Week 14 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups
Forget "What have you done for me lately?" in the fantasy football postseason. It is "What can you do for me this week?" now.
With fewer teams vying for Tuesday night's weekly waiver-wire options, you can be judicious with your claims. Just worry about your Week 14 lineup, because there might not be a Week 15 or 16 for you.
The tendency all season for the top waiver pickups was last week's stars, but the focus now has to be who helps you in the short term. Play the matchups with your additions as much as your lineups.
We warn you off Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. We suggest you go back to an early-season tight end breakout candidate in Jared Cook and load up on Ravens against one of the most suspect defenses in fantasy, the Minnesota Vikings. These are Bleacher Report's Week 14 top pickups in a six-part, position-by-position slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco's Ravens Look to Take Advantage of Vikings Defense
Quarterbacks to Add
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
No one is going to truly consider Flacco a trustworthy option for the fantasy postseason, but he can help you get by in Week 14. The Ravens are at home against the Vikings, the second-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks, per FF Today. Minnesota has allowed a league-high 25 touchdown passes. Expect Flacco to register at least a couple of them and 250-plus yards here.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
Going up against Peyton Manning and the Broncos has been a good thing for opposing fantasy quarterbacks, if only because there is ample garbage time to tally yards and touchdowns. Denver is the fourth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks and in the NFL against the pass, so Fitzpatrick figures to be a solid option for two-quarterback formats at least. Expect 250 yards and a couple of scores as the Titans try to hang with the record-chasing Manning in Denver.
Quarterbacks to Monitor
Jay Cutler and Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
The Bears are in a holding pattern with their quarterback this week, according to ESPN's Jeff Dickerson. The matchup at home against the Cowboys—the worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks and the second-worst pass defense in football—makes the Bears quarterback one to own in fantasy this week.
Alshon Jeffery has emerged as a star, and Brandon Marshall is as steady as ever. There are 300 yards and a few touchdowns to be had here, if we could only know for sure which quarterback will get them.
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
He threw a couple of costly interceptions Sunday, but he has one of fantasy's biggest breakthroughs in Josh Gordon to target—if he can get cleared following his concussion this week. That is a big if.
The Browns do travel to New England to face a Pats team sure to put up points, so consider Weeden a potential two-quarterback-league sleeper if he gets the start. Jason Campbell (concussion) is far less intriguing for fantasy if he starts.
Quarterbacks to Ignore
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben has had his moments for fantasy owners this season, but a matchup against the Dolphins is far less favorable than the masses might think. Miami is the fifth-best team in fantasy against quarterbacks and in the top 10 against the pass.
Case Keenum, Houston Texans
A matchup Thursday night at Jacksonville looks enticing, but you should remember what Keenum did—or didn't do—against the Jags at home just a couple of games ago. Keenum was held to a season-low 169 yards and no touchdowns. He shouldn't be considered even in the most favorable of matchups right now.
Running Backs: Rookie Montee Ball Ready to Roll for Big December Run
Running Backs to Add
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
He is only available in 22 percent of leagues, but he probably should be added in those after his career-high 117 yards Sunday. We figured it was only a matter of time before Knowshon Moreno got banged up, and the Broncos will need to feature the run the next two home games in December. First up are the Titans, who are the fifth-worst team in fantasy against running backs. Expect Ball to spell Moreno often and break double digits again in fantasy.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
He is still second fiddle to Giovani Bernard in fantasy, even if he draws the starts for the Bengals. The good news is this is BGE's time of the year. The Bengals will run the ball more in December, and the Colts are 28th against the run. Available in 27 percent of CBS Sports leagues, BGE is a decent start out of necessity in Week 14.
Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns
You cannot trust the Browns offense outside of Josh Gordon, but McGahee, available in 80 percent of CBS Sports leagues, did tally 57 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Now, a matchup against the Pats' 31st-ranked run defense looms. McGahee's matchup makes him a sleeper add in deeper leagues.
Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers
No matter the health of DeAngelo Williams (groin) or Jonathan Stewart, Tolbert will be the Panthers' choice in short yardage. That makes him a threat to score a handful of points for needy fantasy owners, especially in a matchup at New Orleans on Sunday night.
