Unless your league is crazy and plays in Week 17 (which, make no mistake, is crazy), this week is either the final one of the regular season or the first week of the playoffs. Consequently, it’s not a time to get too cute by picking up obscure free agents and plugging them into your lineup.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure any of these guys are plug and play options, but if you’re in a pinch and looking at the waiver wire for potential help this week or depth down the stretch, here are a few guys you might be considering.
As always, players listed here are owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: QB
Matt Moore (18%), Miami
After passing for one score and running for another against the Raiders, Moore now has six total touchdowns over the last three games and nine scores over the last five. He’s not going to put up gaudy yardage numbers, so even against the disappointing Philly defense, Moore is just a QB2. However, he does have solid matchups against the Bills and Patriots the following two weeks.
Christian Ponder (14%), Minnesota
The Denver-Minnesota game featured some of the worst pass defense I have ever seen, so don’t go overboard when you look at Ponder’s 381 passing yards and three scores.
He still made some poor throws, and this was the first time he’s thrown for over 236 yards since being named the starter. Ponder also turned the ball over three times for the second time in his last three games. Like Moore, he’s a QB2 in a matchup with the Lions next week.
Rex Grossman (11%), Washington
If you’re looking for a pure matchup play this week, Grossman is the guy. Yes, he was abysmal against the Jets on Sunday, going 19-of-46 for 221 yards. But you know who else is abysmal? Dan Orlovsky, who threw for the 353 yards and two scores against the Patriots, who just so happen to be Grossman’s next opponent.
A potential point of caution, in addition to the fact that it’s Rex Grossman, is that the Redskins may well be without tight end Fred Davis and tackle Trent Williams, who will be suspended according to some news blurbs I saw on Sunday.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: RB
Maurice Morris (45%), Detroit
Kevin Smith reinjured his ankle, which opened the door for Morris to see 17 touches in the Detroit backfield. He wasn’t particularly effective on the ground with 28 yards on 12 carries, but he did catch five passes for 47 yards and a score.
Assuming Smith misses Sunday’s game against the Vikings, Morris is in line to get the bulk of the workload. Even though Minnesota has allowed a couple big games to opposing runners within the last few weeks, Morris seems best-suited as a flex option or maybe a low-end RB2 in PPR leagues.
Toby Gerhart (42%), Minnesota
After a disappointing performance in Week 12, Gerhart bounced back with 91 rushing yards to go with eight receptions for 42 yards against the Broncos. There is some speculation that the Vikings will sit Adrian Peterson again next week, which would mean another heavy workload for Gerhart.
There obviously isn’t much to play for in Minnesota, so rushing Peterson back simply doesn’t make sense. Gerhart would have a chance to run against the Suh-less Detroit defense, making him at least a flex play again. Don’t count on a repeat of the eight catches though.
Marion Barber (38%), Chicago
I mentioned Barber as a potential add last week, and he’s sure to be a more popular selection this week after Matt Forte’s knee injury. Nothing definitive has been released yet about Forte, but he’s most certainly out this week.
Barber faces a Denver defense that has been decent against the run in recent weeks and won’t have to respect the pass given what we saw from Caleb Hanie this week. Still, Barber had at least six fantasy points in standard leagues in five of six games heading into Week 13, so he’s at least been consistent. Consider him a flex option for this week in standard leagues.
Donald Brown (21%), Indianapolis
Once again, Brown garnered more touches than starter Joseph Addai, finishing with 56 total yards and a TD. In PPR leagues, Brown now has at least eight fantasy points in six of the last seven weeks, and he’s posted double digit points in five of those contests. That said, the matchup against the Ravens this week is not a favorable one, making him a flex play at best. Brown has better matchup against the Titans in Week 15 though, so keep that in mind.
Ricky Williams (8%), Baltimore
This is definitely reserved for deeper leagues, but the Ravens came out determined to run it down Cleveland’s throat and they did just that with Ray Rice rushing for over 200 yards and Williams getting 76 yards and a TD as well. Against the Colts, Chargers, and Browns, it’s not inconceivable that the Ravens use a similar gameplan (although with Cam Cameron you never know), which potentially gives Williams some value. It would be an extremely gutsy move to play him, but he’s not a bad option to have on your bench in case of emergency.
Isaac Redman (5%), Pittsburgh
Pretty much the same story as Ricky Williams here. Redman rushed for 51 yards as the backup runner this week, and the Steelers face Cleveland this week and St. Louis in Week 16.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: WR
Johnny Knox (48%), Chicago
I realize that starting any Chicago wideout as long as Caleb Hanie is the QB seems like a suicide mission, but Knox was the most-targeted Bears receiver on Sunday, finishing with five grabs for 53 yards. Chicago faces a Denver secondary that was embarrassed by Percy Harvin and the Vikings on Sunday. Knox is certainly a risky play, but there is some upside here.
