Best Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups Week 14: Tyjae Spears, Ezekiel Elliott take over backfields after injuries

This is the week fantasy football owners have been waiting for — or dreading, depending on your point of view. Four starting RBs (Zach Charbonnet, Brian Robinson Jr., Rhamondre Stevenson, and Derrick Henry) exited their respective games early, opening the door for handcuffs DeeJay DallasAntonio GibsonEzekiel Elliott, and Tyjae Spears to take over and headline our list of the top Week 14 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds. 

Our full waivers list has more than just potential starting RBs. There are plenty of WRs worth considering, including Elijah MooreNoah Brown, Curtis SamuelJameson WilliamsJonathan Mingo, and Alec Pierce, as well as some intriguing late-season stashes (Aaron RodgersZach Ertz, Josh Palmer) who might do nothing or might come through with a big week in the fantasy playoffs. We also have our usual complement of streamer suggestions at QB, TE, and D/ST ahead of Week 14.

If you’ve been saving your high waiver position to claim a starting RB, this is the week for you. Elliott is probably the “safest” pickup, as Stevenson figures to miss multiple games. Spears probably has the highest ceiling in Week 14, but that might be the only game he starts (if he even starts that one). Either way, both are worth high claims. Gibson, who’s available in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues, also has a high ceiling, but the Commanders are on bye in Week 14, limiting his impact. Dallas might not play if either Kenneth Waller III (oblique) or Zach Charbonnet (knee) is healthy, and Chicago’s Roschon Johnson is in a similar situation if D’Onta Foreman (ankle) is back. All of these backs are worth low claims, at the very least, but chances are someone will fire off a high claim on them.

The rest of the potential pickups normally wouldn’t be worth waiver claims, but if you’re in a do-or-die Week 14 matchup, you have to do whatever it takes to win. If that means using a waiver claim on someone like Isaiah Likely or Gerald Everett, then by all means do it. Having a high waiver priority when you’re in the consolation bracket is about as useful as a first-round pick who gets hurt in Week 1.

Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 14

Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues are considered.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Patriots. Elliott took over after Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) exited in the first quarter, and he delivered 92 total yards on 21 touches. Stevenson seems likely to miss time, paving the way for Elliott to continue to get heavy volume. Even with the Patriots’ offensive struggles, that gives him flex value, especially next week against Pittsburgh’s below-average run defense.

Tyjae Spears, RB, Titans. Derrick Henry exited in the second half because of a concussion, opening the door for Spears to take over in the backfield. The dynamic rookie finished with 88 total yards on 20 touches against the Colts, and he should see a similar workload next Monday night against the Dolphins if Henry remains out. Players seem to be getting out of the concussion protocol quicker at this point in the season than in the early weeks, but for a physical runner like Henry, you know Tennessee won’t take any chances. Spears is a must-add and must-start if Henry is out. (UPDATE: TItans’ coach Mike Vrabel said Monday that Henry is not in concussion protocol, which means Henry will likely start in Week 14 and limit Spears’ value.)

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

Antonio Gibson and Chris Rodriguez Jr., RBs, Commanders. Brian Robinson Jr. exited at halftime because of a hamstring injury, and Rodriguez shared backfield duties with Gibson the rest of the way. Gibson (14 touches, 72 total yards) is owned in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues, so if he’s available, he should be the priority pickup, but Rodriguez (seven carries, 29 yards) would also have some deep standard league value if Robinson remains out after Washington’s Week 14 bye.

Roschon Johnson, RB, Bears. Johnson basically worked as the Bears’ lead back the last time they played. He totaled 75 yards on 15 touches, nearly doubling up Khalil Herbert’s workload (eight touches, 38 total yards). D’Onta Foreman (ankle) could come back this week and reclaim the backfield, but at the very least, Johnson is worth owning given the uncertainty. If Foreman is out again, Johnson would be a worthwhile PPR flex against Detroit.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles. D’Andre Swift took a hard hit and exited the Eagles’ game late in the fourth quarter, but it’s tough to know whether he was legitimately hurt and just kept out because it was a blowout. If Swift is in danger of missing Week 14, Gainwell would likely get the bulk of the RB touches and be worth a flex spot against the Cowboys.

