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Waiver Wire: Week 15

by Adam Levitan
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

If you still care about Waiver Wire pickups, it means you’re in the semifinals. Congratulations. It also means you’re (hopefully) not looking for plug-n-plays off the wire. The priority now is to get your K and D/ST set for both Week 15 and Week 16 while making sure you have a backup plan if injuries strike this week. That often includes handcuffing.

On to the Week 15 assets. Here is how I would rank the players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues right now. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow.

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Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2 million Fantasy Football league for Week 15’s games. It’s only $25 to join and first prize is $200,000. Starts December 14th at 1pm ET. Here’s the link.

Quarterbacks
1. Johnny Manziel
2. Alex Smith
3. Jake Locker
4. Robert Griffin III

Running backs
1. Jonathan Stewart
2. Chris Johnson
3. James Starks
4. Montee Ball
5. Ronnie Hillman
6. Knile Davis
7. Kerwynn Williams
* Latavius Murray is owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add at RB.

Wide receivers
1. Charles Johnson
2. Donte Moncrief
3. Marquess Wilson
4. Harry Douglas
5. Stedman Bailey
6. Cecil Shorts
* Jarvis Landry is owned in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues. If available, he’d be my No. 1 add at WR.

Tight ends
1. Jared Cook
2. Mychal Rivera
3. Owen Daniels

Defense/Special Teams
1. Panthers
2. Giants
3. Titans
4. Jaguars

Kickers
1. Matt Bryant
2. Matt Prater
3. Shaun Suisham

QUARTERBACKS
1. Johnny Manziel, Browns – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
Johnny Manziel is fully expected to get the nod over Brian Hoyer in Week 15. So once again, the question is what will he do with the opportunity and how will the Browns use him? I’ll repeat my thoughts from Waiver Wired Week 14. We got a glimpse during Manziel’s two drives in Week 13, as Kyle Shanahan called three bootlegs on JFF’s first five snaps. Expect Shanny to install a very run-heavy gameplan against the Bengals this week, much like he did when he was in charge of the Redskins’ offense during Robert Griffin III’s rookie year. That’s OK though, as we saw a designed pass out of a shotgun turn into a 10-yard touchdown run for Manziel Sunday. I also thought JFF was highly accurate in Week 13 with his throws and had excellent zip on them, encouraging signs when we’re mainly betting on a player’s legs to fill the box score. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Jordan Cameron (concussion) is back. Remember that in 130 preseason snaps (roughly two games), Manziel went 30-of-59 for 296 yards with two TDs and 0 INT. He also rushed 12 times for 88 yards with another TD. I’m comfortable ranking Manziel as a top-14 QB play this week, with upside for more. He’s someone I’d strongly consider for $6700 in FanDuel 50/50s, Double Ups and Head-to-Head matchups.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Alex Smith, Chiefs – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
I don’t think I’ve ever discussed Smith in Waiver Wired. Not even on the Watch List. I just don’t like using the most conservative quarterback in the league while playing in such a run-dominated offense. That said, Smith has at least 29 pass attempts in five of his last seven games, Travis Kelce set a season high in routes run Week 13 and I love this spot for the Chiefs as a whole. Smith is a good bet for 200 yards and a touchdown floor.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

3. Jake Locker, Titans – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
Zach Mettenberger’s season-ending shoulder injury opens the door for Jake Locker to start he final three games before he heads into free agency. He’ll be highly motivated to perform. But is he capable, even in a dream home matchup against the Jets? That’s an open question, but what we know is that the supporting cast is awful. The run game is non-existent, the overpaid offensive line continues to underperform and the starting receivers are Nate Washington/Derek Hagan. Locker is only a 2-QB flier even in this plus spot.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

