Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Top Week 14 adds with playoff spots on the line

Injuries hit us early, often and relentlessly on Sunday. In all likelihood, your rosters were not spared. If you find yourself needing a talent boost from the waiver wire, we’ve got you covered. Each week, we identify a collection of priority fantasy football pickups available in at least 50% of leagues and approved for immediate use.

Running backs

Ezekiel Elliott, New England Patriots (40% rostered)

In the opening minutes at Foxborough on Sunday, it appeared Rhamondre Stevenson was basically the entire game-plan for the Patriots, but, unfortunately, he was forced from the game with an ankle injury. In Stevenson’s absence, Zeke played nearly every offensive snap and handled his largest workload of the season, finishing with 92 scrimmage yards on 21 touches. We obviously aren’t dealing with the 2018 version of Elliott, but he still has plenty of juice. He’s also headed for a big spike in usage, so he needs to be scooped up wherever he’s unattached. Ideally, Zeke would be tied to an offense capable of scoring points, but, well … we can’t have everything.

Recommended FAB, assuming $100 budget: $21

Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans (35%)

If you have a fondness for versatility, elusiveness and big-play ability, Spears was probably already on your roster and you can scroll past this blurb. We write him up pretty much every week, because he’s a gifted back who was seeing significant playing time for Tennessee alongside Derrick Henry. Entering Sunday, Spears was among the league leaders in yards after contact per attempt (3.78). His ratio of touches-to-highlights has been pretty remarkable.

Henry was feasting against the Colts in Week 13, but he exited the game with a late head injury (which apparently is not being classified as a concussion), leading to a season-high 20 touches for Spears. The Tulane rookie delivered 88 total yards, catching four passes on six targets and generally looked like a capable workhorse back. If Henry can’t get cleared for the upcoming matchup at Miami, Spears is headed for serious usage. He’s impervious to game-flow, because he’s been a key receiving weapon all season.

FAB: $21

Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears (21%)

Johnson delivered 75 yards on 15 touches in Chicago’s Monday night win ahead of the bye, out-carrying, out-snapping and out-gaining Khalil Herbert in the process. There’s basically zero chance that the Bears are interested in having a single every-down, all-situation featured back, so we’re going to need to deal with a committee in some form. But Johnson has pretty clearly established himself as a reliable multi-purpose back, excellent in pass protection, who needs to remain in the mix. The rookie has been effective on his limited opportunities so far this year, averaging 4.3 YPC and snagging 24 of his 28 targets.

D’Onta Foreman‘s return from injury could be a complication and Herbert hasn’t actually lost his starting status, so, again, it’s not as if Johnson has a completely uncluttered path to volume. Still, this is a promising young player who’s earned his touches.

FAB: $16

Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings (25%)

Chandler was mass-dropped in fantasy over the past week, which is somewhat understandable given that his Vikings were on bye and he was coming off a quiet Monday night. Let’s just please note that his playing time didn’t really change in Week 12, as he was on the field for his usual one-third of Minnesota‘s snaps. Chandler has taken over the role that previously belonged to Cam Akers, with relatively positive results. He ran for 118 yards and one score against the Saints and Broncos while also snagging four receptions for 37 yards. Chandler has exceptional speed and big-play ability; he’s broken off five runs of 10 or more yards while averaging 4.5 YPC.

The Vikings rest-of-season schedule is full of enticing matchups, including the game ahead at Las Vegas (and then a date with the Bengals), so don’t leave Chandler on the wire in anything but the shallowest leagues.

FAB: $9

Additional RBs on the wire

  • Kenneth Gainwell was curiously involved against the Niners on Sunday, catching five passes for 42 yards and out-snapping D’Andre Swift along the way. Swift was injured when he was leveled on a huge hit late in a lost game, so we’ll need to track his status throughout the week.

  • DeeJay Dallas could be in for more work than Seattle would ideally like to give him in Week 14, because Kenneth Walker III (oblique) and Zach Charbonnet (knee) are both dealing with injuries. The Seahawks have yet another brutal matchup ahead with the Niners, so there’s no reason to get too aggressive here.

  • Chris Rodriguez picked up 29 yards on seven carries for the Commanders in a game in which Brian Robinson Jr. exited with a hamstring injury. Washington is headed into a bye, so Robinson will have time to get right ahead of a Week 15 date with the Rams. Antonio Gibson would be the presumptive lead back if Robinson is sidelined, with Rodriguez in a rotational role.

  • Elijah Mitchell remains the guy behind Christian McCaffrey and we already know he has the potential to deliver big weeks when he sees substantial volume. If you have CMC on a roster, it’s wild to leave Mitchell unattached.

Wide receivers and tight ends

Noah Brown, Houston Texans (40%)

Brown had a quiet afternoon in his return from injury on Sunday, seeing just two targets, dropping one and catching none. But you might recall that in his two previous games he was monstrously productive, catching 13 balls for 325 yards and one spike. You aren’t likely to find many other receivers on the wire who’ve already delivered multiple 150-yard games this season.

Houston is going to need one or all of their secondary receivers to step up in the closing weeks after dynamic rookie Tank Dell suffered a fractured fibula in the win over Denver. Deep league players should be looking at Robert Woods and John Metchie III, too. Next week’s date with the Jets is rough, but the Texans still have two meetings ahead with Tennessee’s user-friendly pass D.