Running Backs to Monitor
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
He picked up 19 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown in garbage time on Thanksgiving Day, but don't expect those touches to come this Sunday against the Eagles, who have allowed just one 100-yard rusher all season (Week 9). Bell is a mere handcuff for Reggie Bush owners still.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Blount is the Pats' short-yardage back, but he won't get but 10 to 12 carries a game even on his busiest day. Shane Vereen is the only Pats back to trust in crunch time, while Stevan Ridley has to remain on your bench—just in case. (Brandon Bolden might start, but he gets fewer than 15 snaps a game.)
You should not trust Blount getting into the end zone against the Browns run defense, which is just one of five allowing under 100 yards per game (98.9).
Running Back to Ignore
Antone Smith, Atlanta Falcons
He deserves more carries than one, which is how many it took for him to score a 38-yard touchdown Sunday. The problem is Steven Jackson is healthy enough to carry the load finally. Smith shouldn't be owned in fantasy.
Wide Receivers: Julian Edelman Earns 'Minitron' Nickname and Must-Have Status
Wide Receivers to Add
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
It isn't as much Edelman's production of late—which has been elite—as it is the lack of snaps and targets for supposed primary receiver Danny Amendola. Edelman has been getting more snaps in the slot than Amendola.
Edelman has even earned the nickname "Minitron" from Tom Brady, who praised the receiver on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan, via ESPN's Field Yates:
Minitron had a good game [Sunday] and he's been consistent and dependable, and you know, he's always had a great skill set. It's just been a matter of him getting the opportunity, and then, staying on the field. ...
This year has been a good year for him; he's really taken to a leadership role; he's just done a great job really cementing his dependability, which is really what you're looking for on offense.
If he's good enough for Brady, he's good enough for us. Pick him up in the 27 percent of CBS Sports leagues where he is available.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
Everyone added Percy Harvin (hip) on hype—and we have all failed to recognize Baldwin as a viable fantasy option. After Baldwin's four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown Monday night, you have to add him if you need a wide receiver this week. It was his third touchdown in four games and the fourth consecutive time he has gone over 60 yards. Russell Wilson is hot, and Baldwin is a big reason right now.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Hartline is on pace for a second consecutive 1,000-yard season, but his production has come in bunches and is difficult to project on a weekly basis. The Steelers have given up some big performances to wideouts of late, but we would expect Mike Wallace to be the Ryan Tannehill receiver of choice in his return to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
He was able to find the end zone Sunday, but LaFell shouldn't be anyone's first choice against the Saints secondary—especially coming off that Monday night loss.
The Saints have the fourth-best pass defense in football, and LaFell is still a third option in the Cam Newton-led passing game behind Steve Smith and tight end Greg Olsen. Heck, you might even consider Ted Ginn an option over LaFell.
Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings
He has been a free-agent bust, but it is more of a function of poor quarterback play most would assume. Jennings did manage a touchdown in the fourth quarter with Matt Cassel under center, so perhaps you take a flier here if Cassel gets the start in place of Christian Ponder (concussion) this Sunday at Baltimore.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
Unless you're in a keeper league, there is no reason to own this long-term talent. Sure, he scored a touchdown via the run Sunday, but he had just one catch for four yards. There are far too many more frequently targeted receivers out there.
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders
Hopefully you were passed out from stuffing your face with turkey when Holmes was going off for seven catches for 136 yards against the Cowboys. Holmes is a journeyman who is behind Denarius Moore (shoulder), Rod Streater and others for the Raiders. Undrafted rookie quarterback Matt McGloin isn't good enough to support even one starter-worthy fantasy wideout in crunch time.
Junior Hemingway, Kansas City Chiefs
He got in the end zone against a suspect Broncos secondary in a shootout Sunday, but you should still own Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster and perhaps even A.J. Jenkins over this no-name reserve receiver.
Tight Ends: Go to Jared (Cook) If You Want to Score a Cyber-Week Bargain
Tight Ends to Add
Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
If you are looking at the tight end scoring leaders to consider your pickup here, look underneath the numbers.
