Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 14

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve that in a couple of ways.

First, I will identify players who could ultimately provide some value for your teams before they become hot waiver-wire adds. This will save you from spending an exorbitant amount of your free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or using a high waiver priority on them, ultimately allowing you to save each of these for when you most need it.

Second, I'll dig through the data and player trends to illustrate why these players will be worth taking up a spot on your roster. I'm going to try to find the diamonds in the rough that inevitably emerge each and every year so that you don't have to sweat over whether or not you claimed them on waivers -- because you will already own them!

My goal each week is to provide you with starting and flex-caliber players at each of their respective positions. That means I'm looking for top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses, as well as top-36 running backs and wide receivers. If I've done that, then I've done my job.

Since I didn't post an article last week, I'm going to look back on performances from Week 12 and Week 13.

Player Positional Ranking Half-PPR Points
Baker Mayfield 6th 24.6
Nick Foles 39th -1
Diontae Johnson 59th 4.4
Darius Slayton 52nd 7.4
Ryan Griffin 7th 8.8
David Njoku DNP 0
Denver Broncos D/ST 18th 4
New York Jets D/ST 27th 1

These past couple weeks weren't that great, outside of Baker Mayfield and Ryan Griffin, but I plan on turning it around for the fantasy playoffs! Over the next two weeks, I'll be focusing on backup quarterbacks and handcuff running backs (as well as fliers at wide receiver, tight end, and defense), as these are who you should be focusing on grabbing heading into your playoff run as a security blanket for your starters.

With that, let's see who you should stash to help you reach the championship!

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins

ESPN Ownership: 6%

Fantasy football is a crazy world. Here we are, heading into the fantasy playoffs, and I'm recommending you stash a player from the once-pitiful Miami Dolphins. But, since returning as the starter for the Dolphins in Week 7, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the QB3 by averaging 19.8 fantasy points per game. Even more, he has posted three top-seven quarterback performances in his last five games.

Though the running game is nowhere to be found, Fitzpatrick has given life to the Dolphins in the second half of the season. He's even made players like DeVante Parker and Michael Gesicki relevant for fantasy, too.

As well as Fitzpatrick has played, he could actually be due for some positive regression. Part of this is because of the fantastic schedule he has upcoming, and that includes a Week 15 matchup against the New York Giants, who have been exploited by quarterbacks all year. Currently, the Giants allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. In their last five games, the Giants have allowed no worse than the QB9 on the week, with an average performance of QB6.

I know it'll be hard to trust Fitzpatrick with so much on the line, but now is the time to shoot for the moon and secure your spot in a fantasy football championship with a little Fitzmagic.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks

ESPN Ownership: 41%

How Rashaad Penny is still below 50 percent ownership is extremely surprising to me. As we've seen, the Seattle Seahawks backfield has become a timeshare between Penny and Chris Carson due to Carson's fumbling troubles. The Seahawks also demonstrated on Monday Night Football that the two backs can coexist, with each putting up over 17 fantasy points in the game.

The reason they're both able to thrive is because Seattle is the fourth-most run-heavy team in the league this year. Penny has also seen double digit carries in back-to-back games for the first time in his career, which we should expect to continue over the coming weeks. However, the best part about Penny's usage has been how he was worked into the passing game, with five targets on Monday, which is tied for a career high.

If increased usage isn't enough to persuade you into playing Penny, then how about getting to face the best matchup for running backs in the Carolina Panthers? This season, the Panthers have allowed an average of 25.8 fantasy points per game to running backs. The Panthers also just fired defensive-minded head coach Ron Rivera, so it'll likely be even easier for the Seahawks to exploit the defense.

Darren Fells, TE, Houston Texans

ESPN Ownership: 21%

Some may be surprised to know that the TE10 on the year has such low ownership, but that's because he's been one of the least consistent tight end options this season. While his ceiling can be as high as any of the elite players, but his floor is very low.

Fells' peripheral numbers don't look great as he's averaged just over three targets and 25 receiving yards per game since Week 8, but he's still been TE13 since then. What makes him a difference maker as a tight end is his ability to score touchdowns, which he's done four times in those same five games.

He's been so successful catching touchdowns because of how he's used in the red zone. This season, Fells leads the Houston Texans in total red zone targets with 11, which equates to a 26.3 percent red zone target share. Furthermore, over his last three games, Fells' red zone target share has risen to an astounding 40 percent. In fact, all seven of his touchdowns have come in the red zone, which has made him a valuable streaming tight end.

A large factor in recommending him for Week 15 is because of his matchup against the Tennessee Titans, who allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Though the Titans have had an impressive defense this year, they're particularly vulnerable to opposing tight ends, making Fells a great streaming option.

Kansas City Chiefs, D/ST

ESPN Ownership: 22%

I pointed out the Kansas City D/ST as a great playoff stash candidate a couple weeks ago, so I'm going to double down on them as a stash defense to use for both Weeks 15 and 16. While they continue to be a sieve allowing yards to opposing offenses, they make up for that with takeaways and sacks. Over their last three games, the Chiefs have averaged 2.7 takeaways per game and 2.7 sacks per game

But it hasn't just been the past couple games in which the Kansas City D/ST has played well. Since Week 7, the Chiefs D/ST is averaging one fewer point per game than the stud New England D/ST and are ranked as the sixth-best D/ST over that span. In Week 15, they'll get to hose a reeling Denver Broncos team, which will likely be led by Drew Lock in his third career start. Though Lock played well enough to give Denver a win against the Los Angeles Chargers in his first game, he still threw for only 134 yards, including an interception.