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Waiver Wire: Week 12

by Adam Levitan
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Considering there are just six weeks left in the NFL’s regular season, we have a lot to chew on this week in Waiver Wired. It’s because of injuries. The status of Dwayne Allen, Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas, Jordan Reed, Larry Fitzgerald and Greg Jennings will all be worth monitoring closely. We already know Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandin Cooks and Allen Robinson are sidelined.

On to all the Week 12 assets. Here is how I would rank the players available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues right now. Notes and recommendations on each player will follow.

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Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2.5 million Fantasy Football league for Week 12’s games. It’s only $25 to join and first prize is $300,000. Starts November, 23rd at 1pm ET. Here’s the link.

1. Josh McCown
2. Kyle Orton
3. Michael Vick

Running backs
1. Tre Mason
2. Jonas Gray
3. Isaiah Crowell
4. Charles Sims
5. Dan Herron
6. Latavius Murray

Wide receivers
1. Cecil Shorts
2. Malcom Floyd
3. Kenny Stills
4. John Brown
5. Cody Latimer
6. Jarvis Landry
7. Charles Johnson

Tight ends
1. Coby Fleener
2. Jacob Tamme
3. Niles Paul
4. Mychal Rivera
5. Owen Daniels

Defense/Special Teams
1. Colts
2. Packers
3. Chargers
4. Rams

1. Matt Bryant
2. Robbie Gould
3. Brandon McManus

1. Josh McCown, Bucs – Owned in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues
Brushing aside the early-season woes that got him benched, Josh McCown has thrown four touchdowns against two interceptions with a sizzling 8.92 YPA over the last two weeks. Clearly finding a groove with stud rookie Mike Evans, he now goes to Chicago for all the revenge narratives against the team he starred for last season. The Bears give up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any team in the league.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

2. Kyle Orton, Bills – Owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues
Facing an excellent Dolphins defense with a hobbled Sammy Watkins (groin) last Thursday night, Kyle Orton predictably let owners down with 193 yards and zero touchdowns. Now the Bills have had a long week to get ready for a tasty Week 12 matchup at the Ralph against the Jets. It sets up perfectly for Orton, as Buffalo won’t be able to run the ball against the league’s No. 4 rush defense and will have to take to the air against the Jets’ no-talent secondary. When these two teams played in New Jersey in Week 8, Orton went 10-of-17 for 238 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Recommendation: Should be considered as a Week 12 streamer

3. Michael Vick, Jets – Owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues
Michael Vick has not lit up the box score in his two 2014 starts. He’s managed the games, throwing three touchdowns against one interception and picking his spots to run 12 times for 57 yards. Vick still has it in him though, as evidenced by the 67-yard strike he put on T.J. Graham against the Steelers before the bye and the ease with which he moves. I don’t like this spot at the Ralph against a good Bills defense, but Vick is not going to fall on his face. He has Eric Decker, Percy Harvin and a running game that can be effective when Chris Ivory gets going. The higher ceiling matchups for Vick owners will be MIN in Week 14 and TEN in Week 15.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

Watch List: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Drew Stanton -- Josh Gordon’s long-awaited return from suspension projects to open up the whole CLE offense. Kyle Shanahan will finally have the “X” receiver he needs, one that is more talented than previous holders of the gig like Pierre Garcon, Andre Johnson and Rod Smith. Brian Hoyer’s deep ball is underrated, but it won’t matter a ton as Gordon makes things happen on his own. … Mallett has a monster arm, plus weapons and upcoming games against CIN, TEN and JAX. … I would have thought Drew Stanton would crash back to earth this week even if he wasn’t facing Seattle. RUNNING BACKS
1. Tre Mason, Rams – Owned in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Rams and Tre Mason have faced a gauntlet over the last six weeks, facing SF, SEA, KC, SF, ARZ and DEN. During that brutal stretch, Mason established himself as the clear-cut feature back, averaging 17.4 carries per game over the last five. The production predictably hasn’t been there due to the matchups, but that’s about to change. Now we can confidently use Mason as a RB2 with the schedule easing up over the next three weeks: SD, OAK, WAS. Note that the Rams also get the Giants in Week 16, whose run defense has been inept since MLB Jon Beason was lost for the season.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Jonas Gray, Patriots – Owned in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues
Our Patrick Daugherty led his always excellent and entertaining Morning After column with Jonas Gray. I’m 100 percent on board with Pat’s take on Gray’s outlook going forward, so bang it here. Yes, Gray was beyond extremely impressive Sunday night as the no-doubt power back. He has at least 12 carries in three straight games, filling the Stevan Ridley role well ahead of Brandon Bolden and James White. But former Ridley owners are well aware of the frustration that comes about when Bill Belichick decides to look elsewhere in the gameplan. We saw that against the Jets a month ago, when the Pats chose not to challenge an elite front. We could very well see that again this week as the Patriots figure to go pass-heavy against the Lions. Weeks 13 and 14 should be good for Gray against GB and SD. But Weeks 15 and 16, fantasy winning time? Not so hot for Gray with MIA and NYJ on the schedule. He’ll also need game flow on his side as a two-down back that gives way to Shane Vereen in passing situations. Gray is certainly an add, but be prepared for a rocky ride. I would not chase points with him on FanDuel for $6700 in Week 12.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

3. Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
Have the Browns finally settled on a starting running back? Coach Mike Pettine says he’s “not just going to pick one,” but perhaps we can read between the lines a bit. First of all, whining Ben Tate has been released after Pettine admitted the free-agent pickup doesn’t have the explosiveness the team was looking for. So we’re down to rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, with Crowell as the one Pettine seems to want to handle the gig. Even after Crowell lost a fumble against the Texans, the Browns went right back to him. He’s dominating the West in YPC (4.58 vs. 3.64). Another thing working in this whole backfield’s favor is the return of Josh Gordon, who will finally open take safeties out of the box. It’s not going to be pleasant as the Browns utilize a hot-hand, whoever played better in practice approach – but for now Crowell has his nose in front.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

4. Charles Sims, Bucs – Owned in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues
In Charles Sims’ second career NFL game, he leapt to the top of the Bucs’ RB pile. Bobby Rainey started, but finished with five touches on 19 snaps. Sims came on to record 16 touches on 33 snaps as Tampa pulled off a win in Washington. Mike James did not play a single down. Even if Doug Martin’s ankle gets right, it’s safe to say Sims is the one this Lovie Smith regime wants to take a look at. The sledding won’t be easy given the Bucs’ run-game woes, but Sims excels in the pass game which should keep his floor high weekly. Expect 12-18 touches per game the rest of the way, starting at Chicago Sunday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

5. Dan Herron, Colts – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
Ahmad Bradshaw’s wheel woes caught up with him again, this time in the form of a fracture that will likely end his season. Now the question is how much more work can the Colts give Trent Richardson? He’s already averaging 15.2 ineffective touches per game, operating at a sub-average level for the second straight year. Do the Colts really want to give him more work? I think they’ll try to before growing as frustrated as fantasy owners have. The other option is to install Dan “Boom” Herron as a complementary piece. Although the 2012 sixth-rounder of the Bengals is nothing special, he’d have appeal if getting 8-12 touches in the NFL’s No. 1 offense.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

6. Latavius Murray, Raiders – Owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Raiders are 0-10. Washed up veterans Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden have combined to take handoffs and fall down 146 times for 463 yards (3.17 YPC). Is it time to give a shot to Latavius Murray, the 24-year-old size/speed freak. Of course it is. The Raiders actually appeared to move slightly in that direction Sunday, as Murray set season-highs in touches (7) and snaps (27). There would be more excitement here if he wasn’t part of one of the most dysfunctional franchises in professional sports. For now, I’d just stash and see if coach Tony Sparano does the right thing and benches DMC/MJD.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Juwan Thompson, Knile Davis, Roy Helu, Theo Riddick – Thompson is now C.J. Anderson’s backup by default. Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) could both be done for the regular season. … Davis is your weekly reminded to handcuff your running backs where it makes sense. … Helu continues to be a PPR asset for deep leaguers. Game flow should be in his favor again as the Redskins are eight-point dogs at San Fran this week. … Reggie Bush (ankle) should be back Week 12, capping any upside Riddick had.   WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – Owned in 44 percent of Yahoo leagues
Finally sustaining health for an extended period, Cecil Shorts is averaging 5.2 catches for 63.0 yards with no touchdowns over the last five games. As the Jags come out of their bye, they’ll do so without promising rookie Allen Robinson (IR, foot). Allen Hurns will slide in opposite Shorts and Marqise Lee will fill in as the No. 3, but Shorts is the one I want to target as the best talent of the trio by a mile. When healthy, Shorts has proven to be very effective – even if his best work comes in garbage time. He’ll see a lot of that in Week 12 as the Jags have to go to Indy to face a Colts team licking wounds inflicted by the Patriots.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

