10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets Heading Into Week 14
We made it. Or at least, I hope you made it: It's fantasy football playoff season. Winning the waiver wire has never been more important.
With names like Corey Davis, Baker Mayfield, and Derek Carr in the week's top five scorers (so far), Week 13 was beyond bizarre. I hated it, and so did you. But on we march into Week 14, with clear minds and brave hearts.
Bye weeks are over, and it was a pretty quiet week on the injury front. Brandin Cooks left the game with a concussion scare but returned. Given his concussion history, this is a really important injury to monitor. Tee Higgins got shaken up late, and his quarterback Brandon Allen also left the game. As we'll get to below, Frank Gore left early with a concussion.
We'll need to monitor any injury situations from the Monday and Tuesday games as well. Let's dive in.
I'll stick to players rostered on 60% or fewer of Yahoo teams and also list some other viable pickups who may be available in shallower leagues or relevant in only deeper leagues.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Roster Percentage: 3%
After the game, Doug Pederson was noncommittal as to who will be the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback in Week 14. But if you watched the game, it was clear inserting Jalen Hurts into the lineup gave the offense at least a semblance of a spark. It would be downright shocking if Pederson went back to Wentz after yet another dreadful performance. Per Rotoworld, Hurts generated 138 yards of offense in just 22 minutes, compared to 97 yards of offense in 38 minutes for Wentz.
Hurts looked unsurprisingly dynamic on the run, adding 29 rushing yards on 5 carries in his limited action. That rushing upside alone means he could be a league winner if truly given the keys to the offense.
While the upcoming matchup against the New Orleans Saints is less than ideal, Philly gets the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys to close out the fantasy playoffs. It's not unreasonable to think Hurts will be a top-12 option those weeks. He's a must-add.
Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts
Roster Percentage: 40%
Good ol' Philip Rivers is admittedly not my preferred style of fantasy quarterback, given he has zero rushing equity. But it's time we acknowledge not only how reliable he has been of late in fantasy but also the shifting of the tide we've seen since earlier in the season.
From Weeks 2-5, the Indianapolis Colts defense gave up just 15.25 points per game, allowing Rivers to average just 27 attempts per game as he rode the run game and defense to victory.
It's been a different tune for a while now. Since Week 6, the indoor-playing Colts are allowing 26.4 points per game. Rivers, accordingly, averages 38.9 pass attempts per game over that span. Per Sharp Football Stats, Indy ranks 13th in pass rate since Week 6 (60%). Rivers, meanwhile, has thrown for 285 yards and/or 3 touchdowns in six of his last seven games.
Rivers' worst game notably came against the Baltimore Ravens, a team with a ferocious pass rush. Per Pro Football Reference, Baltimore ranks first in blitz rate, third in quarterback knockdown rate, and eighth in pressure rate. With clean pockets in his remaining games, Rivers has been legitimately cooking.
At just 40% rostered, Rivers is available in over half of Yahoo leagues. And he has a gorgeous schedule for the next two weeks, with a game on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders, then back home for another matchup with the Houston Texans. Las Vegas blitzes at the league's third-lowest rate and are merely mid-pack at generating pressure. Houston ranks fourth-worst in quarterback knockdown rate and bottom-half in pressure rate. Rivers is, at-worst, streamable over the next two weeks, providing a safe 19-point floor.
Others To Consider: Derek Carr (51%), Baker Mayfield (38%), Mitchell Trubisky (13%)
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Roster Percentage: 53%
If Cam Akers hurt you earlier this year, believe me, I understand. I dropped him too, and it's one of my biggest regrets this season. We can't let biases from the past impact our current decision-making.
It appears the changing of the guard has finally occurred. After hyping him as a pick up for Wilson Football this past week, Akers proceeded to set season-highs in snaps, carries, and carries inside the 10 (all per John Daigle).
It's worth noting, Akers still doesn't have a meaningful pass-game role, so he'll be tougher to trust in negative game scripts. But with home games against the New England Patriots and New York Jets, Akers is easily an RB2 over the first two weeks of the fantasy playoffs.
