Week 12 Waiver Wire Pickups (2020 Fantasy Football)
There are far too many familiar faces among Week 12’s waiver-wire pickups.
It’s never a great sign to be a frequent member of a waiver-wire column. When someone truly breaks out like rookies Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson, Chase Claypool, and James Robinson have, you’re lucky to get more than one chance to claim them. Anyone still eligible for this space on multiple occasions has either fallen short of a true breakthrough or fallen back down to earth after an early outburst.
This late into the season, few burgeoning players are rocketing toward stardom. Attrition largely leads to backups getting a brief chance to shine, or at least compile enough volume to help as a serviceable flex play. In many cases, it feels more like patching over a hole than finding a significant fix.
Far more of these players than not have appeared in this column at some point this season. The headliner, however, is another newcomer gradually joining Jefferson and Claypool as another standout first-year wideout. Not enough fantasy managers have taken notice over the past two weeks, but that should change prior to Week 12.
Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.
Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 12
Michael Pittman Jr. (WR – IND): 43% Rostered
This should be the last call on Pittman. Listed as a top waiver target last week as well, the rookie deposited a 45-yard touchdown against the Packers. That gives him 244 yards over the past three games, so it looks like the Colts finally have a wide receiver worth using in favorable matchups. The Titans — whom Pittman just posted 101 yards against in Week 10 — and Texans present just that over the next two weeks.
Taysom Hill (QB – NO): 42% Rostered
Even if he hadn’t attempted a single pass in his first career NFL start, Hill would have accumulated 16 fantasy points on the strength of 51 rushing yards and two touchdowns (and a fumble). While he certainly wasn’t Drew Brees through the air, the polarizing playmaker exceeded expectations by completing an economical 18 of 23 pass attempts for 233 yards. As a result, he finished Week 11 as the QB3 behind Deshaun Watson and Justin Herbert.
Even without TE eligibility, Hill is an intriguing fantasy weapon. Last weekend’s line resembled a good version of what we’ve seen out of Cam Newton this year, and the Saints will quickly face the Falcons again in Week 13 after another opportune matchup at Denver. Plenty of volatility remains in the untested 30-year-old, but Hill is a high-upside QB2.
Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG): 45% Rostered
Since returning from a foot injury, Shepard has at least six catches in each of his four games. Dating back to 2018, he has received at least six targets in 21 of his last 22 contests. He drew four targets in Week 2 before leaving early with the ailment that cost him four weeks. Managers outside of PPR leagues may still not care, as he has mustered just 295 receiving yards and one touchdown in six games this season. Yet 47 yards represents his full-game floor in 2020, and the 27-year-old could raise his ceiling in upcoming matchups against the Bengals and Seahawks.
Gus Edwards (RB – BAL): 29% Rostered
The Ravens placed J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II on the COVID-19/reserve list Monday after both reportedly tested positive. This could be a moot point, as this outbreak puts Baltimore’s Thanksgiving Day game in jeopardy. Yet should the Ravens still play, and if Edwards doesn’t have to isolate as a close contact to his fellow backfield mates, he’ll get a full plate of rushing opportunities.
With Ingram out of action in Week 8’s loss to the Steelers, Edwards etched out 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. That’s despite Dobbins also receiving 16 touches on more than double the snaps (54 to 26). Baltimore is on track to lead the NFL in rushing attempts for the second straight year; the problem is three backs and Lamar Jackson have shared those runs all year. Edwards would likely draw at least 15-20 handoffs if playing without Dobbins and Ingram this week. Justice Hill, a popular 2019 sleeper who has yet to touch the ball this season, could warrant a deep-league dart throw.
James White (RB – BAL): 40% Rostered
Rex Burkhead suffered a gruesome injury in Week 11’s loss to the Texans. While there’s no word yet on his status, the Patriots initially feared a torn ACL. With Burkhead removed from action, White reclaimed his old role to match a season-high nine targets on his highest snap rate (57%) of the season. You’ve surely heard the line about not trusting New England running backs by now, but White caught 159 of 218 targets for 1,396 yards in 2018 and 2019. He should close out the season as the pass-catching complement to Damien Harris, which would once again make the 28-year-old a valuable PPR depth piece.
