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Waiver Wire: Looking for a playoff payoff?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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How important is finding the right free agents off the waiver wire? Just look at the Fantasy leaders from Week 14.

Nick Foles was a Top 5 quarterback. David Wilson, Montell Owens and Bilal Powell were Top 20 running backs. Brandon Gibson, Jason Avant and Alshon Jeffery were Top 20 receivers. And Clay Harbor, Anthony McCoy, Dennis Pitta, Joel Dreessen, Tony Scheffler and Zach Miller were Top 10 tight ends.

Of that group, Pitta is the most owned player at 50 percent on CBSSports.com. We'll address all those players below and tell you who can make a difference during the Fantasy playoffs and who remains waiver wire fodder.

The No. 1 priority this week is Wilson based on his performance in Week 14 against the Saints along with Ahmad Bradshaw dealing with a knee injury, albeit a minor one. If Bradshaw is out or limited then Wilson would be considered a must-start Fantasy option.

Also, if you're looking for free agent DST options this week, we like the Lions (36 percent ownership) at Arizona, the Vikings (43 percent) at St. Louis and the Rams (45 percent) vs. Minnesota.

Editor's note: Must add is for players worth adding in all leagues. Maybe add is for players worth adding in 14-team leagues or larger. Desperation add is for players worth adding only if you're, well, desperate. The ownership percentage listed is how many leagues that player was owned in the previous week for CBSSports.com.

Quarterbacks

Must add: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (72 percent)
Maybe add: Russell Wilson, Seahawks (60 percent)
Desperation add: Chad Henne, Jaguars (26 percent), Nick Foles, Eagles (18 percent), Kirk Cousins, Redskins (1 percent)
The breakdown: At this point in the Fantasy playoffs, most owners have their quarterback situation settled in standard leagues, but owners in two-quarterback formats or someone who is without Robert Griffin III (knee) could still be playing the waiver wire. We still value Kaepernick as the best available option after he had 18 Fantasy points against the Dolphins in Week 14. He now has at least 18 Fantasy points in three of his four starts with a favorable matchup at New England in Week 15. ... Wilson only had 10 Fantasy points in Week 14 against the Cardinals despite the Seahawks surpassing the half-century mark. We expect Wilson to be better in Week 15 against the Bills in Toronto, but Buffalo has held each of the past four quarterbacks it has faced to 16 Fantasy points or less in each outing. Still, Wilson had 53 Fantasy points in his past two road games at Miami and Chicago and should play well. ... Foles was amazing in Week 14 at Tampa Bay with 381 passing yards and two touchdowns and 27 rushing yards and a touchdown, but his matchup against the Bengals will be tough. Cincinnati has held each of the past five quarterbacks it has faced to 14 Fantasy points or less, including Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo. ... Cousins would start for the Redskins if Griffin is out. There's plenty of potential for Cousins at Cleveland in Week 15, but he would be too risky to trust since the Browns have held five of the past six quarterbacks they have faced to 17 Fantasy points or less.

Running Backs

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Must add: David Wilson, Giants (43 percent), Montell Owens, Jaguars (19 percent), Bilal Powell, Jets (27 percent)
Maybe add: Alex Green, Packers (62 percent), Joique Bell, Lions (59 percent), Robert Turbin, Seahawks (18 percent), DuJuan Harris, Packers (0 percent)
Desperation add: LaMichael James, 49ers (4 percent), Lamar Miller, Dolphins (4 percent)
The breakdown: Bradshaw battled a knee problem in Week 14 against the Saints, which allowed Wilson to finally show off his immense talent. He had 13 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns and also added 227 yards on four kickoffs, setting an NFL record for all-purpose yards in a game. Bradshaw is expected to be fine in Week 15 at Atlanta, but Wilson should be owned in all formats in case Bradshaw, who has a lengthy injury history, gets hurt again. ... Owens was a pleasant surprise in Week 14 against the Jets with 14 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 11 yards. The Jaguars had only scored three rushing touchdowns on the season prior to that outing, but Owens scored on a 32-yard run. As long as Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) and Rashad Jennings (concussion) remain out you can count on Owens to get the majority of carries. He faces the Dolphins in Week 15, and Miami has allowed three rushing touchdowns in the past two games against New England and San Francisco. ... Powell remains the No. 2 running back for the Jets behind Shonn Greene, but he continues to be productive. He now has four touchdowns in his past four games after scoring in Week 14 at Jacksonville with three games with double digits in Fantasy points over that span. He faces the Titans in Week 15, and Tennessee has allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing running backs, including three in the past three weeks. In deeper leagues you can start Powell as a flex option. ... Green appears to be the featured back for the Packers with James Starks (knee) and Cedric Benson (foot) out, but he is going to share touches with Harris, Ryan Grant and John Kuhn. Green and Harris are the only ones worth mentioning because Green had 13 carries for 69 yards in Week 14 against the Lions, and Harris had seven carries for 39 yards and a touchdown. We'd recommend adding Green first just based on workload, but neither running back is going to help you much in the Fantasy playoffs. ... Bell, however, could be a flex option in deeper leagues. He had 12 carries for 49 yards and five catches for 47 yards at Green Bay and now has at least eight Fantasy points in his past three games and four of his past six. With Detroit hurting at receiver, Bell has eight receptions in his past two games, so owners in PPR leagues should take notice. ... Turbin is only listed here as the handcuff option for Marshawn Lynch. He showed in the blowout victory against the Cardinals that he could be a capable starting option if Lynch goes down after he had 20 carries for 108 yards. He will never see that workload again as long as Lynch is healthy, but please add Turbin now if you own Lynch to be safe. ... James and Miller should only be owned in dynasty leagues, but they might see more action going forward, especially James, so keep an eye on both to see how they do.

