Welcome to the Waiver Warehouse, your one-stop emporium for upgrades and Band-Aids. Each week we list the best widely available free agents for fantasy football. (We define “widely available” as being owned in less than half of all Yahoo leagues.) We’ll also list a few more names in the “window shopping” category—players worth monitoring or perhaps worth rostering in deeper leagues. In addition to a brief overview of each player, we’ll grade each player on talent, opportunity and schedule (with an emphasis on near-term schedule), then provide a composite grade. Please note that for quarterbacks, we replace the opportunity grade with a grade for the QB’s supporting cast.
This is the final installment of the Waiver Warehouse for 2016. Those of you fortunate enough to make it to Week 16 for Championship Weekend can simply consult my weekly player rankings here on SI.com, or you can hit me up on Twitter (@Fitz_FF) with any Week 16 waiver questions you have.
The waiver wire can often be sparse at this time of year, but fantasy owners who need help at RB or WR are in luck, as a couple of backup running backs stand to inherit substantial workloads due to injuries, and a wide receiver in Atlanta is already making the most of injury-related opportunity. For more on these and other potential additions, read on ...
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (25% owned)
Widely available on waiver wires for the entirety of the season, Flacco draws a favorable Week 15 matchup against an Eagles defense that got off to a strong start this year but has sputtered recently. (He has a less attractive Week 6 matchup against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.) Entering Monday night’s game against the Patriots, Flacco had averaged 41.4 pass attempts and 271.5 yards per game, so while his season-long TD total (15 entering the Monday-night game), is less than inspiring, Flacco offers a safe yardage floor.
(Talent: B | Supporting cast: B | Schedule: B | OVERALL: B)
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (36% owned)
Kap burned a lot of people in Week 13 by laying an egg in Chicago, and his Week 14 performance in an overtime loss to the Jets was a mixed bag at best. But Kaepernick was on fire in Weeks 9-12 and draws a good matchup against a Falcons defense playing without ace CB Desmond Trufant, who’s on IR with a torn pectoral muscle. Kap is a risky proposition with a low potential floor, but we’ve seen the upside, and it’s immense.
(Talent: B | Supporting cast: C | Schedule: B | OVERALL: B-)
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (27% owned)
You know all about Smith’s pathological aversion to risk, which can torpedo his fantasy numbers on any given Sunday. His matchup this week against the Titans is a good one, so Smith is at least worth considering in 2QB leagues, and perhaps if you’re desperate in a deep 1QB league. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have consistently been making plays for Smith over the last month, and now WR Jeremy Maclin is back. So while Smith has frittered away good matchups at times this season, there’s still room for cautious optimism here.
(Talent: C | Supporting cast: B- | Schedule: B | OVERALL: C+)
With 43 or more pass attempts in five of his last seven games, Carson Wentz has some mild streaming appeal this week despite a challenging matchup against the Ravens. The impotence of the Denver running game gives Trevor Siemian some volume-based allure in his matchup against the Patriots this week. Sam Bradford is startable in 2QB leagues this week against the marshmallow-soft Colts. Lately, the Green Bay pass defense hasn’t been quite the 98-pound weakling that it was earlier this year, but the quarterback they face this week, Matt Barkley, might still be usable in 2QB leagues even though the Packers abused him when he came in for an injured Jay Cutler earlier this season. Owners in 2QB leagues might want to grab the Dolphins’ Matt Moore, a decent veteran backup who’ll be starting in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill and will have a favorable matchup against the Jets. Dak Prescott owners might want to grab Tony Romo ... just in case.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets (45% owned)
Powell is going to be snatched up in a lot of leagues this week even if the knee injury sustained by Matt Forte on Sunday turns out to be relatively minor. With Forte knocked out early in the Jets’ overtime win in San Francisco, Powell rampaged for 29-145-2 on the ground plus 5-34-0 receiving on five targets. Forte says his knee ligaments are intact, but his near-term availability is in question. The Jets’ Week 15 matchup against the Dolphins isn’t quite as RB-friendly as Sunday’s matchup with the 49ers, but Powell figures to get a dozen or more touches even if Forte plays, and if Forte is out, Powell will have one of the highest touch ceilings of any running back in the league this week.
(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: A | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: A-)
Kenneth Farrow, San Diego Chargers (2% owned)
With Melvin Gordon carted off with a hip injury that leaves his status in jeopardy for the next two weeks, the largely anonymous Farrow could become a key figure at this critical point in the fantasy season. Subbing for Gordon on Sunday, Farrow ran 16 times for 55 yards and caught all six of his targets for 23 yards. An undrafted rookie, Farrow rushed for exactly 2,000 yards and 26 TDs in his final two seasons at the University of Houston and demonstrated competency as a pass catcher. He now inherits a potentially enormous workload, and he gets great matchups against the Raiders and Browns the next two weeks. Whether to use him yourself or to prevent an opponent from grabbing him, Farrow should be at or near the top of your free-agent wish list this week.
