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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Ty Johnson, Cam Newton, Van Jefferson (2021)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Nov 23, 2021

Last week, Matt Barbato filled in wonderfully while I took a much-needed bye. When seeking an alternative who will make everyone forget about the incumbent, fantasy football managers aren’t always as lucky. Nevertheless, some will rely on the waiver wire in Week 12, as Kansas City and Arizona take ample star power off the table.

There’s value to uncover for those willing to dig, but there aren’t many apparent must-adds entering Week 12. Before searching for these free agents, check if Rhamondre Stevenson, Elijah Moore, or Darnell Mooney (all 58% rostered) are still available.

Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.

View your league’s top available players with My Playbook >>

Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 12

Ty Johnson (RB – NYJ): 21% Rostered
Starting with a Jets player unfortunately sets the perfect tone for this week’s wavier-wire column. Johnson has 144 rushing yards and a touchdown all season, but a more significant opportunity could come his way. Fresh off earning a set-and-forget starting spot, Michael Carter is expected to miss two or three weeks with a high ankle sprain, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The rookie averaged 101.8 total yards on 17.4 touches over his last five games, so even the lowly Jets can foster a high-quality fantasy back.

Johnson may not fully replicate Carter’s value, but he’s a speedster averaging 4.2 yards per carry with a 72.2% catch rate over his career. When momentarily given the spotlight last season, he ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in a Week 13 loss to the Raiders. Only the Jets have allowed more rushing touchdowns than their next opponent, the Texans, who rank 30th in rushing defense.

Cam Newton (QB – CAR): 52% Rostered
Newton already climbed over the halfway mark before Tuesday morning, but there aren’t many options in a week without Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray. While he hasn’t turned the clock to his MVP days, Newton has looked healthier and sharper than last year. Most importantly to his fantasy value, he’s scored a rushing touchdown in both games back with the Panthers. That’s despite sharing the field with Christian McCaffrey on an offense that oversaw five rushing scores from Sam Darnold.

Newton won’t throw for 300 passing yards often, but his red-zone rushing involvement places the linebacker-sized quarterback on the precipice of fantasy QB1 territory. He’ll make his next start against the Dolphins, who just allowed 291 passing yards and two touchdowns to Joe Flacco.

Van Jefferson (WR – LAR): 46% Rostered
Examining all of the Week 11 box scores, Jefferson might have helped his cause by enjoying a bye week. In a week with few standout choices, don’t forget about the Rams receiver. The respite kept his rostered rate narrowly under the midway mark despite seeing seven targets for the third time in four games. He had six targets the other time. An ACL tear will sideline Robert Woods for the season, and Odell Beckham is unlikely to receive a heavy target share immediately. Jefferson has an opportunity to elevate his frustrating floor as Matthew Stafford‘s second option behind Cooper Kupp.

Latavius Murray (RB – BAL): 36% Rostered
Murray returned from an ankle injury to amass 32 rushing yards on 10 carries in 30 snaps. Having registered 80 yards and a touchdown on 22 touches, Devonta Freeman remains the only Ravens running back worth starting. Yet Murray, who scored four touchdowns in his first six games, is a decent depth piece who can occasionally deliver flex value when finding the end zone. He should also enjoy better running lanes when Lamar Jackson returns from a non-COVID illness.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB): 9% Rostered
Valdes-Scantling had his best performance of the season on the strength of a 75-yard touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter. While that big play contributed to most of his 123 yards, he also received a team-high 10 targets. For all of his potential, MVS has never escaped boom-or-bust — with the booms few and far between — territory. He might turn back into a pumpkin, but this upside remains present when catching passes from Aaron Rodgers as defenses focus their feeble efforts on containing Davante Adams.

Notable Players 36-50% Rostered

Robby Anderson (WR – CAR): 49%
Anderson has drawn six targets in back-to-back games, but his nine combined catches went for a humdrum 67 yards and a touchdown. Baby steps. Managers with a bench spot to burn can roll the dice on a talented wideout one year removed from recording 95 receptions for 1,096 yards. Even returning to his Jets days as a boom-or-bust WR3 would serve a purpose. Carolina has three games remaining (including its next two) against defenses in the bottom 10 of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.

