FANTASY PLAYS: Waiver priorities - handcuff, bolster benches
Week 14 is typically the first week of the playoffs in many fantasy football leagues, so the free agent push this week is about bolstering benches, picking up key handcuffs and desperation plays for injuries or underperforming studs.
Here's a look at what the waiver wire can offer this week.
ANDY DALTON (QB, Bengals)
Dalton is coming off one of his better games of the season, hanging 332 passing yards and two touchdowns on the Eagles. This week, the Bengals face the lowly Browns, whose defense has allowed the most passing touchdowns (28) and notched the fewest sacks (17) in the NFL this season.
KENNETH DIXON (RB, Ravens)
Dixon continues to outplay and put up better stats than Terrance West despite playing fewer snaps and getting fewer touches. The Ravens may need Dixon's versatility and strength against a solid Patriots defense. West owners must have Dixon as a handcuff at the very least but he's also a decent flex play.
CHARLES SIMS (RB, Buccaneers)
Sims will likely be activated by Tampa Bay prior to its Week 14 game against the Saints. Only seven teams allow more fantasy points to running backs than New Orleans. As the Bucs' best pass-catching back, Sims should receive a healthy dose of targets. Only one team allows more passing yards per game than the Saints (277 ypg).
JUSTIN FORSETT (RB, Broncos)
Kapri Bibbs was placed on the injured reserve list, so the Broncos claimed Forsett to replace him. Forsett had the best season of his career in 2014, when Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator for the Ravens, so he should be able to pick up Denver's playbook without difficulty. Given Devontae Booker's continued struggles, Forsett just might get an opportunity to revive his career, which is currently on life support. He's a longshot gamble for a desperate fantasy owner.
ADRIAN PETERSON (RB, Vikings)
There is a good chance that Peterson will be back on the field for Week 15. The Vikings face the Colts then, and the Green Bay Packers in Week 16. Peterson should be picked up by fantasy owners with a spare roster spot - just in case.
SHANE VEREEN (RB, Giants)
Vereen is easily the Giants' best playmaking back, especially in the passing game. Prior to his injury, he was leading the Giants RB corps in touches, and the team is desperate for an offensive shot in the arm.
MALCOLM MITCHELL (WR, Patriots)
Rob Gronkowski's season is over and Danny Amendola (ankle) is sidelined, which opens the door for Mitchell to pick up additional playing time. Mitchell has received 22 targets over the last three games, second only to Julian Edelman (40), and he's caught three touchdown passes during that span.
TYLER LOCKETT (WR, Seahawks)
Lockett appears to have overcome the knee injury that hampered his performance for several weeks. He broke loose for a 75-yard touchdown and picked up 63 yards with his five receptions in Week 13. The Seahawks love his explosive playmaking ability and will get the ball into his hands as often as possible now that he's fully healthy. This week, Seattle faces the Packers, who have a secondary defense with more holes than Swiss cheese.
TAYLOR GABRIEL (WR, Falcons)
Julio Jones is nursing a bad case of turf toe and Mohamed Sanu is banged up, too. That leaves Gabriel as the Falcons' most healthy receiver. The Falcons face the Rams, 49ers and Panthers over the next three weeks, and all three teams have poor pass defenses. Gabriel is a strong WR2 option for fantasy owners in need of receiver help.
BRANDON LAFELL (WR, Bengals)
LaFell has been Andy Dalton's most targeted receiver since A.J. Green went down and he was the top producing receiver against the Eagles in Week 13, with 95 yards and a touchdown. The matchup with the Browns should provide LaFell with ample opportunities to rack up yardage and score.
LADARIUS GREEN (TE, Steelers)
Green made his presence felt with six receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Giants in Week 13. With opposing defenses concentrating on Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, Green will become Ben Roethlisberger's go-to receiver, especially in the red zone where he's a nice big target. Green is now a must-own TE if he's available in your league.
VERNON DAVIS (TE, Redskins)
Davis is a terrific stand-in for Jordan Reed and we know he'll be targeted if he's the starting tight end. However, if Reed returns from his shoulder injury this week, Davis becomes waiver wire fodder as the second banana. Keep an eye on the injury news before picking Davis up.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com