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Waiver Wired
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Waiver Wire, Week 15: Wilson, We Have Liftoff

by John Daigle
Updated On: December 16, 2020, 1:33 am ET

Welcome to the Week 15 edition of Waiver Wired for the 2020 season. Currently in the thick of the fantasy playoffs, we’ll continue to direct all of our attention to winning the week while keeping in mind a handful of stash ideas for the Fantasy Championship. We’ll also sift through ongoing injury situations to ensure all of our ducks are in a row during the most important stretch of the season.

As a refresher, 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 additions are available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the Watch List contains in-depth notes on fringe waiver adds, 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 removing any player from your roster 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 avert your focus to stashing any and all high-upside league winners. As mentioned last week, for example, Joe Mixon is an easy candidate to part with since it sounds as if he won't be activated from injured reserve for the rest of the year. Same goes for Matthew Stafford (ribs), Raheem Mostert (ankle), and Deebo Samuel (hamstring) at this time. We should also be trying to stash multiple defenses for this two-week stretch in order to gain an early edge for both remaining matchups through Week 16.

 

Overall Top 5

1. Jeff Wilson
2. Keke Coutee
3. Lynn Bowden
4. Chad Hansen
5. Jalen Hurts

For those looking to roster the best available player(s) regardless of position, the rankings above take into account every factor from the positional lists minus players’ actual positions. These are listed in the precise order I would prioritize waiver claims in Week 15. Adjust accordingly for what you need on your roster — touches, high-upside bench stashes, targets, one-week spot-starters, etc.

 

End-of-Roster Top 10

1. Kalen Ballage
2. Salvon Ahmed
3. Carlos Hyde
4. Phillip Lindsay
5. Gus Edwards
6. Alexander Mattison
7. Benny Snell
8. Cordarrelle Patterson
9. Boston Scott
10. Devontae Booker

The time has come to stop rostering backups to our own starters and, rather, target reserves with the most potential opportunity if a door or two randomly opened. That’s why the above list was carefully assembled to highlight league-winners (available in a majority of leagues) 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 managers should obviously feel free to adjust accordingly. Jeff Wilson was removed from the top-five since he's, as you'll read below, no longer a backup.

 

Quarterbacks

1. Jalen Hurts
2. Derek Carr
3. Philip Rivers
4. Mitchell Trubisky

Running Backs

1. Jeff Wilson
2. Lynn Bowden
3. DeAndre Washington

Wide Receivers

1. Keke Coutee
2. Chad Hansen
3. Nelson Agholor
4. James Washington
5. Tim Patrick
6. Rashard Higgins

Tight Ends

1. Irv Smith
2. Cole Kmet
3. Jordan Akins

Defense/Special Teams

1. Washington Football Team
2. Tennessee Titans
3. New England Patriots

Kickers

1. Tyler Bass
2. Dustin Hopkins
3. Ka’imi Fairbairn

 

QUARTERBACKS

1. Jalen Hurts, Eagles — Rostered in 18 percent of Yahoo Leagues

Hurts’ situation in a nightmarish matchup was ambiguous enough to leave him out of Week 14 lineups but, as suggested last week, fight for him off waivers for these next two games against the Cardinals and Cowboys. And with a QB10 finish and 18 carries (!) in his first career start, we’ve set ourselves up to comfortably lean on him in a matchup that should skyrocket over its total (48.5) since Kyler Murray is suddenly healthy and running again on the opposite side of the ball. Arizona’s defense has also ceded the fifth-most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks, cementing Hurts into the top-12 at his position if only for his safety-net floor.

 

 

2. Derek Carr, Raiders — Rostered in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues

To be clear, the Raiders want to run the ball — Las Vegas still has the league’s 11th-highest run play rate in neutral game script, recording the second-most carries (226) in said situation behind only the Giants (228). Its defense, however, isn’t allowing Jon Gruden to play-call between the tackles since Raiders games have averaged a combined 57 points this year including 37.5 to opponents over the last month. In short, Carr will have no choice but to dropback and launch the ball against the Chargers, which has also failed to put up a fight in allowing at least 27 points in seven straight games before running into a Falcons Offense sans Julio Jones on Sunday.
 

3. Philip Rivers, Colts — Rostered in 41 percent of Yahoo Leagues

No matter how much we cite Jacoby Brissett’s goal line usage, Anthony Castonzo’s rollercoaster availability, or Indianapolis’ desire to “RUN THE DAMN BALL,” 39-year-old Rivers has kept relevant with five consecutive finishes inside the top-15 among quarterbacks. Sunday’s matchup against the Texans is the same one that allowed him to sleepwalk to 285 yards and two touchdowns just two weeks ago.
 

4. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears — Rostered in 11 percent of Yahoo Leagues

Matt Nagy and 670 The Score will tell you Trubisky has grown and evolved into a leader these last few weeks when the reality is the Bears have been gifted layups against the Packers, Lions, and Texans. And while Chicago’s schedule during this homestretch will comically lead to GM Ryan Pace re-signing Trubisky this offseason, fantasy players can at least reap the rewards for three more games against Minnesota’s sieve of a secondary, Jacksonville’s warm bodies at corner, and the Packers with nothing to play for in Week 17. We’ll laugh about Trubisky’s long-term extension together in April. For now, he’s set to lead us to the promised land as a high-end QB2 to close the year.
 

