Waiver Wire Week 12: Ride the Gus Bus to a Win

John Daigle
·22 min read



Welcome to the Week 12 edition of Waiver Wired for the 2020 season. With the fantasy playoffs fast approaching, it’s now or never to sever ties with any and all bench fodder and instead pivot to high-upside handcuffs and potential injury 'winners' at the tail end of your roster. We’ll also set our sights on viable one-week starters and options for the stretch run while discussing this week’s minefield of injuries and absences in-depth.

As a refresher, The Drop List consists of players who are rostered in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and are no longer must-have assets, recommended additions are available in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the Watch List contains in-depth notes on fringe waiver adds, and Deep Cuts includes player notes on those rostered in five percent or fewer of Yahoo leagues.

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The Drop List

QB: Drew Brees, Joe Burrow

RB: Joe Mixon, Devin Singletary, Mark Ingram

WR: Marquise Brown

TE: Mike Gesicki, George Kittle

Marquise Brown has become third in the pecking order of a poor passing game and it’s insane for us to continue thinking otherwise. Mark Andrews and Willie Snead, for example, have recorded higher target shares (23.7% and 21.9%) than Brown (14%) since Baltimore’s Week 7 bye while Snead has actually led Hollywood in air yards (232-219) in that time. Brown is one of only eight receivers with 20-plus targets 20 yards downfield this year, but that isn’t a selling point when those targets have registered the lowest catchable ball rate among that group (per Pro Football Focus). I have no issues dropping Brown for the top three receivers listed below...Joe Mixon (foot, injured reserve) suffered his injury in the second quarter of Week 6 against the Colts, was listed as questionable to return to that game, then came back out for nine more touches in the second half and hasn’t practiced since — a full month and three days without any football activities to speak of. Knowing coach Zac Taylor’s history in handling injuries and the team’s lost season without Joe Burrow (torn ACL) under center, I think we can safely part with Mixon expecting him to miss the rest of the year...Mark Ingram is dumbfoundedly being held onto in a majority of leagues despite finishing inside the top-24 at his position in only a single game all year. Note that J.K. Dobbins finally supplanted both Gus Edwards and Ingram on Sunday, logging season-highs in snaps (41, 63%) and touches (17) against the Titans.

Overall Top 5

1. Michael Pittman
2. Taysom Hill
3. Gus Edwards
4. Emmanuel Sanders
5. James White

For those looking to roster the best available player(s) regardless of position, the rankings above take into account every factor from the positional lists minus players’ actual positions. These are listed in the precise order I would prioritize waiver claims in Week 12. Adjust accordingly for what you need on your roster — touches, high-upside bench stashes, targets, one-week spot-starters, etc.

Quarterbacks

1. Taysom Hill
2. Derek Carr
3. Philip Rivers

Running Backs

Wayne Gallman rostered in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 1 add if available.
J.K. Dobbins rostered in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 3 add if available.

1. Gus Edwards
2. James White
3. Kerryon Johnson
4. Justice Hill

Wide Receivers

1. Michael Pittman
2. Emmanuel Sanders
3. Josh Reynolds
4. Jalen Reagor
5. Sterling Shepard

6. Nelson Agholor
7. Denzel Mims
8. Allen Lazard
9. Tim Patrick
10. Sammy Watkins
11. Willie Snead

Tight Ends

Dallas Goedert rostered in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues. No. 2 add if available.

1. Will Dissly
2. Robert Tonyan
3. Jordan Reed
4. Dalton Schultz
5. Anthony Firkser

Defense/Special Teams

1. New York Giants
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Washington Football Team
4. Seattle Seahawks

Kickers

1. Tyler Bass
2. Jason Myers
3. Rodrigo Blankenship

QUARTERBACKS

1. Taysom Hill, Saints — Rostered in 44 percent of Yahoo Leagues (Suggested 15-20% FAAB Bid)

Hill was a wildcard with an unknown floor heading into Sunday, so it makes sense that he’s still available in spots where he was not tight end-eligible. Now he’s earned our attention as a potential QB1 for the rest of the season with three carries (and two touchdowns) from inside the 10-yard line, an establish rapport with Michael Thomas (52.1% target share) and the third-most fantasy points of any quarterback in Week 11, not to mention going 6-for-6 while under pressure at the league’s seventh-highest rate (40%) against the Falcons. Some may chalk up his performance as a gift from Atlanta’s defense, but that’s just it: the Saints play the Broncos, who allowed 36 points per game in four contests prior to running into Miami’s lifeless offense, and the Falcons (indoors) again over the next two weeks. It’s smooth sailing for Hill until/unless Drew Brees (shoulder) returns since the 30-year-old’s rushing juice should prevent fantasy players from ever taking a single-digit performance under center. Although Baltimore’s schedule opens up for the fantasy playoffs, I still expect Hill to out-produce Lamar Jackson in fantasy points per game down the stretch.

