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Waiver Wire: Week 15

Waiver Wire: Week 15

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Adam Levitan has notes on 29 guys to consider adding to your squad, including Rob Gronkowski replacements …

Week 14 was a devastating one for injuries. Rob Gronkowski, Reggie Bush, Wes Welker, Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Lamar Miller were among the big names to go down. Each is either out or in doubt for Week 15.

It creates a unique scenario as we head to semifinal week of the fantasy playoffs. Owners of highly seeded teams could be scrambling to the wire for plug-n-plays for the most important game of the year. Therefore, this week’s Waiver Wire adds are weighted heavily toward Week 15 matchups with a slight eye on Week 16. It’s all that matters at this point.

On to this week’s assets. Here is how I would rank the top players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues at each position. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow below.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 15. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

1. Josh McCown
2. Jason Campbell
3. Ryan Tannehill
4. Matt Flynn

Running backs
1. Toby Gerhart
2. Jordan Todman
3. Daniel Thomas
4. Chris Ogbonnaya
5. James Starks
6. Marcel Reece
* Montee Ball is owned in 61 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 RB add.
* Joique Bell is owned in 66 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 2 RB add (behind Montee Ball).

Wide receivers
1. Da’Rick Rogers
2. Rod Streater
3. Cordarrelle Patterson
4. Kenbrell Thompkins
5. Nate Burleson
6. LaVon Brazill
7. Andre Holmes
* Michael Crabtree is owned in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add at WR.

Tight Ends
1. Dennis Pitta
2. Jacob Tamme
3. Garrett Graham
4. Delanie Walker
5. Scott Chandler

Defense/Special Teams
1. Jaguars
2. Colts
3. Eagles

1. Adam Vinatieri
2. Nick Novak
3. Alex Henery
4. Matt Bryant

1. Josh McCown, Bears – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
Yes, fantasy’s No. 1 quarterback over the last four weeks is somehow still available in more than half of Yahoo leagues out there. Perhaps it’s due to the assumption that Jay Cutler (ankle) will get his job back once cleared. Don’t buy Marc Trestman’s hollow words on this topic. This new Bears regime clearly doesn’t have a ton of faith in Cutler as they’ve failed to even discuss extending his expiring contract. Moreover, McCown has simply outperformed Cutler at every spot available this season. I’d be shocked if the Bears turned away from a guy with a 109.8 passer rating and 13:1 TD-to-INT ration in seven appearances. McCown will be a mid-range QB1 against the Browns Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Jason Campbell, Browns – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Coming off a concussion, Jason Campbell went to New England and flexed. He went 29-of-44 for 391 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions – and also added two scrambles for 27 yards. It would be silly to write that off as a fluke when he has Rob Chudzinski, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron at his disposal. In four full games this season, Campbell is averaging 298.5 passing yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Now he gets the Bears at home.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

3. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – Owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s really started to come together for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense over the last month. During the last four games, the talented second-year quarterback is averaging 277.2 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. The Dolphins have even put some zone read in and encouraged Tannehill to use his underrated athleticism, leading to 13 rushes for 135 yards during that span. This week, he comes home to face a Patriots defense that just got lit up by Jason Campbell. Another multi-touchdown game is a good bet.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

4. Matt Flynn, Packers – Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Packers are still alive in the playoff race, which means Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) is in play for Week 15. But as of now, A-Rodg still hasn’t been medically cleared. That means it could very well be Flynn starting against the league’s worst defense (Dallas) in Week 15. He predictably bounced back well vs. the Falcons last week, going 24-of-32 for 258 yards with one touchdown and one interception. There’s QB2 appeal here if Flynn starts thanks to the matchup and dome conditions.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

Watch List: Case Keenum, Kirk Cousins, E.J. Manuel, Chad Henne – With Gary Kubiak gone, the Texans will stick with developing Keenum. … Mike Shanahan is threatening to bench Robert Griffin III in favor or Cousins. … Manuel gets to face the Jags, but even the coaches are losing confidence in the rookie’s ability to execute a gameplan. … Henne is home against the Bills. It’s enough to put him on the desperation two-QB league radar.

