Fantasy Football 2019: Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups

If you need some help for a playoff matchup, here are a few players to consider grabbing off the waiver wire heading into Week 15.
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Did you survive another week? If so, congratulations! You cleared your first hurdle on the way to a fantasy championship. The competition only gets tougher from here. Navigating the waiver wire is still an important part of the process. Even if your players are healthy, don’t be afraid to make a move if it betters your team in Week 15. Below are players I recommend adding who are owned in fewer than 40% of leagues on Yahoo and/or ESPN. All point totals referenced are for PPR leagues.

QUARTERBACKS

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Tannehill got right back on track with a huge fantasy day against the Raiders on Sunday. He threw for 391 yards, three touchdowns and a pick, finishing with 27.5 fantasy points. Some fell off the bandwagon after he had only 13.8 points against the Colts in Week 14, but he actually played well in that game too. Since Week 7, only Lamar Jackson is averaging more fantasy points per game than Tannehill’s 22.6 (minimum four games). He only has one game as a starter below 18.9 fantasy points and three games with 23 points or more. He gets a home game this week against a Texans team that was just carved up by rookie Drew Lock and is one of the three worst defenses in the NFL against fantasy quarterbacks. He’s a solid QB1 again in Week 15 and still available in 60% of ESPN leagues and the majority of Yahoo ones.

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

I’m going to cheat a little for this one. Rivers doesn’t quite meet the 60% availability threshold this article adheres to, but there are no other QBs available in that many leagues that I’d rank in the Top 20 at the position this week. Rivers is on the waiver wire in 57% of ESPN and 43% of Yahoo leagues and has a better matchup than one would think against Minnesota at home. The Vikings rank right in the middle of the pack against fantasy QBs this season, but those numbers are boosted a bit by facing the likes of David Blough, Brandon Allen, Matt Moore and Case Keenum in their last six games. None of those QBs scored more than 15 fantasy points against them. But Minnesota has been more vulnerable against better QBs. Here are the fantasy point totals of the other four QBs they’ve faced in their last eight games: Carson Wentz (21.5), Matthew Stafford (29.6), Dak Prescott (26.9) and Russell Wilson (17.9). Rivers is playing a little better since the bye, completing 71% of his passes with five TDs and only one pick in the last two weeks on the road. He has 41.2 combined fantasy points in that stretch and now returns home. He’s a mid-level QB2 this week that can get you by.

RUNNING BACKS

DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders

Josh Jacobs’s injury status is the main catalyst for Washington being on this list. We found out last week that Jacobs, the likely offensive rookie of the year, has a shoulder fracture. It prevented him from playing against the Titans on Sunday and makes his rest of season status murky at best. Washington got two-thirds of the carry split with Jalen Richard on Sunday and that trend should hold if Jacobs is forced to miss Week 15. Washington had 53 yards and a touchdown but maybe more importantly was a major factor in the receiving game. He had a team-high seven targets and tied for a team-high with six receptions for 43 yards. The Jaguars are on tap and they’re one of the worst defenses in the NFL at defending the run. Washington would be an RB2 this week if Jacobs is inactive and should be added as insurance regardless.

Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The timeshare in the Buccaneers’ backfield has frustrated fantasy owners all season, so it’s understandable if you want to avoid it altogether in the semifinals. However, let’s not ignore the matchup in front of us. The Lions are one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL and are a Top 3 defense for fantasy running backs to face. Head coach Bruce Arians said he wants to try to establish the run more, but his team keeps falling behind early. They shouldn’t have that problem against Detroit. Both Barber and Ronald Jones got 11 carries against the Colts, but Barber has outcarried by Jones 50-44 over the last five weeks, and that includes a goose egg for Barber in Week 11 against the Saints. Excluding that game, Barber has at least 11 carries in every other game since Week 10. The Lions have given up 19 total touchdowns to running backs this season and Barber tends to get the red zone work. Barber is a solid flex play in standard leagues and is an option for those in any type of PPR format if desperate.

Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins

Laird won’t win you your fantasy matchup, but he’ll give you solid production in a flex spot so your superstars can carry you. Laird wasn’t super efficient against the Jets on Sunday but did have the volume you like to see (19 touches). He finished with 86 total yards and four catches, giving him a perfectly serviceable 12.6 PPR fantasy points one week after scoring 16.8 fantasy points. The Dolphins stay in New Jersey to take on the Giants this week. Even though the Giants aren’t a great matchup, it’ll actually be the worst defense against fantasy running backs Laird has faced in the last three weeks. Given the injuries to DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely have fewer weapons at his disposal than usual this week. That’s potentially good news for Laird, who could see an increase to his reception totals as a dump off option.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

Please don’t drop Mattison or leave him on the waiver wire another week if he’s there. That’s essentially the whole purpose of him making this list. He’s an elite handcuff for Dalvin Cook owners and should continue to get enough work to hang around flex territory for the rest of the season. He had 16 touches vs. Cook’s 20 last week, and while that exact percentage of a split won’t continue, it would not be surprising to see Mattison around that 15-touch mark for the rest of the season. He has standalone value this week against a Chargers team that ranks in the bottom 10 in the NFL against fantasy running backs. The Vikings should run early and often against the Chargers, which should allow for Mattison to get enough work to be flex relevant this week. Even if you don’t feel comfortable playing him in Week 15, he needs to be on the end of your bench in case Cook re-injures himself at any point.

