Win the Wire
The best players to add to your fantasy rosters (based on Football Outsiders' advanced metrics).

Win the Wire: Week 14

San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Week 14 puts us on the far side of the bye weeks and into the beginning of the fantasy playoffs in many formats. In addition to my general advice for waiver options for players based on their projected true-talent workload and efficiencies, I've also tried to sprinkle in some streaming advice for players with particularly good matchups for this and the next few weeks.

Each listed player includes my recommendation for how much of your Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) you should bid to try to win them as well as whether I think you should use a No. 1 waiver priority in a format where you would then fall to the back of the line.

Ownership percentages are for ESPN/Yahoo/NFL.com.

Shallow Leagues

Players to Target

Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
5%/5%/2%

Darwin Thompson likely isn't the name you expected to find at the top of this column, but I believe he has the greatest potential to swing fantasy playoff matchups for teams. Last week, Darrel Williams injured his hamstring. It's unclear if he will miss time, but Andrew Potter's research suggests that most backs with similar injuries miss between one and three weeks. Meanwhile, Damien Williams missed the game entirely and has an uncertain timetable for return with his rib injury. That may leave Thompson at the head of a two-back committee with LeSean McCoy on Sunday. He already played the same 36% of the team's offensive snaps as McCoy last week, and Andy Reid has indicated that Thompson could play a bigger role this weekend. And I'm enamored with his talent -- he had incredible rushing and receiving efficiencies in his one season at Utah State. I'd exhaust my FAAB to pick him up in redraft leagues and would play him confidently if he and McCoy are the team's only two active runners.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 100%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers
14%/15%/4%

The more obvious waiver gem of the week, Raheem Mostert dramatically exceeded his expect work volume replacing Matt Breida on Sunday, carrying the ball 19 times for 146 yards and a touchdown and catching two more balls for 8 yards. He played 74% of the team's offensive snaps compared to just 18% for Tevin Coleman, and the reason is likely a coach's decision due to their disparate efficiencies. Mostert has thrived on his 92 carries this season, producing a stellar 20.5% DVOA. In contrast, Coleman has struggled with a -14.4% DVOA on a volume of 120 carries that exceeds the small-sample benchmark. You can probably start Coleman this week and the rest of the season as an RB2 with a similar value to what Coleman carried prior to Week 13. Just don't expect more RB1 performances from Mostert. Breida has a decent chance to return in Week 14, which would make this backfield a committee again, with or without Coleman's involvement.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 100%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Detroit Lions
47%/43%/41%

Bo Scarbrough has followed up his unexpected, 14-carry breakout in Week 11 with 18 and 21 more carries the last two weeks. He's much safer than either Thompson or Mostert, but he also has a lower ceiling since he's completely uninvolved in the Lions' passing game -- he has just one target all season. He is an RB2 of the latter-day Adrian Peterson mold. He needs to score touchdowns to buoy his fantasy value in traditional formats. Unfortunately for Scarbrough owners, that could be tough in the fantasy playoffs. Two of his opponents over the next three weeks -- the Vikings and Broncos -- cut rushing touchdowns by 66% and 36%, respectively.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 100%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Benny Snell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
17%/34%/17%

Benny Snell comes from a similar mode as Scarbrough. He has asserted himself as the Steelers' temporarily lead early-down back, carrying the ball 21 and 17 times the last two weeks but seeing just two total targets in those two games. And he has a better fantasy playoff schedule -- or at least he would in Week 15 when the Steelers face a Bills team that increases rushing touchdowns per attempt by 49% with a much stronger DVOA pass defense (No. 5) than run defense (No. 26). The problem is, it's unclear when James Conner will return from his shoulder injury, and Conner would presumably resume his role as a workhorse back for the team when he does. There's a chance Snell could be a real difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs, but his combination of a lower ceiling and greater uncertainty make him a less attractive option than those first three backs.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 65%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
52%/51%/42%