Editor’s Note: For more waiver thoughts and news from around the league, follow Adam Levitan, Rotoworld Football and our dominant News Page. Keep reading for notes on RB, TE, WR, D and K. RUNNING BACKS
1. Toby Gerhart, Vikings – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
We’ve been preaching handcuffing at this time of year relentlessly. Apparently, roughly 92 percent of the public wasn’t listening. Adrian Peterson’s mid-foot injury doesn’t appear overly serious, but the Vikings are out of the playoffs and coach Leslie Frazier admitted that will be a factor when determining AP’s availability going forward. He’s likely out this week and is a major question mark for the rest of the season. Enter Toby Gerhart, a reliable backup that can play in the passing game and at the goal-line. During the five games that Peterson missed across 2010 and 2011, Gerhart averaged 21.0 touches. He’s nursing a tender hammy of his own, but if he starts he’ll be a solid flex option against the Eagles Sunday. Note that if both Gerhart and Peterson sit, Matt Asiata would draw the start.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Jordan Todman, Jaguars – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
After pulling his hamstring last Thursday night, Maurice Jones-Drew tried to brush it off as a minor thing he’ll definitely play through. Don’t be fooled. We know how tricky hamstring injuries are for skill position players and we also know how it’s often difficult for older players (MJD is 28) to recover from soft-tissue injuries. Jones-Drew won’t even try to practice until Friday and the Jags have signed Delone Carter as insurance. All that leads us to Jordan Todman, who was a bright star in the preseason when he rushed 29 times for 223 yards (7.68 YPC) with two touchdowns. The Jags were already trying to rotate Todman in and now will get a chance to evaluate him as a starter in a plus spot at home against the Bills.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
Daniel Thomas (ankle) made a surprise return to the lineup and resumed his role rotating in slightly behind Lamar Miller. Ho-hum. Things got interesting, however, after Miller left with a concussion late in the first half. After that, Thomas turned in one of his most impressive performances as a pro and finished with a 16/105/1 line in the win over the Steelers. This week, the Dolphins get a Patriots defense that has struggled against inside runs since losing Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. If Thomas is the unquestioned feature back, he’ll be a candidate for another 13-18 touches.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
Week 15 is shaping up as the dreamiest of dream spots for Chris Ogbonnaya. Yes, Willis McGahee is in the concussion protocol. But more importantly, the Browns are hosting the Bears on Sunday. In case you’ve been living under the rock, the Bears are historically bad at stopping the run. Over the last six weeks, six opposing running backs have gone over 100 yards against them. That’s Eddie Lacy (150 yards), Reggie Bush (105), Ray Rice (131), Benny Cunningham (109), Adrian Peterson (211) and DeMarco Murray (146). Ogbonnaya is a better receiver than runner, but anyone getting 10-14 touches against this defense deserves consideration.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. James Starks, Packers – Owned in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues
Eddie Lacy rolled his ankle on a meaningless carry at the end of the first half in Week 14. He was able to play through it, but admitted afterward that he wasn’t near 100 percent. On Monday, the Packer said Lacy’s Week 15 status was up in the air. Ultimately, I’d expect Lacy to gut it out but it’s too early in the week to know. Owners must protect themselves by adding Starks, who has rushed 65 times for 346 yards (5.32 YPC) with three touchdowns on the season. If Lacy ends up inactive, Starks would be a fine flex play at Dallas.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

6. Marcel Reece, Raiders – Owned in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues
Every time Marcel Reece gets a chance to touch the ball, he makes things happen. The latest example was a 19/123/1 on the ground, 2/38/0 through the air performance against the Jets’ No. 2 run defense in Week 14. Now the question is if that’s enough to keep Reece involved in the gameplan even though Rashad Jennings (concussion) has gained clearance. If history is our guide, it won’t be. Reece has never recorded double-digit carries in a game he didn’t start, and Jennings figures to start this week’s game against the Chiefs. Expect something around a 70-30 split in touches, leaving Reece as a PPR desperation play only. He’s still worth holding just in case Jennings has a recurrence of symptoms.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