2. Derek Carr, Raiders — Rostered in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

Game environment in Kansas City would never have allowed Carr to drop back and attempt fewer than 30 passes as he did on 24 attempts per game in Las Vegas’ three wins prior. And although that concern would rear its head if Julio Jones (hamstring) isn’t available to punch back, Carr should still be afforded multiple touchdowns against an Atlanta secondary that’s allowed the second-most passing yards (3,003) and completed air yards (1,854) on the sixth-most pass attempts per game from enemy quarterbacks this season. The Falcons are also one of only two defensive units to have allowed 300-plus fantasy points to foe signal-callers through Week 11.

3. Philip Rivers, Colts — Rostered in 49 percent of Yahoo Leagues (1-2%)

Rivers has steadied the ship since rumors of his demise through Indianapolis’ first five contests, finishing with 300 yards and/or three touchdown passes in four of his last five starts — the outlier coming against Baltimore’s stingy secondary. The Titans, however, are less of a problem with Jadeveon Clowney (knee) on injured reserve, Adoree Jackson (knee) struggling to return, and S Kenny Vaccaro still working his way through the league’s concussion protocol. Upgrade Rivers over Carr if Julio Jones is ultimately ruled out.

Watch List: There's always the chance Tua Tagovailoa is benched again, but there's no denying Sunday against the Jets is his softest test to date. New York is one of five teams allowing 8.0 yards per attempt through the air and have recorded the sixth-fewest sacks to date...Kirk Cousins' outlook always hinges on game script staying competitive (which entails stuffing Dalvin Cook). The Cowboys only managed to do so because Minnesota coughed up two fumbles and was flagged for six penalties in the first half...Baker Mayfield has attempted 23 passes or fewer in 4-of-5 games with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt available, but it's still an ideal matchup if you're desperate for SuperFlex help since Jacksonville could be short both C.J. Henderson (injured reserve) and Sidney Jones (Achilles') for the second straight game.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Gus Edwards, Ravens – Rostered in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 25-30% FAAB Bid)

J.K. Dobbins (finally) overthrew Mark Ingram and Edwards for season-highs in snaps (41, 63%) and touches (17) against the Titans, but it’s all a moot point since Dobbins and Ingram were immediately sent packing to Baltimore’s COVID list Sunday night. Edwards will instead lead the way on Thanksgiving, as he’s already done so once against Pittsburgh's front-seven in averaging 5.4 yards per carry on 16 rushes as the overall RB15 in Week 8. With only Justice Hill and perhaps practice squadee Ty’Son Williams available behind him, Edwards is one of the week’s safest bets for 20-plus touches in a grueling affair currently projected with the fourth-lowest total (45) of Week 12. Dobbins is still the priority (wherever applicable) for first-place rosters eyeing a stash ahead of the fantasy playoffs.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues while J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram are on the COVID list

2. James White, Patriots – Rostered in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues (10-12%)

To be clear, every domino fell in White’s favor on Sunday: Sony Michel (knee) was inactive, and Rex Burkhead (torn ACL) was lost for the year on New England’s opening drive of the second half while the team trailed by two scores for the last two quarters. Fortunately, we can easily project the Patriots’ game script against the Cardinals since its vastly overrated secondary has been dusted by competent quarterback play — Russell Wilson (288/5/1), Patrick Mahomes (266/2), Derek Carr (261/2), Deshaun Watson (344/2) — outside of the division. Burkhead’s absence paves the way for White to have that specific receiving-game role all to himself since Damien Harris has run only 10 routes all year.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

3. Kerryon Johnson, Lions – Rostered in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues (8-10%)

All seven of Adrian Peterson’s carries against the Panthers unsurprisingly occurred in the first half since Detroit’s offense tanked without Kenny Golladay (hip) and D’Andre Swift (concussion) from the beginning … and Thursday projects to play out the same against Deshaun Watson if both players can’t turn around for Week 12. That’s terrific news for Johnson, however, as he logged a season-high 39 (70%) snaps and 15% target share in perpetual negative game script sans Swift. Johnson can be glossed over altogether if Swift is removed from the league’s protocol prior to kick-off.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues if D’Andre Swift (concussion) is ruled out

