Waiver Wire: Week 15

John Daigle
Rotoworld

Welcome to the Week 15 edition of Waiver Wired for the 2019 season. With the fantasy playoffs upon us, we’ll shift our attention to winning the week ahead with a handful of stashes sprinkled in. We’ll also set our sights on substitutes for Mike Evans (hamstring), Taylor Gabriel (concussion), DeVante Parker (concussion), Calvin Ridley (abdomen), Kalen Ballage (leg), and T.Y. Hilton (calf), among others. A section highlighting plus matchups for available players in Weeks 16-17 has also been added for each position. 

As a reminder, the drop list consists of players who are rostered in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and are no longer must-have assets, recommended adds are available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list contains in-depth notes on players who are worthy of roster spots if possible, and deep cuts includes player notes on those rostered in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

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The Drop List

The fantasy playoffs are prime for parting ways with basically any player who won’t cut it in your starting lineup this week or, more reasonably, those who have to jump multiple hoops for direct opportunity. You should look to prioritize winning in Week 15 — even if that means cutting a tried and true FLEX play for a stronger streaming option — then (and only then) avert your focus to stashing any and all high-upside league winners for the week ahead. Some names that directly come to mind are LeSean McCoy (since he’s in a three-headed timeshare with Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware), Derrius Guice, Tevin Coleman, and Royce Freeman (handcuff only). Some fringe receivers include T.Y. Hilton (calf), D.J. Chark (ankle), Tyrell Williams, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Josh Gordon, and A.J. Green.

 

Overall Top 5
1. A.J. Brown
2. Zach Pascal
3. DeAndre Washington
4. Anthony Miller
5. Justin Watson

For those simply looking to roster the best player available regardless of position, the rankings above take into account every factor from the positional lists minus the actual positions. These are listed in the precise order I’d prioritize waiver claims in Week 15.

 

End-of-Roster Top 5
1. DeAndre Washington
2. Gus Edwards
3. Dion Lewis
4. Ryquell Armstead
5. Malcolm Brown

Previously the ‘Handcuff Top 5,’ the time has come to stop rostering backups to our own starters and rather target reserves with the most potential opportunity if a single door opens. That’s why the above list was carefully assembled (and extended) to highlight league-winners in the event the player ahead of them misses any time. Presumed snaps, carries, targets, and the play-calling each are tied to have been factored in. They’re chronologically listed in the precise order I would stash them for the fantasy playoffs — though fantasy players should obviously feel free to adjust accordingly. Reggie Bonnafon isn’t listed since the Panthers signed Mike Davis mid-November and recently activated him.

 

Quarterbacks
1. Ryan Tannehill
2. Jacoby Brissett
3. Mitchell Trubisky
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Running Backs
Raheem Mostert rostered in 52 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
Alexander Mattison rostered in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 2 add if available.

1. DeAndre Washington
2. Patrick Laird
3. Bilal Powell/Ty Montgomery
4. Dion Lewis

Wide Receivers
1. A.J. Brown
2. Zach Pascal
3. Anthony Miller
4. Justin Watson
5. Keke Coutee
6. Isaiah Ford

Tight Ends
1. Tyler Higbee
2. Ian Thomas
3. O.J. Howard

Defense/Special Teams
1. Oakland Raiders
2. Kansas City Chiefs

Kickers
1. Younghoe Koo
2. Jason Sanders
3. Chase McLaughlin

QUARTERBACKS
1. Ryan Tannehill, Titans — Rostered in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues

Only Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen have scored more fantasy points than Tannehill under center since the latter replaced Marcus Mariota in Week 7. There’s clearly no more denying Tannehill’s 72.7 percent completion rate as the team’s cornerstone despite averaging just 26.7 pass attempts in seven eye-popping starts. Given his plus matchup against Houston’s poor No. 25 pass defense DVOA on Sunday, I would start Tannehill over Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, and Kirk Cousins, just to name a few.