Watch List: Mike Tolbert, Shonn Greene, Knile Davis – Jonathan Stewart’s knee injury helps Tolbert a little, but DeAngelo Williams gets the real boost. … Greene is forging something of an even timeshare with Chris Johnson these days, but gets the Cardinals’ excellent run defense in Week 15. … Davis is your weekly reminder to handcuff across the board with just one week to go. WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Da’Rick Rogers, Colts – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
It took until Week 14, but the Colts finally got it through their heads that Darrius Heyward-Bey can’t play. Against the Bengals, the WR snap counts were as follows: T.Y. Hilton 45, LaVon Brazill 42, Da’Rick Rogers 41 and Heyward-Bey 23. Unsurprisingly, it was Rogers that emerged as the star with a 6/107/2 breakout. His on-field ability has never been an issue – it was off-field character woes that caused him to go undrafted back in April. Now Rogers is playing tons of snaps with an elite quarterback in a dome and gets to face the unraveling Texans this week. His breakout was not a fluke and he’ll at least be a WR4 with upside going forward.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Rod Streater, Raiders – Owned in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues
Matt McGloin’s decisiveness in the pocket and timing throw approach has created a level of consistency in Rod Streater. Over the last four weeks, the Raiders No. 1 wideout is averaging 5.2 catches for 91.0 yards with two touchdowns. The matchup against the Chiefs this week isn’t great, but Streater did put a 5/93/0 line on the Titans’ strong corner duo in Week 12. And in Week 16, he’ll get the Chargers’ inept secondary.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings – Owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Vikings’ first-round draft pick has played at least 43 snaps in four straight games as the coaching staff has finally found a way to use their best perimeter playmaker. Cordarrelle Patterson finally put it all together in Week 14 as he popped off for a 5/141/1 line. The concern is that most of his touches are extremely manufactured on short screens and handoffs, and he previously hadn’t topped 54 yards in a game all year. There’s massive upside, but also a very low floor. Reach for Patterson as a WR3 against the Eagles if you think you need to gamble to win your matchup.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Patriots are going to have to completely change their offensive identity once again in the wake of the latest Rob Gronkowski season-ending injury. It will look like it did early in the season, when the X receiver was racking up targets. Josh Boyce filled that role in Week 14 with Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) and Aaron Dobson (foot) inactive, but Thompkins appeared close to suiting up. If he’s able to go this week, something along the lines of the 8.3 targets per game he saw through the first six weeks is likely.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Nate Burleson, Lions – Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues
Yes, Nate Burleson has a grand total of two catches for 18 yards and no touchdowns over the last two weeks. But the Thanksgiving dud was something of a fluke in the blowout, and we can throw out all the passing game stats from the Week 14 Blizzard Bowl in Philadelphia. Burleson is only playing out of the slot in three-wide sets (Kris Durham is the every-down outside receiver), but that’s actually a big role in the Lions’ offense. Burleson is a sneaky candidate for 5-7 catches in Sunday’s home game against the Ravens.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team PPR leagues

6. LaVon Brazill, Colts – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
I discussed the playing time shift in the Colts’ receiving corps in the Da’Rick Rogers entry. Note that LaVon Brazill was up at 42 snaps, just slightly behind Rogers and T.Y. Hilton. He’s another very talented player that has had off-field issues stunt his growth, but is getting a big chance out of desperation in Indy. Brazill responded with a 3/53/2 line on four targets against the Bengals. There’s room for more big plays against the Texans in Week 15.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

7. Andre Holmes, Raiders – Owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
The size/speed freak continues to make plays for Matt McGloin. Andre Holmes followed up his 7/136/0 Thanksgiving eruption with a 3/63/0 Week 14 line on seven targets. Yes, those performances have come against the woeful secondaries of the Cowboys and Jets, but we can’t dismiss Holmes’ natural ability. If Denarius Moore (shoulder) sits again, Holmes will have WR4 upside even in a difficult matchup with the Chiefs Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Doug Baldwin, Justin Hunter, Jerricho Cotchery, Ace Sanders, Josh Boyce – Baldwin was a dud against the Niners, but he should find more space against the Giants this week. … If Hunter weren’t playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick, he’d be a lot more intriguing. … Cotchery’s touchdown run won’t stop. … The undersized Sanders continues to pile up targets. … Boyce would be the every-down X receiver again if Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) can’t go.   TIGHT ENDS
1. Dennis Pitta, Ravens – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
I thought the Ravens would really ease Dennis Pitta in as he came off a hip dislocation and subsequent surgery. Perhaps I should have known how desperate they would be for his services. Making his 2013 debut in Week 14, Pitta played on 36-of-85 snaps – and the Ravens called 33 passes on those plays. He finished with a 6/48/1 line on a team-high 11 targets, the kind of weekly numbers I expected before the season. With Anquan Boldin gone and Torrey Smith/Jacoby Jones natural deep threats, Joe Flacco was desperate for that mid-range security blanket. Furthermore, Flacco completes 75 percent of his red-zone passes to Pitta over the last two seasons and 44.6 percent to everyone else. To make a long story short, Pitta is back as a primary pass-catcher and gets the Lions in a dome Week 15. He’s a fine replacement for reeling Rob Gronkowski owners. I give him the slight nod over Jacob Tamme thanks to red-zone appeal and a potential Wes Welker return in Week 16.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Jacob Tamme, Broncos – Owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues
After sustaining a concussion in the Week 14 win over the Titans, Wes Welker now has two of them in the last month. He’s almost certainly out for Thursday’s game against the Chargers and he’ll be a question mark for Week 16 as well. So how does a wideout getting hurt affect tight end Jacob Tamme? Well, Tamme is the Broncos’ backup slot receiver. After Welker went down Sunday, Tamme played on 45-of-46 possible snaps. He ended up catching four passes for 47 yards on five targets in barely over two quarters of action, running the similar pick plays and quick hitters Welker normally does. There’s a comfort level with Peyton Manning from the Colts days and anyone playing every snap in this offense is going to have huge upside. Especially when they’re in the slot for a potential shootout (the over/under for Thursday’s game is a league-high 55.5 total points).
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Garrett Graham, Texans – Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues
Garrett Graham isn’t a special talent and has performed at a backup-caliber level most weeks, but that hasn’t stopped him from producing at top-10 levels often. It’s a simple case of volume. Over the last four weeks, Graham is averaging an absurd 11.5 targets per game – and turned that into 5.7 catches for 69.2 yards with two touchdowns. Owen Daniels (leg) could be back, but I’d be surprised if he got anything more than a bit role. Graham’s volume should be intact for a dome game at Indy in Week 15.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Delanie Walker, Titans – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
Delanie Walker didn’t play at Denver in Week 14 because of a concussion, but it would be a surprise if he’s not cleared for Week 15. It’s just in time for the dream matchup – home against Arizona. The Cardinals have been getting roasted by tight ends all season and Walker was really starting to come on before his head injury. In Weeks 10-12, he averaged 6.3 catches for 66.3 yards with two touchdowns. Walker is a serviceable plug-n-play for Gronk owners – and he gets the Jags in Week 16. He’s below Dennis Pitta and Jacob Tamme because his quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Scott Chandler, Bills – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
If all of the above are gone and you’re in search of a one-week matchup play, Scott Chandler is your man. The Cardinals are the league’s worst team at defending tight ends, but the Jaguars are right there with them in terms of ineptitude. We know Scott Chandler is a low-upside plodder averaging just 3.3 catches for 39.6 yards on the season, but he’ll at least be running free in this one.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