Robert Meachem (48%), New Orleans
While Meachem made a couple big plays en route to a 119-yard, one score game against the Lions, keep in mind that he had been shut out in two of the last three games heading into that matchup. The Saints do have a couple decent matchups coming up, but this is a guy who hasn’t caught more than four passes since Week Three and has broken 70 yards just once.
Nate Burleson (39%), Detroit
When Burleson wasn’t getting flagged for offensive pass interference Sunday night, he caught five passes for 93 yards, his fourth straight game with at least five catches. This week Detroit faces a Minnesota defense was ridiculously inept against the Denver passing game, which makes Burleson a potential matchup play.
Damian Williams (25%), Tennessee
Williams continues to be Matt Hasselbeck’s favorite target, and the Titans have a couple favorable matchups coming up. They face the Saints this week followed by the Colts in Week 15, and both of those defenses are among the ten teams allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. In PPR leagues, Williams has double digit points in five of the last six games.
Riley Cooper (10%), Philadelphia
The good news is that Cooper led the Eagles with 94 receiving yards. The bad news is that he could have done much more if not for a couple critical drops. If Jeremy Maclin is out again this week, Cooper is a potential flex or WR3 option after posting at least 70 yards for three straight weeks.
Demaryius Thomas (4%), Denver
After catching a TD in Week Seven and prompting owners (myself included) to snatch him off the waiver wire, Thomas had posted four receptions for 76 yards in the five games since, but he took advantage of an Eddie Royal injury and abysmal secondary play on Sunday against Minnesota. He finished with four catches, 144 yards, and two scores.
This week’s matchup against the Bears should be much tougher, and Thomas’ inconsistency makes him even riskier. Denver takes on the Patriots in Week 15 and the Bills in Week 16, so he does have better matchups on the horizon. He might be worth stashing on your bench, but you’re braver than I am if you put him in your lineup with your season on the line.
Brad Smith (3%), Buffalo
Smith was named a starter for the Bills this week and responded well with seven catches and 72 yards on 10 targets. He now has at 149 yards in the last two weeks and looks like a potential flex option down the stretch, particularly in PPR leagues. A matchup against Denver in Week 16 is particularly enticing.
Andre Roberts (2%), Arizona
For those tempted to pick up Roberts after his six-catch, 111-yard day against the Cowboys, let me offer a few words of caution. First, the matchup against San Francisco next week is a brutal one. Second, this was the first time Roberts tallied over 55 receiving yards this season, and it was only the second time with over four receptions. Third, Kevin Kolb is his quarterback.
Golden Tate (1%), Seattle
With Sidney Rice on IR, Tate drew the starting assignment and did a nice job against the Eagles, finishing with four catches for 47 yards and a TD. It was his second straight game with a score, and Pete Carroll said he expects his role to continue to increase down the stretch. His best matchup is this week against the Rams, who are among the worst pass defenses in the league. Games against Chicago and San Francisco in the following two weeks are much tougher, so if you want to use him, this is the week to do it.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: TE
Heath Miller (47%), Pittsburgh
With just six catches and 63 yards over the past three weeks, this seems like a stretch, but the matchup with Cleveland has traditionally been a good one for Miller. He has TDs in each of the past two games against the Browns and has scored five times in their last eight matchups. He also has at least 50 yards in six of their last seven games against each other. As with so many of these guys, there is risk involved, but at least in this case, history is on your side.
Jermaine Gresham (43%), Cincinnati
Gresham was robbed of a touchdown again this week due to a false start call, so he could easily have a score in each of the last three games if not for a couple odd plays. The Bengals take on the Texans this week, and while Houston has been tough on opposing tight ends for most of the season, they just allowed seven catches and 100 yards to Tony Gonzalez. Gresham continues to be the second most targeted Cincinnati receiver, making him a potential option this week.
Streaming Defense(s) of the Week
Denver (40%) vs. Chicago
The Broncos gave up more points than in recent weeks, but they did manage to create three turnovers and score a defensive touchdown against the Vikings. Von Miller should be back next week against a Bears offense missing Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, which as we saw on Sunday is not exactly a juggernaut.
Seattle (15%) vs. St. Louis
The Seahawks have held three of their last four opponents to 17 points or less and are coming off of a four-turnover effort against the Eagles. Meanwhile, the Rams have scored over 13 points just three times this season. Looking ahead, the Seahawks take on the Bears in Week 15, making them a viable option for more than one week.
Have any questions or feedback? Leave them in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@andybottoms).