Ty Johnson, New York Jets
Roster Percentage: 2%
We should -- and I mean this seriously -- never trust Adam Gase. He is probably the reason the term 'assumption of rational coaching' exists. That said, with La'Mical Perine on injured reserve, it's clear Ty Johnson is the lead dog in this backfield if Gore misses time. That alone makes him worth an add this week.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans
Roster Percentage: 27%
In a perfect world, you picked up Keke Coutee and started him last week. If you didn't, the good news is he's still out there in over 70% of Yahoo leagues.
While he won't get to play a zone defense in a dome every week, Coutee's line of 8 receptions for 141 yards on 9 targets doesn't appear overly fluky. He's attached to Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller vacated a big target share, and he was loved by many scouts coming out of college. Coutee even got open deep, which enhances his weekly ceiling.
Finally out of Bill O'Brien's doghouse, Coutee ran a route on 88% of Deshaun Watson's dropbacks. While his schedule on paper isn't that exciting (at CHI, at IND, vs. CIN), we've seen the Bears give up good performances to Marvin Jones, Allen Lazard, and Adam Thielen of late, while we know Coutee can score against the Colts. The Bengals are a tasty matchup in the fantasy championship.
Especially with Brandin Cooks leaving the game with a concussion scare, Coutee is a must-add this week.
Chad Hansen, Houston Texans
Roster Percentage: 0%
While Chad Hansen sounds more like the lead singer of an early 2000s alt-rock cover band than an NFL wide receiver, stranger things have happened in 2020 than his ascent to fantasy relevance.
Hansen ran a route on every Watson drop back but one, posting 5 catches for 101 yards with a tidy 18.4% target share. While it's tough to guarantee this is repeatable, we at least know the good quarterback play is, and we know this team ends up in a lot of negative game scripts. Hansen is worth adding to find out.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Roster Percentage: 45%
Is it finally happening? Mostly left for dead by the fantasy community, T.Y. Hilton has come to life recently, with 80+ yards and a touchdown in each of his last two games. Even more notable, Hilton led the Colts with a monstrous 31.4% target share in Week 13.
Perhaps surprisingly, Hilton now has three games with nine or more targets on the season. Given the schedule we highlighted for Philip Rivers above, there's plenty of data points to suggest he's a legitimate WR3 or better for the fantasy playoffs.
Others To Consider: Gabriel Davis (5%), Rashard Higgins (8%), Collin Johnson (0%)
Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears
Roster Percentage: 1%
The theme of this column is the changing of the guard, where stubborn teams are finally willing to give priority to the rookies on their teams. In Week 13, not only did second-round rookie Cole Kmet post 5 catches, 37 yards, and a touchdown on 7 targets, but he ran five more routes than Jimmy Graham. The week before, he doubled Graham in snaps played.
It's nearly impossible to consistently find points at tight end on a weekly basis outside of the top of the position (looking at you, Kyle Rudolph). With increasing usage and a home game against Houston this week, Kmet is already on the streaming radar.
Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans
Roster Percentage: 9%
Hopefully, you were smarter than me and played Anthony Firkser over Kyle Rudolph this week. While MyCole Pruitt ended up with the receiving touchdown, it's clearly Firkser who has the best tight end role if Jonnu Smith is out.
Per Adam Levitan, Firkser was in the slot or out wide on 29 of his snaps and had a solid 15.5% target share. It's notable that Jonnu didn't practice all week and was ruled out on Friday. This is conjecture, but he's probably on the wrong side of questionable for Week 14 already. With a tasty game against Jacksonville Jaguars coming up, Firkser is a legitimate streaming option assuming Jonnu is out again.
San Francisco 49ers
Roster Percentage: 48%
This one is pretty straightforward. The San Francisco D/ST gets Alex Smith at home. The lines have not been released yet this early in the week, but the San Francisco 49ers will be at least four-point home favorites. Don't overthink this.
Others To Consider: Tampa Bay vs. MIN (45%), Tennessee at JAX (32%), Carolina vs. DEN (6%), Washington at SF (24%)