Watch List: Brandon Myers, Ladarius Green, Rob Housler, Zach Ertz, Andrew Quarless – Myers has a touchdown in three straight games, but is an awful bet to keep up that streak against the Seahawks. … Green shockingly ran just five pass routes in Week 14. Impossible to trust at this point. … Housler is intriguing because the Titans’ pass D is susceptible on the inside. … Ertz will be a bigger part of the gameplan at MIN this week. … I’m not buying Quarless’ Week 14 breakout at all. He’s a blocker at heart.  

1. Jaguars – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
Sneaky owners streamed in the Jags for last Thursday’s home game against the Texans and were rewarded with three sacks, two interceptions and a reasonable 20 points allowed. This rapidly improving unit is now tied for sixth in the NFL in fantasy points over the last four weeks and gets a home game against the Bills Sunday. E.J. Manuel appears to be regressing as he’s coming off a zero touchdown, four interception day that left coach Doug Marrone saying he wants to scale back what’s on his raw rookie’s plate.

2. Colts – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
This Colts defense should be embarrassed after they recorded zero sacks and zero quarterback hits while giving up 42 points to the Bengals in Week 14. Fortunately, a home game against the Texans will be chicken noodle soup. The dumpster fire is raging in Houston as Gary Kubiak has been fired and the team might be going back to pick-six machine Matt Schaub.

3. Eagles – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Credit DC Billy Davis as perhaps no unit has improved more from Week 1 until now. In the last seven games, the Eagles are giving up just 17.4 points per day. And over the last four games, they’ve generated 10 turnovers. Now they face a Minnesota team that will likely be without Adrian Peterson (foot) on Sunday.

1. Adam Vinatieri, Colts – Owned in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues
I think this ownership percentage is skewed by inactivity. Owners that stream kickers based on matchup likely dropped Adam Vinatieri for his tough spot at Cincy in Week 14 (four extra points, no field goals), but he needs to be scooped back up immediately. The Colts are back in the dome and facing a Texans team that is disintegrating. Vinatieri has major upside.

2. Nick Novak, Chargers – Owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues
Nick Novak finally cashed in on a dream matchup, hitting three field goals and four extra points against the Giants in Week 14. I usually try to avoid road spots for kickers, but the thin air in Mile High combined with a likely shootout (two dynamic offenses, two awful secondaries) is too good to pass up. Novak is a good bet for three field goals again.

3. Alex Henery, Eagles – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s another road spot, but this one is in a dome and the Eagles’ passing attack is going to absolutely shred the Vikings’ pitiful secondary. Alex Henery recorded zero points in Week 14 because neither team could even complete the kicking operation in eight inches of snow. He’ll be fine.

4. Matt Bryant, Falcons – Owned in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues
OK, the Falcons 3-19 Falcons are bad. But they look like Super Bowl champs when compared to the team they’re hosting on Sunday, the Redskins. Matt Bryant is in a dome (sense a trend here) and will benefit.

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