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Waiver Wire: Week 15

by Raymond Summerlin
Updated On: December 11, 2018, 1:47 am ET

Welcome to the 15th edition of Waiver Wired for the 2018 season. With the playoffs upon us, this column will shift its focus almost solely to the present. That does not mean stashes will be ignored completely, but they will be moved down. Also, a section highlighting widely-available players with good matchups in Weeks 16 and 17 has been added for each position. 

As a reminder, the drop list consists of players who are no longer must-roster assets in shallow leagues, recommended adds are available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the watch list consists of players who are worth monitoring, and deep cuts are players rostered in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

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The Drop List

With the playoffs upon us, the drop list can be simplified to any player, within reason, who is not going to be in the starting lineup this week. Of course, stashing players like Rex Burkhead makes sense if bench space is available, but do not be afraid to cut a bench stash to pick up someone with less upside who will actually help get a win this week. As for some specific names, Sammy Watkins might not be done for the Chiefs this season, but he is not going to contribute for a fantasy team. It is not injury based, but the same appears to be true for Devin Funchess, who has one catch for 10 yards the last two games while playing around 40 percent of the snaps.

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Quarterbacks
1. Derek Carr
2. Marcus Mariota
3. Josh Allen
4. Lamar Jackson
5. Nick Mullens

Running Backs
Justin Jackson rostered in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add where available.
1. Elijah McGuire
2. Kenneth Dixon
3. Zach Zenner
4. Damien Williams
5. Ito Smith
6. Darren Sproles

Wide Receivers
1. Dante Pettis
2. Curtis Samuel
3. Kenny Stills
4. Chris Conley
5. Antonio Callaway
6. Jordy Nelson
7. Michael Gallup
8. DaeSean Hamilton

Tight Ends
1. Ian Thomas
2. Vernon Davis
3. C.J. Uzomah

Defense/Special Teams
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Detroit Lions
3. Atlanta Falcons

Kickers
1. Brett Maher
2. Mike Badgley
3. Ryan Succop


QUARTERBACKS
1. Derek Carr, Raiders – Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues

Carr has quietly been productive the last two weeks. He has five total touchdowns in the last two games and has averaged 304 yards over that span. This week, he gets a Bengals Defense which has given up the second-most points to fantasy quarterbacks so far this season. Playing Carr is a risk, but this is the matchup to do it.

2. Marcus Mariota, Titans – Rostered in 33 percent of Yahoo leagues
Mariota was not asked to do much with Derrick Henry running wild last Thursday, but he had put together two good fantasy games prior to that. The Giants have not given up a ton of fantasy points as of late, but they do give up rushing production to quarterbacks, giving Mariota a nice floor.

3. Josh Allen, Bills – Rostered in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Allen is Lamar Jackson without the playing time concerns. He is averaging 112 rushing yards over the last three games with two rushing scores over that span, and he has topped 200 passing yards in each of his last two starts. At home against an unimposing defense, he is a good option who should offer a solid rushing floor.

4. Lamar Jackson, Ravens – Rostered in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jackson has been a reliable if not spectacular fantasy option since taking over the starting job – he has at least 70 rushing yards in each of his four starts – but the expected return of Joe Flacco this week makes him a very risky investment. Even if he starts, it is not a given Jackson will take every snap, especially if he continues to struggle as a passer. The upside is there in a pretty good matchup, but he is a big risk. If Flacco for some reason continues to sit, Jackson would be the No. 1 option.

5. Nick Mullens, 49ers – Rostered in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Semi-final teams will hopefully have better options, but Mullens has quietly thrown for 746 yards and four touchdowns over the last two games. 414 of those yards came against the Seahawks, who he will get to face at home this week.

Week 16: Dak Prescott’s great playoff run finishes off against the Bucs. Baker Mayfield gets another matchup with the Bengals.
Week 17: Jameis Winston will be in a great spot against the Falcons.

