Waiver Wire: Week 12

Adam Levitan
Adam Levitan has notes on 29 guys to consider adding to your squad, including a healthy Miles Austin

Waiver Wire: Week 12

Adam Levitan has notes on 29 guys to consider adding to your squad, including a healthy Miles Austin

It’s time to start thinking long and hard about schedules.

As we approach Week 12, the playoffs are on the horizon and it’s become very clear cut which aspects of the game defenses excel at. We don’t want quarterbacks and receivers against the Seahawks, for example. We do want quarterbacks and receivers facing the Lions, Redskins and Cowboys. Plan ahead when making your adds.

On to this week’s assets. Here is how I would rank the top players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues at each position. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow below.

1. Josh McCown
2. Case Keenum
3. Carson Palmer
4. Scott Tolzien

Running backs
1. Bobby Rainey
2. Donald Brown
3. Chris Ogbonnaya
4. Montee Ball
5. Toby Gerhart

Wide receivers
1. Rishard Matthews
2. Nate Burleson
3. Miles Austin
4. Michael Crabtree
5. Rod Streater
6. Marquise Goodwin

Tight Ends
1. Rob Housler
2. Delanie Walker
3. Garrett Graham
4. John Carlson
5. Joel Dreessen
6. Ladarius Green

Defense/Special Teams
1. Saints
2. Packers
3. Raiders
4. Lions

1. Dan Bailey
2. David Akers
3. Robbie Gould
4. Ryan Succop

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 12. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

1. Josh McCown, Bears – Owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jay Cutler has already been ruled out for Week 12 and is wearing a hard cast on his left ankle/leg. It suggests he’ll almost certainly miss Week 13 as well and can’t be counted on for Week 14 either. “We’re gonna be very, very careful,” said coach Marc Trestman. One of the reasons Trestman can be so careful is because of the play of McCown. Through four appearances this season, he’s completed 61-of-101 passes for 754 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Even against a very good Ravens defense in miserable weather Week 11, he threw for 216 yards with a score. Now McCown gets to face the Rams in Week 12, Vikings in Week 13 and Cowboys in Week 14 if Cutler isn’t back.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Case Keenum, Texans – Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues
Gary Kubiak made a mistake by yanking Case Keenum in favor of Matt Schaub during the third quarter of last week’s loss to the Raiders. He admitted as much when he named Keenum his Week 12 starter. And even though the shine is beginning to wear off on this “local boy done good” story, the matchup this week is what we’re latching onto. The Texans will host a Jaguars team that has the No. 29 yardage defense, No. 31 scoring defense and No. 24 pass defense. After the Texans face the Patriots in Week 13, they’ll go to Jacksonville for a rematch in Week 14 – the first week of the fantasy playoffs in many leagues. Kubiak is highly unlikely to turn back to Schaub at any point going forward.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues
Carson Palmer has been atrocious against the Saints, Bucs, Panthers, 49ers and Seahawks. But in the other five games this season, he’s completed 111-of-171 passes (64.9 percent) for 1,407 yards (281.4 per game) with nine touchdowns against four interceptions. It’s obvious that he’s a shell of himself, but he can still win in against inferior opponents. Palmer gets the Colts No. 16 pass defense this week, then the Eagles (31) and Rams (14). Just be sure you have a different option at the ready for the fantasy playoffs, as Arizona faces Tennessee’s elite corner duo in Week 15 and the Legion of Boom in Week 16. Both are on the road.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Scott Tolzien, Packers – Owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues
Scott Tolzien has performed far better than his numbers show (one TD, five INTs) through two games. More than just a check-down and quick slant guy, he’s averaging a healthy 12.8 yards per completion. It makes him a better fantasy bet than someone like Alex Smith, who is averaging just 10.2 yards per completion and 214.9 yards per game. Tolzien will start again in Week 12, this time with the best matchup he’s seen yet. He gets a Vikings secondary that ranks 29th in the league, and gets them at Lambeau. Just note that Aaron Rodgers could be back for Week 13.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a possible plug-n-play

Watch List: Mike Glennon, Jay Cutler, Jason Campbell, E.J. Manuel, Ryan Tannehill, Matt McGloin – The Lions give up tons of yardage to opposing pass offenses, making Glennon worth a look as a desperation spot-starter. … Cutler is worth stashing if you need a QB just in case he plays in Week 14 (vs. DAL) and Week 16 (at PHL). … Campbell won’t be a good play against Pittsburgh this week, but he gets the Jags in Week 13 and the Bears in Week 15. … The up-and-down Manuel was up against the Jets. He’ll face the disintegrating Falcons after the bye. … Tannehill has a god-awful schedule, a woeful offensive line and zero chemistry with his No. 1 wideout. … McGloin is likely to hold off Terrelle Pryor and get the nod for Week 12, but he’ll likely crash to earth against the Titans.    

