Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Alexander Mattison, Chuba Hubbard, Jamaal Williams (2021)
Unfortunately, this week’s waiver-wire column begins with two familiar running backs.
Although these two handcuff backs delivered when called upon earlier this season, many fantasy managers moved on when their star teammates returned. Dropping them has proved premature, as they’re in line to re-assume the reins from the again injured first-round superstars.
Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.
Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 13
Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN): 51%
Mattison’s rostered rate dipped below the midway mark on Sunday morning. Although an elite handcuff, he had ran for 33 total yards in five games since Dalvin Cook returned from an ankle injury.
Those who dropped Mattison, especially Cook managers, must now sprint to the waiver wire to bring him back. Cook is going to miss time after suffering significant injures Sunday:
#Vikings RB Dalvin Cook tore his labrum while dislocating his shoulder yesterday, sources said the MRI revealed. But the ailment is not season-ending. The hope is this is like 2019, when the team rests Cook a few games to have him healthy for a playoff run.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 29, 2021
When Cook sat out Weeks 3 through 5, Mattison recorded 344 yards and a touchdown on 61 carries and 13 receptions. While the Browns stuffed him to just 20 yards in a Week 4 dud, he offered over 150 yards and at least 20 half-PPR points in the other two victories. It’s rare to find a bell-cow back replaced by another one, which makes Mattison the best pure handcuff in fantasy football. He’s an easy RB1 in Week 13 against the winless Lions, who rank 29th against the run, and the top-priority add whether or not you roster Cook.
Chuba Hubbard (RB – CAR): 40%
Less than a month after returning from the IR, Christian McCaffrey is going back. This time, we won’t spend each week hoping the No. 1 pick gets activated:
Panthers announce that an MRI Monday morning revealed an injury severe enough to place RB Christian McCaffrey back on injured reserve and he will miss the remainder of the season.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 29, 2021
When replacing McCaffrey from Weeks 4 to 8, Hubbard averaged 11.6 half-PPR points as the RB19. In those five games, he handled a meaty role, totaling 102 touches (89 rushes, 13 receptions). While he mustered two rushing touchdowns, as many as Sam Darnold during the same time frame, Hubbard also received 10 red-zone carries.
Hubbard, of course, is not McCaffrey. Despite his hefty workload, his snap rate capped at 65%, and he only once reached double-digit yards. Also hurting his cause, Carolina plays a top-five rushing defense (Bills, Saints, and top-ranked Buccaneers twice) in each of its final four games. However, the anticipated volume still makes Hubbard a reasonable low-end RB2 or flex option in those difficult matchups. Furthermore, the Panthers return from their Week 13 bye against a Falcons defense that yielded 91 yards and a touchdown to Hubbard in Week 8.
Jamaal Williams (RB – DET): 39%
Williams recorded 65 rushing yards in a 16-14 Thanksgiving loss to the Bears. That’s 65 more than D’Andre Swift, who exited the game early with a shoulder sprain. After playing just 13 snaps when returning from a groin injury in Week 11, Williams saw the field for 31 of 49 offensive plays. He also caught all five dump-offs from a Jared Goff for a season-high 20 total touches.
Swift avoided a long-term injury, but he’s unlikely to play in Sunday’s NFC North clash against the Vikings. Williams should take on a featured role against the NFL’s third-worst rushing defense, making him a valuable RB2 in Week 13. Besides, he’s a reasonable depth piece even if Swift returns. As a meaningful member of a two-back committee, Williams tallied 70 touches through his first five games.
D’Onta Foreman (RB – TEN): 46%
Dontrell Hilliard (RB – TEN): 29%
Playing without Derrick Henry, the Titans had two 100-yard rushers in a 36-13 loss against the Patriots, who entered Sunday ninth against the run. Adrian Peterson’s release cleared the leading role to Foreman, who turned 19 carries into 109 yards. Meanwhile, Hilliard parlayed his dozen handoffs into 131 yards on the strength of a 68-yard touchdown.
Foreman is now Tennessee’s primary rusher, a valuable gig with Julio Jones and A.J. Brown joining Henry on the shelf. Hilliard, however, has showcased more than enough in the last two games to earn a significant role. As displayed by his 10 targets in Week 11, he also has far more pass-catching potential than Foreman.
