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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Russell Gage, Tyler Conklin, K.J. Osborn (2021)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Dec 7, 2021

You know it’s a slow week on the waiver wire when defenses are the best pickups.

A barren waiver wire is actually good news in a way. It beats last week’s scenario of fantasy managers losing Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, or D’Andre Swift and scrambling to add their understudies. A slow week is certainly better than scoring your league’s second-most points without McCaffrey, Cook, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, and Robert Woods, but losing to the team with the most points. Not bitter at all, though.

Where were we? Right, the waiver wire doesn’t spit out many exciting names before Week 14. There are, however, multiple widely available defenses with golden matchups. It’s good timing, as four top-10 defenses have a bye while the Bills (95% rostered) travel to Tampa Bay.

There are a handful of simple, yet pivotal swaps all managers can make to enhance their Week 14 win probability. But there are few such easy fixes at the more vital skill positions.

Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.

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Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 14

Russell Gage (WR – ATL): 34% Rostered
Gage has caught 29 of 38 targets for 305 yards in five games since returning from a groin injury. That’s despite posting a zero in Week 10. He received at least seven targets in the other four contests, and he nearly doubled his previous season-high tally (67) with 130 yards last Sunday. Forgive Gage for the one dud and trust Matt Ryan‘s top wide receiver as a solid WR3.

Tyler Conklin (TE – MIN): 30% Rostered
Adam Thielen left Sunday’s game early with a high ankle sprain. In his absence, Conklin caught seven of a season-high nine targets. Already emerging as an intriguing TE2, Conklin jumps into TE1 territory if Thielen joins Dalvin Cook on the sidelines. That’s the likely scenario, as the Vikings play Thursday night. Minnesota probably won’t replace Thielen with a group effort either, as only one wide receiver besides Thielen and Justin Jefferson has double-digit receptions all season …

K.J. Osborn (WR – MIN): 4% Rostered
That other receiver is Osborn. Elevated to Minnesota’s No. 2 spot without Thielen, Osborn played 70 of 76 snaps and secured four of seven targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. Osborn, who opened the season with 167 yards and a touchdown through Week 2, is the clear next man up if Thielen misses time.

Taysom Hill (QB – NO): 34% Rostered
Hill threw four interceptions in his first start of the season. He didn’t rush for a touchdown, the main appeal to his fantasy value, in the 27-17 loss. And yet he still finished as the week’s QB4.

That’s because he dominated the ball. Along with leading the Saints with 101 rushing yards on 11 carries, Hill also threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns on 41 attempts. He shouldn’t have to throw so often against the Jets, but he can make every touch count against a defense allowing 8.3 yards per pass attempt and an NFL-high 21 rushing touchdowns. If Gardner Minshew can deposit 19 fantasy points against the Jets, Hill should have little trouble delivering another high-end performance in Week 14.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB): 20% Rostered
Here’s a refresher from last week’s column:

A week after a big breakthrough, Valdes-Scantling settled for a solid 50 yards on four catches. However, he registered his second-highest snap rate (70%) and second-most targets (nine) behind Week 11. That included another near touchdown on a missed connection from Aaron Rodgers. Even behind Davante Adams, Valdes-Scantling has accounted for 34.3% of Green Bay’s air yards. His ceiling is immense once returning from a Week 13 bye.

The Packers are returning from their Week 13 bye.

Notable Players 36-50% Rostered

New Orleans Saints (D/ST): 45%
Denver Broncos (D/ST): 44%
There is no shortage of defenses to stream in Week 14. New Orleans hasn’t mustered more than five fantasy points since Week 8’s surprising D/ST3 finish against Tampa Bay, but that should change when facing the Jets. Denver, meanwhile, has 12 sacks and seven interceptions in its last five games before hosting the Lions in Week 14. These aren’t even pure matchup plays, as the Broncos and Saints are respectively seventh and 10th in fantasy points per game.

Tevin Coleman (RB – NYJ): 41%
Though far from a glamorous option, Coleman has 32 touches in the last two games without Michael Carter. He’s still searching for his first touchdown of the season, but the 28-year-old offered 70 yards at Houston and 77 against the Eagles. Even the Jets have managed to score at least 17 points in each of their last six games, so Coleman could still pay fantasy dividends by finding the end zone.

Notable Players 10-35% Rostered

Green Bay Packers (D/ST): 35%
Another strong Week 14 streamer, Green Bay’s defense entered the Week 13 bye ranked 10th with 7.3 points per game. The Packers have tallied 44 fantasy points in their last three home games, never finishing worse than 15th at Lambeau Field this season. As a result, they’re arguably the top add against a decrepit Bears offense ranked 30th in scoring and total yards.

