Under The Wire: Week 14 NFL sleeper and waiver wire picks

bills-cole-beasley-runs-with-ball-against-cowboys

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (10) finds running room after catching a pass as Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (54) defends in the second half in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. (Michael Ainsworth/AP)

Every Tuesday, Sportsnet fantasy analyst Andy McNamara will highlight the best sleeper and waiver wire picks of the week. And if you’re looking for more fantasy football advice, message him on Twitter using #AskAndy.

The fantasy playoffs are here (or just about, depending on your league)! Congratulations, you made it. Now the chase to the championship begins.

But don’t tinker with your lineup too much. Remember, you’ve arrived in the post-season for a reason.

In Week 13, my “Under the Wire” picks of Rashaad Penny, Jack Doyle and Auden Tate all exceeded their projected fantasy point totals, so let’s keep the good times rolling.

Running back situations to avoid

● The Miami Dolphins backfield of Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin
● Three-headed monster committee in San Francisco
● Darwin Thompson’s depth chart hill too great to climb with the Chiefs

The Mania of Minshew
Owned in 9 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $5,400

Oh, happy days ladies and gentlemen! The jorts, the moustache, and the undeserved swagger of Gardner Minshew II is back starting in Jacksonville after a two-and-a half game absence. The short-lived Nick Foles era appears to be over.

Minshew certainly had his moments this season, but we can’t remember that he was benched for a reason heading into the team’s Week 10 bye. Fumbles were an issue, but Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone cited the quarterback’s mobility as a feature he appreciated. It’s a piece of the arsenal fantasy owners like too, and the fact Minshew doesn’t throw many interceptions (14-to-5 TD/INT ratio) is also a plus.

The rookie has delivered 18 or more fantasy points five out of the nine times he took the field before being removed for Foles. He’ll face a Chargers defence that’s stingy against the pass, but weak in stopping the run. If the Jags can get Leonard Fournette going early, then that should open up some opportunities for Minshew as the game progresses.

Must-add RB handcuffs

Running back handcuffs are like a fire extinguisher in the kitchen – you need to have one and hope to never use it. In the fantasy playoffs, it’s better to plan ahead and store one or more of these rushers on your bench just in case a star goes down to injury.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (Handcuff to starter Dalvin Cook)
Owned in 32 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $4,500

Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers (Handcuff to starter James Conner)
Owned in 34 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $6,100

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (Handcuff to starter Ezekiel Elliott)
Owned in 13 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $4,300

Ryquell Armstead, Jacksonville Jaguars (Handcuff to starter Leonard Fournette)
Owned in 1 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $4,300

WR: Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
Owned in 32 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $5,400

We cannot ignore any longer the impact Cole Beasley has had on the Buffalo passing attack, especially since the club’s bye. The diminutive slot receiver has scored a touchdown in five of the past seven games and has averaged 13.5 fantasy points over that stretch.

Still only viable in PPR formats, Beasley is the high-volume safety check down for Josh Allen. The Bills face an average Baltimore passing defence that’s allowed the 17th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. The 30-year-old makes an excellent waiver-wire add for the fantasy playoffs, as well as a decent DFS salary value.

TE: Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers
Owned in 50 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $4,300

Even with a fourth-string QB nicknamed “Duck,” Vance McDonald is an excellent option to stream for Sunday’s visit to Arizona. If you’re in a plug-and-play tight end situation then just follow the Cardinals, who have given up the most fantasy points to the position group in 2019.

McDonald’s done nothing to deserve your confidence this season. Despite all the athleticism, he’s only hit double digit fantasy points twice and hasn’t had a touchdown since Week 9.

I’d much rather you go with a Jack Doyle (58 per cent ownership), Kyle Rudolph (57 per cent ownership), or Ryan Griffin (55 per cent ownership). However, if they aren’t available then the Steelers TE gives you the most matchup-based upside of anyone.

BONUS TE: Keep an eye on Browns tight end David Njoku, who’s been activated from injured reserve for two weeks, but hasn’t played yet. Njoku is a low-end TE1 and at 29 per cent ownership is definitely worth a stash for your fantasy playoff run.

QB streamers

Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Owned in 56 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $6,000

Yes, I’m going back to the polluted well that is the New York Jets and am dialling up quarterback Sam Darnold again for Week 14. I know the Jets offence laid a collective egg against an atrocious Bengals defence last Sunday, but redemption has arrived. The Dolphins are third last when stopping fantasy quarterbacks so if there was ever a get-right game for Darnold, this is it.

Before the Cincinnati stinker, the sophomore pivot delivered a 7-to-1 TD/INT ratio and at least 21.7 FPts over his previous three outings. Track Darnold’s health as he was banged up following the loss, but if he starts I’d slot him in.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
Owned in 11 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $6,000

Get the wand ready for some more “Fitz-Magic” in revenge game part two for Fitzpatrick against his former Jets crew. Miami travelling to cold weather New York isn’t ideal, but the 37-year-old has played in all environments so this won’t phase him.

Fitzpatrick is actually a viable desperation playoff start or DFS contrarian play for the next three weeks despite his career inconsistencies. The veteran’s underrated mobility adds rushing yards, and he’s rattled off over 25 fantasy points in Miami’s previous two games.

It’s always a risk counting on the bearded magician, but with beatable Jets, Giants and Bengals defences as upcoming opponents, you could do worse.

Defence: Kansas City Chiefs
Owned in 26 per cent of Yahoo! leagues
Draft Kings salary of $2,200

I admit, this is a risky deep sleeper. The DFS contest contrarian point potential is huge, and as a streaming choice you can ride the hot hand. In years past, rostering a visiting team DST heading into Foxborough in December to battle the Patriots would seem crazy. However, this is not the New England offence of old.

This much-criticized, darkhorse Chiefs defence just plastered Oakland for 22 fantasy points and 11 the game before that. More importantly, the Patriots have scored 22 or less since Week 9. Tom Brady’s unit is stuck in neutral, and I’m feeling a third straight double-digit fantasy day for Kansas City.

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