The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 12 2020

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano First and foremost, let me be one of the first to wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and wonderful Thanksgiving. To say that 2020 has been a rough year is a dramatic understatement – political turmoil and a rampaging pandemic has caused the world to turn upside down. Escaping away to friends, family (and a little food, for good measure) is all that anyone can ask for. From my family to yours, I hope that you enjoy a little quiet time – reflect on the blessings that life has given you and sneak in a little football if possible!

Thanksgiving is giving Fantasy owners a triple-header as usual, with two awful matchups followed by a late game that promises to hopefully make up for early misgivings. The combined record between the squads playing at 12:30 PM EST and 4:30 PM EST is a disgusting 13-27. Yeesh. Thankfully, Vegas has given decent over/under lines on the games between Houston and Detroit (51.5) and Washington vs. Dallas (46), so there should at least be some scoring from Fantasy options that actually start. We’ll get more into that later.

Though I’m sure that I don’t have to harp, we’re entering the home stretch of the Fantasy Football 2020-21 season. Most leagues only have another two weeks left prior to playoffs starting, though some opt to extend the championship either as a double-header or into Week 17 (for whatever reason, I’ve always hated that). This means that there are essentially four “buckets” of teams currently participating. 1. Those who are already locked into a playoff position no matter what 2. Those who have been already eliminated from a playoff position no matter what 3. Those who are close to locking up a wildcard berth within the next two games 4. Those who need to win out, then hope that tiebreaks in their favor result in a playoff berth

Obviously, I hope that anyone who reads this column is in the first grouping. As a whole, I’d like to say that my calls on Twitter and in this column have been quite good. No analysts is perfect – and yes, we offer poor waiver claims or sit/starts occasionally. Sorry! That said, in addition to banking on statistics and averages, I trust my eyes more than most, and after spending a decade behind the keyboard, I’m finally getting used to this. Hopefully I’ve helped you more than hurt.

Normally, the bulk of this column is an examination of the “week that was” and a review of game-script with a minor focus on waiver wire adds. Rather than spending too much time looking back, I’d like to instead try to prep owners on tips, tricks and strategies on how to best position themselves for a deep playoff run, and to hopefully bring home the championship trophy. Yes, I’ll offer some players below to grab (though this week is slim on relevant options), but the focus of this column will be locking in a playoff spot.

One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me early on in Fantasy was to not only play for the current week, but be proactive on the waiver-wire in an attempt to get ahead of your competition. When adding players to your roster, don’t solely focus on their matchup for Week 12 if you can help it. Look beyond. Here is an example.

I typically rotate my DST spot on a weekly basis. As I’m sure that many of you do. Realistically, unless you own the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens or Indianapolis Colts, you’re likely in the same boat. Find an above-average option that is playing a weak opponent, add them and then start them. Sure, that strategy makes sense. But if you are in a 14 team league and 10 players adopt the same strategy, you’ve likely been outbid once or twice with FAAB or in waivers. And nothing is more frustrating than not fielding the best team possible. So, starting now, focus not only on Week 12 but Week 13 as well. Which DST has a beneficial schedule in BOTH weeks? The New Orleans Saints come to mind (@DEN, @ATL), along with Miami (@NYJ, CIN), Green Bay (CHI, PHI), Seattle (@PHI, NYG), Las Vegas (@ATL, @NYJ). Focus on teams like THAT to add. Rather than just a one-week flyer.

Tip number two - If you happen to have a player or two at the end of your roster who you can’t envision starting under any circumstances, treat them as dead weight. Move on. Break the mold. Add one of those DST that I mentioned above (even if you have one on your team already). Who cares what other managers in your league think – bolster your weaknesses!

Tip number three – Anyone who has followed me for an extended period of time knows that I’m a believer in handcuffing your running backs, if they happen to have a clear and concise backup. Cue in you rolling your eyes, I get it. Not everyone participates in a deep 14 or 16-team league with astute managers (though I wish that were the case for the sake of my writing recommendations). In many formats, backup options such as Alexander Mattison, Jamaal Williams or Tony Pollard are actually on the waiver wire. It seems absurd, I know. Granted, I don’t participate in any leagues that shallow, but according to ESPN all three of the players that I mentioned above are rostered in less than 40 percent of leagues. Befuddling? Sure. Yet true.

Tip number four – Don’t play scared! I see plenty of “I’m not sure if I should start my stud receiver, because my opponent happens to have the quarterback on that same team” questions. WHY!!! Don’t alter what managed to get you this far, folks. There is a reason that you and I have done so much painstaking research, preparation and draft homework. There is a fine line between making rational choices and being a slave to projections, rankings and beat writer banter. When in doubt- I beg you to ask me. You may laugh at that, but I’d rather reinforce a start/sit question that needs it than have the owner make a mistake.

