NFL Waiver Wire: Week 12 Deep Dive

NFL Waiver Wire: Week 12 Deep Dive

This article is part of our NFL Waiver Wire series.

Thanksgiving week is an interesting one in the NFL with a split schedule, including three games on Thursday where are a lot more decisions have to be made earlier in the week. With no teams on bye, there's also a chance to reset rosters after some busy weeks of rest. Even without having to worry about bye-week replacements, there are a lot of injuries to monitor and that will be both a concern and opportunity from a fantasy perspective. With that in mind, let's dig through the wire.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill vs. Bengals (eight percent ESPN)
 
Tannehill has found consistency since his return from an ankle injury by posting a pair of reasonable fantasy performances. The Bengals should be able to score, in which case Tannehill will be asked to take to the air at least 30 times and that could lead to another fine result.

Jacoby Brissett vs. Buccaneers (12 percent ESPN)

Brissett has found different paths to production in recent weeks, including volume, efficiency and even a rushing score. Tampa Bay boasts among the top defenses as measured by DVOA, so this may not be the week for a ceiling performance. And Deshaun Watson is also nearing a return, so the best may have already passed for Brissett.

Kenny Pickett at Colts (seven percent ESPN)
 
Pickett is showing some signs of growth, with plenty of mistakes mixed in. As mentioned in previous columns, the Steelers are willing to let him play through the errors, which means

Thanksgiving week is an interesting one in the NFL with a split schedule, including three games on Thursday where are a lot more decisions have to be made earlier in the week. With no teams on bye, there's also a chance to reset rosters after some busy weeks of rest. Even without having to worry about bye-week replacements, there are a lot of injuries to monitor and that will be both a concern and opportunity from a fantasy perspective. With that in mind, let's dig through the wire.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill vs. Bengals (eight percent ESPN)
 
Tannehill has found consistency since his return from an ankle injury by posting a pair of reasonable fantasy performances. The Bengals should be able to score, in which case Tannehill will be asked to take to the air at least 30 times and that could lead to another fine result.

Jacoby Brissett vs. Buccaneers (12 percent ESPN)

Brissett has found different paths to production in recent weeks, including volume, efficiency and even a rushing score. Tampa Bay boasts among the top defenses as measured by DVOA, so this may not be the week for a ceiling performance. And Deshaun Watson is also nearing a return, so the best may have already passed for Brissett.

Kenny Pickett at Colts (seven percent ESPN)
 
Pickett is showing some signs of growth, with plenty of mistakes mixed in. As mentioned in previous columns, the Steelers are willing to let him play through the errors, which means there are many chances for him to take to the air. The efficiency hasn't gotten there yet, but Pickett has displayed some rushing ability to help bolster his stat line.

Sam Darnold vs. Broncos (zero percent ESPN)

Darnold is getting a shot as Carolina's starting QB. This isn't necessarily the week to play him, but Denver's defense hasn't been topflight since losing a few members to injury and trade. There are some reasonable weapons in the Panthers' offense despite their poor record, so there's a path for Darnold to produce in future weeks if he can effectively distribute the ball.

Bryce Perkins at Chiefs (zero percent ESPN)

Perkins got reps with the first-team offense Wednesday and could be in line to start Sunday. In 2QB or potentially even Superflex leagues, that could put him on the radar.

Running Backs

Kyren Williams at Chiefs (12 percent ESPN)

Williams was challenging for a larger role in the Rams' offense in two games since returning from injured reserve, and Darrell Henderson being waived likely solidifies his role for the rest of the season. He's worth picking up, but the Rams' offense doesn't have the same firepower we've grown accustomed to.

James Cook at Lions (21 percent ESPN)

Cook is still clearly the backup in Buffalo, but he did get a season-high 11 carries in Week 11. The game script could lead to garbage time on Thanksgiving and more opportunities for him.

Marlon Mack at Panthers (two percent ESPN)

Denver went from a crowded backfield to thin in short order. Melvin Gordon was waived and Chase Edmonds is now on IR. Latavius Murray represents the lead back and the best option to roster, but Mack will almost certainly carry some role in the offense.