WIDE RECEIVERS

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

Brown is a classic example of what volatility at the WR3 position looks like and why it shouldn’t scare fantasy managers away. Since Ryan Tannehill took over as a starter, Brown has scored 12.2, 9.1, 12.1, 2.7, 23.5, 7.5 and 33.6 fantasy points. That’s an average of 14.4 fantasy points per game, good enough to be the No. 24 overall wide receiver since Week 7. For some season-long context, the range of a typical WR3 in full-PPR leagues in 2019 is 12.7-14.6 points per game. The ups and downs that the last four weeks have displayed are why Brown isn’t higher than WR3 territory, but he’s really only had one game that was an absolute bust since Tannehill took over. That makes him a relatively safe option for the semi-finals, especially against a Texans secondary that ranks as one of the bottom six teams in the NFL in passing defense and just got lit up by Drew Lock.

Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills

Beasley is becoming a touchdown machine lately. He’s scored in three consecutive games and in six of eight since Buffalo’s bye. He’s finding a way to get the job done, either by volume or by reaching the end zone, since Week 7. He’s the No. 29 WR in PPR formats in that time frame, averaging 13.7 points per game with only two games under a double-digit point total. Beasley is averaging six targets per game in that period of time, and 7.7 per game over the last three weeks. He’s been Josh Allen’s most consistent option lately and this week’s matchup against the Steelers isn’t one to fear. Pittsburgh ranks in the middle of the pack against slot receivers this season, but just allowed 8/85/0 to Christian Kirk last week and 5/101/1 to Tyler Boyd three weeks ago. Beasley is a borderline WR3 this week on Sunday Night Football.

Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts

I’m finally buying in to Pascal a little more after his 5/74/1 performance against the Buccaneers in Week 14. His nine targets were just as encouraging as his point total and are the reason why you should feel comfortable with him as a WR3 this week. It appears that T.Y. Hilton may be done for the year (or at least the regular season) and Parris Campbell isn’t going to step into as big of a role as I expected after his return from injury. That leaves Pascal as the clear-cut top option after getting 19 targets over the last two games. The Buccaneers are a phenomenal matchup that won’t be matched again this season, but the Saints haven’t exactly been stingy to fantasy wide receivers this season. New Orleans was a bottom 10 team against wide receivers even before Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel torched them. Unless you’re loaded at the position, there’s no need for Pascal to be anywhere but your starting lineup this week.

Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans won’t play again this season, but don’t expect Tampa Bay’s passing offense to miss a beat. That means someone aside from Chris Godwin will need to step up in Evans’s place and produce. First up on the depth chart is Perriman, who was the No. 3 option prior to Evans’s injury. He had 3/70/1 on five targets last week after having 5/87/0 on six targets the week prior. He should see at least a half-dozen targets per game the rest of the way. Perriman has four games this season with five or more targets and is averaging 11.7 fantasy points per game in those contests and 14.6 in the three that have come since Week 9. The Lions, Texans and Falcons are on the schedule for the remainder of the season, all favorable matchups. He’ll flirt with WR3 territory this week. Also keep an eye on Justin Watson who will be the actual replacement for Evans on the field. Pay close attention to Jameis Winston’s injury throughout the week, though.

Allen Hurns, Miami Dolphins

There may be an opportunity for a major role this week for Hurns. DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson both left Week 14’s game with concussions and their status for this weekend is up in the air. Hurns could find himself as Miami’s No. 1 receiver against a Giants secondary that’s allowed the third-most points to the position this season and are the worst team in the NFL against WR1s. It’s tough to trust Hurns as anything more than a WR4 but if you’re in a deep league and need a Hail Mary he’s worth an add. He’s averaging four catches, 6.3 targets and 9.9 fantasy points per game over the last four weeks with everyone healthy. A boost to those numbers this week should see him finish among the Top 40 WRs.

TIGHT ENDS

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Njoku didn’t have the great performance in his first game since being activated off IR many hoped for, but it’s important that he was out there and shook off some of the rust. That means he should be ready to roll in the best matchup of the season for him against the Cardinals in Arizona this week. Despite shutting down Steelers tight end Vance McDonald prior to his injury, the Cardinals are still by far the worst defense in the NFL against tight ends. Some fun with numbers: Arizona was allowing an average of 19.7 fantasy points per game to the position this season. For context, Austin Hooper is the No. 1 TE in fantasy this season with 16.0 points per game. No. 2 is Travis Kelce at 15.6 points per game. It’s worth starting any viable tight end against Arizona in the hopes they have a monster day.

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Howard has assumed a bigger role in the Buccaneers’ offense over the last two weeks and should continue to see an increased role with Mike Evans out. He has nine catches and 11 targets over the last two games, finishing with 11.1 and 11.3 fantasy points, respectively. Anything above nine points is good enough for TE1 territory on average this season. It’s hard to envision Howard not scoring in double figures again this week against a nothing-special Lions defense. Keep an eye on Jameis Winston’s injury, though.

Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

Fant had a monster game against the Texans—four catches for 113 yards and a score—before injuring his foot. X-rays on his foot came back negative, so the injury is considered minor, but he’s also dealing with some sort of hip injury. You’ll need to keep an eye on the injury report all week, but if he plays he’s got a juicy matchup against a Chiefs defense that has struggled against fantasy tight ends this season. In fact, he doesn’t play a defense that ranks in the top half of the league against fantasy tight ends for the rest of the season. If you’re in a bind and need upside over safety at the position, don’t be afraid to take a chance on Fant.

More Advice From SI Fantasy

— Week 15 PPR Rankings from FullTime Fantasy: QB, RB, WR, TE

— Dr. Roto’s Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em, including praise for Patrick Laird

— Frankie Taddeo’s Week 15 streaming options: Darius Slayton, Jimmy G and more

— Jaime Eisner’s stock watch on the players trending up and down

— Mark Deming’s Target and Snap Report combs through the data for fantasy nuggets