Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 15

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 a couple weeks ago, I don't have any players to recap so we'll just get right into the players I'm recommending you stash for your championship matchups!

Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

ESPN Ownership: 43%

This past week, Philip Rivers had maybe one of the best on-field moments of the season, but that's not why I'm recommending you stash him for next week. It's because Rivers, the QB15 on the year, has quietly been playing some decent football as of late. Though he's been a bit erratic with interceptions, throwing eight picks over the last six weeks, he's also fourth in passing yards per game in that same span. Much like Jameis Winston maintains a high floor with his passing yardage, Rivers has done the same.

Rivers hasn't had the highest ceiling this year by any means, but he's certainly been one of the safest and most consistent quarterbacks in fantasy. If you're a risk-averse fantasy player, you'll find comfort in knowing that Rivers has the lowest standard deviation in fantasy points among quarterbacks with double-digit starts this year.

That said, Rivers will have a chance to eclipse his season ceiling against an Oakland Raiders team that hasn't been shy about giving up fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The Raiders currently allow the second most fantasy points to the quarterback position at 22.3 fantasy points per game, which is 4.5 points per game higher than the league-wide average. Even if you haven't been streaming quarterbacks all year, be sure to grab Rivers as a backup in case your starter goes down to injury this week.

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants

ESPN Ownership: 48%

If you've gotten to the point at which you're playing in the championship, you need to shoot for the moon to earn that sweet victory. Darius Slayton has just as high of a ceiling as any receiver out there, as evidenced by his performance on Monday Night Football this past week. In fact, Monday was Slayton's second game with at least 28 fantasy points in the past four.

Many were concerned how Slayton would fare in Eli Manning's return to action as Slayton didn't play in either of Manning's two starts earlier this year. But it turns out Manning favors him just as much as Daniel Jones did, as Slayton had a team-high eight targets on Monday night. This shouldn't be a surprise though, as Slayton had led the team in targets over the team's previous four games.

The Giants will face off against Washington in Week 16 in a game that will be void of any defensive talent. Whether Manning or Jones starts that game, Slayton figures to continue his hot streak in this positive matchup. As the WR10 since Week 8, Slayton has earned a spot in your championship lineup.

Jacob Hollister, TE, Seattle Seahawks

ESPN Ownership: 44%

For most of the season, the tight end landscape has been absolutely atrocious. However, as the season comes to a close, a couple of tight end gems have popped up in recent weeks to give us some solid options. This includes Jacob Hollister, one of Russell Wilson's favorite targets.

Since Week 10, Hollister has gotten a 23 percent share of the targets from Wilson, good for second on the team. That strong target share has made Hollister the TE11 over that span. What's impressive is he's been that good in fantasy while scoring only one touchdown in those games, so he's likely due for some positive regression.

And what better team for a tight end to get right against than the Arizona Cardinals?

The Cardinals are far and away the best matchup for opposing tight ends as they give up 6.0 more fantasy points per game than the league average to the tight end position -- that's a whole touchdown more per game. Earlier this season, when Seattle played the Cardinals in Week 4, Will Dissly (remember him?) recorded seven catches for 57 yards and a score -- good enough for 15.2 fantasy points.

In a position that offers few sure things, Hollister could be a major difference maker on your championship roster.

Indianapolis Colts, D/ST

ESPN Ownership: 48%

You may be surprised to know that over the last six weeks, the Indianapolis D/ST ranks ninth in fantasy points per game among defenses. The Indianapolis Colts' defense hasn't been an outstanding unit this year, but they've played well enough to provide at least some fantasy value as of late. On the season, the Indy defense ranks near league average in most of the major defensive statistics, but that doesn't mean they're out of the running to be a D/ST streaming option.

In championship week, the Colts will host a reeling Carolina Panthers team that hasn't been the same the past several weeks. In Carolina's last three contests, they've allowed an average of 5.3 sacks and 2.3 giveaways per game -- both of these are tied for the league lead over that span. Turnovers and sacks make a world of difference when streaming defense, and the Colts will have a ripe opportunity to pile up points against the Panthers.