If you wanted to make your waiver decisions based only on last week's performances, then Derrius Guice would be the top guy. He absolutely destroyed the Panthers, taking his 10 carries for 129 yards and two scores and also catching two passes for 8 yards for good measure. He's clearly demonstrating to me that he is a better runner than Adrian Peterson at this point; he maintains a healthy rushing DVOA lead of 8.9% to -5.3%. But Guice likely also owes a lot of last weekend's success to a matchup against the Panthers and their No. 32 DVOA run defense, one that increases rushing touchdowns per attempt by 138%, by far the most in football. Peterson excelled in the same matchup, carrying the ball 13 times for 199 yards and a score. And Guice actually saw the field less (30% of offensive snaps) than either Peterson (36%) or Chris Thompson (36%). A full-on switch to Guice as the workhorse back could come at any time, but until we see it, he can't be a greater priority than the backs you can start with confidence this weekend.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 42%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
82%/84%/91%

Miles Sanders will probably fall in that same camp of backs who are clearer short-term starts than Guice. His normal committee partner Jordan Howard has still not been medically cleared for contact and was ruled out on Saturday morning leading into Sunday's game in Miami, which suggests to me that he may still be another week or two away from returning. In Howard's absence, Sanders served as the Eagles' workhorse, carrying the ball 17 times for 83 yards and catching five passes for 22 yards and a touchdown. He played 87% of the team's offensive snaps, and neither Jay Ajayi (13%) nor Boston Scott (0%) were significantly involved. Still, I have Sanders as less valuable for waiver consideration for two reasons. One, his much higher ownership rates suggest to me that he is likely already owned in most leagues where other owners are paying close attention. If he isn't owned already in your league, you can probably snag him with less resistance. And two, Sanders has the misfortune of facing an attractive Giants matchup on Monday night. Unless we hear early on Howard's status again this weekend, it could be a major risk to put Sanders in your lineup as an expected RB2 if Howard might end up playing and pushing Sanders to the borderline flex range.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 40%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
46%/58%/43%

The tight end landscape is pretty bare at this point, so if you need some help at the position and Jack Doyle is available, feel free to use all of the FAAB you need to secure him. Finally out of the frustrating-for-fantasy timeshare with Eric Ebron, Doyle exploded for six catches, 73 yards, and one touchdown on 11 targets, which led the team. And it's entirely reasonable that Doyle could lead the Colts in targets over the rest of the season. He played 94% of the team's offensive snaps on Sunday, way more than the recently promoted Ross Travis (17%). And with Chester Rogers and Devin Funchess now out for the year and T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell uncertain to return in Week 14 and maybe beyond, Doyle is one of a small handful of professional targets on whom Jacoby Brissett can rely. I expect him to be a top-eight fantasy option at the position for the rest of December.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 24%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Patrick Laird, RB, Miami Dolphins
1%/1%/0%

Already light at the position after trading Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals and releasing Mark Walton, the Dolphins saw their remaining lead back Kalen Ballage injure his Achilles on Sunday. It isn't confirmed, but Ballage seems likely to miss this week, if not the rest of the season. And that leaves the team with just a pair of rookie runners in Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin. Laird enjoyed the clear edge in playing time with 60% of the offensive snaps vs. just 22% for Gaskin on Sunday, and that likely reflects his ability to contribute as a receiver. He caught four of his five targets for 43 yards against the Eagles. But Gaskin's low snap share likely belies a heavier usage as a power back when he's on the field. This feels like a similar workload split to Drake and Ballage from the early season. That makes Laird more valuable, but don't be surprised if Gaskin sees more carries and steals the close touchdowns.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 21%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants
24%/27%/10%

Based only on his production, Giants rookie Darius Slayton definitely deserves shallow-league consideration. He led the team with nine targets on Sunday and has 32 total over the last three weeks. However, Slayton has not yet shared the field with both Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate, and that seems likely to happen in Week 14, assuming Tate can return from the concussion that made him miss the typical one game. That makes this a risk, but I would still pick Slayton up. He played 94% of the team's offensive snaps alongside Shepard's 85% on Sunday while Cody Latimer played 49% out of the slot in a more direct replacement of Tate's role. Slayton is actually the receiver who brings something different to the Giants' table, seeing a 13.0-yard average depth of target that is much deeper than either Shepard (9.4) or Tate (8.3). And Slayton has also excelled as a rookie, turning in an efficient 7.0% DVOA. He'll likely be a WR3/4 in his Monday matchup with the Eagles in Philadelphia, but you shouldn't be scared to use him there if you have been relying on him to this point.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
60%/50%/59%

