Scott Engel is in his 10th season as the official Fantasy writer and analyst for Seahawks.com. Scott is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. He is a four-time FSWA award winner and 10-time nominee, including being named a finalist for the 2020 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award. You can also find more of his Fantasy analysis on RotoBaller.com, SportsLine.com, the Athletic and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Scott won two Fantasy Football dynasty league titles in 2020, including one in the prestigious Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) and he previously pulled off a three-peat in a highly competitive New York City league. He finished the 2021 regular season as a co-manager of the No. 1 overall seed in the Hall of Fantasy experts league.
The Fantasy Football playoffs are here. The postseason begins in Week 15, and if you are reading this, your team has most likely made the playoffs, so congratulations. While the ultimate goal is to win the Fantasy Football Super Bowl, advancing to the playoffs is a noteworthy achievement. It took many weeks of draft preparation, executing the draft itself, and then working through 14 weeks of constant roster and lineup management to get to this point. Your playoff berth was certainly earned. So be confident that advancing further is very possible.
By this point of the season, a Fantasy team's core of starters is well established. The bye weeks are also over. So, while waiver moves are still very necessary, the free agent list is thinner, and we are not looking for players to stash anymore. We also want to take a different approach to waiver moves in some cases. It is time to clean out your roster of players that will never fit comfortably into starting lineups if needed, or have no real chance of getting off your bench. Being aggressive on free agency to block your opponents also makes sense.
It is necessary to make sure there is quality depth behind the starters on a Fantasy roster as the playoffs begin. The first moves to make if needed are to roster the immediate NFL backups of your starting running backs if possible, so you don't have to scramble to free agency in case of an injury. Running backs such as Samaje Perine, Marlon Mack and Ronald Jones are essential adds. Also make sure that you have a quality backup quarterback and tight end that can be started in case of injuries to your projected starters. Having at least one "insurance" player for injury situations at QB and TE is advisable, and the rest of your bench can be comprised of backup RBs and WRs.
Of course, every roster is unique, and those are just guidelines to how to adjust as the playoffs begin. Some teams may have such good depth at RB that their current reserves are not cut candidates. In other instances, quality QB2 options have been available on the waiver wire throughout the season. The end goal is the same, though, to ensure that respectable options are available in case of injury or ongoing needs to stream at any positions outside of your core starters.
During the regular season, when dealing with bye weeks, the focus should only be on your own roster when making waiver moves. But in the playoffs, every possible step should be taken to ensure victories. That includes blocking your opponents from landing certain players on free agency if possible. After reviewing the roster of an opponent, if you see they have a glaring need at WR, for example, then consider using a primary waiver claim or bidding a healthy amount to land a WR they may need for the upcoming week. Your own roster needs should always take priority, but if taking a possibly desired player or needed option away from your opponent can improve your outlook for the upcoming matchup, go for it.
Those Fantasy players who earned a first-round bye have pulled off a major accomplishment. In Fantasy football, the bye pushes you to one game away from your league Super Bowl in most cases. It functions as a very important pass to the second of three postseason rounds. After hitting the waiver wire this week, scout your players on their game days for the upcoming Week 16 matchup. The outlooks for some of your players can certainly change during the upcoming week even though your Fantasy team technically has an "off" week.
Week 15 Waiver Targets
Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Last week, we led the Seahawks Fantasy Insider column with Penny, and after his spectacular outing at Houston, he clearly leads our waiver list for the second consecutive week. Before the matchup with the Texans, we advised Fantasy players to add Penny to their rosters in a forward-looking move. Now, after he rushed for 137 yards and two TDs on 16 attempts in a career-best performance, Penny is going to be the most sought-after player on waivers in Fantasy Football this week.
Penny topped all Fantasy RB scorers on Sunday in Week 14, with 26.8 points on NFL.com. He scored on dazzling runs of 47 and 32 yards, boosting many Fantasy teams to important wins in the final week of the Fantasy regular season. As John Boyle reported on Monday, Pete Carroll indicated that Penny deserves another opportunity to build on his outstanding performance against the Texans. Fantasy players should view Penny as a good lineup option for the playoffs.
Impact running backs are hard to find on free agency at this point of the Fantasy season. If you league uses a Free Agent Budget bidding process for waivers, consider spending a heavy chunk of your available budget on Penny. In leagues where players are awarded through a waiver order, he should be the top claim for any team in the league. Penny is the most significant available player in many leagues as we head into Week 15. Even if your team is lower in the waiver order, make sure to put in a claim, because you can never be sure of who may fall to your spot. Penny will at least deserve immediate flex consideration for those who acquire him for Week 15. He can potentially be a regular starter during the Fantasy postseason.