Editor’s Note: For more waiver thoughts and news from around the league, follow Adam Levitan, Rotoworld Football and our dominant News Page.

Keep reading for notes on the running backs, wideouts, tight ends, kickers and defenses.

1. Bobby Rainey, Bucs – Owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues
I was dead wrong in this space last week regarding the Bucs backfield and for that, I apologize. I thought that Brian Leonard, as the more trustworthy back in pass protection and as a receiver, would lead the “ham and egg” committee. I didn’t think that Bobby Rainey, who was cut by both the Ravens and Browns earlier this season, was capable of the 30/163/2 line he put up in Week 11. It went against my normal instinct to lean toward the more explosive, higher upside player than the safe option. Regardless, we now have some clarity. Rainey went off against a pathetic Falcons defense, but our Evan Silva saw serious juice and likened him to Ahmad Bradshaw. It’s high praise. Rainey, now a good bet for at least 70 percent of the touches, will be a flex play against the Lions in Week 12.  
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Donald Brown, Colts – Owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues
I wrote about the Donald Brown vs. Trent Richardson situation in last Friday’s Daily Dose. The bottom line is that since the big trade eight games ago, Richardson is averaging 2.83 YPC and Brown is at 6.10 YPC. The tipping point was Thursday night, when Brown sparked the Colts’ comeback in Tennessee and finished with a 14/80/2 line to go with a game ball. The coaches wanted to win the game, and handing the ball to Brown gave them a better chance to do so. Expect a hot-hand situation going forward, and I’ve seen nothing so far this year to suggest Richardson will get even a warm hand. Even though he won't start and Richardson isn't fading away, Brown is a better bet as a desperation flex play.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns – Owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues
During the Browns’ Week 10 bye, they pledged to get Chris Ogbonnaya more early-down carries. It made some sense with Willis McGahee predictably stuck in the mud all year. The Browns followed through on that pledge in Week 11, as Ogbonnaya rushed eight times for 69 yards and caught six passes for 30 yards while playing a backfield-high 48 snaps. He’s now averaging 3.8 catches per day over the last eight games and we can safely expect 6-10 carries weekly. With matchups against the Steelers and Jaguars on deck, there some deep league PPR appeal here.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team PPR leagues

4. Montee Ball, Broncos – Owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues
Perhaps the most encouraging moment of Montee Ball’s Week 11 was when he botched an early handoff from Peyton Manning – but the Broncos immediately came back to him on the following possession. It proves the team is willing to live with some mistakes from their rookie. In addition to his change-of-pace work, Ball has also emerged as a goal-line threat of late. He has three touchdowns over the last three weeks, coming from 1, 8 and 4 yards out. With the Broncos trying to save Knowshon Moreno’s legs a little for the playoffs, Ball will continue to mix in and threaten for vultures.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team non-PPR leagues

5. Toby Gerhart, Vikings – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
Adrian Peterson was not himself in the Week 11 loss to the Seahawks due to a groin injury. “Actually, it was bothering me a lot. … I’m going to try to get my rest that I need. … In my mind, I really don’t know how things will turn out deep into the week,” he said afterward. Peterson expects to play against the Packers and we have no reason to doubt him. But there’s always a chance that soft-tissue injuries don’t recover as quickly as expected and/or an aggravation. Toby Gerhart has proven to be a viable plug-n-play in the past when Peterson sits because of volume.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a handcuff

Watch List: Bernard Pierce, Brandon Jacobs, Dennis Johnson, Antone Smith, LeGarrette Blount – Pierce got 10 carries compared to 25 for Ray Rice Sunday. It’ll be even closer when Rice isn’t running so well. Also, let this serve as a reminder to get your handcuffs in order – that means Bryce Brown, Knile Davis, Christine Michael etc. … Jacobs is surprisingly taking the goal-line work ahead of Andre Brown. … Ben Tate keeps grimacing after big hits. It seems like we’re one shot away from Johnson starting. … The Falcons are talking up Smith as someone that will get more work after his garbage-time performance last week. It’s hard to believe them considering they’re not even getting Jacquizz Rodgers enough work. … Stevan Ridley has now fumbled eight times since the final game of the 2011 season.

