Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups (2020 Fantasy Football)
Many managers witnessed the value of playing the waiver wire when the fantasy playoffs began in earnest last week.
Mentioned plenty of times in plenty of columns throughout the past few weeks, Cam Akers and T.Y. Hilton kept proactive competitors alive while sending adversaries to an untimely exit. There were also plenty of high-impact streamers beyond the skill positions. Four of Week 14’s top-five quarterbacks are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues. And hopefully those who read last week’s column dropped their defense for Washington or Arizona.
Seven players (and a defense) mentioned last week return for one more spin. Most of them got the job done and remain in a good position to help managers during the monumental Week 15 slate.
Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.
Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 15
Nelson Agholor (WR – LV): 36% Rostered
Nothing Agholor does seems to be good enough. He’s appeared in this column too many times to count despite scoring his seventh touchdown last Sunday. Agholor offers big-play upside in spades, registering 16.7 yards per reception. Now he’s also adding volume, drawing 35 targets over the last four games. The former Eagles wideout is somehow only barely rostered in more leagues than rookie teammate Henry Ruggs III, whose one big play in the past two months was defended so terribly that it got a coach fired.
Keke Coutee (WR – HOU): 45% Rostered
Coutee remains available in a majority of Yahoo leagues, and that might not change too hastily after he compiled 24 yards on just three targets in Week 14’s loss to the Bears. He found the end zone and once again played roughly three-quarters of Houston’s offensive snaps, so don’t overlook a de facto primary option for Deshaun Watson. Coutee gets another crack at the Colts two weeks after plastering them for 141 receiving yards in Houston’s first game since losing Will Fuller V to a suspension.
Jeffrey Wilson Jr. (RB – SF): 19% Rostered
Wilson and Raheem Mostert both returned from lengthy injury absences in Week 12. In the last three games, Mostert has played just four more snaps. While Mostert has still touched the ball more in each contest, Wilson has five carries inside the 10 over the last two weeks. He punched in one for a score in Week 14’s loss to Washington. An active role in a committee typically doesn’t warrant a high waiver-wire priority, but there’s room for both backs to have a huge Week 15 against the Cowboys’ NFL-worst rushing defense. Mostert is a nearly must-start RB2 for this matchup. Wilson, meanwhile, is an intriguing flex option beyond shallow leagues.
Tim Patrick (WR – DEN): 28% Rostered
Patrick just keeps producing. He’s averaging 58.5 yards when erasing the Kendall Hilton game from the record. Excluding that calamity, the third-year wideout has offered at least 10 PPR points in eight of his last nine bouts. Although certainly not playing on the NFL’s most explosive offense, Patrick has deposited six touchdowns, including three in the last two games. He should stay hot through the winter, as the Broncos will likely need to pass often to keep up with each of their final three opponents (Bills, Chargers, and Raiders).
Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI): 18% Rostered
You can’t ignore a quarterback who rushes for 106 yards in his NFL debut against a top-tier defense that hadn’t permitted any 100-yard rusher since November 19, 2017. After initially playing coy, Doug Pederson declared Hurts his Week 15 starter. It’d still take some real guts to deploy Hurts in a single-quarterback league with your season hanging in the balance. However, it’s now certainly advisable in two-quarterback leagues. Another impressive outing will make the neophyte a far more popular Week 16 option at Dallas.
Notable Players 36-50% Rostered
Cleveland Browns D/ST: 50%
A returning Daniel Jones got sacked six times and lost one of his three fumbles before sitting out the final series. Colt McCoy didn’t fare any better, getting sacked twice and losing his own fumble in a five-play drive. Cleveland’s defense has faltered in encouraging streaming spots before, most recently failing to offer a single sack or takeaway against the Jaguars in Week 12. Before that, however, the Browns combined for 11 sacks and 11 takeaways in their three encounters against the Giants’ meager NFC East competitors.
Derek Carr (QB – LV): 47%
Carr might now be treated as a fantasy mainstay if not for his Week 12 dud at Atlanta. He’s made amends for that letdown by clearing 300 passing yards with three total touchdowns in each of his last two games against the Jets and Colts. Despite suffering too many blunders for comfort, Carr is the QB13 this season with three top-10 finishes in the last four weeks. He could tentatively get treated as a top-15 play for a Week 15 matchup against the Chargers, but the next quarterback is the safer choice.
Philip Rivers (QB – IND): 41%
Following his fourth consecutive multi-touchdown performance, Rivers is averaging 18.8 fantasy points — only once veering below 16 — over his last eight outings. Since finishing QB22 or worse in each of his first five games, the veteran has only fallen below QB16 when getting flummoxed by Baltimore in Week 8. Luckily his Week 15 opponent is far more manageable. The Texans allowed 285 passing yards and two touchdowns to Rivers in Week 13 before getting shredded by Mitchell Trubisky last Sunday. Rivers is once again a high-floor streamer in the fantasy semifinals, and those who play out Week 17 will get another juicy matchup against Jacksonville.
Notable Players 10-35% Rostered
DeAndre Washington (RB – MIA): 24%
Myles Gaskin, who had just returned from the injured reserve in Week 13, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. With Matt Breida and Salvon Ahmed injured, Washington was the last man standing in Miami’s backfield. He still only managed 52 yards on 15 touches in a 33-27 loss to Kansas City. Since Miami eventually fell behind to Kansas City, Tua Tagovailoa attempted 48 passes after previously averaging 26.8 throws per start. If nobody above Washington on the depth chart returns this Sunday, Washington will warrant some deeper flex appeal against New England’s 23rd-rated rushing defense. Gaskin, Breida, and Jordan Howard combined for 22 carries in Week 1’s 21-11 loss to the division foe.
