This is it, the fantasy playoffs are here! It's win or go home and every decision will be magnified -- including those waiver wire decisions you make. With it being the fantasy playoffs, there is no slam-dunk waiver wire add. The top add is whoever will help your starting lineup the most. Depth is important, but if you need a streaming QB, spend your FAAB or top waiver spot to get that quarterback rather than getting a running back that is labeled "the top waiver wire target." Your starting lineup is really all that ultimately matters at this point in the season, so do whatever you have to do to make it as strong as you possibly can. That includes streaming defenses (listed below).
Last week I wrote about grabbing your starting running back handcuff, and if you didn't, you should fix that now if you still can. Each week we are seeing multiple starting running backs miss time due to whatever reason, and you do not want to be in a position where you cannot get your backup if something was to happen to your starter. Even worse would be if your playoff opponent got them off waivers and not you. With the byes now fully over, your starting lineup will be more intact than it has been since early in the season. Besides injuries and a key backup or two, your bench spots are more expendable. Cut the fringy players at the end of your bench and roster your handcuffs (you can also roster defenses with favorable matchups in future weeks). Below is a list of handcuff running backs you should be rostering if you have the starter.
Running back handcuffs to roster: Darrel Williams, Khalil Herbert, Devontae Booker, Marlon Mack, Benny Snell, Jeff Wilson, Samaje Perine, Jamaal Williams, D'Ernest Johnson, Latavius Murray, Salvon Ahmed/Phillip Lindsay, Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, Carlos Hyde, Justin Jackson, Mark Ingram
Defenses to stream in Week 15: Dolphins, 49ers, Jaguars, Texans
Teams on bye in Week 15: None! Byes are over just in time for the fantasy playoffs.
Taysom Hill has thrived in fantasy as a starting QB. He scored over 26 fantasy points in Week 14 despite throwing for just 175 passing yards and no touchdowns -- he rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Last week he topped 20 fantasy points despite throwing four interceptions because he ran for over 100 yards. He has now made six career starts and averages 21.87 fantasy PPG, with at least 17.5 in every game. He has topped 20 fantasy points in four of the six and has six rushing touchdowns in those games. He has over 40 rushing yards in all but one, when he rushed for 33. More importantly, he rushed for over 70 yards in both games this season as the Saints starter. Do not expect that to change next week against the Bucs. It will be a tougher matchup than Hill saw this past week, but we just saw Josh Allen have success running against Hill. We can also see a lot more rushing attempts if the Saints are in catchup mode against the G.O.A.T. Hill is the top QB waiver target of the week.
Tua Tagovailoa was on bye in Week 14 which led to him being thrown back out on some waiver wires. He is currently available in over 60 percent of NFL.com leagues, and if you have been streaming QBs he is a great one as he faces the Jets in Week 15. Since Week 5, QBs have averaged 20.78 fantasy PPG against the Jets, with all but three topping 20 fantasy points. Of those three, they all topped 15 and two topped 17.5 fantasy points. Every QB who faced them in that span finished with multiple touchdowns. Tagovailoa faced them in Week 11 and scored 17.52 fantasy points, throwing for 273 yards and two scores. He has a safe floor and upside in this strong matchup.
Justin Fields threw for 224 yards with two touchdowns, while rushing for a team-high 74 yards against a tough Packers defense. He did have three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble) but ultimately scored 18.36 fantasy points. He has now scored over 18 fantasy points in his past three full games. Next week he faces the Vikings, who give up the third-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season. Four of the last six QBs to face the Vikings topped 19 fantasy points with two topping 30. Fields is a streaming option in a good matchup next week.
Rashaad Penny is finally healthy and making the most of the opportunities he is getting in Seattle. In Week 14, Penny played 58 percent of the snaps, carrying the ball 16 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted just once, catching it for 1 yard. Penny showed his explosiveness and was able to take advantage of a great matchup against the Texans. He will not have nearly as good of a matchup next week against the Rams, but he gets the Bears and Lions after. Penny should continue to operate as Seattle's lead back for as long as he is healthy. He is the top running back target of the week and his explosiveness makes him a flex next week, with higher upside.
Jeff Wilson played 59 percent of the snaps with 13 carries for 56 yards. It was not the big fantasy day we had hoped for with Elijah Mitchell sidelined, but the 49ers have an extremely friendly schedule coming up facing the Falcons, Titans and Texans over the next three weeks. Mitchell could return next week, but he has been banged up with multiple injuries all season and Wilson has operated as the lead back when he misses time. If Mitchell was to miss any time in the fantasy playoffs, Wilson would be an RB2 with upside in those matchups.
Phillip Lindsay originally appeared in this article, but he landed on the COVID-19 list on Monday morning, joining Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed . The Dolphins' three running backs on their roster are all on the COVID-19 list, meaning that practice squader Duke Johnson could be their lead back this week. It would come in a great matchup against the Jets, who give up the most fantasy PPG (35.06), as well as the most yards (179.8) and touchdowns (1.8) per game to the position. All three Dolphins backs are vaccinated meaning they could still suit up this week, but Johnson is worth taking a speculative flier on just in case. Whichever back is the lead for Miami in Week 15 will be in play for fantasy -- the matchup is that good.
