanney is waiting in the wings. This situation is a mess, so don’t waste waiver consideration on any of the Browns’ quarterbacks unless you must.
I’ve written about Donald Brown in this space before, much to my own chagrin as a Trent Richardson owner, but he’s still available in 56% of Yahoo leagues and 60% of ESPN leagues. Brown officially passed Richardson on the depth chart Sunday, rambling for 64 total yards and score on 16 touches. It’s a brutal week for RB help on the waiver wire, so if Brown is available, you’ll likely be fighting over him with other owners. Put in a claim anyway. If your league has disregarded Brown this long, they may continue to do so and leave you with a solid flex RB for the playoffs.
Chris Ivory battled through his doubly-sprained ankle on Sunday to keep from being supplanted again by Bilal Powell, but Powell still posted decent stats in a backup role. His 59 total yards didn’t match Ivory’s 73, but Powell’s extra 2 receptions made him the slightly better PPR performer. Both backs should have middling value going forward, but both are worth owning on the chance that the other winds up on the injury report.
The Patriots benched Stevan Ridley in Week 13 and as a result, LeGarrette Blount saw the biggest gains in terms of touches. Blount carried 12 times for 44 yards and a TD. This may be wishful thinking, but I imagine Ridley will return in Week 14 now that Belichick has made his point. Ridley offers so much more than Blount in terms of talent and if he’s back on the field – holding the ball securely, of course – Blount will be relegated back to the land of ~6 carries per game.
I can’t condone the use of any Carolina running back, but if you’ve got that Pantheritis, Mike Tolbert is your best bet for consistent usage.
I stupidly said last week that Julian Edelman would be “hard pressed to repeat his Week 12 performance in future weeks”. His Week 13 wasn’t quite a repeat performance, but it wasn’t anything to scoff at either (9 catches for 101 yards). For whatever reason, he seems to have usurped Danny Amendola as Tom Brady’s preferred WR target. As long as that status holds true, Edelman is a must-own.
It’s difficult to recommend a wide receiver that laid an egg in the same week that so many others went bananas, but I’m still in on Nate Burleson. He should get back on track this week against the highly flammable Philadelphia secondary.
Better Late Than Never: Ace Sanders
He saved what would have been a bad fantasy day with a single big play, but nevertheless, Michael Crabtree was the only San Francisco wide receiver other than Anquan Boldin to receive a target on Sunday. As Crabtree recalibrates to the speed of the NFL and his snaps increase, he’ll gradually regain fantasy value. But as I’ve written before, beware the lesson of Percy Harvin. Setbacks are an inherent part of returning from injury and Crabtree is a muscle-tweak away from returning to irrelevance.
Andre Holmes busted onto the fantasy scene Sunday, hauling in 7 of his 11 targets for 136 yards. He’s an intriguing option going forward, but his value hinges on the health of Denarius Moore.
Remember Robert Woods? The Bills’ rookie receiver returned after a two-game absence on Sunday and snagged a pair of passes for 39 yards. Woods showed a lot of chemistry with E.J. Manuel early in the year and his upcoming schedule is pretty tantalizing. His unimpressive performance against the Falcons should keep his price down for owners with limited FAAB or a low waiver priority.
Ladarius Green first appeared in this column as a stash-candidate for keeper leagues and has since elevated his game to potential-starter levels. Green played 91% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps on Sunday and caught 2 of 6 targets for 45 yards and a TD. He has been Philip Rivers’ third-favorite target over the past two weeks and with Antonio Gates playing through a hamstring injury, Green could be in line for even more action in the season’s final weeks.
Tight ends have been torching the Cardinals all season and in Week 14, Jared Cook gets his second shot at them this season. In case you forgot, Cook went off against Arizona way back in Week 1 for 141 yards and 2 TDs. The other receiving options for St. Louis are uninspiring at best, so Cook merits streaming consideration over regulars with bad match-ups like Greg Olsen, Coby Fleener, Charles Clay, and whoever starts at TE for Washington.
The tight end to most recently wreak havoc on Arizona is Philly’s Zach Ertz. He caught 5 balls for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns on Sunday in what must have been a conscious game-plan decision by Chip Kelly (Brent Celek also had a touchdown in the game). It’s hard to say how involved Ertz will be going forward, but most of the opponents remaining on the Eagles’ schedule are soft on fantasy TEs.
Dennis Pitta is eligible to return any game now. His first game back will probably involve a snap-count, but he has great potential in the fake playoffs based solely on the struggles of Baltimore’s other receivers.
Jordan Reed was very close to returning from a Week 11 concussion on Sunday night, but was derailed at the last minute by headaches. I would assume that Reed will be all healed up by this week’s contest against Chiefs, but concussions symptoms are unpredictable. If Reed can’t play in Week 14, Logan Paulsen is the handcuff, but try to do better because the Chiefs are the best team in the league at limiting opposing fantasy tight ends.