2. Jacoby Brissett, Colts — Rostered in 37 percent of Yahoo Leagues

Brissett should benefit from New Orleans’ voluminous offense in the Superdome, where the team has scored at least 30 points in 5-of-7 games — including 34-plus in back-to-back affairs — this season. Any sustained leaks in their defense that allowed Kyle Allen (256/3/0) and Jimmy Garoppolo (349/4/1) to go off without a hitch is obviously an advantage for Brissett over other lesser streamers.

3. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears — Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues

Trubisky has thrived against subpar competition this year, most recently pasting the Lions (x2), Giants, and Cowboys for multiple touchdowns in four of his last five games. The caveat is his sudden rushing prowess as he’s quietly averaged seven scrambles per game, tacking on an additional 20.5 fantasy points, in his last three starts. Green Bay’s permitted the eighth-most yards per attempt (7.9) to opposing quarterbacks despite allowing just 13 passing touchdowns on the season.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins — Rostered in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues

Carson Wentz mustered a QB12 finish against the Giants on Monday night with an AAF alumnus (Greg Ward) and struggling Day 2 rookie (J.J. Arcega-Whiteside) as his primary receivers. In other words, Fitzpatrick shouldn’t have any issues from a squeaky clean pocket since New York has struggled to create pressure at the league’s sixth-lowest rate (20.4%). Attribute his most recent setback to Miami’s in-game loss of DeVante Parker (concussion).

Week 16: Gardner Minshew in a plus matchup against the Falcons if the Jaguars show any signs of life against the Raiders in their previous game. Andy Dalton squares off against the Dolphins. Dwayne Haskins against the Giants if you’re desperate.

Week 17: Matt Ryan versus Bucs. Carson Wentz against the Giants. Jared Goff gets Arizona again. Daniel Jones (or Eli Manning) versus the Eagles a second time.

 

RUNNING BACKS
1. DeAndre Washington, Raiders – Rostered in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues

There’s no guarantee Josh Jacobs (shoulder) misses another contest, but Week 15’s cinch matchup against Jacksonville thrusts whomever gets the start into must-play territory. Initially thought to split the work with Jalen Richard, Washington surprisingly logged 40-of-63 snaps (63%) against the Titans, handling 14 carries and, perhaps most important, 7-of-10 backfield targets. Washington additionally ran 22 routes to Richard’s 14, making the former the option to fight for just in case Jacobs can’t go. Grab Richard if your remaining FAAB won’t realistically compete with league-mates for Washington.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Patrick Laird, Dolphins – Rostered in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues

Our Laird was on the field for a season-high 59-of-72 snaps (82%) in Miami’s first game without Kalen Ballage (leg, IR), handling 19 touches ahead of Myles Gaskin’s 5. With the Dolphins’ receiving-game role all to himself for the foreseeable future, consider Laird a confident low-end RB3 if you’re in a pinch due to injuries. The Giants have allowed above-average receiving marks (73/601) to enemy backs despite failing to permit a touchdown through the air to that position this year.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team PPR leagues

3. Bilal Powell/Ty Montgomery, Jets – Rostered in 20/2 percent of Yahoo leagues

You wouldn’t know it from his fantasy points, but Powell was nothing short of a workhorse in place of Le’Veon Bell, handling 19-of-28 carries on 56 snaps against the Dolphins. Having said that, his second-half ankle injury may force Montgomery into the lineup against Baltimore given New York’s short turnaround on Thursday Night Football. Whomever gets the nod would merely be a usage-based option for PPR leagues since Vegas projects the Jets to face a two-score (+15) uphill battle on the road mid-week. Laird gets the nod over either given his matchup.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

4. Dion Lewis, Titans – Rostered in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues

Lewis is merely insurance in the event Derrick Henry (hamstring) isn’t cleared for Sunday following a clear setback against the Raiders. Lewis’ 10 touches ahead of Khari Blasingame was proof the former’s the bell-cow to roster if Henry’s limited throughout the week.