Dan Arnold (TE – JAC): 41%
Ummm … has anyone seen Arnold? After posting at least 60 receiving yards in three straight games, the rising star didn’t see a single target Sunday. The vanishing act undoubtedly hampers his ascension to TE1 territory, but don’t abandon him just yet. Even after the goose-egg, Arnold is averaging 45.0 yards per game with a team-high 40 targets since getting traded to the Jaguars. Their offense couldn’t get anything going, gaining 200 total yards on just 44 plays with 21.38 minutes of possession. Give Arnold a mulligan, as he still has game-changing potential down the stretch, especially when Jacksonville plays the Texans and Jets in Weeks 15 and 16.

Notable Players 10-35% Rostered

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – SF): 33%
Garoppolo has registered at least 15 fantasy points in his last four games and seven of nine starts this season. With 28.2 pass attempts per game and no running contributions beyond Week 8’s two-touchdown outlier, his ceiling is also severely limited. Yet the Vikings rank 21st in passing defense while permitting 7.7 yards per attempt, so Garoppolo can deliver 200 passing yards and two passing touchdowns as a passable fill-in for Mahomes or Murray.

Jordan Howard (PHI): 29%
Fantasy managers probably thought they were done with Howard once Miles Sanders returned from the IR. Not so fast; Howard still compiled 63 rushing yards in a 40-29 victory over the Saints. Of course, those 10 carries aren’t as impressive considering the Eagles ran the ball a whopping 50 times (16 from Sanders, 18 by Jalen Hurts, eight from Boston Scott). Also, Howard played just 13 snaps to Sanders’ 36 and Scott’s 29. Still, the Eagles didn’t banish him entirely. Furthermore, they play their next five games against the Giants (twice), Jets, and Washington (twice), so Howard could siphon goal-line touches in more run-heavy game environments for the surging Eagles.

Chicago Bears (D/ST): 23%
After facing the Ravens without Lamar Jackson, the Bears get to celebrate Thanksgiving against the winless Lions. Jared Goff is unlikely to return, paving the way for another appetizing matchup against Tim Boyle. Although they’ve tallied just five interceptions all season, the Bears have compiled at least three sacks in seven games, including 10 in their last two. They’re the top Week 12 streamer with the four other most exploitable offenses paired up with each other (Jets vs. Texans, Jaguars vs. Falcons).

Rondale Moore (WR – ARI): 23%
The good news? Moore received 11 targets in Sunday’s win over the Seahawks? The better news? He caught all of them! However, they only went for 51 yards. As noted by ESPN’s Mike Clay, Moore had to work just to muster that pedestrian tally:

The dynamic rookie doesn’t have a play of over 16 yards since Week 5, a frustrating development after beginning his NFL career with some big strikes. But the volume is nice in PPR leagues. Per Paul Calvisi of Arizona Sports 98.7FM, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said they “have to find a way to keep Rondale Moore in the plan.” It’d mostly amount to empty calories alongside Colt McCoy, but Murray has a Week 12 bye to recover his injured ankle. Moore is a high-upside dart throw for December.

Trey Sermon (RB – SF): 20%
The 49ers played without Elijah Mitchell, and Sermon nevertheless finished third on the team with 32 rushing yards. It shows how far he’s fallen that we can still take this performance as progress. The rookie saw the field for the first time since getting one carry in Week 5. It wasn’t much, but he garnered 11 touches (10 runs and a 23-yard catch) on 24 snaps in a 30-10 win over the Jaguars. While it wasn’t a pretty performance, Jeff Wilson accrued an even less efficient 50 yards on 19 handoffs. Perhaps the third-round pick pushes his way into a more even split if Mitchell misses more time.

