The last of the byes is upon us, so, after we get through the week ahead, everyone is back in the fantasy pool. That's the good news. However, six teams will be sidelined in Week 14, which means there's a very good chance you're gonna need to work the wire for reinforcements with playoff spots and seeding on the line. We are, as always, here to help. Each player discussed below is available in a majority of Yahoo leagues and approved for use.
Running backs on the wire
James Cook, Buffalo Bills (24% rostered)
After Buffalo traded for Nyheim Hines at the deadline, many of us scrapped our rest-of-season plans for Cook. Hines appeared to be an ideal fit for the backfield role originally intended for Dalvin's brother.
As it turns out, the new arrival is merely a supporting player in the Bills offense and Cook is developing into a featured weapon. The rookie handled a season-high 20 touches in Thursday night's win at New England, catching six passes and gaining a team-high 105 yards. Cook split snaps evenly with Devin Singletary, out-touching the veteran starter, 20 to 13. Singletary scored a 1-yard touchdown to preserve his fantasy value, but Cook's emergence is clearly a significant development.
James doesn't quite have Dalvin's mass, nor does he have his brother's vision and elusiveness, so let's not assume he's going to be an every-down runner any time soon. But he's an effective multi-purpose back attached to a Death Star offense, which means he deserves a spot on someone's roster in almost every league. Don't be surprised if Cook is a factor in the fantasy playoffs; he has a real chance to feast in Week 16, when the Bills head to Chicago to face a severely under-talented Bears defense.
Recommended offer, assuming $100 budget: $21
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (45%)
Akers simply dominated the backfield touches for the Rams on Sunday, carrying 17 times for 60 yards and two scores. Kyren Williams was relegated to a supporting role (3 for 9). It wouldn't be entirely accurate to say that Akers was unusually creative or explosive against Seattle, but he was plenty effective near the goal-line:
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) December 4, 2022
If you can talk yourself into an investment in the Rams' offense, a series of beatable defenses is on deck, beginning with Las Vegas on Thursday night, then the Packers in Week 15. Akers also gets a date with a generous Chargers run D in Week 17, when fantasy championships are decided. We clearly can't rule out the possibility that Williams will reemerge, but, for now, Akers appears to be the guy atop the depth chart.
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers (20%)
Hubbard handled 17 carries for the Panthers in the win against Denver ahead of last week's bye, playing 42 percent of the offensive snaps for his team. D'Onta Foreman of course kept the lead role in Carolina's backfield (and was pretty clearly the more impressive runner), but Hubbard's usage was certainly notable. If he's going to see double-digit touches each week down the stretch, he'll become a deep league flex option. The Panthers will face two of the league's most generous run defenses over their next three games, as they travel to Seattle on Sunday and host Detroit in Week 16.
Other RB adds: Zonovan Knight (he consolidated power on Sunday, gaining 118 yards and dominating work in the Jets' backfield), Jordan Mason (he was the clear No. 2 back for the Niners in their win against Miami, carrying eight times for 51 yards), Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas (if Kenneth Walker's ankle injury prevents him from facing Carolina this week, Homer and Dallas — neither of whom are currently healthy — could be the next men up).
Wide receivers and tight ends to prioritize
Nico Collins, Houston Texans (29%)
Another week, another huge target total for Collins. He saw 10 chances on Sunday against the Browns, snagging three for 35 yards and one score. (C'mon, you can't expect efficiency when Kyle Allen is your QB. Let's just try to focus on the 25.6 percent target share.) Collins has ideal size (6-foot-4, 215) along with speed and leaping ability. He's drawn 36 pass attempts over his last four games, emerging as his team's primary receiving option. At some point, the Texans are going to exploit his deep-ball ability. Collins gets a pair of quality matchups in Weeks 16 and 17 (at Ten, Jac), so there's a decent chance he'll make noise when fantasy managers need it most.
Daniel Bellinger, New York Giants (2%)
Bellinger was sidelined for five weeks with a facial fracture and eye injury, but he returned against Washington on Sunday afternoon to catch all five of his targets. The fourth-round rookie was emerging as a nearly every-snap tight end for the Giants prior to the injury and he now seems to have reclaimed his role. He made a pair of house calls early in the season and he's a good bet to reach the end zone again in the weeks ahead. New York's receiving corps is a bit talent-starved at the moment, so Bellinger shouldn't lack opportunities.
Additional receivers to stash: Corey Davis (he's coming off an 85-yard performance on 10 targets, though the matchup ahead with Buffalo isn't ideal), Isaiah McKenzie (he snagged all five of his targets on Thursday night and feasted the week before), Jahan Dotson (headed into a bye so he can't help this week, but he finally returned to the end zone in Week 13 while drawing nine targets), Alec Pierce (yet another fun rookie going into a very late bye week, coming off an impressive prime-time performance),
Various available tight ends: Greg Dulcich (he reentered the fantasy conversation with an 85-yard performance on Sunday), Evan Engram (he found the end zone against Detroit and gets a vulnerable Tennessee pass defense this week), Noah Fant (if you like to chase TDs at this position, Fant is your guy) Cade Otton (he made a late house call on Monday night and saw an uptick in usage as a result of Cameron Brate's absence).
Quarterbacks to target
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (50%)
Goff carved up Jacksonville's defense on Sunday, throwing for 340 yards and two scores, the sixth time this season that he's tossed multiple TD passes. The Lions weren't exactly light on receiving weapons to begin the year and they just added rookie burner Jameson Williams to the mix. Detroit is now preparing to host a Vikings defense that entered Week 13 ranked dead-last against the pass, allowing 8.3 yards per attempt. If you're looking for a one-week placeholder, Goff can certainly help.
Huntley led the Ravens to a win over Denver (barely), stepping in at quarterback on Sunday after Lamar Jackson was lost to a knee injury. He completed 27 of 32 throws for 187 yards and he ran 10 times for an additional 41 yards and the game-winning score:
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2022
Jackson's injury is not believed to be a season-ender, which is of course excellent news. Huntley established himself last season as a capable replacement QB and a dangerous rushing threat; he started four games for Baltimore and ran for at least 40 yards in all of them. For however long Jackson is sidelined (if at all), Huntley can certainly help. The Ravens have a string of friendly matchups through the end of the fantasy season: at Pittsburgh, at Cleveland, Atlanta, then Pittsburgh.
Other approved QBs: Mike White (you can't mess around with him this week against the Bills, but he gets Detroit, Jacksonville and Seattle in Weeks 15-17).
If you're streaming D/STs
Las Vegas Raiders (11%)
The Raiders are on a three-game win streak these days and they face the smoldering ruins of the Rams' offense on Thursday night. Vegas has produced 11 sacks and three takeaways over the team's last three games, so this group has been productive for fantasy purposes. Expect more of the same against John Wolford & Co.