The Titans have a Week 13 bye, but this may be managers’ last opportunity to snag either Titans back. They’ll return from their break with a golden home matchup against the Jaguars.
Notable Players 36-50% Rostered
Van Jefferson (WR – LAR): 49%
Odell Beckham Jr. made his mark with a 54-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Week 12’s loss at Green Bay. However, the new arrival’s fun didn’t come at Jefferson’s expense. While Beckham tied Cooper Kupp with a team-high 10 targets, Jefferson finished one behind them. He also made a big play, taking a 79-yard play to the house.
Matthew Stafford 🚀 Van Jeffersonpic.twitter.com/q9r5t6VxO4
— PFF (@PFF) November 28, 2021
Without Robert Woods, Jefferson has played 95% of the Rams’ offensive snaps in each of the last three games. While typically limited to three or four catches in a game, Jefferson has 36 targets — with a low of six — in his last five contests. He’s also converted a 13.7-yard average depth of target into 17.6 yards per reception. Jefferson isn’t a PPR standout, but he’s getting more opportunities to make a huge play.
Miami Dolphins (D/ST): 43%
Only New England’s defense has scored more fantasy points in the last four weeks than Miami. During that resurgent winning streak, they’ve compiled 16 sacks, seven interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and two touchdowns while allowing just 46 combined points. While the schedule has helped their cause, the Dolphins draw another favorable matchup against the Giants. Expect them back here in two weeks, as they’ll return from a Week 13 bye to host the Jets.
Laviska Shenault (WR – JAC): 41%
Shenault hasn’t scored a touchdown all season and has just once reached 60 yards. He might not seem to matter much following a lethargic 33-yard showing, but he led the way with nine targets. That’s likely not a fluke either. A week after losing Jamal Agnew to a season-ending injury, the Jaguars watched Dan Arnold leave with a leg injury. It didn’t come to fruition Sunday, but Jaguars coach Urban Meyer floated the idea of also utilizing Shenault in the backfield. The second-year playmaker will have the opportunity to make garbage-time magic late in the season.
Notable Players 10-35% Rostered
Taylor Heinicke (QB – WAS): 36%
Heinicke quietly entered Week 12 ranked 13th in fantasy points per game (17.8) among full-time starting quarterbacks. After only failing to match that amount because of a questionable touchdown reversal Monday night, he’ll encounter a Raiders defense relinquishing 21.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB): 25%
A week after a big breakthrough, Valdes-Scantling settled for a solid 50 yards on four catches. However, he registered his second-highest snap rate (70%) and second-most targets (nine) behind Week 11. That included another near touchdown on a missed connection from Aaron Rodgers. Even behind Davante Adams, Valdes-Scantling has accounted for 34.3% of Green Bay’s air yards. His ceiling is immense once returning from a Week 13 bye.
Cole Kmet (TE – CHI): 24%
Kmet feasted on a season-high eight catches and 11 targets in Chicago’s Thanksgiving triumph over Detroit. Unfortunately, he’s yet to visit the end zone all season; fellow tight end Jimmy Graham instead celebrated the team’s only touchdown. Kmet is nevertheless playing far more snaps than his veteran teammate, which has led to 38 targets in his last six games. He’s still in TE2 territory, as a lackluster offense limits his ceiling and poses the risk of some stinkers. I’ve said this since he emerged late last season, but Kmet has the talent and burgeoning role to eventually mature into a fantasy mainstay.
Matt Breida (RB – BUF): 23%
The Bills made Zack Moss a surprising healthy scratch, paving the way for Breida to share Buffalo’s backfield duties with Singletary. While Singletary led the way with 15 carries on 45 snaps, Breida received nine carries in his 29 snaps. However, he truly paid off as a pass-catcher, producing 29 receiving yards and a touchdown.
.@MattBreida got loose!
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 26, 2021
That occurred in a 31-6 rout, so it’s intriguing to see what Breida can accomplish in a more pass-conducive situation. Singletary leads the Bills with just 98 rushes this season, and Josh Allen is always a goal-line threat to keep the ball, and yet Bills running backs have combined to score 10 touchdowns in 11 games this season. Breida has already accounted for three in the last three games.
