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The Waiver Wizard Week 12 2023
Delivering bad news is never easy, especially around the holidays. At a time when most are focusing on the positives – what they are thankful for, family time, bonding, etc. it stinks to be Debbie Downer. Yet, here I am, following the season-ending injuries to Mark Andrews, Deshaun Watson and Joe Burrow. I could try to spin things off in a comical light, or at least point out that Baltimore has a capable backup in Isaiah Likely, but that doesn’t solve the immediate holes that Fantasy managers are now facing in their lineups, or the likely (pun intended) death knell sound that they are hearing.
Only one thing to do at this point instead – rise above the unfortunate realization that those players are gone and will not return, make the best of things and scour the wire attempting to improve your roster.
Filling gaps like those are better solved via trading rather than free agency, if I’ll be dead honest. That said, we all know that certain leagues are impossible to make trades in without getting fleeced, others outlaw the practice entirely (Scott Fish bowl, amongst others), or the fact that certain managers are just poor at the art of the deal.
We will make it through.
The suggestions that I offer below at quarterback and tight end will offer upside to be sure, but I’d definitely start with reaching out to other managers within your league if you are a Burrow/Watson/Andrews owner to fix the now gaping hole you have. Should you wish any assistance with structuring a deal, shoot me a message on Twitter @Roto_Wizard, and I’ll be happy to lend my opinion on what might work best for you.
At least we have the following players to be thankful for.
Jordan Love (42 percent rostered) – Love is the sole pivot option that I am comfortable endorsing this week for desperate managers. Sure, Tommy DeVito finished with more points than him – but am I really comfortable endorsing a New York Giant starter behind that offensive line? No. Will Levis played better and will finish within the top-15 statistically this week, but the porous Tennessee offensive line has him scrambling for his life almost every down. Jake Browning looks absolutely lost as a fill-in for Cincinnati, despite the talent surrounding him being the best of these immediate alternatives.
So why Love? After a horrible stretch from Week 4-9, he has started to show signs of life since, throwing multiple touchdowns in consecutive weeks, and setting a new season-high passing total on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers with 322 yards through the air. He has demonstrated budding chemistry with wideouts Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks, and heads a team that will need to throw the ball, due to a middling defense and now Aaron Jones-less running game. Green Bay has two plus-matchups over the next three weeks against Detroit and the New York Giants, making him the easiest candidate to endorse of the bunch.
Zach Charbonnet (32 percent rostered) – Kenneth Walker recorded just five touches before leaving Sunday’s game with a moderate oblique injury that could sideline him for the immediate future. In his absence, Charbonnet will be the focal point of Seattle’s ground game, and it is evident that the coaching staff has plenty of faith in their second-round selection from UCLA. A 6’1, 214 lb. extremely violent runner that seeks out contact and routinely runs through (and over) defenders, Charbonnet is in line to start over a short week, with Seattle playing the Thanksgiving Night game against the San Francisco 49ers. To further boost his value, Charbonnet is an adept receiver – this past weekend he caught six passes as a checkdown outlet to Geno Smith. The coaching staff seems content with allowing him to inherit the bulk of the carries in the backfield. Seattle’s upcoming schedule is BRUTAL to say the least (SF, @DAL, @SF, PHI), but a total volume of touches in positive game script will have me ranking him as a top-15 option each week.
Ty Johnson (1 percent rostered) – Following Week 10’s disgraceful loss to the Denver Broncos, Buffalo chose offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey to be their scapegoat, firing him and promoting Joe Brady as his interim replacement. That shift led to the rise of Johnson receiving work as the change-of-pace option behind James Cook for Buffalo on Sunday. Johnson carried the ball three times for 11 yards and caught all three of his targets for 47 yards and a touchdown during the Bills dominant 32-6 victory over the New York Jets. Given the success of the game script, I’d anticipate Johnson working as the second option to Cook, over Latavius Murray. He is universally available since he was a non-factor prior to this past weekend, and Fantasy managers scrambling to shore up the position should consider adding his services as a fill-in FLEX until the bye weeks are past us. Buffalo appears to be shifting to a more balanced approach offensively, which would limit the reliance upon Josh Allen to do everything, and hopefully cut down on his turnover issues as well.
Greg Dortch (1 percent rostered) – We’ve seen this sort of act from Dortch before – short bursts of Fantasy relevance followed by a disappearance back into the nether realm, so I’m going to be careful with the strength of my endorsement. Dortch led the Arizona Cardinals receiving core on Sunday with 6 receptions for 76 yards on 8 targets, in a back-and-forth loss to the Houston Texans. Prior to Week 11, Dortch had just one reception total on the year, so his giant boost in production needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The absence of rookie Michael Wilson was the single biggest factor in his rise in snaps, coupled with the Texans blanketing Marquise Brown all afternoon. Should Wilson (who is out with a shoulder injury) miss additional time, keep an eye on Dortch to continue his mini-run in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams secondary.
Tutu Atwell (25 percent rostered) – Atwell was a force to begin the season, averaging almost 17 points in a PPR format through the first three weeks. Why might that be, you wonder? The absence of Cooper Kupp. Want to take a guess what happened on Sunday? Kupp suffered an ankle injury that forced him to the locker room in the second quarter, and he failed to return. Should Kupp miss any extended period of time, I’d expect things to revert back to how they were originally, with Puke Nacua operating as the chain-moving choice for Matthew Stafford up and down the field, with Atwell being an explosive playmaker and gadget option. His diminutive 5’9, 165 lb. frame isn’t meant to take repeated body shots, so consider him a stronger add in standard formats rather than PPR leagues, if possible.
Before we arrive at any suggestions, can I just preface this section by stating that this was an absolutely AWFUL week at the position? Not only did Fantasy managers have to deal with the Andrews injury, but outside of George Kittle, most relevant options fell flat on their faces. Josh Oliver, Stone Smartt and Luke Schoonmaker were amongst the top scorers at the position this week. That speaks volumes regarding the state of the position.
Isaiah Likely (1 percent rostered) – Low-hanging fruit on this one, I know. Likely is the most obvious pickup to stand behind this week, not only for his expected role in the aerial attack of Baltimore, but the duration of his new standing as the TE1 for the team. Mark Andrews is now out for the year after suffering a cracked fibula and ankle ligament injury, and I expect a large portion of his 6-8 weekly targets to be sent in the direction of Likely. A 6’4, 240 lb. “move” option from Coast Carolina, Likely has shown glimpses of his talent in the past, when afforded the opportunity. Some Fantasy managers will kindly point out that Likely came up woefully short earlier this year in Week 1, when he managed to catch just one reception all game, after Andrews was ruled out with a quad injury. I hate to say “those are the risks that you take”, but that is the unfortunate risk that we take at this horribly thin position.