Keelan Cole Sr. (WR – JAC): 24%
Gaining 44 yards with D.J. Chark Jr. and Chris Conley both out of Jacksonville’s Week 13 lineup figured to put a nail in the coffin of Cole’s fantasy value. Yet he enjoyed a renaissance on Sunday, catching seven of a season-high 12 targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. The sudden spike coincided with Gardner Minshew II replacing Mike Glennon under center. Cole now has 441 receiving yards and four touchdowns in eight games played by Minshew, averaging 6.5 targets in those contests compared to just 20 total in the other four. He could once again have sneaky deep-league value with this quarterback change sticking for Week 15. Just beware a brutal schedule for the Jaguars, who close the season against the Ravens, Bears, and Colts.
Arizona Cardinals D/ST: 24%
After annihilating the Giants, the Cardinals’ defense has 42 fantasy points against the NFC East and 43 in their other 10 games. They’ll stay in America’s worst division to host the Eagles. The offense looked much improved with Hurts at the helm, but Arizona is still a feasible last-ditch play for streamers who can’t claim Cleveland.
Russell Gage (WR – ATL): 11%
In four games following Atlanta’s bye, Gage has accrued 225 receiving yards on 32 targets. After snapping a nine-game touchdown drought in Week 13, he paired 82 receiving yards with a passing score to Calvin Ridley last Sunday. Strong performances both with and without Julio Jones place Gage on the fantasy radar in anticipation of ample garbage-time passing from Matt Ryan against Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
Mitchell Trubisky (QB – CHI): 11%
Trubisky has tallied 776 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, and three interceptions in three games since taking Chicago’s starting quarterback gig back from Nick Foles. The polarizing passer has thrown for 267 yards without a turnover in back-to-back weeks, which is at least enough to keep him at the helm for the 6-7 Bears. Trubisky is a high-risk, but high-reward play in upcoming matchups against the Vikings and Jaguars, who respectively rank 25th and 28th in passing defense.
Notable Players <10% Rostered
Gabriel Davis (WR – BUF): 7%
Davis has found pay dirt in each of Buffalo’s last three games since John Brown landed on the injured reserve. Although Davis settled for just 19 yards Sunday night, that tally would have jumped far higher had Josh Allen not overthrown the wide-open rookie on a potential deep touchdown. After bemoaning his limited targets in this space over the past two weeks, Davis received eight looks in a win over Pittsburgh. Brown is expected to return to practice, but that doesn’t guarantee a Week 15 return.
Cole Kmet (TE – CHI): 6%
Jimmy Graham took the touchdown, but Kmet continued his expanded role by playing 51 of 60 snaps and garnering seven targets for the second straight week. A solid Week 15 showing could insert him prominently into championship-game streaming consideration for a Week 16 draw at Jacksonville.
Irv Smith Jr. (TE – MIN): 6%
After missing two games with a back injury, Smith returned to Minnesota’s lineup in Week 14. Kyle Rudolph, on the other hand, was out due to a foot ailment. The reverse statuses led to 63 yards and a touchdown for the returning second-year tight end, who has now found the end zone three times in his last three games. Upcoming matchups against the Bears and Saints, however, will relegate Smith to TE2 territory even if Rudolph remains sidelined.
Kendrick Bourne (WR – SF): 3%
Deebo Samuel is likely to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a hamstring strain last Sunday. Brandon Aiyuk catapults into must-start territory, as there’s little competition for targets in a San Francisco offense also missing George Kittle. Bourne saw seven targets in Week 4 and now has 33 in his last five games. He’ll get a bigger boost than anyone, but the 25-year-old is likely still no more than a deep PPR play.
Chad Hansen (WR – HOU): 2%
Despite collecting 101 yards in his 2020 debut, Hansen didn’t make last week’s column. That’s because Brandin Cooks missed most of Week 13’s game in concussion protocol before eventually returning. Cooks, a game-time decision, did not play Sunday. Hansen proceeded to lead the Texans with seven catches and targets apiece. Such a low rostered rate is usually attached to deep-league adds, but Watson’s second (possible even first) option could be a legitimate fantasy WR3/4 over the final three weeks.
Lynn Bowden Jr. (WR/RB – MIA): 1%
Along with their desolation at running back, the Dolphins also played most of Sunday without DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant. After facing early injuries to both wide receivers, they unleashed Bowden. The former college quarterback, who has running back eligibility in Yahoo leagues, caught seven of nine targets for 82 yards while mostly playing out of the slot. Like Washington, he’s only viable if the guys usually above him stay unavailable.
Trayveon Williams (RB – CIN): 0%
The Bengals ejected Giovani Bernard to the dog house after an early fumble in Week 14’s loss to Dallas. Samajae Perine got the next call, but he mustered just 32 yards on 10 carries. This led to a dozen handoffs for Williams, doubling the sophomore’s previous career total. He also fumbled, but his 49 yards could be enough for the 2-10-1 Bengals to give him more meaningful reps over the final three weeks.
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