The fantasy waiver wire report

For those of you reading this article, I’d like to extend a hand in congratulations, as you’ve likely secured a spot in the fantasy postseason. But while qualifying for the playoffs is half the battle, now the real work begins. The fantasy postseason is a different beast as the bottom-feeders have been eliminated and you no longer have the luxury of facing an opponent who starts three players on a bye. Each roster decision must have merit and every waiver wire acquisition must serve a purpose, if only to block your competition from upgrading their respective rosters.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most talked-about available players entering Week 14.

QUARTERBACKS

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Seattle, owned in 53% of Yahoo! leagues): How is it that Sanchez, who has thrown for over 300 yards in three of four starts this season, is still available in nearly half of all Yahoo! leagues? At the very least, playoff-bound owners should be scrambling to add the Philly signal-caller as a QB2 insurance policy for whichever stud is currently handling the starting duties. Take note that after Sunday’s showdown with Seattle, Sanchez and the Birds host Dallas before hitting the road to play the Redskins and Giants.

Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins (vs. St. Louis, owned in 6% of Yahoo! leagues): The switch from the inconsistent and much-maligned RG3 to McCoy in Week 13 led to a massive surge in offensive production for the Redskins, as Jay Gruden’s squad racked up 425 total yards and 27 points in a 49-27 loss to the Colts. As for McCoy, the journeyman quarterback completed 66.0 percent of his passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Through three appearances this season, McCoy now boasts a QB rating of 113.5 with four touchdowns, one interception and a completion percentage of 75.3 percent.

Johnny ManzielIs Pettine ready to turn the keys over to Manziel?

Eli Manning, New York Giants (at Tennessee, owned in 59% of Yahoo! leagues): The Titans just put a bow on a defensive performance that included 358 passing yards and six touchdowns surrendered to Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who not too long ago was benched in favor of backup Ryan Mallett. If Fitzpatrick was capable of shredding this ready-for-the-offseason defense, think of what Eli could produce given the fact that the Giants are coming off a humiliating defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars? Risky? Sure. But the Titans are currently surrendering an average of 20.4 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (12th-most in NFL).

Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (vs. Indianapolis, owned in 13% of Yahoo! leagues): Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was benched Sunday in Buffalo after throwing three interceptions in a crucial showdown with the Bills, giving the Cleveland signal-caller five picks with no touchdown passes over his last two outings. That was enough for rookie head coach Mike Pettine, who made the switch to Manziel in the fourth quarter and was rewarded with 63 passing yards, 13 rushing yards and a touchdown in a matchup that ended 26-10 in favor of the home team Bills. Be advised that Pettine has yet to name a starting quarterback for Sunday’s home date with Indianapolis, but also keep in mind that the Colts are permitting an average of 20.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season (tenth-most in NFL). What makes Manziel so appeal is the rookie’s ability to rack up fantasy points with his feet. Total boom or bust prospect right here.

RUNNING BACKS

Boom Herron, Indianapolis Colts (at Cleveland, owned in 47% of Yahoo! leagues): It became clear after a Sunday encounter with the Redskins that former top-3 draft pick Trent Richardson has once again lost his hold on the starting job, this time to Ohio State product Herron who picked up 88 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries compared to T-Rich’s 12 yards on the same amount of rushing attempts. Herron is now averaging a rock-solid 7.65 yards per carry over his last two outings and, as a result, should be in line for a bigger share of the workload moving forward. Just be sure to note that the Browns are surrendering an average of just 18.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (15th-most in NFL).

Michael Bush, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Kansas City, owned in 1% of Yahoo! leagues): Starting running back Andre Ellington was knocked out of Sunday’s game at Atlanta with a hip pointer, will not practice on Wednesday and could miss the Cardinals’ Week 14 showdown with the Chiefs as a result. That would open the door for either the newly-acquired Bush or rookie Marion Grice to take charge by handling the bulk of Arizona’s backfield responsibilities. At the very least, look for the 245-pound Bush to handle the goal line and short yardage work this weekend.

Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (at Oakland, owned in 36% of Yahoo! leagues): San Francisco currently ranks 12th in the NFL in rushing (114.8 yds/gm) and has a very favorable matchup this Sunday with crosstown rival Oakland, who is currently surrendering more fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other team in the league (24.7 pts/gm). Be advised that the rookie from Ohio State has only carried the ball 75 times this season, but this is more of a recommendation for dynasty and keeper league owners, as it’s very unlikely that longtime ball-carrier Frank Gore is back with the Niners in 2015.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Detroit, owned in 46% of Yahoo! leagues): Don’t be fooled by what you saw Sunday against Cincinnati. Yes, Martin rushed for a season-high 58 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 18 carries in Week 13, but this performance was more the exception than the rule. In fact, Martin is on this list strictly so we could advise fantasy owners to stay away from him, especially when you consider the fact that Tampa is traveling to Detroit this weekend to face a Lions defense that is permitting an average of just 15.0 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season (seventh-fewest in NFL).

