2014 Fantasy Football Week 17 Waiver Wire Targets
Many championships were this past weekend in Week 16 but for those going the distance in Week 17, you’ll find the important waiver wire picks below. Even if you aren’t involved in the playoffs anymore, hopefully you’re still checking in and staying active to set yourself up the best you can for next year. Fantasy football never takes a break and if you want to have a good shot at winning year after year, you can’t take a break either. Stay active on the waiver wire while you can and always pay attention to the news around the league. I’ve had a great time filling you in on waiver picks and I hope you’ve found this piece insightful each week. Congratulations to those who have already won and good luck to those going for the win in Week 17!
As always, ownership percentages are for ESPN and Yahoo leagues respectively.
Eli Manning, Giants (34.1%/60%): This weekend Eli was able to dismantle the Rams to the tune of 391 passing yards and three touchdowns. He’s now thrown for six touchdowns over his last two games with no turnovers. It’s hard to put this much trust in Eli but with Odell Beckham Jr. and his ridiculous catch radius, it’s also harder for the defense to stop Eli. He faces a soft Eagles secondary that is one of the five best for opposing signal callers to play in fantasy.
Alex Smith, Chiefs (24.8%/42%): He didn’t throw a touchdown this week and that definitely contributed to a sub-par fantasy total. Andy Reid called for Smith to throw 45 times so he was able to rack up the yardage. He faces the Chargers in Week 17 who just allowed Colin Kaepernick to put up 27 points in ESPN standard scoring. That was good enough to put him in the top five for the week. Kaepernick did do a lot of his fantasy damage on the ground but Smith is pretty mobile so he might be able to get some long runs himself. I see him as a top-10 play for Week 17.
Josh McCown, Buccaneers (4.8%/20%): Following a turnover heavy game against the Panthers in Week 15, McCown was probably hoping to be more careful with the ball against the Packers in Week 16. He only turned the ball over once but the Bucs just couldn’t get anything going through the air. The ranking the Packers have is skewed because they weren’t a great secondary for most of the year due to injuries. Taking out the shootout against the Falcons, they’ve been limiting opposing offenses down as of late. I see the McCown’s outcome more indicative of how the Packers were playing than how he could be playing. He faces the Saints next week and should be in a shootout with both teams eliminated from the playoffs. Mike Glennon was able to put up 249 yards, two scores and one interception against the Saints in Week 5. There’s no reason to think McCown can’t do that and have a pretty good day. He’s a QB2 in 2-QB leagues.
Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings (6.1%/11%): He played one of his best games against the Dolphins this past weekend and hopefully can end the year on a high note. Bridgewater’s numbers have been up and down during the year making him unpredictable and unreliable but that’s what happens with rookies. The same goes for Derek Carr and Blake Bortles. None were really starters unless you were desperate this year but they’re all great stashes in keeper leagues for next year. Anyone in a keeper league should take a flier on him as a possibility for next year depending on how his offseason goes and how the Vikings solve their backfield issues. If Adrian Peterson returns to play behind Bridgewater, he should have the best shot at being a consistent quarterback next year given that teams will gameplan for Peterson and not Bridgewater.
Fliers: Mark Sanchez, Eagles. Andy Dalton, Bengals. Robert Griffin III, Redskins.
Matt Asiata, Vikings (47.3%/49%): He made this list last week and he’s still owned in less than 50% of leagues in both ESPN and Yahoo. Those who went with him as a volume based commodity last week must’ve been very happy since he for two touchdowns on 16 carries. Finding a player who will get that many touches is very rare this late in the season. If you don’t have two stud running backs, Asiata could bring you near those numbers again in his season finale against the porous Bears.
Reggie Bush, Lions (30.3%/69%): This one stings for me personally because I traded for him while he was hurt hoping he could give me some performances like he did this past weekend. I cut him weeks ago because fellow backfield-mate Joique Bell was clearly leading the attack. Since Bell was benched for the first quarter Sunday, Bush rushed seven times for 54 yards and a touchdown. He was involved in the passing game as well with six catches for 44 yards. Next week is a showdown with the Packers for the NFC North title. The Lions will most likely use both backs in hopes of one breaking a big play. Bush is an intriguing play this week but I would say only as a flex or a desperate RB2.
