So you’ve made it to the penultimate checkpoint before glory. Set up camp, rest your joints and have a good night’s sleep. Things only get more difficult from here. The rations are all used up, we’re all running on pocket lint and snow, and no one feels bad for your FLEX options. It’s the playoffs, kill or be killed, there is no tomorrow, survive and advance and all that.
Week 14 saw many players succumb to injury but there still aren’t many obvious options to replace the dearly departed. There are a few species of freshicus legstronimus available for consumption. The most exciting find may be AJ Brown who is available in 70% of ESPN leagues and could carry some of us into the promised land.
Priority will be classified in 4 ways:
HIGH – immediate starter on most teams and trade bait at worst; be aggressive!
MEDIUM – probable FLEX-level starter right now; add if you have need at the position.
LOW – still a lottery ticket, but showing signs of growth; add if you have bench room.
FREE – likely can add post-waivers without using FAAB or priority if your league allows.
Players with “PPR+” designation mean they will be extra useful in formats that reward receptions.
First Aid Kit
Players set to inherit a bigger role due to injury
Bilal Powell, RB, NYJ (priority HIGH pending Le’Veon Bell’s status) – With Bell being a late scratch on Saturday, Powell slid right in and saw 21 touches for 88 yards in week 14. A long tenured member of the Jets, he’s always been the bridesmaid never the bride but when called upon, has produced reasonably well. He’s a plus in the passing game, which is always nice.
We shall see what exactly is up with Bell as the Jets’ season winds down. I wouldn’t be shocked if he picked up a few mystery ailments to avoid the Sunday punishment in weeks 15-17. If not rostered, at least keep Powell on speed dial. UPDATE – Bell has said he’s “close to 100%” heading into Thursday. At least we’ll know early.
DeAndre Washington, RB, OAK (priority HIGH pending Josh Jacobs’ status) – A report came out on Sunday morning that Jacobs was a true game time decision, making DWash a late add for some savvy managers. He cashed those tickets, racking up 96 yards and a score including 6 receptions. I have always been intrigued by Washington, although Raiders’ brass hasn’t shared my feelings.
With Oakland pretty much out of realistic playoff contention, there’s a chance Jacobs doesn’t see the field again. If you did add him prior to the game, hold on to him. If you didn’t and could use a boost in your FLEX, seek him out.
Chris Conley, WR, JAX (priority MEDIUM pending DJ Chark’s status) – Breakout WR Chark left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and the imploding Jags probably won’t try to rush him back. Chris Conley has yet to make a real impact but for one game against the pathetic Raiders secondary, he could be in line for a big game.
While he isn’t a fantasy star by any means, Conley does have two 20 point games this year so he wouldn’t be a complete out-of-the-blue performance. While the Jags seem to have given up (especially on defense), Gardner Minshew continues to audition to be the starter going forward. I would feel comfortable firing up Conley as a WR3/FLEX in week 15 if Chark misses.
Justin Watson, WR, TB (priority MEDIUM/LOW pending Mike Evans’ status) – Watson might be the best rookie you’ve never heard of. Drafted in the 5th round out of Penn, Watson boasts some really impressive numbers. He was a target monster in college registering a 98th percentile dominator ranking, he had a teenage breakout and also possesses legitimate NFL athleticism with a 91st percentile SPARQ-x score.
With Evans leaving with a hammy, Watson saw plenty of run in the Buccaneers comeback effort. He got 8 targets which he converted to 5-59-1. If Evans remains out I would throw Watson in the mix as a what-the-heck flex against both Detroit and Houston. In dynasty leagues, I’d also be interested in scooping him up to see what transpires. UPDATE – Evans is doubtful for week 15 and may not see the field for the rest of the season.
Keke Coutee, WR, HOU (priority LOW pending Will Fuller’s status) – We’ve been teased by Coutee too many times for me to get very excited about this pickup. Coutee saw 8 targets, catching 5 balls for 68 yards against the Broncos. The Texans got down 31-3 at halftime and so Watson threw the ball 50 times. Coutee naturally saw a nice supply of targets in comeback mode but I don’t think this is very actionable. I would rather see DeAndre Hopkins or Kenny Stills in my lineup while Fuller is out.
Isaiah Ford, WR, MIA (priority LOW pending DaVante Parker’s status) – This guy is a stretch for even some deep leaguers out there. The 2018 7th round pick jumped in when DaVante Parker left the game and was running as the number one option for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Completely out of the blue he put up 6-92 on 9 targets.
In a nutshell, Ford was a late round prospect with a sub-par athletic profile out of Virginia Tech. However, he does have one box checked in dramatic fashion which is a breakout age of 18 years old, good for the 97th percentile. He put up a 1000 yard-11 TD season as a true sophomore but never made it high on any prospect lists. I wouldn’t want to count on Ford to win a championship but in deep leagues where you may start 4-5 WRs and have no waiver priority, he’s an option. It doesn’t hurt that Miami plays New York (Giants) and Cincinnati to close out.
High calorie options to grab for a boost
Raheem Mostert, RB, SF (priority MEDIUM) – The 27 year old seems to have finally taken command of a backfield in his 5th season. A slight build and injury history has always been his downfall but there’s no question he has top tier NFL speed and athleticism. Kyle Shanahan likes to use a committee but Mostert is the lead for now. He had 12 touches this week with a fully healthy backfield, and that’s probably what you can expect going forward.
However, with his explosiveness and the San Francisco run game scheme, Mostert can make few touches count. It’s always scary relying on low volume, but he could be a FLEX against the Falcons in week 15.
Patrick Laird, RB, MIA (priority MEDIUM, PPR+) – In a PPR league I would probably put Laird over Mostert. Laird is a less impressive specimen based on athletic measurables, but Sunday showed us he is definitely the lead back in the Dolphins offense. If you haven’t been following his rise to cult fame in the fantasy community, just google “Laird DFS” and I think you’ll have a good laugh.
He saw 19 touches for 86 scoreless yards in a competitive game, but 4 of those touches were receptions. The key here is the Dolphins remaining schedule against the Giants and Bengals to close out the fantasy season. With the ‘Fins in full tank mode, there really isn’t a reason they don’t see what they have in Laird. He’s unlikely to become even a RB2 for dynasty, but could he be the Dolphins Danny Woodhead in 2020? It’s not impossible.
AJ Brown, WR, TEN (priority HIGH) – If you need a plug and play WR for the last 2 weeks, AJB should be your #1 priority. He’s shockingly only rostered in 30% of ESPN leagues, but most everyone should be familiar with his name. The Titans’ 2nd round pick has been a manimal and recently taken over as the primary option in the passing game.
Yes, in the Titans offense there is always a risk for the 1-17-0 showing he gave us in week 11. But the payoff is so huge with this guy. He is an absolute monster and even in redraft I’m comfortable saying he’s a WR3 if you made it past round 1. The Titans’ schedule is ripe in the last 2 weeks as well, at home against the Texans and Saints. Both contests have shootout potential.
Leave these guys behind, it’s time to move on
Honestly, ya’ll can figure this out. If you wouldn’t start them in week 15 they’re droppable for someone you would start.
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