Waiver Wizard 2019 Week 12
Week 11 - The Week where everything was made up and the points don't matter
Back in the early 2000's the now-infamous TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" debuted, where the host Drew Carey promptly informed viewers each episode that due to the premise of the show hinging upon sketch comedy, nothing truly mattered in the long-run and the "points" that were awarded after each segment was completed didn't truly amount to anything. In essence, participants were simply winging it as they went along with improv, and guests should deal accordingly.
This past week in Fantasy Football seemed to mirror this idea - backup players and tertiary reads were the ones finding the end zone early and often, and seemingly no Fantasy relevant options were truly putting up points. In an ever-critical week for owners to come away with a victory for their playoff picture, the amount of "garbage" touchdowns was nigh-comical in nature. I made several comments on Twitter that the Sirius XM "Sick of This" segment that Matt Camp and Joe Dolan put together was epic in nature, railing on random options like Ryan Griffin, Gus Edwards, Jonathan Williams or Cameron Brate.
Players that came into the week with incredibly advantageous matchups fell on their face consistently. David Johnson was active and came away with zero touches (ceding them to recent acquisition Kenyan Drake instead). The Steelers defense was primed to continue their recent run of dominance yet flopped mightily to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.. Jared Goff appeared like a deer in headlights against the Chicago Bears, and Robert Woods was randomly scratched before the game started, citing "personal reasons".
If my Twitter feed was any indication of what happened across the Fantasy landscape, a number of owners who should have come away with victories and were highly favored lost instead. Unfortunately, that is the nature of this game - if owners could psychically predict what would occur prior to the games happening each week than playing this game would be rather pointless. Luck, unpredictability or whatever you may call it, plays a major factor in Fantasy Football. Players poised for breakouts get injured. Teams that normally stand no prayer of winning put together streaks of relevance (hello, Miami). Backup options will occasionally find the target that leads to a touchdown, and copious amounts of research indicating that X will happen often results in Y. It happens.
To quote one of my favorite colleagues in the industry (Mike Clay of ESPN), "Trust the process". The results will sometimes not make a lick of sense. However, all that we can do is put our faith than statistics will hold true, and mitigate out as much "luck" as possible. To that end, what should Fantasy owners who are still in contention do to prep themselves for Week 12? Are there any players who are currently widely available on the waiver wire that present relevance? And which matchups should they look to exploit?
On bye: Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Philip Rivers and Kirk Cousins
For owners who are struggling due to one of the above mentioned options being on bye during Week 12, I'd strongly recommend adding Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, if he was dropped in your leagues. Due to his poor performance in the middle of the season and previous hype as a breakout candidate, frustrated owners dropped him in droves, and perhaps too early. The Browns take on the Miami Dolphins, who rank in the bottom half of the league in terms of passing yards allowed (246 per game), and have surrendered the fourth most touchdowns (23) to quarterbacks in the league. Mayfield is coming off of consecutive strong performances and he will look to keep the streak alive.
Should Mayfield be unavailable, Jeff Driskel of the Detroit Lions has also performed admirably since Matthew Stafford's back fractures forced him to miss time. Since taking over in Week 10, Driskel has thrown for three touchdowns (countered by just one interception), and has added a tremendous amount of value on the ground with his rushing ability. Squaring off against the Washington Redskins, Driskel can be counted on as a spot-starter in most formats, and falls just outside of my top-12 options at the position.
Running Back Notes
On bye: Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, Darrel Williams, David Johnson, Kenyan Drake, Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison
Unlike past weeks where the waiver-wire was a barren landscape with tumbleweed rolling across the plains, Week 12 presents players with a number of widely-unowned options that have FLEX appeal.
Starting off with the scenario in Indianapolis, the Colts will be without Marlon Mack for the short-term future as he is dealing with fractures in his right hand. Though not thought to be "season-ending" per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Colts head coach Frank Reich already confirmed that Mack is for Week 12, and all expectations cite that the injury will take multiple weeks to fully heal. In his stead the team will rely upon a two-headed committee of Jonathan Williams and Jordan Wilkins, with Nyheim Hines coming in as the pass-catching and third-down back. Williams success in Week 11 (116 yards rushing on 13 carries) will afford him the first handoff, but it would be foolish to suggest that he has a long-leash. Williams is the more physical runner over Wilkins, and his powerful frame and punishing style suits well around the goal line. Williams and Wilkins lose value in PPR formats, and I can't envision a scenario where I'd view either as a permanent fix for my roster. As a band aid that could produce around 10-12 points each week? Sure. Temper expectations.
