FANTASY PLAYS: Waiver picks to lead you to playoffs
Week 13 is the last chance for most fantasy teams to make the playoffs, and owners will do it without any Browns or Titans on bye.
If you know you've already made the playoffs, then your focus on the waiver wire should be handcuffs for your key players and upside bench depth with any remaining spots. One player you should definitely have a backup for is your quarterback. You don't want to be scouring the waiver wire for a substitute quarterback for your playoffs or championship game. Let's look at some of your better options on the wire for Week 13 and beyond.
RYAN FITZPATRICK (QB, Jets)
Marcus Mariota owners need a starter for Week 13 and Fitzpatrick makes the most sense due to his matchup against the Colts. Only the Falcons allow more points to the quarterback position on average. Fitzgerald should pick apart the Colts' non-existent secondary with ease, making him a solid streaming option.
COLIN KAEPERNICK (QB, 49ers)
Kaepernick appears again this week because his ownership numbers are still quite low and his average fantasy points per game is up to 25.9. He was actually the top quarterback for Week 12, scoring 38.1 fantasy points. Kaepernick is a perfect backup QB choice due to his high floor and the Niners schedule through the fantasy playoffs could make him a better starter than the quarterback on your roster now.
KENNETH DIXON (RB, Ravens)
Slowly but surely, Dixon has been chipping away at Terrance West's playing time. He finally played more snaps than West in the Week 12 matchup against the Bengals. There is no doubt that he is more talented than West, and given the way things are going, Dixon is the Baltimore running back to own down the stretch.
CHARLES SIMS (RB, Buccaneers)
Tampa Bay designated Sims as their player to return from injured reserve and he's eligible to play Week 14. If you're looking for some depth in point-per-reception leagues, the Buccaneers play the Saints in Weeks 14 and 16. Only four teams allow more fantasy points to running backs than the lowly Saints.
REX BURKHEAD (RB, Bengals)
While Jeremy Hill was absent during Sunday's game against the Ravens, Burkhead took over as the lead running back. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry and caught two passes for 19 yards. The Bengals are all but out of the playoff hunt, so Burkhead could see more action to audition for next season. If you own Hill, you should have Burkhead on your roster as a handcuff.
TAYLOR GABRIEL (WR, Falcons)
Gabriel appeared out of nowhere to catch four passes for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns while fellow wide receiver Julio Jones was blanketed by cornerback Patrick Peterson. The Falcons have several soft matchups ahead and Jones won't be covered so well by other opponents. Still, Gabriel has earned QB Matt Ryan's trust and could still put up solid numbers any given week. He's more bust than boom but you could do worse for depth in deep leagues with PPR scoring.
DONTRELLE INMAN (WR, Chargers)
Inman exploded in Week 12 with six receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. He's received at least six targets in each of the last six games and the Chargers play a terrible Browns team in Week 16, which is typically the championship game in most fantasy leagues. That makes Inman worthy of a roster spot now.
MARQISE LEE (WR, Jaguars)
With Allen Hurns injured, Lee's place as the WR2 for Jacksonville is solidified. Lee has been targeted an average of seven times per game over the last four weeks, and he's responded with at least four receptions per game and a pair of touchdowns. The Jaguars have a tough schedule ahead, so don't rely on Lee for anything more than a flex play going forward.
MALCOLM MITCHELL (WR, Patriots)
Mitchell has emerged as the deep threat of choice for Tom Brady, especially when Rob Gronkowski is on the sidelines, as he has been for most of the last two games. During that span, Mitchell has received 12 targets and made nine receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns. That kind of production gets Bill Belichick's attention and could lead to more opportunities for Mitchell down the line. Of course, predicting the Patriots offense is often futile but Mitchell is worthy of a roster spot as a boom or bust flex play.
MARQUESS WILSON (WR, Bears)
Chicago QB Matt Barkley settled on Wilson as his primary target in Week 12, and he responded with eight receptions and a touchdown. Most experts thought Cameron Meredith would be the top receiver while Alshon Jeffery served his suspension, but he hasn't done anything to deserve the designation, with more drops than anything else. Wilson is the receiver to own for at least the next few weeks until Jeffery returns.
VERNON DAVIS (TE, Redskins)
Jordan Reed is nursing a shoulder injury that could keep him sidelined for Week 13 and possibly longer. Davis has been productive as the TE2 for Washington and could very well be called upon to receive Davis' targets if he can't play. Reed owners should pick Davis up as insurance and anyone unhappy with their TE performance should grab Davis for his upside.
CAMERON BRATE (TE, Buccaneers)
After touchdowns three weeks in a row (Weeks 8-10), Brate has been relatively quiet the last two weeks. However, those games were against some stiff defensive units. Brate should see plenty of action with New Orleans (Weeks 14 & 16) and the Cowboys (Week 15) on the docket, making him the tight end to own for the fantasy playoff and championship weeks.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com