With one more week for most of us to clinch that elusive fantasy football playoff berth, this is truly time to slide all those chips into the center of the table. The players listed below are of the boom-or-bust variety, so insert them into your lineups if you need a big payout in Week 14.
Remember, this column is called Wild Card starts for a reason, as they have the potential to show up large for you this week — or leave you with nothing.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR - Packers
Downfield threats will always find their way into this space and this week it’s Valdes-Scantling. He was tied for first in targets (9) in the Green Bay offense in Week 12 before the bye and gets a Chicago secondary that’s in the lower half of the league in receiving yards allowed this season.
If Aaron Rodgers and MVS can connect on some of those deep shots on Sunday night, your personal scoreboard could light up on the way to playoff contention.
Cam Newton, QB - Panthers
This is a true gamble as Newton comes with the caveat that he could be benched at any time for poor play. However, he does have a really juicy matchup against Atlanta this week who’ve allowed the fourth-most rushing yards to opposing QBs this season and the second-highest fantasy points per game to the QB position.
With a rostership of just 29 percent, Newton is there for you folks struggling at QB or those who need a bye week replacement in Week 14. If he can survive all four quarters, you could get a fantasy QB1 performance out of the 32-year-old at home against the Falcons.
Jaylen Guyton & Josh Palmer, WR - Chargers
At the moment, Keenan Allen is on the COVID-19/reserve list and has a legitimate chance to not be cleared before the Chargers' Week 14 contest. Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler will see an uptick in usage, but we could see Guyton or Palmer as beneficiaries of Allen’s absence as well.
Guyton has more targets on the season (32 to 21) but it’s tough to figure out who will emerge as the WR2 without Allen. The Giants are allowing 31.1 half-PPR points per contest this season to enemy WRs which ranks 24th, so if you require a wideout with some big-play potential, dial up one of these Chargers and cross your fingers.
Jalen Richard, RB - Raiders
The sixth-year Raider was out in Week 13 on the COVID-19/reserve list but should be back in time to face the Chiefs on Sunday afternoon. Kenyan Drake suffered a broken ankle last week, ending his 2021 campaign, which could open up more volume for Richard in the passing game.
As a perennial third-down specialist, Richard is facing a Kansas City defense that has yielded the fourth-most receiving yards and sixth-highest receptions to enemy RBs this season, which bodes well for his potential in this AFC West showdown. If Richard is back from the inactive list — which is highly likely — he could be worth a flex stab in PPR formats or as your RB2 if truly desperate.
Will Dissly, TE - Seahawks
This recommendation is based on dog-house potential for Gerald Everett. Dissly’s fellow TE was responsible for all three of Seattle’s turnovers in last week’s contest and could find himself watching from the sidelines on Sunday in Houston.
Dissly is averaging just 2.3 targets per game this season but saw six total in Weeks 4 and 5 when Everett was inactive and on the COVID-19/reserve list. The 25-year-old has seen three balls inside the red zone this season, with his only touchdown coming within the 10-yard line.
Starting Dissly this week is a shot in the dark, but one that could pay off if the Seattle coaching staff holds grudges.