WIDE RECEIVERS

Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (vs. Carolina, owned in 42% of Yahoo! leagues): In two outings since rookie receiver Brandin Cooks was lost for the season, Stills has caught fire by pulling in 13 receptions for 260 yards and a touchdown on 15 targets. Not only is the Oklahoma product worthy of a roster spot, but this guy should be in your starting lineup in Week 14 when he and the Saints host a Panthers defense that is currently surrendering an average of 25.2 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (eighth-most in NFL).

Kenny StillsStills has caught fire since Cooks was lost for the season.

Jarvis Landy, Miami Dolphins (vs. Baltimore, owned in 41% of Yahoo! leagues): The rookie from LSU has been targeted ten or more times in three of his last four starts with three touchdowns over his last three outings. But what’s really enticing about Landry is the fact that quarterback Ryan Tannehill is currently playing his best football since turning pro in 2012 and is opting to look Landry’s way more frequently than the high-priced Mike Wallace. In addition, Miami plays host to a banged-up Baltimore secondary on Sunday that is giving up more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season than any other team in the business (29.0 pts/ gm).

Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans (vs. NY Giants, owned in 1% of Yahoo! leagues): Limited upside here, but note that starting wide receiver Justin Hunter will likely miss Sunday’s game against the Giants due to a lacerated spleen suffered in Week 13 against the Texans. That opens the door for more targets for the speedy Washington, who has found the end zone in two of his last three outings.

Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (at Denver, owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues): With rookie first-round selection Sammy Watkins struggling, Woods has very quietly elevated his game over the last two weeks by catching 13 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown on a healthy 18 targets. The upside here includes the fact that Watkins is currently battling a hip injury and Sunday’s matchup at Denver opens up the door for a plethora of garbage time statistics.

John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Kansas City, owned in 36% of Yahoo! leagues): The rookie from Pittsburg State has turned 28 targets over his last four outings into a respectable 15 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers aren’t about to set the world on fire, but Brown is a big-play deep threat who is always one catch away from making your entire fantasy week. Currently recommended as a WR3/4 for owners in leagues with 12 or more teams.

Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. NY Jets, owned in 18% of Yahoo! leagues): The Grand Valley State product was on the field for 49 of Minnesota’s 50 offensive snaps in Week 13, lending more credibility to the notion that he has become the Vikings’ top receiver. Granted, Johnson caught just two passes for 41 yards on four targets against the Panthers in Week 13, but he does have a tasty matchup with a New York Jets secondary on Sunday that is currently surrendering an average of 24.0 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (12th-most in NFL).

Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (vs. Atlanta, owned in 11% of Yahoo! leagues): An inconsistent producer due to the presence of established playmakers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, the rookie from Fresno State is coming off a career performance that included six receptions for 121 yards on 11 targets. While it’s tough to roll with Adams in the starting lineup due to a lack of targets (4.5 per game), be advised that Monday night’s home date comes against a horrific Atlanta Falcons secondary that is permitting an average of 25.8 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts this season (fifth-most in NFL).

Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams (at Washington, owned in 2% of Yahoo! leagues): The second-year receiver out of West Virginia followed up last week’s bust-out performance (7-89-1) with another solid effort that included five receptions for 100 yards on just six targets in Week 13 against the Raiders. While we’re still a bit hesitant to jump on this train due to the fact that this is still the St. Louis Rams we’re talking about here, be advised that Bailey’s Week 14 showdown comes against a reeling Washington club that is surrendering an average of 25.4 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season (seventh-most in NFL).

TIGHT ENDS

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (vs. St. Louis, owned in 50% of Yahoo! leagues): If only this guy could stay healthy! Reed’s athleticism was on full display in his return to the gridiron Sunday against the Colts as the oft-injured second-year tight end out of Florida hauled in nine passes for 123 yards on 11 targets to stake his claim as one of new quarterback Colt McCoy’s favorite weapons. If you’re an owner who failed to nab one of the Big 3 (Graham, Gronkowski, Thomas) back in August, Reed is worth serious consideration for your TE1 spot.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (vs. NY Jets, owned in 54% of Yahoo! leagues): The Notre Dame product has a limited ceiling due to the growing pains that will sometimes plague rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but Rudolph nabbed three receptions for 50 yards in Week 12 and then caught two passes for seven yards and a touchdown this past Sunday against the Panthers. Not exactly the type of production that will propel your team to the fantasy championship, but stable if you’ve been hit by the injury bug at the TE position.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

Minnesota Vikings (vs. NY Jets, owned in 27% of Yahoo! leagues): The Vikings have notched 16 sacks through just six home games this season, but more importantly, this unit plays host to Geno Smith and a New York Jets team that currently ranks 29th in the NFL in total offense (311.5 yds/gm), 30th in scoring (15.8 pts/gm) and 20th in turnovers (20). This will likely be the most aggressively targeted D/ST on waivers this week.

Green Bay Packers (vs. Atlanta, owned in 50% of Yahoo! leagues): Not the best unit in the league, but you have to love this matchup as Matt Ryan and the soft as pudding Atlanta Falcons leave the cozy confines of the Georgia Dome to travel north for an outdoor Monday night road date at Lambeau Field. The situation alone dictates this squad be inserted into your starting lineups immediately.

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