Wide Receivers

Must add: Kenny Britt, Titans (76 percent), Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders (60 percent)
Maybe add: Chris Givens, Rams (53 percent), Andrew Hawkins, Bengals (29 percent), Brandon Gibson, Rams (21 percent), Alshon Jeffery, Bears (14 percent), Rod Streater, Raiders (2 percent)
Desperation add: Domenik Hixon, Giants (9 percent), Jason Avant, Eagles (2 percent), Joe Morgan, Saints (0 percent)
The breakdown: Britt showed he's back to being an elite-level receiver with his performance in Week 14 at the Colts. He had eight catches for 143 yards on nine targets. He does have a tough matchup in Week 15 against the Jets and Antonio Cromartie, but Britt should be considered at least a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in that matchup and might start for you in Week 16 at the Packers. He has 32 Fantasy points in his past three games. ... Heyward-Bey had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in Week 14 vs. Denver and has 12 targets in his past two games. He faces the Chiefs in Week 15 and scored against Kansas City in Week 8. He now has at least seven Fantasy points in his past three meetings against the Chiefs and Kansas City has allowed 17 touchdowns to opposing receivers this year. Look for Streater to also play well. He can be considered a No. 3 receiver in deeper leagues. He has 25 Fantasy points in his past two games with seven catches for 196 yards and a touchdown over that span on 11 targets. ... I'm not giving up on Givens, who had his first game with fewer than eight Fantasy points with Danny Amendola (foot) out in Week 14 at the Bills with three catches for 25 yards. He was outplayed by Gibson, who had six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Givens still had more targets (10) than Gibson (nine), and if Amendola is out in Week 15 against Minnesota we would still consider Givens a No. 3 Fantasy receiver. ... Jeffery scored in his return to action in Week 14 at Minnesota with three catches for 57 yards on six targets after sitting out the previous two games with a knee injury. The Bears need someone to help take pressure off Brandon Marshall, and Jeffery now has three touchdowns in seven games. ... Hawkins scored in Week 14 against Dallas with six catches for 44 yards on eight targets. He now has 16 targets in two games since Mohammed Sanu (foot) went down, and he has a tremendous matchup in Week 15 at Philadelphia. The Eagles have now allowed nine touchdowns to opposing receivers in their past five games.

Tight Ends

Must add: Martellus Bennett, Giants (77 percent), Dennis Pitta, Ravens (50 percent)
Maybe add: Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (38 percent), Tony Scheffler, Lions (3 percent)
Desperation add: Zach Miller, Seahawks (2 percent), Anthony McCoy, Seahawks (0 percent), Clay Harbor, Eagles (0 percent)
The breakdown: Pitta and Bennett might be difference makers for Fantasy owners this week, especially with the continued struggles of Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis, among others. Both scored in Week 14, with Bennett getting five catches for 32 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, and Pitta had five catches for 46 yards and a touchdown at Washington. Both have favorable matchups again in Week 15 as Pitta plays host to the Broncos, while Bennett plays at Atlanta. ... Clark struggled in Week 14 against the Eagles with only one catch for 19 yards, but he should rebound against the Saints, who have allowed five touchdowns to opposing tight ends in the past five games. ... Scheffler could be asked to produce more with Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) banged up, and we like what Scheffler has done with Ryan Broyles (knee) and Titus Young (knee) going down with at least five Fantasy points in his past three games. He faces a Cardinals defense in Week 15 that just allowed McCoy and Miller to combine for five catches for 134 yards and a touchdown in Week 14.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton active against Titans
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) Colts No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton, who sat out Week 16 with a hamstring injury, is active for Sunday's game at Tennessee after being listed as questionable. Hilton leads the team with 82 catches for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns.

Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams active vs. Eagles
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:29 am ET) Giants running backs Rashad Jennings (ankle) and Andre Williams (shoulder) are active for Sunday's game against the Eagles after being listed on the injury report. Jennings has not been a factor since Week 13, while the rookie Williams has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of the past three weeks.

They'll likely share the load against Philly.