4. Justice Hill, Ravens – Rostered in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues (2-4%)

We shouldn’t expect too much from Hill since he’s handled a single touch on 17 snaps all year. But the league’s COVID protocols state that a player can’t return to the team’s facilities until 10 days after testing positive. Hill thus becomes a viable stash to be ahead of since it’s possible Gus Edwards goes down Thursday night and neither J.K. Dobbins or Mark Ingram are able to return for Baltimore’s second consecutive Thursday kick-off against the Cowboys in Week 13. Hill otherwise isn’t expected to handle more than 4-6 touches out of necessity (including on Thanksgiving).

Recommendation: Should be stashed in 12-team leagues

Watch List: Carlos Hyde's presence Thursday night was enough to keep Alex Collins stashed on the practice squad, allowing the former to run wild with 16 of Seattle's 25 backfield touches. Hyde will continue to be the team's workhorse Monday night if Chris Carson can't get right by kick-off. For what it's worth, Pete Carroll has sounded extremely optimistic on Carson's outlook against Philadelphia...Cam Akers spiked a touchdown catch against the Bucs but played a backfield-low 12 snaps (17%) and ran fewer routes (5) than either Darrell Henderson (18) or Malcolm Brown (16)...David Montgomery (concussion) is trending towards suiting up for Sunday night against Green Bay. If he isn't able to get cleared from the league's protocol, though, reminder Cordarrelle Patterson handled 14 ineffective touches as Chicago's workhorse over Artavis Pierce (3) and Ryan Nall (2) before the bye.

Deep Cuts: Much like how Damien Harris was a speculative add (that eventually paid off) when he returned from injured reserve, Sony Michel is in those same shoes now that Rex Burkhead (torn ACL) is out for the year. You can't possibly start Michel in his first game back, but perhaps he's randomly used in the passing game more and thus becomes serviceable down the stretch. Pure speculation just in case you're looking for a deep stash.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Michael Pittman, Colts — Rostered in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 45-50% FAAB Bid)

I’ll keep it short since Pittman should have surged after last week’s breakout against the Titans. Simply put, he’s tied with T.Y. Hilton in targets (11, 15.7%) the past two games but remains the strongest option among Indy’s available wideouts since Pittman is actually able to turn his shallow targets (6.0 average depth) upfield for 7.1 YAC per reception; Hilton, who has yet to record 70 yards or a touchdown in any game this season, obviously can’t at this stage of his career. The rookie should be rostered in a majority of leagues ahead of the fantasy postseason if only for the Colts’ schedule (Raiders, Texans, Steelers, Jaguars) during that run.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 10-team leagues

2. Emmanuel Sanders, Saints – Rostered in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues (10-12%)

Sander’s box score against the Falcons excludes a negated 51-yard touchdown toss that would have sent his final numbers skyrocketing to 5/117/1 from Taysom Hill. If anything, Hill’s first start proved that Sanders is the team’s de facto deep threat while Michael Thomas continues getting peppered underneath.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

3. Josh Reynolds, Rams – Rostered in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues (8-10%)

Reynolds was upgraded as a priority among last week’s additions with the caveat he was a stash, rather than a unanimous start, ahead of Monday night’s less than stellar matchup against the Bucs. Now that that performance has come and gone (resulting in the WR62 for Week 11), Reynolds can sneakily be depended on again since he still leads Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods in end zone targets (2) and air yards (186) since the team returned from its Week 9 bye. There should be more than enough volume to appease all since Jared Goff has averaged 49.7 pass attempts (!) over his last three games.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

4. Jalen Reagor, Eagles – Rostered in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues (8-10%)

Travis Fulgham isn’t on this week’s Drop List for the same reason Reagor will likely be ranked as a WR3/4 for one more week: the Seahawks have been penetrated for a full 2.8 more fantasy points per game (33.8) by opposing wideouts than the next closest defense (Falcons, 31.0). Reagor has the edge over Fulgham since the former leads the team in red zone targets (2) ever since he returned to a full-time role post-injury in Week 10.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

5. Sterling Shepard, Giants – Rostered in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues (5-8%)

It’s flown under the radar among New York’s sluggish offense, but Shepard has accrued a 26.6% < 24.3% < 23.5% < 21.4% target share from Daniel Jones since returning from injury. Darius Slayton’s (shoulder) pending impact post-bye could also spike Shepard’s opportunities in the short-term.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team PPR leagues

