Week 14 waiver-wire pickups and fantasy targets

As the fantasy playoffs get going, Jeff Ratcliffe runs through some of the best pickups off the waiver wire.

| 7 months ago
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Week 14 waiver-wire pickups and fantasy targets


It’s go time. Week 14 is here, which means the fantasy playoffs are likely starting in your league. December typically isn’t kind to the waiver wire. Many of the gems have been scooped up and we’re left to fight over the scraps. But believe it or not, there are a few potential game changers on this week’s wire.

Remember, we cast a wide net every week in our waiver-wire advice. Below you’ll see recommendations for shallow, regular and deep leagues. Players are listed in order of priority and the suggested auction budget percentage is in parentheses.

Keep in mind that some leagues may be more aggressive or conservative in terms of bidding, so know your league tendencies. Regardless of the size of your league, it’s suggested that you work your way down the list and prioritize the top players in your waiver claims for this week.

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Shallow leagues (8-10 teams)

Quarterback

1. Joe Flacco, Baltimore (10%) – At this point in the season, the pickings are pretty slim at quarterback. But if you need help, Flacco could be a viable option for the stretch run. He’s coming off his best performance of the season, and the Ravens have been extremely pass-heavy. Flacco has to head to Foxboro this week, but gets plus matchups against the Eagles and Steelers in Weeks 15 and 16.

Running back

1. Dion Lewis, New England (40%) – He’s likely to be owned in most leagues, but there are Lewis owners who got impatient and tossed him back into free agency. If that happened, scoop him up. This past week was a LeGarrette Blount game script with the Patriots out to an early lead against an overmatched opponent. But New England won’t get as many cakewalks going forward. Look for Lewis’s touches to increase down the stretch.

2. Mike Gillislee, Buffalo (25%) – Don’t be fool by his Week 13 fantasy points. Gillislee is still just a complementary player in the Bills backfield with LeSean McCoy locked in as the lead dog. But you aren’t adding Gillislee for immediate fantasy value. He’s a handcuff who would become an instant RB2 if McCoy went down.

Wide receiver

1. Malcolm Mitchell, New England (50-100%) – With Rob Gronkowski out, the Patriots ran more three-wide sets with Mitchell seeing a season-high 10 targets. He was on the field for 85 percent of New England’s offensive snaps for the second time in the last three weeks, and has emerged as a viable red-zone option for the Pats. Mitchell is a rare find at this point in the season.

2. Tyler Lockett, Seattle (40%) – After battling injuries for much of the early part of the season, Lockett exploded in Week 13. He took a short swing pass for a big gain early in the game, scored on a 75-yard run, and nearly returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He isn’t likely to see heavy target volume, but Lockett’s upside is appealing for the fantasy playoffs.

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3. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay (30%) – We’re back to calling Montgomery a wide receiver, but that could change yet again. The Packers backfield remains a mess without Eddie Lacy, as James Starks and Christine Michael failed to impress in Week 13. Montgomery led the backfield in rushing yards, and looks to be regaining his dual-threat role. It’s a very non-traditional play, but Montgomery’s potential workload as a running back with fantasy wide receiver eligibility places him on the flex radar.

4. Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta (20%) – He isn’t a move-the-chains, double-digit-target receiver, but Gabriel continues to display a high weekly ceiling and is coming off his biggest workload of the season with six targets in Week 13. There’s always volatility with big play receivers, but Mohamed Sanu’s injury could open the door for more targets for Gabriel.

Tight end

1. Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh (50-100%) – The breakout happened for Green in Week 13, as he went over 100 yards and scored on a massive 11 targets. Spend whatever you have left on him this week. Green has a chance to be the No. 1 fantasy tight end over the last month of the season.

Regular leagues (12 teams)

Quarterback

1. Matt Barkley, Chicago (3%) – With Jordan Howard running all over the 49ers in the bad weather this past Sunday, Barkley only attempted 18 passes. However, he played well for the second straight game and has snuck into the QB2 conversation going forward. Better yet, Barkley faces suspect secondaries in each of the next two weeks with contests against the Lions and Packers.

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Running back

1. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay (20%) – Slated to return this week after missing the last two months, Sims will slot right back into his previous role as the Bucs third-down back. That means limited fantasy value as long as Doug Martin remains healthy. Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect an immediate return on investment with Sims, but he has RB2 appeal if Martin gets hurt.