Watch List: It seems like he will get Odell Beckham back, but Eli Manning has been too inconsistent to chase his three-touchdown game, especially in a less-than-ideal matchup…With Tampa’s defense playing better as of late, Joe Flacco will not be a streaming option even if he gets the start…Similarly to Russell Wilson prior to Monday night, Ryan Tannehill’s high touchdown rate has proven stickier than expected, but it is tough to trust him at less than 100 percent in Minnesota, who Wilson faced himself on Monday…Josh Rosen has not thrown a touchdown pass in the last two games…Sam Darnold played pretty well in Buffalo, but it did not really show up in the box score. He has another tough matchup with the Texans this week…Josh Johnson, who had not thrown an NFL pass since 2011 before Sunday, will start for Washington against the Jaguars.

~RUNNING BACKS
1. Elijah McGuire, Jets – Rostered in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues

There is not much to like on the wire at running back this week, but McGuire is the best of the bunch with Isaiah Crowell at best questionable because of a foot injury. McGuire filled in for him against the Bills, notching 60 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries while easily out-snapping and out-producing Trenton Cannon. Crowell has scored one touchdown since Week 5 and topped 50 yards once over that stretch, however, and McGuire gets an awful matchup this week against the Texans. Even if Crowell sits, McGuire will be no better than a FLEX option.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Kenneth Dixon, Ravens – Rostered in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Dixon has played well since returning from injured reserve, gaining 96 yards on 16 carries in two games and adding another 27 on two catches. He also earned a goal-line look against the Chiefs and converted for a three-yard score. Even in a run-heavy attack, that usage would not be enough to put Dixon on the fantasy map, but that changed on Monday when John Harbaugh said Dixon’s role would grow moving forward. The likely result is a disappointing rotation featuring Dixon, Gus Edwards, and Ty Montgomery, but it is worth adding Dixon to see what happens, especially since the Ravens have a great schedule over the final three weeks.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

3. Zach Zenner, Lions – Rostered in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
With the offense struggling, the Lions turned to Zenner in the backfield in the fourth quarter, and he delivered. He gained 42 yards on seven carries on one drive including a one-yard touchdown which effectively put the game out of reach. As we saw last week with Justin Jackson, late-game explosions are not always a sign of things to come, and it is possible Kerryon Johnson returns this week. Short of that, however, it makes sense for the Lions to give Zenner a try over LeGarrette Blount. He is worth adding in deeper leagues to see what happens.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

4. Damien Williams, Chiefs – Rostered in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
Williams scored twice against the Ravens and actually played two more snaps than Spencer Ware, but Ware should remain the lead back if he is healthy. That if, however, is why Williams is on this list. He is interesting because Ware did not practice Monday due to shoulder and hamstring issues. There does not appear to be much concern about his availability, but teams relying on Ware should probably take a shot on Williams, especially with the Chiefs playing on Thursday.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

5. Ito Smith, Falcons – Rostered in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues
He has disappointed too much to really trust outside of deep leagues, but Smith has quietly clawed back to a 50-50 share in the Falcons’ backfield. He touches the ball 14 times against the Packers for 74 total yards. He is back in the FLEX conversation in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

6. Darren Sproles, Eagles – Rostered in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues
Sproles has only touched the ball eight times in two games since returning from injury, but he has scored twice over that span and played 42 percent of the snaps against the Cowboys. He has not gotten the touches to really trust outside of deep leagues, but especially with Corey Clement sidelined, it looks like he will remain involved.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

Week 16: It is Chris Carson’s backfield right now, but Rashaad Penny will be in a good spot against the Chiefs if that changes between now and then.
Week 17: Both the Chiefs and Rams are in good spots if they decide to rest their starters. If the Bucs decide to give him a shot, Ronald Jones would finish up with the Falcons.

