Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Football: Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups

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Fantasy Football: Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 15

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Week 14 of the 2013 NFL season will come to a close Monday night when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Chicago Bears, and with multiple notable players on both teams (Tony Romo, Matt Forte, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, etc.) the playoff fate of many fantasy football owners may still hang in the balance.

For those that remain a contender in their league after Monday night, making well-reasoned waiver wire additions can still make difference even at this late stage. Even those that are trying to salvage a bad season by winning a consolation bracket should still pay attention, since a couple of notable injuries from Sunday’s action (Adrian Peterson, Rob Gronkowski) may tilt the balance of power in a lot of leagues.

As always, I have focused on players who are available in over half of Yahoo! leagues with this week’s waiver wire recommendations. There have been rare exceptions to that rule throughout the season, and there is one this week as well. But at this point the free agent pickings are fairly slim in any semi-competitive league, so this week’s list will again be a bit shorter than it was two months ago.

One week plug-and-play options can have some appeal to fantasy owners during these critical weeks, but even so I have attempted to look beyond a single week to find players (and defenses) that are roster-worthy from now right through Week 17 for owners in leagues that go that long.

As we look toward Week 15, here are my “Waiver Wire Pickups” for this week.

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Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns

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Campbell returned Sunday after missing a game with a concussion, and he threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns along with 27 rushing yards against the New England Patriots. He now has multiple touchdown passes in three of his five starts this season, and he should keep the starting job for the Browns over the final three games of the season. Week 15’s matchup with the Chicago Bears looks favorable, as does Week 16 against the New York Jets, who have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five of their last six games. Things will be a bit tougher in Week 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they have allowed at least 12 fantasy points (ESPN scoring) in each of their last four games. Campbell is not going to be an elite fantasy option, but he is worth considering as a QB2 in deep leagues.

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Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland Raiders

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Reece went to the top of Oakland’s running back depth chart with Darren McFadden (ankle) and Rashad Jennings (concussion) out of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, and he did not disappoint with 123 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries along with two catches for 38 yards. His ultimate impact for fantasy owners would dim greatly if McFadden or Jennings (or both) return to action and are at full strength, but Reece has made a case for an increased role as the season winds down and is worth a look in 12 and 14-team leagues.

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Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings

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Gerhart had 15 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, as he saw increased action with Adrian Peterson (foot) sidelined. Peterson’s status for Week 15 and beyond is unclear right now, but Gerhart was productive when given increased work in Week 11 and Week 12 (158 combined rushing yards). His fantasy value over the final three weeks is obviously tied to Peterson’s prognosis, which should come early in the week, but Gerhart is worth adding in most league formats.

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Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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Jennings had five catches (on 10 targets) for 53 yards against Baltimore on Sunday, as he continues to be productive with Matt Cassel under center for the Vikings and has now been targeted 19 times over the last two games. Two of Minnesota’s final three opponents (Week 15-Philadelphia Eagles, Week 17-Detroit Lions) entered Week 14 in the bottom five of the league against opposing wide receivers, so as long as Cassel remains the starting quarterback Jennings could produce at the most important time for fantasy owners and salvage an otherwise disappointing campaign.

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Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens

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Pitta was originally expected to miss the entire season after suffering a hip injury during the preseason, but he made his season debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and immediately reclaimed a role as a top target for quarterback Joe Flacco with six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown while being targeted 11 times. His playing time should increase some now that he made in through a game without any issues with his hip, so Pitta is in line to be a key contributor for fantasy owners over the final few weeks of the season.

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Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans

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Graham had eight receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday night, and he has now been targeted 46 times over the last four games (23 catches for 277 yards and two touchdowns in that span). Fellow tight end Owen Daniels (leg) may return to action soon, but until he does Graham will remain the unquestioned starter and a solid low-end TE1 or high-end TE2 for fantasy owners.

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Nick Novak, K, San Diego Chargers

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Novak went 3-for-3 on field and goals and 4-for-4 on extra points against the New York Giants on Sunday, and he has now made multiple field goals and posted at least eight fantasy points (ESPN scoring) four times in his last five games. The Chargers will finish the season against their AFC West brethren, with two of those games coming at home in Week 16 (Oakland Raiders) and Week 17 (Kansas City Chiefs). Novak is 13-for-14 on field goals at home this season, and the last field goal he missed anywhere came back in Week 10.

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New Orleans Saints Defense

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The Saints held the Carolina Panthers to 13 points and 239 yards of offense on Sunday night, and they also sacked quarterback Cam Newton five times. That performance ended a streak of five straight games without posting double-digit fantasy points (ESPN scoring), but they have still forced just two turnovers over their last six games. A very favorable matchup is coming in Week 15 against the St. Louis Rams, who have scored more than 15 points just three times in their last seven games and opposing defenses have 20 sacks against them over that span (at least two in each game). After that New Orleans will take on the Panthers again in Week 16 before welcoming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to town in Week 17, so fantasy owners that seek a plug-and-play defense for Week 15 could find this unit usable beyond that.