Early waiver wire targets and biggest risers/fallers in fantasy football following NFL Week 14

Houston, Texas, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (20) rushes against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Only Monday Night Football remains on the 2021 NFL Week 14 slate, so most fantasy football managers will now be turning their gaze to Week 14 to try to gain an advantage in their fantasy leagues.

It’s important not to overreact to individual stat lines. For example, some players scored two touchdowns this week yet probably won’t do that again this season, while other players saw the field for most of their team's snaps but couldn't quite make it to the end zone.

Remember: chase the usage, not the box score.

Here are some early waiver wire targets, as well as the biggest risers and fallers from NFL Week 14. For a more detailed 32-team view of the week, including snap counts, check out the Complete Week 13 Fantasy Football Recap.

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Waiver Wire Targets

RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks had struggled to find a primary rushing back after Chris Carson was lost for the season. Penny seemed like he would be the primary backup early in the season, but injuries prevented him from keeping the job. He was given a chance over Alex Collins yesterday and was impressive. He gained 137 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns. Seattle has a rough matchup next week but plays the Bears and Lions in the fantasy championship weeks. Penny has a chance to be a fantasy starter with great matchups in the weeks that matter most.

The only concern is Adrian Peterson, who remained on the practice squad this week due to injury. Ideally, Seattle lets Penny keep the job after this performance even with the future Hall of Famer as an option.

Seattle Seahawks Snaps Routes Run Targets Carries
Rashaad Penny 35 14 1 16
Alex Collins 14 6 1 7
DeeJay Dallas 11 8 0 2
Total 61 30 27 28

RB Craig Reynolds, Detroit Lions: The Lions didn’t have D’Andre Swift, as he’s still dealing with a shoulder injury from Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Jamaal Williams landed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the week. There were reports that Adam Schefter was starting Reynolds on his fantasy team, which gave some indication that the practice squad player could jump past Godwin Igwebuike and Jermar Jefferson on the depth chart. Reynolds played in rushing situations, gaining 83 yards on 11 carries, while Igwebuike played in passing situations.

Reynolds is worth picking up in case the top two backs miss more time. The Lions were officially eliminated from playoff contention, so they could opt to shut down Swift for the rest of the season and focus on 2022. This could leave Reynolds with a role in the offense the rest of the season.

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RB Ameer Abdullah, Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey landed on injured reserve after the Panthers' Week 12 matchup, leaving a two-man backfield between Abdullah and Chuba Hubbard for the rest of the season. Hubbard saw the majority of the rushing game work while Abdullah saw the majority of the pass game work, as expected. Hubbard had the much better game on Sunday from a fantasy football perspective, but that was partially because Carolina was able to keep the game close for most of the day.

Their remaining games are against the Bills, Buccaneers and Saints. Their division rivals are two of the top three teams at preventing rushing yards by running backs. Combine that with the likely game scripts in these games, and it will be Abdullah who has a better chance at some production.

WR Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills: Emmanuel Sanders suffered a knee injury that kept him out for the rest of the Bills game against the Buccaneers. Davis already sees more playing time than most fourth wide receivers, and he was elevated to the starting lineup with Sanders out. He caught five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. If the Sanders injury is serious, then Davis should continue to see significant targets and be a borderline fantasy starter depending on league formats.

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Biggest Risers

RB Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos: Javonte Williams took the fantasy community by storm last week, leading all running backs in fantasy points with Gordon out. Gordon was back this week, and it was like the previous week never happened. The two took on a very even split in playing time, with Gordon seeing a few more carries while Williams ran more routes. Gordon ran 24 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns, while Williams was also able to score twice. They will both be able to play well the rest of the season thanks to a favorable schedule. Games like this make it more likely Gordon returns to Denver next year.

WR Julio Jones. Tennessee Titans: The future Hall of Famer missed the last month of the season with a hamstring injury. He had a relatively quiet return in Week 14, with four catches for 33 yards. They used him as part of a wide receiver rotation and let him sit almost all of the fourth quarter with the victory secured. He should see a higher percentage of playing time next week and could be a factor in the fantasy playoffs. The Titans have the second-easiest schedule for wide receivers over the next three weeks.

WR Josh Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers: Keenan Allen missed this game due to COVID-19. Palmer and Jalen Guyton had been splitting snaps in three-receiver sets this past month, and both saw an increased role. Palmer joined Mike Williams in two-receiver sets, and he was the primary slot receiver in three-receiver sets. Guyton typically just played in three-receiver sets on the outside. Both players gained over 60 receiving yards and a touchdown. Palmer’s big game could lead to a bigger role in the fantasy playoffs. He might not be worth a waiver wire pickup as Allen should be back this week, but this game will help his 2022 fantasy draft stock.

Los Angeles Chargers Snaps Routes Run Targets
Josh Palmer 62 33 7
Mike Williams 59 33 6
Jalen Guyton 42 25 3
Jason Moore 8 0 0
Total 71 35 30

Biggest Fallers

RB Jeremy McNichols, Tennessee Titans: The Titans had used D’Onta Foreman and Dontrell Hilliard to much success in recent weeks, but Jeremy McNichols rejoined the backfield to complicate matters. McNichols served as the primary third-down back, which hurt Hilliard's fantasy value. The receiving role didn’t lead to any receptions, and the Titans barely used him as a rusher until the fourth quarter while Tennessee had a three-score lead. It’s fine for all three of these backs to be on fantasy rosters, but Foreman is the only one who can be trusted going forward.

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WR Denzel Mims, New York Jets: Both Corey Davis and Elijah Moore have recently landed on injured reserve, forcing the Jets to rely on their backups at wide receiver. This game should have been an opportunity for Mims to boost his value. He didn’t catch his only target in the first quarter, and he was taken out of the game after penalties on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. The former second-round pick only played one snap in the second half in favor of former undrafted receiver D.J. Montgomery. This game made it less likely that Mims will be back in 2022. All of the Jets' healthy wide receivers should be off fantasy radars for the rest of 2021.

TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Washington Football Team: Washington recently lost Logan Thomas for the season but had Seals-Jones returning from injury to make up for it. Washington’s tight end has seen significant fantasy value since Ron Rivera became the head coach, as the starter typically played over 90% of offensive snaps and received plenty of targets.

Washington changed their strategy for this game. Seals-Jones was in for all two-tight end sets and for most third downs, but rookie John Bates was the tight end on most early downs. Both players ended up with a catch each. Washington plays the Eagles twice in the next three weeks, and Philadelphia has allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Unfortunately, the split in snaps will make it very difficult to start either player.

Washington Football Team Snaps Routes Run Targets
John Bates 48 27 2
Ricky Seals-Jones 31 17 4
Sammis Reyes 1 0 0
Total 68 42 32



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