My hope was that you didn’t have to read this because it means your championship game lineup has holes in it. Maybe not gaping holes, but holes you feel need to be addressed nonetheless.
If you’re reading this, it also probably means you either own Cam Newton, Russell Wilson or Tom Brady or you are going up against them. If you own them, you’re going to skip the quarterback section. If you’re facing them, you may check the list just to make sure Kirk Cousins isn’t a better play for you. (That’s foreshadowing. He might actually be a better play than your quarterback this week.)
You’ve made it here. It’s no time to stop harvesting from the waiver wire. There are still fate-changing gems to be found. Hopefully you have the waiver priority or free agent bucks to take advantage of them
Players listed are mostly available in at least 60% of Yahoo leagues. In some cases I’ll add a player in the 61%-85% range just because they shouldn’t be so available. You may not play in a Yahoo league, but if they are available in so many of these leagues they are possibly available in yours.
Projected scores/matchups/Las Vegas | Game day weather | Waiver wire
Daily fantasy: Draft Kings values | FanDuel values
Kirk Cousins, 25% owned at Yahoo — This is the top pickup of the week. Fresh off a five (5!) touchdown performance last week, Cousins gets to face the poor Eagles pass defense. He’s available in three quarters of leagues on Yahoo
Ryan Fitzpatrick, 53% — He was a relative dud last week in a slow-paced game against the Cowboys, but still posted 299 yards and a touchdown pass. In the previous three games he averaged three touchdowns per game. He also has two or more touchdowns in nine games.
Sam Bradford, 35% — Bradford is a risky play, but throwing for 361 and two touchdowns against the Cardinals is no small feet. He has two touchdowns in two of his last three games and faces a Redskins defense that is beatable.
Blaine Gabbert, 3% — Gabbert was picked off three times, but threw 50 times for 295 yards and a touchdown against a tough Bengals defense. This week he faces a Lions defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. There’s sneaky upside here, but it comes with high risk.
Tyrod Taylor, 58% — His ownership percentage is on the high end for this list, but it should be. He’s a threat to throw and run, which makes him a viable option in nearly any matchup.
Jameis Winston, 43% — Got after the Rams defense for 363 yards and two touchdown passes. He gets another neutral matchup this week against the Bears.
Jay Cutler, 41% — The Buccaneers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Cutler has thrown two touchdowns in each of the last two weeks.
Teddy Bridgewater, 37% — Impressive fantasy performances in back-to-back weeks are inflated a bit by a four-TDs on only 20 passes last week. However, he gets the Giants pass “defense” this week, so he may only need 15 attempts to throw four TDs.
Brandon Weeden, 0% — I know! Just here me out. I got two words for you: DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has made Brian Hoyer look great at points this season. This is a high-risk play with some upside, which you might need depending on your league.
Here are a few other players in the high risk/some upside category: Jimmy Clausen (if Matt Schaub sits), Zach Mettenberger, Kellen Moore.
Ameer Abdullah, 60% — Nine carries for 77 yards and a touchdown? Where was that all season? Never mind. What matters now is that if he’s on your roster you have to consider him this week against the 49ers, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs. If he’s not on your roster he’s available in 60% of Yahoo leagues.
James White, 52% — Caught seven of eight targets for 70 yards and a touchdown. Is averaging about 7-70-.7 in the last three games. While the Jets have been stingy to opposing running backs, they haven’t been particularly great against pass-catching backs.
Christine Micheal, 12% — Rose to the top of the Seahawks running back food chain after being cut by them earlier this season and bouncing around on the Cowboys roster for a time. It’s another decent matchup against the Rams this week. There is quite a bit of risk with this pick, but there is a decent amount of upside too,
Bilal Powell, 21% — Has been more effective than Chris Ivory of late. Rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown and caught 7-54 on seven targets. New England isn’t a particularly great matchup for running backs, but like the Jets, they haven’t been particularly great against pass-catching backs.
Rashad Jennings, 55% — Had 101 yards last week, his second consecutive week of fantasy relevance. It has a lot to do with his 38 carries over the last two weeks. We have no reason to believe that will trend down going into the game against Minnesota.
Ryan Mathews, 52% — With 24 carries in the last two weeks, Mathews appears to have taken over the lead role in the committee. He finished with 58 yards on 11 carries last week but fumbled twice. He has shown flashes of superstardom in the past. He’s averaging better than five yards a carry with five touchdowns this season.
Mike Gillislee, 1% — He’s not getting enough touches to be relied on considerably, but he has long touchdowns in back-to-back weeks and he should see a bit more work if LeSean McCoy misses the game this week.
Matt Jones, 47% — After 18 carries in back-to-back weeks, Jones only rushed 10 times last week. Alfred Morris appears to have a firm grasp on the starting job. I’ll be starting Jones on a daily fantasy lineup or two against the Eagles, but he’s a risky, high-upside play in your championship game.
Alfred Morris, 52% — Rushed for 84 yards on just 14 carries, including his first rush for 10 yards or more in five games. Did you just hear that record scratch? Yep, he’s a plodder. But he could get another 10+ yard run agains the Eagles poor defense this week.
Karlos Williams, 32% — Had 41 yards on just four carries as he returns from a shoulder injury. If LeSean McCoy can’t play, he’ll be in a committee with Gillislee. Williams has 12-110-1 and 9-110-2 games this season, so I don’t think the Bills are prepared to give up on him in place of Gillislee, despite the big plays the last two weeks.