Notable Players 36-50% Rostered
Curtis Samuel (WR – CAR): 50%
The Samuel hype came to a sudden stop when Tampa Bay stymied him to eight yards on five targets in Week 10. He bounced back with one of his strongest performances to date. Playing alongside P.J. Walker, Samuel converted a season-high 10 targets into 70 receiving yards and his fifth touchdown in as many games. He’s now offered at least 14 fantasy points in four of five contests since missing Week 6 with a knee injury. While the frequent end-zone trips have certainly helped, he’s also compiled 35 targets and 11 carries during that timeframe. Samuel just makes the cut at 50% rostered, though it’s worth noting that another namesake, Deebo Samuel, is another enticing add rostered in 51% of Yahoo leagues.
Carlos Hyde (RB – SEA): 46%
Chris Carson is expected back this week, which would quickly strip Hyde of any newly earned fantasy utility. If Carson is a full-go in Tuesday’s practice, his backup would be no more than a handcuff add out of caution. Yet any setback to Carson would vault Hyde back into short-term RB2 territory. When returning to Seattle ahead of Carson last Thursday, Hyde parlayed 14 carries into 79 yards and a touchdown.
Derek Carr (QB – LVR): 36%
While Hill had a huge Sunday, he actually delivered fewer fantasy points than the NFL-worst 29.5 that Atlanta relinquished to quarterbacks prior to Week 11. Carr, meanwhile, snapped out of a three-game funk to register 275 passing yards and three touchdowns in a tough Sunday Night Football loss to Kansas City. Few fantasy managers will need a quarterback streamer with no teams scheduled for a Week 12 bye, but Carr is a tempting option for those needing to replace Brees or Joe Burrow.
Notable Players 10-35% Rostered
Daniel Jones (QB – NYG): 28%
Prior to the G-Men’s Week 11 bye, Jones began to find more fantasy success with his legs. The second-year quarterback notched at least 18 fantasy points in three of his last four games, led by a season-high 22 in Week 10’s win over the Eagles. Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson are the only two signal-callers to compile more rushing yards than Jones, who will get two golden road matchups to make more magic through the air against the Bengals and Seahawks.
Tevin Coleman (RB – SF): 21%
The 49ers could receive some reinforcements following their Week 11 bye. They’ll need all the backfield help they can get with injury replacements Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty getting injured. But before investing too much of your budget on Coleman, Raheem Mostert could return alongside him. That would likely subject Coleman to a secondary role, which he has succeeded in before under Kyle Shanahan.
Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL): 21%
Schultz’s 61 targets rank fifth among all tight ends. He’s 10th in receiving yards (408) at the position, but his fantasy value dwindled when going five games — starting with the Week 5 contest in which Dak Prescott got hurt — without a touchdown. That drought halted in Andy Dalton‘s return. Schultz’s 2020 numbers nearly mirror those of Hayden Hurst, who’s generally perceived as a low-end TE1. While he won’t swing a matchup in your favor, most managers can do far worse at tight end than Schultz.
Kerryon Johnson (RB – DET): 16%
When the Lions ruled out D’Andre Swift with a concussion, most Yahoo gamers added Adrian Peterson. The veteran entered Week 11 rostered in 54% of leagues, but anyone who tossed him into their starting lineup received just 18 rushing yards in a 20-0 loss. Although Johnson wasn’t much better, he at least paired his 17 rushing yards with 21 receiving yards and played more snaps (39) than Peterson (17). Even in a savory Thanksgiving matchup against Houston, Johnson or Peterson are no more than desperation flex plays.
