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Jake Browning, Roschon Johnson, Isaiah Likely and more

The purpose of a waiver-wire column should be to highlight players who may be on the verge of a breakout. After all, trying to land that player after his breakout is exponentially more challenging. Additionally, waiver-wire moves at this point of the season should be made to add high-upside depth for the fantasy playoffs or improve your chances of winning the upcoming week.

Not all of these columns will feature a future stud or no-brainer add, but we can usually find help for our fantasy teams if we try hard enough. Furthermore, I will try to avoid recommending players coming off a 10-catch or three-touchdown game because it should be incredibly obvious to most that they need to be on a roster at that point.

The players listed below are available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues and stand at least a decent chance of making some kind of impact in the coming weeks.

Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: Quarterbacks

Bengals Jaguars Football
Bengals Jaguars Football

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Jake Browning, Cincinnati Bengals

Week 13 game log: 354 passing yards, two carries for 22 yards and two total touchdowns

Browning will not make Cincinnati forget about Joe Burrow anytime soon, but the Bengals have to be feeling better about their prospects for the rest of the season after the former undrafted free agent completed 32 of 37 pass attempts in an upset of the Jaguars on Monday night. While it was clear that head coach Zac Taylor was trying to ease his mostly untested quarterback into the game as much as possible in his second career start, the moment never seemed too big for Browning.

Perhaps the best part of what Browning brings to the table for his fantasy managers is also one of Burrow’s biggest strengths: his supporting cast. If a quarterback can remain poised and deliver the ball accurately on a consistent basis, then it makes sense that he will do well in an offense that is highlighted by the playmaking abilities of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

Browning is unlikely to possess top-five fantasy upside like Burrow at any point, but his weapons are good enough that he can flirt with low-end QB1 production when the matchup is right and he is as sharp as he was against Jacksonville.

ESPN ownership: 12.0 percent

Other potential strong add(s): Gardner Minshew, Colts (10.5 percent); Joe Flacco, Browns (2.5)

Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: Running Backs

Bears Vikings Football
Bears Vikings Football

Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears

Week 13: Bye

Despite coming off the best game of his brief NFL career, Johnson’s ownership percentage dropped nearly two percent from last week, which was most likely the product of Chicago going on a bye last week. It remains unlikely that the 15-8 advantage in touches over “starter” Khalil Herbert was anything more than the Bears favoring the rookie as a pass protector against the Vikings’ blitz-happy defense in Week 12, but the simple truth is that we do not know that is a fact … yet.

Fantasy managers will learn what Chicago’s backfield plans are in Week 14 against the Lions. The most likely scenario is that Herbert leads the backfield in touches and will split time on early downs with D’Onta Foreman, who is expected to return from his ankle injury, while Johnson returns to more of his usual passing-down role. With that said, the Bears could easily use the remainder of the season to phase out Foreman (who is on a one-year contract) and use that time to evaluate Johnson’s ability to coexist with Herbert as they prepare for 2024.

ESPN ownership: 20.4 percent

Other priority add(s): Elijah Mitchell, 49ers (16.7 percent); Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles (14.1); Rico Dowdle, Cowboys (9.9); Chris Rodriguez, Commanders (0.3)

Other potential strong adds (especially in deeper leagues): D’Ernest Johnson, Jaguars (6.2); Trey Sermon, Colts (3.0); Michael Carter, Cardinals (1.1); DeeJay Dallas, Seahawks (0.7); Chase Brown, Bengals (0.5)

Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: Wide Receivers

Zay Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 13 game log: Five catches for 78 yards on eight targets

This recommendation comes with the caveat that Trevor Lawrence (ankle) is not sidelined for more than a week or two. It has largely been a forgettable season for Jones, who has managed to play in only six of his team’s 12 games due to injury. The Jaguars took their time with him after his Week 5 setback, waiting until Week 11 to bring him back. Three weeks later, Jones finds himself back in a prominent role in a good offense in the wake of Christian Kirk’s likely season-ending core injury.

Jones has played at least 75 percent of his team’s offensive snaps this season only twice this season, but he has recorded five catches in each outing and earned 15 targets. The former second-round pick also notably logged at least 75 percent of his team’s offensive snaps in 15 of 16 games in 2022, averaging 5.3 catches for 53.3 yards.

Jones isn’t going to be a league-winning kind of player in fantasy – especially if C.J. Beathard has to start more than a couple of games – but he can be a stabilizing WR3 force if Lawrence is still capable of playing at a high level upon his return.

ESPN ownership: 16.8 percent

Other priority add(s): Rashid Shaheed, Saints (22.2 percent); Jameson Williams, Lions (13.2); Jonathan Mingo, Panthers (12.1); Robert Woods, Texans (9.3); Parker Washington, Jaguars (0.0)

Other potential strong adds (especially in deeper leagues): Treylon Burks, Titans (25.0); Khalil Shakir, Bills (5.7); Jalin Hyatt, Giants (2.4); Alec Pierce, Colts (1.4); Dontayvion Wicks, Packers (1.1); Cedric Tillman, Browns (0.3)

Fantasy Football Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups: Tight Ends

Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens

Week 13: bye

For the second time in three weeks, Likely gets the nod here because he is still sitting on the waiver wire in over 75 percent of leagues and has a chance to be a contributor to a fantasy championship run. While the second-year tight end should not be considered anything close to a one-for-one replacement of Mark Andrews, most fantasy managers will be happy if Likely’s 4-40-0 showing in Week 12 ends up being his floor.

Likely is not a great bet to carry managers to a fantasy title with matchups against the 49ers and Dolphins in Weeks 16 and 17, but the Rams and Jaguars are forgiving matchups for tight ends over the next two weeks. There is also a decent chance that Baltimore worked on integrating Likely into the offense more over the team’s Week 13 bye. In most leagues, he possesses notably more upside than any other tight end on the waiver wire.

ESPN ownership: 23.2 percent

Other potential strong add(s): Tyler Conklin, Jets (21.1 percent); Zach Ertz, free agent (21.0); Tanner Hudson, Bengals (4.6); Tucker Kraft, Packers (1.7)

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