Waiver Wizard 2019 Week 14
The Search for Progress is real
People who have followed my work for any extended period of time know that, much like my colleague and friend Bob Harris, I'm a big fan of metal music. Thrash metal, power metal, heck even metalcore or deathcore. The more brutal, the better. I'll admit that genre isn't for everyone - other people get energized by different styles of music instead. To each their own. So, when my friend approached me with a rap artist named "NF", I was hesitant to even give it a try. I had plenty of predisposed assumptions about rap - the content being too vulgar, half the words are skipped or bleeped out and the rhythm is too repetitive. Yet on his insistence I gave it a shot, and was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, "NF" prides himself on being able to get a message across without every other word being a profanity. Rather than covering the normal topics of making and spending copious amounts of money or doing drugs, he covers thoughts about mental health, introspection and self-improvement. In his title track song "The Search" there is a verse that states:
"I've been searchin'
What does that mean, Nate? I've been learnin'
Grabbin' my keepsakes
Leavin' my burdens
Well I brought a few with me I'm not perfect
Lookin' at the view like this concerns me
Pickin' up the cues right? I'm quite nervous
Hate it when I lose sight life gets blurry"
Strangely topical when it comes to Fantasy Football.
Each year I go into the season promising myself that I won't let the silly things that I can't control bother me any longer. I'm a competitive spirit by nature and hate to lose, especially when it comes to factors that I have zero control over, such as injuries or misuse. Why bring those burdens with me on a weekly basis? Losing sight of what I can actually control - lineup decisions, waiver wire moves, improvements to my team's depth - that is where I should be concerned. And similar to "NF" above, I'm by no means perfect. I give followers advice that doesn't pan out regularly - the good calls still drastically outweigh the bad ones, but that doesn't mean I feel any less upset knowing that I may have cost a fan their week (or at this point, season).
Grab onto what you can control. Be realistic about what you can change. Leave the burdens and stress behind you whenever possible. Above all? Don't lose sight that Fantasy Football is, at its core, still a game. Take a breath once and a while and be happy about what you've accomplished!
In a format similar to last week, I wanted to touch on players who are currently available on the waiver wire and widely unowned who may make an impact in Week 14, followed by highlighting some beneficial matchups for owners.
Waiver Wire Help
Three running backs immediately come to mind, and have been thrust into relevance following injuries to starters ahead of them.
Alexander Mattison (Minnesota Vikings) - How on Earth Mattison could still be unowned in your league is anyone's guess. All Fantasy analysts worth a lick have been telling players to grab him on their rosters since the middle of the season, as he is one of the top handcuffs in the league, behind an oft-injured Dalvin Cook. Though he was used sparingly in blowouts earlier, his time is now to step into the spotlight, with Cook taking several extremely hard shots to the chest and shoulder, forcing him to miss most of the second half against the Seattle Seahawks. Interviewed after the game, Cook stated that he will be ready to play, but call me skeptical. I'm no medical expect, but this certainly seems like an injury that requires rest to heal, and he will be coming off of a short week against the Detroit Lions front. Even if active, I'd expect Mattison to siphon plenty of work away from Cook, and have standalone FLEX value in standard size leagues. Mattison is currently rostered in less than 18 percent of ESPN leagues, and has averaged over 4.8 YPC in 2019. He is also a capable receiver and is an immediate add wherever available. The Lions allow 118 YPG on the ground, ranking them currently in the bottom 10 teams in football.
Darwin Thompson (Kansas City Chiefs) - The preseason darling that never panned out due to a lack of opportunities, Thompson finally managed to see a handful of meaningful snaps in Week 13 against the Oakland Raiders. Yes, it took injuries to Darrell Williams and Damien Williams to finally make that happen, but the past is the past. With Damien (ribs) and Darrell (hamstring) both likely to miss Week 14 against the New England Patriots, it presents an amazing opportunity for the sixth-round rookie out of Utah State to prove his worth. Akin to many of the body types on the Chiefs roster, Thompson is a smaller-sized electric talent with breakaway speed and dangerous moves in open space. The Patriots defensive line does present its fair share of challenges, allowing only 94.5 YPG on the ground (fifth best in the NFL). That aside, Thompson is in line to see his most touches of his rookie season regardless of the matchup, and all that anyone can ask for is an adequate opportunity to prove his worth. LeSean McCoy will be involved to a lesser degree, but not enough to knock Thompson out of low-end RB2 range. He's worth an add in all formats.
