Fantasy football waiver wire recommendations refer to 12-team league formats, unless specifically stated. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.
Check back for any updates throughout Monday and Tuesday as more injury news becomes available.
Bye weeks: none
Fantasy football waiver wire targets
Priority free agents
1) RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks: History says Penny’s impressive lack of durability will make gamers regret this one, but being the top back — clear and away — in any offense pushes a player into must-own territory. The Seahawks faced Houston, too, which further complicates evaluating this situation. Talent hasn’t been Penny’s problem, and the former first-rounder almost always had to share touches when he was healthy, so this really will be a four-game litmus test for his long-term viability in the NFL. He rushed 16 times for 137 yards and a pair of scores in Week 14, dominating the backfield touch split. In the final month of the season, Seattle heads to the Los Angeles Rams, comes home for Chicago, stays there for Detroit, and closes out with a Jan. 9 trip to Arizona. Penny could be a playoff rock star over three of those games, and the final one luckily is out of play in most fantasy formats.
FAAB: Everything you have left
2) WR K.J. Osborn, Minnesota Vikings: Last week, Osborn was promoted as the top-billed player to add in wake of Adam Thielen’s high-ankle sprain. The veteran receiver sat vs. Pittsburgh, and even if he has the mildest high-ankle sprain of all time, we should be talking multiple weeks, but no one is actually saying that. … If it were a sprain to the lower area of the ankle, this wouldn’t be an issue, but most players miss at least three weeks. The general prognosis for a world-class athlete typically is four to six weeks. And if he is rushed back, Thielen runs the risk of aggravating it. Minnesota closes out with @CHI, LAR, @GB and CHI. Osborn should be universally owned as long as there’s a hint of doubt surrounding Thielen’s availability and durability.
3) WR Braxton Berrios, New York Jets: The former New England Patriots slot project has developed nicely with the Jets. Nearly every time he is given at least four touches, Berrios manages to do something of note. He has double-digit PPR production in all but one of such outings in the last two seasons, going 6-for-7 in this regard. WRs Corey Davis and Elijah Moore are on IR, and the Jets are lousy on defense, which promotes passing volume. The running game has been a joke since Michael Carter sprained his ankle, and he’s eligible to return soon, which should help prevent defenses from getting a little too greedy against the pass. Moreover, the Jets face Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa in the next three weeks. Lock him in for PPR WR3 production.
4) RB Justin Jackson and Josh Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers: It’s unclear how long, if at all, Austin Ekeler (ankle) will be out with a sprain, but it’s also equally murky as to which back is the best target as his replacement. Jackson is the official No. 2 on the depth chart, but he will undoubtedly share considerable touches with Kelley. The Chargers utilized the latter more by a single touch in Week 14, and the two backs produced nearly identical results. Closely monitor the situation and nab both, if possible, but not at the expense of a surer thing. This ultimately could prove to be a total blip on the radar and we see Ekeler back on the field in Week 15, but no one should take that for granted just yet.
Availability: 98% (Jackson), 99% (Kelley)
FAAB: $20-22 (Jackson), $18-20 (Kelley)
5) WR Laquon Treadwell, Jacksonville Jaguars: This passing game is abysmal. No doubt about it. It also has created a valuable WR3 or flex from the guy manning the third spot. Prior to Treadwell’s three-game uptick in action, Jamal Agnew was relevant before getting hurt. All things Trevor Lawrence should leave you feeling uneasy right now, yet he has been proficient at involving intermediate targets each week. With Laviska Shenault quickly looking like the next Cordarrelle Patterson — not the one who has carried fantasy teams in 2021 — and Marvin Jones being mostly an afterthought, gamers can pivot to Treadwell as a PPR flex option. He has 10-plus points in consecutive weeks and more than nine in three straight. The upside for big plays is basically non-existent, so know what you’re getting here. Meetings ahead with HOU, NYJ, NE and IND are compelling.
RB Duke Johnson, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets: Miami’s top trio of running backs all are on the COVID-19 list, and two of them are highly iffy for Week 15 action. Johnson is on the practice squad, along with Gerrid Doaks, and the two could receive the call any moment for activation. The Jets have given up a rushing TD every 17.1 attempts in 2021, and the next worst team in this regard is at every 22.5 carries. The matchup is elite for pass-catching backs, so Johnson should feel right at home here. The situation has all of the makings for an early playoff stocking-stuffer.
12/14 UPDATE – WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Cleveland hosts Vegas in the early slot of the Saturday double-header, and they’ll almost certainly have to get it done without Jarvis Landry, who tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday. It is unclear if he is vaccinated, but the shortened week definitely doesn’t help his odds of playing. TE Austin Hooper also was placed on the list. Peoples-Jones has appeared in this report a number of times in 2021, last week he finding himself included as a one-week option vs. Baltimore. He didn’t disappoint. The Michigan product faces a Las Vegas defense that has managed to bottle up receivers in 2021, aside from a few blips against Tyreek Hill and Courtland Sutton. DPJ may not have a flashy stat line when all is said and done, but he’ll be the primary target and warrants a PPR play in deeper formats.