Kendrick Bourne (WR – NE): 20%
Bourne is averaging 59.4 receiving yards over his last nine games despite only averaging 4.6 targets. It’s a dangerous formula, especially since he’s played fewer than half of New England’s offensive plays in five of the last seven games. However, Bourne has made his opportunities count with a 78.7% catch rate and a career-high 256 yards after the catch. Consider him a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency WR5.

Philadelphia Eagles (D/ST): 18%
Chicago’s D/ST isn’t the only strong streamer. Philadelphia’s defense has found the end zone in three of its last four games, finishing each week as a top-10 fantasy D/ST with double-digit points. They’ll take an extended trip to MetLife Stadium to face the Giants and Jets in Weeks 12 and 13.

Notable Players <10% Rostered

Tevin Coleman (RB – NYJ): 3%
With Carter sidelined, Coleman could also see an enhanced look, but it’s hard to get excited about 3.9 yards per carry and 23 receiving yards in six games. Yet to break a tackle all season while only taking two of 30 carries for double-digit yardage, Coleman is a touchdown-or-bust deep play more likely to compromise Johnson’s value than establish his own.

Cedrick Wilson (WR – DAL): 2%
The Cowboys, already missing Amari Cooper, lost CeeDee Lamb to a concussion during Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. Cooper is ineligible to play on Thanksgiving, and Lamb has less time to clear the league’s concussion protocols. That opens the door for Wilson to play starting reps alongside the recently returned Michael Gallup. Wilson, who caught a 73-yard touchdown from Cooper Rush on Halloween, has 22 targets in the last four games.

Andy Dalton (QB – CHI): 1%
Called upon to replace the injured Justin Fields, Dalton fired a 60-yard touchdown strike to Darnell Mooney in the third quarter and a 49-yard score to Marquise Goodwin late in the fourth. He parlayed those big plays to 201 passing yards and a 107.3 quarterback rating in abbreviated action. If Fields isn’t ready by Thursday, Dalton is a fine QB2 or Superflex streamer against a Lions defense surrendering 7.9 yards per pass attempt. Even that number marks a substantial improvement after facing Mason Rudolph’s Steelers and a hobbled Cleveland passing attack.

Qadree Ollison (RB – ATL): 0%
Playing without Cordarrelle Patterson, Ollison matched Mike Davis in snaps (26) during Thursday night’s shutout loss. He handled nine of 16 handoffs in an all-around futile performance from Atlanta’s offense, so nobody should rush to obtain any Falcons stock. But they’re going to score some points most of the time. Keep tabs on Ollison, as Davis has done nothing to earn a featured role.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR – TEN): 0%
Tennessee played without Julio Jones, and A.J. Brown suffered a chest injury during the embarrassing loss to Houston. As a result, Westbrook-Ikhine played his most snaps (54) since Week 4 and secured seven of eight targets for a career-high 107 yards. Jones will miss at least one more game on the IR, meaning Westbrook-Ikhine could spend another week as Ryan Tannehill’s de facto top receiver if Brown also sits.

Dontrell Hilliard (RB – TEN): 0%
With a concussion sidelining Jeremy McNichols, Hilliard filled the same role better. Along with catching eight of 10 targets for 47 yards, Hilliard gained 35 yards on seven carries. He also played more snaps (51) than Adrian Peterson and D’Onta Foreman (15 each) combined. If McNichols remains out, Hilliard garners deep PPR appeal, but not much more with Tennessee likely to utilize Peterson and Foreman in running situations.

Rex Burkhead (RB – HOU): 0%
Burkhead had 12 touches all year before drawing 18 carries in Sunday’s 22-13 upset over the Titans. Unfortunately, he only totaled 40 yards, and Tyrod Taylor took Houston’s two rushing touchdowns in himself. The 2-8 Texans will rarely have the chance to run so much, so don’t get too excited. However, if Burkhead were ever to help your fantasy squad, it’d be in Week 12’s home bout against a Jets defense that’s allowed 20 rushing touchdowns.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer and editor at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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