2. Malcom Floyd, Chargers – Owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’m as much of an ageist as anyone when it comes to fantasy football, but the 33-year-old Malcom Floyd just keeps doing it. He has at least 50 yards or a touchdown in six straight games now, a span that has seen him average 3.8 catches for 64.5 yards with two scores. Unlike most vertical threats, I’m comfortable with his floor on a week-to-week basis, giving him borderline WR3 appeal heading into a fine matchup in Week 12 – home against a Rams team set for a letdown.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

3. Kenny Stills, Saints – Owned in 14 percent of Yahoo leagues
Kenny Stills quietly had a really good rookie year in 2013. He ranked 89th among wideouts in targets yet 47th in fantasy scoring, led the NFL with 20.0 yards per reception and was credited with just one drop. Drew Brees had a 139.3 rating when targeting Stills, tops in the league. The selection of Brandin Cooks put a bit of a block on Stills’ upside because he’s forced into the Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem vertical clear-out role too often. Still, he’s averaging 3.1 catches for 43.1 yards with two touchdowns. Well, now that Cooks (thumb) is out 4-6 weeks, Stills is expected to be part of the committee that replaces those 7.0 targets per game. More high-percentage routes will give Stills a shot at borderline WR3 value for the foreseeable future, especially with this Week 13-16 schedule: PIT (No. 14 pass D), CAR (23), CHI (25), ATL (32).
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. John Brown, Cardinals – Owned in 30 percent of Yahoo leagues
It’s impossible to watch John Brown, the third-round rookie out of Pittsburg State, and not be impressed. And even as the No. 3 receiver, he was averaging a healthy 8.2 targets per game over his last four. Now Brown is going to be needed even more as Larry Fitzgerald has a Grade 2 MCL sprain. Fitz says he’s going to be able to play through the injury, but that’s asking a lot. So there’s a chance Brown starts at Seattle, which is obviously a difficult spot. But smaller, faster players like DeSean Jackson, T.Y. Hilton and Emmanuel Sanders are the kind that give the Legion of Boom trouble. And if Fitzgerald’s injury proves worse than originally thought, Brown would be an excellent play in Week 13 against the Falcons.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Cody Latimer, WR, Broncos -- Owned in  1 percent of Yahoo leagues
If you saw the play that concussed Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday, you know he’s in the protocol and questionable for Week 12 against the Dolphins. The good news is that he was alert in the locker room afterward and even had some jokes for his Instagram followers. It doesn’t have the look of a long-term concussion right now. Still, it’s worth adding Cody Latimer as a very talented player that at least has a shot at extended snaps opposite Demaryius Thomas. Latimer, a second-round rookie, is the preferred add over Andre Caldwell – the low-upside veteran we’ve already seen make no impact when given opportunities (2-16-0 on 42 Week 1 snaps). Sanders and Demaryius Thomas owners would be wise to execute a handcuff strategy down the stretch here.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

6. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins – Owned in 15 percent of Yahoo leagues
Taking over as the clear-cut No. 2 target behind Mike Wallace, Jarvis Landry has at least five targets in five of his last six games. He continues to win out of the slot despite a lack of long speed, leading to a hefty catch rate of 77.7 percent on the season. Landry has also added red-zone chops to his game, catching two short touchdowns over the last three weeks. Still, with virtually nothing in his route tree deeper down the field, Landry’s appeal is limited to deeper PPR formats.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team PPR leagues

7. Charles Johnson, Vikings – Owned in 0 percent of Yahoo leagues
We’ve been monitoring Charles Johnson for two years now because he’s 6’2/215 with 4.39 speed and a 11-foot-1 broad jump. He looks like a stud NFL receiver despite bouncing around from the Packers practice squad to the Browns before getting signed to the Vikings active roster in late September. Johnson finally got his big chance on Sunday with Greg Jennings (ribs) and Jarius Wright (hamstring) going down and responded with a 6-87-0 line on seven targets and 25 snaps. If Jennings and Wright both sit against the Packers Sunday, Johnson projects to start opposite unreliable Cordarrelle Patterson.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Andre Caldwell, Allen Hurns, Kenny Britt, Davante Adams, Chris Hogan – I suspect the Broncos will ride with Cody Latimer over Caldwell if Emmanuel Sanders sits. But it’s murky. … Hurns is the new starter opposite Cecil Shorts with Allen Robinson (foot) done. … I wouldn’t bet on Britt turning in more big plays like the one he put on the Broncos, but he is the clear-cut No. 1 WR. … Adams’ volume is a concern. Why throw it to him when Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are always open? … Chris Hogan quietly has 12-131-1 on 16 targets over the last two games. TIGHT ENDS
1. Coby Fleener, Colts – Owned in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues
Long a frustratingly inefficient player, Fleener has a lot going for him right now. Dwayne Allen (ankle) is questionable, pass-catching back Ahmad Bradshaw broke his ankle, Fleener is good buds with former Stanford teammate/generational quarterback Andrew Luck, and the Colts get to play Jacksonville and Washington at home the next two weeks. Fleener flashed the ceiling of his ability on a national stage Sunday night, putting 7-144-0 on the Patriots. He’s a plug-n-play TE1 the next couple weeks, especially if Allen is inactive.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team leagues

