Week 12 Waiver Wire: Digging deep to find pickups for playoff push

Thanksgiving Week is full of traps. We have three games occurring on a day when you probably won't be fully attentive to injuries, start times and late-breaking news. Let's try to stay focused. We also need to find replacements for our Chiefs and Cardinals this week, as those teams are on bye.

All things considered, we have a challenging week ahead. Below, you'll find a few priority pickups, all available in over 50 percent of leagues and approved for immediate use.

Wide receivers and tight ends to prioritize

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (9% rostered)

After various near-misses throughout the season, we finally got a monster splash play from Marquez Valdes-Scantling...

MVS has averaged 18.5 air-yards per target this season, tops in the league by a decent margin, yet he entered Week 11 with just one receiving score. He saw a season-high 10 chances on Sunday, catching four for 123 yards. Allen Lazard's absence (shoulder) surely contributed to the jump in targets for MVS, but, again, he's seen deep opportunities pretty much every week. Generally speaking, we like playmakers who see high-yield opportunities in explosive offenses.

Recommended waiver offer (assuming $100 budget): $8

Van Jefferson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (46%)

For a few short hours — immediately after the OBJ signing and before the Robert Woods injury — all those Van Jefferson Jr. fantasy drops were understandable. Jefferson certainly appeared to be the odd man out in the Rams receiving corps. But when Woods suffered a season-ending ACL injury in practice, L.A.'s receiving hierarchy obviously changed. Without question, Jefferson remains a key weapon in Sean McVay's offense. He played 95 percent of the snaps for the Rams last Monday night ahead of the team's bye, drawing seven targets. He's now seen at least six chances in each of his last four games.

Jefferson is averaging 13.2 air-yards per target over his 10 games, one of the highest rates in the league, so he's consistently seeing high-yield opportunities in an upper-tier offense. L.A. still has matchups ahead with several user-friendly pass defenses, including Jacksonville, Seattle and Baltimore. Keep Jefferson in your plans.

Offer: $7

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Jamison Crowder, New York Jets (20%)

Yup, it's come to this. Jamison Crowder saw another seven targets against Miami, a number he's reached or exceeded in three of his last four games. He hauled in six balls for 44 yards against the Dolphins, with a short score included. At this stage in Crowder's career, no one should doubt that he can be a solid PPR contributor when healthy. He's not as buzzy or flashy as rookie Elijah Moore (57% rostered), but he's much more likely to be available. If you're desperate for receiving assistance, the vet is a viable option against Houston's exploitable defense.

Offer: $5

Additional WRs to consider: Sterling Shepard (if he can return for the Philly matchup in Week 12, he'll have significant PPR appeal), Tim Patrick (back from bye and seeing enough volume to remain relevant), DeAndre Carter (touchdowns in three straight games keeps him on the radar), Cedrick Wilson (he saw seven targets against KC, catching four and dropping two; his services will be needed on Thursday, with Cooper and Lamb likely sidelined), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (coming off a 7-catch, 107-yard performance and his team's top receivers are banged up).

TEs deserving attention: Evan Engram (the Eagles are up next, and no defense has been so consistently torched by tight ends), Tyler Conklin (he's seen at least five targets in six of his last eight games), Dan Arnold (yeah, OK, so Sunday's zero was definitely sub-optimal; let's just recall that he'd topped 60 receiving yards in four of his previous five).

Quarterbacks to consider

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (51%)

Technically, no, Cam Newton is not quite available in a majority of Yahoo fantasy leagues. He was the emergency Sunday morning pickup for many of us when news broke that Lamar Jackson wouldn't play due to illness; that flurry of late adds nudged Cam's roster percentage just over 50. But we need at least one legitimately fun player to discuss this week and Newton remains a fantasy party. He passed for 189 yards and two scores on Sunday, completing 21 of 27 throws, plus he added a 24-yard rushing TD. His fourth quarter touchdown toss to Christian McCaffrey was an absolute gem...

Newton is obviously still an aggressive and willing runner, which gives him top-12 positional upside in any given week without regard to the opponent. He travels to Miami next Sunday, then gets a bye ahead of a matchup with Atlanta.

Offer: $11

Tyrod Taylor, Houston Texans (6%)

Tyrod Taylor only barely reached triple-digit passing yardage in Sunday's utterly unexpected win at Tennessee, but he reminded us that he's a pretty respectable rushing threat...

That 7-yard score was the first of his two rushing TDs against the Titans, as he reasserted himself as the most dangerous runner attached to Houston's crusty offense. It does not appear that Taylor is dealing with any lingering issues related to the multi-week hamstring injury that interrupted his season. We can't promise you a passing clinic from Taylor this week — he's tossed as many interceptions as touchdown passes thus far (3) — but his matchup against the Jets is awfully appealing. New York has allowed 8.4 yards per attempt through ten games.

If you're looking for a deep league streaming option, Tyrod can help.

Offer: $3

Other QBs of interest: Taylor Heinicke (it can be a rough watch at times, but he's the guy who gets to throw to Terry McLaurin and Seattle's D is up next), Jimmy Garoppolo (he's thrown multiple TD passes in three straight and his team's rest-of-season schedule is a gift), Tua Tagovailoa (he gets a date with Carolina this week, coming off a 27-for-33 performance).

Running backs on the wire

Latavius Murray, Baltimore Ravens (36%)

Just a dreadful week for waiver pickups. My apologies. Latavius Murray is pretty clearly not the guy who's gonna save anyone's fantasy season. He is, however, an ambulatory running back in line for 10-12 weekly touches in Baltimore's backfield, and that has modest value in our game. Murray returned from his ankle injury to handle 10 carries against the Bears and catch two passes on three targets. He gained just 33 scrimmage yards and was outplayed and out-touched by Devonta Freeman. Here's hoping you have better bench options.

Offer: $4

Various other add-worthy RBs: Rex Burkhead (he handled 18 carries against Tennessee on Sunday, but he went nowhere, rushing for only 40 yards), Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman (rookie Michael Carter is the unchallenged lead runner for the Jets, but he was forced out of Sunday's game with an ankle injury), Dontrell Hilliard (his head coach said he earned some sort of role moving forward following an 8-catch, 82-yard game on Sunday, but let's recall that he was simply filling in for the concussed Jeremy McNichols), Matt Breida (the only thing that could have made Buffalo's backfield committee worse is the addition of a third member).

Defense deserving attention

Chicago Bears (23%)

There's a decent chance we're going to get an Andy Dalton-Tim Boyle duel on Thanksgiving, which is plainly awful. Chicago's defense failed in the biggest moments on Sunday against a backup QB, so we don't want to over-promise regarding the unit's potential. But the Bears have also recorded 10 sacks over their past two games while generating a pair of takeaways. It's hard to imagine this Roquan Smith-led group will face-plant against the winless Lions.

Offer: $2

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