(Talent: C | Opportunity: A | Schedule: A | OVERALL: A-)
Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens (45% owned)
Dixon enthusiasts had hoped the rookie from Louisiana Tech would have taken control of the Baltimore backfield by now, but alas, Dixon has been rotating with retread veteran Terrance West. In fact, West got 17 more snaps than Dixon in Week 13, halting a favorable workload trend for Dixon. As of this writing, Dixon and the Ravens had not yet played their Week 14 game against the Patriots, and if Dixon gets the majority of carries and turns in an eye-catching performance Monday night, he’ll probably be snapped up in leagues where he isn’t already owned. His upcoming matchups (Eagles and Steelers) aren’t particularly daunting.
(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: C+ | Schedule: C- | OVERALL: B)
Justin Forsett, Denver Broncos (20% owned)
In his first game with the Broncos, Forsett played only three fewer snaps than Devontae Booker and out-touched Booker 9-5. Forsett might be usable in deeper leagues this week, though a tough matchup against the Patriots keeps his ceiling low, and a Week 16 date in Kansas City won’t be a picnic.
(Talent: C- | Opportunity: B- | Schedule: C- | OVERALL: C)
Adrian Peterson and Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings (45% and 46% owned)
Might Peterson come back from his knee injury this week against the Colts? In Week 16 against the Packers? And even if he comes back in the next two weeks, what sort of workload would he get? The chances of Peterson being a playoff savior this season seem remote, but a player as talented as “All Day” might be worth a roster spot if you have room to spare, if for no other reason than to block opponents from grabbing him. If you need yardage, ignore Asiata. His 51 yards from scrimmage last week were the most Asiata has produced since Week 8. But Asiata has banged in a rushing touchdown in four of his last five games and has a reasonable chance to punch in a TD in any given week. His chances of doing so this week are more than reasonable against a soft Indianapolis defense.
(Peterson: Talent: A | Opportunity: D | Schedule: F | OVERALL: C)
(Asiata: Talent: C- | Opportunity: C | Schedule: B- | OVERALL: C)
Dwayne Washington, Detroit Lions (4% owned)
Washington’s Week 15 value will depend on the status of Theo Riddick, who sat out the Lions’ Week 14 win over the Bears with an ankle injury. Washington had 16 carries for 64 yards against Chicago and also had one catch for 10 yards. The Lions’ run-blocking is bad news, but if Riddick remains out, Washington is a potential volume play this week against a good but not great Giants run defense.
(Talent: C | Opportunity: B- | Schedule: C | OVERALL: C)
Charles Sims might be worth tucking away for a Week 16 date with the Saints, though it seems unrealistic to expect him to get significant touches as long as Doug Martin is healthy. James White has caught 14 passes in Dion Lewis’ first three games back from injury, so White still has some low-level value in deep PPR leagues. Paul Perkins is getting a half-dozen or more touches every week but hasn’t cleared 50 yards from scrimmage since Week 4.
Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons (48% owned)
With Julio Jones (turf toe) and Mohamed Sanu (groin) inactive in Week 14, Gabriel had three receptions for a season-high 82 yards and a TD against the Rams. And mind you, he put up those numbers in a blowout win over the Rams in which the Falcons were basically able to fold up the passing game shortly after Gabriel’s 64-yard walk-in touchdown early in the third quarter. Over his last six games, Gabriel has 18-397-5 receiving and 4-51-1 rushing. He’s caught 60 percent of his targets over that span, with an average of 22.06 yards per catch. He has tremendous matchups against the 49ers and Panthers the next two weeks, and if Jones is out again this week, Gabriel figures to be ranked as a top-25 receiver.
(Talent: B | Opportunity: A | Schedule: A+ | OVERALL: A)
Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers (23% owned)
With his ownership rate still inexplicably below 25%, I might have to start pounding my shoe on the table for Inman, a la Nikita Khrushchev. Inman has caught a TD pass in each of his last three games, with 14 catches for 239 yards over that stretch. He has attractive matchups against the Raiders and Browns over the next two weeks. Grab him if you need a spot starter in a standard league.
