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Week 15 Waiver Wire: Early Pickups and Breakout Fantasy Football Candidates

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2019

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 08: A.J. Brown #11 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after he scored a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game at RingCentral Coliseum on December 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

As fantasy football managers prepare for playoff matchups, they will need to scramble for emergency replacements at running back and wide receiver for Week 15.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he'd be "shocked" to see wide receiver Mike Evans back on the field this season, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times.

Atlanta Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley went down with an abdominal injury and didn't return to Sunday's contest with the Carolina Panthers.

Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs missed his first game of the season and his absence could extend beyond this week after the Silver and Black dropped to 6-7. The next man up in a run-heavy offense could provide solid fantasy numbers.

The Tennessee Titans throttled the Raiders on Sunday, accumulating 552 total yards. We may see a similar output against another bottom-tier defense in Week 15. It's an opportune time to buy stock in quarterback Ryan Tannehill and one of his wide receivers, who put together a career day.

With multiple key injuries to keep an eye on, handcuff options should rise to the top of the waiver wire along with backups who took on heavy workloads in the absence of starters.

The 10 waiver-wire pickups below are owned in fewer than 70 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday 7:45 p.m. ET.

              

Top Breakout Candidates and Week 16 Pickups

QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (47 percent owned)

QB Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars (15 percent owned)

RB Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins (39 percent owned)

RB Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins (20 percent owned)

RB DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders (4 percent owned)

WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans (24 percent owned)

WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (62 percent owned)

WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins (67 percent owned)

WR Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars (67 percent owned)

TE Jacob Hollister, Seattle Seahawks (61 percent owned)

             

QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (47 percent owned)

D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

Next week, Tannehill will have an opportunity to feast on a porous pass defense in a crucial matchup with the Houston Texans.

The Texans gave up 309 yards and three touchdowns through the air to Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock on Sunday. He tossed the ball all over the field against a secondary that's struggled throughout the season. Going into Week 14, Houston gave up the fifth-most passing yards per game.

Tannehill has been instrumental in the Titans' push into the playoff picture, and he's also coming up big for fantasy owners as well, throwing for multiple scores in six of his seven starts. On top of that, the 31-year-old scored three rushing touchdowns over the last five weeks, so managers could see a boost from him on the ground.

Coming off his third 300-plus yard passing performance of the season, shredding the Oakland Raiders defense for 391 yards Sunday, Tannehill should be able to keep his momentum going at home against the Texans.

                             

RB DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders (4 percent owned)

Ben Margot/Associated Press

Running back Josh Jacobs missed Sunday's contest with a shoulder injury. He's set to have an MRI in the upcoming week. In a Snapchat post, the rookie ball-carrier called the ailment a fracture, but test results will sort out the diagnosis.

Many fantasy owners rode Jacobs all the way to the playoffs, so his absence may cause some panic. With the Raiders dropping to 6-7 for the season, the coaching staff may opt to allow their top tailback time to heal.

Managers looking for a backup plan at running back can turn to DeAndre Washington, who led the Raiders backfield Sunday, logging 14 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. He also caught six passes for 43 yards.

Jalen Richard would also see an increased workload in Jacobs' absence, but Washington had 20 touches, indicating he'll take the first crack at handling the majority workload.

Washington will run behind the third-best offensive line in run blocking, per Football Outsiders, going against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the next outing.

The Jaguars have allowed 195-plus rushing yards in four of their last five outings. If Jacobs sits out, managers can plug Washington into the RB2 spot.

           

RB Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins (20 percent owned)

Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Patrick Laird belongs on your waiver-wire radar because of his volume. For consecutive weeks, he's served as the lead ball-carrier, logging 25 rush attempts. Yet, the undrafted rookie tailback has only registered 53 rushing yards over the last two outings.

Fortunately for managers in points-per-reception leagues, Laird has been active in the short passing game, hauling in 16 receptions for 147 yards for the season.

The Dolphins will face generous run defenses in the next two outings, starting with the New York Giants' 25th-ranked unit and then the Cincinnati Bengals' group that allowed the most rushing yards per game going into Week 14.

Laird isn't a must-add for all fantasy owners, but if you need a streamer to provide points for the RB2 or flex spots, he's a solid option with a favorable schedule for the fantasy playoffs.

                 

WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans (24 percent owned)

Ben Margot/Associated Press

In combination with Tannehill, fantasy owners have a solid quarterback-wideout waiver-wire stack for Week 15. The Titans signal-caller connected with A.J. Brown for five catches, 153 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders on Sunday. The rookie wideout put his reliable hands and speed on display, securing five of seven targets and breaking off a 91-yard catch for a score.

In 13 contests, Brown has been targeted more than five times on three occasions, but he has big-play capability, averaging approximately 20 yards per reception for the season. Perhaps Tannehill will continue to look for the rookie second-rounder in the final three games.

With the Texans' tendency to give up chunks of yardage through the air, we could see Brown eclipse 100 receiving yards in consecutive weeks.

Owners who need to plan around injuries to Evans (hamstring) and Ridley (abdominal), should pick up Brown. He's worth a look in the flex spot, even with a healthy lineup.