Dec 9, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (26) runs the ball as Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Matt Judon (99) defends during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 9, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (26) runs the ball as Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Matt Judon (99) defends during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports — Denny Medley

Welcome to the penultimate edition of the 2018 '9 route,' our weekly guide to help you maximize your success on the fantasy football waiver wire. If you managed to survive the clunkers by Russell Wilson, Todd Gurley or Antonio Brown, or perhaps weathered matchups vs. owners of Derrick Henry, Amari Cooper or George Kittle, we salute you. I, for one, did not, so allow me to live vicariously through y'all, cool?

A quick reminder before we unveil the top nine waiver targets in Week 15: Only players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues qualify for the '9 route.' One who barely missed the cut but would be our top addition: Chargers RB Justin Jackson (54 percent ownership).

9. Bills QB Josh Allen

The most polarizing 2018 draft prospect has become the most polarizing start/sit quandary in fantasy semifinals week. Allen has been an absolute beast with his legs since returning from his shoulder injury, averaging over 111 rushing yards over his past three games. That makes him ... wait for it ... QB1 overall since Week 12. His next opponent, the visiting Detroit Lions, have done a nice job against mobile QBs but have surrendered at least two passing touchdowns in nine of their 13 games.

8. Packers WR Randall Cobb

We recommend Cobb rather begrudgingly after he made us look silly for predicting a potential renaissance season after his Week 1 heroics. Still, it was the Bears, who host Cobb's Packers on Sunday, against whom he scored the game-winning touchdown and has a history of ripping in high-leverage spots (9 TDs in 14 career games, including a couple of long game-winners). Moreover, Chicago will be without its outstanding nickel CB Bryce Callahan, and Cobb, in the first game under interim HC Joe Philbin, scored for the first time and authored his best outing (5-43-1) since Week 1.

7. Lions RB Zach Zenner

Zenner was partying Sunday like it was Detroit's 2016 playoff stretch run again. OK, not really, but he did parlay 12 carries — his most since DeZenner 2016/Zenuary 2017 — into 54 yards and a touchdown, which was far more productive than LeGarrette Blount (12-33) and Theo Riddick (6-28). Detroit heads Sunday to Buffalo, where the Bills allowed 2 rushing TDs last Sunday and 226 yards and two scores in their previous home game. To wit: Zenner handled two red-zone carries Sunday (Blount had none) and the Lions' four-minute offense duties. Tuesday, Jim Bob Cooter credited him for the "spark" his "hard running" provided the Lions.

6. Panthers WR Curtis Samuel

Our No. 7 add last week, too, Samuel went over 80 receiving yards for a second straight week, a span over which his 19 combined targets leads the Panthers. Norv Turner has done a wonderful job creating chances for Samuel, one-half of Carolina's explosive new-look receiving corps. Unlike the Panthers, the Saints are playing a lot better defensively of late heading into their Monday-night visit to Carolina, but that hasn't stopped Vegas from setting a point total north of 50. The Panthers likely require another big effort from Samuel to pull off an upset, which their season hinges on after a fifth straight loss.

5. Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny

The rookie is only averaging 13 snaps over the past month and hasn't exceeded 27 all season, mostly a testament to underrated workhorse Chris Carson. But Penny seemingly flashes his first-round traits weekly, most recently his nifty field reversal for 17 yards Monday night vs. the fast-flowing Vikings. Penny still is only getting six carries per game, but he's averaging 5.1 yards and has an explosive rush in four of his past five games. The way Carson runs with reckless abandon, if not Penny's quietly developing role in the Seattle offense, is enough to warrant adding him ahead of a date with the Niners, who ceded a season-high 168 rushing yards (including Penny's 20-yard TD) to Seattle only two weeks ago.

4. Jets RB Elijah McGuire

If healthy — a big "if" considering McGuire missed practice Tuesday with an ankle injury — he's now the Jets' preferred backfield option. In five games since coming off I.R., he's averaged over 33 reps, maxing out in Sunday's win over the Bills at a career-high 40. Speaking of career highs, McGuire's 20 touches were a personal best, and he parlayed them into 80 yards from scrimmage and a score. Houston is certainly stout vs. the run, holding Marlon Mack last week to 14-33-1. But the Jets will host the exploitable Packers in fantasy championship week, and whether you're looking to play him Sunday, now's the time to add McGuire.

3. 49ers WR Dante Pettis

Our No. 9 add last week, Pettis is up to WR9 overall in the past month, over which he's gotten healthy and tallied 255 yards and four touchdowns in four games. Seattle did a number on Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on Monday night, but Pettis is way too hot not to have in lineups right now. Even with Marquise Goodwin back last week, Pettis clearly operated as the Niners' WR1 (3-49-1 on seven targets compared to 2-20 on two looks for Goodwin). It stands to reason that George Kittle might take at least a small step back this week. Regardless, it's encouraging to see Pettis can have a big day coinciding with epic Baby Gronk action.

2. Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon

He's averaged six yards per carry in two games since returning from injury as Gus Edwards' change-up. It's no wonder, then, that the former third-rounder has commanded nine touches each time out. He's Baltimore's best blend of runner and receiver, and with Edwards' chances and yardage declining in three consecutive games, Dixon is on the rise as Baltimore visits a Bucs 'D' whose 20 combined touchdowns permitted to opposing fantasy backs are more than every team not named the Bengals.

1. Chiefs RB Damien Williams

Yes, Williams vultured a rushing TD from Spencer Ware and added another score through the air vs. Baltimore. No, we're not including him in the '9 route' for that fact alone. Ware is dealing with a hamstring injury on a short week after requiring x-rays on his shoulder at halftime Sunday, which caused Williams to out-snap him, 41-40. Since Kareem Hunt's release, Williams has 19 touches for 75 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Only three teams have allowed more catches and receiving yards to backs than the Chargers, who visit Arrowhead Thursday night with the AFC West still up for grabs.


1. Josh Allen, Bills

2. Lamar Jackson, Ravens

3. Marcus Mariota, Titans

4. Derek Carr, Raiders

5. Eli Manning, Giants

6. Nick Mullens, 49ers

7. Case Keenum, Broncos

8. Jeff Driskel, Bengals

9. Joe Flacco, Ravens


1. Damien Williams, Chiefs

2. Kenneth Dixon, Ravens

3. Elijah McGuire, Jets

4. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks

5. Zach Zenner, Lions

6. Frank Gore, Dolphins

7. Royce Freeman, Broncos

8. Jalen Richard, Raiders

9. Chris Thompson, Washington


1. Dante Pettis, 49ers

2. Curtis Samuel, Panthers

3. Randall Cobb, Packers

4. Kenny Stills, Dolphins

5. DaeSean Hamilton, Broncos

6. Chris Conley, Chiefs

7. Tim Patrick, Broncos

8. Isaiah McKenzie, Bills

9. Anthony Miller, Bears


1. Ian Thomas, Panthers

2. C.J. Uzomah, Bengals

3. Chris Herndon, Jets

4. Vernon Davis, Washington

5. Demetrius Harris, Chiefs

6. Ben Watson, Saints

7. Gerald Everett, Rams

8. Matt LaCosse, Broncos

9. Jesse James, Steelers