Week 14 represents the final week of the regular season for the majority of fantasy leagues. If you don’t fall in that group, you are either at the end of your regular season or the beginning of your playoffs. Either way, none of us needed more byes and more injured quarterbacks, but that is exactly what we got. With Trevor Lawrence, Derek Carr and Kenny Pickett all going down this week, and Arizona and Washington on bye in Week 14, we need help from the waiver wire more than ever. All we can do is take a deep breath in, slowly let it out, and say to ourselves, let’s take a look at who is available in Week 14.
As always, let’s start with..
Gardner Minshew has Indianapolis back in the playoff hunt and he has been on fire lately. On Sunday he beat Tennessee by throwing 26 completions for 312 yards and two touchdowns. Minshew is available in 90 percent of leagues and if you need a quarterback after all the madness of last week he is a perfect answer for you in Week 14, right?
On second thought, maybe not?
Now look, with all the carnage that happened this week, if he is the only guy available, you could do worse. It’s just that there are better options out there. Minshew is a gunslinger and will make some mistakes. He does not have multiple touchdown games very often, and is on the road for the second week in a row, in Week 14 against Cincinnati. Again, if you had to use him you could do worse but I would rather see you pick up someone like Matthew Stafford.
Stafford is still available in 68 percent of leagues and is playing great for the Los Angeles Rams. He has all his old weapons back and has added new weapons to go along with them. Stafford completed 22 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Cleveland. He did it using his running backs, tight ends and Puka Nacua. He didn’t even use Cooper Kupp who hasn’t been himself lately but we all know what he is capable of and will be around when it matters. Stafford has massive weapons and is playing well. Pick him up if you need him. Everyone seems to be panicked because the Rams play Baltimore next week. If you hadn’t noticed, the Rams just played Cleveland and in my opinion the Cleveland defense is better than Baltimore. So stop overthinking it and grab Stafford.
Let me be the first to say, Jake Browning. OK, I don’t know if I am the first, but I certainly haven’t seen anybody else say his name. Of course after Monday night I am sure there will be many more besides myself mentioning him today. Look, it’s pretty easy to see. In fact, what we saw, was all that we needed to see. Some of us had watched him tear it up in the Pac-12 and knew he had talent. We also hadn’t forgotten that he had massive talent on that Cincinnati offense. So what we needed to see, was him put it all together, play like he was capable of with that offense in an actual game and look composed and win. He did just that on Monday night. Browning led Cincinnati to a win over Jacksonville on Monday night by completing 32-of-37 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown and 22 rushing yards with a rushing touchdown. He looked comfortable. He looked composed. Browning looked good people. I’m not saying he’s going to lead Cincinnati to the playoffs, but I am saying he is talented and he has a talented roster. Many managers need help at quarterback and Browning is available in 88 percent of leagues.
Tyjae Spears helped Tennessee stay in the game against Indianapolis after Derrick Henry had to exit due to a head injury. Spears had 16 rushes for 75 yards and caught four balls for 13 yards as well. There has been a lot of talk of Spears as a strong pickup since he is available in 68 percent of leagues and is more than capable if needed to fill in for Henry. He should be a top priority in Week 14, right?
On second thought, wrong.
Spears has in fact been efficient when given opportunities this season but Tennessee has, and therein lies the problem. Spears is not a generational talent like Henry and cannot overcome the inefficiencies that offense has over the course of a whole game. Tennessee will be facing Miami in Week 14. This will most likely mean a negative game script which means very little running and much more passing. This will lead to way less opportunities for Spears. Add to that Henry is currently not actually in the concussion protocol. Nobody knows how he cleared it so quickly or even if he was in it. Nonetheless, it seems that Spears has many reasons to not trust him in your line up in Week 14.
If you need help at the running back position you should look instead at Carolina. Chuba Hubbard is doing great things in Carolina. I told you to shy away from him last week and I was wrong. I am a big enough man to admit that. It’s just that at the time, I didn’t see enough consistency there. However, I am not going to “stand my ground” on this one and let a great running back get by me on the waiver wire. I already possibly cost many of you that opportunity as he is only available in 41 percent of leagues. As I have mentioned in the past I usually only mention players who are 50 percent or above but this time of the year a good running back who is still a little above 40 percent gets a mention. You need to at least see if he is available in your league.
Hubbard had 25 carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. According to multiple sources, interim head coach Chris Tabor likes Hubbard and it looks like he figures to see a big workload again in Week 14 against New Orleans. You should be able to start him with confidence.
Ezekiel Elliott will be getting a larger workload with New England as well. He is expected to get more playing time because Rhamondre Stevenson hurt his ankle on Sunday and will not play on Thursday. The two-time NFL rushing leader is available in 64 percent of leagues. Elliott is nursing a thigh injury but is expected to play on Thursday against Pittsburgh. Filling in for Stevenson on Sunday, Elliott got 52 yards on 17 carries and added another 40 yards on four receptions. On a short week you can always expect a Bill Belichick offense to lean on the running back, so expect good things from Elliott in Week 14.