I cannot believe that it is already the end of the fantasy football season. Like all fantasy seasons there have been a mix of ups-and-downs, as well as unknown players taking the leap towards fantasy relevance. If you are in a league that runs through the entire regular season this is your last chance to swoop up players that can help you claim bragging rights over your entire league.
The purpose of my final waiver wire article of the season is to point out a few players that I would have faith plugging into my lineup in a fantasy championship scenario.
Teddy Bridgewater QB/Minnesota Vikings (6.1% Owned)
During the pre-draft process there were many well-known draft pundits out there criticizing Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for what they referred to as “skinny lower-extremities”. Pair a below-average frame with a questionable Pro Day workout and the Minnesota Vikings found themselves in position to land one of the steals of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Bridgewater got his NFL career off to a hot start after tearing apart the Falcons for 300+ passing yards and a rushing touchdown. After the hot start Bridgewater came back down to earth in the next few weeks while battling an inconsistent offensive line and limited offensive firepower.
While some people may still have their doubts about Bridgewater I can assure you that this kid is the real deal. Over the last month of the season Bridgewater has not only established himself as the top rookie quarterback, but as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, ranking 5th in passer rating, 2nd in completion percentage, and 7th in touchdown passes. The rookie quarterback has also had a tendency to feed off of the energy of the home crowd at TCF Bank Stadium, as Bridgewater has had multiple touchdown passes in his last three home games.
In the ever-important fantasy championship week I believe that Bridgewater has a chance to post a monster stat-line against a Bears team that is already making their off-season vacation plans. Opposing quarterbacks have feasted on the Bears defense this season, as they have allowed the most touchdown passes (33), and the second-most passing yards (4,006).
In what will most likely be a low-key week on the waiver wire in terms of transactions, I would rank Bridgewater at the top of my waiver priority big board this week. I expect Bridgewater and the Vikings offense to go out in style in front of the home crowd, allowing Marc Trestman and the rest of the Bears coaching staff to figure out their future coaching plans.
Recommendation: Add Immediately
Devonta Freeman RB/Atlanta Falcons (1.9% Owned)
If you were to ask me before the season which Falcons running back would lead the team in carries I would have said Devonta Freeman. However, this prediction would not have been one based on talent, but on the durability of the running backs ahead of Freeman on the depth chart. Veteran running back Steven Jackson has somehow been able to stay healthy for a full-season, a feat I would not have imagined in at this point in his career.
Father time may have finally caught up to Jackson, as he suffered a pulled quad this weekend, allowing Freeman to get an increased role within the Falcons offense. Freeman made the most of his opportunity totaling 36 yards on just 5 carries (7.2 YPA) and one touchdown. Freeman did do the bulk of his work (31/36) on the long touchdown run, but still showed more flashes to be a more dynamic player than current no. 2 running back Jacquizz Rodgers (12/29/0).
A lot of Freemans fantasy potential depends on the ability for Steven Jackson to recover from his injury before the itso-facto playoff game against the Panthers this weekend. Early reports for Jackson’s status seem to indicate that he has a good chance at playing. However, if for some reason Jackson were unable to suit up this weekend I would expect it to be Freeman, not Rodgers, to carry the bulk of the carries for the Falcons offense.
Recommendation: Stash and See
Value: RB3 w/Potential
Ryan Tannehill QB/Miami Dolphins (48.8% Owned)
Despite being one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks throwing the ball down the field, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has quietly put together a season that ranks him as a top-10 fantasy quarterback. Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor has done a fantastic job utilizing Tannehill’s athletic ability within the Dolphins offense this season, using much of the same principles he learned under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia.
This week Tannehill goes on my list as one of the best waiver wire additions due to a very owner friendly matchup against the Jets. I know that Tannehill struggled in his first matchup against the Rex Ryan-led defense (235/0/1), but I have a feeling Tannehill will bounce back.
The Jets defense has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. If you are the owner of one of the premier quarterbacks in fantasy football, there is a strong chance that they will not play a full-game if their playoff seeding has already determined. If you are an owner who finds themself in that bind, I would recommend finding another option if you are heading into a championship matchup. While I would still add the likes of Alex Smith and Teddy Bridgewater over Tannehill, I still feel that he has the potential to put up low-end QB1 number due to his owner-friendly matchup.
Recommendation: Add In Deep Leauges
Value: Low QB1
Charles Clay TE/Miami Dolphins (10.6% Owned)
As suspect as the Jets secondary has been in pass coverage this season, they have been especially susceptible to being burned by opposing tight ends, making me think that Charles Clay is going to be in for an increased workload this weekend.
The Jets defense has allowed an average of 11.5 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends, ranking them as the fifth-worst against the position this season.
Clay has not has the season that many in the Dolphins organization envisioned him having, as he has battled injuries for much of the year just to stay on the cusp of fantasy-relevance throughout the year. Clay is currently the 18th highest scoring tight end in fantasy football, and has been very touchdown-dependent for fantasy success.
Despite just posting 114 receiving yards against the Vikings last I would not expect that type of quality production next week. Clay’s 114 yards was just his first game topping triple-digits this season. In a week that it is crucial to get quality production out of your fantasy players, I would expect Clay to once again shift back to a touchdown-dependent TE1. While I would normally shy away from someone I am not going to get guaranteed production, it is worth pointing out that the Jets have allowed the second most receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season.
Albert Wilson WR/Kansas City Chiefs (0.0% Owned)
Now I have to admit when I looked at the Kansas City Chiefs stats over the past three weeks that something called Albert Wilson had racked up 19 targets, a number good enough to rank him second among Chiefs receivers, I let out a resounding “Who?” However, if Wilson continues to carve out meaningful playing time with the Chiefs first-team offense he could establish himself as a popular pick up in dynasty leagues.
Wilson found his way to the Chiefs after signing with the team as a priority UDFA after going undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.
While I do not trust Alex Smith to finally be able to get the ball to his receivers on a consistent basis, I believe there is reason to think that Wilson could establish himself as the most consistent fantasy option out of the Chiefs receivers. Standing at 5’9” Wilson is not going to hurt defenses vertically, but what he lacks in deep-play ability, Wilson makes up for with sound route-running, and the ability to make things happen after the catch.
Next week Wilson does have a favorable matchup against a Chargers secondary that is being held together by super glue, giving me reason to believe that Wilson could potentially put a stamp on his rookie season. There is also hope that Alex Smith can finally end the scoreless streak for Chiefs wide receivers, as the Chargers secondary has allowed 5 touchdown receptions to opposing wide receivers in their last four games.
Recommendation: Add In Deep Leagues