Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, Week 15: Expert Advice on Zonovan Knight, Chigoziem Okonkwo, More
Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mike White (left), Zonovan Knight (right).
No matter how deep your league is, Week 14 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.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Browns
Sean Koerner: I was urging people to add DPJ over a month ago as a potential WR2/3 option.
Coming off a 8/114/0 game against the Bengals, nothing has changed — though it’s worth noting that some of his career-best games have been aided by Amari Cooper being limited by a hip injury.
However, reports from camp indicated DPJ is one of Watson’s favorite targets, so they clearly have chemistry and Watson’s ability to push the ball down field should be able to unlock DPJ’s ceiling. He’s a must-add in all formats.
Samantha Previte: Peoples-Jones could be a league winner. He was Cleveland’s best offensive player in a 23-10 loss to the Bengals, catching 8-of-12 targets for 114 yards.
Peoples-Jones is currently the WR14 in half-PPR heading into Monday night and will finish as a top-36 fantasy wideout for the seventh time in 10 games. He has double-digit fantasy points in four of the last five and needs to be taken seriously as a high-end WR3/flex option.
RB Zonovan Knight, Jets
Koerner: As I said a couple weeks ago, Knight could become the workhorse back for the Jets, even if/when Michael Carter returned to the lineup.
That is exactly what happened in Week 14, when Knight posted a 17/71/1 rushing line and chipped in two receptions for six yards. That was in a tough matchup against the Bills, but going forward, Knight’ schedule sets up perfectly with the Lions, Jaguars and Seahawks.
It’s worth noting that neither Ty Johnson nor James Robinson played a snap, making this just a two-man backfield between Knight and Carter. With Knight playing at such a high level, he can safely be treated as a RB2 option against Detroit.
Previte: Knight performed well despite the difficult matchup against Buffalo. He was the Jets’ lead rusher and logged 17 attempts for 71 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for six yards and is currently the RB11 in half-PPR scoring with one game left to play.
Following this game, Knight’s schedule gets insanely easy — starting with the Lions, who rank 23rd in rush DVOA. He should be considered a fringe RB2/3 moving forward with a number of plus matchups to close the regular season.
WR DJ Chark, Lions
Koerner: Chark is coming off games of 5/98/0 and 6/94/1 and carries weekly WR3+ upside as a top downfield target in one of the most potent offenses in the league.
I wouldn’t be too worried about Jameson Williams eating into his production, as it looks like his playing time — if or when it increases — will come at Josh Reynolds’ expense.
Chark has a tough matchup this week against the Jets, making him more of a WR4 option, so I wouldn’t necessarily add him and plug him into your starting lineup just yet.
He is a nice piece to have on your bench heading into the fantasy playoffs though. Forward-thinking managers should note that in Week 17 (championship week) he faces a Bears defense that ranks 32nd in pass DVOA.
Previte: Chark had a phenomenal day in the Lions’ 34-23 win over the Vikings. He caught 6-of-7 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown and is currently the WR5 in half-PPR scoring. He even outperformed Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught 6-of-9 targets for 68 yards.
Rookie Jameson Williams was used sparingly — expected given his injury history — and caught just one pass for a 41-yard touchdown. He is a superstar in the making, though it may take until next year to see him fully develop into that. For now, Chark would be my preferred add on an offense that scores a ton of points.
TE Chigoziem Okonkwo, Titans
Koerner: Okonkwo has the talent to become an every-week TE1 option, but he has yet to top a 60% routes run rate this season. Until he does, he’s going to be more of a TE2 with massive upside, thanks to his 25% target rate per route run and 15.2 yards per catch.
The Titans, currently on a three-game losing streak, are decimated at receiver right now. These are reasons why we could see Okonkwo top the 60-70% routes run rate any week now — once that happens, he could be a top-10 option.
The tight end position is such a crap shoot outside of the top five or so, which means I’d be much more willing to roll the dice on Okonkowo’s massive ceiling despite fairly limited usage. He’s established a solid enough floor where I wouldn’t even consider it a gamble to start him over a Hunter Henry/Tyler Conklin/Dawson Knox type.
The only unknown with Okonkwo right now is how high his ceiling is. That screams, “Invest, invest, invest!”
Previte: Okonkwo caught all six of his targets for 45 yards and a touchdown and Hooper caught all five of his targets for 65 yards.
Hooper edged out Okonkwo in snaps by a count of 36 to 33, though I am more intrigued by Okonkwo rest-of-season. This will be the rookie’s second straight top-10 finish in half-PPR scoring and second game in a row with five or more targets.
The Titans face the Chargers in Week 15, whose defense has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to tight ends. Okonkwo and Hooper both find themselves in the deep-league streaming conversation.
Mike Triplett: Okonkwo is probably a better target in deeper and daily leagues. That being said, there is a lot to like about the rookie fourth-round pick as he’s finally getting a bigger opportunity after his usage had been a big talking point for weeks among reporters and coaches.
Okonkwo has set career highs in snaps in each of the past two weeks, and he just set a career high with six catches while reeling in a touchdown and a two-point conversion. He leads all NFL tight ends with three catches of 40-plus yards despite limited usage.
Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky suggested Okonkwo could get extra snaps at fullback as the team tries to get him more involved.
TE Evan Engram, Jaguars
Koerner: I have been waiting for the Engram eruption game for weeks. His underlying usage has been great all season, but we had yet to see him flash any sort of consistency outside of his Week 5-8 stretch when was the TE6.
I think part of that was due to second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence struggling with consistency. However, with Lawrence in the midst of a true breakout, he’s taking Engram along for the ride with him.
Engram erupted for 11/162/2 against the Titans, one of the top tight end performances of the season. I’m not sure we can expect massive games like that from him going forward, but he’s a much safer bet to project for 4.5-5 receptions based on his usage, which makes him a borderline top-five option.
Previte: Engram had a career game in Week 14. He caught 11-of-15 targets for 162 yards and two touchdowns and is currently the TE1 in half PPR.
This will be Engram’s second top-five finish in a row and fifth top-9 finish in the last nine games, which is quite impressive at a position known for volatility.
I do not know how many 368-yard games we expect Trevor Lawrence to have moving forward, but Engram should continue to garner a significant target share down the stretch. He is, by far, my top tight end waiver add this week who offers more than just flash-in-the-pan upside.
Triplett: It’s hard to count on weekly consistency from any tight end not named Travis Kelce, and we got burned by Engram after a hot stretch earlier this season.
But if you’re tired of playing TE roulette and want to pick one guy to stick with throughout the fantasy playoffs, you know the role is going to be there for Engram.
He actually vaulted from 16th to fourth in fantasy points among tight ends for the 2022 season following his monster Week 14 performance. He also ranks top five this year among tight ends in routes run, catches and yards.
Jordan Mason, 49ers
Triplett: We’re not talking about a league winner here, but don’t just assume Mason is going to play a bit role because he is in Christian McCaffrey’s shadow.
The 49ers have consistently been using two backs since acquiring McCaffrey — and Mason has picked up right where Elijah Mitchell left off with eight carries for 51 yards and 11 carries for 56 yards over the past two weeks. Don’t forget Deebo Samuel is now sidelined as well.
Best of all: San Francisco faces one of the worst run defenses in the NFL this week in Seattle, which gives away fantasy points to RBs. I like Mason a lot in Week 15.