Kendrick Bourne (WR – NE): 23%
Bourne has more non-PPR fantasy points than Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, and Brandin Cooks this season. He was the WR15 from Week 3 onward before scoring two more touchdowns Sunday. The volume remains mitigated, but it’s hard to argue with results. He’s averaging 58.4 yards per game with a sterling 79.2% catch rate. However, Bourne isn’t a priority pickup because the Patriots face a stout Bills secondary this weekend — and again in Week 16 — before taking a late Week 14 bye.
Boston Scott (RB – PHI): 19%
Miles Sanders only played one-third of Philadelphia’s after tweaking an ankle injury that cost him three games. As a result, Scott lined up for 34 of 67 snaps. Although each back tallied 64 rushing yards, Scott stockpiled more carries (15) and scored his first touchdown since Week 8. Even if Sanders is fine, there could be plenty of opportunities for Scott and Sanders to torch a Jets defense that’s yielded 20 rushing touchdowns. If Sanders sits, Scott vaults into must-start territory. Then again, this rotating Eagles backfield could get even messier if Jordan Howard returns from a knee injury,
Minnesota Vikings (D/ST): 18%
Although hardly a defensive juggernaut in 2021, the Vikings have procured multiple sacks in each game this season. Their defense should thus have a high fantasy floor against the Lions, who rank 29th in total offense and 30th in scoring.
Tevin Coleman (RB – NYJ): 18%
Fantasy managers added Coleman and Ty Johnson to replace the injured Michael Carter. Of course, this meant Austin Walter and Zach Wilson had to score the Jets’ two rushing touchdowns. Coleman nevertheless headlined the backfield with 67 rushing yards on 16 carries and 30 snaps. This high volume occurred in a rare win for Gang Green, so the 28-year-old remains a touchdown-dependent flex option.
Phillip Lindsay (RB – MIA): 12%
Lindsay’s one touch went backward in his Dolphins debut, but he saw more carries Sunday (12) than in any of his nine games with Houston. We’re still reaching, as they only went for 42 yards. Also, Myles Gaskin took two of his 16 handoffs to the house. However, Gaskin can’t get too comfortable as a lead back while averaging a putrid 3.5 yards per carry. Lindsay could make an impact in Miami’s next two games against the Giants and Jets.
Tyrod Taylor (QB – HOU): 11%
With the help of 136 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, Taylor has exceeded 15 fantasy points in four of his five starts this season. Even after getting shredded by Leonard Fournette instead of Tom Brady, the Colts have relinquished an AFC-high 26 passing touchdowns this season. Two more favorable matchups against Seattle and Jacksonville make Taylor a high-end QB2 and serviceable streamer for the foreseeable future.
Notable Players <10% Rostered
Taysom Hill (QB – NO): 5%
Following their fourth consecutive loss, the Saints are planning to replace Trevor Siemian with Hill under center. While Hill may not save their season, he can help fantasy managers. Hill scored four passing and four rushing touchdowns in four starts last season, leading to more fantasy points than all but five quarterbacks. Even in a gadget role, he’s received 11 of his 20 carries inside the red zone this season. Hill could parlay the spotlight into rushing scores to the delight of fantasy investors, especially if Alvin Kamara and/or Mark Ingram aren’t back to compete for goal-line work.
Tre’Quan Smith (WR – NO): 5%
Can Hill nurture a usable fantasy wideout? The schedule could certainly help. New Orleans faces Dallas’ 27th-ranked passing defense in Week 13, the Jets’ 29th-ranked pass defense in Week 14, Tampa Bay’s 20th-ranked pass defense in Week 15, and Miami’s 28th-ranked pass defense in Week 16. Smith has 225 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his last five games.
Jack Doyle (TE – IND): 1%
Doyle scored touchdowns in Weeks 8 and 9, but they came with just 13 yards on four targets. On Sunday, however, he paired his third score with season-highs in receiving yards (81), targets (seven), and catches (six). He now has 17 targets in his last three games. Mo Alie-Cox, on the other hand, has 14 yards on five targets in those same contests. Doyle isn’t back to his PPR glory days alongside Andrew Luck, but he’s an intriguing TE2 with a strong Week 13 matchup at Houston.
Foster Moreau (TE – LV): 1%
Darren Waller left Thursday’s game with a knee injury. An MRI revealed a strained IT band, which may not cost him any more time. His managers may still want to stash Moreau in case. When Waller sat out Week 7, Moreau stepped in to play all 66 snaps and catch all six targets for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.