4. Robert Griffin III, Redskins – Owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
Thanks to Colt McCoy’s sprained neck, there’s a chance Robert Griffin III gets back under center. It’s not something I’m very excited about, mainly because Jay Gruden refuses to adjust his scheme for RG3’s strengths and it’s hard to perform at the quarterback position when your coach doesn’t even want you. In fact, I’d rather start Giants D/ST than RG3 this week. But if you’re desperate, Griffin does bring upside as a dual threat in a game with an over/under of 47.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues RUNNING BACKS
1. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
We’ve talked intermittently this season about how Jonathan Stewart had found the early-career form that made him one of the rising studs at the running back position. All his metrics, stats and tape screamed elite. All Stewart needed was a chance, and he got that when DeAngelo Williams (hand) was unable to play against the Saints. The Panthers have some weird obsession with DeAngelo, as evidenced by coach Ron Rivera’s declaration Monday that he wouldn’t definitely start Stewart this week if Williams can play. That would be borderline insanity. For now, pencil Stewart in as a strong RB2 in a home game against the Bucs Sunday. He costs just $6700 on FanDuel.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Chris Johnson, Jets – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
All the revenge narratives for Chris Johnson this week as he goes back to Tennessee. It certainly helps he’s facing the league’s worst run defense. The problems with streaming Johnson into lineups are three-fold. First of all, he’s simply not very good anymore, going down on first contact consistently. Second, he’ll be sharing time evenly with Chris Ivory. And third, I don’t like this spot for the Jets (back-to-back road game with a lame duck coach). All that said, Johnson is averaging 13.2 touches per game over the last month. Desperate owners can use anyone with a pulse given the defense he’s facing.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

3. James Starks, Packers – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Eddie Lacy couldn’t finish Monday night’s win over the Falcons due to a hip bruise. There’s no reason to think it’s serious yet, but James Starks should be owned while we await more information. Starks has proven very capable, averaging 4.13 YPC this season and 5.53 last season while also handling himself well in the pass game. If Lacy does end up sitting, Starks would be a RB2 even in a difficult matchup at Buffalo this week.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a handcuff

4. Montee Ball, Broncos – Owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues
5. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Both Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) have a chance to return to practice this week. The Broncos typically make their players practice for two weeks before returning to a game when they’re coming off a long-term absence, but they may not be able to stick to that if C.J. Anderson’s ankle issue keeps giving him problems. Anderson didn’t suffer any serious injuries in Week 14, but repeatedly hobbled off the field to get re-taped. Deep leaguers can at least take a wait-and-see approach while we see what happens in this high-upside situation.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

6. Knile Davis, Chiefs – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jamaal Charles appears pretty banged up right now. He bruised a knee in Week 13 and briefly left Week 14 due to an ankle issue. I don’t think he’s in any danger of missing Week 15 against the Raiders, but there’s no way Davis should be any waiver wires just in case Charles goes down. We don’t need bench depth at this point in the season. Be sure all the strong handcuffs are owned, such as James Starks, Robert Turbin, Alfred Blue, Ka’Deem Carey, Joseph Randle and Chris Polk.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a handcuff

7. Kerwynn Williams, Cardinals – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
A lot of people are going to try to chase Kerwynn Williams’ stunning 19-100-0 outburst in Sunday’s win over the Chiefs. Don’t do it. The Cardinals aren’t even buying it, as coach Bruce Arians said Monday Stepfan Taylor will continue to start and he will ride the hot hand. Of course, it’s wishful thinking to expect anyone on Arizona to get a hot hand with upcoming matchups against St. Louis, Seattle and San Francisco. Williams is just a RB4 kind of add.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 16-team leagues

