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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 12

By Matt Schauf 1:18pm EST 11/21/23

Waiver Wire Targets 

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12-Team Leagues

Roschon Johnson, RB, Chicago Bears

Rostered: 20%
Blind-bid recommendation: 10-15%
D’Onta Foreman left early in the third quarter of Week 11 with an ankle injury. That trimmed Chicago’s three-man backfield to two.

Johnson remained behind Khalil Herbert in the latter’s return from an ankle injury. But Herbert led the rookie by just 4 snaps (20-16) after Foreman’s departure.

Johnson still checked in well behind Herbert in carries, though:

  • 16-6 for the game
  • 12-5 in the second half

The rookie’s primary usage has come in passing-down situations. Chicago, of course, isn’t a great place for RB targets (including 0 in Week 11, with QB Justin Fields back).

But Johnson’s averaging a nice 4.5 yards per carry on the year and will stand a Herbert injury away from leading the backfield if Foreman remains out.

Jamaal Williams, RB, New Orleans Saints

Rostered: 19%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Alvin Kamara’s Week 9 downturn in playing time reversed in New Orleans’ last game, rebounding from 49% to 76% snap share. Williams’, of course, went in the opposite direction: 43% to 22%.

Since Williams’ return from a hamstring injury, we now have three games of that Kamara-heavy split vs. one that found their playing time close together. Williams has averaged just 5.5 touches over four games with Kamara.

Perhaps things change coming out of the bye. HC Dennis Allen said previously that he wanted to spread the backfield work more. But you shouldn’t bet on Williams becoming a standalone fantasy play while Kamara’s healthy.

So why’s he here? Williams is the handcuff in an offense averaging the 10th-most RB touches per game. That makes him worth stashing, whether you’re backing up Kamara or are otherwise set with RB starters.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Baltimore Ravens

Rostered: 29%
Blind-bid recommendation: 5-15%

Beckham Jr. holds a team-leading 20.5% target share over the past three weeks. His 4-116 receiving line against the Bengals on Thursday night beat his next-best yardage game this season by 60 yards. But it also followed Beckham’s first two games with a TD.

His string of three games with double-digit PPR points marks just the second time he’s sustained such a streak since 2019.

The Mark Andrews injury obviously opens up Baltimore’s target distribution the rest of the way. We don’t yet know if the shoulder Beckham hurt late against Cincinnati will affect his Week 12 status. But HC John Harbaugh said it shouldn’t affect the WR too long.

Check Shark Bites for the latest before your waivers run. It would be a shame for Beckham to miss a high-upside matchup with the Chargers this Sunday. After the Week 13 bye, though, Baltimore gets three positive WR matchups among the final four fantasy weeks.

Zay Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Rostered: 18%
Blind-bid recommendation: 5-15%

In his first game back since Week 5, Jones logged a 77% route rate with a 13% target share vs. the Titans on Sunday.

He’ll be an interesting fantasy option as he continues to get healthier. A big reason why Jones is appealing is because of the rapport he has with QB Trevor Lawrence in the red zone.

Despite only playing in four games this season, Jones ranks second on the Jaguars in targets from within the 20-yard line (8) just ahead of his teammate Christian Kirk (6).

Cade Otton, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rostered: 20%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-5%

Over the past five weeks, Otton has averaged 10.6 PPR points and ranked 15th among TEs in target share. That has tied him for ninth-most targets at the position over that span.

For the season, he has registered an 87% route and finished as the TE14 or better in half of his games.

He’s a particularly nice Week 12 option in his best remaining matchup. The Colts rank fifth-friendliest to TE scoring by our adjusted fantasy points allowed.

Otton can also be a solid rest-of-way option if you just lost Mark Andrews. Week 13 finds a Carolina defense that has funneled opponent production toward the run game. But then comes another high-end matchup with the Falcons and three straight fairly neutral spots.

Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens

Rostered: 4%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-5%

The ankle injury that likely ended Mark Andrews’ regular season pushes Likely into the Ravens’ lead role.

We saw that Thursday night, when Likely played almost every offensive snap after Andrews left. For the game, he led classmate Charlie Kolar in routes, 29-3. Likely drew just 2 official targets for the game but also had his only reception negated by a penalty. It’s also worth noting that he drew just 1 target in the only game Andrews has missed so far this season.

Last year was different. Likely played at least 50% of the snaps in three games and posted receiving lines of:

  • 6-77-1 on 7 targets
  • 1-24-1 on 5 targets
  • 8-103 on 13 targets

So what should we project him for the rest of the way? Anyone who says they know for sure is lying to you. The five games mentioned above show the wide range of potential outcomes.

