The Waiver Wizard Week 13 2023

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano

Unfortunately, I’m not the spritely, twinkle-eyed youth that I used to be. Gone are the days of waking up pain-free out of bed, not yelling at kids to get off of my lawn. But I digress,

With age comes wisdom, both in “real life” and for Fantasy Football, and I’m going to part with a little nugget that I’ve learned from playing this game for well over 15 years:

Down the stretch, it is better to be proactive than reactive.

Want a better shot at winning a Fantasy championship, and have a bench spot or two to burn? Take a chance on upside handcuffs that are currently without a solidified role. I’ll cover a handful of them below, but keep the mantra in mind when you’re setting your waiver claims this upcoming week. I’d rather take a shot on adding a Elijah Mitchell or Rico Dowdle now, rather than after the starter goes down and a bidding war ensues. Especially at the running back position, it could pay off extreme dividends.


Matthew Stafford (31 percent rostered) – Sometimes the best additions aren’t necessarily the sexy breakout rookie selections. A 15 year veteran in the league, Stafford’s best days might be behind him, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for one last hurrah as the Los Angeles Rams try to make some noise down the stretch. The return of Kyren Williams as a safety valve out of the backfield means that Stafford finally has his entire supporting staff – something that we haven’t been able to claim in a while. Though his 2023 numbers aren’t anything to write home about (barely a 61 percent completion rate, 7.3 YPA and a 13:9 TD:INT ratio) – I have a feeling that he could outperform expectations as a low-end QB1. The Rams square off against Cleveland and Baltimore over the next two weeks – difficult matchups on paper, but not necessarily with how Los Angeles plays. The ball is always out extremely quick, and having multiple dump-off options in Williams, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee will allow Tutu Atwell and Puka Nakua to work downfield with less traffic.



Keaton Mitchell (33 percent rostered) – Mitchell finished Sunday Night Football with modest totals – 64 rushing yards on 9 carries, coupled with two receptions for 25 yards. So why the endorsement? Not only did he draw the first carry of the game over Gus Edwards, but he also out-snapped all other Baltimore Ravens backs. Clearly seeing an expanded role on a team bound for the playoffs, Mitchell is a savvy pickup in shallower leagues where he hasn’t already been claimed. The Ravens are currently on a bye in Week 13, so he though he won’t pay immediate dividends, his schedule immediately afterwards (LAR, @JAX) should help propel Fantasy managers into the playoffs. Mitchell is an explosive talent who is a perfect compliment to Edwards as a thunder/lightning duo. Even though he has a smaller frame, he runs with authority, and quarterback Lamar Jackson was quick to point out his speed and solid hands in the receiving game.

Rico Dowdle (9 percent rostered) – Dowdle tops my list of running back handcuffs that I’m willing to burn a roster spot on – both due to the success that he has shown when afforded an opportunity, coupled with the explosive nature of the Dallas Cowboys offense. This past weekend against Washington, Dowdle found the end zone for the second time in three weeks, and he is clearly carving out a niche ahead of gadget-option Deuce Vaughn. Incumbent Tony Pollard has begun to finally emerge from his slumber the last two weeks, but I expect Dallas to be careful with not giving him too-many touches down the stretch. Hopefully nothing happens to Pollard, but should he be sidelined for any reason, Dowdle would immediately be thrust into the low-end RB1 discussion.

Additional handcuffs that warrant consideration:

Samaje Perine (26 percent rostered)
Elijah Mitchell (17 percent rostered)
D’Ernest Johnson (1 percent rostered)
Tyler Allgeier (46 percent rostered)
Zamir White (1 percent rostered)



Jalin Hyatt (2 percent rostered) – Hyatt has flown under the radar for the majority of the year, as he began buried in the depth chart for the New York Giants, and then an afterthought until Daniel Jones torn-ACL. With Tommy DeVito under center, Hyatt had his best game of the season in Week 12, catching 5-of-6 passes for 109 yards in a victory over New England. He isn’t likely to profile as a high-volume option, but Hyatt is one of the fastest receivers in the league, and it would make all the sense in the world for the team to feature him down the stretch, as the Giants attempt to figure out their 2024 roster. A third-round rookie from Tennessee, Hyatt was the 2022 Fred Biletnikoff award winner for the top receiver in college football. This might be a long-term investment for keeper/dynasty formats, but the Giants felt extremely comfortable handing him Odell Beckham’s #13 jersey. Is this a homer pick? Slightly, but I consider him to be the face of the offense for future seasons.

Jayden Reed (31 percent rostered) – Reed wasn’t especially proficient with his targets on Thanksgiving Thursday (he caught just 4 of 8 targets), but he did find the end zone for the second time in three weeks, and is clearly becoming the 1B passing option for Jordan Love to look towards, opposite Christian Watson. Green Bay’s surprising 29-22 upset over Detroit (at Ford Field, no less) was something worth monitoring, especially considering how explosive this offense is capable of being. I’ve made my thoughts about Love known over the past few weeks both in this column and on my Sirius XM radio spot each Monday evening with Bob Harris and Mike Dempsey – this guy is finally figuring things out. The absence of Aaron Jones behind him is forcing Green Bay to throw early an often. Reed’s ability to also be used on running plays and end-around sweeps puts him even more on the map.



Cade Otton (30 percent rostered) – This is another “I’d rather not have to, but if I absolutely had to choose someone, it would be X” recommendations. Otton heads an otherwise ho-hum group of pickups at the position, due to the volume that he has received since Week 6. During that time, he has at least four receptions in all but one game, working under routes for Tampa Bay while Mike Evans and Chris Godwin operate downfield. His serviceable floor is easier to rely upon rather than a touchdown-or-bust option (i.e. Juwan Johnson, Gerald Everett, Chig Okonkwo), so if I was an Isaiah Likely/Dalton Kincaid/Michael Mayer/Daniel Bellinger manager looking for a pivot option during the final bye week of the season, he would highlight my list.