Vance McDonald's fantasy value has absolutely cratered since Ben Roethlisberger went down with his elbow injury. He hasn't reached 35 yards receiving since Week 2 and has just one touchdown in his last nine games. That may not sound like a waiver target, but McDonald has the luxury of facing the Cardinals in Week 14. They have the No. 32 DVOA defense against tight ends (subscription required) and are allowing 78 yards per game to the position. Over the last three weeks, the Cardinals have allowed O.J. Howard to produce 4-71-1 on seven targets; Ross Dwelley to produce 4-14-2 on five targets; and Tyler Higbee to produce 7-107-1 on eight targets. All three tight ends enjoyed their seasonal high in targets facing the Cardinals. McDonald won't be competitive with the likes of Jack Doyle in my Week 14 rankings, but he may be the best available streaming option in your shallow formats if you don't already have one of the Tier 1 tight ends.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Players to Avoid

Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams
1%/11%/10%

That previous point I made in the McDonald section tells you why I think Higbee is safe to ignore in shallow formats. His 107-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Cardinals was almost certainly buoyed by their No. 32-ranked DVOA defense against tight ends. Even if normal No. 1 tight end Gerald Everett misses more time with his knee injury, Higbee is unlikely to enter the TE1 discussion against the better-quality defenses on their fantasy playoffs schedule, the Seahawks, Cowboys, and 49ers. It makes far more sense to just keep playing the Cardinals matchup.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
18%/31%/7%

Alexander Mattison is one of the more valuable handcuff backs in football, so you can safely ignore this recommendation to avoid him if you own Dalvin Cook and want to protect that investment for the fantasy playoff run. But Mattison looked like he might make good on his promise as handcuff when Cook injured his shoulder on Monday night. It turns out, that won't be the case. Cook avoided a significant injury and seems like to play in Week 14 against the Lions. That leaves Mattison's short-term fantasy value unchanged.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Players You Can Drop

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Williams, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Darrel Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Tyrell Williams, WR, Oakland Raiders
N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Tre'Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints
Kenny Stills, WR, Houston Texans
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Ty Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions

Deep Leagues

Players to Target

Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
0%/0%/0%

While I definitely prefer Patrick Laird in fantasy and would spend all of my FAAB to secure him in deeper formats, deep-league owners should likely also invest in fellow rookie Myles Gaskin. Gaskin played about one-third as many snaps in relief of Kalen Ballage as Laird on Sunday, but he looks like he might be the team's choice as the power back. A relatively higher carry rate on his snaps and goal-line work could vault him into the RB4 discussion. Assuming players like Bo Scarbrough, Benny Snell, and Derrius Guice are long-since owned in your deeper formats, Gaskin may be the best you can do at the position.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 41%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears
10%/14%/5%

Fortunately for deep-league owners, wide receivers have much more to offer than running backs. Leading that list, Anthony Miller continued his recent barrage of targets. He has 33 in last three weeks and had 13 on Sunday, which he converted into nine catches and 140 yards to lead the team. Normal No. 2 receiver Taylor Gabriel has suffered two concussions this season. He remains in protocol and could easily miss multiple weeks or the rest of this season. That vaults Miller into the WR3 discussion in PPR formats, even with Mitchell Trubisky's uneven performance this season.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 32%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
23%/23%/13%

On the other end of the spectrum, James Washington continues to see an underwhelming total of targets but converting them into big yardage and touchdowns. He has averaged 5.4 targets, 83 yards, and 0.6 touchdowns per game over his last five games. Washington will become a greater risk when JuJu Smith-Schuster returns from his knee injury, but that may not be for a few more weeks. In the meantime, Washington is a great flier option and DFS tournament choice.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 25%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Zach Pascal, WR, Indianapolis Colts
25%/17%/4%

