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Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 14


You did it! You made it to the fantasy playoffs! At least, I assume you did if you're bothering to read a waiver wire column in Week 14. Or maybe you're just that dedicated to playing spoiler to leaguemates, in which case I would like to applaud you for being awesome.

Or maybe your league's playoffs don't start until next week, in which case may I just say "BOOOOOO." Don't have your fantasy championships in Week 17 when a bunch of NFL teams have locked up their spot in the actual playoffs and rest the bulk of their starters.

The following players are owned in approximately 10% or fewer of Yahoo leagues, so they won't be the flashiest names on the market. But if you're looking for a good spot start or just need some high-upside lottery tickets, these are your guys. Let's look at some potential waiver wire adds in deep leagues.

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Free Agent Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars - 9% owned

Minshew Mania is back, baby! Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has announced the rookie will start in Week 14 against the Chargers, and it certainly seems Minshew will be under center to finish out the season. Minshew has played well in the majority of his eight starts, throwing 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions in those games. To be fair, the Chargers aren't the greatest opposition for the mustachioed man of the people, as they've given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs. But we've seen Minshew put up respectable numbers in tough matchups before, thanks in part to his scrambling ability.

More importantly, he gets to finish out the fantasy playoffs against Oakland and Atlanta, who allow the fourth and third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, respectively. If you have a first round bye or feel confident you can slide through your first playoff match unscathed, pick Minshew up as a stash.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals - 8% owned

Perhaps less exciting for the team's fans (but likely more important for fantasy purposes) is the return of the Red Rifle. The Bengals experimented for a few weeks with rookie quarterback Ryan Finley before deciding to turn the reins back over to Dalton in Week 13. Some will poopoo Dalton as a viable fantasy option, but let's not forget he was the QB9 in Week 2 against San Francisco. John Ross was a major factor in that game, and the good news is head coach Zac Taylor believes the speedy wideout will be available for this week's matchup with the Browns. Cleveland has given up the 11th-most fantasy points to QBs, which makes Dalton a perfectly fine streamer this week. He also drew the Miami Dolphins as his Secret Santa gift for Week 16, aka fantasy championship week.

Devlin Hodges, Pittsburgh Steelers2% owned

The Steelers will continue to ride the hot hand of Hodges, who has given his team the shot in the arm it needs to start competing for a wild card spot in the playoffs. His risk-taking sensibilities are a major upgrade over Mason Rudolph from a fantasy perspective, as his frequent shots down the field should result in big time fantasy points. Hodges gets to take on the inept Arizona defense this week, who allows the most fantasy points to the QB position. It's hard to trust a quarterback with only two full games under his belt in your fantasy playoffs, but in what should be a solid duel between the offenses, Hodges has the matchup you want.

 

Free Agent Running Backs

Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs - 5% owned

With Damien Williams inactive and Darrel Williams leaving the game early, the much-hyped sixth round pick finally got his chance to shine against the Raiders. Thompson saw 11 carries and picked up 44 yards and a touchdown on them. LeSean McCoy was exceptionally unproductive in the running game, but still saw three targets to Thompson's zero. If both Williams sit out again this week against New England, head coach Andy Reid made it clear Thompson will see an expanded workload. That likely means he'll get the bulk of the carries, though it's unclear if he will be utilized in the receiving game. Either way, he's purely a flex play based on volume alone against a tough Patriots Defense. His schedule opens up against Denver and Chicago after that, however, but that will also require the Williams' injuries to linger a while longer.

Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins - 1% owned

For the record, I'm not playing Laird in this week's matchup with the Jets unless I'm absolutely desperate. Despite posting 16.8 fantasy points against Philadelphia in Week 13, he was woefully inefficient in his role, notching just five rushing yards on 10 carries. Laird did catch four of his five targets for 43 yards, however, and he also fell into the end zone once. With Kalen Ballage out, the Dolphins backfield apparently runs through Laird, with the much more efficient Myles Gaskin occasionally spelling him. Again, if you're in desperate need of a flex play, you can throw him out there in the hopes he catches a few balls and gets in for another score.

 

Free Agent Wide Receivers

Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers - 5% owned

Based on the eye test, the Packers finally found their true No 2 receiver in Lazard a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, despite numerous dazzling catches and the clear trust Rodgers has with the Iowa State alum, Lazard has played more than 67% of offensive snaps just once this season. Regardless, he put up his first 100-yard receiving game against the hapless Giants and added a second touchdown to his resume. Lazard should be able to maintain high efficiency against Washington in Week 14, as they're tied with Houston in giving up the seventh-most touchdowns to WRs. He also gets to play Minnesota during championship week. The Vikings have now allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the position.

Auden Tate, Cincinnati Bengals - 10% owned

Yes, Tate is still floating around the waivers of most leagues. With Andy Dalton's return, all receivers should see a bump in value going forward. Even if John Ross hits the field for the first time since Week 4, Tate should still see enough value to maintain fantasy relevance. Last week marked the seventh time this season Tate has notched at least six targets and 50 yards in a game, two of which happened with Ross on the field. He's been kept out of the end zone since Week 5, though that could change this week against the Jets. Their defense has been ninth-worst against opposing WRs this year.

 

Free Agent Tight Ends

Jeremy Sprinkle, Washington 0% owned

If you aren't lucky enough to have Vance McDonald on your roster in his smash spot against the Arizona Cardinals this week, perhaps I can interest you in the next tight end to likely destroy the Green Bay Packers in the middle of the field. Sprinkle has thus far been fantasy irrelevant as the de facto tight end in Washington after Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis were injured early in the season. But the Packers just allowed third-string TE Kaden Smith to go off for six catches and 70 yards. At Lambeau. In his third career start. That's the kind of upside Sprinkle has.

 

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