February 26, 2021

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Win the Wire: Week 15

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Win the Wire: Week 15


If you made it through the first round of your fantasy playoffs, welcome to the semi-finals! The impact waiver options are fewer and farther between this week, but there are a handful of players whose recent breakouts offer them a chance to carry you to a fantasy championship.

Roster percentages are for ESPN/Yahoo.

Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

55%/75%

Still conflicted on whether Akers’ Week 13 breakout was a result of Darrell Henderson’s knee injury and the short turnaround time that followed, I may have been the last one to realize that Akers had taken over as the Rams’ No. 1 back. But he made that easy to understand on Thursday night, taking 29 of the team’s 31 running back carries for 171 yards and out-snapping Henderson and Malcolm Brown 79% to 11% and 10%. I’m still not sure that Akers is a better player than Henderson. He has the edge with 4.8 versus 4.5 yards per carry this season, but the latter player leads with 2.2 versus 1.7 yards after contact per carry and with a 56.8% versus 51.4% success rate. But Akers has proven himself effective, and so his new role is the most important thing. He had never played more than a third of the team’s snaps before two weeks ago, but now Akers has played 63% and 79% the last two weeks. And in those last two weeks, he has a 62.1% carry share that is fifth-best among all running backs. That is a tremendous workload to enjoy for a run-oriented team with a top-six run-blocking offensive line with 4.69 adjusted line yards. If he fell through the cracks in your league’s waiver wire last week, exhaust you FAB to try to add Akers now.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 100%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

69%/78%

Aiyuk is the wide receiver version of Akers this week. He had already enjoyed a top-five wide receiver target share in his previous four starts (which stretched back to Week 7 because of COVID issues), but Aiyuk furthered that on Sunday with 16 targets to lead the 49ers by nine. He’s now up to a 30.5% target share since Week 7, and that workload seems assured now that fellow starter Deebo Samuel aggravated his hamstring injury and may miss the rest of the season. Even sometimes sharing the field with Samuel, Aiyuk has produced 20.6 PPR points per game since Week 7, which has him third at the position behind just Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams. He should be rostered and started every week in every format.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 100%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

8%/17%

Hurts plays a less difficult position to fill in fantasy than either Akers or Aiyuk, but he still justifies a full FAB offer if you have any need for a quarterback. That’s the value of rushing in typical formats, where each yard on the ground is worth 2.5 times as much as a yard through the air. Hurts had 18 carries and 106 yards in his debut as a starter, and I don’t think that is fluke — he averaged 11 and 58 in college. He produced his Sunday totals against a Saints team that entered as the No. 2 DVOA run defense and had not allowed a 100-yard rusher since 2018. And while much of Hurts’ production came on scrambles, such as on this 24-yarder after he escaped pressure…

The Eagles also mixed in designed runs such as this zone-read carry that netted Hurts 15 yards as he raced past defensive end Marcus Davenport.

And now that head coach Doug Pederson has named Hurts the starter for Week 15, the only outstanding question of his fantasy value is in his potential to score rushing touchdowns. Hurts did not score one on Sunday, and his 0.010 opportunity-adjusted rushing touchdowns per carry this season land him closer to Matt Ryan (0.017) and Daniel Jones (0.011) than the leading goal-line quarterbacks such as Cam Newton (0.097), Josh Allen (0.057), and Taysom Hill (0.057). But I think that will change. At 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds, Hurts is bigger than Lamar Jackson (6-foot-2 and 212 pounds) and Kyler Murray (5-foot-10 and 207 pounds). And he showcased his ability to push the pile when he drove through an attempted Marcus Williams (6-foot-1 and 195 pounds) tackle to convert on a fourth-and-1.

