Ladies and gentlemen, it’s beginning to look a lot like playoffs. As the season winds down the format of these articles will change yet again. The entire idea of the waiver wire changes once the playoffs arrive (I’ll get into that more at the end of the article).
One central idea is that you can no longer pick up a player and give them a week to see how they pan out. Your team is essentially set and it’s time to ride or die. That being said, it is hard to get players with immediately large roles in their offenses for nothing. Therefore, instead of looking for running backs that could work out rest of season, I will recommend quick fixes and “handcuffs”.
For those who are new to fantasy football, a “handcuff” is basically just the back-up to a star running back. If the star gets hurt, you’ve instantly got a starting running back on your team.
Chris Ivory – Jacksonville Jaguars – Back-up to Leonard Fournette
James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – Back-up to Le’Veon Bell
Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers – Back-up to Melvin Gordon
Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens – In a running back by committee (therefore, could be a decent waiver wire target as is), but otherwise the back-up to Alex Collins.
Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – Speaking of Alex Collins, he’s still only owned in 50.1% of leagues. Pick him up!
Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – Only owned in 64.2% of leagues and has scored five touchdowns in three games. He’s worth a pick-up and is also the theoretical “back-up” to Christian McCaffrey.
Marquise Goodwin – San Francisco 49ers – 13.8% Owned (NFL.com Leagues)
I wrote about Marquise Goodwin earlier this season, and he has been consistent since then. Specifically, over his last three games, Goodwin has 18 catches off 26 targets for 283 yards and no touchdowns. Marquise Goodwin and the 49ers don’t have a great schedule rest of season, but if your receiving corps is banged up or your receiver’s star quarterback is banged up, Goodwin could help owners out of a pinch.
Schedule Rest of Season: vs TEN, vs JAX
Mike Wallace – Baltimore Ravens – 42.8% Owned
While all the attention on the Baltimore offense goes to the running backs, Mike Wallace deserves some credit. The main wide receiver coming into the season was supposed to be Jeremy Maclin, but Wallace was the one who showed up. Over his last five games, Wallace has 21 catches off 35 targets for 311 yards and two touchdowns. The numbers aren’t great, but his schedule is. Wallace gets the pleasure of facing Cleveland and Indianapolis to close out the season, and could be a good “swing for the fences” play for owners who need big upside.
Schedule ROS: @ CLE, vs IND
Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams – 42.9% Owned
Robert Woods has been inactive due to a shoulder injury, but he is likely to return for the Ram’s Week 15 matchup against a vulnerable Seattle secondary. In his last three games, Woods has 20 catches off 26 targets for 322 yards and four touchdowns. As I mentioned, the Seahawks secondary is beat up and just gave up a big game to Blake Bortles. His injury likely makes him available on your waiver wire, and he’s worth a start this week.
Schedule ROS: @ SEA, @ TEN
Garrett Celek – San Francisco 49ers – 0.3% Owned
Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo seems to have found his security blanket, and his name is Garrett Celek. Celek caught two passes for 67 yards and a touchdown last Sunday, and that chemistry he’s built with Garoppolo looks to be paying off. He doesn’t have much of a sample to analyze, but a rookie quarterback usually means good things for the starting tight end.
Schedule ROS: vs TEN, vs JAX
Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars – 16.3% Owned
Yes, it’s time to take Blake Bortles seriously as a fantasy option. The numbers are there (22.60, 25.06, and 18.52 points in his last three games in standard scoring), but there are two reasons why Bortles needs to be considered: his schedule is phenomenal and Carson Wentz is out for the season with an ACL tear. Bortles is a great replacement for owners who have lost their quarterbacks and he’s a better option than most other quarterbacks.
Schedule ROS: vs HOU, @ SF
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers – 61.0% Owned
You know it’s been a weird season when you see Aaron Rodgers waiting to get picked up off the waiver wire. However, let’s get one thing straight: Rodgers is not officially back yet. He is eligible to return for the Packers’ Week 15 game against the Panthers and has been practicing, but at the end of the day the organization needs to run their final tests and officially activate him. But forget that, it’s playoffs! If he’s out there, clear a spot on your bench and get him because he’s Aaron Rodgers. If he comes back, you have a top-tier quarterback. If not, you’re no worse for wear.
Schedule ROS: @ CAR, vs MIN
Just as Bruce Campbell “armed” (get it?) himself with a chainsaw to survive the night in Evil Dead II, so must you arm yourself with the right players to survive the playoffs.
Disclaimer – This applies pretty much only to re-draft leagues or leagues where you build your roster from scratch the next season. Those in dynasty or deep-keeper leagues need not concern themselves with this advice.
What I mean is that you must forget about most players currently on your bench. No more “I’ll pick up so and so, then if he does well this week I’ll start him next week”. It’s time to gas up and ride off into the sunset, people!
Your bench should consist of players you will use in the playoffs or players you want to keep away from your opponents. Yes, this means stocking up on a few defenses, too. By the end of Extreme Makeover: Fantasy Roster Edition, your bench should have “handcuffs”, players with good matchups or high upside, and an additional defense or two. You must prepare your team to survive multiple weeks. If you prepare like you’re going to the championship game, you have better odds of making it there after all.