We’ve finally reached the climax of the fantasy football season. The playoffs started last week for many leagues, and continue into Week 15 with the semifinals (or early rounds, in case you’re one of those cretins who plays into Week 17). Every top-end starter should be locked into lineups this week, but the waiver wire is still important, especially with even more major injuries to deal with.
By far the biggest injury news of Week 14 was Carson Wentz going down with a torn ACL, robbing us of yet another rising star quarterback. It’s horrible news for the Eagles, who go from Super Bowl contenders to a possible one-and-done in January. It’s bad for fantasy owners, who suddenly don’t have a set-and-forget QB1 for the fantasy playoffs. And it’s bad for football fans who really don’t want to watch Nick Foles in the playoffs. This is a worst-case scenario on every level.
In other injury news, Josh McCown went down with a broken hand, so there goes one streaming option for Wentz owners. Marcus Mariota revealed that he played through a knee injury, which is only one excuse for why he did so poorly. In good news, Aaron Rodgers and Rob Gronkowski will be back from injury and suspension, respectively, so that’s at least two studs owners can count on in the playoffs.
So without further ado, here are the top five wire players of Week 15, owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
1. WR Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars (30 percent)
Westbrook continues to shine as a rookie making a late entrance. Since his NFL debut in Week 11, he has 20 catches for 235 yards and a touchdown in four games. Westbrook got that touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks, helping seal the win and put the Jags in first place in the AFC South. Even if Allen Hurns comes back from a sprained ankle, Westbrook has earned the No. 2 receiver job next to Marqise Lee.
2. QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (35 percent)
No, really. If you’re a panicky Wentz owner, you should consider this. Bortles was downright impressive against the Seahawks, staying calm in the pocket and delivering some pretty passes. He finished the game with 268 yards, two touchdowns, and more importantly, no interceptions. Turnovers have always been a problem with Bortles, but he has just one interception in the past four games. On the year, Bortles has eight interceptions, which is a legitimate improvement after getting picked off 51 times in his first three seasons. The Jags’ playoff hopes will increase tenfold if Bortles takes care of the ball. Both he and Westbrook have a decent matchup with the Houston Texans, who more or less punted on the season after losing Deshaun Watson.
3. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (20 percent)
If you still don’t trust the Bort Train, then Jimmy G might be more up your alley. Garoppolo looks every bit like the answer in Santa Clara, dialing up another strong performance to go 2-0 as the 49ers’ starter. He finished with 334 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-33 passing, with the only real blemish being an interception. Garoppolo is acing his late-season audition and will be a solid streaming option against the Tennessee Titans this week.
4. RB Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (35 percent)
Is the Doug Martin era nearing its end? After sitting out Week 13 with a concussion, Martin came last Sunday and struggled, eventually getting benched after a fumble. Barber came in as the starter and did well, putting up 63 total yards on 13 touches. It’s pretty clear that Barber is the better back at this point, and the 4-9 Bucs might as well see what they have in him as they play out the string. If Barber is named the starter, he’ll instantly go on the RB2 radar against the Atlanta Falcons.
5. RB Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks (38 percent)
Finally, the Seahawks have a starting running back they can count on. After losing Chris Carson to injury, and trying and failing to make Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls happen, Davis has taken over with impressive performances. So, of course, he got knocked out of last week’s game with a rib injury, because apparently the Seahawks just can’t have a nice run game this year. Fortunately, Davis came back in the game and doesn’t appear to have a serious issue. The Seahawks need him to handle all he can against the Los Angeles Rams, with the NFC West title on the line.