10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets Heading Into Week 15
The week of injuries. Week 15 saw multiple offensive and defensive starters leave their game (under their own power or on a cart) with an injury. Concussion, abdomen, knee, ankle…you name it. The halt in production likely ruined the prospect of many teams looking to advance in the playoffs. For those that survived or are looking to survive ahead of Monday Night Football, the injuries and shifts due to injury create an opportunity for ancillary players to shine.
The playoffs are already a high-pressure stretch of games. ‘Win or go home’ is about as simple as it gets, but roster management becomes critical. We’ve got the run down of potential waiver wire targets listed below, but fantasy managers can use this list in two ways. The first is easy. Players lost due to injury or starters with poor matchups can be subbed out for any of the wire targets available for Week 15. The other is slightly nuanced. Opponent rosters may need aid as well. Blocking a potential gain for them can be just as important to success as starting the player ourselves.
Congrats, if you’ve made it this far into the fantasy postseason. Let’s dive into the waiver pickups for Week 15.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
Yahoo! Ownership: 47%
Ryan Tannehill amassed nearly 400 yards passing on less than 30 pass attempts in Week 14. Sure, we can point to the matchup and the lackluster talent within Oakland’s defensive secondary. However, Tannehill’s been executing this offense at a high-rate of efficiency over the last month. Entering Week 14, his 7.5% touchdown rate (second in the league) rivaled only Lamar Jackson since Week 7. He added three more touchdowns on 27 attempts in Week 14 retaining his place among all active starters. The symbiotic nature between Tannehill’s efficiency and Derrick Henry’s multiple 100-yard games cannot be understated, but Tannehill’s been able to properly execute the Titans’ offense as designed. They face Houston in Week 15 who just gave up 38 points to Drew Lock. If your current starting quarterback has a difficult matchup in Week 15, Tannehill should be at the top of streaming list for quarterbacks.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
Yahoo! Ownership: 19%
The rushing has returned! Mitchell Trubisky has had four weeks of less than 200 yards passing. Four games with zero passing touchdowns. However, his redeeming quality has been his legs. He averaged nearly five rush attempts per game in 2018, but he’s averaged only 3.3 throughout this season. It flashed in Week 12, as he recorded his first rushing touchdown on the season. The trend continued in Week 13 as one of his four attempts came within the red zone. Trubisky put it on full display in Week 14. His 12.3 points on the ground put him in RB2 territory and his three other touchdowns put him in QB1 territory on the week. With his dual-threat ability now back in the picture, the Bears travel to Green Bay where the Packers have allowed 0.07 Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points Per Play and 0.11 Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points Per Play. With a seemingly positive matchup suiting Trubisky’s hybrid skills, Trubisky finds himself on the streaming list for Week 15.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Drew Lock (2%) has most of the fantasy community (and folks within the NFL) wondering why the Denver Broncos waited so long to activate the rookie. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in both of his NFL starts and added 30 yards rushing to offset his two interceptions. The Broncos do have to travel to Kansas City in Week 15, but Denver’s offensive game plan (as it’s shifted back to incorporating running backs into the passing game) has benefited the rookie who will likely be forced into a heavy passing script against Pat Mahomes.
Patrick Laird, RB, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo! Ownership: 20%
Our Laird and Savior. The cult hero ’s workload has steadily increased since Kalen Ballage was put on Injured Reserve. Questions surrounding how the backfield would be split between Patrick Laird and fellow-rookie Myles Gaskin were quickly put to rest when Laird out-touched his teammate 19 to five in Week 14. Laird is now seeing the bulk of the running back workload along with four targets per game over the last two weeks. With the status of DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson up in the air, Laird’s talent both on the ground and as a receiver becomes intriguing, as the Miami Dolphins are set to face the New York Giants in Week 15. While the Giants’ run defense has been tough (-0.03 Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points Per Play), most offenses have been able to find success through the air. Look for Laird to continue his usage as a receiver and pick him up as a viable target in most PPR leagues.
DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders
Yahoo! Ownership: 5%
Josh Jacobs was announced ‘Out’ only hours before the Oakland Raiders’ Week 14 matchup against the Titans. Jacobs likely doesn’t account for the 21-point deficit, but his absence allowed us to see how the backfield would be split between DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Washington did get the rushing touchdown and saw twice the number of carries given to Richard. The more interesting part is the work in the receiving game. Richard had been praised in past seasons for his targets out of the backfield, but Washington won in the passing game as well. Washington’s seven targets led not just the running backs but the entire team as Derek Carr struggled to find open receivers. If Jacobs is forced to miss the rest of the season, Washington becomes a primary running back with work in the receiving game as Oakland prepares to host the imploding Jaguars in Week 15.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Adrian Peterson (39%) takes over for yet another injury scare for Derrius Guice. While the veteran running back has only 14 targets on the season, the projected workload at least provides a floor for those in need of a starter. Washington will be at home, but the Philadelphia Eagles run defense is a tough ask for any player (-0.05 Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP Per Play). With Dwayne Haskins likely limited, the entire offense may suffer but Peterson should still see the bulk of the carries moving forward giving him some viability in deeper leagues.
