Fantasy Football Week 14 Rankings: Top Pickups After Latest Injuries

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 8, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 02:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens rushes the ball against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Deep breath, folks; it's 2018 NFL fantasy football playoff time, so there's no more room for mistakes.

It sure would have been nice if someone had informed the injury bug. It will keep Melvin Gordon (knee) sidelined again and put breakout running back James Conner (ankle) on the shelf. It's also saddled Matthew Stafford (back) with the always ominous questionable designation.

Clearly, we all want a clean bill of health this time of year, but this is the real world (of fantasy sports). So, we must adapt and move on, a process we'll start here by providing top-10 rankings and waiver-wire targets—available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues—at all the skill positions.

                   

Quarterbacks

1. Patrick Mahomes, KC (vs. BAL)

2. Drew Brees, NO (at TB)

3. Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. CIN)

4. Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. ATL)

5. Cam Newton, CAR (at CLE)

6. Jameis Winston, TB (vs. NO)

7. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (at OAK)

8. Andrew Luck, IND (at HOU)

9. Matt Ryan, ATL (at GB)

10. Jared Goff, LAR (at CHI)

                

Waiver-Wire Target: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (45 Percent Owned)

John Bazemore/Associated Press

While Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has stopped short of naming Lamar Jackson his starter, Harbaugh's preferred game plan against the explosive Kansas City Chiefs sure sounds like something Jackson is better equipped to execute.

"It's true the best defense is a good offense," Harbaugh told reporters. "Whether you're scoring a lot of points or whether you're eating up the clock, one or the other. The number of plays they are playing, the fact that they are fresh and well rested to get after people makes a big difference."

Well, the Ravens' scoring is up with Jackson under center (28.0 points per game in his starts, 23.7 in Flacco's). And they've yet to win the time of possession battle by fewer than eight-plus minutes in Jackson's starts.

Assuming the electric rookie opens another game, he'll have the opportunity to feast on a Chiefs defense that has struggled in all facets. Kansas City is dead last in passing yards allowed per game (295) and 22nd in rushing yards surrendered (122).

                    

Running Backs

1. Todd Gurley, LAR (at CHI)

2. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (at CLE)

3. Saquon Barkley, NYG (at WAS)

4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. PHI)

5. Alvin Kamara, NO (at TB)

6. Nick Chubb, CLE (vs. CAR)

7. Phillip Lindsay, DEN (at SF)

8. Aaron Jones, GB (vs. ATL)

9. David Johnson, ARI (vs. DET)

10. Dalvin Cook, MIN (at SEA)

                   

Waiver-Wire Target: Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks (32 Percent Owned)

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 02: Rashaad Penny #20 of the Seattle Seahawks scores a touchdown in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

With Justin Jackson climbing just over the 50-percent threshold, pickings are slim for substitute running backs.

But if your roster is forcing you to gamble, why not wager on a high-upside rookie who has produced two double-digit outings in the last four weeks?

First-round pick Rashaad Penny isn't Seattle's lead back, but he has at least seemed to move in front of Mike Davis for No. 2. Penny has more carries than Davis each of the last four weeks, and that has sometimes carried fantasy relevance—like when Penny turned 12 carries into 108 yards and a score in Week 10 or when he totaled 65 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven attempts this past Sunday.

The matchup isn't great—the Minnesota Vikings allow the 10th-fewest fantasy points to running backs—but again, neither are the alternatives. As someone with a 20-plus yard run in three of his last four games, Penny has proved he doesn't need a lot of carries to provide decent value.

                   

Wide Receivers

1. Antonio Brown, PIT (at OAK)

2. Julio Jones, ATL (at GB)

3. Michael Thomas, NO (at TB)

4. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (at WAS)

5. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs. IND)

6. Davante Adams, GB (vs. ATL)

7. Keenan Allen, LAC (vs. CIN)

8. Adam Thielen, MIN (at SEA)

9. Tyreek Hill, KC (vs. BAL)

10. Mike Evans, TB (vs. NO)

                    

Waiver-Wire Target: Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (30 Percent Owned)

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25:  Curtis Samuel #10 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Seahawks
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Heading into Week 13, Curtis Samuel had both a stretch of three scores in four games and a fuzzy fantasy outlook. The latter resulted from the return of Devin Funchess, who ostensibly serves as Carolina's No. 1 option at wide receiver.

But that did nothing to slow Samuel's momentum. In fact, the sophomore wideout delivered career-highs in receptions (six), targets (11) and receiving yards (88).

Granted, Funchess was on the field for just 46 percent of Carolina's offensive snaps, so there might be some lingering concern that if that number rises, Samuel's opportunities could head the other way.

Then again, Funchess hasn't cleared five receptions or 50 receiving yards since Week 8, so it's not like the Panthers are clearing room for an elite talent. In fact, they might want to give Samuel even more exposure to see whether his ceiling sits higher than Funchess, who is slated for free agency in 2019.

                  

Tight Ends

1. Travis Kelce, KC (vs. BAL)

2. Zach Ertz, PHI (at DAL)

3. George Kittle, SF (vs. DEN)

4. Eric Ebron, IND (at HOU)

5. Rob Gronkowski, NE (at MIA)

6. Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. NYG)

7. Jared Cook, OAK (vs. PIT)

8. Austin Hooper, ATL (at GB)

9. Jimmy Graham, GB (vs. ATL)

10. Cameron Brate, TB (vs. NO)

                  

Waiver-Wire Target: Chris Herndon, New York Jets (15 Percent Owned)

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 2:  Tight end Chris Herndon #89 of the New York Jets carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans during a NFL game at Nissan Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Im
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

Consistency has been excruciating to find at the tight end position from all tiers below the elites, which is how someone like Chris Herndon—who hast just 28 receptions for 345 yards and three touchdowns—gets a mention.

But he at least has an opportunity level seldom seen among tight end streamers, albeit opportunities that come on the NFL's 30th-ranked passing attack.

Herndon hasn't seen fewer than four targets since Week 8, and he had 14 passes head his direction over the past two games combined. Those targets don't always translate to much (he had two catches for 31 yards Sunday), but he did have a three-game scoring streak earlier this season and a seven-catch, 57-yard effort in Week 12.

                    

Statistics used courtesy of NFL.com and ESPN.com. Fantasy scoring and ownership information obtained via Yahoo Sports.

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