Ronald Jones vs. Rams (two percent ESPN)

With Clyde Edwards-Helaire on injured reserve, coach Andy Reid said Jones will likely be active for the first time this season. He isn't likely to step into a significant role immediately, but it's a situation worth monitoring.

Keaontay Ingram vs. Chargers (three percent ESPN)
 
Ingram is just insurance to James Conner, meaning he's not startable without an injury to the lead back. That's not necessarily a bad position to be in, and Arizona could ultimately start to shift the workload with their postseason hopes all but gone.

Trestan Ebner at Jets (three percent ESPN)

Ebner is strictly the backup to David Montgomery. And if Justin Fields misses time, no one in the Bears' offense will be particularly interesting. 

Wide Receiver

Jameson Williams vs. Bills (17 percent ESPN)
DJ Chark vs. Bills (19 percent ESPN)

The Lions are in desperate need of peripheral pass catchers behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, and both Chark and Williams will have the chance to deliver. Williams in particular may take some time to ramp up and is more of a luxury stash for playoff-bound teams.

Van Jefferson at Chiefs (17 percent ESPN)

It appears Bryce Perkins may be starting Sunday for the Rams, which isn't exactly positive news for Jefferson – or any of the team's pass catchers. On the other hand, Jefferson did manage five targets last week and will continue to see an elevated role in the absence of Cooper Kupp.  

Terrace Marshall vs. Broncos (16 percent ESPN)

It's hard to predict how any Carolina receiver will perform in a given week due to the revolving door at quarterback. However, Marshall has commanded at least six targets in three of his last four games, so the opportunity has been there.

Nico Collins at Dolphins (11 percent ESPN)

Collins appears to have taken over as the top receiver in Houston with a combined 17 targets across his last two games. That isn't a typical alpha role due to the subpar state of the Houston offense as another club with a change at QB. There are some warning signs, but Collins is a good deep play or FLEX option.

Randall Cobb at Eagles (three percent ESPN)

Green Bay's receiving corps is stable relative to the start of the season with Allen Lazard, Christian Watson and Cobb on the field in three-receiver sets. As for Cobb specifically, he played on 56 percent of offensive snaps in Week 11 after returning from a four-game absence. Don't expect an explosive performance, but 10 PPR points is a fairly safe bet.  

Greg Dortch vs. Chargers (zero percent ESPN)

The Arizona wide receiver group is in flux with Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore and Dortch all nursing an injury. Dortch will need both Moore and Brown to remain out to have a significant role in the offense, but he managed the first 100-yard game of his career last weekend against San Francisco.

Skyy Moore vs. Rams (17 percent ESPN)
Justin Watson vs. Rams (two percent ESPN)

The Chiefs are another team battling a number of injuries amongst their receivers. JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to return, but Kadarius Toney may be forced to sit and Mecole Hardman is on IR. That could leave the opportunity for one of Moore or Watson to see more of the field and targets.

Kendall Hinton at 49ers (zero percent ESPN)

Hinton narrowly missed a TD in Week 11 and has eight targets from his last two games in the absence of Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Both Jeudy and Hamler didn't practice Wednesday, meaning Hinton could continue in a complementary role for the immediate future.

Tight End

Juwan Johnson at 49ers (19 percent ESPN)

Johnson has topped 40 receiving yards and scored a touchdown in three consecutive games. The 49ers are a strong defense, but Johnson's production is too tough to ignore given the thin depth at the position.

Trey McBride vs. Chargers (eight percent ESPN)

McBride has played 59 and 54 offensive snaps in two outings without Zach Ertz. He's only managed five targets during that span, but Arizona could be without several key pass catchers.  

Austin Hooper vs. Bengals (six percent ESPN)

When Tennessee is forced to throw, Hooper has largely delivered usable fantasy performances. The Bengals have the potential to speed the Titans' offense up, resulting in Hooper being a viable streamer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Marcus
Dan started covering fantasy sports in 2015, joining Rotowire in 2018. In addition to Rotowire, Dan has written for Baseball HQ and Rotoballer.
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