Branden Oliver, Chargers (15.2%/35%): He received the starting nod for Saturday’s game against the 49ers. Despite turning into a three-headed running attack, Oliver received more carries, 13, than both other backs combined. He outgained both Ronnie Brown and Donald Brown 53 to a combined 45 yards. Clearly, he was the best back for the Chargers that day. He can’t be expected to receive the same amount of touches as he did Saturday with Ryan Mathews possibly returning Week 17. If Mathews returns, Oliver will be a non-factor in fantasy. If Mathews misses the last week of the season, Oliver will be a decent flex play against the Chiefs.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons (1.9%/7%): The Falcons running back carousel goes around now to Freeman. At the beginning of the season it was Antone Smith ruling the big play ability, then Steven Jackson showed a revival before exiting the game Sunday. There’s no news on the severity of his quad injury but last year he did miss almost half the season with another leg muscle injury. While Jacquizz Rodgers will most likely be named the starter because of his experience, don’t count Freeman out. He rose last year from the bottom of Florida State’s depth chart to the top and they won the national championship. That should say something. To me, it says he’s the future of the Falcons backfield. Get him now and see how the offseason shakes out. Hopefully we won’t be disappointed by another committee approach.
Latavius Murray, Raiders (29.3%/56%): He’s getting workhorse duties finally and put in 23 carries for 86 yards while adding 22 yards on three catches to his total Sunday. He’s a bull to take down at 6’3” and weighing 230 pounds. He is the heir to the Raiders backfield and no matter how terrible the team is as a whole, he is a bright spot. With fellow rookie Derek Carr at the helm, the Raiders have a young core that could grow more than most think between their first and second years. Murray is someone to grab and take a gamble on for next year while also helping you through the playoffs this year. He gets a tough Broncos defense in Week 17 but is definitely one of the most intriguing players to speculatively pick for next year.
Fliers: Robert Turbin, Seahawks. Damien Williams, Dolphins. Khiry Robinson, Saints. Jonas Gray, Patriots.
Rueben Randle, Giants (14.9%/65%): Against a soft Eagles secondary, Randle should find some room to run free. The Eagles will have to account for Odell Beckham Jr. every play, leaving Randle in an advantageous position. He was able to catch all six targets that went his way this past weekend en route to a season high 132 yards. I know Eli Manning is hard to trust. Randle could slip back into the abyss with “OBJ” handling most of the receiving work, but there’s a good chance of him being a factor in this game because of how soft the Eagles secondary is and how many plays the Eagles run. Because they like to be fast paced, they make the opposing offense take the field more often.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys (28.6%/64%): The Cowboys offense likes to spread the wealth. Any receiver could go off on any given week because of this. It is obvious this season that Williams is a touchdown dependent receiver. What is different in Dallas than anywhere else is that the offense seems to be nearly unstoppable. Tony Romo is slinging touchdowns passes left and right lately. He has 17 scores in his last six games. Although most of them are going to Dez Bryant, other receivers are benefitting from Romo’s revival. Cole Beasley has even been in on the scoring as of late. Williams and Beasley are for those with nowhere else to turn but they both can score on any play. They’re a pair of lottery picks that rely on touchdowns but against a leaky Redskins secondary, they are more likely to find the endzone.
Eddie Royal, Chargers (9.8%/21%): Royal was the main beneficiary of Keenan Allen’s absence Saturday. In place of the injured Allen, Royal caught 10-of-12 for 94 yards and a touchdown. If Allen returns for Week 17, Royal will most likely see the biggest hit to his numbers. If you have Allen, I would handcuff yourself with Royal if you haven’t already. Allen and Royal fit the same role on the field with Malcom Floyd always being a deep threat regardless of who is playing opposite him. Royal finished as a top-10 receiver Week 16, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again if he’s given the chance. Monitor Allen’s progress but keep Royal on speed dial.
Greg Jennings, Vikings (23.4%/28%): He isn’t a big yardage player but he’s caught four touchdowns in his past five games. In fact, his 56 yards on Sunday were his highest since Week 9. Because of this, he’s very much a touchdown dependent receiver but he’s been consistently being found in the endzone by Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings play the Bears in Week 17 who allow the most touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the league. It’s likely that Jennings can find the endzone again so he makes a decent flex or WR3 if you really need him.