Watch List: Baker Mayfield is a worrisome start on Sunday night against the Giants, which have shutdown enemy quarterbacks for the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game this year. He’s worth picking up for Week 16, though, since he and Cleveland’s passing attack will inevitably bounce-back in a big way against the Jets.

 

RUNNING BACKS

1. Jeff Wilson, 49ers – Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues

Even with Raheem Mostert re-aggravating his nagging ankle injury mid-game, Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman combined for 22 special teams snaps while Wilson soaked up 100% of the team’s backfield touches once Mostert left. Don’t be fooled by Dallas’ most recent performance against Ryan Finley: the Bengals, which hadn’t totaled 200 yards of offense without Joe Burrow heading into Sunday, still pasted the Cowboys for 301 yards in-game. Wilson is not a great, but an elite play against a front-seven still allowing a league-high 162.7 rushing yards per game assuming Mostert sits. 

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues
 

2. Lynn Bowden, Dolphins – Rostered in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues

3. DeAndre Washington, Dolphins – Rostered in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues

Bowden didn’t take a single snap in the backfield on Sunday, but don’t tell Yahoo and ESPN that; his RB/WR dual-eligibility pops as a cheat code for the last two rounds of the fantasy playoffs. Washington out-carried Patrick Laird 13-4 against the Chiefs, for example, but was ultimately game-scripted out of the fourth quarter since Laird is (and always was) Miami’s satellite back, affording him nine more routes than Washington (29-20) on Sunday. Bowden meanwhile actually led the entire team in routes run (51), catches (7), and receiving yards (82), even mixing in a time or two under center as a homage to his record-setting campaign with the Wildcats. With DeVante Parker (hamstring), Mike Gesicki (shoulder), and Jakeem Grant (hamstring) banged up and questionable, Bowden projects to soak up a team-high in targets against the Patriots while Washington leads the Dolphins in empty carries.

Recommendation: Both should be rostered in 12-team leagues
 

Deep Leagues: J.K. Dobbins totaled more touches (13-8) and carries inside the 10-yard line (2-0) than Gus Edwards in Monday night's Game of the Year, but both are viable options as long as Mark Ingram's role (one snap) remains at a stone minimum. Sunday's plus matchup against Jacksonville offers a terrific spot for both Edwards and Dobbins to succeed with standalone value yet again.
 

Week 16: Salvon Ahmed, if available, opposite the Raiders' line if Myles Gaskin remains on the team's COVID list...Phillip Lindsay against the Chargers if Melvin Gordon goes down...Devontae Booker opposing Miami's front-seven if Josh Jacobs is banged up.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Keke Coutee, Texans — Rostered in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues

2. Chad Hansen, Texans – Rostered in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues

Yes, Coutee is somehow still available in 55 percent of leagues. And there’s not much left to say: Randall Cobb (toe, injured reserve) isn’t expected to return this year, and Brandin Cooks’ (ankle, back) status for Sunday remains up in the air. Coutee already lit up the Colts and DC Matt Eberflus’ zone scheme for 8/141 two weeks ago and should have no issues settling in open pockets as a high-end WR2 yet again. Hansen meanwhile is simply being asked to become Will Fuller, accruing a 21% target share the past two weeks while moving to the slot on only 24-of-129 snaps. Needless to say, both are tremendous options if you’re in need of a starting wideout (or two).

Recommendation: Both should be rostered in 10-team leagues
 

3. Nelson Agholor, Raiders – Rostered in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues

Fantasy’s WR19 over the last month, Agholor continues to efficiently lead the Raiders in air yards (541) and end zone targets (7) as the team’s de facto No. 1 wideout. Much like Calvin Ridley (8/124/1) on Sunday, Agholor should benefit from Casey Hayward’s lingering effects (and poor play) from multiple injuries suffered throughout the year. Henry Ruggs' (COVID) absence also clears the way for Agholor to be featured downfield prominently.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues
 

4. James Washington, Steelers – Rostered in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues

Washington has come off the bench in consecutive weeks to replace whomever has dropped the ball (literally) for the Steelers through the first quarter. That unexpected opportunity against the Bills actually allowed him to play a season-high 81% of the team’s snaps and run the second-most routes (31, 77.5%) behind only JuJu Smith-Schuster (40, 100%) on Sunday night. Assuming Washington continues getting treated as a rotational receiver with the rest of Pittsburgh’s bunch, even his role as the No. 3 wideout is enough to offer boom-bust value against the Bengals

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues
 

5. Tim Patrick, Broncos – Rostered in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues

It’s impossible to pin down Patrick’s true role in Denver’s offense since he’s been injured, ejected, and asked to catch passes from Kendall Hinton all in the last eight games. But he has shined ahead of Jerry Jeudy (who’s obviously battling through an ankle injury) since Week 10, leading the team in catches (16) and receiving yards (260) on as many targets (25) as the rookie in that stretch. When healthy, Patrick has proven he’s the better play over K.J. Hamler and Jeudy from Drew Lock.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues
 