Zach Ertz and Brent Celek scored a combined three touchdowns Sunday for the Eagles against the Cardinals. They are potential waiver additions, perhaps, but the reason for the production was how bad the Cardinals have been against tight ends.
Arizona has allowed league highs in receptions (73), yards (939) and touchdowns (13) in fantasy against tight ends. The Rams are in Arizona this week, so Cook is a must-add in the near 50 percent of CBS Sports leagues where he is available.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
This addition isn't as much about this week as it is for the stretch, but the Ravens haven't ruled Pitta out from playing against the suspect Vikings at this point. John Harbaugh told ESPN's Jamison Hensley:
We'll go through this week and see how he does. If he can play, he will. We want to get him up. That's our goal. It's not 100 percent certain at this point.
[The decision will] probably come down to the end of the week. I've got a pretty good idea that he's doing well. It's just a matter of how well. Is he feeling good enough? Do the doctors feel like he's ready to play? That's what it's going to come down to.
Pitta is a top-10 fantasy tight end when healthy, especially because Joe Flacco needs targets in the passing game. Available in almost 90 percent of CBS Sports leagues, he is a huge bargain right now.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
He hasn't been the red-zone threat he was a year ago, but Miller is coming off a season-high eight catches for 86 yards last week. Miller also draws the Dolphins defense, which has been great against fantasy wide receivers (second) but poor against tight ends, allowing the fifth-most points to the position to date.
Tight End to Monitor
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
He isn't a great play against the 49ers defense this week, but the tight end has emerged as a significant part of the Seahawks' passing attack this season. Russell Wilson is hot, and Miller is coming off a season-high five catches for 86 yards. Consider him an option in deeper leagues out of desperation. He has been a factor around the goal line at least.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
As we said above, this Eagles tight end duo can be intriguing, but you cannot expect their Week 13 production to repeat against the Lions. Detroit has allowed a league-low one touchdown to tight ends and is fantasy's fourth-best team against the position.
Logan Paulsen, Washington Redskins; Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers; Jim Dray, Arizona Cardinals; Clay Harbor, Jacksonville Jaguars
These all reached the end zone Sunday, but they all rate as backups for their respective teams, much less low-end fantasy options.
Defense/Special Teams: San Diego Chargers Draw Most Favorable Matchup of Week 14
Defense/Special Teams to Add
San Diego Chargers
No one will confuse this unit as one to trust in fantasy crunch time, but the Giants have been the worst team in fantasy against defense/special teams. It will make the Chargers at least intriguing to those fantasy owners that stream their defensive units every week.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams were not great against the 49ers in San Francisco, but what defense is? There is talent on this unit, and Carson Palmer was error-prone against a far less talented Eagles unit a week ago.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
New York Giants
They finally got a pass rush going last week, but going on the road to San Diego to face Philip Rivers doesn't bode well for their questionable secondary.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
If only they could face Geno Smith and the Jets every week. We admit we blew it not advising you to trust them last Sunday, but we are not going to jump on their bandwagon as they go to Pittsburgh to face a team much more capable offensively than the Jets.
New Orleans Saints
So much for that Rob Ryan turnaround: They were exposed in Seattle and now will face the Panthers, who have been the second-best team in fantasy against defense/special teams.
Kickers: You Didn't Pick Up Justin Tucker Last Week? Shame on You
Kicker to Add
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
He repeats as the top of the list here again this week, particularly since the Ravens have new life in the postseason hunt. Baltimore plays host to the suspect Vikings, who have been the fifth-worst team in fantasy against kickers. Tucker is still available in almost one-third of CBS Sports leagues.
Kicker to Monitor
Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers
A preseason favorite, Dawson has been much better with his accuracy of late. He hasn't missed a kick since September. The Seahawks defense comes to town coming off a big Monday night victory, but that might merely mean more field goals than touchdowns in a probable defensive struggle.
Kicker to Ignore
Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
He is coming off a five-field-goal week, but the Colts now have to travel to Cincy, which has been one of the toughest places to play this season. The Bengals are also in the top 10 of fantasy against kickers.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.