Jordan Howard/Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles: As Philadelphia returns from a bye week, it is possible that both Howard and Gainwell could be asked to play key roles for the Eagles against Washington. Howard may be able to return from a knee injury, and Gainwell had 78 yards and a TD from scrimmage in Week 13.
Malcom Brown, Dolphins: Miami is dealing with some significant personnel issues at RB, and there is a chance Brown could return from injured reserve this week. Brown could come back from a quadriceps injury in time for a very good matchup with the Jets, who allow the most Fantasy Points Per Game to running backs. Monitor the situation to see who the Dolphins may start at RB in Week 15.
Craig Reynolds, Lions: He was a surprise performer for Detroit in Week 14, operating as the lead RB and totaling 99 yards from scrimmage. There is a good chance that Reynolds may at least operate in a time share in Week 15, depending on the availability of the Lions' other primary RBs. Reynolds, like the other RBs listed here this week outside of Penny, could be useful as a flex play if needed, depending on the later week outlooks of other RBs on his team.
K.J. Osborn, Vikings: Osborn will continue to function as Minnesota's No. 2 WR for now, and he caught a 62-yard TD pass against the Steelers in Week 14. He was targeted nine times, so a healthy amount of receiving volume is also possible in his expanded role.
Rashod Bateman, Ravens: The rookie delivered what may have been his breakout performance in Week 14. Bateman caught seven of eight targets for 103 yards against Cleveland and he might be primed for a strong finish to his first NFL season. He is a very appealing add for the Fantasy playoffs.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions: Another rookie who could be a quality starting option for the Fantasy postseason, St. Brown has been targeted 24 times over the past two weeks. He has 18 receptions during that span. St. Brown is emerging as a quality play for good volume and deserves WR3 consideration if you are streaming at the position.
Gabriel Davis, Bills: Davis is coming on as a key playmaker for the Bills later in the season. He has scored in each of the past two weeks and had eight targets in Week 14. Davis is certainly worth an add as part of a very potent Buffalo passing game.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Browns: He is the top deep threat on the Cleveland roster, and he caught five of seven targets for 90 yards against the Ravens on Sunday. Peoples-Jones is an upside option for the Fantasy playoffs.
QB and TE Depth adds
As we indicated earlier, having quality backups at each of these positions is recommended if you have the necessary roster room. Here are some depth adds to consider at each position.
Quarterbacks: Carson Wentz, Tua Tagovailoa (vs. NYJ Week 15, TEN Week 17), Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. ATL, TEN, HOU), Ben Roethlisberger (19-plus points in three of his past four games).
Tight Ends: Gerald Everett (has scored in two of his last three games), Tyler Conklin, Hunter Henry (seven TD receptions), Austin Hooper.
Week 15 Lineup Tips
James Robinson should bounce back against the Texans. … D'Onta Foreman is worthy of starting consideration against the Steelers, now 29th in rushing yards allowed to RBs. … Chuba Hubbard faces the Bills, 30th in FFPG allowed to RBs over the last four weeks. … Nick Chubb should rebound against the Raiders, 30th in FFPG allowed to RBs. Start him with confidence in Week 15. … The Vikings pass defense allows the most FFPG to WRs, so start Darnell Mooney as a WR3. … DeVonta Smith should be started against the Washington, 30th in FFPG allowed to WRs. … The Falcons have allowed 16 TD passes to WRs. Start Brandon Aiyuk. … The 49ers have allowed the fourth-most FFPG to WRs over the last four weeks. You should get quality production from Russell Gage. ,,, Kirk Cousins can be started in a good matchup vs. the Bears, 30th in FFPG allowed to QBs over the last four weeks. … Tua Tagovailoa could be good for two-plus TD passes against the Jets if you are still streaming QBs. … Zach Ertz has a friendly draw against the Lions, who have allowed the fourth-most FFPG to TEs over the past four weeks. … The Jets are 27th in FFPG allowed to TEs. Consider starting Mike Gesicki. … Week 15 defensive streaming options include the Dolphins (vs. NYJ), Cowboys (vs. NYG), Cardinals (vs. DET) and Eagles (vs. WAS).
Check out more of Scott Engel's 2021 Fantasy Football analysis and his full Week 14 rankings at RotoBaller.com. Enter promo code "seahawks" at checkout for an additional discount on the RotoBaller Fantasy Football season pass.
Fantasy Insider Scott Engel identifies players to target on the waiver wire in the lead up to Week 15 of the 2021 season.