As we enter the playoffs things begin to get more and more critical, but there are also less teams to compete against on the waiver wire each week. That means that there is a greater emphasis on each and every move, but you have to walk the fine line of not overthinking things. So let’s jump right into some options to consider for this week:
Gardner Minshew – QB – Jacksonville Jaguars
With Nick Foles struggling Minshew is back under center for Jacksonville, and that means he warrants our attention once again. I wouldn’t read much into Minshew’s performance last week as the outcome of the game was already determined when he entered, but when we last him he threw for 309 yards against the Texans. Overall Minshew has 2,432 passing yards on the season with 14 touchdowns against just five interceptions, and he should be able to rediscover his previous success as he faces the Chargers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – QB – Miami Dolphins
As Andy Dalton and the Bengals showed last week, the Jets’ defense clearly can be beaten and the Miami Dolphins might not be as bad as we previously thought they were either. Now that doesn’t mean the Dolphins are a good team, but there is some fantasy value to be found and that includes Fitzpatrick. In Miami’s victory last week he threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, and that success should continue against New York. It was Fitzpatrick’s second game over the past three weeks with more than 300 passing yards, and with Devante Parker emerging there appears to be some upside in Miami’s passing game.
Alexander Mattison – RB – Minnesota Vikings
We always talk about using your bench to handcuff your studs, and this is another reminder that Mattison belongs on your bench. With Delvin Cook exiting Monday night’s game with a shoulder injury and his status moving forward unclear, Mattison just picks up even more value. He is the clear back-up to Cook, and Minnesota has proven so far this season that they will feature the running game. Entering Week 13 against Seattle he was averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and while that is an optimistic pace to continue (over 82 carries) it does speak to his skill set.
Benny Snell – RB – Pittsburgh Steelers
With John Conners’ status seemingly week to week, it’s getting harder and harder to trust him as we enter the most critical part of the fantasy season. The good news is that Snell is healthy at the right time, and over the past two weeks there has been no doubt about who the main ball carrier is. After gaining 98 yards on 21 carries two weeks ago against the Bengals, Snell followed that by picking up 63 yards against a tougher opponent in Cleveland’s run defense. What helped his value last week was the fact that he found the end zone, but with 16 carries you have to like the fact that the volume was there. Next week the outlook improves again as Pittsburgh faces the Cardinals.
Raheem Mostert – RB – San Francisco 49ers
After gaining 45 yards and scoring a touchdown in Matt Brieda’s absence two weeks ago, Mostert really took things a step further last week in Baltimore. At this point, especially after what we saw on Sunday, I wouldn’t even be concerned about Brieda’s impending return as Mostert out-touched Tevin Coleman by a substantial margain; 21 to 6. It was with good reason, as Mostert gained 146 yards on 19 carries while scoring a touchdown and securing both of his targets for another eight yards. There is no reason why the 49ers’ wouldn’t try to continue riding the hot hand.
James Washington – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
We thought there would be chemistry between Washingon and Mason Rudolph, but he certainly looked good with Devlin Hodges under center. Washington caught a touchdown pass for the second straight week, as on the afternoon he picked up 111 yards on four receptions which included that 79 yard scoring play. What will work against him is the return to health of Ju-Ju Schuster, but there is room to work for multiple receivers in Pittsburgh’s offense and it’s hard to ignore his deep threat capabilities.
Auden Tate – WR – Cincinnati Bengals
With A.J. Green’s season over before it started, we don’t have to worry about a decrease in playing time for Tate. With just one touchdown we are left wanting more and it would be nice to see him convert his 76 targets into more than 39 receptions, but he does have a regular role in Cincinnati’s passing game. With Andy Dalton back under center that does hold some value. Last week against the Jets Tate caught four passes for 66 yards, and that success should continue against the Browns in Week 14.
Anthony Miller – WR – Chicago Bears
Those who used Miller as part of their DFS lineups on Thanksgiving likely were pleased as he went off for 140 yards on nine catches. After being essentially a non-factor for the majority of the season, that now gives Miller 21 receptions for 271 yards over his past three games. Over that stretch he has been targeted 33 times, so he clearly has taken on a vital role in Chicago’s offense and the production has been there to match.
OJ Howard – TE – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There is no secret as to who Howard is, and entering the season, he had a lot of buzz in the fifth to sixth rounds of drafts as one of the better tight end targets. To say that has not gone according to plan has been an understatement, but this past week showed us what he is capable of. Against Jacksonville Howard caught a season high five passes for 61 yards, and now we just need him to continue this role because the skill set is there.