Waiver Wire Weekly: Crucial additions for fantasy playoffs

Dolphins+quarterback+Ryan+Fitzpatrick+fights+off+Eagles+defenders+in+the+third+quarter.+The+Eagles+were+called+for+roughing+the+passer+on+the+play.+

Allen Eyestone, The Palm Beach Post | TNS

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fights off Eagles defenders in the third quarter. The Eagles were called for roughing the passer on the play.

By Adin Link, Staff Writer

For many fantasy formats, this will be the first week of the playoffs so the stakes are higher than ever. Having a significant contributor in every slot of your lineup is crucial for survival in the postseason. If you own a fantasy star that suffered an injury in Week 13, like Dalvin Cook, you might start to panic. However, if you can find a waiver-wire steal you may be able to keep your season alive. Expect these players to give your squad a boost in Week 14.

*The %OWN statistic is based on ESPN standard leagues on Dec. 3.

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Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans, %OWN: 21.4%

Who would have guessed it would be Tannehill who would completely reshape the scope of the Titans’ season? Ever since Tennessee benched former starter Marcus Mariota in favor of Tannehill, it has suddenly inserted itself into the playoff conversation. Still on the outside looking in, the Titans will have to lean on Tannehill in the playoffs to finish the season strong.

Last week against a tough Colts defense Tannehill went 17/22 for 182 yards and two touchdowns, and this is only a week removed from a 259-yard, two-touchdown performance. Tannehill is an especially favorable play in Week 14 against a struggling Raiders defense that has allowed 40 and 34 points in back-to-back weeks.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins, %OWN: 5.4%

Fitzpatrick typically hits his semi-annual hot stride to start the NFL season, but this year he’s closing his season strong. He carved up the Eagles in Week 13, going 27/39 with 365 yards and three touchdown passes. When he gets hot he is the type of quarterback no team wants to play.

The Dolphins have had two young weapons emerge for their offense in Devante Parker and Mike Gesicki, aiding Fitzpatrick in his breakout. In addition, he will face the lowly Jets in Week 14, who just handed the previously winless Bengals their first win of the season.

Running Backs

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings, %OWN: 17.7%

Vikings star back Dalvin Cook was removed from their Week 13 matchup against the Seahawks with what is being called a shoulder injury. Cook’s status will need to be monitored throughout this week’s practice as he is currently “questionable.” But the Vikings may decide to play it safe with Cook and maintain his health for the playoffs.

If this is the case, Mattison will be a must-add player for Week 14. Though he plays in a very limited capacity when Cook is healthy, fantasy owners will quickly learn that he is a talented runner. Mattison thrives in his limited role with hard-nosed running and proficiency in the passing game, so when he is thrust into a starting role expect him to put up Cook-like numbers.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks, %OWN: 37.6%

Penny has burst onto the scene in the last two weeks, even with fellow Seahawks back Chris Carson healthy. He received the bulk of work in Week 12 against the Eagles after Carson fumbled twice and, even though he split carries with Carson in Week 13, both players were very effective.

In Week 13 against the Vikings, Penny carried 15 times for 74 yards and a touchdown and added four catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. He has capitalized on his increased touches over the last two weeks and shown enough that the Seahawks must use him in a larger role in the upcoming weeks.

Wide Receivers

Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears, 10.3%

Miller feasted on Thanksgiving Day, running up and down the field on the Lions defense to the tune of nine catches for a grand total of 140 yards in Week 13. He has become the featured receiver in the Bears offense in the last two weeks — perhaps becoming the favorite target of struggling quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Sometimes the best thing for a quarterback trying to find a rhythm is to find a security blanket and Miller has become just that for Trubisky. The Bears will face the Cowboys defense in Week 13 that a good time in Week 14 as Dallas was just torched by the Bills in Week 13.

James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers, %OWN: 22.6%

The Steelers decided to stick with Devlin “Duck” Hodges at quarterback, and with that comes the emergence of receiver James Washington. With Hodges at the helm, Washington has posted back-to-back monster weeks with long touchdowns in Week 12 and Week 13. Against the Browns last week he hauled in four passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Washington was seemingly headed for a disappointing year with Mason Rudolph leading the Steelers, but with “Duck” being named the starter for the foreseeable future your fantasy team should benefit from their rapport.

Tight Ends

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts, %OWN: 45.9%

The Colts’ tight end situation was becoming very unpredictable with the bulk of fantasy points flipping between Doyle and Eric Ebron from week to week. But with Ebron suffering a season-ending injury in Week 12, Doyle is now the clear leader for the Colts in that position. He assured fantasy owners of his number one status in Week 13, catching six passes for 73 yards and a touchdown against a formidable Titans defense. Expect him to continue being a favorite target of quarterback Jacoby Brissett and earning plenty of redzone opportunities.

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins, %OWN: 10.3%

The athletic playmaker was struggling to find his role in the Dolphins offense for much of his rookie and sophomore season the NFL. But Gesicki seems to be figuring it out, catching touchdowns in the last two weeks. In Week 13 against the Eagles, he caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. He was dubbed an athletic freak coming out of college and projected to be a dynamic playmaker in the NFL, and that now seems to be coming to fruition with his increased usage. 

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