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Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business,
but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious
selections to help your team from week to week while you strive
to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs and win the
elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While
I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster,
the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes
to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll
highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can
help your squad and may still be available in your league.
Injuries to Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews
should provide more opportunities for Smallwood.
Flacco, BAL – Many fantasy rosters will return to full
strength this week, relegating Flacco to the waiver wire, but
he’s got a decent matchup and his WR corps is looking surprisingly
healthy. The Bengals secondary flummoxed the Bills in Week 11
but Flacco (30-60 percent owned) has more weapons at his disposal
and his team doesn’t commit as many penalties as the foot-shooting
Bills. I’d give Flacco (who managed 269-1-0 against Dallas in
Week 11) a look in deeper formats this week.
Tannehill, MIA – Tannehill (25-50 percent owned) took
a while to get going, only eclipsing the 100-yard passing mark
about halfway through the fourth quarter against the Rams, and
finishing with 172-2-1 and 19 rushing yards. But he did manage
an impressive comeback victory against a decent NFL defense and
gets an juicy matchup against the Niners in Week 12. He’s a worthwhile
option in two-QB leagues but without the bye weeks he’s probably
not a guy you want to roll out in 12-team leagues considering
his low floor and low ceiling.
Bradford, MIN –UPDATE:
The Vikings running game is paltry, but they’ve got a bevy of
solid WRs and playmakers and one of the better TEs in the league
in Kyle Rudolph. This bodes well for Bradford’s prospects on Thanksgiving,
when the Vikings travel to Detroit to face the Lions. He’s not
an obvious top-ten option, but he might come in handy in 12-team
leagues or deeper formats this week.
Barkley, CHI –UPDATE: We had Cutler here yesterday
morning but with the news he’s likely got a torn labrum
and could sit out the rest of the season, we’re replacing
him with Barkley, who is a longshot for reliable fantasy production
but someone who could post decent numbers this week facing the
Titans. Barkley is 36-for-64 for 381 yards in his NFL career,
and has yet to throw a TD pass as a pro despite six INTs. But
he’s still in the league, and he’ll have some time
to prepare for the matchup with Tennessee.
Taylor, BUF – Taylor was one of the biggest fantasy
disappointments this week among QBs, throwing for just 166-0-1
and rushing for 39 yards in the win over Cincinnati. It was his
worst game since Week 1. There is a chance he and the Bills get
Sammy Watkins back in Week 12 for a homecoming game with Jacksonville,
which would boost his value.
Bortles, JAC – Bortles 202-2-2 wasn’t much of a fantasy
revelation, but it was better than what Tyrod could manage. As
I mentioned, he’ll square up against a tough Bills defense in
Kaepernick, SF – Kaepernick turned in a solid fantasy
effort in a difficult matchup with New England, throwing for 206-2-0
(32 rushing yards) and avoiding a turnover for the second consecutive
week. He probably should’ve been the starter in San Francisco
UPDATE: Kaepernick might be the best guy to add based on upside,
but there’s also the possibility that this game becomes
a grind without too much fantasy goodness. Beware.
Jennings, NYG – He’s owned in just 75-90 percent of
fantasy leagues – a percentage that’s likely to increase to nearly
100 percent after a solid Week 11 performance (85 rushing yards,
TD; 5-44-0 on six targets). He’s the number one Week 12 add if
available, and that includes Rob Kelley and Thomas Rawls (more
on them later).
Hightower, NO – He’s owned in just 50-80 percent of
fantasy leagues because he was in a timeshare with Mark Ingram
(possible concussion), but he’s likely to get a few more carries
going forward (and a lot more if Ingram misses additional time).
A veteran back with versatility in various sets, Hightower is
a must-own in all formats.
Smallwood, PHI – Ugh – I had the chance to pick up
Smallwood in a 14-team league on Sunday morning to fill the second
of two RB slots (I had Devontae Booker, Matt Forte and Bilal Powell
on bye) and opted for Benny Cunningham. Smallwood (10-25 percent
owned) rolled for 48 rushing yards on 13 carries and 4-31-0 on
five targets after both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles went down
with injuries. He’s worth adding in all 12-team (and larger) leagues.
UPDATE: Mathews is supposedly day-to-day and Sproles looks like
a probable go – but Smallwood will likely get the kind of
touches that went to Rob Kelley on Sunday night when he shredded
the Packers front-seven. He’s an RB2 with some upside and
great flex play this week.
Gillislee, BUF – LeSean McCoy (finger) had surgery
and is expected to play in Week 12, but Gillislee (14 carries,
72 rushing yards) did most of the heavy lifting after McCoy went
down early in the Bills win over Cincy. Stay tuned.
Ivory, JAC –UPDATE:There’s
not a ton of upside here, but if T.J. Yeldon is out we’ll likely
see Ivory dominate touches against the Bills. Again, Ivory has
failed at just about every opportunity to make an impact despite
Yeldon’s inefficiency and the lack of other viable options, but
he could get 20 touches this week.
Burkhead, CIN –UPDATE:Burkhead
is a gamer who’s used every opportunity o get on the field, and
he’ll likely get a lot of passing down work the rest of
the way with Giovani Bernard out with a torn ACL. He’s worth
grabbing in 12-tem and deeper leagues.
