Best fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 15

Usually, the top Week 15 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds result from big injuries, but in 2021, there’s a legitimate late-season breakout RB. It’s been a long road to get to this point for Rashaad Penny — and injuries, both his own and to others — certainly played a role, but after his best game as a pro, he’s going to be highly sought after on waivers as the fantasy football playoffs begin. The same is true for Taysom Hill, who offers the type of high-floor upside that comes in handy during these must-win weeks.

Our full free agent list doesn’t feature many “must-have” pickups, though Austin Ekeler-replacements Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley certainly qualify. We also have a few unexciting-but-potentially key RBs (Royce Freeman, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, LaMical Perine, Ty Johnson, Craig Reynolds) and some WR3 candidates like Russell Gage, Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and Laquon Treadwell. However, the Week 15 streamer suggestions at QB, WR, TE, and D/ST are likely going to be much more available. Even with every team at our disposal, injuries, illness, and bad matchups will create the need for one-week fill-ins. You can find our streamer suggestions the end of this list. 

Quarterback | Running back | Wide Receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Now that we’re officially in win-or-go-home territory, there’s no reason to be stingy with your waiver claims. If you need someone, get him. Penny is an obvious choice for top claim of the week, if for no other reason than to block another owner from getting him, but if you feel you need a QB, WR, TE, or D/ST streamer, it’s not crazy to let Penny (or the Chargers RBs) pass through waivers and focus on someone else. However, because there likely isn’t a clear top WR, TE, or D/ST in most leagues, you can probably focus on getting your streamers in free agency or at least in the second round of waivers.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide Receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Ultimately, it comes down to who’s available in your league and how competitive your league is. Ideally, teams that aren’t competing for anything won’t disturb the waivers process, but it’s likely many teams will put in multiple waiver requests. Take time and put in claims for anyone you might think you’ll need, and make sure to handcuff your RBs at some point, too.

Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 15

Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues considered.

  • You never know what the Seahawks are going to do in their backfield until they do it, but for once, coach Pete Carroll made good on his promise to give Penny more touches. The oft-injured former first-rounder ran 16 times for 137 yards and two scores against the lowly Texans, reminding everyone that he has plenty of upside when healthy and given the chance. Alex Collins barely played before the game got out of hand, so this appears to be Penny’s backfield for the foreseeable future. His next two matchups aren’t great (Rams, Bears), but a Week 17 matchup against the Lions is enough reason to grab him if you’re in your fantasy playoffs. –Matt Lutovsky

  • The passing stats won’t usually impress you (175 yards, no TDs in Week 14), but Hill remains an upper-tier fantasy producer thanks his rushing ability. A week after putting up over 100 yards on the ground, Hill finished with 73 yards and two scores against the Jets. A big chunk of that came on a 44-yard TD scamper in garbage time, but ultimately, Hill always has the potential to post numbers like that.With the Bucs, Dolphins, and struggling Panthers on tap the next three weeks, Hill could be a major difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs. — ML

  • With Austin Ekeler suffering an ankle sprain that seems likely to keep him out of Week 15’s Thursday Night Game against the Chiefs, some combination of Jackson, Joshua Kelley, and Larry Rountree III will take over RB duties. Jackson and Kelley split carries almost equally after Ekeler left the game against New York, but Jackson has more receiving upside. We know how much L.A. likes throwing to its backs, so we give Jackson the slight nod as a priority pickup. However, Kelley and even Rountree, who was inactive in Week 14, could easily lead the team in rushing and get more goal-line carries, so every back needs to be picked up. Ekeler could be out multiple weeks, so a Chargers RB could really pay off in a premium matchup in Week 16 against Houston. –ML

  • Kelley had a nearly identical opportunity share with Justin Jackson when Austin Ekeler (ankle) went out against the Giants, but since most of their work was largely in garbage time, we can only take those stats with a grain of salt. While we think Jackson will have a slight edge in the backfield beccause of his receiving ability, we’ve seen time and time again it can always change. That said, Kelley might have a decent enough workload to produce a fantasy-viable performance against Kansas City in Week 15. If not, Houston in Week 16 could be a nice spot with plenty of garbage-ime chances. –Jackson Sparks