Watch List: Stevan Ridley did vulture a touchdown, but he was out-snapped 48-to-8 by Jaylen Samuels and got just five carries against the Raiders. He can be a touchdown-prayer option in deep leagues, but it looks like that is about it…Even if LeSean McCoy sits, neither Chris Ivory, who suffered an injury of his own on Sunday, or Marcus Murphy will be a reliable fantasy option. McCoy himself has not managed to produce over the last three games. It is also possible gadget player Isaiah McKenzie steals work…Jalen Richard has a great matchup this week, but his usage was unpredictable even before C.J. Anderson joined the mix…Chris Thompson has not done much since returning, and that is unlikely to change given Washington’s situation at quarterback…Royce Freeman has some good matchups the rest of the way, but he is just not getting enough work…Rashaad Penny made a couple plays Monday night, but he remains behind Chris Carson on the depth chart…Frank Gore had a big game against the Patriots, but he will find the road tougher against the Vikings and Jags the next two weeks. Still without a rushing touchdown on the season, he is just a floor play…After seeing his role expand in Week 13, Giovani Bernard touched the ball just five times against the Chargers…Rex Burkhead has played 17 snaps in each of his first two games back. It looks like it will take an injury for him to climb the depth chart…Jamaal Williams actually got the start against the Falcons, but Aaron Jones easily out-touched, snapped, and produced him…Even in a game which seemed to suit him, Ty Montgomery took a step back against the Chiefs…Alfred Morris was active, but he touched the ball three times even with Matt Breida sidelined…Lamar Miller should be fine, but D’Onta Foreman could eat into what has been a sizable backup role for Alfred BlueRonald Jones is buried behind Peyton Barber.

Deep Cuts: Trenton Cannon was well behind Elijah McGuire after Isaiah Crowell exited. He is only a name to know in deep leagues…It would not be a shock if Charcandrick West worked his way into Kansas City’s running back rotation…After randomly showing up with two rushing scores, Chase Edmonds receded back into the background against the Lions. He is just a handcuff…With Malcolm Brown out for the rest of the fantasy season, Justin Davis and John Kelly are the names to know behind Todd GurleyRod Smith and Wayne Gallman are some other handcuffs to know…Brandon Bolden has three carries all season. Two of them just happened to go for touchdowns.

~WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Dante Pettis, 49ers – Rostered in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues

There was some concern about Marquise Goodwin’s return limiting Pettis’ role, but that did not happen against the Broncos. Both Pettis and Kendrick Bourne out-snapped Goodwin, and Pettis led the receivers with seven targets which he turned into three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Pettis now has four touchdowns in his last three games. With Nick Mullens putting up big numbers, Pettis is a legitimate WR3 against the Seahawks, who he smoked for 129 yards and two scores in Week 13.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Curtis Samuel, Panthers – Rostered in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Samuel was not as high as he should have been on this list last week because there was some concern Devin Funchess’ small snap total was a result of the Panthers limiting him as he returned from an injury. Funchess once again played limited snaps, however, as Samuel commanded eight targets which he turned into 80 yards on four catches. A playmaker who now has 19 targets in the last two games, Samuel is a viable FLEX option in all formats.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

3. Kenny Stills, Dolphins – Rostered in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
A popular sleeper in the preseason, Stills has been mostly a disappointment to this point, but it looks like he could end the season on a strong note. After catching four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Bills, Stills dusted the Patriots for 135 and another score on Sunday. He was the targets on nine of Ryan Tannehill’s 19 attempts in that contest, and he caught eight of the 14 completions. All of this production has come after Stills complained about his role. The matchups with the Vikings, Jaguars, and Bills are not great to close out the season, but it looks like Stills will get enough volume to be usable in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

4. Chris Conley, Chiefs – Rostered in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
Only targeted three times against the Ravens, Conley laid a bit of an egg, but he should get an opportunity to redeem himself on Thursday night. Not only is Sammy Watkins out, but Tyreek Hill is dealing with what appeared to be a painful foot injury. Targeted 15 times in the two games before last week and scoring three touchdowns on those looks, Conley should bounce back against the Chargers.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

5.Antonio Callaway, Browns – Rostered in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
Callaway was hurt by Baker Mayfield attempting just 22 passes against the Panthers and lost a long catch to Breshad Perriman, but he still worked as the No. 2 in a passing attack which has been good since the coaching change. He also gets a great matchup this week against a Broncos Defense which is really banged up at corner. He remains a WR3/FLEX option in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