The high end is why you should consider Likely on waivers if you have a TE need. The low end is why you shouldn’t overpay.

Minnesota Vikings DST

Rostered: 29%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-5%

The Vikings have quietly been pretty good on defense this year. They rank ninth in DVOA in total defense, vs. the pass, and vs. the run.

They also rank a solid 11th in fantasy points per game (ESPN scoring), bolstered by four games of 2+ takeaways among the past 6.

This week’s matchup with the Bears isn’t a gimme, as Chicago showed at Detroit last week. But it remains at least an upside spot.

If you grab Minnesota for that one, you should try to hold it through the Week 13 bye. After that come good matchups against the Raiders and Bengals.

Skip the Vikings against the Lions in Week 16, but a Week 17 home date with Green Bay looks attractive.

 

Deep Leagues

Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, Miami Dolphins

Rostered: 11%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Wilson was a healthy inactive vs. Vegas, but HC Mike McDaniel hasn’t lost faith.

“I see the same spirit, the same athlete,” McDaniel said of Wilson. “And he’s a guy I know will contribute for us this season and has been patient while he waits for an opportunity.”

McDaniel also noted Salvon Ahmed’s special teams value for why he played the RB3 role in Week 11.

Now, with De’Von Achane likely to miss time, there’s an opening for Wilson to earn back a role on one of the league’s top offenses. 

D’Ernest Johnson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Rostered: 0%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-2%

If you’re looking for a Travis Etienne handcuff, we’ll put our chip on Johnson over Tank Bigsby.

Johnson out-snapped him on Sunday (17-10) and beat him in routes run (10-0). Bigsby did out-carry Johnson, but all 9 of his carries came well into the fourth quarter. (Jacksonville won 34-14.)

The drawback here is a tough Jacksonville schedule, especially from Week 14-16. 

Still, Johnson’s likely one Travis Etienne injury away from seeing 12+ weekly touches, with primary receiving back duties.

Patrick Taylor, RB, Green Bay Packers

Rostered: 0%
Blind-bid recommendation: 1-2%

On Sunday, Green Bay lost Aaron Jones to another knee injury. They also watched reserve RB Emanuel Wilson sustain a shoulder injury.

Both guys are long shots to play on Thanksgiving, allowing Taylor a chance to play the RB2 role behind AJ Dillon. 

Taylor’s overall profile isn’t thrilling. He’s a 25-year-old undrafted free agent with 52 career touches. But on volume alone, he deserves a look from fantasy managers thin at RB. And Dillon’s lackluster play all year adds opportunity upside.

Green Bay’s schedule holds a couple of excellent RB matchups: Week 14 (at Giants) and Week 16 (at Panthers).

Tutu Atwell, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Rostered: 26%
Blind-bid recommendation: 3-5%

Atwell has been quiet since Cooper Kupp returned. That’s why Kupp’s Week 11 ankle sprain puts Atwell on the list.

Remember that Atwell averaged 8.7 targets, 67.5 receiving yards, and 14.4 PPR points per game from Week 1-4 without Kupp.

A Week 12 matchup vs. the Cardinals (29th in pass-defense DVOA) sets up nicely, if Kupp can’t go. It does sound like a short-term issue for Kupp, though, which decreases Atwell’s upside and value.

Greg Dortch, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Rostered: 0%
Blind-bid recommendation: 0-1%

Remember how Dortch popped off for some strong PPR lines in 2022? Think four games of 7+ catches.

Well, that guy returned in Kyler Murray’s second start of 2023. Dortch led Arizona in targets (8), catches (6), and yards (76). He ranked second among Cardinals WRs in routes (31, 1 ahead of Rondale Moore).

It’s important to note that rookie WR Michael Wilson sat out Week 11. His return would likely push Dortch back to No. 4 on the WR depth chart.

Any further missed time for a Cardinals WR, though, would give Dortch access to an excellent upcoming schedule.

 

Streaming Options

Gardner Minshew, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Three of the past four QBs to face Tampa Bay have racked up 30+ fantasy points. Five QBs have thrown for 320+ yards against them this season. And all five of those guys added at least 2 TD passes.

Minshew is never a guarantee for production and has come up short of 215 passing yards in each of his past three outings. But a Bucs defense that ranks fourth in rush DVOA and 19th against the pass could put the Week 12 spotlight on him.

We have gotten two games of 300+ passing yards from Minshew this season, and two games of multiple TDs. So we know he’s capable of delivering at times.