6. Nelson Agholor, Raiders – Rostered in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues (5-8%)

There’s simply no need to chase Henry Ruggs week in and week out whenever Agholor’s on-field usage and opportunity — 27 targets to Ruggs’ 15 since Week 7 — have been outright better. The types of targets Agholor is seeing are also conducive to fantasy points since he leads Ruggs in red zone (5-1) and end zone (4-1) looks in that span.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

7. Denzel Mims, Jets – Rostered in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues (5-8%)

Even with Jamison Crowder back for New York’s last two games, Mims has led the Jets with 16 targets and a 31% target share. Breshad Perriman has scored three touchdowns on a mirrored number of end zone targets (2) to Mims in that time, suggesting the latter is also due for positive touchdown regression whether it’s Sam Darnold (shoulder) or Joe Flacco under center in the coming weeks.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 12-team leagues

8. Allen Lazard, Packers – Rostered in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues (3-5%)

Lazard was sparingly used against Indianapolis, playing a season-low 60% of Green Bay’s snaps and running fewer routes than Marquez Valdes-Scantling (37-26). Still, the latter’s coughed-up fumble could entail more reps for Lazard in his second upcoming game back from injury. The Bears, which have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers, still pin Lazard as a long-term stash rather than an immediate WR3 for Sunday. I would only rank Pittman above him if trying to prioritize for Weeks 14-16.

Recommendation: Should be stashed in 12-team leagues

9. Tim Patrick, Broncos – Rostered in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues (3-5%)

Patrick only eclipsed the century mark against Miami because Drew Lock heaved a meaningless 61-yard completion to him on Sunday’s final play. Even in removing that one play, though, Patrick has seen at least six targets in every full game dating back to Week 4.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

10. Sammy Watkins, Chiefs – Rostered in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues (3-5%)

Rostering Watkins ahead of his return to the field is an easy way to gain exposure towards Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense down the stretch. Watkins unsurprisingly averaged 8.0 fantasy points per game following his 7/82/1 eruption in the team’s season opener but was on the field for 76.7% of snaps before straining his hamstring in Week 5. Watkins is the stronger long-term stash over Patrick.

Recommendation: Should be stashed in 12-team leagues

11. Willie Snead, Ravens – Rostered in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues (1-2%)

As mentioned in the Drop List, Snead has seen more targets (25-16) and air yards (232-213) than Marquise Brown since the Ravens returned from its Week 7 bye. This is merely a chance to get ahead of that change in usage (for deeper leagues) before your league mates catch on.

Recommendation: Should be rostered in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Sunday was the first non-torrential wind game Cleveland has played since Odell Beckham (torn ACL) was lost for the year and Rashard Higgins notably doubled Jarvis Landry in targets (4-2). The fact Baker Mayfield has attempted 23 passes or fewer in 4-of-5 games with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt available this year still likely renders both Higgins and Landry unusable in the fantasy playoffs...Jakeem Grant has technically filled in for Preston Williams the past two games, seeing 11 targets to DeVante Parker's team-high 16, but it's clear the Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa can only support one receiver for fantasy.

Deep Leagues: This is probably more of a note for Thanksgiving's three-game DFS slate, but it's worth mentioning that Cam Sims ran 27 routes on Alex Smith's 28 dropbacks without Dontrelle Inman available Sunday...On that same note, Keke Coutee would rise as a high-floor dart if both Kenny Still (quad) and Randall Cobb (toe) are ruled out against Detroit...James Washington got the start in three-wide sets in place of Diontae Johnson (foot) in Week 6 and would do so again on Thursday if JuJu Smith-Schuster (foot) can't go. Washington actually led the team across the board in air yards (94), target share (30.4%), and end zone targets (2) in that spot-start...Jakobi Meyers actually ran more routes than Damiere Byrd (42-40) on Sunday despite the latter's outrageous 6/132/1 receiving line. Meyers remains the receiver to target in New England if games its offense is projected to rear back and throw.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Will Dissly, Seahawks — Rostered in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues (Suggested 5-8% FAAB Bid)

Greg Olsen (foot) was likely lost for the year on Thursday, but the Seahawks didn’t turn to a committee for the rest of the game; it simply leaned on Dissly for a season-high 65% of snaps over Jacob Hollister (13, 20%) the rest of the way. Note that the Eagles, Seattle’s opponent Monday night, have permitted the fifth-most catches to adversary tight ends (56) this year.

