The Waiver Wire Wizard Week 13 2020
I can't count how many times I've checked my phone regarding a status update this past week on a player contracting COVID. A game being postponed. Players in contact tracing - "close contact scenarios" or whatever else they refer to it as at this point. Then refreshing my screen and seeing more ridiculous news about how situations change, how online providers are handling treating tight ends or wide receivers as quarterbacks…I'm done. I'm so, so, so, done and over this. I give up.
Week 12 around the league proved (if nothing else) to be a case study in patience. Heck, we are still waiting to see the Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore game actually take place - as of this moment its been postponed until Wednesday afternoon, but who knows if that will stay in place. Fantasy players benched starting options in fear of a cancellation, or the dreaded "Week 18" scenario occurring. Of course, we will wait with baited breath to see further developments, and fingers crossed it goes as-planned.
::Takes a deep breath and calms down::
With all of that behind us, I'm going to hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. That Fantasy Football hasn't been nearly as much of a thorn in your side as mine in 2020, and that you were able to kick your feet up and relax after inhaling some amazing food.
Even though Week 12 isn't officially over, I'm going to say it is. And this column will (thankfully) look forward, rather than backward, in preparation for smoother sailing down the road.
In normal circumstances I would take the time to give a brief recap of each and every game, focusing on which players performed well or struggled, followed by reviewing any waiver-wire relevant players that have arisen, if any. That said? Week 12 is one to forget. Denver didn't have a starting quarterback and played with a fourth-string practice squad wideout under center instead. Multiple starting options sat due to "contact tracing" issues, even though they didn't test positive themselves. The list goes on. This was a week to forget, rather than remember. And for the sake of my sanity, I'd like to simply give a deep-dive into anyone who is worth grabbing off of the waiver wire, if I may.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Miami) - The bearded messiah has returned yet again. Though it appeared that highly-touted rookie Tua Tagovailoa had finally seized the reigns for the Dolphins, poor play coupled with an injured thumb led to Fitzpatrick making his swan song. Last week "Fitzmagic" continued to prove that he has what it takes to be a relevant option, passing for over 250 yards and tossing two touchdowns. Granted, it was against the lowly New York Jets, but he has a phenomenal matchup next week as well with the Cincinnati Bengals. Fantasy players tend to forget that even during his advanced age, Fitzpatrick has zero qualms taking off and running the ball to secure a first down, and that slight rushing floor allows him to throw an interception without much collateral damage. Tom Brady and Teddy Bridgewater owners were looking for a bye-week replacement, and those who were starting Daniel Jones are in need of help. Look no further.
Cam Akers (Los Angeles Rams)
- Well, my pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year has decided to show up about 10 weeks too late! Injuries derailed a once promising rookie campaign, and I have no doubt that Sean McVay would have loved Akers to be given more opportunities sooner in the season. Darrell Henderson will continue to be involved in the passing game, but Akers appears to have overtaken Malcolm Brown as an early-down and goal-line option. He was the best running back for the Rams in Week 12, and a favorable schedule upcoming against Arizona, New England and the New York Jets is just what the doctor ordered. Though Akers is a capable pass-catcher, expect him to split time with Henderson in the check-down game. Akers has a massive ceiling, but a lower floor. Perhaps he is more of a "grab and hold" than "plug and play" option for now, but don't sleep on him. Time is running out.
Devontae Booker (Las Vegas)
- Reports came out on Monday afternoon that star running back Josh Jacobs is now nursing an ankle injury, which means that Booker could see a major uptick in value, should Jacobs sit. Booker has been phenomenal when given the opportunity by Las Vegas this season, and his emergence has catapulted himself past Jalen Richard for the incumbent role. Booker has averaged 5.5 YPC this season, and in the one game this year when he was given more than 10 total touches, he found the end zone twice on his way to a 20-point showing in PPR formats. Figuring he would see double-digit looks at a minimum, Booker is Week 13's top add, and is available in nearly 95 percent of ESPN standard-size leagues.
