Happy Week 15.
If you are alive in the fantasy football postseason, it is indeed a time to smile. Your team has gotten to this point. Perhaps it has powered along, the best in the league. Or perhaps it has stumbled about, and you are not even sure how you've lasted this long.
Either way, congratulations. These final weeks of the regular season are why we play the game.
If you are in need of waiver-wire assistance with your season on the line, you have come to the right place. In this week's "Fantasy Ticker," I've ranked 60 useful and widely available players at these positions: QB, RB, WR, TE and D/ST.
Players are in order of how I would prioritize them on the waiver wire, and they are ranked by position, not relative to all players on the list. They are also ranked on the basis of how I believe they can help you this week, not in any other week. The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors.
As a general rule, I focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Here we go:
1. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (owned in 31 percent of Yahoo! leagues) — I like him over the other quarterbacks listed for these reasons: 1) consistency of productivity; 2) matchup; 3) setting. Yes, that he's playing indoors in Toronto's Rogers Centre is a mark in his favor. I'm always leery of the weather this time of year. The matchup point is also key; though the Bills have allowed less than 20 points in 3-of-4 games, their defense hasn't had a good season by any means.
2. Eagles QB Nick Foles (eight percent) — Will be a popular pickup on waiver wires after throwing for 381 yards and two TDs as well as rushing for another in Sunday's win at Tampa Bay, but he has a much tougher matchup this week. The Bengals' defense is a much more formidable foe. Foles' Week 16 matchup (Washington) is much, much more favorable, so if you're willing to roll the dice with him for two weeks, he holds considerable appeal. However, in a one-game situation for this week, I'd lean toward Wilson.
3. Browns QB Brandon Weeden (13 percent) — Faces the Redskins' porous pass defense on Sunday, which makes him a potential flier pickup in big leagues. That said, there's a big gap between the first two QBs and Weeden. I'm just not sold on Weeden's consistency.
4. Chiefs QB Brady Quinn (one percent) — The Oakland defense is a mess. That's why Quinn can be considered. However, Weeden should be strongly preferred.
5. Rams QB Sam Bradford (21 percent) — Like Wilson, the matchup (vs. Minnesota) and setting (indoors) work in his favor, but the Rams' offense just doesn't have a lot of punch.
1. Packers RB Alex Green (29 percent) — Why does he top the list? He's played well in recent weeks, and the Packers have shown they are willing to commit to the run vs. Chicago. In the first meeting with the Bears, then-starting RB Cedric Benson received 20 carries for 81 yards. Does Green have the most season-long upside of this group? No. But if I had to pick one back right now on the basis of expected opportunities, I'd take Green.
2. Giants RB David Wilson (29 percent) — He's going to be a popular pickup after his monster game vs. New Orleans (100 yards, two TDs on the ground as well as a kick-return score). The question is, how much will he play Sunday at Atlanta? It likely depends on the health of Ahmad Bradshaw (knee). If Bradshaw can carry his normal workload, how much work does this leave for Wilson? Wilson's consistency has been a concern in his rookie season, and I'm just not convinced the Giants are going to lean on him in a huge game in a tough environment unless they absolutely must. To me, Wilson is a must-claim, but he's not a surefire start unless Bradshaw is limited or out.
3. Colts RB Vick Ballard (48 percent) — I like that he got 19 carries in the Week 14 win vs. Tennessee, one short of his season high. I don't like that he has one rushing TD, compared to five for Andrew Luck and three for reserve runner Delone Carter. I also don't especially love the matchup this week (at Houston).
4. Jaguars RB Montell Owens (23 percent) — He's in line to get another start Sunday, but Week 15 opponent Miami is in the top 10 in rushing yards per game and per carry allowed.
5. Jets RB Bilal Powell (nine percent) — He's had at least 10 fantasy points in 3-of-4 games. As long as the Jets are in ground-and-pound mode, Powell has fantasy value, and he's not an unreasonable play at Tennessee on Monday night. The Titans have allowed at least one rushing TD in 11-of-13 games.
6. Saints RB Mark Ingram (28 percent) — Has had double-digit carries in 4-of-5 games, and Sunday's game vs. the Buccaneers could be a high-scoring affair. However, you just never know how the Saints are going to use their backs.
7. Lions RB Joique Bell (26 percent) — Racked up 96 yards on 17 touches in the Week 14 loss at Green Bay. Certainly a reasonable pickup in huge leagues. Ingram gets the nod over him only because of the scoreboard-on-tilt factor in Buccaneers-Saints.
8. 49ers RB LaMichael James (three percent) — Not a recommended start, but a recommended pickup for Frank Gore owners.
9. Texans RB Justin Forsett (four percent) — Solid insurance for Arian Foster owners.
10. Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (26 percent) — If you are depending upon Knowshon Moreno and Hillman has shown up on waivers, the rookie from San Diego State should have some appeal.
