I can’t believe I am actually able to say these words, but the fantasy playoffs are upon us! That means you’re either in the title hunt or fighting to avoid a last-place punishment. Whatever the case, you cannot get complacent with your roster now. Even in Week 14, there are valuable contributors to be had on the waiver wire. To help you end your season on a high note, I’m giving you five guys who are still available in over 50% of ESPN fantasy leagues as of writing and can be valuable contributors in these last few weeks. So, check your waiver wire right after reading this and pick up a difference-maker for your fantasy squad for Week 14.
Kirk Cousins (44.5% owned)
Boy, Aaron Rodgers is having a great season, especially of late. He has 16 passing touchdowns and a QB rating of 126.8 since Week 9, which leads all qualifying passers over that span. Why am I mentioning Rodgers, an MVP candidate this season, in a section about Kirk Cousins? Because the future Hall-of-Famer is the only quarterback who’s been better than Cousins over the past five weeks.
That’s right, Captain Kirk has been a force of nature since November.
With 1438 passing yards and 14 touchdowns through the air, Cousins has been QB 5 in fantasy since Week 9 after placing as QB 25 over the first half of the season. And this isn’t some incredibly fluky stretch of performances. If anything, it’s Cousins regressing toward the mean after a rough start to the season. This guy had a QB rating of 107.4 last season and has finished as a top-15 QB in fantasy in five-straight seasons. Yeah, you should like that.
His name is the hottest one on the waiver wire right now. Cousins isn’t going to remain available in many leagues after this week’s claims go through. You need to be aggressive to scoop him up now because this isn’t some placeholder for your QB2 spot. Unless there’s a guy named Rodgers or Murray or Mahomes in your QB1 spot, you ought to at least give Cousins some serious consideration for your lineup. And in Superflex leagues, he needs to be a starter.
Even with some not-so-fortuitous matchups against the Buccaneers and Bears coming up, Cousins is playing too well right now to worry about that. He’s the must-add pickup of the Week 14 Waiver Wire.
Damien Harris (57.8% owned)
Look, I know Harris is owned in well over half of leagues, but I got to highlight someone actually worth rostering. Would you really rather I talk about Jeremy McNichols because he scored a touchdown on one of his two carries last week? Didn’t think so.
Now then, let me direct my attention to the people playing in standard leagues where Harris is still available on waivers. And let me make this very clear.
Pick. Him. Up.
I said it back in Week 9. Damien Harris was going to be the lead rusher over the second half of the season for a Patriots offense that needed to remain run-heavy if they wanted to salvage their season, and not even a healthy Sony Michel was going to keep Harris from feasting. That was a lot of words in one sentence, but I won’t apologize for being right about a lot of things.
Since Week 8, the second-year back out of Alabama is fourth in the league in carries and rushing yards. For his efforts, Harris finished as RB 10 in standard over that span (and that’s with Cam Newton vulturing goal-line rushes from him). As for Michel, the 10 carries he had in the Pat’s blowout win over the Chargers were his first touches in over two months. He’s an afterthought in this backfield.
The next matchup against the Rams is too tough to trust Harris in your lineup, but the following two games are against Miami and Buffalo. And that’s when you’ll want to start him. Again, I get that he isn’t on the waiver wire in most of your leagues, but we’re in Week 14 now. I told you to jump on the opportunity back in Week 9. Don’t blame me because you suck at fantasy.
Ty Johnson (0.3% owned)
Frank Gore left the Jets’ Week 13 contest against the Raiders with a concussion on the second play of the game. That left Johnson and Josh Adams, a couple of unheralded castoffs, as the only healthy running backs left. Leave it to the Jets to have their best offensive performance of the season because their backups ended up playing better than the starter ever did.
Johnson and Adams combined for 178 rushing yards on 30 carries on Sunday. They played so well, it took the defensive coordinator committing a fireable offense to make sure the Jets remained winless. Both backs got involved, but it was Johnson leading the way, out-touching Adams 24 to eight in his 117-yard performance. Maybe the touch disparity partly had to do with game flow, but even if there’s some more balance to the workload this Sunday, Johnson still has the advantage of getting pass-catching duties.
You’ll want to keep your ear to the ground on this one to see if Gore clears concussion protocol in time to take back his place as the undisputed number-one option in the run game. It’s still worth rolling the dice and picking Johnson up though, because the Jets are about to take on a Seattle team that just allowed the Giants, who were starting Colt McCoy at quarterback, to run for 190 yards. I’m not here to imply that Seattle is going to lose to a New York football team for the second week in a row, but they are in some sort of freefall right now. Even a Jets running back can put up a top-20 week in fantasy against them.
T.Y. Hilton (46.9% owned)
Hilton’s available in over 50% of leagues, which means most people who drafted him gave up hope after his rough start to the season and left him to the waiver wire. Well, for all of you who did abandon ship, I guess Hilton wanted to rub some salt in your wounds by returning to pro-bowl form right in time for the fantasy playoffs.
For everyone who hasn’t heard, let me catch you up. From Week 1 to 11, Hilton scored just 32.7 fantasy points in standard leagues, making him WR 94 over that span. In the past two weeks? 31.1 points as WR 6. Don’t get me wrong, two strong performances don’t erase nine shitty ones in what has been a disappointing season for the 31-year-old. At the same time, we all know the guy can ball out. And I can’t ignore the upcoming opponents.
Indy’s taking on the Raiders in Vegas for Week 14 and then hosting the Texans the week after. Both of those teams are in the bottom half of the league for fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. I’m not saying you should make a knee-jerk reaction and throw Hilton into your lineup this week. Instead, pick him up off waivers this week while he’s still available, leave him on the bench, and let him audition for a starting spot in Week 15. If Hilton plays well against the Raiders and has a third-straight week as a top-20 WR, I’d feel comfortable putting him as a flex in any format against the Texans the week after.
Keke Coutee (12.4% owned)
Let’s keep the discussion on the Texans, who lost in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday. I give Houston credit for taking a tough Indianapolis squad down to the wire while missing a lot of guys on the offense. Just getting into that game-winning situation is a testament to some reserve players stepping up in starting roles. Particularly Coutee.
The 23-year-old had a career day against the Colts, posting eight catches and 141 receiving yards on just nine targets in the loss. It’s Coutee’s second 100-yard outing in his three seasons of service, with the first one also against the Colts back in his first-ever NFL game in 2018. That debut performance turned out to be a flash-in-the-pan moment in an otherwise anonymous career so far. This most recent outburst won’t be.
I don’t think the Texans have given the Texas Tech product a fair shake. Actually, let me re-phrase. Bill O’Brien never gave the Texas Tech product a fair shake. Coutee only has seven starts in 19 career games, but in those seven starts, he’s averaged a respectable 4.1 catches and 59.4 receiving yards per game. This Sunday marked Coutee’s first start in a year, but he’ll rack up a few more now that Will Fuller is serving a PED suspension and Randall Cobb is on IR.
You may be wary about the upcoming games against Chicago and Indianapolis, but both of those pass defenses are coming off poor Week 13 outings. Deshaun Watson and the gang are going to want to end this season on a high note, and they’ll look to win some games by airing the ball out. Coutee will be on the opposite end of quite a few of Watson’s passes. Roster Coutee and give him some flex consideration over these last few weeks.