Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL)
The Lateral Chief Editor
Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer
It is Week 15 and that means everyone is officially in playoff mode. For those who are just starting their playoff runs, welcome to the party. For those who survived Week 14, glad to see you are still here.
Waivers get a little weird here; they simultaneously become easier and harder all at once and there is no predicting how it will break out. On the one hand, you are competing with fewer people for potential players, since anyone in a redraft league who is not playing a meaningful game should not be making waiver moves at this point. However, that means fewer players are being thrown back into the pool, so if you are in a deeper league you are probably left having to dive deeper for players.
Luckily, if you made it this far, you probably only need to make a move or two this week. Maybe you are streaming QB, TE, DST, or K. Maybe you are adding a player to block an opponent even if you are not going to start them. For the most part, though, you are riding the horses that brought you to the dance. Just keep in mind that you may want to play the long game this week as well, snagging the guys who may help you in Week 16 a week early, or grabbing a player with two good matchups to end the season rather than a player with a great matchup this week and an awful one next week.
On a related note, this will be our last official waiver column of the 2020 Season. We will have something for you on Tuesday of Week 16, but in a championship week waivers are pretty obvious and infrequently needed, so the traditional format of a waivers article no longer provides significant value to most readers.
Diving Into Week 15 Waivers
Charles' Pick: I think this one is fairly obvious. Eagles rookie Jalen Hurts has shown fantasy managers what he's got and I, for one, am all about it. Going for 106 yards on the ground last week against the Saints provided Hurts with a great floor en route to being the QB10 for Week 14 and assuming this is something that can persist, you'll absolutely take a guy like that for your fantasy team. I am a fan of rushing QBs and it seems like this passing abilities (particularly down the sidelines) are capable. I'll throw out Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky as an honorable mention, but make like R.E.M. and fire up the rookie so everybody Hurts. (nope, will not apologize for the terrible joke)
Malcolm's Pick: After the past two weeks, is there anyone you would rather have than Jalen Hurts (PHI)? The rookie Eagles QB put on a clinic against New Orleans, putting up more rushing yards on the Saints defense than all other QBs combined this season (106 for Hurts vs 75 for everyone else). The Arizona Cardinals are one of the easiest defenses in the league to run on for QBs, and the Dallas Cowboys are just easy. Hurts could be a league winner if you play him over the next two weeks, but just keep the small sample size in mind. I would make sure to have a second QB if you pick him up, but you need to pick him up to block your opponent if nothing else.
Charles' Pick: I'll give myself a little credit on this one: technically speaking I called this in September. It is with great joy that I inform you that I was technically correct about Dolphins WR/RB Lynn Bowden Jr., and you know what they say about being technically correct. While I'm on technicalities, Bowden Jr. may not be used as a running back in the Miami offense but he does have that positional eligibility on several platforms such as ESPN and Sleeper, so that's fun! 7-9 rec for 82 yards receiving on Sunday was good enough for Bowden Jr. to be the WR24 on the week in PPR scoring and at this point in the game, you look for guys like this in deeper leagues. The Dolphins offense in general is banged up and if he's going to continue to see that type of volume with multiple position eligibility, give me all the Lynn Bowden Jr., man. All of it.
Malcolm's Pick: First, if you have Chris Carson on your roster, you need to also have Carlos Hyde (SEA), who is the clear number two in Seattle. Ignore the Rashaad Penny talk. He is not supplanting Hyde his first week back, and he might not even be back this week. If I am wrong, feel free to @ me. The good news is that this is a forward-looking pick anyway, so it should not hurt you if I am wrong. Get Penny too if you have space and it will make you feel any better, but if you are picking one, it is Hyde.
Now if you need someone for this week, Jeff Wilson Jr. (SF) may be the only RB with "starting" potential that is widely available. The Niners backfield has been a bit of a mess all season long, but even with plenty of competition in a crowded backfield Wilson has seen 10+ touches in two of the past three weeks. He has also scored a TD almost every time he has seen 10+ touches (Week 12 being the lone exception). The yards per carry are not always pretty, the fumbles in the past two games are a worry (though the one from last week he had no chance of preventing), but Wilson ultimately provides you with the best opportunity for double-digit points of any RB available in over 50% of leagues.