Ten more backs worth considering: Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (three percent), Patriots RB Brandon Bolden (three percent), Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (two percent), Browns RB Montario Hardesty (two percent), Texans RB Ben Tate (32 percent), Steelers RB Isaac Redman (31 percent), Packers RB DuJuan Harris (zero percent), Patriots RB Shane Vereen (14 percent), Patriots RB Danny Woodhead (35 percent), Vikings RB Toby Gerhart (nine percent). All are primarily most valuable as handcuff pickups.
1. Titans WR Kenny Britt (49 percent) — Racked up a season-high eight catches for 143 yards in the Week 14 loss at Indianapolis, and he scored a TD in his previous two games. The Jets are strong vs. the pass, but Britt has special talent, and his recent increased production is a positive.
2. Browns WR Josh Gordon (49 percent) — He has been a big-play threat for Cleveland in his rookie season, and he has also been consistent. Gordon could give Washington's secondary some trouble on Sunday.
3. Colts WR Donnie Avery (29 percent) — Earns this on the basis of targets — 109, which ties him for 17th in the league.
4. Seahawks WR Golden Tate (42 percent) — Doesn't get a bevy of opportunities (56 targets), but he's made the most of them, with seven TDs out of his 37 catches.
5. Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (nine percent) — The Packers did a masterful job taking away Brandon Marshall in the first meeting with Chicago. Jeffery, who scored a TD in the loss to Minnesota on Sunday, could get some playmaking opportunities out of necessity.
6. Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins (17 percent) — Has been targeted eight times in each of the last two games. Has exceptional quickness.
7. Rams WR Chris Givens (29 percent) — A boom-or-bust, hope-he-catches-a-long-TD proposition. Gaining 16.2 yards per reception.
8. Jets WR Jeremy Kerley (36 percent) — The Jets' top target, especially with TE Dustin Keller out of the lineup.
10. Browns WR Greg Little (25 percent) — Has a good matchup vs. Washington and played very well in Week 14 (4-69-0, one carry for 17 yards). Deep sleeper.
Ten other wideouts to consider: Lions WR Kris Durham (zero percent), Eagles WR Jason Avant (two percent), Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson (zero percent), Eagles WR Riley Cooper (two percent), Cowboys WR Kevin Ogletree (11 percent), Chiefs WR Jon Baldwin (four percent), Redskins WR Joshua Morgan (three percent), Cowboys WR Dwayne Harris (zero percent), Texans WR Kevin Walter (five percent), Raiders WR Rod Streater (two percent).
1. Buccaneers TE Dallas Clark (23 percent) — Caught 5-51-1 on six targets in the first meeting against the Saints.
2. Broncos TE Jacob Tamme (37 percent) — Third on the Broncos in targets and catches, fourth in yards.
3. Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (26 percent) — Has a good rapport with QB Joe Flacco. If offense becomes more of a no-huddle, up-tempo attack, Pitta's value could increase.
4. Lions TE Tony Scheffler (two percent) — Targeted 10 times in Week 14, catching three passes for 20 yards and a TD. Will play a lot even if Brandon Pettgrew (ankle) is available for the Week 15 game at Arizona considering the Lions' lack of options at wideout.
5. Bills TE Scott Chandler (35 percent) — Can't say I love his matchup this week, but he does have as many TDs as C.J. Spiller (six). Yes, it's true.
6. Cardinals TE Rob Housler (one percent) — Has caught 19-133-0 in the last three games. Targeted 27 times in that span, three less than Larry Fitzgerald.
7. Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis (18 percent) — Third on Jaguars in targets (57) and second in TD catches (four).
8. Colts TE Dwayne Allen (14 percent) — The wideouts are the primary targets in the Colts' offense, but Allen has shown some promise as a rookie.
9. Browns TE Benjamin Watson (two percent) — Targeted 25 times in the last four games.
10. Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki (three percent) — The Raiders' defense is awful, and perhaps he gets more targets with WR Dwayne Bowe (ribs) out for the season.
1. (tie) Detroit (33 percent) — Good news: the Lions face the Cardinals in Week 15. Bad news: Detroit doesn't have a return TD this season. Yes, the Lions are a reasonable pickup, but they have some downside risk.
1. (tie) Miami (29 percent) — The Dolphins' defense has considerable appeal in Week 15. The Jaguars' offense lacks a lot of punch and has been continually thinned by injury. What's more, the Dolphins are at home. To me, Miami's very close to Detroit in the pecking order this week.
3. Tennessee (six percent) — The Titans get an ideal matchup against the Jets on Monday night. However, Tennessee is 27th in yards allowed and 31st in points surrendered.
4. Minnesota (24 percent) — The Rams' offense isn't especially powerful.
5. Cleveland (43 percent) — Startable only if Robert Griffin III sits.