Cameron Artis-Payne, 8% — I drafted Artis-Payne in a couple keeper/dynasty leagues. Held him in a super deep league, but had to drop him in others. I like his potential. He rushed for 59 yards on 14 carries and added 34 yards on three catches. If the Panthers rest Jonathan Stewart again, Artis-Payne could be in for a big day against the Falcons, who have given up the fourth most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Shane Vereen, 45% — Caught eight of 10 targets for 43 yards and a touchdown and added 29 yards on four carries. Odell Beckham Jr. is suspended for this week so 10 more targets aren’t out of the question for Vereen.
Donald Brown, 0% — If you weren’t worried about Melvin Gordon’s bust meter, you should be now. Brown rushed 12 times for 90 yards last week after Gordon went down. Oakland has allowed the 14th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so Brown may have a decent bit of value again this week.
Steven Jackson, 2%/Joey Iosefa, 0% — Iosefa went 14-51 and the Patriots brought in Steven Jackson to sure up their big-back problems. Wouldn’t it be like Belichick to pick up an old, forgotten running back with relatively fresh legs who rushes for 100 yards a couple times at the end of the season and throughout the playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl?
Jerick McKinnon, 3% — I’m surprised he’s not more owned as the backup with the most upside behind Adrian Peterson. He caught four of four targets for 76 yards and a touchdown last week. If Peterson aggravates his ankle in practice this week, McKinnon’s a must-add against the poor Giants defense. Considering how bad NYG is against the pass, we might even have to consider him as a what the heck play in daily fantasy this week.
Kendall Gaskins, 1% — What are the 49ers on now, sixth-string? Seventh? Draughn’s knee injury means there’s a new backup in the SF backfield.
Devante Parker, 35% — The Colts allow 267 passing yards per game, fourth-most in the NFL. Parker has scored at least 11 points in three of the last four weeks.
Tyler Lockett, 66% — No part of the Seahawks passing attack should be overlooked at this point. Lockett gets a bonus if your league counts return touchdowns.
Jermaine Kearse, 6% — Another Seahakws receiver we can’t ignore. Kearse has seven catches on eight targets in each of the last two weeks.
Reuben Randle, 35% — Has five or more targets in all but one game since Week 2. With OBJ out, Randle should feast.
Anquan Boldin, 61% — Just when we give up on Boldin he catches eight of 10 targets for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Tavon Austin, 62% — Austin’s speed has always been elite but he’s been able to capitalize on it offensively this season as the Rams find ways to get him the ball on carries and through the air. He’s the kind of receiver — small, fast and quick — the Seahawks have had trouble with in the past.
Cole Beasley, 8% — A new quarterback (Kellen Moore) may favor a possession receiver like Beasley, as his seven targets last week implies. Remember, Beasley had a couple weeks that made fantasy aficionados give him the Beastley moniker.
Ted Ginn Jr., 58% — Matchups don’t matter with Ginn. Here’s what you’re going to get: A dropped touchdown or two and a caught touchdown or two. He has at least 80 yards and two touchdowns in each of the last three games. Yes, he tops the regression candidate’s list, but I’m not overlooking him.
Markus Wheaton, 30% — Has 37 target, 22 catches and three touchdowns in the last three weeks. I’m not going to tell you his receiving yards because they are skewed by a 200-yard game. He has 50 yards or more in each game and that includes a 200-yarder.
Kamar Aiken, 57% — Has 102 targets, 62 catches, 802 yards and five TDs this season. In the last five weeks he has three games with at least one touchdowna and at least 80 yards receiving and he has at least five catches per game. How is he not owned in every league?
Stefon Diggs, 51% — Diggs had just four targets, but he caught three for 55 and two touchdowns. He’s got quite a bit of upside and quite a bit of risk in an offense that doesn’t throw the ball much.
Dorial Green-Beckham, 23% — Has more than 100 yards in two of the last three weeks as an emerging threat in the Tennessee offense. His performance last week bodes well for this week with Mettenberger likely back under center for the Titans.
Donte Moncrief, 55% — Has 35 targets in the last five weeks, including a one-target game. Got in the end zone last week. The big concern is how Andrew Luck’s possible return affects Moncrief’s value, but it’s worth stashing him until we know for sure.
Zach Ertz, 54% — Has 20 targets, 12 catches, 176 yards and a touchdown in the last two games and got into the end zone in the previous game.
Will Tye, 10% — Pssst. Hey, Tye is one of the best-kept tight end secrets in fantasy football this season. He has at least five catches in four of his last five games, has at least six targets in four of his last five and has two 70-yard games and two-touchdowns over the same stretch. With a certain star receiver likely to be suspended for the game against the Vikings — who have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to tight ends — Tye could see his fair share of targets this week.
Blake Bell, 0% — Some pundits have been touting Bell, a converted quarterback, since the preseason. He saw eight targets last week as he appears to have taken over the lead TE role in SF, which was very lucrative for Vance McDonald owners a few weeks ago. Bell is a sneaky play with risk/upside for your championship game.
Zach Miller, 34% — Another solid day for Miller, who is a near-must consider if you need TE help. He’s been targeted at least six times in four of the last five weeks, has five touchdowns in the last seven weeks, has five catches in each of the last two weeks and has an 85-yard game and a 107-yard game over the last seven weeks.
Jared Cook, 4% — I hate to do this to you, but let’s talk about Jared Cook. He hasn’t scored a touchdown all season. We know he’s inconsistent and that he hasn’t been able to take advantage of good matchups in the past. However, he’s been targeted at least six times and has at least three catches in four of the last five weeks. He had a 64-yard game last week and had a 58-yard game over that four-game stretch. He faces the Seahawks, who have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Kickers and defenses
Ok, it’s the championship. If you want to use waiver priority on kicker or defense now — and there isn’t a single other player in the entire world (or your league) you’d rather spend you FAAB or waiver priority on — I’ll allow it. But I still don’t feel good about it.