Frank Gore (New York Jets)
- Why even bother giving the ball to someone with youth or upside when you have no hope of winning a game? I suppose that is the mantra that Adam Gase and Co. live with at the moment. I'd never wish that another person lose his job, but Gase has done little to nothing to earn the paycheck that management is writing him in 2020. With La'Mical Perine sidelined indefinitely, all backfield work will be given to Gore, boosting his value close to a low-end RB2. In Week 12 he handled 21 total targets, and I'd have to wager that level of volume continues as long as his Moses-esque body can handle it. Sure, he may break one tackle and fall forward for a 4 yard gain each handoff, but it all adds up eventually. Players who are dealing with significant injuries at the position could definitely do worse.
Brian Hill/Ito Smith (Atlanta)
- Todd Gurley missing the week led to a RBBC in Atlanta, though many thought that Hill would be on the right side of a 70/30 split in the backfield. Those who took the time to watch this awful game noticed that Smith appeared to run harder and play better than Hill, suggesting if Gurley were to miss another week (after all, Atlanta isn't going anywhere) than it would be closer to an even split. Both players are competent pass-catchers with stocky builds capable of picking up tough yards when necessary. The presence of one limits the other, but both players should at least have FLEX relevance in 14-team formats if given the chance again. This is a deeper play.
Henry Ruggs III (Las Vegas)
- You're sensing a pattern of buying low on Raiders players by now, eh? Ruggs topped 50 receiving yards for the first time since Week 5, and his five targets in Week 12 were the most since Week 1. Derek Carr has one of the best tight ends in football with Darren Waller, but has been very reliant upon Nelson Agholor to make "splash" plays when trailing. Why he's looked to the veteran rather than Ruggs is anyone's best guess - Ruggs has a dynamic skillset capable of breaking a huge gain at any opportunity. I'd expect Carr to bounce-back after a poor performance in Week 12, with the Raiders facing the woeful New York Jets in Week 13, then being forced to play catchup against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angles Chargers the following two weeks. Ruggs is a standard-league upside dart throw.
- With John Brown on IR, Davis will start opposite of Stefon Diggs in the potent Buffalo Bills passing game, and due to safeties protecting against Diggs going deep, both Davis and Cole Beasley should feast underneath and in zone coverage. Davis caught 3-of-4 passes in Week 12 for 79 yards and a score, and I'd expect him to be heavily involved for the remainder of the season. This third-round rookie might not have the same name recognition of others in his draft class, but he is just as talented and explosive when given the opportunity.
Allen Lazard (Green Bay)
- When I started to write this column, I was boggled that Lazard was owned in less than 30 percent of standard-size leagues. Perhaps owners were impatient while he was sidelined from Weeks 4-10, but he has proven to be a consistent WR2 in the Packers passing attack, and a favorite of Aaron Rodgers to target when Davante Adams is taking a rest or is triple-covered. Green Bay has multiple soft defenses coming up in Philadelphia, Detroit and Carolina, and I'd be willing to wager than Lazard comes away with a minimum of two touchdowns in those three games. He won't see the volume that other waiver-wire options will command, but the quality of his targets is supreme.
Do I really HAVE to recommend someone here? Ugh.
Jordan Akins (Houston) - The recent breaking news that star wideout Will Fuller will miss the remainder of the 2020 season while serving a six-game suspension due to a failed PED test opens up a number of targets in Houston, and I don't think that "start the next receiver on the depth chart" is the appropriate course of action to take here. Akins is a major threat to score and pile up yards after the catch, and is now the team's predominant red zone threat. Yes, he's currently in a snap time share with Darren Fells, but Akins is the superior talent, and anyone suggesting otherwise hasn't watched a Texans game the last few seasons. Houston faces the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and then the Colts again the next three weeks. I'd expect in both of those games against Indy for Houston to be trailing and playing from behind - ample opportunity here, folks.