The fantasy football playoffs are in full swing, and injuries to major stars have forced owners back to the waiver wire in Week 15 to find the pickups that can replace the production lost.
Huge names like Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and New England’s Rob Gronkowski left Sunday’s action injured, and fantasy owners must hit the wire hard to fill the void left by each of the following stars.
Here is all the analysis of how owners should handle the all-important Week 15 waiver wire.
Out: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
According to Ben Goessling of ESPN, fantasy juggernaut Adrian Peterson will not need surgery on his injured foot, but is expected to miss this week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The injury is being called a mid-foot sprain and should have owners worried about his status for Week 15 and beyond. Do not drop Peterson in case he comes back in Week 16, but look for other options immediately.
In: Chris Ivory, New York Jets
After running the ball 18 times for 76 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s Week 14 win over the Raiders, it is clear that New York Jets running back Chris Ivory has taken the No. 1 role back from Bilal Powell.
Ivory has received the bulk of the workload over the last two weeks and has taken advantage of his opportunities. Expectations will be low as the Jets square off against the vaunted defense of the Panthers, but New Orleans proved that Carolina is not impervious.
Ivory’s Predicted Week 15 Stat Line: 17 carries for 70 yards and one touchdown; two receptions for 15 yards and zero touchdowns.
Out: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
In what is sure to be a heavy blow to fantasy football teams across the world, the New England Patriots placed Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve with a torn right ACL and MCL, officially ending his season and dashing the hopes of owners.
The risk fantasy owners took drafting Gronk early was paying off with six straight games of domination, but this injury has once again thrown teams into a frenzy. The only hope now is finding a hidden gem on the waiver wire.
In: Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Owned in 10 percent or less of leagues in both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues, Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta was considered one of the brightest stars coming into 2013 but was derailed by a hip injury in the preseason.
With six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown in his return to the lineup, there is no doubt that Pitta will be a worthwhile investment on the waiver wire. Add in quarterback Joe Flacco’s commitment to getting him involved, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN, and Pitta could be the perfect replacement for Gronkowski.
Pitta’s Predicted Week 15 Stat Line: Five receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown.
Out: Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
After suffering his second concussion of the season, Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker is unlikely to play in Thursday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, according to Chris Mortensen on ESPN's television show, NFL Insiders.
Welker will undergo strict testing over the coming days, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com, and the short week will not help his chances of playing. Fantasy owners must find a backup plan on the waiver wire.
In: Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
The slow acclimation of rookie Cordarrelle Patterson to the NFL has been a long process, but the Vikings have found a rapport between quarterback Matt Cassel and his receiver. After totaling five receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown last Sunday, it is clear that Minnesota will get the talented player involved any way it can.
Patterson has been inconsistent—due in part to the play of Minnesota's quarterbacks this season—but with seven or more targets in three of the last four games, the ability to return kicks for a touchdown at any moment and the matchup against Philadelphia's putrid pass defense, this is an educated risk worth taking.
Patterson’s Predicted Week 15 Stat Line: Six receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown.