Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, Week 14: Expert Advice on Cam Akers, Tyler Huntley, More
Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Akers.
No matter how deep your league is, Week 13 offered plenty of injuries and potential breakout performances to make sure your waiver wire has intriguing names on it.
Our fantasy football analysts break down key names you’ll be either bidding on or considering with your top waiver claim.
RB James Cook, Bills
Sean Koerner: Cook should be rostered in all formats. The rookie has outperformed Devin Singletary all season, but Week 13 was the first time he led the team in both rush attempts and routes run.
It’s probably too early to view Cook as anything more than a RB3/Flex, but if he continues to out-touch Singletary, he could be a RB2/Flex option by the time we reach the fantasy playoffs. He’s also a Singletary injury away from being a clear RB2, so he has a few different paths to become a potential “league winner” down the stretch.
Samantha Previte: Cook had the best game of his short career in the Bills‘ Thursday night 24-10 win over the Patriots. He rushed 14 times for 64 yards and caught 6-of-6 targets for 41 yards, while Singletary saw 13 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Singletary slightly edged Cook in snaps by a count of 33 to 32, which is a huge leap from their Week 12 split of 60 to 14 in favor of the veteran. Cook was a second-round pick in this year’s draft from Georgia, with whom he won the CFP National Championship in 2021.
The Buffalo backfield could be turning into a 1A/1B situation and Cook’s pass-catching abilities give him standalone value. He should be a RB3/flex next week against the Jets.
Mike Triplett: There is some sleeping-giant potential here after the rookie second-round pick played a much bigger role on Thursday. Cook could be worth the rest of your FAAB budget since time is running short to buy lottery tickets.
Cook is no sure thing, considering how small his role has been for much of the season, but the talent is there both as a runner and a pass-catcher — and now the opportunity could potentially match it.
Cook played a season-high 32 snaps (just one fewer than Singletary), with his involvement starting early in the game. He also finished with seven more touches (20 to 13, including six receptions).
Bills reporters, like The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia, speculated Cook’s usage on Thursday could be the beginning of a philosophical shift for Buffalo’s offense after reading into head coach Sean McDermott’s comments. Even if Cook only becomes the “1B” in a Cowboys or Packers type of timeshare, he could be worth playing every week in such a dynamic offense.
RB Cam Akers, Rams
Koerner: Just when it looked like the Rams were going to feature rookie Kyren Williams for the rest of the season, Sean McVay pulled the rug from under us and used Akers as a workhorse back.
Though the Rams backfield is likely going to be very volatile the rest of the season, both Akers and Kyren should be rostered in all formats. There will be weeks when we may feel confident starting either of them as RB3/Flex options.
Previte: Akers led the Rams‘ backfield in their 27-23 loss to the Seahawks in Week 13. He logged 17 carries for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Kyren Williams saw just three carries for nine yards.
Akers finished as the RB6 in half PPR in this standout performance — his best of the year — and out-snapped the rookie Williams for the first time since both have been on the field by a count of 46 to 18.
I am probably as confused as you are about this headache of a backfield. Without Darrell Henderson Jr. on the field, the Rams’ RB1 position remains very much up-for-grabs.
Akers could certainly seize the opportunity with two mouthwatering matchups on deck: The Rams face the Raiders and Packers in back-to-back weeks, both of whom rank below average in rush DVOA and bottom seven in fantasy points allowed to running backs this year. We shall see if Akers (or anyone) emerges as the alpha as the Rams continue to throw things against the wall to see what sticks.
Triplett: This was a head-scratcher. Akers played a season-high 46 snaps with a season-high 18 touches compared to just 18 snaps and three touches for rookie Williams. Just last week, Williams had a season-high 38 snaps and 14 touches compared to 16 and eight for Akers.
The good news for Akers is that he appears to be back in the team’s good graces after being away from the team and getting shopped in trades earlier this season. McVay said he was proud of Akers’ growth and how he played. At the same time, however, McVay has spoken highly of Williams and his potential.
I wrongly recommended Williams in this space last week because the Rams are clearly in “seeing what they have for 2023” mode. I guess that mode also includes deciding if they want to keep Akers in the fold as well. It’s possible for both backs to have some value down the stretch, but considering the state of L.A.’s injury-ravaged offense, it’s hard to get too excited about either one.
RBs DeeJay Dallas/Travis Homer/Tony Jones, Seahawks
Koerner: Seattle’s backfield is impossible to project for Week 14 because Kenneth Walker, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer are all dealing with injuries. Considering that Walker could end up playing this week — plus the lack of a true handcuff in the event he does miss the game — this is a situation I’m avoiding.
Previte: The Seattle backfield was assembled with spit and glue after Walker exited with an ankle injury.
