Offensive Deep League Gems — Week 15
It’s fantasy football playoff time, and though you might have been able to snag yourself a coveted fantasy postseason berth that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re completely satisfied with the players that brought you to the dance. Perhaps, reaching the playoffs has made you that much more aware of the one weak link in your starting lineup and you’re worried he might cost you the chance of moving on to your league’s championship game.
That’s where the waiver wire comes in. However, for those of you navigating the waters of a deeper league, with 16-, 18- or more teams picking over the free agent pool, the options may be slim. But even at this point of the season there are true contributors to be had, ones who can add a spark to your fantasy roster in this all-important time of year. You just need to know how to find them. We make this a bit easier for you, taking some of the guesswork out of the waiver wire so you can focus on making claims on players and reaping the rewards.
Here are Week 15’s top four waiver wire additions for deep league GMs. Here’s to hoping one or more of them will seal your spot in your league’s fantasy championship.
Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts (Yahoo! 2% owned; ESPN 0.1% owned)
Da’Rick Rogers has appeared in just two NFL games this season, having been signed by the Indianapolis Colts prior to Week 13. In his first game, he played only 13 snaps and had no passing targets, but his role increased in the team’s Week 14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, playing 41 of 61 offensive snaps. The Colts desperately need more playmaking receiving targets for quarterback Andrew Luck. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a source of nothing but frustration, with his many dropped passes, and T.Y. Hilton can only do so much while drawing the most defensive attention. That’s where Rogers steps in.
Rogers, who went undrafted in April thanks to myriad off-field concerns, had nine targets against the Bengals, with six catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. The performance netted him 22.7 points in standard-scoring leagues and 28.7 in PPR. He’s quickly developed chemistry with Luck, which only bodes well for the remainder of his season.
Rogers could be a streaky fantasy receiver, simply because of his lack of experience. However, it’s hard to look at what he did against the Bengals as a freak performance. Rogers is a very skilled, if young, receiver and part of a pass-heavy offense. It’s going to be a week or two until defenses know that Rogers is someone to worry about, which can be used to your fantasy gain. The Colts have the defense-deficient Houston Texans in Week 15 and Rogers could again have a strong game, with over 100 yards and a touchdown. Just as he’s given a boost to the Colts offense, he can do the same for your fantasy team. Rogers is a great receiver to pick up this week for your final playoff push.
Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans (Yahoo! 37% owned; ESPN 33.5% owned)
The world appears to be crashing down around the Houston Texans, but luckily that mostly has little bearing on fantasy football. There are still players of fantasy value on that roster, and among them, tight end Garrett Graham looks to be the most accessible player for deep league GMs in need. The tight end position has been a fantasy crap-shoot this year and if you’ve chosen wrong, consider adding Graham to your lineup this week if you can.
Graham has caught 49 of 81 passes so far this year, for 545 yards and five touchdowns. He had eight catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in Week 14 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He could play just as well this week against the Indianapolis Colts; though he’s not a speedy tight end and creating separation isn’t his forte, the Colts gave up five catches on five targets to Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham in Week 14, for 41 yards and a touchdown. Graham could easily accomplish a similar stat line this week.
In standard scoring, Graham is the Texans’ fourth-highest scoring receiver this year, with 83.5 points. In PPR, he’s their third-highest scorer, with 132.5 points on the year. While a 5.96 points-per-game average isn’t all that exciting, in PPR leagues that number jumps to 9.46—that’s hard to ignore, considering that’s more than Jared Cook, Brandon Pettigrew, Heath Miller and the now-IR’d Rob Gronkowski have been averaging per game this year. If you need PPR help and have been starting any of those four tight ends, get Graham for the playoffs.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Yahoo! 26% owned; ESPN 5% owned)
While the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback situation doesn’t scream “passing powerhouse,” there are still many compelling reasons to consider picking up rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson off of the waiver wire this week. First, there’s the matter of the lights turning on and the game slowing down for him now that he has nearly a full season of experience to his name. Also, his snap counts have increased in recent weeks, from the teens and twenties for most of the year to 45 to 50 per game over the last four games. And finally, he was named a starter in Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens and his performance in that game certainly warrants him staying that way for the rest of the year.
So far this season, Patterson has been targeted 55 times, with 35 catches for 395 yards and two touchdowns. He has considerable speed, with 252 yards after the catch. That speed has an added bonus: If kick return yardage counts in your league, the over 100 return yards per game he’s averaging and the two return touchdowns he’s scored this year only sweeten the deal. It’s impressive to see how far Patterson has come this year despite his less-than-ideal quarterback rotation.
In Week 14, Patterson caught five of seven passes thrown his way (by Matt Cassel, it should be noted), for 141 yards, 114 yards after the catch and a (79-yard) touchdown. The performance brought his season fantasy (non-return) points total to 61 in standard-scoring leagues and 96 in PPR leagues. Though clearly he has more PPR value than standard, he’s likely to pay off for fantasy owners in either format. With the Eagles defense up next, Patterson is a great addition and playoff starter if you need a third wide receiver for your roster.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings (Yahoo! 8% owned; ESPN 1% owned)
There may be no more risky a fantasy football addition for Week 15 than Vikings running back Toby Gerhart, but his ownership rate and particular situation make it impossible not to mention him. Star and starter Adrian Peterson left his team’s Week 14 game against the Ravens with a mid-foot sprain. Though it is not a Lisfranc injury and his MRI came back clean, Peterson still has more x-rays, a CT scan and a visit with a specialist in his future. Though Peterson is a freak of nature and even plans to play in Week 15, at this early date nothing is certain.
The next man up is Gerhart, who ended up playing 44 of Minnesota’s 66 offensive snaps against the Ravens after Peterson’s injury and exit. Against Baltimore’s generally stingy run defense, Gerhart had a good day, with 15 carries for 89 yards—a 5.9 yards-per-carry average—64 yards after contact and a touchdown. However, the problem here is more than Peterson potentially playing on Sunday; it’s also Gerhart’s injury.
Gerhart strained his hamstring against the Ravens and is considered day-to-day. There is a potential that neither Gerhart nor Peterson could play this week, making Matt Asiata the starting halfback in that case. Asiata is a special teams player with not one rush this year. If he’s the starter, he has fantasy value to be sure, but he’ll likely split some carries with fullback Jerome Felton in what may become a pass-heavy game by default. So Gerhart is very buyer-beware for Week 15 but worth keeping an eye on. If Peterson doesn’t seem like a go, but Gerhart does, sprint to the waiver wire later in the week and try to get a claim in.