Rawls, SEA – If you didn’t pick up Rawls this week
(57 rushing yards, 3-31-0 on four targets), you likely missed
out on the waiver wire pickup of the late season – as his ownership
is now over 80-90 percent and he’s expected to shoulder much of
the load going forward with C.J Prosise (shoulder) going down
at the end of the first half against Philly. Although only about
15-30 percent of fantasy owners started him in Week 11, he’ll
be good to go in nearly all formats next week facing the Bucs.
UPDATE: Rawls was admittedly “banged up” after Sunday’s
win, according to Pete Carroll, so he’ll get some maintenance
this week and should be ready by the weekend.
Kelley, WAS – Rawls might have more latent value, but
Kelley is looking like a bona fide fantasy stud – rolling for
137 rushing yards and three TDs in the win over Green Bay. He
exploded in the fourth quarter, when most of his points came on
some big impressive runs and TD plunges, but Thanksgiving provides
another prime opportunity for him to rack up some fantasy points.
The Cowboys have been tough against the run, but I expect a lot
of Kelley in this matchup as the Redskins try to grind out a win.
Prosise, SEA – Prosise was on his way to huge fantasy
day (four carries for 76 yards and a TD; 2-5-0 receiving on three
targets) before the shoulder injury knocked him out. He’s now
almost universally owned but fantasy owners will need to stay
tuned on his status in the coming days.
UPDATE: Prosise’s shoulder injury could be season-ending,
and he’ll miss the next several games at a minimum. He’s
safe to drop in redrafts.
Williams, MIA – Williams was conspicuously absent from
the box score, registering only a target in the win over Los Angeles.
Perhaps Ajayi is more of a one-man gang than anybody anticipated.
Toussaint, PIT – With DeAngelo Williams’ recovery now
ahead of schedule (he had surgery to trim the meniscus in knee
and will miss Week 12 but possibly return in Week 13), Toussaint
is not a necessary handcuff.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
LaFell, CIN – LaFell hauled in just 4-32-0 in Week
11 but with A.J. Green (hamstring) and Giovanni Bernard (torn
ACL) out for the rest of the season, the Bengals will see more
targets going to him, TE Tyler Eifert, WR Tyler Boyd and even
RB Rex Burkhead. LaFell and Eifert offer the most upside in the
UPDATE: Green’s hammy isn’t as bad as previously
thought, but he’s not playing this week, giving LaFell a
more temporary boost but a boost nonetheless.
Mitchell, NE – Mitchell had 4-98-1 on five targets
and may have a difficult time repeating those numbers as the rest
of the backs, wide receivers and Rob Gronkowski get healthy but
he’s worth mentioning for dynasty and deeper leagues. He’s universally
available in redrafts and looked good in Week 11.
UPDATE: Tom Brady praised Mitchell this week and he could be
in line for more targets. He’s definitely looking better
as we get more info on his relationship with the veteran QB.
Sharpe, TEN – Sharpe (10-20 percent owned) played in
the majority of snaps alongside Rishard Matthews in Week 11 and
is starting to reinsert himself into the collective fantasy consciousness
with TDs in consecutive weeks. The rookie from UMass is a borderline
12-team add but should be owned in deeper formats.
Boyd, CIN – Boyd’s 6-54-1 in Week 11 demonstrated he
can be an effective receiver when he gets targets. The rookie
is owned in just 5-15 percent of fantasy leagues and will be utilized
more in the coming weeks as a third down chain mover and slot
Clay, BUF – Clay had just 5-23-0 on seven targets in
Week 11, but the Bills need to get him more involved and look
his way in the red zone more often. I anticipate that might happen
in Week 12 against the Jaguars, when he’ll be a mid-tier TE2.
Fiedorowicz, HOU –UPDATE: Brock Osweiler really seems
to like throwing to his big TE, and he’s a bona fide TE1
heading into this week’s matchup with the Chargers. Fiedorowicz
hauled in 6-82-0 on 10 targets in Week 11.
Kerley, SF – Kerley was held without a catch on six
targets in Week 11, and I’m flabbergasted. This was monumental
failure in just about every aspect and I won’t be recommending
him again anytime soon.
Hill, KC – Hill had 4-53-0 on eight targets Sunday
and will likely remain involved in the offense even when Jeremy
Maclin returns. He’s a versatile and dynamic and a breath of fresh
air in such a conservative offense.
Garcon, WAS – Wow! Garcon’s 6-116-1 came in a game
where DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder were all
active and involved. The Washington offense is no joke right now,
and Garcon is a boom-bust option with decent upside.
Parker, MIA – Now this is more like it! Parker’s 8-79-1
on 10 targets against a tough Rams defense showed he can be a
solid fantasy producer. He’s only about 40-65 percent owned and
is a decent WR3/flex option next week facing the 49ers.
Bennett, NE – Bennett’s putrid Week 11 performance
(1-14-0 on two targets) busted countless DFS lineups and helped
to put a few notches in the loss category in season-long leagues.
Next week provides a more difficult matchup against the Jets,
but maybe he’ll at least have more than two targets.
Rogers, PIT – The Steelers game plan in windy Cleveland
was to run LeVeon Bell, and run him they did. Rogers finished
with 4-20-0 on six targets and makes a fine WR4/flex option in
Week 12 facing the Colts.
Meredith, CHI – Meredith (50-75 percent owned) had
just 4-49-0 on four targets from Cutler in Week 11, but the loss
of Miller puts him again in a good spot for more targets. The
Bears should look his way often in Week 12.
UPDATE: I’m not anxious to play Meredith with Cutler out
this week but he could be worth a WR4 play in deeper formats.