6. Jordy Nelson, Raiders – Rostered in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
After disappearing out of the offense for several weeks, Nelson has rebounded with 18 targets in the last two games. He has not done a lot with the work, but that volume could prove valuable in a great matchup against the Bengals on Sunday. For this week, Nelson is a WR3 option in deeper leagues.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

7. Michael Gallup, Cowboys – Rostered in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
It has not translated into consistent production, but Gallup has been a big part of the passing game of late. He has 16 targets total over the last two games, and Dak Prescott just missed him for what should have been a long play against the Eagles. With a great schedule including the Colts this week, he deserves a look in deep leagues.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

8. DaeSean Hamilton, Broncos – Rostered in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Tim Patrick deserves a mention here as well after getting 10 targets against the 49ers, but his role moving forward is more questionable because he plays on the outside along with Courtland Sutton. Hamilton has taken over Emmanuel Sanders’ slot role, however, and rode that job to nine targets of his own for 47 yards and a touchdown. Investing in this passing game in a shallow league does not make much sense, but Hamilton could be a viable FLEX option in deep leagues over the final three weeks.
Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

Week 16: Michael Gallup’s good run continues with the Bucs. Curtis Samuel gets the Falcons. Antonio Callaway faces the Bengals.
Week 17: Mohamed Sanu finishes up with the Bucs. Dante Pettis finishes with the Rams. Josh Doctson finishes with the Eagles.

Watch List: With the Jaguars forced to throw 43 times in a blowout loss, both Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief saw 10 targets. Westbrook did more with the work, but chasing that production is a risky proposition considering Cody Kessler attempted just 24 passes in his first start. Westbrook is probably rostered in the leagues he should be…John Ross caught another touchdown because that is apparently what he does now, but he has topped 40 yards just once this season…Tre’Quan Smith has 10 catches in his last four games. All of them came in one game…Mohamed Sanu has not scored since Week 6 and has averaged 48 yards over that span. He is who he is…Marquise Goodwin played behind both Dante Pettis and Kendrick Bourne in his return…Equanimeous St. Brown appears to have jumped Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the depth chart. Neither is a viable fantasy option. Randall Cobb is ahead of them both and scored a touchdown against the Falcons, but he has not shown enough this year to be a real option…Nelson Agholor has made some big plays the last two games, but he has not scored since Week 2 and has a low floor in a passing attack which cannot decide who it wants to target…Keke Coutee just cannot get healthy…Taylor Gabriel has at least seven targets in each of the last four games, but he is averaging just 35 yards a game over that span. That is better than Anthony Miller, who has one catch in the last two games. It just happened to go for a touchdown…Josh Doctson has actually been productive as of late, but he is dealing with a concussion and is uncertain for Week 15. Jamison Crowder scored a long touchdown against the Giants, but it is tough to invest in this passing game outside of desperation situations…Zay Jones continued his up-and-down season with just three catches and 22 yards on nine targets against the Jets. Robert Foster topped 100 yards for the second time this season and now has at least 90 in three of the last four games, but investing in this passing game outside of Josh Allen feels like a game of Russian roulette…Robby Anderson has seven targets in back-to-back games, but like with Buffalo, it is tough to really get excited about playing anyone in this passing game…Perhaps Kelvin Benjamin offers some real-life value to the Chiefs, but it is unclear if he will even be active while the fantasy season in ongoing.

Deep Cuts: If Tyreek Hill is for some reason unable to play Thursday, Demarcus Robinson will likely serve as the No. 2 behind Chris ConleySean Payton said it is possible they bring Ted Ginn back from injured reserve this season, but he did not lay out a timeline for when that would be…Jordy Nelson is the best bet, but it would not be a surprise if Seth Roberts or Marcell Ateman benefit from the matchup with the Bengals this week…Taywan Taylor has 12 targets over the last two games and has turned those opportunities into nine catches for 163 yards. He again looks like the No. 2 receiver in Tennessee…Odell Beckham should return this week, but it is worth nothing Corey Coleman worked as the No. 2 behind Sterling Shepard, catching two passes for 43 yards…Zach Pascal showed up with a 5-68-1 line against the Texans.