Watch List: CJ Spiller, Juwan Thompson, Stepfan Taylor – Spiller is eligible to come off IR with a designation to return Week 16. He’ll likely get a few touches. … Thompson is the direct backup to a banged up C.J. Anderson until Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman return. … Taylor remains the Cardinals’ starter, but getting run out by Kerwynn Williams is never a good sign. WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Charles Johnson, Vikings – Owned in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues
Regular readers of this column already own Charles Johnson. He was my No. 2 WR add in Week 14, No. 4 in Week 13 and No. 7 in Week 12. That’s because he’s a 6’2/217 prototype with 4.38 wheels that’s firmly established himself as the every-down “X” in Norv Turner’s offense. Over the last three weeks Johnson has played on 98.3 percent of the snaps. His predictable breakout spot at home against the Jets will be tough to duplicate at Detroit in Week 15, but I’d still be willing to take my chances in the WR3 range. Johnson is that good.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Donte Moncrief, Colts – Owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues
Hopefully you didn’t chase Moncrief’s Week 13 line that came at home against the Redskins (3-134-2). With Dwayne Allen back Week 14 and a road game at a hungry Browns team, the spot was not great. But things are looking back up for Moncrief this week, as he played on 50 snaps Sunday compared to 18 for Hakeem Nicks. It means the No. 3 wideout job officially belongs to the physically freakish rookie now and that’s important because Reggie Wayne (triceps, elbow, knee) is breaking down. It’s certainly possible Wayne will rest this week and beyond, which would give Moncrief’s outlook a monster boost. He has plus spots the next two weeks as an upside WR3 (vs. HOU, at DAL).
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Marquess Wilson, Bears – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
One of my favorite “Alternative Handcuffs” way back in July, Marquess Wilson’s chance is finally here. And the timing couldn’t be better as his fractured collarbone got healed up just as Brandon Marshall (ribs, lung) went down for the season. Wilson is a must-add because he’s 6-foot-4 with plus speed and will be playing every down in a Marc Trestman offense. Note that he went 82-1388-12 as a sophomore at Washington State, but slipped to the seventh round of the draft after quitting the team as a junior (over “abuse” from coach Mike Leach). He has mid-round talent and has now matured a bit physically at age 22, putting on a much-needed 20+ pounds in the offseason. The Bears showed a lot of confidence in him by letting go of Earl Bennett and handing Wilson the No. 3 job on a silver platter. They proceeded to watch him star at OTAs and minicamp. This week, he has a reasonable shot to break out in a home game on Monday night against a Saints defense giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. At the minimum $4500 on FanDuel, Wilson is robbery.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

4. Harry Douglas, Falcons – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Julio Jones’ domination of the Packers Monday night was cut short by a hip injury. There’s no word yet on the severity, but we know he couldn’t get back into the game. We also know that anytime Julio or Roddy White has missed time over the last two years, Harry Douglas has been more than ready to step up. Just two weeks ago, Douglas put 9-116-0 on the Cardinals when White sat out. If he starts this week, it will be in a very plus matchup at home against the Steelers’ woeful secondary.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Stedman Bailey, Rams – Owned in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’m not particularly high on Stedman Bailey as a part-time, mediocre wideout in a crowded pass game that can only support one pass-catcher on a given week. That said, I do like this spot for the Rams. On a short week, they get to play at home against a Cardinals team that will likely be without both Antonio Cromartie (ankle) and Tyrann Mathieu (thumb). The Rams won’t be able to run the ball, so we can expect a lot of throws in a game I think they’ll score points and win. With 17 targets in his last three games, Bailey is the preferred option to Kenny Britt.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

6. Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – Owned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues
If desperate, we can take a fling at Cecil Shorts this week for two reasons. First, there will be garbage time in a road game at the Ravens in which the Jags are 14-point dogs. We know Shorts does most of his best work in garbage time. Second, the Ravens are now rivaling the Jets for the worst corners in the league. Thanks to injury, they’re down to street free agents all over the place.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

Watch List: Andre Roberts, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan, Jeremy Kerley, Jarius Wright, Kamar Aiken – Roberts is DeSean Jackson’s (questionable, leg) backup. … Woods came up 1-inch short of a TD against Denver Sunday. Prefer him to Hogan thanks to big-play ability. … Kerley will step in for Percy Harvin (ankle). … Don’t chase Wright’s big line as it came against the Jets. He’s well behind Charles Johnson in terms of role and talent. … Aiken is Torrey Smith’s (knee) backup heading into a dream matchup against the Jags.   TIGHT ENDS
1. Jared Cook, Rams – Owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues
We know what Jared Cook is. He’s a frustratingly talented yet inconsistent tight end who is a complementary player in a shaky pass attack. However, he absolutely owns the Cardinals, averaging 4.0 catches for 91.3 yards and 1.0 touchdowns in his last three against them. I’m not usually into “BvP” stats, but this carries more weight because Arizona gives up the seventh-most points to fantasy tight ends this year and gave up the most last year. If you’re desperate at tight end like many are, this is the week to give Cook a shot.
Recommendation: Should be considered as a deeper Week 15 streamer