As the team did with Carson Wentz, I expect the Eagles to rely heavily on Hurts near the end zone since their injury-decimated offensive line (4.21 adjusted line yards, 17th) has a hard time creating lanes for their running backs as defenses are compacted on a short field.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 100%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

J.D. McKissic, RB, Washington Football Team

73%/70%

With Antonio Gibson sidelined with his turf toe injury, McKissic split Washington’s running back carries 11 to 12 with power back Peyton Barber on Sunday. That may not sound like the recipe for fantasy success for a team that seems to trail more often than it leads. But for the receiving back McKissic, it’s an incredible bonus. Since Alex Smith took over at quarterback in Week 9, McKissic has a 23.0% target share that is by far the best among running backs — Alvin Kamara and James White are the closest to him at just 17.9% and 15.3%. On their own, those targets make McKissic a fantasy option in PPR formats. The added carries buoy him to RB2 consideration and should level out his good and bad performances. It’s unclear how long his current boost will last. Turf toe injuries have been known to linger, but Gibson was a Sunday sit decision and could play in Week 15. Meanwhile, Smith injured his calf on Sunday, and his proclivity to check down to his backs is a must for McKissic to have value in the first place. But I’m willing to risk those concerns with a substantial FAB offer. There are only two weeks left in the fantasy season, and even one week of RB2 value could make the difference in your fantasy championship.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 41%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

Lynn Bowden, RB/WR, Miami Dolphins

1%/1%

Continuing the theme of attractive options in PPR formats, Bowden is a rookie Dolphins slot receiver whose history as a rusher — and even as a quarterback — landed him running back eligibility in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. In the right format, that is huge. Effectively, his seven catches and 82 receiving yards are the same as 152 rushing yards. And while the latter may seem more stable, Bowden could end up with a consistent receiving workload the rest of the season. Normal skill-position starters DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant suffered leg injuries and Mike Gesicki suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday, and Preston Williams is not a lock to return from his foot injury this year. Those absences left Bowden as the team’s snap share leader on Sunday at 71%. And while his small stature at 5-foot-11 and 204 pounds made it a question whether he could translate his big numbers from Kentucky to the NFL, Bowden showcased his quickness as he sidestepped an attempted Bashaud Breeland tackle.

And he demonstrated strong route-running as he sharply cut off an out route to gain 11 yards.

In deeper leagues where Akers and McKissic are already rostered, the receiver Bowden may be your best waiver option at running back.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 36%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: Yes

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

59%/73%

Based on his recent production, Hilton should be at the top of this article. After failing to reach 80 yards or score a touchdown in any of the first nine games, Hilton has hit those benchmarks in each of the last three weeks. And while some of his recent touchdowns have come on the deep passes that made him a star in the first place, Hilton has enjoyed an uptick in his target share from 16.6% from Weeks 1 to 11 to 22.1% since. That latter rate is 26th-highest among wide receivers. That said, Hilton cannot credit his recent outburst to an increase in playing time. He took just 67% of the team’s offensive snaps on Sunday and has consistently trailed rookie wideout Michael Pittman (90%) in that respect in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Hilton’s four recent touchdowns are unsupported by just 1.49 opportunity-adjusted touchdowns. That 2.51-touchdown surplus is the biggest at the position since Week 12. Those vagaries are going to happen with field-stretchers such as Hilton, but I suspect they may have happened here because the Colts enjoyed favorable matchups against the Titans, Texans, and Raiders, ranked 30th, 25th, and 15th in DVOA pass defense. Maybe consider Hilton again in Week 15 in a Texans rematch, but you’ll want to avoid him championship week against the Steelers and their No. 1 pass defense. And I wouldn’t overspend your FAB on Hilton when the next few receivers share similar value and likely won’t have their market prices inflated by recent outlier production.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 31%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Chad Hansen, WR, Houston Texans

1%/2%

Hansen impressed in his Texans debut in Week 13, and another seven-target and 50-plus-yard performance on Sunday lends me the confidence to start him in the fantasy playoffs. His 21.9% target share the last two weeks is tied for 32nd among receivers. And while that rate may be inflated a bit by Brandin Cooks’ Week 14 absence as he recovers from neck and foot injuries, Hansen bettered his 80% snap share on Sunday with a 92% share alongside Cooks the week before. The Texans rely almost exclusively on three-receiver personnel, and so Cooks’ likely Week 15 return should limit Steven Mitchell (92%), not Hansen.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 12%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans

31%/45%

Coutee has not been far behind Hansen with 75% snap and 18.8% target shares the last two weeks. And while I did not previously believe his rest-of-season playing time was as safe as Hansen’s, Coutee likely assured his WR3/WR4 status with the news that Randall Cobb is debating surgery and is likely done for the year.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 11%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