Homer was inactive due to an illness and knee injury, leaving the team to lean on Dallas and Jones. Dallas logged 10 carries for 37 yards and Jones recorded seven carries for 14 yards and caught 2-of-4 targets for 18 yards.
Walker’s absence may not be an extended one, though it is probably safe to say that his Week 14 availability is in jeopardy.
Homer could be the best option of this trio, assuming he is healthy. He is coming off of a four-touch, 53-yard game against the Raiders in which he scored his first touchdown of the year. This is a developing situation and will hinge on Walker’s health. The Seahawks face the Panthers in Week 14, which should be a favorable matchup for whichever running backs Seattle fields.
Triplett: Injuries make this group impossible to decipher right now. Walker hasn’t been ruled out yet as he deals with an ankle strain (not sprain) that head coach Pete Carroll described as “jammed,” “sore,” “aggravated” and an “unusual injury.”
Dallas suffered his own ankle injury after replacing Walker, and fellow backup Homer was inactive with a knee injury and illness that Carroll said will have to be reevaluated this week. However, Carroll also sounded optimistic enough that he suggested Seattle won’t need to sign any outside RB help, with some practice squad call-ups possible if needed.
Jones remains a healthy option despite leaving Week 13’s game briefly when he had a contact lens knocked out. It might be worth taking a flier on any one of these three guys in hopes that they emerge as a leading man in Week 14 against Carolina. It’s just too risky to make a real investment in any of them.
TE Greg Dulcich, Broncos
Koerner: I have frequently said that Dulcich has top-five upside and that the only thing that is holding him back is Russell Wilson.
Wilson looked to Dulcich early and often in Week 13, which led to a 6/85/0 receiving line. Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett has mentioned that the team is using Dulcich in more of a “wide receiver” role, which should be music to the ears of fantasy managers.
The tight end position has been such a disaster of late that I am cautiously optimistic Dulcich returns low-end TE1 value the rest of the way.
Previte: Dulcich had been quiet in the three weeks after the Broncos’ Week 9 bye, recording just seven catches for 52 yards in that span. He bounced back nicely in Week 13 in Baltimore, catching 6-of-8 targets for 85 yards.
He will likely be a fringe TE1 next week with six teams on bye against the Chiefs, whose defense ranks 26th in pass DVOA.
QB Tyler Huntley, Ravens
Koerner: I am definitely interested in adding Huntley in 2QB/Superflex formats. He’s a dual threat who is capable of handling the same playbook as Lamar Jackson, making him one of the more valuable backup quarterbacks in the league.
I view him as a mid-range QB2, but he does carry a much higher ceiling than most in that range, as seen by his QB1 overall finish in Week 15 last year against the Packers.
Previte: Huntley stepped in for an injured Jackson at the start of the second quarter to help the Ravens eke out a 10-9 victory over the Broncos. He completed 27-of-32 attempts for 187 yards and one interception and rushed 10 times for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Huntley was the QB15 in Week 13, impressive given he played just three quarters of this game against a top-notch Denver defense.
Jackson’s knee injury is not believed to be of the season-ending variety and head coach John Harbaugh left the door open for him to return as soon as Week 14, though the signing of Brett Hundley on Monday suggests the contrary.
If Jackson is not good to go, Huntley would be the Ravens’ starter in what could be a consequential AFC North showdown against the Steelers. Huntley carries significant fantasy value given his rushing abilities and the matchup opposite Pittsburgh’s defense, which has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
Triplett: Huntley plugs smoothly into Baltimore’s offense as his rushing ability gives him both a high fantasy floor and ceiling. He has now run for at least 40 yards in six straight games dating back to last season when filling in for Jackson.
He is an obvious choice for Jackson managers who need a short-term replacement, but he could also be worthy of a start in Superflex or 2QB leagues.
QB Brock Purdy, 49ers
Koerner: Purdy was solid in relief in Week 13, leading the 49ers to a 33-17 win over the Dolphins. However, opposing teams now have film on him and will be able to prepare to face the seventh-round rookie knowing that Jimmy G is out for the season.
The 49ers will likely lean heavily on their defense and run game going forward, as opposed to letting Purdy air it out. Either way, he’s going to be a low-end QB2 the rest of the season unless the 49ers make a move to bring in a veteran. He’s worth an add in 2QB/Superflex formats.
Previte: Purdy stepped in early for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in the 49ers’ 33-17 win over the Dolphins. He completed 25-of-37 attempts for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Purdy will be the 49ers’ starter until further notice and is the logical replacement for any fantasy managers who have Garoppolo rostered. He will likely be a QB2 next week against the Buccaneers‘ No. 6 pass defense, per DVOA.