Austin Ekeler exited in the third quarter of a blow-out win against the Giants on Sunday with an ankle injury. The Chargers are saying Ekeler will be fine, but they do play on Thursday, so it would be smart to grab a backup RB there just in case. The issue is there are multiple options. On Sunday, Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley each played 27 percent of the snaps. Jackson logged nine carries for 35 yards, while catching his lone target for seven yards. Kelley ran for 33 yards on 10 carries while catching his only target for five yards. It was basically the pointing Spider-Man GIF for these two backs. There is also the possibility Larry Rountree III is utilized if Ekeler misses next week against the Chiefs. I would rank them Jackson, Kelley, Rountree if that was to happen, as Jackson is the most explosive and best suited to fill in the passing game. Kelley seems to be ahead of the pecking order over Rountree and could get goal-line work, but since they have two options there it becomes a little volatile. If Ekeler suits up, you avoid using any of the three.
Craig Reynolds played 45 percent of the snaps and led the Lions with 11 carries for 83 yards. He also caught both his targets for 16 yards, giving him 99 total and double-digit fantasy points. D'Andre Swift has been banged up and there's been reports that he could continue to miss time, while Jamaal Williams is on the COVID list. If they were to miss Week 15, Reynolds would be a volume flex option. Godwin Igwebuike also played 45 percent of the snaps and had eight carries for 25 yards. He would be a deeper option if the Lions' top two backs missed time moving forward.
D'Ernest Johnson is back in the waiver column as Kareem Hunt exited Week 14 with an ankle injury. It's unclear how much time, if any, he will miss, but Johnson has been great whenever he has been needed to spot start. He is the type of back you want on the end of your roster this time of year, just in case. If Hunt misses time, he would be next in line for a large workload should anything happen to Nick Chubb.
Amon-Ra St. Brown saw 12 targets in Week 14, catching eight for 73 yards. It is his second straight game with 12 targets -- he has scored 15.3 and 24.8 fantasy points in those two. Plus, he has been used near pay dirt more, with three red-zone targets in his last two games combined. I know the Lions are not a passing offense you want to trust, but St. Brown is seeing enough volume to warrant being in the flex range each week. If you need a receiver, he is the top add this week.
Rashod Bateman was someone I had as a drop last week -- I had finally given up hope and then I get sucked right back in! Bateman saw eight targets, catching seven of them for 103 yards, his best fantasy day of the season. Bateman has shown he can play, but the volume had disappeared as of late, so it was great to see a concentrated passing attack once again between Andrews, Bateman and Brown. The one thing worth pointing out is that all of the production came with Tyler Huntley in the game. Bateman is in the flex discussion moving forward.
Robby Anderson led the Panthers with 12 targets and seven catches in Week 14, going for 84 yards and a touchdown. It was the most targets Anderson has seen in any game this season. Anderson had eight targets, four catches, 45 yards and his touchdown from P.J. Walker, while he had four targets, three catches and 39 yards from Cam Newton. We've seen Anderson have high-target games before only to decrease the next week, and the Panthers do have this weird QB platoon going. But if you are going a deeper on the waiver wire, the volume is worth taking a shot on.
Donovan Peoples-Jones led the Browns with 90 receiving yards on five catches. His seven targets were tied for the second-most on the Browns. DPJ has seen at least five targets in three straight games and remains Cleveland's best deep threat. He is boom-or-bust each week, but if you are diving deeper for some upside, he is a shot you can take.
Gabriel Davis saw eight targets, catching five of them for 43 yards and a touchdown. Davis has flashed his playmaking abilities all year, but the volume had been inconsistent being fourth in the Bills receiver pecking order. But, Emmanuel Sanders exited early in Week 14 and that could open more playing time for Davis. He is clearly a player the Bills like when the field gets shorter, as he has three red-zone targets in each of his past two games. He has topped 11 fantasy points in two straight games and if Sanders were to miss time, he would be a flex option with more upside than that.
Austin Hooper saw seven targets, catching five of them for 30 yards and a touchdown. The seven targets were tied for the second-most on the Browns. It is also his second time with seven targets in the last three weeks. He has five or more targets now in three of the last four games -- with over nine fantasy points in three of those. He is a streaming option next week against the Raiders.
Ricky Seals-Jones saw four targets, catching one of them for eight yards in Week 14. So why is he a waiver wire pickup? Because he gets the Eagles next week and in Week 17. Philly allows the most catches (6.8) and yards (67.2) per game and a league-leading 11 touchdowns to the position. Oh, they also give up the most fantasy PPG to the position (18.72).
Gerald Everett only saw two targets in Week 14, but he caught them both for 15 yards and a touchdown. He is a big factor for Seattle in the red zone, as he has at least one red-zone target in each of his last four games and five total in that span. He has scored a touchdown in two of his last three. He is a high-end TE2 who always has a chance to score a touchdown.