FAB: $15

Elijah Moore, Cleveland Browns (43%)

Moore has seen 21 targets over the past two weeks, including a dozen on Sunday from Joe Flacco. After Amari Cooper was lost to a concussion in Week 13, Moore was peppered with opportunities. Flacco only successfully connected with him four times, but one was a downfield shot that gained 42 yards. If Flacco remains the starting QB for the Browns, Moore is going to rank as a startable fantasy option. These two have a history together, dating back to their Jets days.

FAB: $8

Jalin Hyatt, New York Giants (4%)

Last year’s Biletnikoff winner delivered his best game as a pro ahead of New York’s bye, catching five passes for 109 yards on six targets. Hyatt operated as something more than a pure deep threat in Week 12, although he was excellent downfield per his usual:

The rookie has played over 50% of the snaps in five of his last seven games, so his playing time is definitely trending in the right direction. Hyatt is a burner with 4.4-speed and a 40-inch vertical, coming off a 1,267-yard, 15-TD season in the SEC. There’s a lot to like here. He’s an obvious playmaking talent on a team with a desperate need for anyone who fits that description. If you have any faith at all that Tommy DeVito can remain competent or Tyrod Taylor is an upgrade if he gets the starting QB job back when healthy, Hyatt deserves attention.

Also, we should note that Hyatt recently earned a standalone tweet from Dalton Del Don, which is considered one of the rarest and most prestigious honors in sports. He’s now a member of a small and very special fraternity. Truly an incredible achievement.

FAB: $7

Odell Beckham Jr., Baltimore Ravens (39%)

Over OBJ’s last four games, he’s delivered 246 receiving yards and a pair of spikes, looking like a (somewhat) younger version of himself. The injury to Mark Andrews frees up 6-8 targets per game, a few of which should find Beckham. Baltimore also has a string of games upcoming that should be sufficiently competitive to require real pass volume from Lamar Jackson, which obviously helps every member of this team’s receiving corps. Beckham is on the flex-approved list for deeper leagues.

FAB: $6

Other priority WRs and TEs

  • Isaiah Likely finished with 40 receiving yards in a 6-target game ahead of the Ravens’ bye and he’s played over 70% of the snaps in his last two games with Andrews sidelined. There’s at least one manager in any 12-team league who urgently needs help at tight end. Likely should be their priority.

  • Jonathan Mingo has produced back-to-back games with 60-plus receiving yards and he drew a season-high 10 targets on Sunday. You probably shouldn’t go out of your way to get mixed up with the Carolina offense, but not everyone can be choosy at this stage.

  • Demario Douglas is obviously another player tied to a dreadful offense, so he’s not for everyone. But he was functioning as the centerpiece of New England‘s passing game prior to suffering a concussion in Week 12. He’s seen nine targets in consecutive games, and, if he can return for Thursday’s matchup with Pittsburgh, significant volume is guaranteed.

  • Brevin Jordan produced 64 receiving yards on Sunday and he should retain his fantasy appeal for however long Dalton Schultz (hamstring) remains unavailable.

  • Jameson Williams remains a bit of a sideshow in Detroit‘s offense, not an essential featured weapon. But he’s reached the end zone in two of his last three games, despite seeing only 2-3 opportunities per week. If you’re simply looking for a Hail Mary fantasy flier, he at least has a path to a double-digit point total.

Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts (23%)

Hey, look, it isn’t always a teaching tape with Minshew. He’s thrown nearly as many picks as touchdown passes this season and his passer-rating is … well, it could be better. But the man has actually put up numbers in some of his most challenging matchups this season, plus he’s the dude who gets to throw to Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs. It’s hard to not love his supporting cast. Alec Pierce made an unexpected splash on Sunday, too, as Minshew produced one of his better games this season (312 yards, 2 TDs).

You probably don’t need us to remind you of his intangibles, but just in case…

Indianapolis travels to Cincinnati this week to face a defense that allows 8.1 yards per pass attempt, which ranks at the bottom of the NFL. You can trust Minshew in a friendly spot if your QB situation is dire.

FAB: $5

Additional QB approved for use

  • Desmond Ridder was predictably unhelpful for fantasy purposes in a messy matchup with the Jets on Sunday, but he’s in a much friendlier spot this week against Tampa Bay. The Bucs defense ranks 29th against the pass on the season, allowing the fifth most fantasy points to opposing QBs.

  • Jameis Winston completed just two of his five attempts on Sunday, one of which was a small miracle. But he could conceivably find himself at the controls of the Saints offense in Week 14, because Derek Carr is dealing with a medley of injuries, including his second concussion in a month. Despite his known flaws, Winston can certainly put up numbers. New Orleans has the Panthers and Giants up next, so the matchups shouldn’t scare you away.

Defense/Special Teams

Houston Texans (13%)

Just look at this schedule for Weeks 14-17: at NYJ, at Ten, Cle, Ten. It’s a gift. Houston is about to force some of the league’s sketchiest quarterbacks into pass-heavy game scripts. The Texans might just be the last defense you’ll need to add this season.

FAB: $3

New Orleans Saints (42%)

With the Panthers and Giants up next, the Saints D is an easy pickup, probably worth an extra $1 beyond what you’d normally choose to throw at a streaming option. This defense has 20 takeaways to its credit on the season, among the highest totals in the league, and we can assume another 3-5 are on the way over the next two weeks.

FAB: $2