  • Howard (knee) has a real shot to return in Week 15 against Washington, but it’s tough to know how this backfield will play out. Howard was operating as a “1B” to Miles Sanders’ “1A” prior to his injury, but Sanders (ankle) also banged up, anything could happen. It would be smart to take a fler one of the Eagles’ three “backup” RBs on waivers this week (see more below). Howard is most attractive in standard leagues. –JS

  • David Johnson (COVID) was inactive in Week 14, and Rex Burkhead exited early because of a groin injury. That leaves Freeman (17 touches, 66 total yards in Week 14)as the top available RB on the depth chart. It’s possible both Johnson and Burkhead will be back next week — Johnson is more likely to be — but as we always say, all starting RBs have potential value. That’s especially true against the Jaguars, who Freeman will face in Week 15. Houston will face the Chargers in Week 16, which is another highly favorable matchup, so there’s potential value in this backfield in the fantasy playoffs. Stay on top of all the practice reports. –ML

  • Davis has been seeing more targets around the goal line lately, and he’s taken advantage with TDs in each of the past two weeks. With Emmanuel Sanders (knee) exiting early in Week 14, Davis could continue to see more targets in general. In Buffalo’s pass-happy, high-powered offense, that would pay off in a big way. Matchups against Carolina and New England the next two weeks aren’t overly appealing (though he did score against the Patriots in Week 13), but a Week 17 matchup against Atlanta will make Davis a high-upside WR3. — ML

  • Lazard caught six-of-seven targets for 75 yards and a score and added a run for another 14 yards on Sunday night. With Randall Cobb (core) out for the foreseeable future, Lazard should continue seeing a decent amount of targets. With the Ravens’ shaky secondary on deck in Week 15 and a highly favorable matchup against the Vikings in Week 17, Lazard is worth adding ahead of the fantasy playoffs. — ML

  • In the first game without Adam Thielen (ankle), Osborn drew nine targets, catching three for 83 yards and a touchdown. It remains to be seen how long Thielenwill be out, but Osborn is clearlyoperatingas the No. 2 WR in Minnesota during his absence. Chicago gives up the 11th-most FPPG to WRs, so he can be streamed in Week 15, but he may have value past that point. — JS

  • Gage caught four-of-six targets 64 yards against Carolina, and although those aren’t huge numbers, this was one of the toughest WR matchups in the league. This continues his stretch of solid performances and steady targets. The Niners are banged up in the secondary, so we like Gage as a flex option in PPR leagues in Week 15, and he has a relatively high PPR floor in Weeks 16 (Detroit) and 17 (Buffalo), too. –JS

  • Anderson caught seven-of-12 targets for 84 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta, so maybe he has some life in favorable matchups moving forward. He’ll be a risk against the Bills in Week 15, but he’ll have more favorable matchups against Tampa Bay and New Orleans in Weeks 16 and 17. –JS

  • Corey Davis (core) is out for the year and Elijah Moore (quad) is on IR,so Crowder should settle into the No. 1WR role. He’s always been a decent PPR asset and draws a lackluster Miami secondary in Week 15that allowed him to catch six balls for 44 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting this year. Crowder was outproduced by Braxton Berrios in Week 14, but wedon’texpect that to continue.–JS

  • Coleman (concussion) could be back in Week 15, and assuming Michael Carter (ankle) doesn’t return, he should have a heavy workload. The Dolphins are a top-five unit against RBs, but surely there are plenty of people who are willing to play any starting RB. –JS

  • Rumors are swirling that D’Andre Swift (shoulder) might be heading to IR, and since Jamaal Williams is currently on the reserve/COVID list, Reynolds has some real intrigue surrounding him. On just 13 touches, Reynolds picked up 99 yards in a tough matchup with Denver, so if Williams is out next week, Reynolds will surely be the lead back against the Cardinals in Week 15. That’s another tough matchup, but any starting RB has at leastsomevalue. –JS

  • You might laugh at his presence on the list, but if Perine is one of the few healthy RBs in this backfield come Week 15 against Miami, he’s in play in deep standard leagues after leading the Jets in carries in Week 14. Don’t consider him if either Tevin Coleman (head) or Michael Carter (ankle) is back. –JS

