If you’re one of the fortunate few who made it into your league’s fantasy football playoffs, then you deserve congratulations of the highest order. Now it’s time to get back to business.
In most 12-team leagues, six teams will make the playoffs, with two teams getting a bye week in Week 14. That means just one-third of your league is playing this coming weekend, so you’ll likely be battling on the waiver wire with just three teams for matchup-specific pickups. That’s a good thing. Even if the teams on byes decide to pick up some players for next week and the week after, you’ll still have waiver priority over them.
If you scraped and clawed your way into the playoffs, grabbing the sixth playoff berth, you officially have the first waiver pick this week! Make it count! Unfortunately, there isn’t a breakout running back to pick up, so you’re likely deciding between a few young wide receivers.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are barely owned in more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Drew Stanton, Chris Johnson, Davante Adams, Jordan Reed, Caleb Sturgis and the Saints defense.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (Owned in 19 percent of CBSSports leagues, 7.9 percent of ESPN leagues and eight percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- Bridgewater’s ownership went up just one percentage point from last week, and we still love him in a matchup against the Jets in Week 14. New York is giving up 23.17 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, which ranks 30th in the league. The Jets’ somewhat inspired play Monday night was against a division rival on national television. Expect them to go back to being the Jets in Week 14 – no team is allowing more passing touchdowns (2.25) or making fewer interceptions (0.33) per game. If you have a bye this week, don’t bother with the rookie, since he faces Miami and Detroit after this week.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (nine percent, 2.7 percent and 13 percent) -- The Browns haven’t named a starting quarterback yet after Brian Hoyer’s uninspired play against the Bills. Johnny Football saw some action finally and scored a rushing touchdown, which is his best fantasy asset at this point. If he gets the start and you are desperate at quarterback, he’s a wild card to consider because he should rack up some rushing yards against the Colts. With all of that said, it’s tough to hand your fantasy playoff hopes over to a rookie with nine NFL passes under his belt.
Keeping an eye on: Washington’s Colt McCoy and Houston’s Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Roy Helu, Washington Redskins (30 percent, 11.8 percent and 12 percent) -- Helu has always been the pass-catching counterpart to Alfred Morris’ battering ram, and he brought in four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown against the Colts Sunday. Helu actually has two touchdown catches in the past three weeks, and Washington hosts the Rams in Week 14. While the St. Louis defense hasn’t allowed a receiving touchdown to a running back this season, it has allowed an average of nine catches for 79 yards to running backs over the past three games.
Keeping an eye on: Detroit’s Theo Riddick and New Orleans’ Khiry Robinson.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (eight percent, 1.5 percent and five percent) -- Yet another 2014 rookie wide receiver with a breakout game, Moncrief caught three passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins in Week 13. Unfortunately, he was targeted just four times in the entire game, the same number of times Andrew Luck looked his way the week before against Jacksonville. With two of Moncrief’s three catches turning into long touchdowns (48 and 79 yards), and Hakeem Nicks getting just one target over the past two weeks, the future looks bright for the rookie receiver.
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars (nine percent, 1.2 percent and one percent) -- We suggested Lee last week, before he caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Giants, and he went up just one percentage point in ownership. The Jaguars should continue throwing a lot, with games against the two worst defenses against wide receivers, Houston (31st) and Baltimore (32nd), in Weeks 14 and 15.
Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons (18 percent, 1.3 percent and four percent) -- Roddy White (ankle) had to sit out Week 13, and fantasy owners know from recent seasons how significantly a bad ankle affects White on the field. As he has done in the past, Douglas stepped in admirably, posting nine catches for 116 yards against the Cardinals. He was targeted 12 times and may have to fill in for White again when the Falcons travel to Green Bay. His production depends on the progress of White’s ankle, but an enticing matchup against the Saints (30th vs. WR) looms during the fantasy championships in Week 16. The Saints allowed Douglas to catch six passes for 69 yards in Week 1, even with White and Julio Jones healthy.
Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams (two percent, 4.3 percent and two percent) -- If you’re looking for volume, Bailey has 15 targets, 12 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks. Most of what he posted Sunday was in the first half against the Raiders, which means he could’ve had an even bigger game had the Rams not gone into cruise control. It’s interesting that Bailey is the small wide receiver out of West Virginia making the most noise for the Rams, and not Tavon Austin.
Keeping an eye on: San Diego’s Eddie Royal.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (29 percent, 1.3 percent and four percent) -- The Buccaneers’ rookie tight end missed Week 13 with a bad back, so Week 14 at Detroit already starts out with a question mark. But over the past three weeks, the Lions defense has allowed 23 receptions for 292 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends. The Bears and Patriots chose to target their tight ends a combined 27 times over Detroit’s last two games.
Connor Barth, Denver Broncos (11 percent, 2.1 percent and 10 percent) -- The Broncos brought in Barth, formerly with Tampa Bay, to replace rookie Brandon McManus, who replaced Matt Prater. Barth’s five field goals on Sunday night might not be duplicated this season, but he hit more field goals than McManus’ past seven games combined.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, DST (19 percent, 4.1 percent and nine percent) – It seems as if Lovie Smith’s defense is starting to get it, only several weeks too late. Over the past three games (at Washington, at Chicago and at home against Cincinnati), Tampa Bay has 11 sacks, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Normally, the Lions offense would be one you should run away from, but this offense ranks 19th against fantasy DSTs. If you earned a bye week in your fantasy playoffs, the Bucs defense will face a Panthers defense in Week 15 that has allowed 19 sacks in the past four games.