By: Brandon Sysak @BrandonSysak
Just Checkin’ and Deep Dives
Week 12 is over now, leaving us to digest the news and notes from the great week that was. Now there is only one week that stands between us and what all fantasy football players seek all year: the fantasy playoffs. Whether you are a team on top of the standings looking to further build your empire, a fringe playoff team looking to find a way to firmly cement your status, or a bottom-of-the-barrel team owner looking to add some depth to help with next year’s run, waiver wire pickups this week are extremely important. Here are some of my Deep Dive and Just Checkin’ waiver wire adds for Week 13.
*Here are some names that are likely owned in your league (100-25% owned), but I still worth checking to see if they’re available because they represent great value*
Philip Rivers, QB Los Angeles Chargers (66.8% owned in ESPN, 82% owned in Yahoo)
Philip Rivers has always been a QB on the edge of fantasy relevancy throughout his career. He has been a QB1 in the past, but has never been someone that owners could rely on week-to-week. Rivers is currently ranked as the QB11 in most leagues but has been especially hot in recent weeks with 920 yards seven TDs and one INT since Week 10, not only getting better overall but also reconnecting with his talented WR Keenan Allen in that time (27 receptions, 379 yards and three TDs for Allen). Rivers seems to have found a rhythm in this offense and will look to carry this momentum for the rest of the season. The Chargers have an extremely pleasant schedule going forward (CLE, WAS, KC, NYJ and OAK) which will help Rivers keep his streak alive. He is still available in around 25% of leagues and will be a great asset to your team in the playoffs, go grab Rivers if he is out there.
Alex Collins, RB Baltimore Ravens (69.9% owned in ESPN, 71% owned in Yahoo)
The Baltimore Ravens backfield has been an interesting one in 2017. The season started with Terrence West and Danny Woodhead leading the charge, but after injuries to both players by Week 4, it was now in the hands of Javorius Allen and newcomer Alex Collins. Both players have been productive this season ranking as the RB21 and RB36 respectively. Now Woodhead is back and is cutting into the pass-catching work of Allen, but Collins is still maintaining his relevancy over the past two weeks since Woodhead’s return (27.8 fantasy points in 0.5 PPR scoring formats since Week 11). Collins has averaged 17 rushing attempts since Week 8 and looks to be the workhorse back in Baltimore and will continue to do so for the rest of the year. The Ravens have some less than favorable matchups in Weeks 14 and 15 (PIT and CLE) but has some good matchups in the other remaining games with Week 13 versus DET, Week 16 versus IND and Week 17 versus CIN. Collins is still out there for 30% of leagues, meaning some of you can snag this RB3 with RB2 upside. Go out and get him from waivers.
Jonathan Stewart, RB Carolina Panthers (61.4% owned in ESPN, 38% owned in Yahoo)
While many fantasy owners have been very impressed with the production of rookie RB Christian McCaffrey, his veteran counterpart Jonathan Stewart has been fairly good in his own right. Stewart has had some sour games in 2017, including his two-fumble performance in Week 9, but has been usable in most games (averages 7.8 fantasy points per game in 0.5 PPR formats outside of Weeks 6 and 9). Stewart has seen plenty of work this season, getting an average of 14 rushing attempts per game in this improved Carolina offense, giving Stewart a safe floor among other fantasy running backs. Stewart and his fellow Panthers have a fairly good schedule coming up for the rest of 2017 with poor matchups coming in Weeks 13 and 14 versus NO and MIN, but positive matchups in Weeks 15-17 with GB, TB and ATL, giving him some sneaky playoff appeal. Stewart is available in over half of leagues, so he is out there for most owners to consider and add to their team.
Josh Gordon, WR Cleveland Browns (35.1% owned in ESPN, 53% owned in Yahoo)
Ladies and gentlemen, after almost a three year absence that included multiple suspensions, reinstatements, and trips to rehab: Josh Gordon is set to come back this week. The Browns coaching staff has confirmed that Gordon will come back in some capacity this week and will play “as much as he can”. While fantasy owners should not expect a lot from the new Browns WR as this will be his first game action in a long time and it will take some time for him to get reacclimated with the NFL game, we should all be excited to see the redemption of a person that has been through a lot in recent years. Gordon has the potential to be an amazing late season add if he is still anywhere near as talented as he was when he left and if he can develop a connection with Deshone Kizer, which he seems to be able to do. Cleveland has some good matchups coming up, especially in Week 13 versus LAC, Week 14 versus GB and Week 16 versus CHI, but they will have a hard time in the other two matchups versus BAL and PIT. Gordon is only owned in roughly 44% of leagues, meaning he is out there for most owners to grab as a lottery ticket-type player that can cash in big time in the playoffs and potentially in the long term.