Recommendation: Should be stashed in 12-team PPR leagues

Watch List: Reminder Adrian Peterson averaged 18.8/95.8 and 5.11 yards per carry in four starts prior to playing alongside Derrius Guice (knee)…Spencer Ware led Kansas City’s backfield in snaps (31, 40%) in his first game action since 2018 while LeSean McCoy (24) led all in carries (11). Darwin Thompson got eight touches (four catches included), but this is clearly a committee moving forward.

Deep League: Boston Scott’s involvement depends entirely on Jordan Howard’s (shoulder) pending return to the lineup. The latter is expected to get cleared any day now, making this backfield an avoidable three-headed timeshare…Jalen Richard (7/28) played second fiddle to Washington without Jacobs (shoulder) on Sunday but would obviously be the back to roster if both miss Week 16.

Week 16: Giovani Bernard against Miami if Joe Mixon isn’t available. Marlon Mack against Carolina if, for whatever reason, he’s been dropped anywhere.

Week 17: Darrell Henderson against the Cardinals if Todd Gurley is shutdown. Justin Jackson potentially back to close the Chargers’ season finale against the Chiefs. Damien Harris against the Dolphins if any Patriots running backs are rested. Bo Scarbrough against Green Bay. Tony Pollard against Washington if Dallas somehow locks up a playoff berth in Week 16. Latavius Murray versus Panthers if Alvin Kamara rests.

WIDE RECEIVERS
1.
A.J. Brown, Titans – Rostered in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues

To be clear, Zach Pascal (see below) is the safer option for Week 15 given Tennessee’s questionable passing volume; Tannehill, after all, hasn’t been asked to rear back for more than 27 attempts in any contest over his last four games. But the stars have aligned for Brown to become a plug-and-play bet-on-talent WR3 despite those aforementioned concerns. Not only has this total (50) skyrocketed into the highest of any matchup in Sunday’s slate, Houston’s corner struggles were put on full display this past week as 35-year-old Johnathan Joseph and Bucs castoff Vernon Hargreaves continue logging a full helping of reps. I would have no issues starting Brown over other fringe WR3 names such as Tyler Lockett, Jamison Crowder, DK Metcalf and Curtis Samuel, among others.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Zach Pascal, Colts – Rostered in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues

Pascal’s played 133-of-133 snaps for the Colts without T.Y. Hilton (calf) and Chester Rogers (knee) in their last two games, leading the team across the board in targets (19), catches (12), receiving yards (183), air yards (221), and fantasy production (36.3) in that stint. Don’t overthink it: he’s a high-floor Top 25 wideout projected for an increased workload with Parris Campbell (foot, IR) officially done for the year now, too. Indy’s recent leaks to D.J. Chark (8/104/2), Will Fuller (7/140), DeAndre Hopkins (6/94/2), Kalif Raymond (1/40/1), and Mike Evans (1/61/1) setup Pascal to be peppered heavily in negative game script indoors.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

3. Anthony Miller, Bears – Rostered in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues

Not even Allen Robinson (36) has seen more targets than Miller (37) over the past month as the second-year slot wideout has buoyed Taylor Gabriel’s (concussion) absence into a WR16 standing in that span. Simply put, 36-year-old Tramon Williams, who’s allowed a 76.9 percent catch rate from the slot since returning to Green Bay’s starting lineup in Week 8, doesn’t stand a chance up the seam against Miller if Gabriel misses his third consecutive outing. Note that Mitchell Trubisky has averaged the fifth-most fantasy points per game among his position over the last five weeks (per numberFire’s J.J. Zachariason), keeping Miller afloat as a tantalizing high-floor play in another plus matchup.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

4. Justin Watson, Buccaneers – Rostered in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said Mike Evans (hamstring) is “very doubtful” for Sunday and he would be “shocked” if he played again this year. That news alone opens the door for second-year 91st-percentile SPARQ standout Justin Watson (6’2/215), who recorded 5/59/1 on eight targets in place of Evans from the second quarter on. Breshad Perriman (3/70/1) did out-snap Watson 65 to 43 on Sunday, but the latter should be viewed as the priority among the two given Perriman’s underwhelming résumé on a slew of opportunity in three-wide sets this year. Slide Watson ahead of Miller among priorities if Gabriel returns to practice mid-week.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team PPR leagues