Chase Brown, RB, Bengals. Brown was a popular preseason sleeper, but a slow start and hamstring injury rendered him useless through the first 12 weeks. He finally got a chance to do his thing on Monday night, and he made the most of it, rushing nine times for 61 yards. He’s still firmly behind Joe Mixon on the RB depth chart, but it’s clear the Bengals want to get their speedy rookie involved more. That could lend itself to flex value down the stretch, especially if Cincinnati continues to fall out of playoff contention. Grab him now, especially if you own Mixon.

DeeJay Dallas, RB, Seahawks. Kenneth Walker III (oblique) and Zach Charbonnet (knee) are both hurting, and if neither can go in Week 14 against San Francisco, Dallas figures to start. If even one is healthy, Dallas has little value, but all starting RBs can work as flexes, even in tough matchups. Dallas is worth adding, especially in PPR leagues.

Elijah Moore, WR, Browns. Amari Cooper (concussion) exited early for the second-straight week, and this time, it was Moore, not rookie Cedric Tillman, who stepped up and led the team with four catches (12 targets) for 83 yards. Moore has worked with QB Joe Flacco before, and the chemistry should continue to pay off if Cooper misses more time. Moore has major upside in a favorable matchup next week against Jacksonville.

Noah Brown, WR, Texans. Brown failed to catch either of his two targets last week, but we still think he’s worth adding with Tank Dell (leg) out for the season. Brown posted big numbers in Weeks 9 and 10 (13-325-1) when some combination of Nico Collins and Dell were out, and he can once again be a steady producer for the pass-happy Texans. Consider him a flex next week against the Jets.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Commanders. Samuel once again looked like the Commanders’ WR1, catching four-of-five targets for a team-high 65 yards. That’s on the heels of a nine-catch, 100-yard effort on Thanksgiving. Most of Samuel’s production against Miami came early in the game, so he’s not beholden to garbage time, which bodes well for him after Washington’s Week 14 bye.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Ravens. Beckham cooled down in Week 12, possibly because of his sore shoulder, but in the three games before that, he either scored or posted 100 yards. With Mark Andrews (leg, ankle) out for the rest of the regular season, OBJ is primed for a bigger role. He’s a solid WR3/flex against the Rams this week.

Zay Jones, WR, Jaguars. Christian Kirk suffered a groin injury on Jacksonville’s first play on Monday night, opening the door for Jones to have his best game of the season (five catches, eight targets, 78 yards). His value will be limited if Trevor Lawrence (ankle) remains out, but Jones still has a decent PPR floor as Jacksonville’s WR2. 

Jonathan Mingo, WR, Panthers. Mingo has seen at least six targets in each of the past four games, and after his six-catch, 69-yard performance in Week 13, he’s now recorded at least 60 yards in two-straight games. You can’t count on consistent production from the Panthers’ No. 2, but Mingo clearly has upside in favorable matchups. He’ll be a deep-league flex next week against the Saints.

Alec Pierce, WR, Colts. Pierce saw a respectable six targets in Week 12, and he followed that up with a three-catch, 100-yard, one-TD effort on six targets in Week 13. He’s still behind Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs in the Indy’s WR room, but he clearly has upside in the right matchups. Consider him a deep-league flex next week against Cincinnati.

Jameson Williams, WR, Lions. Williams has had one big play in each of the past three games. It started with a 32-yard TD catch in Week 11, then it was a 38-yard catch last week. This week, it was a 19-yard TD run. Williams only gets around two or three touches per game, but if his role expands, he could be a big-time producer in one of the NFL’s best offenses. He’s worth stashing for the stretch run, and he can work as a boom-or-bust flex next week against Chicago.

Jalin Hyatt, WR, Giants. Hyatt came up big in Week 12, catching a team-high five-of-six targets for 109 yards. He’s the definition of a “boom-or-bust” receiver, but he’s still worth stashing ahead of the fantasy playoffs. 

Zach Ertz, TE, FA. Ertz is a free agent and expected to sign somewhere by Tuesday. He was having a solid season for the Cardinals before a quad injury sent him to the IR, and now that he’s healthy, he could immediately step into a starting role. Chances are, he won’t have much of an impact the rest of the way, but at a position like TE, any potential contributor needs to be monitored, at least in deep leagues.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Jets. It sounded like Rodgers (Achilles) was set on returning this year when the Jets opened his practice window last week, but new reports suggest he’s a long shot to play again this season. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to pick him up and throw him on your IR just in case he does come back and works some magic.

