The fantasy playoffs are here in Week 14, and to have the best shot of not just winning this week but also winning your league championship, it's already time to start thinking about Week 15's waiver wire and the streamers who'll make it into championship lineups. Our watch list has served the same purpose all season, but now the stakes are higher. We have more data points, and we have to predict less into the future. It's all about Weeks 14, 15 and 16 (and sure, some of you play on into the anything-goes Week 17).
As usual, most of the quarterback, tight end, and defense sections of the list are about matchups. The presence of O.J. Howard is more about unrealized potential, but other than that, there's no time for "long-term investing" -- you need production right now. So, players at QB and TE who have brutal matchups for the rest of the fantasy playoffs weren't considered for this week's list.
Running back and wide receiver are a bit different. It's probably true that ownership is partially depressed at this time of year as fewer people scour the waiver wire, but we're still looking at players trending in the right way statistically who aren't trending the same in fantasy ownership. We've considered the matchups at those positions, too, but players like Anthony Miller find their way here based more on talent and perceived opportunity than anything else.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watch List
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 14, looking forward to the players that could be waiver-wire targets in Week 15. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are options you could pick up early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
Week 15 Waiver Wire Watch List: Quarterback
Ryan Tannehill, Titans (42 percent ownership)
Tannehill has been one of the better quarterbacks in football since he took over the Tennessee starting job. The Titans also get to face off with a poor Houston pass defense in Week 15. Tannehill's rise in ownership has shown that people are catching on to what he's doing -- don't let it be your playoff opponent who takes advantage of it against you.
Matthew Stafford, Lions (32) | David Blough, Lions (1)
Stafford (back) probably won't make it back this year, but apparently he wants to, so he gets to accompany Blough on this list. A matchup with one of the league's worst pass defenses in Tampa Bay for Week 15 makes it possible that Blough, who looked decent in his Thanksgiving debut, is in play if he follows that up with a decent Week 14, too.
Daniel Jones, Giants (25)
Jones (ankle) is expected to miss Week 14 but could be back for Week 15. If he does return, it will be to a favorable matchup in Week 15 against Miami, and then he gets to play the Redskins in Week 16 -- a good couple of streams if you're desperate.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (16)
Speaking of good Week 15 and 16 matchups: Fitzpatrick takes on the Giants and then the Bengals, respectively. You learn to live with Fitzpatrick's mistakes when he slings it around as successfully as he did in Week 13. With the Dolphins' running game down to its fourth or fifth option, this will be the Fitzpatrick show against bad opponents down the stretch, for better or worse.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (12)
Minshew has taken back the starting job in Jacksonville from Nick Foles. That comes just in time to take advantage of some great matchups down the stretch, as the Jags face the Raiders and Falcons in Weeks 15 and 16, respecively. Minshew was owned in about 60 percent of leagues at his peak and started in more than 12 percent some week. If it looks like his mustache still has some magic, he'll be a popular stream for those final two fantasy weeks.
Week 15 Waiver Wire Watch List: RB
Alexander Mattison, Vikings (48)
If Dalvin Cook (back/shoulder) is healthy, Mattison returns to a handcuff (albeit one that every Cook owner should have). If Cook misses time, Mattison will be at least a RB2 just due to talent down the stretch.
Bo Scarbrough, Lions (43) | Kerryon Johnson, Lions (33)
There's not much to like about Scarbrough's matchups down the stretch at all. What is to like is that Scarbrough should see 15-plus carries every week the rest of the way, and he's a strong enough back that most of those will go for at least a few yards. If David Blough can continue to move the ball, there could be touchdowns in the future for Scarbrough, too.
(Update: Johnson is back at practice and eligible to return in Week 16, and he could be stashed now.)
Benny Snell Jr., Steelers (35)
For as long as James Conner (shoulder) remains out, you can keep using Snell and expecting 15 or more carries each week. The Bills and Jets aren't great rushing matchups in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, but like with Scarbrough, the volume can work out for you.
Raheem Mostert, 49ers (32)
This is a backfield that's probably too much of a committee to trust totally down the stretch, but Mostert getting 20 carries in Week 13 (with Matt Breida out) could mean Kyle Shanahan just wants to use him a ton down the stretch. We'll see what happens when Breida (ankle) returns.
Chris Thompson, Redskins (11)
This is a PPR special with Thompson back from injury for a Washington team that should frequently trail. If you're the type of owner who likes to bet on backs catching passes to have solid floors in PPR leagues, take note of Thompson.
Darwin Thompson, Chiefs (11)
There needs to continue to be multiple injuries in front of Thompson for him to matter at all, but you can't just ignore a potential Chiefs running back with double-digit touches in a week, if that's what he's getting.
Patrick Laird, Dolphins (5)
If Laird is truly the Dolphins' starting running back the rest of the way, the matchups against the Giants and Bengals are good enough in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, to rely on him as a FLEX play, especially so in PPR leagues, as Laird's best skill is probably his receiving.
Jalen Richard, Raiders (3) | DeAndre Washington, Raiders (0)
Josh Jacobs has reportedly been playing through a fractured shoulder since Week 7. You'd imagine as soon as Oakland feels like they're out of it, they'll shut the rookie down and Richard would get more involvement for PPR owners and Washington on the ground.