Donte Moncrief, Colts (20.2%/40%): I know he put up a complete dud this weekend but so did the entire Colts offense. They don’t have much to play for seeding wise in the AFC as they can’t move earn a first round bye and can’t lose their division. They should keep TY Hilton out if he isn’t 100% and Moncrief will fill that void. Try your best to forget what just happened to this offense on Sunday and handcuff Moncrief to Hilton if you haven’t done so already. He also figures to take over WR2 duties across from Hilton next year with the aging Reggie Wayne possibly retiring after this season. I don’t think Hakeem Nicks is in for a rise to the WR2 spot next year given his injury history and inconsistency so my money is on Moncrief.
Fliers: Malcom Floyd, Chargers. Robert Woods, Bills. Kenny Britt, Rams. Riley Cooper, Eagles. Mohamed Sanu, Bengals.
Vernon Davis, 49ers (22.8%/70%): I know you’re probably thinking I’ve lost it here but everyone should’ve seen what the Luke Willson did to the Cardinals on Sunday night and use that as a template for success. The Cardinals are terrible defending tight ends. While Davis put up another goose egg Saturday, he did have a 63-yard touchdown called back due to a chop block. He showed his vintage physical self as he shoved defenders out of his way en route to the score. If ever there’s a chance for a “hail mary” with Davis, this week is it.
Charles Clay, Dolphins (10.5%/47%): Clay now has back-to-back six reception games, helping those who are trusting him in PPR leagues. He will be a better play if you’re in a PPR league this week, but even in standard leagues, he could have some value as a flier. If you’ve been streaming all season, you could look to Clay to lock up your final week. Over the last two weeks, he’s second to Jarvis Landry in targets and second to Mike Wallace in receiving yards. He’s finally showing that TE1 ability we thought he’d be coming into the season.
Luke Willson, Seahawks (2.5%/1%): He’s not going to eviscerate opposing defenses like he did the Cardinals every week. This pick could easily blow up on me as Willson was only targeted three times and happened to score twice. That is not something that can be simply duplicated. Word of caution here if you would like to follow his Sunday night performance in desperation is that he’s playing the Rams who are one of the best defenses against tight ends. I would try to steer clear of Willson but if there are no other choices, you might have to go with him.
Jordan Cameron, Browns (27.2%/54%): He was in this section last week because there really isn’t anyone else not already rostered worth possibly keeping at the tight end position. Cameron did flash the potential we knew he had Sunday on an 81-yard touchdown catch and run. While the Panthers really blew coverage on the play, Cameron showed great wheels to put everyone behind him. If he can do it again in Week 17, I would take a flier on rostering him in keeper leagues just in case he can get fully healthy and be dominant next year.
Zach Ertz, Eagles (33.5%/61%): Ertz set a franchise record with 15 catches in Saturday’s game. He turned those catches into a season high 115 yards. It was actually the first time in his career that he’s passed the 100 yard mark as well. It’s extremely unlikely he sees 18 targets again but 10 is definitely possible. He catches much of what’s thrown his way as he’s caught 67.5% of his targets this year. That isn’t eye popping but it is pretty consistent. He gets the Giants defense in Week 17, who fall in the bottom half of the league defending tight ends.
Fliers: Scott Chandler, Bills. Heath Miller, Steelers. Tim Wright, Patriots. Jared Cook, Rams.
Texans D/ST: They play the most giving offense in the league, the Jaguars.
Vikings D/ST: Week 17 brings Jay Cutler back from the bench to turn the ball over to the Vikings defense. They’re great at bringing pressure as well so Cutler should be uncomfortable all day.
Colts D/ST: They did just get stomped on by the Cowboys but this week brings an easier matchup against the Titans.
Cowboys D/ST: This group is on a two week roll. They get the Redskins beaten up offensive line this week and should be able to put plenty of pressure on RGIII.
Caleb Sturgis, Dolphins: 28/35 FG, 38/38 XP
Matt Bryant, Falcons: 28/31 FG, 40/40 XP
Dan Carpenter, Bills: 33/37 FG, 29/30 XP
Randy Bullock, Texans: 30/35 FG, 37/37 XP
Graham Gano, Panthers: 27/33 FG, 30/30 XP