6. Rashard Higgins, Browns – Rostered in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues

Higgins has obtained a copyright to the ‘Hollywood’ moniker the past two weeks, tying Jarvis Landry with 19 targets on Baker Mayfield’s 80 pass attempts in that stint. He admittedly isn’t in an ideal spot against a respectable Giants secondary that has permitted the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts, but 1) won’t get shadowed by James Bradberry — that’s Landry’s calling, and 2) squares off against the Jets in Week 16. If anything, Hollywood should be added as a stud WR3 for next week.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues for Week 16
 

Watch List: Taysom Hill will obviously have no choice but to rear back and throw to keep up with Patrick Mahomes indoors, but Emmanuel Sanders has fallen by the wayside with just 17 targets to Michael Thomas' team-high 37 (and whopping 33.3% target share) in Hill's four starts. Saints do get the Vikings in the Fantasy Championship game, which would be tremendous for Sanders if Drew Brees, who is currently practicing, is able to return for that one...John Brown, who has recorded at least 70 yards and/or a touchdown in his four healthy games this year, is eligible to practice and return from injured reserve this week. He would immediately fall in line as a low-end WR2 and start over Gabriel Davis if activated for Saturday against the Broncos.

Deep Leagues: A big play threat without KhaDarel Hodge the past two weeks, rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones has averaged 33.2 yards per catch on 64% of Cleveland's snaps behind Jarvis Landry and Higgins in that time. Like Higgins, he's an interesting stash for deeper leagues ahead of Week 16's matchup against the Jets.
 

Week 16: Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard opposite the Titans' non-existent pass rush...Whichever Texans receivers are starting against the Bengals...All three of the Jets' receivers against Cleveland's pass-funnel secondary.

 

TIGHT ENDS

1. Irv Smith, Vikings — Rostered in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues 

Smith only ran 17 routes (on Kirk Cousins’ 49 dropbacks) against the Bucs but again spiked on limited usage with a touchdown and team-high mark in receiving yards (63). If Kyle Rudolph (foot) can’t go, Smith can be rewound against a Bears Defense that has quietly permitted 255.3 passing yards per game the past three weeks.
 

2. Cole Kmet, Bears — Rostered in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues

Jimmy Graham celebrated a touchdown, but it was Kmet who once again led the veteran in routes run (24-16) with seven targets in back-to-back games. Graham can be ignored entirely as Kmet continues to be passed the torch for favorable matchups against the Vikings, Jaguars, and Packers to close the year.
 

3. Jordan Akins, Texans — Rostered in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues

Akins got wide open in the back of the end zone, called for the ball, and promptly dropped what would have been Deshaun Watson’s second touchdown on Sunday. Even so, he still finished with the second-most targets (6) in Houston’s first game without both Will Fuller (suspended) and Brandin Cooks (ankle, back) this year. Akins’ inevitable (and necessary) usage will at the very least keep him entrenched as a boom-bust TE2 to close the year.
 

Looking Ahead: For the record, I would personally bet against George Kittle returning at all this year. But there's reportedly "hope" he'll return to practice this week, which gives him an outside shot of returning for Week 16. I've made worse bets on tight ends this year than starting an All-Pro fresh off injured reserve in the Fantasy Championship.

 

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. Washington Football Team – Rostered in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues

The Jets’ non-existent secondary, which allowed Russell Wilson to quickly right the ship, overshadows the fact that he coughed the ball up nine times in five starts prior to Sunday. Consider Washington’s floor a high alternative if your league lacks viable streamers.
 

2. Tennessee Titans – Rostered in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues

34-year-old Chase Daniel hasn’t started a game since he took four sacks and threw two turnovers in Week 5 of the 2019 season.
 

3. New England Patriots – Rostered in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues

The Patriots were most recently road grated in an island game against the Rams, but the Dolphins could be without DeVante Parker (hamstring), Mike Gesicki (shoulder), and Myles Gaskin (COVID) with few league-average playmakers to turn to.
 

Week 16: The Chargers against Drew Lock...Panthers blitzkrieging Dwayne Haskins.

 

KICKERS

1. Tyler Bass, Bills – Rostered in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues

Bass remains the top option for the last two rounds of the fantasy playoffs since he notched double-digit fantasy points in four consecutive games before running into the Steelers Sunday night. Denver has also allowed the most fantasy points to opposing kickers.
 

2. Dustin Hopkins, Washington – Rostered in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues

Washington’s ongoing struggles under center have been kind to Hopkins, allowing him to try (and sink) eight straight field goals over the last three games and score double-digit performances in five of his last six. Dwayne Haskins should be able to move the ball just enough against Seattle to pit Hopkins in friendly territory for another handful of tries.
 

3. Ka’imi Fairbairn, Texans – Rostered in 19 percent of Yahoo leagues

Sunday’s one-point blip on the radar should be thrown out altogether since Fairbairn had notched 9.0 fantasy points in 4-of-5 games prior. For what it’s worth, the Texans were stumped for 30- and 50-yard field goal tries in its matchup against the Colts just two weeks ago.