(Talent: B- | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: A- | OVERALL: B+)
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (36% owned)
Garcon recorded his third touchdown of the season last week, and while he hasn’t been a prolific TD scorer, he’s been a steady provider of receptions, averaging 4.9 catches per game. The shoulder injury that’s robbing Jordan Reed of his effectiveness could funnel a few extra targets Garcon’s way. He has a terrific matchup against the Panthers this week and a decent one against the Bears in Week 16. Garcon is obviously more attractive in PPR leagues than in standard leagues, but he’s a viable option even in standard formats.
(Talent: B | Opportunity: B | Schedule: A- | OVERALL: B+)
Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers (36% owned)
Eligible as a running back in some leagues, Montgomery has proven to be more effective in that capacity than either James Starks or Christine Michael, and it seems as if Mike McCarthy has finally come to acknowledge that fact. Montgomery’s production fell off in Weeks 10-12, but after totaling 56 yards from scrimmage against the Texans in Week 13, Monty had 9-41-1 rushing and 3-45-0 receiving Sunday against the Seahawks. I think he’s probably the best bet to lead the pass-heavy Packers in carries the rest of the way, but his matchups over the next two weeks (Bears, Vikings) aren’t ideal.
(Talent: B+ | Opportunity: B+ | Schedule: C- | OVERALL: B)
Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears (34% owned)
Meredith’s fantasy utility has waxed and waned this season, but I think we could get a harvest-moon version of Meredith this week against the Packers (a good thing). Meredith was busy against the Lions on Sunday, producing 6-72-1 on eight targets. Alshon Jeffrey returns from a four-game suspension this week, but that doesn’t mean Meredith’s targets will dry up. Bears WRs Marquess Wilson and Eddie Royal are both hurt, and Chicago hasn’t gotten much out of the TE position since Zach Miller’s season-ending injury. Now serving as the Bears’ primary slot receiver, Meredith should continue to get a fair number of looks from QB Matt Barkley.
(Talent: B- | Opportunity: B | Schedule: B+ | OVERALL: B)
Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns (44% owned)
Coleman was targeted 11 times in Robert Griffin III’s first start at quarterback for the Browns since Week 1, and while Coleman had only three catches for 26 yards, the fact that he had eight more targets than Terrelle Pryor would seem to bode well for Coleman’s short-term outlook. You can never feel entirely comfortable playing a wide receiver who’s at the mercy of the erratic RG3, but Coleman has some upside this week in a neutral-looking matchup against the Bills.
(Talent: A- | Opportunity: C | Schedule: C+ | OVERALL: B-)
After being a non-factor in the Seattle passing game for much of the year, Tyler Lockett, has 9-104-1 on 12 targets over the last two weeks, along with 4-99-1 rushing, which includes a 75-yard TD run. Robby Anderson has 10-160-1 receiving on a whopping 23 targets over the last two weeks; Bryce Petty’s go-to receiver has a good matchup against the Dolphins this week. Adam Thielen has 24-305-1 over his last four games and has quietly drawn within striking distance of a 1,000-yard season. Miami’s Kenny Stills could be a sneaky play this week against a Jets’ defense that appears to have checked out on head coach Todd Bowles. You can’t play New England’s Chris Hogan against the Broncos this week, but you might want to grab him now and pull him out of the sock drawer for a juicy Week 16 matchup against the Jets. Brandon LaFell has been targeted 31 times over his last four games, but he’s scored only one TD and has exceeded 38 yards just once over that stretch, and he has touch matchups (Steelers, Texans) the next two weeks. Anquan Boldin is yardage-challenged and has a tough Week 15 matchup with the Giants, but he has 55 receptions and seven TD catches this season. It’s hard to trust any of the Arizona receivers these days (with the possible exception of Larry Fitzgerald), but a matchup with the Saints this week gives Michael Floyd and J.J. Nelson lightning-in-a-bottle potential. Even in a difficult matchup against the Texans, Marqise Lee might have some low-level PPR appeal.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans (39% owned)
Fiedorowicz is the lone reasonably dependable fantasy tight end who’s widely available on waivers, and his status for Week 15 is uncertain due to the concussion he sustained on Sunday. If he’s able to play, Fiedorowicz will have a difficult matchup against a Jacksonville defense that’s been Scrooge-like to opposing tight ends. But Fiedorowicz has a promising Week 16 matchup against the Bengals, and forward-thinking owners might want to grab him now for Championship Week.
(Talent: C+ | Opportunity: B | Schedule: B- | OVERALL: B-)
Window shopping:Jermaine Gresham has caught five balls in three consecutive games and has a nice Week 15 matchup against the Saints. If Donte Moncrief can’t play this week due to a hamstring injury, Colts TEs Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle could see extra targets this week against the Vikings, though both are dicey plays.