The fantasy football playoffs are here, and that means there's no room for error if you're still playing. Hitting or missing on a single player can be the difference between a playoff berth or elimination and the end of your season.
Waiver Wire Pickups to Make for 2019 Fantasy Football Playoffs
With those high stakes in mind, these five players are owned in 50 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Football leagues or less and are worth targeting on the waiver wire heading into Week 14.
1. Patrick Laird, RB, Miami Dolphins (1% Owned)
Kalen Ballage went down with a leg injury on Sunday, which looks like it will speed up the slow-burning emergence of Patrick Laird in the Miami Dolphins' backfield. Laird had already seen an increasing snap count in each of the last three weeks, and with Ballage going down mid-way through the second quarter, Laird finished with 15 opportunities (10 carries plus five targets) while playing 60 percent of the team's offensive snaps. It's also worth noting that even before Ballage went down, he had only four opportunities to Laird's five. Neither back has been efficient in the rushing attack, but Laird looks like an adept pass-catcher, now with five-plus targets in two of the last three games, and that gives him the kind of every-down upside that could make him a fantasy league winner down the stretch, particularly if Ballage misses extended time.
2. Jordan Wilkins, RB, Indianapolis Colts (3% Owned)
The Indianapolis Colts' starting RB is a valuable one for fantasy football, even with Marlon Mack sidelined. We saw that when Jonathan Williams rushed 26 times in Week 12, though a shift in lead backs clouded that in Week 13. Williams toted the ball eight times, but only gained 14 yards before being benched for the entire second half. Wilkins took over and ran 11 times for 47 yards. Williams' hold of the No. 1 job looks to be gone, giving Wilkins 20-plus carry upside if Mack remains out in Week 14. That workload is enough to put any back in play for fantasy purposes.
3. James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (22% Owned)
Even if JuJu Smith-Schuster returns, James Washington's recent breakout should help keep him involved in the offense. Washington has notched at least 90 yards and a touchdown in three of the last four games, and he just went off for a season-high 111 yards and a score on four receptions in Week 13. A Week 14 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals should help the Pittsburgh Steelers support two fantasy-relevant WRs if JuJu is back as well, since the Cards have allowed the NFL's most passing yards per game to opponents, at 307.5 while nobody else is giving up more than 281.8.
4. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans (39% Owned)
Ryan Tannehill had a down week for fantasy, scoring 13.8 points after averaging 22.6 per game in his previous five. That was in a tough matchup though, as the Colts have held opposing QBs to bottom-12 fantasy production on the season. Coming into that game he was behind only Lamar Jackson in per-game fantasy production at QB since he took over as a starter though. Tannehill's in a terrific bounce-back spot in Week 14 against the Oakland Raiders, who have allowed the NFL's fourth-most fantasy points to the position.
5. Green Bay Packers Defense (47% Owned)
The defense position really changes in the fantasy playoffs, as even top units can become near useless with a stretch of poor matchups. The Green Bay Packers have posted below-average fantasy numbers on the year, but they've shown plenty of value when they draw a good matchup, scoring at least 10 points on four occasions and scoring at least eight in two of their last three. In Week 14 they're up against the Washington Redskins, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to defenses, and then in Week 15 they have the potential to be worth another start against the Chicago Bears, who the Packers held to three points, scoring a season-high 14 in fantasy in their first meeting this season.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.