2. Mychal Rivera, Raiders – Owned in 24 percent of Yahoo leagues
I included Mychal Rivera in this space last week because the spot was right for the Raiders as a whole against the rival 49ers at home. This week’s spot is awful. The Raiders project to let down as they go to one of the toughest places in the NFL to play, Arrowhead. They’re also facing a Chiefs team coming off a loss and one that got embarrassed by the Raiders a few Thursday nights ago. All that said, Rivera is averaging 6.0 targets per game over the last month. He’ll have some garbage-time chances here.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Owen Daniels, Ravens – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s not often I’ll be on a 32-year-old tight end who has exactly two catches in each of his last four games. But Owen Daniels is playing 91.9 percent of the snaps during that span in a Gary Kubiak offense that in theory remains TE-friendly. This week, Daniels gets a plus spot as he’s home against a Jaguars defense that more susceptible to the pass than the run.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 14-team leagues

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
1. Panthers – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Panthers defense is going to take a ton of confidence into Sunday’s home game against the Bucs after completely shutting down the Saints in the Superdome last week. I wouldn’t expect them to sustain that level at all, but anytime we get a chance to attack Josh McCown (or Mike Glennon) and one of the league’s worst offensive lines when they’re on the road we have to consider it. I’d still strongly prefer the elite, higher-owned D/ST plays this week such as KC, STL, BAL etc.

2. Giants – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
I actually thought it was somewhat impressive that the Giants, with a lame-duck Tom Coughlin, didn’t just lay down at sleepy Tennessee Week 14. If they were able to get up for that game, they should have no trouble focusing for a home division game against the Redskins. And if Colt McCoy starts, he’s a turnover-prone debacle. If Robert Griffin III starts, we know he’s an awful fit for the scheme and his own head coach doesn’t even want him.

3. Titans – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
A lot of folks will want to stream the Jets D/ST in over the Titans this week, but I’d go the other way. Teams have a tendency to show up after getting humiliated, especially in back-to-back home spots. Geno Smith is also far more pick-six prone than Jake Locker. The Jets, meanwhile, are in a back-to-back road spot and are coming off a tough overtime loss. I think this spot sets up better for the Titans and therefore prefer them as the streamer.

4. Jaguars – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
I would not use the Jags in Week 15 at Baltimore. But we need to be looking ahead to Week 16 and that’s when Jacksonville hosts the dumpster fire known as Tennessee. This is a Jags defense that has quietly held their own over the last three weeks, giving up 24.6 points per game to Andrew Luck, Eli Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick. In terms of widely available defenses (and the pickings are slim), Jax is the best bet.

KICKERS
1. Matt Bryant, Falcons – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
Attacking this Steelers defense has been a weekly tradition all year. That includes the kicking department and this week Matt Bryant is at home, in the dome against Pittsburgh. It projects as one of the highest scoring games of the week and we get the added bonus of not having to worry about weather.

2. Matt Prater, Lions – Owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues
Settling in nicely as the Lions’ kicker, Matt Prater is now 15-of-17 in the last seven games. He also has at least two attempts in six straight games and has a home game (in the dome) against the Vikings this week.

3. Shaun Suisham, Steelers – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Shaun Suisham play is similar to the Matt Bryant play. Attacking the Falcons defense is advised and using kickers in a dome is also beneficial. Suisham has at least two attempts in four straight games as the Steelers offense has graduated to truly elite status.

Adam Levitan
Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.