Donald Parham Jr., TE, Los Angeles Chargers

We’ll be watching Gerald Everett’s status this week to see if he’s ready to return. But he missed all three practices leading up to Sunday’s loss to the Packers.

Parham drew a season-high 6 targets, matched his season-high 4 receptions, and tallied a season-high 57 yards. His previous highs in all three categories came in the Week 8 game against Chicago that Everett missed.

New England Patriots DST

Even while delivering a breakout (for him) performance in Sunday’s win over the Commanders, Giants QB Tommy DeVito still took 9 sacks. He has been sacked on an absurdly high 21.6% of dropbacks this season.

Denver Broncos DST

The Broncos’ defense started the season horribly. It hasn’t advanced to being a “good” defense, but it has gotten a lot better. Just check out the weekly total-defense DVOA ratings (more positive equals worse D, more negative equals better D):

A Week 12 matchup with Browns rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson adds upside. Pittsburgh managed just 1 sack on him Sunday, but Baltimore put him down four times in the rookie’s previous start. And he has thrown 4 INTs vs. 0 TD passes.

New York Giants DST

We don’t even know as of this writing who will play QB for the Patriots this week. We do know it’ll be some guy who’s not very good. 

The Giants could get a better scoring matchup for defenses, because they’re the only team that ranks higher than New England in that category.

Tennessee Titans DST

Surprisingly, no Panthers play caller this year has been able to overcome the team’s horrible crew of skill-position players. Carolina has scored 15 points or less in four straight games and allowed 4.8 sacks per game over the past five contests.

Tennessee isn’t a good defense, but this is a high-floor, high-ceiling matchup.

 

Drop Candidates

These aren’t necessarily players you need to drop, but rather non-obvious candidates who can be dumped for better options.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Earlier this season, we were all just waiting for Stafford’s TDs to catch up with his otherwise good play – and for Cooper Kupp to unlock more upside.

Instead, Stafford’s performance has come down to meet the low TD totals. He hasn’t topped 231 passing yards in a game since Week 4. And Kupp’s now dealing with an ankle sprain.

Stafford’s not worth a look in starter considerations outside of 2-QB and superflex leagues, so there’s no reason to hold him.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

We’d be clinging to Boyd at least until Tee Higgins returns if Joe Burrow were still healthy. But with Jake Browning now taking over for Burrow, Boyd looks unlikely to do much for your team the rest of the way.

Browning’s debut included 8 completions and 3 sacks.

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Gallup remains rostered in 15% of Yahoo leagues and 20% on Sleeper. And that’s probably too much.

He hasn’t caught more than three passes in a game since Week 4, and has only reached 3 receptions in two of the six games since then.

Gallup has just 1 TD all year and three games of more than 31 yards. Just once of those has come since Week 4.

There might still be some hope for a minor 2024 rebound in dynasty. But forget about Gallup for 2023.

 

Dynasty Stash

Dontayvion Wicks, WR Green Bay Packers

Let’s go back to 2020, when Wicks’ college career took an unfortunate turn. 

In August, the Virginia sophomore suffered a Lisfranc (foot) injury that required season-ending surgery. This followed a freshman season with only three catches.

Fast forward to 2021 for an awesome comeback. Wicks tallied 57 catches, 1,203 yards, and 9 TDs across 12 games to lead the team in receiving. That was only 16.3% of the team's total catches yet 25.6% of the receiving yards and 29% of the receiving TDs.

Wicks regressed in 2022, when he had to learn a new offense and missed two games with a bone bruise. He scattered 30 catches, 430 yards, and two scores across eight appearances. 

Then came mixed results at the Combine.

At 6'1, 206 pounds, he clocked an ugly 40 time: 4.62 seconds. He showed explosiveness in the jumping drills, though, with an 86th-percentile vertical, plus a 91st-percentile broad jump.

Green Bay saw enough to select him in Round 5, despite securing Jayden Reed (plus two TEs) on Day 2. 

Early Success

That move is starting to pay off, with Wicks up to 12 catches for 219 yards over the past four weeks. Isolate Week 11, and you’ll find a breakout 3-91 line (5 targets) on only 15 routes. All three catches went for 25+ yards.

Now, he remained fourth in WR routes last week with 15, well behind Christian Watson (36), Jayden Reed (34), and Romeo Doubs (33). He also landed in the concussion protocol heading into Week 12.

But if Wicks’ efficient play continues, he could work his way into a bigger role by 2024. We also wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers look into other QB options as soon as this offseason.

 

How to Win Your Season

Working the waiver wire well is just one piece in successfully managing your team. Jared and Matt talk through more in this video.

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