1. Rishard Matthews, Dolphins – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
As expected, Rishard Matthews’ eruption on Monday Night Football in Week 10 was not a fluke. With the beleaguered Dolphins offensive line unable to protect – and chemistry between Ryan Tannehill/Mike Wallace lacking – the short routes to the slot are first reads. Before Brandon Gibson’s injury, he was averaging 4.8 catches for 53.6 yards with two touchdowns in six games. Matthews can sustain those kind of numbers going forward.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues

2. Nate Burleson, Lions – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Lions and Nate Burleson have taken every precaution possible with his broken forearm. In an effort to avoid a Rob Gronkowski kind of situation from last season, he’s sat out far longer than originally expected. But he’s been practicing for more than two weeks now and should be able to step right back into that No. 2 wideout spot opposite Calvin Johnson. I don’t see any reason why Burleson can’t immediately resume the kind of numbers he was putting up before the injury – 6.3 catches for 79.6 yards per game.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team PPR leagues
3. Miles Austin, Cowboys – Owned in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues
As the Cowboys come out of their bye, they’re expected to get Miles Austin back from his latest hamstring pull. Now the question is what will happen between him and rookie Terrance Williams. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Austin will step right back in as the starter and primary player in two-wide sets. Even though Dez Bryant has seen constant double teams over the last three games, Williams has produced just five catches for 118 yards (with two touchdowns). If Austin’s hamstrings really are 100 percent, he’s the more polished receiver.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Michael Crabtree, 49ers – Owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues
The return of Michael Crabtree is finally growing near. He practiced last Friday for the first time since his Achilles’ tear and is fully expected to be activated off the PUP list by Week 13. Don’t expect an immediate impact off such a serious injury as he’ll likely be on a snap count, but there’s stash appeal here. With Mario Manningham ineffective and Anquan Boldin inept, Colin Kaepernick desperately needs a difference-maker like Crabtree back. He faces the Falcons in Week 16, aka fantasy Super Bowl week.
Recommendation: Should be stashed in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Rod Streater, Raiders – Owned in 8 percent of Yahoo leagues
Matt McGloin showed far more NFL-caliber arm strength and anticipation than expected in his first career start. The beneficiary was Rod Streater, who posted a 6/84/1 line on a team-high eight targets. McGloin’s more NFL-style game fits better with Streater, who isn’t a burner like Denarius Moore but knows how to get open. The matchup against the Titans this week isn’t good, but the Raiders play the Cowboys in Week 13.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

6. Marquise Goodwin, Bills – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
With Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods both sidelined against the Jets, Marquise Goodwin stepped up with six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. A third-round rookie speedster, he’s making a serious case to get a bump in snaps even once those two starters get healthy. Goodwin would be higher on this list if the Bills weren’t on a bye this week.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Jerricho Cotchery, Mario Manningham, Cordarrelle Patterson, Aldrick Robinson, Seyi Ajirotutu, LaVon Brazill – Cotchery now has five touchdowns in his last three games. There’s red-zone chemistry with Big Ben. … Manningham has a great matchup with the Redskins this week, but his snaps were way down in Week 11. … Patterson’s season-high nine targets were encouraging, but Greg Jennings (Achilles) is expected back. … Robinson is a deep threat that could step in for Leonard Hankerson (knee). … Ajirotutu is Kennan Allen’s (knee) direct backup, but Allen should be fine. … Brazill played ahead of Darrius Heyward-Bey in the second half last week.

1. Rob Housler, Cardinals – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s taken far longer than anyone expected, but things are finally starting to click for Rob Housler. A strict pass-catching tight end that is rarely asked to block, he put up a 6/70/0 line on a season-high nine targets in Week 11. Over the last five weeks, Housler is averaging 4.4 catches for 45.2 yards and has scored one touchdown. At a thinned-out tight end position, that’s certainly serviceable. Housler faces Indy, Philly and St. Louis over the next three weeks.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Delanie Walker, Titans – Owned in 21 percent of Yahoo leagues
Delanie Walker’s resurgence with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fitzy loves to check the ball down with his noodle arm, and Walker runs short routes. It’s a contrast to the style of Jake Locker, who was more erratic short and tried to press the ball deeper with his big arm. Over the last two games, Walker has totaled 14 catches for 153 yards and scored twice. This week, he’ll face an Oakland defense that just got torched by Garrett Graham and then he gets to face the Colts again in Week 13.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Garrett Graham, Texans – Owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues
Here are Garrett Graham’s stat-lines in the five games since Owen Daniels’ leg fracture: 2/25/0, 3/38/0, 4/46/0, 2/18/0, 7/136/1. Obviously, one doesn’t fit here. Graham had a monstrous Week 11, overcoming an early fumble to take over as the No. 2 option behind Andre Johnson (DeAndre Hopkins was benched for mental mistakes). The state of the position makes Graham worth a look as a low-end TE1 this week because he’s playing the Jaguars, but I’m always wary of one-week flukes when a role hasn’t changed. Also note that Daniels is tentatively expected back Week 14.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. John Carlson, Vikings – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
In the two games since Kyle Rudolph’s broken foot, Carlson has totaled 12 catches for 167 yards with one touchdown on 12 targets. As noted last week, this is not some undrafted rookie without talent. Carlson was the No. 38 overall pick in the 2008 draft and was signed to a $25 million contract in 2012. If the Vikings had more stability at the quarterback spot, he’d be a more intriguing TE1 option. But as it is, he’s a desperation streamer – even against a Packers defense that’s fiving up the 11th most points to tight ends.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Joel Dreessen, Broncos – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
We went through this same drill last week as Julius Thomas was nursing an ankle sprain. This week, it’s a knee issue. If you saw the hit Thomas took on Sunday night, it certainly looked like the kind of play that sidelines a player for a week. For now, the Broncos are only saying he has a sprain and is “day to day.” Owners can protect themselves by adding Joel Dreessen, a lumbering kind of tight end that won’t do much after the catch. But he’d be playing with Peyton Manning, which would make him gold.
Recommendation: Should be owned as a handcuff