Patrick Laird (Miami Dolphins) - FINALLY. FINALLY. FINALLY. Thrust into an expanded role following Kalen Baggage… err, Ballage leaving the matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles with a leg injury, Laird caught four receptions for 43 yards and converted a goal-line opportunity touchdown. Why it took the Dolphins this long to figure out that Ballage was the worst starting RB in football is anyone's best guess - perhaps he had some dirt on the front office or management. Who knows. In any case, Laird is now the starting running back for the team, and is virtually unowned in most formats. His upcoming matchup against the New York Jets is extremely difficult on paper - they rank first in the league allowing barely 75 YPG on the ground. Even with that said, Laird will add enough value catching the ball from Ryan Fitzpatrick that he is a viable FLEX option in PPR formats. For owners looking for an upside play or even a bench stash that will present value for the remainder of 2019 and beyond in keeper/dynasty formats - look no further.
From the wide receiver standpoint there aren't as many viable adds, but here are some names worth mentioning:
Anthony Miller (Chicago Bears) - Miller's beginning of 2019 was a bitter disappointment - he failed to see double-digit targets until November 17th, and eclipsed 50 receiving yards just three times in the first nine weeks. With the team's defense taking a step back of late coupled with Mitch Trubisky finally deciding to throw it to the correct team, Miller has seen a rise in relevance. He's been one of the more popular waiver wire adds of late, yet his ownership still sits barely above 11 percent in ESPN leagues. Over the last three weeks Miller has seen 33 targets, catching 21 passes for 271 yards. He still has yet to find the end zone and this Bears offense is (in theory) built around the run, so tread with caution. That said, owners who have ailing stars that are questionable entering Week 14 (Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, etc.) could do worse than to add this post-hype sleeper.
Russell Gage (Atlanta Falcons)- Speaking of teams that have needed to throw because of a porous defense, the Falcons are certainly in that conversation. Matt Ryan currently ranks fourth in the league in attempts (447, tied with Dak Prescott) and we can't see that trend changing anytime soon. Gage has been the main beneficiary, especially due to the injuries of Julio Jones and Austin Hooper, and the trade of Mohammed Sanu to the New England Patriots. Over the last five games Gage has topped 10 points in three, and owners could certainly do worse than adding him in larger sized PPR formats as a FLEX fill in.
Tight end offers a nice solid pool of available players at the moment, including:
Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts) - To the surprise of no one, Doyle had his best game of the year after Eric Ebron was placed on IR - 11 targets, six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. This Colts offense is really struggling to move the ball without the presence of T.Y. Hilton and Marlon Mack, and owners can count on Doyle continuing to be heavily involved in the interim. I have little confidence that the remainder of the receiving core (namely Zach Pascal, since Chester Rogers and Devin Funchess are now on the I.R. and Parris Campbell is week-to-week) will significantly cut into Doyle's targets in the near future. Play him with confidence as a mid-range TE1.
Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins) - Gesicki is another name that has been mentioned quite a bit over the past few weeks - yet his ownership continues to be lower than expected. Earlier in the year it was relatively easy to make fun of the Dolphins for having a horrific team, but the switch at quarterback to Ryan Fitzpatrick has breathed life into this team. Gesicki is coming off of back-to-back games with a score, and he has at least six targets in each and every game since Week 8. The Dolphins face the New York Jets, and their formidable run defense will force the Dolphins to throw the ball, causing Gesicki to gain value. Further, the team faces the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals in Weeks 15-16, and both are incredibly advantageous matchups. Add him with confidence as a plug-and-play TE1, or lower-end FLEX option.