~TIGHT ENDS
1. Ian Thomas, Panthers – Rostered in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues

Unlike the last time Greg Olsen sat out, Thomas was a focal point of the passing game against the Browns, reeling in nine of a team-high 11 targets for 77 yards. He was also a major factor after Olsen left against the Bucs, catching five passes for 46 yards. Despite giving up two touchdowns to Cameron Brate on Sunday, the Saints have been good against tight ends all season. Still, Thomas’ recent volume makes him a good option at a terrible position.

2. Vernon Davis, Washington – Rostered in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues
With Jordan Reed looking likely to miss the rest of the season, Davis should fill in as the No. 1 tight end. It is unclear how productive that role will be with Josh Johnson at quarterback, but Davis did manage four catches for 31 yards against the Giants. There are worse desperation options.

3. C.J. Uzomah, Bengals – Rostered in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues
Uzomah did not get the same volume against the Chargers, but he produced almost exactly the same game we have come to expect with 37 yards. That is at least a reasonable floor for a desperation streamer, though, and he has a good shot to better that in a great matchup against the Raiders this week.

Week 16: C.J. Uzomah is once again in a good spot against the Browns.
Week 17: Chris Herndon gets a great matchup against the Patriots. If a Baltimore tight end has emerged at this point, they will get to face the Browns.

Watch List: With Jonnu Smith out for the season, Anthony Firkser is an interesting option for truly desperate streamers. He has at least three catches in each of the last four games while averaging 48 yards over that span…Following his breakout against the Eagles, Blake Jarwin is another interesting name, especially going against a Colts Defense which has been attacked with tight ends this season. He would be more appealing if Dalton Schultz had not played nearly as many snaps…Dallas Goedert has popped up for some big games this season, but they have always proven to be islands…Ryan Griffin went off for 80 yards against the aforementioned Colts, but the matchup against the Jets leaves a lot to be desired. He also has to share targets with Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins…It was surprising to see Dan Arnold inactive against the Bucs, but Ben Watson could not take advantage…Gerald Everett did promisingly see seven targets against the Bears, but he managed just four catches for 29 yards. He has been unable to build on his two-touchdown showing against the Chiefs…Chris Herndon has been trending the wrong way, but he does get a good matchup with the Texans this week…Jesse James could be a sneaky play against a Patriots Defense which has struggled at times with tight ends this season.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
1. New Orleans Saints – Rostered in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues

Over the last five games, the Saints have averaged almost five sacks a game, have 12 takeaways, and have not allowed any team to score more than 17 points. They are a matchup proof, every-week starting unit.

2. Detroit Lions – Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues
They are not a very good real-life defense, but the Lions continue to put up fantasy points. They have averaged three sacks over their last four games with five takeaways and a touchdown over that span, and Buffalo has been the best matchup in the league so far this season.

3. Atlanta Falcons – Rostered in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues
Atlanta’s defense has been disappointing all season, but they have at least gotten after the quarterback more as of late and get a great matchup at home against the Cardinals.

Week 16: Broncos @ Raiders, Browns vs. Bengals
Week 17: Seahawks vs. Cardinals, Chiefs vs. Raiders

KICKERS
1. Brett Maher, Cowboys – Rostered in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues

Maher delivered with three field goals including a massive 62-yarder against the Eagles, and he gets another good matchup indoors against the Colts this week.

2. Mike Badgley, Chargers – Rostered in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
Badgley has attempted multiple kicks in five of his last six games and gets a decent matchup with the Chiefs in a game with a 53-point total.

3. Ryan Succop, Titans – Rostered in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues
Weather is a concern, but the Giants have consistently been the top kicker matchup so far this season.

Week 16: Aldrick Rosas, Brett Maher
Week 17: Ka’imi Fairbairn, Brett Maher

Raymond Summerlin
Raymond Summerlin is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter at @RMSummerlin.