19 Late-Season Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets for Keeper Leagues

All eyes have been on Josh Gordon, but Justin Blackmon might have a big return, too. Who else deserves a dynasty add?

We can now turn the page on Week 12, which means most fantasy football regular seasons come to a close, for many league calendars end after Week 13.

For redraft leagues, not making the playoffs means you may turn your focus to other fantasy games like daily games, focus solely on watching your favorite or hometown team, or shift your attention to another sport. For those in dynasty leagues with struggling teams or an eye on next year, now is the time to put in your deep dynasty waiver claims with the intent of potentially hitting a home run on someone who will produce for you next year.

Most dynasty leagues allow you to keep a certain amount of players, and anyone you claim off of waivers that you elect to keep at the beginning of the 2015 season will cost you something like a late round pick (think like a 13th rounder). Personally, I'm in a unique dynasty league which is 24-7-365 featuring player multi-year contracts and an NFL-sized salary cap on a platform called Reality Sports Online, which provides an interesting spin on traditional keeper leagues. As a result of being in two leagues on this platform, including a numberFire writer's league, I'm always thinking like an NFL General Manager and looking to maneuver on the waiver wire to acquire cheap talent for the future.

The purpose of this article, then, is to recommend some under-the-radar flyer type guys that you should pick up late this season for potential productivity now but more so have potential for a solid fantasy performance in 2015. So a player like Latavius Murray, by virtue of his Week 12 breakout performance, would probably not qualify because he may be useful down the stretch to a dynasty fantasy owner this year, although if you can nab him, you should definitely seize that opportunity.

In terms of strategy, one of the most important aspects of the dynasty waiver talent scouting is to know real NFL contracts and free agency to ascertain when a particular prospect may be primed for an opportunity to be the man. Grabbing a wide receiver who barely has been active this year if he's in a productive offense that has quality receivers who could walk in 2015 free agency is definitely a smart strategy. Additionally, as there are so many streaming options and emerging quarterbacks, there potentially isn't much on the waiver wire from a dynasty standpoint that would be overly enticing at the end of a season in a dynasty league. Without further ado, let's dive in.

Dan Herron, Running Back, Indianapolis Colts

Owned - ESPN: 15%, Yahoo: 23%

Dan "Boom" Herron already may be slightly on your radar with the Week 12 start and a 12-carry, 65-yard performance in Week 12 versus Jacksonville to go along with 5 catches for 31 yards. To me, what's more enticing is the fact that oft-injured and soon-to-be 30-year-old Ahmad Bradshaw is a free agent, and at this point we know what Trent Richardson is as an NFL player.

Even better for the Colts is that Boom is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent in 2015, meaning the Colts can keep him at a minimum contract or nobody gets him. He's also succeeded in a timeshare at Ohio State and scored 16 touchdowns and 1,115 yards his junior season when he was the bellcow.

Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars

Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

With all the recent Josh Gordon hype around his return, smart fantasy owners probably looked ahead to Justin Blackmon's potential return and his history of drug related suspensions. Well, Blackmon is still under contract through 2016, and like Gordon, has produced with middling quarterback play in the past.

The 6'1", 210-pound receiver out of Oklahoma State was on a breakneck pace in 2013 prior to his suspension with 29 receptions for 415 receiving yards and a touchdown in four games played. This resulted in a Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) total of 34.42 in four games, which would have extrapolated in sixteen games to 137.68. This mark would have ranked third among wide receivers last year.

While the team invested heavily on the wide receiver position in the draft, those receivers have battled injuries, and Cecil Shorts is a free agent in 2015. There is no doubt of the physical ball-winning skills that Blackmon could help the Jaguars young offense. He recently completed rehab and could be reinstated this offseason.

Devonta Freeman, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons

Owned - ESPN: 6%, Yahoo: 8%

Falcons head coach Mike Smith likes playing old running backs in his lineup almost as much as my editor JJ Zachariason liked Freeman's potential opportunity this season. However, if the current incompetence of the Falcons keeps up, Steven Jackson and his 3.6 yards per carry may be gone with Smith in the offseason as he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. With the Falcons other two running backs also being free agents, that would open the door for Hard Knocks rookie sensation Devonta Freeman to be the starting running back.

The first pick of the fourth round out of Florida State, Freeman has caught 21 balls in a limited role this season and has the versatility to be a significant future force in the backfield for many years to come once he gets the opportunity.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tight End, Houston Texans

Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

Why wouldn't you want a tight end who has explicit goals and the size to become the next Rob Gronkowski? What better player to be the next Gronk than one who plays for Coach Bill O'Brien, who helped turn Gronk into the superstar that he is.

While he's been fairly quiet and injured in 2014 as a rookie tight end with a paltry two catches for 16 yards in ten games, C.J. Fiedorowicz, a third-round pick out of Iowa, could easily fill the Gronk role in years to come, especially with a healthy offseason.

Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Cincinnati Bengals

Owned - ESPN: 1%, Yahoo: 13%

Not feeling my unproven tight end pick above? Then go a different route and grab Tyler Eifert off your waiver wire for dynasty purposes. While he's been out since week 1 with a dislocated elbow, Eifert has a chance to be a nice stash for your fantasy playoffs. More importantly, with timeshare tight end Jermaine Gresham (who Eifert outperformed in 2013) entering 2015 free agency, the door is wide open for Eifert to excel on a very potent offense with a new found running game in 2015. This should open up plenty of seams and play-action for the 2013 first round pick out of Notre Dame, who already had a lot of potential in 2014.

Other Tight Ends to Consider

Cooper Helfet, Tight End, Seattle Seahawks
Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

Virgil Green, Tight End, Denver Broncos
Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

Jeff Janis, Davante Adams,
Wide Receivers, Green Bay Packers

Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%
Owned - ESPN: 10%, Yahoo: 12%

We all know the potency of Green Bay's offense. We also know that they have a history of letting wide receivers walk via free agency. In spite of the amazing year slot receiver extraordinaire Randall Cobb is having, there remains the real possibility that he gets big bucks elsewhere in free agency. If that happens, the door opens for rookie wide receivers Jeff Janis and Davante Adams.

While Adams has three touchdowns and is the Packers number-three receiver and the guy you want on your roster immediately in the event something happens to Cobb or Jordy Nelson, the seventh-round receiver out of Saginaw Valley State Janis may be the next Nelson. In fact, Janis was the legend of training camp, displaying his Nelson-like size (6'3, 219 lbs) and speed (4.42 which is faster than Eric Decker's 4.51 40-yard-dash time). Both are the epitome of dynasty league stash prospects.

Lance Dunbar, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

Owned - ESPN: 1%, Yahoo: 2%

It's simple. DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant are both free agents in 2015, and the Cowboys figure to pay Bryant because the wide receiver position is valued more in today's NFL. Even so, Lance Dunbar is a Darren Sproles type pass-catching running back who typically does well in a Scott Linehan system. While he is a restricted free agent in 2015, if something happens to Murray down the stretch this year or Murray doesn't return next season, Dunbar may live up to some of the hype I wrote about last summer.

Other Pass-Catching Running Backs to Consider

Dri Archer, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

De'Anthony Thomas, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
Owned - ESPN: 1%, Yahoo: 1%

Brock Osweiler, Quarterback, Denver Broncos

Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

Eventually, Peyton Manning will retire, and you won't hear "50-Omaha-Set-Hut" a trillion times a day. Perhaps it happens following a potential Super Bowl victory in February? If so, maybe the 6'8, 240-lb second-rounder from Arizona State Brock Osweiler gets the keys to Peyton's Ferrari offense. If so, definitely worth a flier at no risk towards the end of your 2014 fantasy season.

Other Quarterbacks to Consider

Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns
Owned - ESPN: 3%, Yahoo: 10%

Tom Savage, Quarterback, Houston Texans
Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

Paul Richardson, Kevin Norwood, and Ricardo Lockette, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks

Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 1%

Of these three, I like Paul Richardson's long-term prospects the best as he has a skill set and frame much like DeSean Jackson's, so he figures to be a deep-ball threat and playmaker in the Seahawks offense for years to come.

The other two receivers come with size and strength and have been targeted down the field a little bit in 2014 but primarily figure as special teams players currently. With an offseason to work with these guys as opposed to force-feeding the mercurial Percy Harvin, Seahawks quarterback and film-room junkie Russell Wilson could turn one of these receivers into a 2015 sleeper or star if they don't search for one in the draft.

Christine Michael, Running Back, Seattle Seahawks

Owned - ESPN: 3%, Yahoo: 4%

For starters, I don't think Marshawn Lynch is going anywhere in 2015, but if he does, Christine Michael figures to be involved heavily on one of the league's most ground-friendly teams. Michael has unique burst, athleticism, and vision but is still raw, and Lynch has performed at such a high clip that it makes it really hard to let him go if the team can afford him.

Duron Carter, Wide Receiver, Montreal Alouettes

Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 0%

Heck, Duron Carter, the son of Hall of Famer Cris Carter, is not even eligible to pick up in most leagues. However, he's only 23 years old, is 6'5 and 205 pounds, and had 75 catches for 1,030 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2014 after averaging 19 yards a catch in 2013 for the Montreal Alouettes. He can work out for NFL teams in December and sign with them as early as February.

Carter is surrounded by former NFL players with Jeff Garcia on the offensive staff and Chad Johnson as a fellow wide receiver. More importantly, with the expected free agent crop of wide receivers expected to be thin in the NFL after the franchise tag and fifth-year options, Carter is viewed to be one of the most coveted free agents. If you're in a league where you can pick him up, grab him immediately.

Other Wide Receivers to Consider

Cody Latimer, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
Owned - ESPN: 1%, Yahoo: 2%

Charles Johnson, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Owned - ESPN: 0%, Yahoo: 1%