  • Johnson didn’t have a huge game against New Orleans, but he did draw seven targets (four catches, 40 yards) and six carries (17 yards), so he’s somewhat of a decent play if you’re desperate for RBs in PPR leagues. In Week 17, he’ll face Miami, who hasn’t given up many points to fantasy RBs, but again, he can do some damage in the receiving game. If either Michael Carter (ankle) or Tevin Coleman (concussion) is back, Johnson isn’t worth considering. –JS

  • Rountree is probably the odd man out in the Chargers’ backfield if Austin Ekeler (ankle) misses a significant period of time, but he’s worth a flier this late in the season if you’re can’t acquire Justin Jackson or Joshua Kelley. You just never know how playing time will shake out, and Rountree was actually getting more playing time than both Jackson and Kelley earlier in the season before his recent string of inactives. –JS

  • Scott was supposed to have a breakout game in Week 13 against the Jets, but he was dealing with an illness. He should be healthy in Week 15, but if either Miles Sanders (ankle) or Jordan Howard (knee) is ready to go, Scott has limited upside in a below-average matchup against Washington. –JS

  • St. Brown caught eight-of-12 targets for 83 yards against the Broncos and is more-or-less cemented into the No. 1 WR role in Detroit He’s drawn 24 targets over the past two weeks, so even in a tough matchup with Arizona next week, he should have at least a little bit of flex appeal in PPR leagues. He’ll play Atlanta and Seattle in Weeks 16 and 17, so he’s another guy with sneaky playoff value. –JS

  • Treadwell caught four-of-six targets for 68 yards against the Titans, and he is just as much in play to be the Jags’ No. 1 WR as anyone else. Since he’ll play Houston and New York (Jets) over the next two weeks, he’s quietly a decent option moving forward. –JS

  • In a favorable matchup against the Titans, Jones caught six-of-seven targets for 70 yards, and since he’ll face the Texans in Week 15 and Jets in Week 16, he’s at least a decent streamer for those weeks. –JS

  • Berrios led the Jets with 10 targets against New Orleans and caught six for 52 yards. Corey Davis (core) is out for the season, and Elijah Moore (quad) is out at least another two weeks after being placed on IR. Berrios and Jamison Crowder are the top options in this passing game, so although they aren’t household names, they could help you out in PPR leagues. The next three games for the Jets are against Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa Bay — all highly favorable matchups for wideouts. –JS

  • Now that we’re this late into the season, it’s not unreasonable to consider picking up “WR handcuffs.” Keenan Allen (reserve/COVID) should be back in Week 15 vs. Kansas City, but Palmer proved he’s going to be productive if one of the Chargers’ WRs goes down. There’s also the off-chance the Chargers increase his usage regardless following the five-catch, seven-target, 66-yard, one-TD day. –JS

  • Just as we mentioned with Palmer, you can kind of treat Guyton as a WR handcuff for Mike Williams or Keenan Allen. There are very few cases of “backup” WRs being able to produce solid fantasy numbers, but Guyton has shown he can do it. Ultimately, Guyton is more of a standard league boom-or-bust option, but at least keep him on your radar in the fantasy playoffs. –JS

  • Tua isn’t pushing the ball downfield, but he’s scoring plenty of fantasy points with accuracy and volume. Miami attempts the fifth-most passes per game, and they’ll be coming off a Week 14 bye. The Jets are one of the most QB-friendly matchups, so Week 15 will be another favorablespot for Tua. –JS

  • Inserting Roelisberger in your lineup is sure to cause anxiety, but Tennessee gives up the third-most FPPG heading into Week 14and it’s not as if Big Ben has been awful in all matchups. After all, he had a nice day against the Vikings with over 300 yards and three touchdownsin Week 14.With Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris, he’s been able to find the end zone 19times this season and he’s top-five in the league in passing attempts. –JS

  • Jimmy G was quietly theQB5 from Weeks 9-13, and it’s not all that surprising when you consider the weapons the 49ers are working with. He was just OK against the Bengals, butAtlanta gives up the second-most FPPG to QBs, so we think you can be confident in him here. –JS