Charles' Pick: It's a bit of a small sample size, but at this point in the season that's all we're looking for. 15 targets over the last couple weeks ain't too shabby, and the Atlanta Falcons passing offense is a potent one. We've recommended him before here on The Lateral and I'm going to do it here again. Russell Gage is a guy I think you can reliably play as a deep-league flex. The WR18 in PPR over the last two weeks, Gage and the Falcons have matchups against the Buccaneers and Chiefs over the next couple weeks and neither of those are particularly scary.
Malcolm's Pick: I talked about Tim Patrick (DEN) in yesterday's Sunday Storylines, and the Broncos WR is an excellent choice if he is still available in your league, which apparently is a distinct possibility. Not sure how he is available in 70-80% of leagues given that just about every fantasy analyst has been talking about him lately, but the numbers do not lie. Another number that does not lie? 14.67 PPG in PPR format since Courtland Sutton tore his ACL if you exclude Week 8 (Tim Patrick was out) and Week 12 (Phillip Lindsay was the QB for the Broncos). If only Patrick was available in my leagues...
Charles' Pick: The answer is Cole Kmet. If you know, you know. Shoutout the gang. Also, if Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph's absence is prolonged in any way, his teammate Irv Smith Jr. might not be a bad call. I've written about him before and I love his abilities. He may not have seen the field this past game as much as TE Tyler Conklin, but did that seem to matter? He's a playmaker through and through. Not super reliable, would not recommend him if the aforementioned Rudolph returns to action soon, but I love me some Irv.
Malcolm's Pick: Hopefully you listened to me last week when I told you to go get Cole Kmet (CHI) off of waivers in the Heat Check. While the TE20 finish was a bit disappointing, the rookie TE finished T-5 amongst all TEs for targets in Week 14. Last week he was T-8. Only six TEs have seen more targets than Kmet over the past two weeks. Six. The floor is too good to pass up and a TD will translate into a guaranteed TE1 finish like it did in Week 13. Go get him now. Minnesota this week is a fine matchup, and Jacksonville in Week 16 is one of the best matchups for TEs this year.
Charles' Pick: Not the sexiest pick in the world, but the Cleveland Browns face the two New York franchises to round out the year and both of those teams are terrible. If you're in the streaming game, this seems like a good move to me. And while I wouldn't advocate for them in Week 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Arizona Cardinals square off against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16. If we assume QB Jimmy Garoppolo doesn't return (which does not seem likely as of now), you'll take any defense going up against QB Nick Mullens.
Malcolm's Pick: The Cleveland Browns just missed the cut for me in this article, but given they are still fairly widely available, I wanted to mention them. Especially with matchups against the New York Giants and New York Jets to end the fantasy football season. The Giants offense is not the same with either Colt McCoy or an injured Daniel Jones at QB.
That leaves the New York Giants as the best widely available DST. I will fully admit, their final two matchups are not great, and the defense is under a bit more pressure now with the offense so inept. But at this point, most of the top DSTs are rostered. The Giants are at least a borderline DST1 who have been the DST11 coming out of their Week 11 bye week. Their matchup in Week 16 is probably not playable, but Week 15 against Cleveland has some potential. This version of Baker Mayfield we have seen coming out of the Week 9 bye has played largely mistake-free football. But against tough defenses, he has thrown some interceptions. In back-to-back matchups against Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, he threw four interceptions and only three touchdowns. The Giants have the talent to force him into similar levels of performance.
Charles' Pick: I'm all for following the trends, and over the last month Washington K Dustin Hopkins is tied for the second-best kicker in fantasy. Who knows what's up with QB Alex Smith right now and even with him healthy, the Football Team offense has been just bad enough to set up Hopkins for hella field goal opportunities.
Malcolm's Pick: Tyler Bass (BUF) is currently the K3 and has a good matchup in Denver. Denver is a bad team that Josh Allen should have no problem exploiting on the ground or through the air. That should provide plenty of extra point opportunities for Bass, but if Allen & Co. fall short on drives, Bass can take advantage of the thin mile-high air for some long field goals. From Week 7 on, the Bills kicker has been going off at a 13 PPG pace. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
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