Note: We wrote this column prior to Monday Night Football, when Dalvin Cook left with a shoulder injury that could obviously have massive ramifications for Fantasy players. We broke down Cook's injury and what it could mean for Alexander Mattison here, and we'll have a full breakdown from Jamey Eisenberg on the top waiver-wire targets for Week 14 Tuesday morning.
Initially, it seemed like there wouldn't be an obvious must-add player on the waiver wire heading into Week 14 coming out of Sunday's games. We avoided any major injuries through most of the day's slate, and that's where most major value on the wire comes from, so the focus was going to be on a few running backs who might have seen a sliver of an opportunity.
And then Darrel Williams went down with a non-contact injury in the second half of the late game against the Raiders, and all of a sudden, we could be seeing a bit of déjà vu. Last season, Damien Williams emerged as a league-winning add at running back for the Chiefs after Kareem Hunt's suspension, and now there may be another opportunity for an out-of-nowhere star to emerge for the Chiefs: Darwin Thompson.
Darrel Williams was officially diagnosed with a hamstring injury, which is actually a lot better than it initially looked, but could still keep him out next week and beyond. Damien Williams is already dealing with a rib injury that kept him out for Sunday's game, and his status for Week 14 and beyond is currently unkonwn. That leaves just Thompson and LeSean McCoy standing in the Chiefs backfield, which means there is potentially a big opportunity for Thompson. McCoy has been effective for the Chiefs, but he was also a healthy scratch for load management two weeks ago and he hasn't had 12 carries or 14 touches in any game this season. They clearly don't view him as someone they can use for a significant every-down role.
That means Thompson could slide into a 12-15-touch role as soon as next week, if neither Williams is healthy enough to play. He looked solid in mop-up duty Sunday, rushing for a team-high 44 yards on 11 carries and scoring a touchdown in his first extended action this season. Thompson was a dynamic playmaker as both a rusher and receiver at Utah State last season, and while he didn't run a blazing 40-yard dash, he tested well overall.
The biggest thing Thompson would have going for him, of course, is a role in the Chiefs' offense. The Chiefs have consistently produced Fantasy-relevant running backs in Andy Reid's time as the head coach, and that's why we've been chasing whoever has been healthy enough to play this season.
Heading into Week 14, that might be a short list, and Thompson may be near the top of it. As a result, he should be at the top of your list of targets on the waiver wire for Week 14.
Here's who else we'll be targeting on waivers heading into Week 14, beginning with a few more running backs with a chance to make a difference:
Early Waiver Targets
IND Indianapolis • #20
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Jonathan Williams seemed to have found a home in Indianapolis after bouncing around for years, rushing for 220 yards on 39 carries in Weeks 11 and 12 as Marlon Mack's (hand) replacement, and Sunday started out that way, as he had nine touches in the first half. However, he was ineffective overall, rushing for 14 yards and adding one catch for 11 yards, and ceded all of the second-half rushing work to Wilkins. Turnovers limited the opportunities for the Colts' offense in the second half, but Wilkins still clearly ended up dominating the work Sunday. While Williams played just 16 snaps, Wilkins saw 30, his highest total of the season by a significant margin — Nyheim Hines also played 31 snaps, largely in a passing game role. After seeing the workload shift his way, Wilkins will be worth targeting in all leagues as the potential Mack replacement for Week 14 and possibly beyond. This doesn't guarantee Wilkins has taken the role from Williams, because the Colts coaching staff could have just been playing the hot hand. Unfortunately, heading into Week 14's matchup with the Buccaneers, we'll probably have little clarity on how this duo will be used unless the coaching staff simply comes out and names on or the other the starter. However, given how valuable the role as the Colts top option in the running game has been this season, you want a piece of that if you can get it.
SF San Francisco • #31
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
If we hadn't received reports before Sunday's game indicating that the 49ers were holding Matt Breida out in order to make sure he is healthy for next week's pivotal NFC showdown with the Saints, Mostert would have been deserving of the lead treatment here. Maybe he should have received it anyways. Mostert has been consistently effective and efficient with his touches, and he finally got the chance to show what he can do with a full game as a featured back in Week 13. With Tevin Coleman taking a backseat, Mostert carried the ball a team-high 19 times and rushed for 146 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown. He added two catches for 8 yards, out-touching Coleman 21-6. This could be a tough backfield to handicap next week if Breida is healthy enough to play, but Mostert proved yet again Sunday that all he needs is an opportunity and he can be a Fantasy difference maker. Don't forget, Mostert is averaging 6.3 yards per carry over the last two seasons.