Nelson Agholor (WR – LVR): 15%
For those waiting on more volume before buying Agholor’s breakout, here you go. The wideout set season-highs in targets (nine) and catches (six) Sunday night while scoring his sixth touchdown of the season. He has visited the end zone in five of his last seven games. The problem, of course, is that he produced eight and zero yards in the two outliers. Agholor is delivering a wild range of outcomes, but he’s also averaging an astronomical 18.5 yards per catch and a 14.4 average depth of target. Betting on the Las Vegas wideout could pay major dividends with the Raiders playing their next two games against the Falcons and Jets.
Jordan Reed (TE – SF): 14%
Reed emerged as last week’s premier pickup at tight end after hauling in five of six targets for 62 yards in Week 10. Nothing has changed following San Francisco’s bye. George Kittle isn’t coming back anytime soon, so his replacement is a viable starting option while healthy.
New York Giants D/ST: 10%
The Giants quietly possess a capable defense that has ceded just 103 points over their last five games. More importantly from a fantasy perspective, they’ve produced at least two sacks in every game this season in addition to a takeover in eight of 10 contests. With Joe Burrow out for the season, the Bengals suddenly become a top opponent to target for streaming defenses. Set to replace the No. 1 pick, Ryan Finley mustered a putrid 47.1% completion rate and 5.5 yards per pass attempts in three starts — all losses in which the Bengals combined to score just 33 points — last year. He went 3-for-10 with 30 yards and a pick after entering last Sunday’s game in the third quarter.
Breshad Perriman (WR – NYJ): 10%
The Jets may be a joke, but Perriman now has touchdowns of 50, 49, and 15 yards over his last two games. Those all came with Joe Flacco under center, and Sam Darnold could return Week 12. However, there’s plenty of deep-play upside on a team that’s always playing from behind. Also, there’s a real case for playing the former Ravens quarterback over a healthy Darnold. Looking way ahead, Perriman could swing the first round of fantasy playoff matchups with a Week 14 date at Seattle.
Notable Players <10% Rostered
Frank Gore (RB – NYJ): 9%
La’Mical Perine would have instead received a nod if not exiting Week 11’s game with a high ankle sprain that will sideline him indefinitely. Gore stepped up to score his first touchdown of the season while receiving double-digit handoffs for the fifth straight game. The 37-year-old remains more of a warm body in deep leagues, as the Jets will give reps to Ty Johnson and/or Josh Adams if Perine is out. They’ve at least moved the ball well enough in their last two games to actually create some red-zone opportunities for Gore.
Russell Gage (WR – ATL): 7%
Julio Jones exited Sunday’s game with hamstring tightness. Although he momentarily returned in the fourth quarter, the star receiver promptly hobbled off the field again after a catch. Playing most of Week 11 without Jones, Gage led the Falcons with seven receptions and 12 targets. Before getting too excited, Gage mustered just four combined catches for 42 yards in two games Jones missed earlier in the season. Those bouts, however, were against the Bears and Panthers. The Raiders, Saints, and Chargers could lead him to a bit more volume if Jones misses time.
Damiere Byrd (WR – NE): 2%
With all eyes on Jakobi Meyers, Byrd instead capitalized on a truculent Texans secondary. With Cam Newton transforming into a pocket passer and attempting his most throws (40) since Week 2, Byrd snagged six of seven targets for 132 yards and only the second receiving touchdown by a Patriots wide receiver this season. This air-heavy game was out of character for New England, and Meyers had dominated the target share prior to a quiet Week 11. Byrd, however, now has 16 targets over his last two contests and two other high-volume outings in Weeks 2 and 4. He also accounts for a whopping 32.86% of the team’s intended air yards, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Whether by choice or necessity, Bill Belichick may continue to dial up more passing to keep up with the Cardinals and Chargers in the next two weeks.
Jordan Akins (TE – HOU): 2%
Akins had averaged 32 yards per game before garnering 83 against the Patriots. It’s probably a one-off outing, but good luck finding many semi-reliable tight ends on the waiver wire.
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