75%/65%

One could read Brown’s dip to a 49% snap share in Week 14 as an indication that he has lost favor in the Bucs’ offense. But Brown had that same workload in his second start in Week 10 and followed it with games of 62% and 73% snap shares. I think that may just be something that happens on a team like the Bucs so loaded with skill-position talent. Meanwhile, despite his inconsistent playing time, Brown has consistently found targets. His five on Sunday were tied for the team lead, and his 18.4% target share since he joined the team in Week 9 is tied for 44th among all wide receivers with his teammate Chris Godwin, rostered in 97% of fantasy leagues. Godwin has scored once in that time frame, but Brown has nearly matched him with 0.484 versus 0.494 opportunity-adjusted touchdowns. And so I still anticipate Brown will produce WR3 numbers in the final month, especially with his team poised to face the Falcons and Lions the next two weeks, teams ranked 19th and 29th in DVOA pass defense.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 4%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Nelson Agholor, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

28%/36%

Agholor likely demands the smallest FAB offer of the receivers I’ve discussed in this article, but Aiyuk aside, he may be the best bet for a consistently productive finish to the season. That may sound strange for a player who underwhelmed for five seasons in Philadelphia and started his Raiders tenure as a deep threat. But over the course of this season, Agholor has ascended to the team’s No. 1 wide receiver role. He routinely leads the unit with a 60%-plus snap share, and his 22.3% target share since Week 11 is 27th-best at the position. And while he started the season with a seemingly unsustainable conversion rate on some deep touchdowns, Agholor has seen his opportunity-adjusted touchdowns increase to 6.63 and now fully support his seven touchdowns this season.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 3%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No

Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears

4%/6%

Jimmy Graham deflected the fantasy attention with a touchdown, but Cole Kmet further staked his claim to the Bears’ top tight end role with a position-leading 85% snap share and seven targets on Sunday. After playing fewer than 50% of the team’s snaps in Weeks 1 to 9, Kmet has exceeded 70% in each of the five weeks since. Meanwhile, his 21.2% target share the last two weeks is seventh-highest at the position. That latter spike may not continue given Mitchell Trubisky’s relative preference for wide receiver targets over Nick Foles, but Kmet should at the least be a deep-league option in Week 15 when the Bears face a Vikings defense that boosts yards per target to the position by 22%, the most in football.

Recommended FAB offer (% of maximum): 2%
Should you use your No. 1 waiver priority on him: No


Players on More Than 80% of Rosters to Add

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (98%/99%)
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears (97%/96%)
Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals (96%/96%)
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts (95%/97%)
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team (95%/93%)
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (95%/92%)
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers (93%/94%)
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions (93%/93%)
Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (93%/91%)
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (92%/96%)
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (92%/94%)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (91%/92%)
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions (91%/90%)
Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers (91%/87%)
Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans (90%/89%)
David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans (86%/88%)
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins (86%/80%)
Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants (79%/84%)
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans (77%/82%)
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (76%/83%)
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers (73%/82%)
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans (72%/87%)
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens (70%/83%)


Players on More Than 20% of Rosters You Can Drop

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (88%/85%)
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers (82%/80%)
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (74%/66%)
Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (73%/73%)
Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins (70%/76%)
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (62%/71%)
Devontae Booker, RB, Las Vegas Raiders (56%/35%)
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (55%/58%)
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (50%/37%)
Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans (49%/35%)
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (47%/47%)
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys (44%/44%)
Travis Fulgham, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (42%/33%)
Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers (39%/38%)
Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts (38%/54%)
Henry Ruggs, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (33%/32%)
Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings (29%/28%)
Odell Beckham, WR, Cleveland Browns (28%/23%)
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins (25%/20%)
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (24%/24%)
Joshua Kelley, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (22%/15%)
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (22%/15%)
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (21%/23%)
Matt Breida, RB, Miami Dolphins (21%/17%)
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (21%/16%)
Ty Johnson, RB, New York Jets (17%/30%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (11%/20%)


https://www.footballoutsiders.com/win-wire/2020/win-wire-week-15

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