We have reached the finale for season-long fantasy, so the next moves you make could make or break your playoff run. With only one week left in the regular fantasy season, it is now more important than ever to buy low on some waiver wire flyers and get those big splashes from unexpected places. Before all of your opponents snatch them up, we have some names to set your eyes upon as you make your NFL Fantasy Football Week 14 waiver wire additions and adjustments.
Pickings are getting pretty slim since most rosterable players have long been, well, rostered. However, with a small handful of happenstances this past week, we have four guys who you could target on the waiver wire to fill in large holes in your fantasy lineups for the start of playoff season. Most notable among those are a breakout Anthony Miller and a newly starting Devlin Hodges.
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Devlin Hodges, Pittsburgh Steelers
A couple of flier quarterback options emerged this week for players in dire straits at the position. Drew Lock had a hot start in his debut, but cooled off and ultimately was not a great play. Andy Dalton delivered the first Bengals’ win of the season, but we also know for darn sure who he is as a fantasy quarterback. Hodges, however, gave strong flashes of efficiency and running ability with only a couple of bone-headed plays, so based purely on the intrigue of it, he gets the nod here. The numbers were not extraordinary, but 212 yards, 10.1 per attempt and a touchdown on 66.7 percent completion is a pretty strong debut. If nothing else, it gives us a decent baseline to build upon as we look at Hodges for the future.
Last week’s column headliner, James Washington, is a big reason why Hodges ended up with solid numbers despite relatively few passing attempts. 111 of Hodges 212 yards went to Washington, and 44 of it came on one throw. Washington has become a big play machine as of late, so Hodges’ upside is fairly strong, despite the myriad of injuries the Steelers are dealing with at the moment. It is also worth noting that, though it did not translate to yardage, Hodges showed some scrambling ability. At some point, that could manifest itself in the box score and offer a nice fantasy boost. As will be a theme of this piece, Hodges is a desperation play, nothing more. However, for someone with so little tape, Sunday’s performance at least gives us something to go on and makes him worthy of some waiver wire consideration.
Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers
This is all about Greg Olsen. Olsen has the overwhelming share of Carolina’s tight end snaps and targets this year, and he exited yesterday with a brutal-looking concussion. Presumably, he is going to be out for a bit so someone has to account for that volume. Last year with Olsen out for a chunk of the season, Thomas performed admirably in his rookie campaign. He saw almost 50 targets and turned those into a couple touchdowns and 333 yards. However, this year, he has only nine targets despite playing in every game, and ranks behind both Olsen and Chris Manhertz in tight end snap share. Manhertz has yet to see a single target this year though, so we will operate under the assumption that Thomas will take on most of the pass-catching tight end duties.
Obviously, Olsen’s target share could simply disperse to receivers and leave Thomas dry. Still, Olsen was on pace for nearly 100 targets and the Panthers have been throwing quite a bit with Kyle Allen. If nothing else, we can be relatively certain that Thomas’ opportunity will kick to another level in Olsen’s absence. He already almost doubled his targets this past week as he turned four targets into four catches and 24 yards. Perhaps with a full week as clear TE1, Thomas could figure even further into the game plan. As a late-season flier, Thomas is worth serious looks on the waiver wire.
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears
Miller has become arguably Mitchell Trubisky‘s preferred safety valve as of late, as he is averaging 11 targets and seven catches over the last three games. Thanksgiving Day, Miller had the best game of his career with nine for 140. So while the Bears passing game is a matter of some conjecture, Miller’s increasing role really is not anymore. He is turning into a fairly consistent weapon out of the slot.
Over the three upcoming fantasy playoff weeks, Miller does not get any cupcake matchups per se, as the Cowboys, Packers and Chiefs all rank outside of the bottom 10 by PFF coverage grade. And Miller’s breakout games came against two teams who are in said bottom 10. Still, Miller is getting looks no matter how the offense is doing. Two weeks ago, he went up against one of the better slot corners in Nickell Robey-Coleman and saw four targets into his coverage and 10 targets overall against the Rams. Regardless of the strength of opponent, Miller is seeing an uptick in confidence. That volume bodes well going forward.
Perhaps Miller will not get close to double-digit catches again, but double-digit targets seem to be in play from here on out. That makes him a strong waiver wire target at least in PPR leagues. He is not must-start, but Miller should be on far more rosters than he currently is as we enter the fantasy playoff season.
Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins
Here is a thought experiment for you: if we agree that a player is the least productive player at his position, and said player is injured, do we put stock in his backup? Aka the backup to the worst player? Well, that is what we are faced with here, unfortunately. Kalen Ballage‘s injury opened up opportunity for Laird, and he delivered in the sense that he outperformed Ballage. While he managed fewer yards than carries, Laird scored a touchdown and added 43 receiving yards on four catches, which is only slightly less yardage than Ballage has all season in 12 games. Laird now has two games with at least four catches and 40 yards receiving.
I will keep this one short and sweet. Only in the most hapless of circumstances should Laird be starting in your fantasy playoff. But if you are in said circumstance, his receiving upside offers at least some motivation to give him a look on the waiver wire.