Jamison Crowder, WR Washington Redskins (70% owned in ESPN, 83% owned in Yahoo)
In a season of inconsistency for Washington, one player that was consistently bad was Jamison Crowder. Before Week 8, Crowder only had 21.8 fantasy points (0.5 PPR scoring), disappointing many owners that drafted him high and expected big things from him. However, Crowder has risen in recent weeks, exploding for 62.8 fantasy points in his last five games, becoming a suddenly relevant fantasy asset in the face of the Chris Thompson-less Redskins. Crowder and the rest of the Washington offense have a great schedule going forward for the rest of the year (DAL, LAC, ARI, DEN and NYG), giving Crowder extra appeal in addition to his recent production. While Crowder is owned in a large percentage of leagues (77% on average), he is absolutely worth the look and is certainly worth an add if he is out there on your waiver wire.
Copper Kupp, WR Los Angeles Rams (60.2% owned in ESPN, 60% owned in Yahoo)
Cooper Kupp has been one of the best young wide receivers this season, ranking as the WR35 in most formats with 46 receptions on 72 targets for 597 yards and three TDs, proving to be a favorite of QB Jared Goff. Kupp had a great game last week with eight receptions for 116 yards and will look to build on this production going forward. The Rams have some fairly poor matchups coming up with ARI next week and PHI in Week 14, but after that things clear up nicely with games versus SEA, TEN and SF. Kupp is available in around 40% of leagues, so he is someone that could be out there for you and will be a very beneficial piece going forward.
Hunter Henry, TE Los Angeles Chargers (62.2% owned in ESPN, 68% owned in Yahoo)
This Chargers TE has been a polarizing player across fantasy football. Hunter Henry has been a frustrating player to own at times this season, with five games under four points in 0.5 PPR scoring (including two zero point performances). However, when he is used adequately in the Chargers offense, Henry has shown that he is a talented TE who can produce fantasy relevant numbers. Henry did so last week with five receptions for 76 yards and one TD, posting his best statline of the season. Look for Henry to try and keep this rhythm going and finish the year out strong, especially with the great matchups he will have (CLE, WAS, KC, NYJ and OAK). Henry is owned in roughly 65% of leagues, so he is still available for some. Check your waivers and grab him if he is still out there.
*Here are some players that have a lower ownership percentage (less than 25%), but have huge upside and are great grab and stash players*
Blake Bortles, QB Jacksonville Jaguars (19.2% owned in ESPN, 35% owned in Yahoo)
One of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season is certainly the success of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are well over .500 and have their best record in almost 10 years. Most of this has had to do with the well-established run game and the improvement of the defense, you cannot overlook the progression of Blake Bortles this season. While he has been asked to take a step back in his overall role in the offense, Bortles has settled in nicely this year and has proven to be production in right matchups while also not being destructive in the wrong matchups. Bortles should be able to keep this success going for the rest of 2017 and will be someone to consider in the fantasy playoffs with his favorable schedule (IND, SEA, HOU, SF and TEN). Bortles is available in 73% of leagues (even more if you are in an ESPN league), and is someone worth consideration due to his excellent schedule and recent production.
Rod Smith, RB Dallas Cowboys (20.5% owned in ESPN, 14% owned in Yahoo)
In the absence of Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys have chosen to go with Alfred Morris as their main replacement, even going so far as cutting fellow RB Darren McFadden from their squad earlier this week. DMC actually ended up retiring shortly after being cut. Morris has lead the team in most rushing statistics since Elliott began his suspension three games ago, but Rod Smith, the now clear backup RB behind Morris, is not far behind him. One advantage Smith has over Morris is pass catching ability. Smith has six receptions in the past three games, which is five more than Morris had in that time. While Smith doesn’t necessarily have the skill set to be a great pass catching back in the NFL, him being on the field in those situations with benefit him more than it will Morris. Dallas has a good remaining schedule for running backs going forward, outside of their matchup versus PHI in Week 17, which will benefit Smith and his fellow Cowboys (WAS, NYG, OAK, SEA). Smith is only owned in around 18% of most leagues and should be available for most of you to grab off of waivers.