Breshad Perriman/Justin Watson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yahoo! Ownership: 0%
Mike Evans went down in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and it was almost immediately announced that he would not return to the game. The once concentrated offense between Evans and Chris Godwin was then split into Justin Watson, Breshad Perriman, and Chris Godwin with the tight ends (yes, plural) and running backs also contributing through the air. A historical day for Jameis Winston is only marred by the idea that there will be more assets to account for in a volatile offense. Regardless, Watson and Perriman second and third in team targets with Perriman getting the game-winning touchdown. Both are worthy of a waiver add in Week 15 at Detroit, but the primary concern is the pace of play. The Indianapolis Colts pulled Winston into a competitive contest with their own offensive production. Detroit only managed 275 total yards of offense in Week 14. Watson is the likely replacement for Evans while he’s down elevating his status, but the pace of play may limit them both stymying their production.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo! Ownership: 12%
Diontae Johnson was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense in Week 14. He led the team in targets, caught a touchdown, plus returned an 85-yard punt return for another touchdown. The two-man show starring Devlin Hodges and James Washington gets an additional cast member as Vance McDonald suffered a concussion during the game. While Johnson is worth an add, two concerns limit his immediate upside. First, Hodges has passed a total of 51 times in 2.5 games since replacing Mason Rudolph. Pittsburgh is passing at the sixth-lowest rate giving Johnson (and other pass catchers) a low floor. Also, the Steelers are hosting the Buffalo Bills in Week 15. While Lamar Jackson was able to drop three touchdown passes on them, Hodges is not Lamar Jackson. The workload will likely be there for the rookie but expect his upside to be limited by the Bills’ impressive secondary (seventh-lowest Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP Per Play).
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Olamide Zaccheaus (0%) caught Matt Ryan’s longest touchdown pass in the Falcons’ rout of the Panthers. Now, this recommendation isn’t based on a singular play but an injury concern. Calvin Ridley left the contest late in the second half with an abdominal injury. He was seen being carted off the field after appearing visibly shaken on the sidelines heading towards the locker room. While the Falcons are set to travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers, Zaccheus will likely take over for Ridley as he recovers from his injury giving him a path to a deep-league FLEX play in Week 15.
Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo! Ownership: 1%
Another recommendation based on injury. Mark Andrews left the field in Week 14 with a right knee injury and didn’t return to the game. This leaves his Week 15 status in doubt as the Ravens host the final Thursday Night Football match of the season. Because the Ravens play the New York Jets and have clinched a playoff berth, Andrews sitting out in Week 15 becomes more and more of a possibility. In his absence, Hayden Hurst (the other tight end Baltimore drafted) becomes a viable option at the tight end position. Hurst finished the day with 73 receiving yards, but 61 of them came on a long pass down the seam resulting in a touchdown. However, on a team where no pass-catcher (wide receiver, running back, or tight end) saw more than four targets, we’ll take three on a team generating 35.3 points per game over the last 3 weeks.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennesse Titans
Yahoo! Ownership: 13%
Jonnu Smith was second in team targets with a 15% target share in the Titans’ win over the Raiders. While his workload has been light, his usage within the red zone has given him the upside fantasy managers look for in a tight end. Tennessee hosts the Texans in Week 15 that just allowed Noah Fant to rack up 113 yards and a touchdown against them as Drew Lock cruised to a QB1 performance. With continued issues in the Texans’ secondary (0.12 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP Per Play), Smith should see continued usage during the fantasy playoffs.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Josh Hill saw a slightly increased workload after Jared Cook’s breakout day was cut short on his second touchdown catch of the day. Cook’s concussion leaves his Week 15 status against the Colts in doubt opening the door to more work for Hill. While the highly-competitive game against the 49ers was the likely catalyst for Hill’s targets, a starting tight end on a Drew Brees offense is worth looking at in deeper leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs, D/ST
Yahoo! Ownership: 30%
The Kansas City Chiefs travel home after a hard-fought victory over the Patriots. They now face rookie Drew Lock and the Broncos in Arrowhead Stadium and have opened as 11.5-point favorites. Kansas City’s defensive front has generated multiple sacks in each of their last four games with interceptions in three of their last four. While Lock has yet to lapse into multiple mistakes in a game, the likely negative game script may press the rookie into suboptimal situations giving the defense a chance to create a turnover. With Kansas City back at home, they’ll likely be the top streaming defense in Week 15.
Seattle Seahawks, D/ST
Yahoo! Ownership: 41%
While Seattle D/ST was unable to put much pressure on Jared Goff in Week 14, they still recorded two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown aiding their performance. They will be on the road but facing Kyle Allen and the Carolina Panthers that have completely become unraveled over the past three weeks. Allen has been sacked two or more times in every start this season. He’s lost a fumble in back-to-back games. Carolina’s offensive woes have aided defensive units like the Falcons (Week 11, Week 14) and Washington (Week 13) in having positive D/ST performances. Seattle has allowed the 11th-lowest Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP Per Play and the 14th-lowest Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP Per Play. While Carolina continues to sort out their coaching tendencies, Seattle may make that job tougher in Week 15 with a solid defensive performance.
Honorable Mentions or Deep-League Adds: Detroit Lions (14%) will be at home facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jameis Winston has either throw a pick or lost a fumble in all but two games this season. He’s been to dig himself out of the holes he creates, but the turnovers and the chance at a defensive score have propped up opposing defenses throughout the season. Detroit has been able to generate pressure and create turnovers giving them a chance to maintain Winston’s poor streak in Week 15.