Continuing the trend of injury-escalated workloads, Zach Pascal is practically the last Colts receiver standing after the team lost T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell, Chester Rogers, Devin Funchess, and Eric Ebron in recent weeks. He definitely set the pace on Sunday with seven catches and 109 yards. His 10 targets led the team's wide receivers by four. Campbell seems more likely than Hilton to return to action in Week 14, and that wouldn't upset Pascal's temporary role as the No. 1 receiver. At the very least, he should be a tremendous one-week streamer facing a Buccaneers defense that is bottom-third in DVOA against both No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 25%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
10%/9%/11%

It came a month later than I believe it should have, but Jaguars rookie Gardner Minshew came in for Nick Foles on Sunday and has subsequently been named the team's starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Who knows how much Nick Foles' injury and schedule influence it, but Minshew has dramatically outperformed Foles in fantasy this season, averaging 16.3 fantasy points per game vs. just 9.9 for Foles. Meanwhile, Minshew has a tremendous schedule in these fantasy playoffs, starting at home this week against a Chargers defense that is neutral for passing touchdowns but then continuing on the road in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Raiders and Falcons, defenses that increase passing touchdowns per attempt by 42% and 33%, respectively. Both of those bumps are in the top five in football. Minshew will likely be a top-15 quarterback option for me in both of those critical weeks.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 24%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
7%/7%/4%

And finally with some good injury news, Bengals third-year receiver John Ross has been practicing the last few weeks and is poised to return to the lineup in Week 14, his first week eligible in his return from injured reserve. Ross looked like a breakout receiver over his first four games, seeing 32 targets and producing 328 yards and three touchdowns. His 3.9% receiving DVOA over that stretch certainly suggests he should replace Auden Tate (-14.4%) in the team's receiver pecking order.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 21%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Jordan Wilkins, RB, Indianapolis Colts
6%/3%/0%

Apart from the Dolphins' rookies, Jordan Wilkins may be your only other waiver option this week in deep formats. If that's the case and you need a body, feel free to spend up. But I don't have a lot of optimism for Wilkins' fantasy value. Wilkins replaced a benched Jonathan Williams on Sunday and ended up with more touches (13 vs. nine) and more playing time (44% of snaps vs. 22%), but Frank Reich didn't give a definitive answer on why he made the switch. This could easily become a frustrating backfield to decipher for fantasy owners, especially with both Wilkins (22.3% DVOA) and Williams (9.2%) deserving to play given their small-sample efficiencies. If I had alternatives, I might just leave this backfield alone until Marlon Mack hopefully returns in a couple of weeks.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 18%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons
4%/11%/1%

Russell Gage has seen his already-increased target share increase further the last two weeks with tight end Austin Hooper sidelined. Gage has seen 7.4 targets per game since Week 8 and 9.5 targets per game since Week 12. I think the former rate is more indicative of his true workload, and that is how I'll project him assuming Hooper makes it back for Week 14. For now, Hooper looks like a game-time decision after returning to practice. But even a volume of seven or so targets per game would make Gage a fantasy option in deeper leagues.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 7%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Ryan Griffin, TE, New York Jets
25%/55%/42%

Ryan Griffin had relatively meager production of five catches and 30 yards in Week 13, but he saw seven more targets, further cementing his heavy workload with the Jets. Griffin has averaged 54 yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game in his last five games without Chris Herndon in the lineup. That makes him a pretty safe TE2.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 6%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Marcus Johnson, WR, Indianapolis Colts
1%/0%/0%

If Hilton and Campbell both miss another week in Week 14, then Marcus Johnson will join Zach Pascal as a fantasy streaming option. He caught a modest four balls for 55 yards last week, but he played 93% of the team's offensive snaps compared to just 57% for Ashton Dulin. That Colts likely won't have another option but to play Johnson every play again on Sunday.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 4%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins
10%/19%/3%

If you can't secure Griffin and need help at tight end, then it wouldn't be a bad idea to target his positional opponent in Week 14, Mike Gesicki. Gesicki had a rare strong fantasy outing last week with 79 yards and a touchdown, but his target volume suggests more production and consistency should be coming. He has seen either six or seven targets in five straight games.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Kelvin Harmon, WR, Washington Redskins
0%/0%/0%