Peyton Barber, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0.2% owned in ESPN, 1% owned in Yahoo)
One of the big performers of Week 12 was none other than Peyton Barber. The Tampa Bay RB finished with seven yards on five rushes and two TDs and was somebody that opened the eyes of many perspectives owners. He mainly prospered because of an injury to starter Doug Martin, but it looks as though Martin is in danger of missing this upcoming game following his concussion. This opens the door for all of the backup Tampa Bay running backs to be relevant, and most are expecting the coaches in Tampa to ride the hot hand with Barber having some sort of role in the offense this week. Though the Bucs are a mess right now, they have a pretty decent schedule going forward with good matchups in Weeks 13-15 versus GB DET and ATL, but have bad matchups to finish the year against CAR and NO. Barber is owned in less than 1% of leagues and is certainly a flyer that could end up being very beneficial for his owner in the playoffs and going forward.
Jaron Brown, WR Arizona Cardinals (4.5% owned in ESPN, 6% owned in Yahoo)
Jaron Brown is among the non-Larry Fitzgerald wide receivers in Arizona that have a particular skill set that makes them very interesting to fantasy owners. They have lots of big play potential and can turn one reception into a big fantasy day. Brown did just this last week with one reception for 52 yards and a TD. With the added injury of John Brown, it looks as though Brown could be in line for more targets and would be a good addition to your fantasy squad, especially with this easy schedule (LAR, TEN, WAS, NYG and SEA). Brown is available in roughly 95% of leagues and is certainly worth considering adding to your roster as someone who could have a couple big games in the playoffs that will win you your matchup.
Terrance Williams, WR Dallas Cowboys (12.5% owned in ESPN, 17% owned in Yahoo)
While the Dallas offense is a whole seems to be spiraling out of control, Dak Prescott has shown time and time again that he has a great connection with wide receiver Terrance Williams. Williams has 39 receptions for 455 yards and zero TDs this season and will look to keep it up going forward as a main target in the Dallas offense (56 targets so far this season, third most on the team). Dallas has a fairly good schedule going forward with WAS, NYG, OAK, SEA before their tough game in Week 17 versus PHI, meaning good things maybe ahead for Williams and the rest of the offense. Williams is owned in around 15% of leagues and is somebody who is worth looking at and considering going forward, as he will be a key part of the process in getting Prescott back to his old form and Williams will be a valuable asset when he is.
Brandon LaFell, WR Cincinnati Bengals (6.3% owned in ESPN, 6% owned in Yahoo)
Brandon Lafell is not the premier WR in Cincinnati, but has shown that in certain matchups and situations that he can be a good fantasy asset with six games over five fantasy points in 2017, including two games with over 10. The Bengals had a get-right game versus Cleveland last week, and will be looking to continue their production for the rest of the season, which could mean good things for LaFell going forward. Cincinnati has a rough matchup this upcoming week versus PIT and in Week 15 versus MIN, but have good matchups in the other games. LaFell is available in 94% of leagues and is almost certainly on your waiver wire right now. Grab Lafell and stash him as a flyer player for now, and look for him to be productive in these remaining games of 2017 and going forward.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE Arizona Cardinals (1.6% owned in ESPN, 3% owned in Yahoo)
The fantasy darling of the past two weeks has certainly been Ricky Seals-Jones. Seals-Jones burst onto the scene in Week 11 with 54 yards on three receptions and two TDs and followed that performance up with 72 yards on four receptions and one TD this past week. Seals-Jones seems to have quite the connection with new QB Blaine Gabbert and should continue to be one of his favorite targets going forward. Arizona has a tough matchup next week versus LAR but will have some good matchups following that game with TEN, WAS, NYG, and SEA. Seals-Jones is only owned in around 2% of leagues, and is certainly worth adding after proving he can put more than one quality week together.