9 route: Top 9 fantasy football waiver targets in Week 15

Melvin Gordon replacement Farrow gets pair of putrid run defenses for fantasy championship run

By ARTHUR ARKUSH — aarkush@profootballweekly.com
Published: Updated:
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) — Marcio Jose Sanchez

Every Tuesday, Arthur Arkush shares his top nine waiver wire targets for fantasy football players. This will focus exclusively on players owned in less than 50 percent of all Yahoo! leagues.

A note of caution: just because a player is on this list, it doesn't mean readers should exhaust their claim priority and/or waiver budget. Those decisions should be based on individual roster makeup, injuries and other outside forces.

Have specific roster questions for your fantasy team? Tweet @ArthurArkush

Just missed the cut: Bears WR Cameron Meredith, Buccaneers RB Charles Sims, Falcons WR Nick Williams, Cardinals TE Jermaine Gresham, Jaguars WR Marqise Lee, Broncos QB Trevor Siemian

9. Jets WR Robby Anderson: What a world we live in when Bryce Petty-to-Robby Anderson can be a winning fantasy connection come playoff time. The undrafted blazer has actually been on this list before, but not until now has he stacked competent performances with the willing deep ball thrower Petty.

8. Chiefs QB Alex Smith: In case you hadn't noticed, the Chiefs have some extra offensive juice with the explosion of Tyreek Hill, proper use of Travis Kelce and return of Jeremy Maclin. No, Alex Smith hasn't thrown multiple touchdowns, nor offered anything as a runner since Week Seven, but he also hasn't seen a more lucrative matchup than Sunday's at home vs. the Titans.

7. Vikings WR Adam Thielen: The Vikings found a vertical passing dimension before the Rams fired Jeff Fisher. In fairness, it was only two days earlier, but Thielen was the primary beneficiary with three explosive gains en route to his second 100-yard day. He's become a fine tertiary target behind Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, which puts him on the WR3 grid with the porous Colts defense up next.

6. Chargers WR Dontrelle Inman: Same spot as last week because he put up virtually the same results after his ownership level barely moved. Actually, his production increased in Carolina to rock-solid WR2 status with six catches for 71 yards and a score. He's scored in three straight now, a span that's seen Week 15 opponent Oakland yield three receiving touchdowns, and Inman is up to WR45 overall.

5. Packers "RB" Ty Montgomery: The converted receiver matched a career-high nine carries Sunday, adding three catches for 45 yards, and found the end zone for the first time this season — fittingly as a rusher. The Bears could be without their best run-stuffing D-lineman, Eddie Goldman, and just let the Lions — the Lions! — average more than four yards per carry. Montgomery gets a tough draw for championship week with the Vikings coming to town, but first a trip to Soldier Field, where snow is again in the forecast. We all saw what that did to the Packers' offense last week.

4. Patriots WR Chris Hogan: Missed out on Malcolm Mitchell? Fear not, Hogan is still available and just so happens to be coming off the Patriots' biggest catch of the season and most clutch of his career, a 79-yard coverage bust and game-winner vs. Baltimore on Monday night. He's not getting quite the volume of the rookie, but Hogan he has a touchdown and/or 70 receiving yards in four of the past five games. Plus, did you see Tom Brady dialing up big plays last night? Hogan is his best big-play threat.

3. Chargers RB Kenneth Farrow: The Bolts received good injury news (for a change) when Melvin Gordon's hip injury, ending his Week 15 after just three carries, was diagnosed as a strain and considered day-to-day. (Aren't we all?). Nonetheless, we expect San Diego, amid its league-worst injury epidemic, to take great caution with perhaps its most important young offensive building block. Thus, the arrow for Farrow is pointing up with Oakland (bad) and Cleveland (worse) in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively.

2. Falcons WR Taylor Gabriel: Still fast, still scoring long touchdowns and, somehow, still available. Gabriel, coming off his fourth game with a 40-plus yard touchdown in the past six outings, gets the Niners' 'D.' Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu are still battling injuries, so if the snap count limitation scared you off until now, he was in on more than 78 percent of the offensive plays a week ago. Boom or bust never looked so good.

1. Jets RB Bilal Powell: We've always liked Powell's no-nonsense running style and versatility, which he flashed in a big way with 179 scrimmage yards and two scores against the helpless Niners following Matt Forte's early exit with a knee injury. Though details on Forte's injury, like the Jets' QB room, are lacking, it makes zero sense for Todd Bowles to risk further injury to a 31-year -old back in a lost season. Powell gets a dicey championship matchup with a trip to Foxborough, but not before welcoming a Miami 'D' permitting 4.8 yards per carry (No. 31 in the NFL) and Matt Moore, in his first start in more than five years.

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