Los Angeles Chargers (D/ST): 26%
Or maybe it’s the Chargers, whose defense compiled six sacks, four takeaways, and a touchdown to match the Colts with a week-high 20 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Mike Glennon suffered a concussion while replacing the injured Daniel Jones in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. The Chargers are another worthy option if the Giants need to dig further down their quarterback depth chart and play the recently signed Jake Fromm.

Cole Kmet (TE – CHI): 26%
Kmet has 18 targets in his last two games and 45 in his previous seven. It won’t matter in fantasy until the sophomore finally finds pay dirt, but managers aren’t exactly swimming in viable waiver-wire options at tight end beyond Conklin.

Teddy Bridgewater (QB – DEN): 23%
Fantasy managers are constantly pursuing volume, but don’t overlook boring efficiency. Bridgewater is completing 67.3% of his passes for a 95.0 quarterback rating. While hardly piling up raw numbers, he’s finished eight of 12 games as the week’s QB18 or better. In other words, he has a reasonable floor against a Lions defense permitting the NFL’s second-most yards per pass attempt (8.3). However, Jalen Hurts is the only viable starter in single-quarterback leagues on a bye.

Adrian Peterson (RB – SEA): 14%
Although he produced a measly 16 yards in his Seahawks debut, Peterson punched in one of his 11 carries for a touchdown. It’s nearly identical to his first game with the Titans (10 carries, 21 yards, a TD) last month and is likely the 36-year-old’s only viable blueprint to fantasy value. Name recognition keeps him rostered in more leagues, but it also gives Peterson more backfield work.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR – TEN): 14%
Before Tennessee took its bye, Westbrook-Ikhine posted 107 receiving yards in Week 11 and hit paydirt in Week 12. The Titans designated Julio Jones to return from the IR, but A.J. Brown won’t be back just yet. Jones could help by taking attention away from Westbrook-Ikhine against a Jaguars defense that has allowed the fifth-most receptions to wide receivers.

Kenneth Gainwell (RB – PHI): 12%
Jordan Howard (RB – PHI): 11%

A different Eagles running back appears here every week. By now, we might have to accept that chaos is this backfield’s only certainty. But Gainwell caught all five targets for 33 yards and turned a dozen handoffs into 54 rushing yards and a score during Sunday’s 33-18 win over the Jets. Before getting too excited, Miles Sanders led a two-back committee with 24 rushes. Boston Scott was active despite dealing with an illness, but he didn’t touch the ball.

Howard also missed his second straight game with a knee injury, and he hopes to play when Philadelphia returns from a Week 14 bye. That will likely muddle Gainwell’s value, as Howard ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries in four games with the squad. However, the rookie has the talent when the opportunities arise. Howard, meanwhile, could remain a goal-line menace.

Notable Players <10% Rostered

Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA): 6%
Travis Homer (RB – SEA): 1%
Penny had just one fewer carry than Peterson, which he made up for with a 27-yard catch and the most snaps of all Seattle running backs. On the other hand, Homer hit a homer with a 73-yard rushing touchdown. He also caught four of five dump-down targets for 10 yards, so he could maintain a pass-catching role. Penny is the most likely of Seattle’s backfield trio to carve out respectable flex appeal over the final few weeks. That’s far from a given, as he’s averaging 2.9 yards per carry and hasn’t visited the end zone since 2019.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET): 6%
Josh Reynolds (WR – DET): 4%
St. Brown sealed Detroit’s first win of the season with a last-second touchdown. That was his 10th catch and 12th target of the day, giving him a career-high 86 yards. The rookie has shown deep PPR promise on occasion, but still not enough consistency to trust. Reynolds, meanwhile, has 139 yards and a touchdown in two games with Jared Goff since getting traded to Detroit. Although St. Brown may draw more attention for his Week 13 heroics, Reynolds is the better add.

Jalen Guyton (WR – LAC): 0%
One could have initially dismissed Guyton’s 90 yards and touchdown from Sunday. He only played 53% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps, and Justin Herbert targeted him just four times in 35 throws. It looked like an anomaly from a 41-22 win where Herbert got everyone involved. However, the Chargers then placed Keenan Allen on the COVID-19 list Monday. The star wide receiver is reportedly vaccinated, giving him a chance to play this Sunday if he clears the proper protocols. However, if Allen doesn’t play, Guyton should see starter reps for the NFL’s sixth-ranked passing offense.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer and editor at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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