6. Ladarius Green, Chargers – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’ve had Ladarius Green on the Watch List for a few weeks now because he’s one of those guys who  merely needs a chance. Just some more playing time, or an injury in front, and he would blow up. There simply aren’t very many people on the planet that go 6’6/238 and have 4.4 wheels. Well, the Chargers are finally starting to get the message as Green has played on 42-of-140 snaps (30.0 percent) over the last two weeks. And in Week 11, he set career-highs with four catches for 81 yards. It should be enough for the Chargers to run some more “12” personnel featuring Antonio Gates as an in-line tight end and Green in the flex spot.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Fred Davis, Mychal Rivera, Brandon Bostick – I suspect Davis will dress and start if Jordan Reed (concussion) can’t get cleared. … Rivera might have something going with McGloin. Keep tabs on it. … Bostick is sharing the tight end routes with Andrew Quarless.

1. Saints – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
There’s a lot working favor of the Saints defense. First off, they’re facing an Atlanta team that is playing musical chairs along their offensive line due to ineptitude. Steven Jackson is running with a fork in his back. Matt Ryan has no downfield weapons and has been picked off nine times in the last four games. Second, the game is on Thursday night and we know how that typically favors the defensive side of the ball. And finally, Rob Ryan’s unit is actually playing good ball. They’re seventh in the league in sacks and fifth in scoring defense (18.3 points allowed per game).

2. Packers – Owned in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues
At 5-5 and on a three-game losing streak, Green Bay’s season is on the brink. If they’re not flying around the field like wild beasts in a home game against the Vikings on Sunday, they don’t have blood in their veins. The Vikings quarterback controversy between Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel is laughable, and Adrian Peterson (groin) is not near 100 percent.

3. Raiders – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Raiders are 17th in yards allowed per game (350.3) and 20th in points allowed per game (24.6). But when I get a chance to bet against Ryan Fitzpatrick on the road, I do it. In his career, Fitzmagic has a 52:38 TD-to-INT ratio at home and 45:47 mark on the road. Also, outside of the Nick Foles seven-touchdown massacre, Oakland’s defense has played well at home. They’ve held the Jags, Redskins, Chargers and Steelers to just 17.0 points per game.

4. Lions – Owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’m well aware that Mike Glennon has thrown just one interception in his last five games and Bobby Rainey is making Bucs fans forget about Doug Martin. But this is still a team that generated just 18.6 points per game in the first six starts of Glennon’s career. Going to Ford Field to face a defense that just got humiliated by Ben Roethlisberger won’t be easy.

1. Dan Bailey, Cowboys – Owned in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues
The only reason Dan Bailey is available in so many leagues is because the Cowboys are coming out of a bye. He’s clearly been a top-10 kicking option this season, knocking in four field goals from 50-plus (only Graham Gano has more) and going 17-of-19 overall. The spot is fine this week as the Cowboys travel to face the Giants.

2. David Akers, Lions – Owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues
David Akers is in a dome, at home, playing for the league’s No. 4 offense and facing the Bucs. The only thing that can go wrong here is more fake field goal calls from Jim Schwartz.

3. Robbie Gould, Bears – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
Kicking in a dome is ideal, and that’s where Robbie Gould will be this week as the Bears travel to St. Louis. The offense moves just fine with Josh McCown and Gould has at least two field goals in five straight games.

4. Ryan Succop, Chiefs – Owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues
A conservative offense like the Chiefs have often leads to field goal opportunities. That’s been true in the case of Ryan Succop, who is tied for 11th in attempts with 22 and is 5-of-5 from 40-49 yards out. This week, KC faces a Chargers defense that everyone moves the ball on – and they’re at home.

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