With all of that said, here is a listing of waiver-wire eligible players (those that are owned in less than 50 percent of standard-size ESPN formats) that I’m willing to endorse as an addition, either for just Week 12, or hopefully beyond.

Quarterbacks Daniel Jones, (NYG) – Sure, call me a homer. Yep, I’m a Giants fan. I’ve never exactly made that a secret. That said, Jones has consecutive games without turning the ball over for the first time in recent memory, which has been his biggest drawback. Jones has a nice floor that is boosted by 45-plus rushing yards, so even in the event he has turnover issues again, they will be partially negated by his running ability. Jones has a great schedule ahead, taking on the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks each of the next two weeks. Hopefully if you’ve made it this far along in the season you won’t need to change the most important cornerstone position on your team, but weirder things have happened.

Philip Rivers (IND) – During the preseason, I noted that Rivers had a number of factors benefitting him, mainly a strong offensive line, deep running back stable and pass-catchers who were adept at running short to intermediate routes where he thrives. Rivers squares off against the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans the next two weeks, and both defenses have been bleeding points of late. Michael Pittman has really been coming on, and Jonathan Taylor has regained the top spot ahead of Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins.

Running Backs Gus Edwards (BAL) – Edwards has outperformed both J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram from a pure rushing standpoint, and both of the latter options listed have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Monday evening, making Edwards the de-facto top option. Volume is king when it comes to running backs in Fantasy Football, and Edwards should see plenty. Granted, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t the matchup that I would have chosen in his debut, but Edwards remains a FLEX start at a minimum.

James White (NE) – The Patriots have had precious little Fantasy-relevant players in 2020 with a new offensive system in place to accommodate Cam Newton. White has been an afterthought for the most part, but with Rex Burkhead injured in Week 11 and looking to miss time, the pass-catching and dump-off threat role is now wide open. Damien Harris will still dominate early-down work, but don’t be surprised to see White catch a handful of passes each week moving forward. In PPR leagues, one could do worst as an upside play.

Cam Akers (LAR) – Yes, I’m aware that Akers is owned in the majority of keeper and dynasty formats, no need to remind me. That said, in redraft leagues, Akers is owned in less than 30 percent, which means that there is a chance he is available. Akers has been seeing more touches coming out of the team’s Week 9 bye, and beat writers have remarked that he will see a near 50-50 split with Darrell Henderson Jr. moving forward. He’s young, talented and healthy. Would I start him? Probably not unless forced to, but he’s fantastic insurance and the Rams have a nice schedule moving forward.

Wide Receiver Michael Pittman (IND) – Similar to Akers, I expect that Pittman will be taken in your league. If he isn’t? Spend whatever remaining FAAB you have to acquire him, as I view him as an upside-WR3 play for the remainder of the year, at a minimum. Pittman has elite open-field skills as evidenced by his touchdown this past week, and I’m excited to see what additional targets could bring.

Jalen Reagor (PHI) – I’ll start off by saying that I don’t like the way Carson Wentz is currently playing. I’ve said this in MULTIPLE columns going back several weeks, and have discussed with Philadelphia beat writers ad nauseam why he still holds the starting job. The Eagles are prone to playing from behind, and if Travis Fulgham is no longer going to be the team’s de-facto WR1, than it is Reagor’s job to lose. Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson are non-factors, and Greg Ward is a chain-mover at best.

Nelson Agholor (LVR) – Is he inconsistent? Yes. Does he drop easy passes? Yes. But for Pete’s sake – LOOK AT THAT SCHEDULE. One couldn’t ask for an easier one-two combination than the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets secondaries, and I’d both add and start Agholor on that premise alone. Outside of Darren Waller this Las Vegas team is lacking a tried-and-true receiving threat, especially with the coaching staff not willing to feed any of the young talent on the team. Agholor is intriguing.

Tight End Jordan Reed (SF) – What a dumpster fire at this position. If you own Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, you’re happy. Outside of that? Woof. The 49ers are in desperate need of pass-catching options and have been struggling with COVID-19 ravaging their ranks yet again. Much to no one’s surprise, Reed has only played in five games so far this season, but has looked effective enough to make a difference when called upon, and his trademark elite athleticism still exists. Will he make it through the remaining slate unscathed? Probably not, but as a spot-start against the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills the next two weeks, you could do worse.