It’s the fantasy football playoffs, baby. Whether your team is still alive and kicking or has already been eliminated, quality waiver wire pickups are still available to improve your squad.
We are also aware that there are some leagues out there that punish last-placers with some of the most embarrassing penalties imaginable, so let’s see some of these players help those fantasy owners avoid that fate.
10. Wayne Gallman – New York Giants RB (1.8% owned in ESPN Leagues)
If you need help at the running back position, Wayne Gallman is looking like a solid pickup at the moment. Gallman’s stock got a boost after Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in which the rookie out of Clemson led the team in carries (12), rushing yards (59), and yards per rush (4.9).
Orleans Darkwa is still competing for carries with Gallman, but with the team going nowhere this season, the Giants might as well give Gallman a significant workload moving forward to really see what they have in the fourth-round pick.
9. Trey Burton – Philadelphia Eagles TE (11.1% owned in ESPN Leagues)
Burton was among the surprises in Week 14, catching two touchdowns to go with 71 receiving yards on five catches and six targets during a 43-35 shootout win over the Los Angeles Rams. He got a nice bump in snaps that day thanks to the absence of Zach Ertz, who was out with a concussion.
Ertz will likely return to the field next Sunday against the Giants, but considering that New York has been notably bad in containing opposing tight ends, Burton should still carry value regardless of Ertz’s status.
8. Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars WR (15.8% owned in ESPN Leagues)
Westbrook remains gravely under-owned in ESPN leagues, but it’s not too late to scoop him up off the waiver wire. In each of his last three games, Westbrook has made at least five receptions on no fewer than eight targets while collecting a total of 200 receiving yards.
That includes his five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown (the first of his young career) in Sunday’s 30-24 home win over the Seattle Seahawks. With momentum and the confidence of Jags quarterback Blake Bortles, Westbrook could dominate again next Sunday against a Houston Texans defense that just gave up 314 passing yards to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14.
7. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB (19.6% owned in ESPN Leagues)
Doug Martin is still the Bucs’ starter, but Barber keeps on eating snaps in the backfield. In the 24-21 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Barber led the team in carries (12), rushing yards (58), and snaps (31). While Martin scored the team’s lone rushing touchdown, Barber has done enough to warrant the touches he’s getting.
Over his last two games, Barber has compiled a total of 160 yards on the ground on 35 combined rushing attempts. Don’t discount Barber’s chances of replacing Martin in the starting unit.
6. Kerwynn Williams – Arizona Cardinals RB (19.9% owned in ESPN Leagues)
For the second week in a row, Williams capitalized on the absence of Adrian Peterson, pacing the Cardinals in rushing yards with 73 on 20 carries in a 12-7 home win against the Tennessee Titans. He also caught a pass for 15 yards.
It’s Williams’ 20 touches out of the backfield that we should all be paying attention to, especially for fantasy owners in PPR leagues. Peterson remains without a definite timetable for a return; as long as Purple Jesus is out, Williams should continue to be a hold for his owners and a tasty pickup for those looking to plug a flex spot on their rosters.
5. Corey Coleman – Cleveland Browns WR (22.5% owned in ESPN Leagues)
With Josh Gordon back and playing well, expect the Browns’ opponents to put their best cornerbacks on the former receiving yards leader. That means Coleman should get more breathing room downfield.
Against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Coleman reeled in five of six targets and converted them to 62 receiving yards and a touchdown. The Browns go up against the Baltimore Ravens this week, and Coleman could see some more success opposite the Ravens’ banged-up secondary.
4. Jimmy Garoppolo – San Francisco 49ersQB (23.6% owned in ESPN Leagues)
If you’re a Carson Wentz owner, it’s a bummer you have to deal with that situation this late in the fantasy season. While Nick Foles could be an ideal pickup, why not opt for Garoppolo instead?
Garoppolo let the 49ers take a peek at what he can bring to the table in the future last Sunday, slicing through the Texans’ defense for 334 passing yards and a touchdown on 20-of-33 completions.
Garoppolo is getting comfortable under center just in time for the fantasy playoffs.
3. Mike Davis – Seattle Seahawks RB (24.6% owned in ESPN Leagues)
Davis had a near-even split in snaps with fellow Seahawks running back J.D. McKissic last Sunday, but he got the bulk of the team’s carries with 15 for 66 rushing yards. It’s the second consecutive week in which Davis led Seattle in rushing yards, and it could very well be the backfield narrative for the Seahawks at least for the rest of the regular season.
2. Rod Smith – Dallas Cowboys RB (27.0% owned in ESPN Leagues)
Hot Rod has scored a touchdown in each of the Cowboys’ last three games. He extended that streak last Sunday, finding the end zone twice while racking up six carries, five receptions, and a total of 160 yards.
Alfred Morris is still the running back to own in Dallas’ backfield while Ezekiel Elliott finishes his suspension, but we shouldn’t ignore Smith’s production, especially as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Smith could get into the end zone again this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders’ so-so run defense that allows 19 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
1. Tarik Cohen– Chicago Bears RB (42.0% owned in ESPN Leagues)
Good things usually happen when Cohen is fed a healthy dose of carries, and that’s what the Bears got in their 33-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14. Cohen had gone relatively silent for a long stretch until he resurfaced with a solid performance Sunday, rushing for 80 yards on 12 carries, the most attempts he’s had in seven games.
Up ahead for the Bears is a rematch with the Detroit Lions, which sounds like a favorable matchup for Cohen. While Jordan Howard is expected to carry the flag for Chicago’s backfield, there should be chances for Cohen to zip through the Lions’ defense that surrenders the third-most fantasy points to other teams’ running backs with 20.5.
Back in Week 11 against Detroit, Cohen rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, albeit in a 27-24 loss.