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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
Report: 49ers to release wide receiver Steve Johnson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) The 49ers are expected to release wide receiver Steve Johnson, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington D.C.

The move will reportedly save the team $5.5 million in cap space. Johnson had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season.


Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


Report: Should be a 'very active market' for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned down a five-year, $40 million contract for a reason. That's because it's believed he will have a "very active market" when the new league year begins on March 10, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

Two teams that are expected to target Thomas in free agency are the Raiders and Jaguars, both of which need to upgrade considerably at their skill positions to help out their young quarterbacks. The expectation is for Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test the waters in free agency to see what he's offered. 

The Falcons have also reportedly been interested, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Injuries slowed what was an otherwise fast start to his 2014 season. Thomas' season ended with 489 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Report: Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be on the way out of Cleveland
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) With the signing of Josh McCown Friday, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer could be looking elsewhere for employment. Coach Mike Pettine called Hoyer to inform him the team was signing McCown and Hoyer appears ready to move on, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Hoyer played in 14 games for the Browns in 2014, throwing for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He lost his starting position to Johnny Manziel in Week 15, but was forced back into action after Manziel suffered a season-ending injury.


Quarterback Josh McCown agrees to terms with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Free agent quarterback Josh McCown has agreed to terms with the Browns on a contract, according to his agent Mike McCartney. The team later confirmed the report. The deal is reportedly set to have McCown on the Browns for three seasons and is worth $15 million, according to NFL.com.

McCown, who will turn 36 before the season begins, previously visited with the Bills before signing with the Browns. McCown threw for 2,206 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2014 with the Buccaneers.


Jets WR Percy Harvin will not accept pay cut
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Jets receiver Percy Harvin will not agree to a reduction in his 2015 salary, reports CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. 

Harvin is slated to earn $10.5 million this season, something the Jets cannot afford. Teams around the league are interested signing Harvin to a short-term deal. With his expensive contract, though, the Jets will be hard-pressed to find a suitor interested in trading Harvin. 

The Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional pick during the 2014 season. 


Report: Colts' Wayne undergoes triceps surgery, mulling retirement
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery Friday to repair his injured triceps, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne, 36, is beginning rehab for the injury and is reportedly considering retirement, according to Rapoport.

Wayne played in 15 regular season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.


Dolphins WR Mike Wallace interested in return to Steelers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though the Dolphins are shopping Mike Wallace to prospective suitors, there is one team that is of interest to the speedy receiver. 

According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Wallace has interest in potentially returning to the Steelers. Of course, the Steelers would have to decide if they'd be willing to take on a contract that's going to have a $12.1 million cap figure for 2015. 

Wallace has underperformed in relation to the five-year, $60 million contract he signed before the 2013 season. He's failed to reach 1,000 yards with the Dolphins in either season after recording that mark twice with the Steelers in his first four NFL seasons. 


Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson not accepting pay cut for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is likely to remain with Tampa Bay this offseason, but he is not willing to accept a pay cut, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Jackson, who was shopped by the team before the trade deadline, is set to make $10 million in base salary and has a $12.2 million cap hit. He totaled 70 catches for 1,002 yards and two touchdowns in 2014.


 
 
 
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