5. Keke Coutee, Texans – Rostered in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues

Game script certainly helped matters since the Texans trailed 31-3 at the half, but Coutee (5/68) even fumbled on the team’s second possession and still out-snapped DeAndre Carter 55 to 7 for Houston’s slot gig. Expect another high-floor performance for Coutee sandwiched in between DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills if Will Fuller (hamstring) remains out against the Titans.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team PPR leagues

6. Isaiah Ford, Dolphins – Rostered in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues

Perhaps none of the above options are available and you’re stuck digging for needles in a haystack. Look no further than Ford, who surprisingly saw a team-high nine targets on 55 snaps (76%) in place of DeVante Parker (concussion) and Albert Wilson (concussion). The Giants’ defense locked down whatever Philadelphia qualified as wideouts on Monday night but did previously permit the fourth-most fantasy points per game to that position through Week 13. Ford at the very least offers an every-down body in a terrific matchup.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

Watch List: James Washington’s letdown 4/33 in a juicy spot against the Cardinals doesn’t highlight the two downfield DPIs he drew (which ultimately cratered his ceiling). JuJu Smith-Schuster’s (knee) pending return keeps both Diontae Johnson and Washington as touch-and-go WR4/FLEX options over the next two weeks…Pittsburgh has locked down slot wideouts since attempting to cover that part of the field with a cornerback (what a concept) but Cole Beasley has notably seen at least seven targets and three touchdowns in as many games since Week 12…Darius Slayton’s 5/154/2 from Eli Manning at the very least makes him an enticing boom-or-bust WR3/4 against the Dolphins this week, but Daniel Jones' pending return keeps the fifth-round rookie as a questionable play with Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and perhaps Evan Engram (foot) back, too. All of Slayton's production against the Eagles also occurred in one quarter of work…For what it’s worth (perhaps nothing), Nelson Agholor has averaged 10.2 targets in three starts without Alshon Jeffery (foot) this year.

Deep League: Olamide Zaccheaus’ 93-yard touchdown creates a murky situation for Calvin Ridley’s (abdomen, IR) direct beneficiary. Coach Dan Quinn said to expect a timeshare between Russell Gage, Christian Blake, and Zaccheaus moving forward…As mentioned above, Breshad Perriman would be the pivot if Justin Watson’s reported to rotate with Scotty Miller (hamstring) for the No. 3 job.

Week 16: Cincinnati’s three-wide set versus the Dolphins. Randall Cobb against the Eagles if Amari Cooper or Michael Gallup sits. Allen Lazard versus the Vikings’ sieve of a corners room. Slayton versus Washington. James Washington gets another great matchup against the Jets. Kenny Stills and/or Keke Coutee versus the Bucs if Will Fuller (hamstring) remains shelved.

Week 17: Ridley’s fill-ins versus Tampa Bay — especially if Julio Jones is additionally shutdown. Anthony Miller against Minnesota. Josh Reynolds against the Cardinals if Brandin Cooks can’t go (or Cooper Kupp remains limited). Slayton gets another tremendous matchup versus the Eagles. Beasley faces the Jets.

 

TIGHT ENDS
1. Tyler Higbee, Rams — Rostered in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues

Higbee’s elite status likely comes down to Gerald Everett’s (ankle) availability on Sunday, but there’s no denying the former has made the leap from inline blocker to Todd Heap in a matter of weeks. The 26-year-old has been treated as tight end aristocracy in his last two games, playing 140-of-149 snaps all the while running a route on 59 of Jared Goff’s 76 dropbacks in that stint. His 25 percent target share and position-high count of air yards (188) are the cherries on top. You’re starting him as a top-eight play (or simply picking him up to block your opponent) if Everett’s ruled out.

