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Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 15


The first week of the fantasy playoffs is in the books, and hopefully you're still writing another chapter in it. Week 14 was absolutely brutal from an injury perspective, with several big name players getting carted off the field and burying multitudes of fantasy teams in the process.

Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Devante Parker, Alshon Jeffery, Derrius Guice, Rashaad Penny, Jared Cook, and Vance McDonald all had their games cut short due to some injury or another. The majority of them are unlikely to play this week, which means even if you were lucky enough to scrape out a victory with one (or multiple) of these guys in your lineup, you'll likely need some help to keep your playoff push alive.

Considering there should be fewer free agent pickups this week with the playoffs fully underway, we've increased the ownership percentage from 10% or fewer to 15% or fewer in Yahoo leagues. At this point in the year you're pretty much looking strictly for one-week plays. So let's look at some potential championship-propelling waiver wire adds in deep leagues.

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Free Agent Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars - 15% owned

I advised any owners with extra bench space to add Minshew last week for his upcoming games against Oakland and Atlanta. If he's still out on your waivers, he's worth considering for his matchup with the Raiders this week, who've now allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Minshew had a rough start against the Chargers last week, which was to be expected, but don't let that steer you away from this tasty matchup.

Drew Lock, Denver Broncos - 2% owned

Resting your playoff hopes on the arm of a rookie quarterback isn't a comfortable position to put yourself in, but some folks may be in that exact situation this week. Lock looked stellar in his road debut against the Texans, throwing for 309 yards and three touchdowns. More impressively, he posted an 81.5% completion rate and averaged 11.4 yards per completion. Lock made a couple of silly rookie mistakes, one of which resulted in his lone interception of the day, but the big-armed quarterback otherwise looked dynamite. He'll take on Kansas City at Arrowhead, which isn't the coziest environment for young QBs to play. But starting opposite Patrick Mahomes, it'll be likely Lock needs to keep chucking it downfield to keep up. The game script dictates he should be a high-end QB2.

 

Free Agent Running Backs

Deandre Washington, Oakland Raiders - 8% owned

With Josh Jacobs potentially sidelined a second week in a row with a fractured shoulder, Washington could step into the lead back role one more time against the Jaguars. Washington out-snapped and out-touched Jalen Richard on his way to 20 total touches, coming up just shy of 100 scrimmage yards but adding a touchdown to his stat total. Most impressive was his seven targets, which he turned into six receptions for 43 yards. Jacksonville has given up the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs, making Washington a must-add this week.

Chris Thompson, Washington - 11% owned

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Derrius Guice getting sidelined once again was Chris Thompson, the forgotten man in this Washington offense. Thompson saw eight targets against Green Bay, catching seven of them for 43 yards. That's not a sexy stat line, especially when you factor in his fumble, but the thing Thompson has going for him from here on out is game script. We know Adrian Peterson isn't a ball-catching specialist, and Washington will have to throw to beat the Eagles, who are stingy against the run. Thompson was effective early this season as a fringe RB2 based on receiving volume alone. Lock him in for another seven or eight targets against Philly and put him into your flex with confidence.

 

Free Agent Wide Receivers

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons - 9% owned

With the aforementioned injury to Calvin Ridley ending his 2019 season, Gage is worth a pickup this week. Even against a very tough 49ers Defense, Gage should see enough volume as the WR2 in the Falcons offense to make him a viable flex play. Drew Brees and company also showed the world that San Francisco can be thrown on, tossing 349 yards and 5 touchdowns this past week. While you shouldn't expect Matt Ryan and his crew to replicate those numbers, Gage should get double digit targets this week.

Allen Hurns, Miami Dolphins - 1% owned

Gross, I know. But the Dolphins wide receiving corp is dropping like flies with DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and Jakeem Grant all down and out. And you know Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't going to stop slinging the ball like a mad man at this point in the season. Hurns inherited a nice chunk of targets against the Jets with Parker getting knocked out early, catching five of them for 68 yards. Adding to that volume appeal, he gets to match up with a Giants Defense that is giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Hurns deserves your attention this week.

 

Free Agent Tight Ends

Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans 13% owned

The tight end landscape is still pretty much terrible, and if you've found yourself advancing in the playoffs without the aid of George Kittle or Zach Ertz, you may want to consider Smith. The third-year tight end was expected to take up the mantle from Delanie Walker when the veteran was injured early in the season, but has thus far had just a handful of solid outings. It's no coincidence those bigger games occurred against favorable matchups, as was the case last week when Smith found the end zone against Oakland. He gets another good one this week against the Texans, who are ninth against tight ends for fantasy.

Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers 1% owned

As a replacement for Greg Olsen, second-year tight end was more than adequate. Thomas caught only half of his targets (10), but that was enough to earn him 57 yards and a touchdown. He had a brutal drop that led to an interception, which obviously isn't going to instill a ton of confidence in Thomas from the quarterback. Still, if Olsen is held out again, Thomas has an amazing matchup with the Seahawks, who give up the third-most fantasy points to tight ends.

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