With Paul Richardson likely to miss more time with his injured hamstring, rookie receiver Kelvin Harmon has joined first-year star Terry McLaurin in the Redskins lineup. That isn't the most enticing of positions for a fantasy option to be in, but Harmon saw an 84% snap share last week that makes moderate fantasy production pretty likely. He caught three passes for 51 yards last week and seems a decent bet to do the same even with a difficult passing matchup on the road in Green Bay this week.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Steven Sims, WR, Washington Redskins
0%/0%/0%

Meanwhile, with normal slot receiver Trey Quinn suffering a concussion, a third Redskins rookie, Steven Sims, may enter their starting lineup. He caught three balls for 29 yards on the 58% of snaps he played replacing Quinn. With an increased workload if Quinn misses Week 14, Sims would likely see five-plus targets to make him a deep-league consideration in PPR formats.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Ian Thomas, TE, Carolina Panthers
0%/0%/0%

Along the same lines as Sims, Panthers tight end Ian Thomas may become a Week 14 streaming option with normal starter Greg Olsen leaving Sunday's game with a concussion. Thomas averaged 6.4 targets per game last December after Olsen broke his foot. He'd likely see a similar workload this week with Olsen out, which would make him a back-end TE2 for one week.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Kaden Smith, TE, New York Giants
0%/1%/0%

And Giants rookie Kaden Smith may join Thomas in that range of rankings if Evan Engram misses another week with his foot injury. Smith produced his best line to date on Sunday with six catches and 70 yards on eight targets. That target volume would likely drop if Golden Tate returned the lineup, providing a better alternative for targets in the middle of the field. But at least for now, Smith seems unchallenged in his role as temporary No. 1 tight end. He played 91% of the team's offensive snaps on Sunday compared to just 33% for Scott Simonson.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Players to Avoid

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
19%/19%/8%

Mitchell Trubisky may have staved off calls for his benching with his 338-yard, three-touchdown outburst against the Lions on Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean you should consider him for your deep-league lineups. Trubisky has thrown for three touchdowns in a game three times this season, once against the Redskins and twice against the Lions. Not coincidentally, the Redskins increase passing touchdowns per attempt by 24% and the Lions increase passing touchdowns per attempt by 21%. In his other eight matchups against stingier pass defenses, Trubisky has just four passing touchdowns.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Christian Blake, WR, Atlanta Falcons
0%/0%/0%

Christian Blake proved he can be a decent deep-league streaming option as a direct replacement for Julio Jones on the outside in Atlanta, catching six of his nine targets for 57 yards against the Saints on Thanksgiving night. But his playing time seems likely to vanish in Week 14 with Jones likely to return to the lineup. Hopefully you already used Blake in Week 13 if you needed that help. But regardless, you can leave on him on the wire for this week.

Recommended FAAB bid (% of maximum): 1%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Players You Can Drop

Nick Foles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Chester Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Devin Funchess, WR, Indianapolis Colts
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions
Paul Richardson, WR, Washington Redskins
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Chicago Bears
Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears
Josh Oliver, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Case Keenum, QB, Washington Redskins
Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets
Ryan Finley, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Adam Shaheen, TE, Chicago Bears

Comments

2 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2019, 10:56am

1 Weeks 14-16

I have a BYE this week but have to keep 6 of these 7 WR going forward - Godwin, Parker, Jeffery, Fuller John Brown, Jones Jr and Ross. My Qb is Watson (Fuller). Who should I send to the Waiver Wire? I was thinking Brown for his recent ho-hum stats and upcoming schedule.

2 You didn't ask me, but I…

In reply to by junglejoe_lv

You didn't ask me, but I wouldn't be dropping Brown, personally. I agree his schedule looks brutal, but unless you're in a super-shallow league, unquestioned #1 receivers who have been startable week in and out need to be rostered. Think of it this way: who among the cohort you listed is least likely to be picked up by your opponent and used against you? To me, the answer is probably Ross. Dropping any of the others has a higher probability of blowing up in your face, IMO. You also have to factor in that it's week 14, Ross hasn't played in months, and re-acclimation takes time. Are you really going to feel good using him? Just my two cents...