Waiver Wizard 2019 Week 13
From "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" to "The In, the Out and the Maybe"
With Week 12 of the NFL season now officially behind us in the rear-view mirror, we hurdle ever closer to the playoffs and the end of the 2019-20 season. This upcoming slate marks the finale of the "regular season" in most formats, save perhaps those that use a two-week championship method and play into Week 17. A final gasp of air and a few throws are all that separate success from failure. Fingers crossed that the bulk of Football Diehards subscribers fall into the former category, but we all understand that injuries and bad breaks can derail even the best of teams.
This column will feature a somewhat unique format, tailoring itself to each segment of the population differently, depending on the end-of-year scenario. Without further ado, lets dive in!
Owners who have already clinched a spot in the playoffs
Players who have already seized a spot to advance - first and foremost, congratulations. Even though it is constantly described as a sprint (rather than its marathon counterpart in Fantasy Baseball), Football still requires plenty of dedication, savvy lineup decisions and careful team management. It isn't an easy feat in most leagues to clinch the playoffs, so well done getting this far. The journey isn't over yet, and although you can technically get blown out in Week 13 with little consequence (other than seeding purposes) still shoot to acquire a first-round bye if you are in a deep enough format.
Given that our focus is bringing home the bacon in 2019, there are a few key elements to consider.
1. Still put forth your best team - Although you may be tempted to alter your lineup for seeding purposes, stick with the players that managed to get you this far. Especially given that losing doesn't directly affect you, negative or adverse matchups can really be ignored for the running back and wide receiver positions.
2. Think ahead - If your playoffs begin with the knockout rounds in Week 14 and you need to improve certain areas of your team (especially kicker and defense/special teams) - play the waiver wire this week with that in mind. Don't be concerned with the particular contests this week - see who has an easy schedule in Week 14 and scoop them up ahead of time. Especially if you have been streaming at either position, here are a few names to consider that are owned in less than 25 percent of formats currently:
Sam Ficken (NYJ) - Takes on the Miami Dolphins, who have allowed over 400 total yards from scrimmage each week to opposing offenses, 3rd worst in the league.
Austin Seibert (CLE) - Faces the Cincinnati Bengals, who have been the worst defense in the league. Additionally, Cleveland then faces the Arizona Cardinals the following week, who are second worst.
Chris Boswell (PIT) - Takes on the aforementioned Cardinals in Week 14, before facing much more difficult matchups against the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. More of a one-week option.
Philadelphia - This unit was horrible earlier in the season while dealing with a number of injuries, mainly to their secondary. The Eagles have a cakewalk schedule in the early going, taking on the inept New York Giants and Washington Redskins in Weeks 14-15.
Kansas City - I'm not terribly excited about taking on the New England Patriots up in Foxboro, but afterwards the schedule becomes much easier for the remainder of the year, with matchups against the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.
Los Angeles Chargers - The return of Derwin James in the secondary can't be understated - he should significantly improve this already above-average unit. None of their opponents down the stretch scare me (Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders).
Owners who are currently facing a do-or-die scenario
This scenario presents the biggest challenge for two reasons. First, when attempting to set a lineup in a week filled with a larger-than-usual early slate due to the Thanksgiving games, should owners put their faith in less talented players with superior matchups? Or should they stick with the lineup that was able to get them this far and hope that they overcome any potential challenges? The true answer lies somewhere between the lines.
This upcoming week features a number of marquise matchups against playoff-bound teams that have elite defenses. Take for example the Houston Texans facing off against the New England Patriots. New England has been historically great this year against the pass, allowing a paltry 158 yards through the air, second behind only the San Francisco 49ers. Does this mean that I'd automatically sit Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, knowing that their final numbers will be diminished? No. I'd have to have some truly incredible alternative options to consider sitting talent like that. And odds are if Watson and Hopkins are on your team, you invested in their stock early enough in drafts that they are cornerstones of your franchise. Though it is possible that you perhaps have Lamar Jackson or Chris Godwin as alternatives, not everyone has that luxury. To put it bluntly, stick your "elite" options, re-examine your mid-range starters, and severely tinker or modify your FLEX choices depending on matchups.
Here are a few players that are likely being treated as FLEX options in 12-14 team leagues that I'm advocating as a pickup this week:
Benny Snell (RB - PIT) James Conner appears no closer to returning and the Steelers square off against the Cleveland Browns - a team that allows an average of nearly 125 rushing yards per game. Snell will likely see another 18-22 touches if Conner is ruled out again, with Samuels assisting in pass-catching duties.
Patrick Laird (RB - MIA) Anyone following my Twitter feed of late knows for my affinity for the former California Golden Bear. He is the best pass-catching back in Miami by far, and Kalen Ballage is truly awful. The Dolphins aren't going anywhere this season, and it makes sense for them to give their most talented players more time down the stretch.
Robby Anderson (WR - NYJ) At this point I've given up attempting to project Anderson's week-to-week numbers - his utilization is nonsensical. That aside, his stretch in the middle of the season where he went into hibernation mode resulted in a mass drop phase, and there is a chance that he's now available. Much as it pains me to say this, the Jets are currently rolling, and they take on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Anthony Miller (WR - CHI) Trusting anyone to actually produce on the Chicago Bears has also been folly (outside of Allen Robinson). With that stipulation aside, Miller has produced consecutive double-digit point weeks in a PPR format, and the team squares off against the Detroit Lions. Seeing as how the Lions allow over 275 passing yards a game (third worst in football), Miller presents a nice pivot.
Owners who are currently OUT of the playoffs
Hey, you tried. The important part now is to keep on trying, play the spoiler role if at all possible, and prepare for next season. In redraft formats where teams are refreshed on a yearly basis, simply set your lineup with the highest projected points possible and keep your fingers crossed to end things on a high note.
In keeper or dynasty leagues, take a look at who may be available on the waiver wire and see if they present value at a lower cost. This especially holds true for players that were placed on the IR, or rookies that didn't blossom. A few players come to mind….
Andrew Luck/Rob Gronkowski - Perhaps there is a chance (stronger in Gronk's case) that they get the itch to play football again in the 2020 season.
Cam Newton/Ben Roethlisberger - I'd expect both signalcallers to be back next year, and neither backup has played well enough to immediately get them out of the picture.
John Ross - Played well during the early going of 2019 - still a young talent with plenty to prove. Perhaps another year off or finding a new home will do him good.
Jerick McKinnon - Hey, remember him? It is very doubtful that the 49ers bring him back given the depth of the position. Maybe he can perform well as the starter or scatback on another team.
Chin up, there is always next year!