Chances are your fantasy football league will have its championship game in Week 16. And chances are, if you are participating in that game, your team is pretty much set at this point.
But hey, complacency breeds failure, and if there is a way to improve your team before the championship game, you absolutely should do so. Just ask owners who had to gamble on players like Matt Asiata this weekend about how important the waiver wire can be, even in the fantasy playoffs.
So before your you set your lineup, be sure to go through my slideshow of the top waiver targets this week. Every little bit helps, right?
Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leagues. Ownership percentages and points against stats via ESPN.
Percent Owned: 3.0 percent
Analysis: Kirk Cousins certainly stepped into the fantasy prominence at just the right time for fantasy owners needing a spot starter at quarterback, throwing for 381 yards and three touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons.
And things should get even better for him this week, as he faces a Dallas Cowboys defense allowing 21.4 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week. For owners in really deep or two-quarterback leagues, Cousins is absolutely worth gambling on.
Percent Owned: 1.7 percent
Analysis: I see you, Rob Gronkowski owners, which is why the next three slides are for you.
Timothy Wright has been pretty hit or miss this year, but he's been making nice contact of late for fantasy owners, with seven or more points in three of his last four games. The Rams give up just 5.4 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week, fourth in the NFL, but if you find yourself in a pinch at the position, you could do far worse than Wright.
Percent Owned: 1.6 percent
Analysis: Don't look now, but Andrew Quarless has emerged as one of Matt Flynn's most reliable targets, with 12 receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the past two weeks. And yes, he has had exactly six receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown in each week.
Freaky. Quarless is worth a look this week, even if Aaron Rodgers returns.
Percent Owned: 0.5 percent
Analysis: Marcedes Lewis keeps catching touchdown passes, with one in each of the past three weeks. In total, he has 29 fantasy points during that time, making him a low-ceiling option at tight end if you're still singing the Gronk blues.
I think there is more potential upside with Wright or Quarless, so I'd go in that direction first, but taking a flier on Lewis could pay dividends if you go that route.
Percent Owned: 0.0 percent
Analysis: If you aren't afraid to traverse the murky mire that is the Cleveland backfield, Edwin Baker seems to be the guy you want at the running back position.
He went from being a practice-squad player for most of his first two seasons in the NFL to rushing eight times for 38 yards and a touchdown and adding four receptions for 46 yards in his NFL debut.
Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whitaker really haven't shown much when given the opportunity—and Willis McGahee's status remains up in the air—so at this point Baker seems like the guy to own in Cleveland.
Who saw that one coming?
Percent Owned: Toby Gerhart (19.6 percent) and Matt Asiata (0.8 percent)
Analysis: If you are an Adrian Peterson owner, you absolutely should own both of these players. It's really that simple.
Asiata proved he's worth utilizing if Peterson and Toby Gerhart are again out this week, rushing 30 times for 51 yards and three touchdowns and also catching three passes for 15 yards. Yes, he's touchdown-reliant, but the pickings are pretty slim to replace Peterson if the Vikings shut him down—which they absolutely should do—making Asiata a worthy handcuff.
And if Gerhart starts, he's worthy of your flex spot. Both players are risky against a tough Cincinnati Bengals defense, but Peterson owners may not have a better option.
Percent Owned: 2.3 percent
Analysis: Monitor Maurice Jones-Drew very carefully this week. If his hamstring causes him to miss another game, Jordan Todman is a worthy flex consideration.
In Week 15, he had 25 carries for 109 yards and four catches for 44 yards against the Buffalo Bills. This week, he faces a Tennessee Titans defense allowing 21.4 fantasy points to opposing running backs, 30th in the NFL. That makes Todman a very appealing play if MJD is again out of action.
Percent Owned: 25.3 percent
Analysis: Believe it or not, Michael Crabtree is still pretty widely available, especially when you consider he is San Francisco's most dangerous wide receiver.
He's been somewhat eased back into the offense, but he had five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15. And with the porous Atlanta Falcons defense on tap, he's a player you can add on waivers this week and flex with some confidence.
Percent Owned: 9.2 percent
Analysis: It's taken much of the season, but Cordarrelle Patterson has finally become a major part of the Minnesota offense. Fantasy owners are reaping the benefits, as the explosive rookie has 38 fantasy points in the past three weeks.
A matchup against the Bengals is no walk in the park, but for owners in really deep leagues, Patterson is at least worth owning this week, if not flexing.
Percent Owned: 17.2 percent
Analysis: Very quietly, Doug Baldwin has scored seven or more fantasy points in five of his past six games and has reached double-digit points four times in that span. In all, he's scored seven or more fantasy points eight times this year.
No, he's not going to explode for 20 or more fantasy points, but if you don't have a stomach for riskier options like Patterson, Baldwin is worth adding.
Percent Owned: 21.1 percent
Analysis: Remember when Marvin Jones was the next big thing for fantasy owners? And then do you remember when he had a three-game stretch with just one fantasy point combined?
It's been an up-and-down year for Jones, but he appears to be on the upswing, with 22 total fantasy points in the past two weeks combined. With a poor Minnesota defense looming, Jones not only has big upside, but he seems like a relatively safe option as well.
Percent Owned: 0.4 percent
Analysis: Andre Holmes has emerged as one of Matt McGloin's most trusty targets in the past three weeks, with 30 total fantasy points in that time.
Though the return of Denarius Moore to health could potentially limit his output, desperate owners in really deep leagues needing to take a flier at wide receiver could do worse.
Percent Owned: 0.4 percent
Analysis: Hey, somebody has to catch passes in Jacksonville, right? And Ace Sanders has been the picture of consistent—if mediocre—production in the past five weeks.
- Week 11: Six fantasy points
- Week 12: Six fantasy points
- Week 13: Six fantasy points
- Week 14: Six fantasy points
- Week 15: Seven fantasy points
He's obviously only a target in really, really deep leagues, but, hey, at least you know what you're getting from him.
Percent Owned: 0.5 percent
Analysis: Andre Caldwell's fantasy value is reliant on so many things. If Wes Welker returns to action, Caldwell has no value. If the Denver Broncos decide to utilize Jacob Tamme in the game plan, Caldwell has no value.
But after catching six passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns, he also caught the eye of fantasy owners everywhere. I think there are far, far safer waiver targets out there, but don't be surprised when someone in your league, even in the consolation matchups, decides to give Caldwell a shot.
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