League Office: Fantasy Football Waiver Wire – Week 14

One of my favorite movie scenes comes from “A Few Good Men.” No, not the “You can’t handle the truth!” moment. My favorite comes a little before that. It is when Cpl. Barnes (Noah Wyle) is on the witness stand and Capt. Ross (Kevin Bacon) is grilling him about “code reds” and whether they appear in the manuals. Afterward, Lt. Kaffee (Tom Cruise) snatches the same manuals and asks Barnes to turn to the pages that say where the mess hall is. When Barnes says there are no such pages, Kaffee pretends to be stunned, and gives us this exchange: “I don’t understand. How did you know where the mess hall was if it’s not in this book?” Kaffee asks. Barnes responds brilliantly with, “I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, sir.” And that brings us to the Fantasy Sports Chef’s strategy for attacking the waiver wire now that the fantasy playoffs are upon us. No, it’s not to “follow the crowd,” per se, but it’s important to know where the crowd is headed. It’s just as important to recognize your opponent’s waiver needs as it is to understand your own. If you have the good fortune to have either a bigger FAAB purse or higher waiver priority than your opponent, then you’re positioned perfectly to block their path to the mess hall and take the food all for yourself. (See what I did there). So let’s take a look at the waiver wire menu for this week at which options are worthy of helping a manager win their matchup and are targets to consider blocking if your opponent is in need.
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Quarterbacks

While it is perhaps unwise to stream a quarterback for a postseason matchup, there is some upside to be found in the practice in this instance. Trusted options, such as Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, find themselves with tough matchups this week. The Chiefs host the Baltimore Ravens, who stifled the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta — a very difficult thing to do. Speaking of the Falcons, they have an outdoor date with the Green Bay Packers. These birds don’t fare well outdoors in the winter cold. And there’s also the Los Angeles Rams, who visit the Chicago Bears. While the Bears did give up plenty to the New York Giants in Week 13, it is a risky proposition to pick against the defense allowing the lowest passer rating in the league (78.5). Those considering a streamer, or facing an opponent who is, should consider these options: Baker Mayfield (ownership: 47% ESPN, 59% Yahoo) Josh Allen (ownership: 4% ESPN, 5% Yahoo) Lamar Jackson (ownership: 52% ESPN, 46% Yahoo)
  • All three are rookies, yes, but each has performed well (in fantasy, anyway) and have favorable matchups this week. Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns are at home, where the former Oklahoma Sooner has scored more than 18 fantasy points in three of four starts. He’s also going up against a Carolina Panthers defense that has struggled enough that it cost both the defensive line coach and the defensive backs coach their jobs this week. Then there’s Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, who faces the New York Jets. The Jets just gave up more than 22 fantasy points to Marcus Mariota. Allen has been great on the ground and could post another big day in Week 14. Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens has been as advertised thus far, going for more than 16 fantasy points in all three of his starts while rushing for more than 70 yards and a score in each outing.

Running Backs

Jaylen Samuels*** (ownership: 3% ESPN, 8% Yahoo) Spencer Ware (ownership: 88% ESPN, 88% Yahoo) Justin Jackson (ownership: 12% ESPN, 22% Yahoo) Jeff Wilson (ownership: 0% ESPN, 1% Yahoo)
  • Let’s start with Jaylen Samuels. The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie is the top priority on the waiver wire this week. Why? Because not only is James Conner’s availability and health in question for this week, but Samuels has tight end eligibility. Saying that again: A running back who could shoulder a very decent load for the Steelers can be deployed as a TIGHT END in fantasy. Spencer Ware of the Kansas City Chiefs was a top-priority claim late last week after Kareem Hunt was released. Even with the Chiefs bringing in Charcandrick West, Ware should remain involved as a runner and see a majority of the snaps going forward. Justin Jackson may be the most intriguing of the group. Not only did the rookie look good Sunday night against a pretty solid front line of the Steelers, but he gets a date with the Cincinnati Bengals this week. Over the last four weeks, the Bengals have been nothing short of carved to unrecognizable pieces by running backs. Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Nick Chubb, and Phillip Lindsay have each gashed the Bengals for at least 19.5 PPR points. Jeff Wilson of the San Francisco 49ers makes this post again this week, only now many more have heard of him after his performance on Sunday. Matt Breida has struggled with ankle issues for most of the season and was forced from the action for long periods as a result in Week 13. Wilson is an extremely risky play, however, because Breida is Wolverine, in that he regenerates quickly. It wouldn’t surprise this fantasy writer should Breida dominate touches in Week 14 while Wilson finds himself as the third running back behind a shockingly active Alfred Morris.
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Wide Receivers

Adam Humphries (ownership: 41% ESPN, 50% Yahoo) Dante Pettis (ownership: 2% ESPN, 3% Yahoo) Curtis Samuel (ownership: 13% ESPN, 18% Yahoo)
  • Also making a return to this post this week are receivers Adam Humphries of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dante Pettis of the San Francisco 49ers. Humprhies has found the end zone in three straight games while recording at least 54 yards in each contest. With the Saints coming to town after getting shut down by the Dallas Cowboys in their last game, I expect the visitors to be on a mission to make a statement, which could force this matchup into shootout territory. Pettis is also on a hot streak, making at least four catches in back-to-back outings while blowing up for nearly 30 PPR points in Week 13. Carolina Panthers receiver Curtis Samuel also makes this list. Samuel has seen a nice uptick in usage of late and has either a touchdown or at least four catches in five straight games.

Tight Ends

Jaylen Samuels*** (ownership: 3% ESPN, 8% Yahoo) Ian Thomas (ownership: 0% ESPN, 1% Yahoo) C.J. Uzomah (ownership: 31% ESPN, 26% Yahoo)
  • Yes, this is the same Jaylen Samuels listed in the running back section. He’s tight end eligible in fantasy, and he’s a running back who could see a decent workload in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backfield this week. One streaming option is Ian Thomas of the Carolina Panthers, who face the Cleveland Browns this week. The Browns have given up an average of 15 PPR points per game to the position. There’s also C.J. Uzomah of the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Bengals have a tough matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers (giving up just 10.8 PPR points per game to tight ends), the expected absence of A.J. Green combined with the Bengals defense giving up points by the truckload should lead to a nice volume day for Uzomah. After all, the tight end saw 12 targets in Week 12 and seven targets in Week 13.
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Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook

Writer Fantasy Football Desk at Sports Talk Line
Fantasy enthusiast armed with whit, sarcasm and some knowledge, too. The Fantasy Sports Chef is a fantasy writer for SportsTalkLine.com.
Joshua Cook