2. Jalen Richard, Oakland (15%) – With DeAndre Washington falling out of favor in Oakland, Richard is now the clear handcuff to Latavius Murray. Like most of the running back recommendations this week, Richard offers minimal immediate value but has high upside as a handcuff.

3. Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati (10%) – He outgained Jeremy Hill in Week 13 despite having three times fewer carries. With Hill playing uninspired football, there’s a chance Burkhead’s role increases down the stretch. However, he’s best viewed as a lower upside handcuff to Hill.

4. Justin Forsett, Denver (8%) – Sure, why not. Forsett was claimed by the Broncos on Monday in a move that corresponded with Kapri Bibbs being placed on injured reserve. It’s rarely good when a player is on his third team of the season, but Forsett had his greatest success under Denver head coach Gary Kubiak. With Devontae Booker struggling, Forsett should have an immediate role. That said, the 31-year-old’s upside is limited.

Wide receiver

1. Adam Thielen, Minnesota (15%) – For much of the season, Thielen was decidedly behind Stefon Diggs in the target pecking order. But that’s changing down the stretch, as he’s coming off a nine-target outing in Week 13. Minnesota’s dink-and-dunk offense doesn’t offer a ton of upside, but Thielen’s volume gives him fantasy appeal, especially in PPR leagues.

2. Brandon LaFell, Cincinnati (12%) – It doesn’t appear like A.J. Green will be back on the field any time soon, which means LaFell is the Bengals’ de facto No. 1 receiver. He certainly played that way in Week 13 with five catches on seven targets for 95 yards and a score. He’ll continue to be Andy Dalton’s top target in a plus matchup this week against the Browns.

3. Pierre Garcon, Washington (8%) – Wide receiver isn’t a typical streaming position, but Garcon is in the mix as a streamer option this week against a putrid Eagles secondary that just got lit up by the Bengals. He saw 10 targets last week and has 30 catches over the last five weeks.

Tight end

1. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia (25%) – Over the last five weeks, Ertz is tied with Travis Kelce for the most targets among tight ends. He’s coming off a big outing in Week 13 and has emerged as Philly’s best receiving option.

2. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay (25%) – Few if anyone had Brate as a top-10 fantasy tight end entering the season, but that’s exactly what he’s been so far. There’s a good chance that trend continues with Tampa facing the Saints in two of their next three games.

3. Coby Fleener, New Orleans (20%) – With Josh Hill now out for the rest of the season with a broken fibula, Fleener has the potential to be a back-end TE1 for the stretch run. He’s been maddeningly inconsistent for most of the season, but there’s a lot of upside to be had in the Saints offense.

4. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore (10%) – Some might expect Pitta higher on the list after his huge Week 13 performance, but it’s important to consider his entire body of work this season. The target volume has been there, but Pitta hasn’t been much more than a catch-and-fall-down guy. For fantasy purposes, that means little upside. Don’t chase last week’s numbers with Pitta if better options are out there.

Deep leagues (14-plus teams)

Quarterback

1. Robert Griffin III, Cleveland (1%) – If you’re desperate in 2QB formats, Griffin could return to action this week. He’s extremely risky, but does offer a lot of fantasy upside.

Running back

1. Zach Zenner, Detroit (2%) – You don’t get much upside with Zenner, but he did lead the Lions backfield in carries this past week. With Dwayne Washington banged up with an ankle injury, Zenner has the potential to see a decent workload in Week 14.

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2. Troymaine Pope, Seattle (1%) – The running back well has largely dried up, but Pope is worth a look in deep leagues as Thomas Rawls’ handcuff. He played 20 snaps this past week, with much of his work coming after Seattle got up big on the Panthers.

Wide receiver

1. Paul Turner, Philadelphia (1%) – The preseason darling caught six balls for 80 yards in Week 13. Jordan Matthews should return this week, but Turner has appeal if Matthews remains out.

2. Josh Bellamy, Chicago (1%) – With Marquess Wilson exiting Sunday’s game early, Bellamy picked up the slack and led the Bears in receiving. He’s a desperation dart, but one with a lot of upside against the Lions secondary this week.

Tight end

1. Jermaine Gresham, Arizona (1%) – Tight ends are rarely fantasy relevant in Bruce Arians’ offense, but Gresham has emerged as a viable TE2 option down the stretch with five or more targets in four of the last five games. He doesn’t offer much upside, but could help out those in a pinch with his reasonably high floor.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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