Are you ready for Week 14, for the first week of fantasy playoffs? Are you ready to make a run at the trophy and show your league you belong there? Are you ready for some Week 14 football?
Whether this is the first week of your playoffs of the last week of your regular season, Week 14 will be one of your biggest and most nerve wracking weeks this year.
Depending on your team’s situation, the waiver wire could figure in prominently to the outcome of your week. If you are dealing with some of the late season injuries or trying to bolster your roster before your big playoff push, the waiver wire could really help you out. And the beautiful thing is many owners give up on them this time of year leaving them open for you to pick from.
Some owners are fed up, so they won’t go near the wire, and some are worried about messing too much with their lineup since it was good enough to get them there. Whatever the reason is, waiver wire activity typically sees a decline during the playoff weeks and this is your chance to make a good decision and pounce.
Decisions, even in this week, are crucial. Make the right ones and you will help yourself through the playoffs, make the wrong ones and you may be kicking yourself all the way to next year’s draft. The good news is that there are still some great waiver wire claims to be made out there, so let’s talk about them and as always, let’s start with the quarterbacks.
Have you heard that there is this quarterback in Cleveland by the name of Johnny Manziel? That sarcasm was directed at all of the football networks and shows that decided this was the most important piece of NFL information that needed to lead off every single broadcast on Monday.
Well, I have a bigger newsflash. It doesn’t matter. This news is as important as any piece of Tim Tebow news we had to endure during his years in the league. Johnny Manziel was named the starter for Cleveland going into this next week and I couldn’t care less. I’m not going to tell you about his improvement the last few times he’s played which graduated him to mediocre at best. I’m not going to tell you about his unwelcoming schedule in Weeks 15 and 16.
What I am going to tell you is to not by into the hype. To not get caught up in the entitled, spoiled little brat getting all the media attention in the NFL. Does that seem too harsh? Sorry, I guess my tolerance for slackers who have been given so much and yet seem to squander it away is very low these days.
The good news is, my rant is over. The better news is that if you were considering Manziel there are two QBs who seem to be on the polar opposite path as Johnny “Ryan Leaf” Football, the first of which is Marcus Mariota.
I have talked up Mariota often this year, and he has had a pretty good rookie season and yet he is still available in 58% of leagues. Why people, why?
Look, if you are in the playoffs and you need help, you need someone who is going to get you sure points every week and give you the potential to explode every week as well. Marcus gives you that, just like this last week against Jacksonville when he threw for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns as well as running for 112 yards and another TD.
Mariota makes this game look very easy at times and since he is still a rookie he is still getting better every game. I can’t state it enough or with more conviction, if you need help at this point of the season at QB pick up Mariota, and if you are in a dynasty league you should have done it weeks ago.
As hyper as I am on Mariota, I am equally as excited about Tyrod Taylor who I have also mentioned quite a few times this season and is also still available in 54% of leagues. Tyrod and Marcus have very similar playing styles. They give you nice numbers through the air and can put you over the top with their legs.
This last week against the surging defense of the Houston Texans, Taylor put up 211 yards passing and 3 touchdowns and added 28 yards on the ground with another TD as well. With his Weeks 14-16 schedule being the Eagles, Washington and the Cowboys, respectively, I do not see any downside to picking him up and inserting him into your playoff lineup.
As far as Taylor is concerned, with the way he has been playing lately and that easy of a playoff schedule, I could in all reality see him being a top-5 QB over the playoff weeks. So unless you are completely sure of your QB, you may want to seriously consider grabbing him off the waiver wire and plugging him in immediately.
Let’s stay in New York but switch to running backs. Bilal Powell had a great game on Sunday against the other New York team, the Giants. Powell only rushed for 17 yards but he added 8 catches for 91 yards and a receiving touchdown and he is still available in 93% of leagues.
Chris Ivory has started to cool off as of late and this has allowed Powell to sneak in and throw down a couple of good games by really getting involved in the Jets’ passing attack. I would usually tell you to jump on this but I have to instead go with a second thought on Powell, simply because with Ivory in the mix there is not enough rushing touches to guarantee a better floor.
Two of the last 3 weeks, Powell has turned in a nice performance but it was because of his involvement in the passing game, so if the offensive game plan does not swing that way, then Powell is a bust that week. The middle week of the last three is a perfect case in point. Against the Dolphins is Week 12, Powell put up his usual 28 yards rushing, but instead of rescuing his game at the receiving end, he only caught 2 balls for 7 yards. He put up 2 points in standard leagues. That type of outing will get a person playing him as an RB2 or Flex booted right out of the playoffs and we can’t have that.
So instead, consider Shaun Draughn. Draughn, available in 50% of leagues, has been quietly putting up very respectable numbers as of late. If you have made the playoffs but are searching the waiver wire, I seriously doubt it is to fill-in for a RB1. No, you probably need an RB2 or Flex and with those positions you are looking for a player with a high floor. You need steady production, and this last month, Draughn has been the epitome of steady.
Over the last four weeks, Draughn has produced 96, 77, 86 and 86 yards from scrimmage and this last week he threw in a touchdown to boot.
He is not flashy, he is not on a good team, but he is very steady and will give you points, and if you are lucky, will score once and put up a very nice game. In 2 of the next 3 weeks he goes against Cleveland and Detroit. As crazy as this sounds, if you need that RB fill-in for the playoffs, the RB from the 49ers just may be your salvation.