Pettine working to alter image of Browns through discipline
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:25 am ET) The four-game losing streak that seems likely to extend to five on Sunday has many exclaiming, "same old Browns." But Mike Pettine has taken steps to change that image, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Pettine is not allowing misbehaving players to escape responsibility. He has all but benched cornerback and 2014 top draft pick Justin Gilbert for a woeful lack of dedication to his craft, suspended embattled wideout Josh Gordon for an array of misdeeds and fined ballyhooed quarterback Johnny Manziel for being late to a treatment session Saturday after reportedly throwing a party at his home on Friday night.

It might be too late for Gordon and Manziel to learn their lessons, at least in regard to the Browns. The former could be gone after this season and the latter might have lost any chance at earning a starting spot due to terrible performances on the field and admittedly poor preparation off it. But Gilbert boasts the talent to live up to his billing and has vowed to turn his career around in 2015.

Pettine has proven through his actions regarding Gordon and Manziel that he will provide Gilbert no leeway.


Broncos will play starters in hopes of clinching first-round bye
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) Broncos are still playing for a first-round bye, meaning they'll "play to win" against Oakland on Sunday, a source told CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Quarterback Peyton Manning, along with other stars like wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (ankle, hip), tight end Julius Thomas and running back C.J. Anderson are expected to play a significant role in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Raiders. The Broncos can clinch a first-round bye with a win. If they lose to Oakland and Cincinnati defeats Pittsburgh, Denver will be playing in the opening round of the playoffs.

Denver is a 14-point home favorite over the Raiders on Sunday.


Patriots stars not expected to play significant role vs. Buffalo
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is unlikely to play more than a quarter at most in Week 17 against Buffalo, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely see the majority of the snaps at quarterback.

The Patriots have clinched home-field advantage and have little to play for on Sunday, which means star players like Darrelle Revis and Rob Gronkowski and other injury-prone players are not expected to play a significant role against Buffalo.

New England opened as an 8 1/2-point favorite at home vs. Buffalo. The line has dropped to only 5 points in favor of the Patriots.


Browns will start Terrance West at RB in season finale
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) Browns running back Terrance West, who was benched in Week 16 against Carolina, will get the start in Sunday's season finale against the Ravens, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

The Baltimore native's role has fluctuated his rookie season, after splitting snaps with Isaiah Crowell in Weeks 14 and 15. He received single digits in carries in three of five games since the team parted ways with Ben Tate. In 13 games, West has carried the ball 153 times for 579 yards and three touchdowns.


Browns sent security unit to Manziel's house on Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports that the Browns had to send security personnel to rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel's house on Saturday to try to locate him after he was not at the team facility to receive treatment for his injured hamstring. Manziel's tardiness was likely due to a party he threw the night before. The team fined him an undisclosed amount for arriving late to treatment Saturday.

Manziel was placed on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 16 against Carolina. Although he's on IR and not eligible to play, he will accompany the team to Baltimore for Cleveland's season finale against the Ravens. He finished the turbulent rookie season with 175 passing yards and a 42.0 quarterback rating. He also had two interceptions and one fumble lost.


Josh Gordon's days with Browns may be numbered
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:56 am ET) Josh Gordon will file a grievance with the Browns after being suspended for the final game of the season against Baltimore, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports on Sunday.

His one-game ban prevents him from being an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season. He would have needed to be paid six games in order to accrue a season. If the Browns choose to to pay him for Week 17, Gordon would have only been paid for five games this year, making him a restricted free agent after 2015, not unrestricted.

According to La Canfora's report, Gordon's days with the Browns may be numbered, as the organization has grown tired of his behavior off the field. The previous front office regime tried repeatedly to trade him last season, but was vetoed by ownership. It remains to be seen if owner Jimmy Haslam will be willing to take reduced compensation in exchange for Gordon, who finished 2014 with 24 receptions and 303 yards in five games.


Report: Falcons WR Julio Jones will play pivotal game vs. Carolina
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:15 am ET) Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will play Sunday's pivotal regular season finale against the Panthers, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Last week against the Saints, Jones needed to test hip injury during warmups before he was cleared to play. He turned nine targets into seven catches for 116 yards. According to Breer's report, this week the Falcons feel confident enough about his progress that he won't need to go through any hurdles prior to kickoff. Jones has 100 receptions for 1,535 yards and six scores on the year.

Atlanta opened up as a 2 1/2-point home favorite. The line has now moved to 3 points in favor of the Falcons. The winner takes the NFC South title.


Report: Falcons' Steven Jackson won't play vs. Panthers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:12 am ET) Falcons running back Steven Jackson will not play Sunday's pivotal regular season finale against the Panthers, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Jackson entered this week as questionable after suffering a quadriceps injury against New Orleans in Week 16. He compiled 707 yards and six touchdowns on the ground this season. If Jackson is inactive, Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman will share the load. Rodgers received 12 touches and Freeman got eight against the Saints.

Atlanta opened up as a 2 1/2-point home favorite. The line has now moved to 3 points in favor of the Falcons. The winner takes the NFC South title.


 
 
 
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