Jordan Wilkins, Colts (2)
Marlon Mack (hand) could come back, or Jonathan Williams could claim the lead back role again, but there's also a scenario where Mack stays out and Wilkins runs this backfield the rest of the way. Especially against the Panthers in Week 16, that'd be a good spot to be in.
Reggie Bonnafon, Panthers (2)
Christian McCaffrey is owned in 100 percent of leagues. His handcuff is owned in two percent. His handcuff is also named Reggie Bonnafon, if you didn't get where I was going with this. It's the fantasy playoffs and McCaffrey got you there. Unless you've got really small benches, there's no reason not to protect him with Bonnafon at this point.
Week 15 Waiver Wire Watch List: WR
Darius Slayton, Giants (26)
The Giants close out the fantasy season with the Dolphins and the Redskins in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, and Slayton proved in the last two weeks he can be a solid option whether Golden Tate is on the field or not. The rookie evidently has good chemistry working with Daniel Jones, and solid target volume against those two bad defenses should yield good results.
Corey Davis, Titans (26) | A.J. Brown, Titans (24)
I probably prefer Brown a bit here, as he brings bigger-play ability without sacrificing in target share compared to Davis. But either can be used in Week 15 against a Houston defense that's prone to allowing chunk yardage through the air.
Zach Pascal, Colts (19) | Parris Campbell, Colts (3)
Pascal really only comes into legit fantasy consideration if T.Y. Hilton (calf) remains out, and even if that's true, Pascal let us down a few times earlier this year in fantasy-friendly matchups without Hilton. Pascal's 10 targets and 100-yard game in Week 13 make him worth pointing out, especially because Eric Ebron's absence could help his volume, too. Campbell is back from a hand injury and could have an impact down the stretch.
Anthony Miller, Bears (16)
Miller's averaged 11 targets across the past three weeks. The Packers and Chiefs can be beaten through the air in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively, but we might just be seeing a blossoming of a young receiver that would make him worth considering in any matchup down the stretch.
John Ross, Bengals (10)
Ross (clavicle) has finally been officially activated from Injured Reserve. You'll want to avoid him in Week 15 against the Patriots, but there's a Dolphins matchup in Week 16. If Ross pops in Week 14, he could be a popular add as a known commodity, so maybe get out in front and you'll have a tempting option for your fantasy championship game.
Jakobi Meyers, Patriots (1)
Meyers played more than Mohamed Sanu in Week 13 and saw nine targets. That could've been a product of a less-than-100-percent Sanu, or maybe the Pats are just giving the undrafted rookie an extended run of playing time. It's worth getting ahead of your league to find out before New England plays Cincinnati in Week 15.
Albert Wilson, Dolphins (1) | Allen Hurns, Dolphins (1)
We've talked about the Dolphins great finishing schedule of Giants and Bengals, respectively, in Weeks 15 and 16, and these two receivers have alternated getting the second0most WR targets behind DeVante Parker. There could be some PPR value here.
Breshad Perriman, Buccaneers (0)
Perriman's five catches for 87 yards in Week 13 will probably prove to be an anomaly. But he also fits the mold as the rare WR handcuff for both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. If you own one of them and have bench room to play with, maybe you should grab Perriman.
Week 15 Waiver Wire Watch List: TE
O.J. Howard, Buccaneers (32)
Just when we were ready to write off Howard again, he was targeted six times and caught five in Week 13. At this point, we're all tired of his disappearing act, but we know he has the talent. The Lions and Texans, respectively, are decent offensive matchups for Tampa Bay as a whole in Weeks 15 and 16, so maybe Howard can look like a top-10 TE down the stretch.
David Njoku, Browns (29)
Njoku (wrist) has already said he's good to go, so it's on the Browns at this point to activate him from Injured Reserve. Njoku might just run onto the field himself if need be for Week 15, when Cleveland takes on the Cardinals. Assuming Njoku does come back, he'll be a top-10 TE for Week 15 for sure.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (22)
Gesicki has received at least six targets in five straight weeks, which is extremely solid usage relative to the high majority of tight ends. Closing out the fantasy season with the Giants in Week 15 and Bengals in Week 16, respectively, gives him a favorable shot of scoring a touchdown or two, as well.
Kaden Smith, Giants (1)
Smith's relevance hinges on Evan Engram (and possibly Rhett Ellison) remaining off the field. If that happens, Smith should continue to see six-plus targets per week like he has in the past two. And he'll get to do that against the Dolphins and Redskins in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively.
Week 15 defense streamers and sleepers
Kansas City Chiefs (27) | Week 15 opponent: vs. Broncos
Detroit Lions (19) | Week 15 opponent: vs. Buccaneers
New York Giants (6) | Week 15 opponent: vs. Dolphins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3) | Week 15 opponent: @ Lions
Miami Dolphins (1) | Week 15 opponent: @ Giants
The Lions make it on the list as the usual high-risk, high-reward D/ST option going against Jameis Winston. The Giants and Dolphins could play an ugly, turnover-filled contest, putting both those defenses in play, while Tampa Bay is usable if David Blough is still Detroit' starting quarterback. Kansas City might be the best option of the bunch here, but we're working with a small sample size on Broncos rookie Drew Lock, so keep an eye on how he does in Week 14 to know just how attackable he is.