2. Ian Thomas, Panthers — Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues

Thomas was discussed in this space last week since he had flashed (20/200/2) with an abundance of opportunity over the final four games of his rookie year. His athleticism didn’t miss a beat in his first spot-start for Greg Olsen (concussion) this season, seeing 10 targets on 61-of-71 snaps — 47 of which found the sophomore lined up in the slot or out wide (via Establish The Run’s Adam Levitan). It’s blue chip usage worth chasing if 34-year-old Olsen’s trending towards his second straight absence.

3. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers — Rostered in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues

It would be a tough pill to swallow in the second round of the fantasy playoffs, but Howard has experienced a role change over the last two weeks, hauling in 9-of-11 targets on 85 percent of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps. Mike Evans’ (hamstring, doubtful) absence vacates 9.1 targets and a league-high 139.5 air yards per game.

Watch List: Odds are you stashed David Njoku for this matchup against the Cardinals. He’s a last-ditch fallback if either Gerald Everett (ankle) or Greg Olsen (concussion) are cleared.

Week 16: It’s Jacob Hollister’s turn to posterize Arizona. Darren Fells versus the Bucs. O.J. Howard takes on the Texans in an up-tempo matchup, which is obviously not for the faint of heart.

Week 17: Jaeden Graham faces the Bucs if Austin Hooper is shutdown. Dallas Goedert gets the Giants if Zach Ertz is sidelined. Tyler Higbee’s or Gerald Everett’s second go-round against the Cardinals. Jonnu Smith against the Texans.

 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Oakland Raiders - Rostered in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues

The Raiders are the epitome of talent deficient but a home game over the east-to-west Jaguars should right the ship. Jacksonville’s stacked five consecutive three-plus score losses for a myriad of reasons and have been bet up to touchdown road dogs despite opening at +4 merely 48 hours ago.

2. Kansas City Chiefs - Rostered in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues

Drew Lock aced his first career road start last week, scorching the Texans for 300-plus yards and three scores in a runaway win. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Kansas City’s No. 6 pass defense DVOA (in Arrowhead, nonetheless) is another monster altogether. The big-armed rookie also flashed his youth in that contest, attempting to squeeze an impossible pass to Courtland Sutton between two defenders (which obviously resulted in his lone turnover of the afternoon). This is purely a bet against a rookie in a rough streaming week.

Week 16: Houston’s turn to accept Jameis Winston’s weekly turnover(s). Bengals and Dolphins square off against one another (if that matters).

Week 17: Packers against whomever is under center for Detroit. Chiefs potentially against Tyrod Taylor if Philip Rivers is benched for the season finale. Broncos and Raiders in similar situations against each other. Tampa Bay and Atlanta square off, too.

 

KICKERS
1. Younghoe Koo, Falcons – Rostered in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues

The priority nod goes to Koo over Sanders if only because the former’s produced for a longer period since joining the Falcons in Week 10. He’s scored double-digit fantasy points, for example, in four of his last five outings including Week 14’s 4-for-4 excellence. There’s no reason he should be available on waiver wires.

2. Jason Sanders, Dolphins – Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues

Sanders has entrenched himself as a Top 12 option over the next two weeks after sinking seven (!!!) field goal attempts against the Jets — his second consecutive performance with at least 12 fantasy points. His back-to-back contests with successful 50-plus yard tries enhances his ceiling moving forward.

3. Chase McLaughlin, Colts – Rostered in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues

McLaughlin sunk 7-of-8 field goal tries as a fantasy factor with San Francisco before finding a permanent home with the Colts. With Adam Vinatieri (knee) officially done for the year, consider McLaughlin a sturdy option if your waiver wire is bare at his position.

Week 16: Michael Badgley and the Chargers’ O get the Raiders. Another great matchup for Josh Lambo versus the Falcons. Matt Gay in an up-tempo affair versus Houston.

Week 17: Koo and Gay against one another in a meaningless Week 17 divisional bout. Robbie Gould plays in Seattle if healthy.

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