Josh Palmer, WR, Chargers. Palmer (knee) is eligible to come off the IR any time, and while it doesn’t sound like he’s particularly close, he’s still worth stashing for the final week or two of the fantasy playoffs.

Top fantasy QB streamers for Week 14

Desmond Ridder, Falcons (vs. Buccaneers). You know it’s a rough week for QB streamers when Ridder is the top option, but that’s where we’re at. Some of the other top matchups of the week go to Browns’ and Jets’ QBs, so you’re better off with Ridder, who’s posted decent numbers in favorable matchups at times this year thanks to his ability to rack up some points with his legs. Tampa entered Week 13 allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to QBs, so Ridder has a decent floor here.

Gardner Minshew, Colts (@ Bengals). In Weeks 8-12, Cincinnati allowed at least 258 passing yards to every quarterback (including Kenny Pickett) and a total of seven QB touchdowns. Minshew can post at least 230 passing yards and two total TDs, which isn’t bad if you’re in a bind.

Top fantasy TE streamers for Week 14

Isaiah Likely, Ravens (vs. Rams). Likely saw six targets in his starting debut in Week 12, and that feels like his floor most weeks going forward. The athletic second-year TE should post solid numbers against a Rams’ defense that entered Week 13 allowing the sixth-most FPPG to TEs.

Gerald Everett, Chargers (vs. Broncos). No team allows more FPPG to TEs than Denver, and Everett is involved enough to put up solid numbers in this favorable matchup. Expect something similar to what Texans’ backup TE Brevin Jordan did last week (three catches, 64 yards), plus a shot at a touchdown.

Cade Otton, Buccaneers (@ Falcons). Otton has shown he can come through in favorable matchups, and he has such a matchup in Week 14 against Atlanta. The Falcons entered last week allowing the fifth-most FPPG to TEs, and Otton posted a respectable five-catch, 43-yard day against them in Week 7. He can do better this time around.

Brevin Jordan, Texans (@ Jets). Jordan stepped up in Dalton Schultz’s absence last week, catching three-of-four targets for 64 yards. If Schultz (hamstring) remains out, Jordan can produce similar numbers against the Jets’ below-average TE defense. New York had been playing better against the position in the second half, but it got burned for a touchdown by Atlanta’s third-string TE MyCole Pruitt last week.

Tyler Conklin, Jets (vs. Texans). Conklin is a fairly safe bet for targets (nine in Week 13), though not necessarily yards or TDs. Still, he’s worth a look in a highly favorable matchup against the Texans, who entered Week 13 allowing the third-most FPPG to TEs.

Tanner Hudson, Bengals (vs. Colts). Hudson has seen steady targets for the past month-plus (at least five in every game), and the Colts allow the seventh-most FPPG to TEs. The ceiling is low, but the PPR floor is fairly solid.

Top fantasy defense streamers for Week 14

Houston Texans (@ Jets). Take advantage of Tim Boyle (or Trevor Siemian) and the Jets’ porous offensive line every chance you get, especially with a big-play Houston bunch.

Green Bay Packers (@ Giants). Much like their fellow New York counterparts, the Giants have an inexperienced QB and a turnstile of an offensive line. The Packers have both a high floor and high ceiling.

New Orleans Saints (vs. Panthers). Bryce Young and the Panthers have been in the top five in FPPG allowed to D/STs virtually all season, and a road game in a noisy dome doesn’t figure to help their ranking. New Orleans always gets up for divisional games, so even without Marshon Lattimore (ankle), there’s a lot of upside here.

Indianapolis Colts (@ Bengals). Inexperienced QBs are a D/ST’s best friend, and Jake Browning qualifies. Cincinnati still has weapons, but Indy will still rack up plenty of sacks and takeaways.

Minnesota Vikings (@ Raiders). Aidan O’Connell hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been great either, leading the Raiders to just 46 total offensive points over the past three games. Minnesota’s defense has been playing well lately, so they can take advantage of the rookie QB in the desert. 

Detroit Lions (@ Bears). It doesn’t matter who’s been under center for the Bears this year, they’ve hemorrhaged fantasy points to D/STs. Detroit’s defense isn’t playing as well as it did earlier this season, but you can still count on several Justin Fields’ sacks and turnovers. 

New England Patriots (@ Steelers). The Pats held their own against Justin Herbert and the Chargers in Week 13, and now they get either a banged-up Kenny Pickett (ankle) or Mitchell Trubisky on a short week. Take advantage.

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