Welcome to the 15th edition of Waiver Wired for the 2015 season. If you are still reading this it means you are likely in the semifinals of the fantasy playoffs, and it also likely means you did not succumb to the rash of injuries which struck last week. Congratulations are in order on both fronts. Luckily for those teams who managed to survive despite the injuries, there are quite a few plug-and-play running backs available on the wire. Let’s get to them.
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The Chargers have not scored a touchdown in three of their last four games. Philip Rivers’ matchup against the Dolphins is not intimidating, but it is risky to stake a trip to the fantasy Super Bowl on this offense. Andy Dalton was a headliner of this piece early in the season, so seeing him end the regular season on the sideline is a tad depressing. C.J. Spiller played behind Tim Hightower, who was out of the league for three seasons. Jordan Matthews is not a must drop by any means, but he has not seen more than six targets or gone over 60 yards since Week 9. He is touchdown dependent and has a tough matchup against the Cardinals. Jason Witten has not had more than 50 yards receiving since Week 7.
*Ryan Mathews (54 percent owned) and Darren Sproles (50 percent owned) would be the No. 4 and No. 5 running back adds respectively if available.
1. Denard Robinson
2. DuJuan Harris
3. Tim Hightower
4. Matt Jones
5. Bryce Brown
6. Brandon Bolden
7. Isaiah Crowell
Looking Ahead: Jay Ajayi, Tevin Coleman, Charles Sims, Robert Turbin, Stevan Ridley, Juwan Thompson, Cameron Artis-Payne, Jerick McKinnon
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Tampa Bay Bucs
3. Miami Dolphins
Looking Ahead: Steelers, Raiders
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets – Owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues
This is not a great spot for Ryan Fitzpatrick against a Cowboys team which likes to limit the pace and shorten the game, but he is the most reliable option in a down week for streamers – Johnny Manziel is at Seattle, Jameis Winston is at St. Louis, Marcus Mariota is at New England, Brian Hoyer is hurt, and Brock Osweiler is terrible. Fitzpatrick has three straight games with at least 24.8 fantasy points and has scored at least 16.7 in every game he has finished since Week 1. He is as reliable as they come and has upside with Brandon Marshall playing out of his mind. Start him with confidence.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
2. Alex Smith, Chiefs – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
On paper Alex Smith is in a good spot against a Ravens secondary which has struggled most of the season and just gave up five touchdowns to Russell Wilson, but the concern for Smith will always be volume. Smith has not attempted more than 32 passes since Week 6 and has 25 or fewer in three of the last four games. The good news is he has topped 21 points twice in the last three and always scores points with his legs. Smith is more of a desperation play which relies on the hope the Ravens offense puts up something of a fight, but it is hard out there for a streamer this week.
Recommendation: “Best” desperation streaming option
3. Marcus Mariota, Titans – Owned in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues
As mentioned above, this is not a great spot for Mariota. Exposed a bit by the Jets and without any reliable weapons, Mariota had his second-worst fantasy passing day of the season which was only saved by a 41-yard touchdown reception. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia certainly will see what the Jets did to contain and confuse the rookie signal caller, and they will devise a game plan which presents similar problems. The only thing Mariota has going for him is the upside to make plays like the 41-yard reception happen on a weekly basis. That may be enough for someone desperate enough at quarterback.
Recommendation: Second “best” desperation streaming option
Honorable Mention: A.J. McCarron played well in relief despite a terrible pick-six, and he likely would have been a streaming option if he were getting the 49ers in Cincinnati. San Francisco has only given up nine offensive touchdowns total in six home games this season, however, including just five passing touchdowns. Carson Palmer was held without a passing touchdown for the only time this season in his visit to San Francisco Week 12. I am not interested in playing McCarron in that environment, but he could be a desperation play for those who lost Andy Dalton. T.J. Yates, who threw for 229 and two scores in his only other start this season, is also a desperation option against the Colts.
Looking Ahead: This has been a decidedly anti-Kirk Cousins space, but he has a nice matchup with the Eagles in Week 16. May the gods have mercy on whoever has to start Kirk Cousins in their fantasy Super Bowl, but he will be an option. Alex Smith is also in another good spot next week at home against the Browns, who should present more of an offensive threat with Johnny Manziel running the show.