  • Philly heads into Week 15giving up the 13th-most fantasy points per game (FPPG)to QBs, and since Heinicke (knee) is a borderline QB1 on the season, he’s a top streaming option if healthy.–JS

  • We’ll keep this simple. There’s a good chance Toney (quad) doesn’t play, but if he does, he’ll face the Dallas defense that came into Week 15 as the seventh-worst unit against fantasy WRs. We’re far removed from his 30-plus point performance, but we’ve seen his ceiling, so he remains on our list. If Daniel Jones (neck) comes back, Toney and Sterling Shepard should seeboosts in value. –JS

  • Shepard caught just two-of-four targets for 27 yards against the Chargers, but if Daniel Jones (neck) is back at QB for the Giants in Week 15, we have to consider him against a bad Dallas secondary in PPR leagues. –JS

  • MVS has drawn 19 targets over the past two weeks prior to Week 14, and he gets favorable matchups against Baltimorein Week 15 and the Vikings in Week 17. Even after a quiet week (three catches, five targets, 20 yards), MVS isa streaming optionin one of the most favorable matchups for wideouts. –JS

  • Julio Jones is back, but we know A.J. Brown (chest) can’t return until Week 16at the earliest. With that considered, Westbrook-Ikhine is at worst the Titans’ No. 2 WR against Pittsburgh (top-10 WR matchup)in Week 15. –JS

  • Green flashed early in the season before producing lackluster fantasy performances recently, but perhaps he can pick things up in a matchup with Detroit. He’s not the safest option, though, because we assume Arizona won’t have to pass a lot to put away this game. –JS

  • Logan Thomas (knee) is done for the year, so welcome back Seales-Jones to the weekly streaming conversations. Philadelphia is the weakest team in the league against fantasy TEs, so ultimately, Seals-Jones has TE1 upside. He was dead quiet in Week 14, but Taylor Heinicke completed just 11 passes and played his worst game of the year.–JS

  • Las Vegas is now the second-worst team against fantasy TEs, so although you’re never confident playing Hooper, this is his spot to shine. As always, David Njoku could steal that shine if he’s back from the reserve/COVIDlist, but Hooper should have the safer floor. He finally tookadvantage of the favorable matchup in Week 14, and like Baltimore, he gets another of the most TE-friendly opponents in the league. –JS

  • Cook hasn’t exactly lived up to his preseason sleeper label,but since the Chiefs are a bottom-nine unit against fantasy TEs and Cook’s QB is Justin Herbert, he’s a decent streamer in a week with limited options. Considering he caught just two passes for eight yards and a touchdown against the Giants,he’s basically a glorified TD-or-bust tight end moving forward. –JS

  • Everett has drawn 29targets over the past fiveweeks, and any tight end that is capable of that has to be in consideration, especially since the Rams are just a neutral matchup for TEs. He scored a touchdownin Week 14 against Houston, so he’s on the table once again. –JS

  • Justin Field or Andy Dalton? Does it really matter? Despite all the injuries on defense for the Vikings, we’re trusting them in this streaming spot against the third-worst offense in the league in respect to total offense per game. –JS

  • New York is averaging just over 16 points per game over the past four games while the Dolphins are giving up just 11.5 PPG over that span. Simply put, this is a mismatch at this point in the season, so expect Miami to be the top streaming D/ST option in Week 15. –JS

  • The Eagles have been hit-or-miss on defense, but their defensive unit ranks as the D/ST9 on the season, so they’re in play in a relatively neutral matchup against a Washington squad with a banged-up (or backup) QB. Additionally, the Eagles will be coming off a much-needed bye, so they should be fresh. –JS

  • Teddy Bridgewater is back to his old ways of not pushing the ball downfield, and this Cincinnati defense entered Week 14 tied for fourth in the league with 2.7 sacks/game while Denver was allowing 2.7 sacks/game. Ultimately, the Broncos lack explosives on offense right now, so you shouldn’t have to worry about ending up in the negative in this matchup. –JS

  • Tennessee looked good against the Jags, but entering Week 14, Pittsburgh was No. 1 in the league in sacks per game (3.1), while Tennessee was giving up the seventh-most sacks per game (2.8). Don’t be surprised if we see a flurry of sacks, which often leads to turnovers. –JS

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