2. Robert Tonyan, Packers — Rostered in 49 percent of Yahoo leagues (5-8%)

If the Bears have been susceptible anywhere it’s over the middle to tight ends, which have averaged the 10th-most fantasy points per game (9.1) opposite Chicago. Tonyan has also seen at least four targets in three of his last four outings.

3. Jordan Reed, 49ers — Rostered in 26 percent of Yahoo leagues (5-8%)

Reminder that Reed ran 25 routes on Nick Mullens' 41 dropbacks before the bye, accruing a 16% target share only two weeks removed from returning from injured reserve. Even with Deebo Samuel (hamstring) likely back this week, Reed is a viable streaming option for as long as George Kittle (foot) remains out.

4. Dalton Schultz, Cowboys — Rostered in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues (2-4%)

Schultz isn’t the sexiest option to roll out weekly, but he has seen as many targets as Michael Gallup (15) on Andy Dalton’s 132 dropbacks this year. Consider Schultz a high-floor play if desperate for something, anything off waivers.

5. Anthony Firkser, Titans — Rostered in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues (1%)

Jonnu Smith (ankle) hasn’t missed a game this year but has exited early in a contest, allowing Anthony Firkser to rack up a team-high nine targets (21.9%) on 29 routes (63%) in Week 6 versus Houston. He would rank as the week’s No. 1 flier if Smith is ruled out for Sunday.

Looking Ahead: Cole Kmet quietly ran three more routes than Jimmy Graham, who still led the team in red zone targets, Monday night before the bye. Kmet is still stuck in tight-end purgatory in that the Bears want to feature him but still prefer Graham in the rare occasion its offense reaches inside the 20...The last time Gerald Everett started in place of Tyler Higbee (hand/elbow) the former came down with four catches for 28 yards and a touchdown. I would slide him to No.4 on the list above if Higbee were officially ruled out prior to kick-off...Jordan Akins logged a four-game high in snaps (31, 51%) and routes run (26) against New England. The only issue is that Detroit's offense isn't one capable of going point-for-point with Houston on Thursday if Kenny Golladay (hip) and D'Andre Swift (concussion) can't get cleared.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

1. New York Giants

Ryan Finley has rolled over for 15 sacks, three picks, and three lost fumbles on 119 career dropbacks the past two seasons. You know what to do.

2. Green Bay Packers

Whether it’s Nick Foles (hip/glute), Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder), or Tyler Bray under center for the Bears Sunday night makes no difference. In the end, the result is still pain.

3. Washington Football Team

The Cowboys may have patchworked a competent o-line in scooting All-Pro RG Zack Martin to right tackle and Joe Looney to center on Sunday, but that shift has only held up against a middling pass rush. Washington, on the other hand, has recorded the third-most sacks (32) on the league’s sixth-highest pressure rate this year.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Carson Wentz continues to struggle against … well, everyone, totaling the most interceptions (14), fumbles (10), and sacks taken (40) of any skill player in the NFL. Even Seattle’s defense should be able to get there on thin waiver wires.

Watch List: Matt Ryan finished as the QB27, QB23, and QB26 in the three games that Julio Jones (hamstring) was either absent or limited for earlier this year, putting the Las Vegas Raiders in play if the latter is ruled out...Pending when your fantasy playoffs commence, it's worth keeping an eye on the Rams' D/ST for stashing since it takes on the Patriots and Jets in Weeks 14 and 15.

KICKERS

1. Tyler Bass, Bills – Rostered in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues

Bass has continued to come through in Buffalo’s recent up-tempo schedule, scoring at least 14 fantasy points in three of his last four games. Note that the Bills are again implied with the highest team total (29.5) opposite the Chargers in Week 12.

2. Jason Myers, Seahawks – Rostered in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues

Like the Bills, the Seahawks’ team total (28) suggests Myers is in store for a busy day. The Eagles have also permitted the fourth-most red zone plays this year, perhaps lending Myers a handful of tries above expectation if Russell Wilson’s efficiency in that area continues to regress.

3. Rodrigo Blankenship, Colts – Rostered in 45 percent of Yahoo leagues

Blankenship has now sunk four-plus field goals in three consecutive games and notched double-digit fantasy points in 6-of-10 appearances. The Colts are currently implied with the sixth-highest team total (27) against the Titans Sunday.