WR Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers: Davis had been one of my favorite players to make the leap to weekly utility after a seven-TD rookie campaign, but the first six games of the season were a sobering reminder that Emmanuel Sanders still can get it done, and Cole Beasley wasn’t going anywhere. One more impactful aspect I hadn’t given much credence to before the season was the drastic improvement by Dawson Knox. This long, winding road has brought us to Davis rebounding over the last seven weeks to track closer to his rookie season’s performance marks. Sanders suffered a knee injury in Week 14 and didn’t return. In the event he cannot go vs. Carolina, there’s a fine opportunity to roll the dice on Davis as a flex play. He doesn’t need a ton of volume to matter, and Carolina has surrendered a TD per game to WRs, on average, this year, including four in the last month of play. Davis is good enough to exploit single coverage as the Panthers sell out to contain Stefon Diggs.
RB D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns vs. Las Vegas Raiders: This one is solely dependent upon whether Kareem Hunt (ankle) misses time, which looks to be the case. Johnson hadn’t touched the ball too much in the weeks with Nick Chubb healthy and Hunt out, but this matchup is so tantalizing it’s worth a roll of the dice — if the rest of your lineup is strong enough to absorb a potential paper-weight performance. The Raiders have yielded 18 total touchdowns to the position, including 12 on the ground, and RBs have averaged 143.2 offensive yards per game. On the year, only five teams have permitted scores at a greater frequency. Playing Johnson this week likely relies on an injury forcing one’s hand, but at least the matchup metrics make the gamble a little easier to swallow.
WR Nico Collins, Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars: There’s a tremendous amount of risk here, and Collins is far from a sure thing to warrant a lineup spot, but we have a pretty good matchup ahead for a rookie coming off a career-high 10 targets that resulted in personal bests in receptions (5) and yardage (69). Despite being roughly 70 feet tall, Collins has yet to score a TD, and this is the week it may be in the cards. Five of the 11 total WR touchdowns vs. Jacksonville have come in the last four games, and all by different players.
WR Cam Sims, Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles: A few points … we don’t know if Taylor Heinicke’s knee is going to cost him time. Kyle Allen filled in admirably, but there’s a reason he’s the backup. We also don’t have any idea if Terry McLaurin will miss Week 15 with a concussion. Washington faces Philadelphia in the upcoming slate, and the matchup isn’t ideal, but Sims could be a useful flex play given the overall lack of weaponry in his passing game. Presuming he is the primary receiver, Sims is worth little more than a TD flier, so it’s tough to envision anyone being that desperate in the fantasy playoffs, but 2021 has taken stranger turns. He has basically no utility should Scary Terry overcome the concussion in time.
PK Chase McLaughlin, Cleveland Browns vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Just one team in the last six games have not kicked multiple field goals against Vegas, and three or more treys were attempted in four of those contests. Tack on 20 total extra point attempts in that time and we’re looking at one of the easiest matchups of the week for a Cleveland team that is just barely good enough to move the ball. This could be a field goal fest.
PK Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Football Team: Philly returns from its bye week rested and ready to go against a Washington unit that permitted the 12th-most fantasy points per game to kickers entering Week 14. In the past two weeks alone, the position has attempted and made all seven three-point tries, also adding a lone PAT. Elliott generated 14-plus fantasy points (distance-based scoring) in four of his last six showings and should be plenty available after being widely dropped over the bye.
Miami Dolphins D/ST vs. New York Jets: Miami’s defense really started to pick up the pace in the five games prior to going on bye in Week 14, logging 17-plus points in three of the contests. The five points scored against the Jets in Week 11 was the worst showing of that window, but Joe Flacco and not Zach Wilson was the starting quarterback for Gang Green in the contest. This meeting should go much differently. Miami was dropped in some 20 percent of leagues polled as owners looked for a bye-week replacement. With a matchup against New Orleans in Week 15 and then Tennessee’s hamstrung offense the following game, this is a defense for the remainder of the fantasy slate.
Grab & stash
RB Craig Reynolds, Detroit Lions: Surprisingly, Detroit turned to a total unknown in Reynolds rather than Jermar Jefferson in Week 14 as Jamaal Williams (COVID) and D’Andre Swift (shoulder) were out of commission vs. Denver. The unheralded Reynolds ran hard, going for 83 yards on 11 carries, adding 16 aerial gains on his two grabs, while sharing touches with Godwin Igwebuike. The third-year former undrafted free agent had two prior career touches. The Lions could get either Swift or Williams back in Week 15, rendering Reynolds useless, but the situation is worth monitoring. The upcoming tilt with Arizona doesn’t scream fantasy success, however, so despite the potential opportunity, he ultimately may end up being reserved for DFS action if nothing less.
Atlanta Falcons D/ST: Coming off by far its best fantasy day of the year (13 points), Atlanta hosts the Detroit Lions in Week 16 and should be among the best streaming plays. For owners with room to look ahead and stash, the Falcons make for an intriguing risk-reward decision. If they don’t even look remotely competent vs. San Fran in Week 15, no sweat … drop and move along.
The following fantasy-relevant players are eligible to return from the Reserve/Injured list and could be on waivers, but inclusion below doesn’t guarantee coming back in the upcoming week. The date when the player was placed on IR is in parentheses.
- RB Michael Carter, New York Jets (11/27)
Deep diving for running backs
If you’re in a competitive league, it is unlikely running backs are just chillin’ on the waiver wire. But that doesn’t mean gamers aren’t still in need of “break in case of emergency” running backs. These players could be available for a dumpster dive:
- Jaret Patterson, Washington Football Team (Antonio Gibson insurance)
- Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals (TD flier)
- Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco 49ers (TD flier)