Waiver Wire Watch: Championship Edition
Week 15 is nearly complete, and it appears that there won't be any teams "resting" in Week 16. The Texans are just one game ahead of the Broncos and two games ahead of the Patriots, so home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is still in play. The same goes in the NFC, where the Falcons could lose home-field advantage to the 49ers or the Packers if they don't win at least one of their last two games.
With that in mind, here is a quick look at the top waiver wire pickups for Championship Week. To be eligible for discussion, the player must be owned in 50% or fewer ESPN leagues, though I'll stretch the rules a bit for the RB position, which is usually very thin.
Neither player has a particularly good matchup, but owners would be hard-pressed to find better starts on the waiver wire than Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick in Week 16. Even though they both face tough defenses, they should produce more fantasy points than the other quarterbacks widely available.
Of the pick-up-and-play QBs, Sam Bradford has the best combination of recent production and a quality Week 16 matchup against a struggling Buccaneers secondary. He is coming off of a big fantasy day against the Vikings, which included 377 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 243 yards and 1.7 TDs in his last six games. Getting Danny Amendola back certainly doesn't hurt, either.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns (and rushed for 52 yards) against the Jaguars in Week 15. He has a home game against the Bills, who got torched by Wilson and the Seahawks. He should produce solid QB2 numbers in Week 16.
Chad Henne had a disappointing day (221 yards, zero TDs) against the Dolphins in Week 15, but he has a nice matchup at home against the Patriots in Week 16. He has cooled off considerably since the 615 yards and six touchdowns he threw against the Texans and the Titans, but he'll likely have to throw to try to keep up with the Patriots on Sunday.
Another QB with a pretty good home matchup is Nick Foles, who faces a Redskins defense that has struggled against the pass at times this year. Washington is in the thick of the playoff hunt (and plenty motivated), so Foles won't be a great start, but he could post decent numbers if the game turns into a shootout.
At this point, there isn't a lot out there on the waiver wire at the running back position. Jonathan Dwyer is still available in 53% of ESPN leagues and has a decent matchup against the Bengals in Week 16. He only has 20 touches in the last two weeks, and Isaac Redman has been more productive in limited opportunities, so Dwyer will be a risky start.
Alex Green went to the locker room early in Week 15, but so far no injury has been disclosed. He led the Packers with 15 touches for 41 yards in a bad matchup against the Bears. If he's healthy, he should be a decent flex start against the Titans, who have really struggled against the run. If he can't play, expect Ryan Grant and DuJuan Harris to split the workload.
Montell Owens continues to start for the Jaguars, but only saw 12 touches against the Dolphins in Week 15. With a matchup against the Patriots, he'll have to be very involved in the passing game to produce good numbers in Week 16.
Danny Woodhead had a big Week 15 performance against the 49ers thanks largely in part to fumbles by both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, but he is not sure to see a big role in Week 16 if the Patriots want to turn back to Ridley to get him ready for a playoff run. Mike Tolbert, Jacquizz Rodgers, Joique Bell and Mike Goodson are backup RBs who are typically involved to the tune of 8 to 12 touches. Of that group, Tolbert and Goodson have the best matchups (OAK and CAR, respectively) in Week 16.
Ryan Mathews is done for the year with a broken collarbone, and Curtis Brinkley led the San Diego running backs with nine touches for 56 yards against the Panthers on Sunday. Jackie Battle turned five touches into 14 yards, while Ronnie Brown was sidelined with a hamstring injury. It's not clear who would be the lead back in a mediocre Week 16 matchup with the Jets, but Brinkley seems to be the favorite, assuming Brown is out again.
Danny Amendola (6-58-1 vs. MIN) is available in 50% of ESPN leagues and has a great matchup with the Buccaneers. T.Y. Hilton is similarly available and has a pretty good matchup against the Chiefs. Hilton has gained at least 50 yards and/or scored a TD in six of his last seven games and has three 100+ yard games in that span, so he should be a decent fantasy WR3 this week.
Nate Washington stands to benefit from the probable absence of Kendall Wright, who could miss Week 16 with a cracked rib. The Packers aren't a great matchup for Washington, but Tennessee will probably be in catch-up mode for most of the game, so he's a threat for a nice garbage time line.
Brandon Gibson also seems to be reemerging as the Rams' real-world WR2 after catching 12 passes for 176 yards and a TD in the last two weeks. He saw eight targets while Chris Givens had only four, and as I mentioned before, the matchup against the Bucs is a good one. Brandon LaFell (vs. OAK) also has a nice Week 16 matchup. LaFell was active, but didn't register a target Sunday, so we'll need to monitor his progress this week.
Rod Streater now has 12 catches for 258 yards and a TD in his last three games, though his matchup against the Panthers is difficult. He has been able to produce as the Raiders' WR3 because teams are more focused on Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Myers.
Desperate owners could grab Joseph Morgan, who has compiled four catches for 167 yards and a TD in the last two weeks for the Saints. He has taken over for Devery Henderson as the Saints' most dangerous deep threat and has a nice matchup with the Cowboys in Week 16.
As far as tight ends go, Dennis Pitta seems to be the class of the possibly-available-on-the-waiver-wire set, with five TDs in his last six games and 12-171-3 in his last two. He has a decent matchup with the Giants in Week 17, so will likely be low-end TE1 start.
Dallas Clark was a semi-bright spot (8-42) in the black hole of suckiness that was the Tampa Bay offense in Week 15. In PPR formats he has scored 10+ points in four of his last five games, and he has a pretty nice matchup against the Rams in Week 16.
Tony Scheffler only managed 3-36 against the Cardinals despite the Lions trailing most of the day, but he did see seven targets and is likely in for a similar workload against the Falcons this week, especially if Brandon Pettigrew is sidelined again.
If you're looking for a defense this week, consider the Colts (@ KC), Dolphins (vs. BUF), Jets (vs. SD) or Panthers (vs. OAK). The matchups are all favorable. The Bengals (@ PIT), Cardinals (vs. CHI), Chargers (@ NYJ) and Redskins (@ PHI) are also possibilities. The Colts, Bengals and Redskins are all battling for a playoff spot, so they should be especially motivated.
See our full DT rankings here.