The other obvious pickup that I'm happy to place my stamp of approval on is Bo Scarbrough of the Detroit Lions. Scarbrough started in Week 11 over Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic, and produced 55 rushing yards on 14 attempts, chipping in a touchdown for good measure. Make no mistake that this Lions offense is in need of a desperate spark at the position, and Scarbrough offers the first true hint of promise since Kerryon Johnson was placed on I.R. in late October. Similar to the situation in Indianapolis, Scarbrough will cede targets out of the backfield to the committee behind him, limiting his value. Even though he isn't a true three-down back for the team, I'd be willing to wager that he still sees the ball almost 20 times each week moving forward, as head coach Matt Patricia favors a ground-and-pound approach. Don't be fooled by Scarbrough's tumble down draft boards entering the year - he's worth an addition.
Before moving on, I'd be remiss without mentioning that Derrius Guice remains unowned in more than 50 percent of ESPN standard formats - in keeper and dynasty formats, that needs to change now.
Wide Receiver Notes
On bye: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, Andy Isabella, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen
Of the positions most affected by the Week 12 bye weeks, receiver is the one that sticks out in my mind of being decimated the most. Hill, Allen, Diggs and Thielen are all cornerstones on most teams, and their absence will be truly missed when it matters the most. Coupled with the glaring holes that this has caused, there are very few players who are owned in less than 30 percent of leagues that I really want to put my "stamp of approval" upon.
Even with T.Y. Hilton likely out for another week for the Colts, I'm way of fully endorsing Zach Pascal, given his recent struggles. Even with the return of Jacoby Brissett under center last weekend, Pascal managed a paltry two receptions for 17 yards through the air. Even with him leading the team in targets and having a favorable matchup on paper against the Houston Texans, I'm still tentative. Listing him first amongst pickups should tell you everything necessary for this week.
Ordinarily I'd be very high on acquiring Josh Reynolds of the Los Angeles Rams, especially after his stellar performance against the Chicago Bears (his 3/55 statline should have been much more inflated, considering he was hosed on a bogus call on his 51-yard touchdown reception). His talent is obvious, and it is a real shame that he is buried on the depth chart behind Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. With Cooks set to finally return this week after making it through the concussion protocol and Woods assumed to be returning after the "personal issue" that forced him to be a late scratch, Reynolds will once again be relegated to blocking duties and the occasional look. If further information is given regarding what Woods is actually dealing with, or if he is forced to miss time yet again, Reynolds makes for a nice speculative gamble.
Finally, I'd also throw a few FAAB dollars on Pittsburgh Steelers wideout James Washington, if truly desperate. Both JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee, concussion) and Diontae Johnson (concussion) are going to be game-time calls at best, and Mason Rudolph has to throw the ball to someone other than Jaylen Samuels. Right?
Tight End Notes
On bye: Travis Kelce, Charles Clay, Hunter Henry, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr.
In a position that was already hurting to find relevance outside of five or six central figures, having two mainstays in Kelce and Henry out is painful. Thankfully, there are three options rostered in less than 30 percent of standard-size formats that I would be comfortable rolling out, if necessary.
My first choice, should I be presented with all three players, is Dallas Goedert of the Philadelphia Eagles. For the better portion of two months I've been biting my tongue towards discussing him too much, yet he has become a steady producer for this team, at the expense of Zach Ertz. With each passing week Goedert has been on the field an increasing amount, capping in Week 11 where he played in more than 80 percent of Philadelphia's snaps. Wentz looks his way in key situations, and with Alshon Jeffrey out and Ertz struggling, he is the Eagles main receiving threat in the end zone. Typing that seems like sacrilege given the other weapons on the team, yet the statistics don't lie.
One of the "hottest" pickups of Week 11 was Jacob Hollister of the Seattle Seahawks, who took over at the position following Will Dissly's torn ACL and Luke Wilson's hamstring injuries. Though he isn't really a household name, owners would do well to remember that Russell Wilson loves to utilize his tight ends. To further the point, Hollister continually ran routes whenever Wilson dropped back to pass - he isn't in the game to be a blocking option.
Finally, I'll circle back to the Denver Broncos new toy Noah Fant. It is well known that right ends typically take some time to get acclimated to the speed of the NFL and learn the full-extent of the playbook. Rarely do rookies ever make a true impact, let alone become a reliable option. Even with Fant running less routes than either of the two players I mentioned above, his physical ability dwarves the other two, especially his speed in the open field. New signalcaller Brandon Allen appears to favor Fant, and the Broncos square off against the Buffalo Bills in Week 12 - a team that has surrendered its fair share of points to tight ends. He's worth a flier.