WAS Washington • #34
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
We have a pretty long track record of Peyton Barber not being anything special, but the Buccaneers just can't seem to quit him. Surely, there are reasons for that, because Bruce Arians isn't just doing that to spite us, no matter how it might feel sometimes. After Sunday's game, Arians told reporters, "RoJo missed a blitz pickup, and that's it. You don't get to play anymore." That's not what we want to hear, but it's another reminder that the things Fantasy players care about and the things coaches care about don't have to match up. Jones ended up playing just 18 snaps, while Barber led the backfield and most importantly, scored two touchdowns. This might have just been a bit of tough love from Arians to try to get his young back to learn a lesson, but either way, you can't go into Week 14 expecting Jones to be the unquestioned lead back. You'll need to be pretty desperate to trust Barber for Fantasy too, but we'll need to keep a close eye on quotes out of Tampa this week to see if Week 13 represented a changing of the guards, however unwelcome that might be.
Jack Doyle TE
IND Indianapolis • #84
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
There are a handful of intriguing tight end options to consider for Week 14, but Doyle needs to be at the absolute top of the list. The Colts have been devastated by injuries, with Eric Ebron going on IR this week, and Doyle unsurprisingly saw a huge role as a result. The Colts always use their tight ends extensively, and Doyle caught six of 11 passes thrown his way for 73 yards and a touchdown, their lone passing TD. Doyle has never been the red-zone threat Ebron is, but the duo has combined for seven touchdowns on the season now, along with 67 catches and 752 yards. You'll be able to lock Doyle in your lineup every week for the rest of the season now that Ebron is out.
Mike Gesicki TE
MIA Miami • #88
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Gesicki has been seeing his role increase as the season has gone on, and it finally led to a blow up game in Week 13. Gesicki caught five of the seven passes thrown his way for 79 yards and a score in Miami's shocking win over the Eagles, giving him two games in a row with a touchdown after not scoring in his first 26 games games. Gesicki has been targeted at least six times in five straight games now, and while it has led to more than 12 Fantasy points just two times, there is clearly forward momentum here. Gesicki has all of the physical tools to be a viable receiving tight end, and the Dolphins have used him quite often as a slot receiver, so they clearly believe in his ability to be a playmaker. There's a chance we're looking at him as a big-time breakout for 2020 if he can close out the season strong.
Zach Pascal WR
IND Indianapolis • #14
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Colts have struggled to find much consistency in the passing game without T.Y. Hilton, and with his calf injury flaring up again this week, they're going to have to continue to live without him. Pascal is actually now the Colts leading receiver for the season, and he has at least six targets in each of the past four games without Hilton. That has only led to more than 10 Fantasy points in PPR scoring in two of those four, so it's not like he's a dependable option. However, he was great Sunday, and with a good matchup on the way against Tampa Bay in Week 14, he could be a useful option next week.
MIA Miami • #32
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
With just 5 rushing yards on 10 carries, Laird didn't exactly show much in the running game after he replaced Kalen Ballage, who left Week 13 with a leg injury. However, he did catch four of the five passes thrown his way for 43 yards, his second solid game in the last three as a pass catcher. Laird is an undrafted free agent running behind a line that has struggled to create much room to operate this season, so don't expect Laird to be a big difference-maker even if Ballage's injury keeps him out. However, he was a an effective pass catcher throughout his college career as California, and he could be a viable Fantasy option down the stretch as a result, especially in PPR leagues.
PIT Pittsburgh • #13
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
All Washington has done with Devlin Hodges throwing him the ball is score long touchdowns — a 79-yarder in Week 12 and then a 30-yarder in Week 13. Washington finished the game with just four targets, but he caught all four for 111 yards and the score, giving him consecutive games of at least 15 Fantasy points in Non-PPR scoring. You'd prefer a bit more volume if you were going to trust Washington on a weekly basis, but with a matchup against the Cardinals on the way in Week 14, that could be another week with blow up potential for Washington.
Tyler Higbee TE
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Tight ends against the Cardinals are currently on pace for 105 catches, 1,304 yards, and 17 touchdowns; Rob Gronkowski's best season saw him catch 90 passes for 1,327 yards, and 17 touchdowns. So, some of Higbee's big game can surely be written off as the product of a matchup that has been historically lenient to his position. Gerald Everett's absence also surely helped, and if Everett's knee injury keeps him out for Week 14 against the Seahawks, you'll probably want to add Higbee — assuming you can't get Doyle or Gesicki. The Rams are using their tight ends more than ever this season, as Everett and Higbee have combined for 100 targets after combining for just 84 last season. Higbee can surely be a useful Fantasy option if he gets a starring role again in Week 14.