Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 14

With Kerryon Johnson still hobbled, can LaGarrette Blount help you go on a deep fantasy playoff run?

This weekly series will attempt to help you in two ways. First, we are going to be examining players who may not be the hot waiver pickups of the week. This will save you Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) or waiver priority for when you need it most. Second, we will be diving into stats and trends that point to players improving their fantasy scores next week, not this current week.

The goal is to sift through the rough to find those diamonds who emerge every single year, except you won't be sweating over whether or not you claimed them on waivers, because you will already own them. At least that's the goal.

Here's the latest transparency report of the season. Before Week 12, I told you to grab these guys for a Week 13 start. Here's how they did:

PlayerPositional RankingHalf-PPR Points
Matthew Stafford20th10.0
Doug Martin21st11.7
Royce Freeman53rd2.8
D.J. Moore30th8.5
Chiefs D/ST16th8.0

Doug Martin, D.J. Moore, and Kansas City D/ST were all fine plays. On the other hand, Matthew Stafford disappointed on Thanksgiving, and Royce Freeman will continue to be the second option behind Phillip Lindsay.

Now, on to Week 14! Here are some guys who may not be startable for your first round of playoffs, but could be valuable for Week 15 and the championship. So, if you have space, add them now or hope that they fall through waivers after this week. I will be selecting guys who are more "sure things" than usual going forward, since we are aiming at potential playoff starts in the coming weeks.

Jalen Richard, RB, Raiders

Yahoo ownership: 44%

With the recent news that Doug Martin has a banged up knee, and that the Oakland Raiders signed veteran running back C.J. Anderson, things are not looking good in Oakland. However, this could lead to the increased usage of Jalen Richard in the coming weeks.

Richard has now seen four or more targets in all but one game this season, and that was in Week 2. Additionally, over the last three weeks he's seen an average of six rushing attempts per game. That might not sound like much, but from Week 1 to Week 10, Richard only averaged 2.0 rushing attempts per game. If Richard is being bumped up to 10-plus touches per game for the remainder of the season with Martin injured and Anderson playing a limited role without playbook knowledge, he could be a sneaky flex.

Well, this week, the Raiders are playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have been strong against the run all season, allowing the ninth-fewest points to running backs. On top of that, they have been especially good against pass-catching running backs. The Steelers have given up the fourth-fewest yards and the second-fewest receptions to the position.

Instead, Week 15 looks like a much better situation for Richard against the Cincinnati Bengals. You should know by now that we've been targeting this defense all season, and for good reason. The Bengals are one of three teams to give up over 1,500 rushing yards to running backs this year -- that's over 125 yards per game. They are also leaking the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Normally, I'd say Richard is better in passing game scripts, but with the Martin situation, it's safe to say that Richard will be a good Week 15 play.

LaGarrette Blount, RB, Lions

Yahoo ownership: 47%

This pick largely hinges on the health of fellow Lion Kerryon Johnson, as Kerryon was still not practicing on Wednesday. Head coach Matt Patricia seems to think they shouldn't shut him down for the season yet, but if Kerryon were to play this week and suffer a setback, the choice might be made for him.

The last two weeks, LeGarrette Blount has taken over the lead role in the Detroit Lions' backfield, with Theo Riddick filling in on passing downs. In those games, Blount has amassed 35 rushing attempts, 149 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, and even one fun reception for 15 yards. Blount might not be a shiny starting running back, but he can still get the job done. So long as Kerryon is out, I see Blount as a fringe flex play on his touchdown upside alone.

Blount has two good matchups in front of him, so I will touch on both briefly. First, he gets the Arizona Cardinals on the road. The Cardinals have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs, and have also allowed a league-leading 15 rushing touchdowns this season. It seems likely to me that Kerryon won't play and Blount has one-to-two touchdown potential.

Looking on to Week 15 -- after Blount wins you Week 14 -- the Lions will head to Buffalo and play the Bills. They are currently ninth in points allowed to running backs, but they have also allowed 16 total touchdowns to them as well. Once again, if Kerryon doesn't play, I will have Blount locked in for at least a touchdown and around 50 yards on the ground.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Rams

Yahoo ownership: 61%

Many people have already figured out that Josh Reynolds is a thing, so he's not going to be available in many leagues. But if he is available, you need to nab him now, because he is a WR3 with high-end WR2 upside in this Los Angeles Rams offense. Jared Goff has had 295 yards passing or more in five out of his last six contests, not to mention he's had 13 touchdowns in this time frame.

Do the Rams miss Cooper Kupp? Yes. However, Reynolds has already shown he's perfectly capable of filling in the gap for the remainder of the season. Reynolds has seen five targets or more in three out of the four starts in the stead of Kupp. He's also had three touchdowns and seven red zone targets in these same games. The opportunity is there, even though he's behind Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. The Rams run 11 personnel groups (3 wide receivers on the field) 98% of the time, the most in the league.

This week, the Rams will be heading into Chicago and playing the big scary Bears defense. And while they haven't been super strict against receivers this season -- allowing the 10th-most points to the position -- they have given up 246 passing yards or fewer in six consecutive games.

Rather than deal with them, I'm going to roll out Reynolds against the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoff semifinal round. The Eagles have been dealing with a mass of injuries to their secondary, likely leaving sophomore corner Sidney Jones to play significant snaps. Jones has allowed a passer rating of 93.6 to opposing quarterbacks when targeted and has allowed an average of 5.5 yards after the catch on 24 receptions this season. Sidney was benched as the team's slot corner, but injuries made them promote him to the left corner role, where he played 39 of 45 defensive snaps last week. This will line him up across from Reynolds, who has played 34 snaps on the right side in both of his last two games.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders

Yahoo ownership: 44%

This is going to be my riskiest pick this week, but I feel like it's warranted for similar reason to liking Jalen Richard. Jordy Nelson might be old, but he's shown us that he's still got something left in the tank and that it wasn't all due to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. With the Oakland Raiders running out of healthy wide receivers, Jordy has been left to collect the leftover targets. Last week, Jordy caught 10 of 11 targets for 97 yards against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that has been somewhat stingy to the position this season.

I don't plan on playing Jordy against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Joe Haden in Week 14. However, as I discussed above, that Cincinnati matchup in Week 15 is quite juicy. The Bengals have allowed 2,020 yards to wideouts this season.

But more importantly, they are dealing with several cornerback injuries. Corners Dre Kirkpatrick, Tony McRae, and linebacker Vontaze Burfict are each dealing with injuries heading into Week 14. Since the Bengals are now leaning on quarterback Jeff Driskel, it's likely that they recognize a lost season and allow their players more rest rather than risk higher impact injuries. If Jordy can see a healthy amount of targets going forward, he should produce in this game.

Ravens D/ST

Yahoo ownership: 72%

Honestly, this is going to be more of a service announcement than anything. We all know that the Ravens D/ST is good. Depending on your scoring rules, they are likely in the top five D/STs in fantasy points. They have also scored three defensive touchdowns in the last two weeks and kept the Atlanta Falcons at 10 points. Yeah, they're pretty good.

Anyway, the Ravens have the pleasure of playing against the number one scoring offense this week, the Kansas City Chiefs. I'm sure more savvy fantasy players will hold the Ravens through the first round of the playoffs, but you might see them dropped in a few places. In Week 15, the Ravens play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home. The Bucs have given up 6 or more fantasy points to opposing D/STs in 8 of their 12 games this season. Jameis Winston might have gone without a turnover the last two weeks, but considering his play style and the offensive play-calling of airing it out, interceptions are likely to happen.