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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
Chris Harris targeting midway point of preseason
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


Dimitri Patterson a starter by default
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Unable to land a high-end free agent cornerback, the Jets "were forced to settle for journeyman Dimitri Patterson as a consolation," notes The Star-Ledger. Patterson, who projects to start opposite Dee Milliner, is on his sixth team in 10 seasons and has played all 16 games just once in his career.

If Patterson falters, third-round pick Dexter McDougle could get a shot.


Fred Jackson in danger of losing carries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Bills running back Fred Jackson might not approach the 207 carries he received last year. According to WGR550.com, Jackson will once again split time with C.J. Spiller but also potentially lose snaps to the team's additions at running back, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.

The website said Jackson, 33, who's entering the last year of his deal, will be trying to prove how much he has left.


Teammate: Bitterness won't linger from Jimmy Graham standoff
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Saints tight end Benjamin Watson told ESPN that the the team's arbitration fight with Jimmy Graham over whether he's a receiver or a tight end won't have a longterm detrimental effect. Watson is hopeful the sides will reach a multiyear contract agreement by Tuesday's deadline.

"I’m very confident that it’ll be resolved the right way and guys can move forward," Watson said. "Obviously it’s always tough when you go through litigation with somebody, and it can probably get heated. And I’m sure there are emotions on both sides. But that is the business side of the game. 

"And it’s unfortunate that it came to that and that it was so public. But I really think -- I know, I don’t think -- I know that Jimmy loves New Orleans and I know that he loves our team and the organization and he loves playing here. And we love him, everybody wants him here, coaches included. So when it comes down to contract situations, that’s just a necessary evil ... not even evil, but just a necessary progression of getting a player here."


Dallas Thomas eyes starting job
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin named Dallas Thomas one of the team's most improved players, and he has a good chance to start at left guard, according to the team's website. A third-round pick in last year's draft, Thomas played only four offensive snaps last season.

Thomas worked with the first team during spring drills and is much further along than he was in 2013. He stayed in South Florida throughout the offseason to get better prepared.

"You’ve got to know your material, you’ve got to know what you’re doing on the field because stuff happens so fast," Thomas said. "You’ve got to be able to just react to it and not even think about what’s happening on the field."


Spencer Nealy hit with four-game ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The NFL suspended Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, the 24-year-old Nealy did not play in a game last season.

Nealy apologized and took responsibility in a statement, saying he took a supplement containing a banned stimulant.


Jarrett Boykin will be 'hard to dislodge'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Jarrett Boykin improved dramatically last season and "will be hard to dislodge" from the Packers' No. 3 receiver job, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Boykin will have to hold off second-round pick Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis.

Boykin, 24, caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns last season.


Trent Richardson might not get long leash
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Averaging 2.9 yards a carry, like he did last year, will get Trent Richardson benched quickly, reports ESPN.com. Richardson "will have to produce right away because it's unlikely the Colts will wait for him to get going" if running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard are healthy and productive, the website said.

Richardson likely will get the first shot at the starting job. He has a much better grasp of the playbook than he did in 2013 and the belief is he'll be able to run on instinct as opposed to overthinking, the report said.


Bruce Ellington trying to overcome stature
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(7/11/2014) At 5-foot-9, Bruce Ellington is the shortest receiver on the 49ers' roster. But the fourth-round pick out of South Carolina should not be discounted, his high school coach, Jerry Brown, told the Sacramento Bee.

Brown said Ellington is relentless at finding open space and catching everything thrown his way. "Football's played on a big field and it's hard to track someone like Bruce who's got so much agility," Brown said.

Ellington believes he has lots of room for growth because he only gave up basketball last year. Also a former track competitor, Ellington clocked a 4.45 forty at the combine.

"I'm just going to work hard, give it a hundred (percent) every time I step on the field and keep on chasing the dream," he said.


Colts dump LaVon Brazill, sign Aaron Burks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The Colts waived suspended wideout LaVon Brazill and signed receiver Aaron Burks, an undrafted free agent from Boise State. Brazill, 25, is suspended for at least a year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Burks caught 18 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns for the Broncos last season, averaging 17.2 yards per catch.


 
 
 
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