By Jack Thomason-
(CBS) I’m going to take a slightly different approach with waiver pickups this week and next. It is do-or-die, single-elimination playoff time, and we aren’t in need of players who may break out over the course of the season any longer. This list will be comprised of players who may assist you if in need of specific positional help and players who could “pop” over the next two weeks and pay dividends.
Here are Week 15’s top 10 waiver adds with an eye on 10- or 12- team leagues.
1. Jonathan Stewart (RB, Carolina Panthers, available in 29% of CBS leagues) — Throughout the season, Stewart has shown flashes of the talent many of us fell in love with when he first entered the league in 2008. Unfortunately, he has always played in a committee with DeAngelo Williams. This past week, he had his chance to carry the load with Williams out, and he didn’t disappoint. He carried the ball 20 times for 155 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown run, and looked explosive doing so. Cam Newton looked great too, and with him being a threat to run, it opens lanes for Stewart, who has two good matchups at home against the Buccaneers and Browns coming up. Stewart is a solid RB2 with Williams out.
2. Latavius Murray (RB, Oakland Raiders, 38%) — Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano said Murray wouldn’t be a workhorse this past week, but 25 touches sounds like a workhorse to me. Against a stout 49er defense, he totaled 84 yards. If it weren’t for a penalty, that yardage number would’ve been more than 110. The best news is Maurice Jones-Drew received zero touches and Darren McFadden only four. Look for the Raiders to continue to use Murray as their main back.
3. Johnny Manziel (QB, Cleveland Browns, 84%) — I can’t help myself; the upside is too great not to have Manziel this high on the list. Brian Hoyer has one touchdown and eight interceptions over his last four starts, and coach Mike Pettine made comments Monday that suggest Manziel will start Week 15. That’s enough for me to add him. He’s a dual threat, and we have seen fantasy success from quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Tim Tebow, Newton and more because of it. Add him and ride those legs.
4. Charles Johnson (WR, Minnesota Vikings, 76%) — There are only two things you need to know. One, Johnson’s been promoted to the No. 1 receiver spot for the Vikings. And two, he has 30 targets, 15 receptions, 283 yards and two scores in his last four games. He should’ve had a second score in last week’s game, but he fumbled at the goal line. He’s a WR3 with WR2 upside.
5. Donte Moncrief (WR, Indianapolis Colts, 61%) — Moncrief has won the third receiver job, as he received 50 snaps to Hakeem Nicks’ eight last week. We saw the upside he has two weeks ago when he caught three balls for 134 yards and two scores, and we know he has a premier quarterback throwing to him in Andrew Luck. Still, this is a speculative add because Moncrief was only fifth in targets this past Sunday. With Reggie Wayne battling a multitude of injuries, including a torn triceps, we may see an even larger role for the talented rookie. That could mean big time upside for fantasy owners.
6. Kerwynn Williams (RB, Arizona Cardinals, 100%) — Williams was recently promoted from the practice squad and ended up the only running back with more than six attempts and 20 yards. He rushed 19 times for 100 yards, good for 5.3 yards per carry. Andre Ellington has been put on injured reserve, which opens the door for someone to emerge as the Cardinals’ lead back. The coaching staff insists on a committee approach, but after Sunday’s performance, Williams should have the first crack at the Rams’ red-hot defense this Thursday.
7. Andre Williams (RB, New York Giants, 30%) — Williams beat up a terrible Titans’ run defense for 131 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries on Sunday. He carried the load for Rashad Jennings, who is battling an ankle injury. It will be something to watch going into Week 15, but if Jennings can’t suit up or is again limited, Williams will have a major role. Keep in mind the Titans have been ripped by the run and allow the second-most points to opposing running backs.
8. Marqise Lee (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars, 87%) — Over the last three weeks, Lee has emerged as the Jaguars’ go-to receiver. He has 14 receptions on 21 targets, and he’s averaging 65 yards per game with one score. There’s limited upside here, but the Jaguars are often playing from behind, so there’s garbage time appeal.
9. Jared Cook (TE, St. Louis Rams, 66%) — The tight end position has been so bad this season. Cook is coming off a 61-yard, two-score outing and gets the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. The Cardinals have given up the seventh-most points to tight ends, and Cook got them for two catches, 84 yards and a score the last time they played. Do you have a better option? There are only a few at this point.
10. Chris Johnson (RB, New York Jets, 37%) — You may think I’m crazy, but here’s the deal. Johnson has been in a 50/50 timeshare with Chris Ivory of late. He has at least 16 carries in the last two games and gets the abysmal Titans’ run defense next. Do you believe in revenge games? The Titans released Johnson last year, so maybe he has a little extra in his game this week for that reason too. If you’re in need of a running back, Johnson could be the guy you’re looking for.
Just missed: Jake Locker, Marcel Reece, Matt Asiata, Harry Douglas (watch the Julio Jones injury closely. If he is out, Douglas is a top three add), Chris Hogan, Marquis Wilson and Mychal Rivera.
Jack Thomason is the winner of the 2014 Bud Light Fantasy Expert Contest, co-host of Fantasy Streamers and co-host of the Nerd Herd. You can listen to Fantasy Streamers every Sunday from 8-9 a.m. CT at 670thescore.com/listen. The Nerd Herd is on every Friday, starting at 11 p.m. and lasting until 1 a.m. on 670 The Score and online here. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.