2. Jacob Tamme, Broncos – Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues
Julius Thomas sprained his ankle and Emmanuel Sanders suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss at St. Louis. Virgil Green (calf) is day to day. So even though chasing a poor athlete is scary, Jacob Tamme projects to be getting a ton of opportunities in a Peyton Manning offense. That, of course, should have folks interested. Tamme played on 58-of-71 snaps against the Rams, running 40 routes and seeing 10 targets. He only managed a 4-31-0 line, but I’d bet on plenty more if he gets that kind of usage against the Dolphins in Week 12.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

3. Niles Paul, Redskins – Owned in 7 percent of Yahoo leagues
Jordan Reed played on just 33-of-77 snaps against the Bucs Sunday, going 2-22-0 on three targets. After the game, the team listed him on their injury report with a hamstring injury. That should raise eyebrows, as the oft-injured Reed also battled a nasty hamstring pull earlier this season that cost him four games. During that time, Niles Paul stepped up by averaging 4.5 catches for 58.2 yards with one touchdown. It’s a reasonable expectation any time Reed sits. Paul is a deeper-league add while we await more news on Reed.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

4. Mychal Rivera, Raiders – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
Thanks in large part of Eric Weddle, the Chargers are among the league’s best team against tight ends. So it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that Rivera managed just 3-40-0 on five targets. The spot at Kansas City on Thursday is only marginally better and we’ll likely need garbage time to return value. But at a desperate position, Rivera remains a low-end TE1.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper 12-team leagues

5. Owen Daniels, Ravens – Owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues
We know the 32-year-old Owen Daniels doesn’t bring any upside at this point in his career. But the Ravens are coming out of a bye, meaning he should be as fresh as he’s been for a big game against the Saints. OC Gary Kubiak’s scheme is going to pepper the tight end with targets, as evidenced by Daniels’ 6.3 over the last six weeks. He’s a desperation plug-n-play.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues

Watch List: Tim Wright, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Forget about running back handcuffs, Wright needs to be owned as a Rob Gronkowski handcuff. … Amaro’s usage in the game before the bye was encouraging. The Jets force-fed him a bit. … ASJ has the skill set to be a red-zone dominator. Of course, so does Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.

1. Colts – Owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues
The Colts defense got exposed by Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday night. Blake Bortles and the Jags are not capable of the same thing, especially with Indy at home and highly motivated to bounce back after their embarrassing loss. Bortles has 14 interceptions in 7.5 games and will be without Allen Robinson (foot).

2. Packers – Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues
Don’t go chasing the 30-something points that GB D/ST put on the Eagles in Week 11, but the matchup is decent here again. The Packers aren’t at Lambeau where they’re so dominant, but they are outside in Minnesota against a Teddy Bridgewater led offense that is threatening no one right now. Clay Matthews’ move to inside linebacker has been a major boost.

3. Chargers – Owned in 35 percent of Yahoo leagues
We talked a bunch last week about how the Chargers were getting some serious defensive pieces back as they came out of their bye. The unit responded by holding the Raiders to just six points and 233 total yards Sunday. Now they have another home game, this time against a Shaun Hill led Rams squad that is primed for a letdown after their upset of the Broncos.

4. Rams – Owned in 33 percent of Yahoo leagues
I’ve been adding a stash D/ST to the end of this section every week. This week’s pick is the Rams, who are not a preferred start at San Diego in Week 12 but host the Raiders in Week 13. As we saw against the Broncos, this potentially dominant defensive line can give any offense problems – they’ll eat the Raiders up.

1. Matt Bryant, Falcons – Owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues
Matt Bryant is hot right now, going 8-of-8 across the last two games and winning people fantasy games. Now he gets a home game with an over/under of 47 in the dome against the Browns. It’s a layup.

2. Robbie Gould, Bears – Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo leagues
Somehow, Robbie Gould has just one field goal attempt in the last four weeks (missing from 47 yards). That’s a stat that screams regression and a home game against the Bucs in Week 12 is a good place to start. Gould is averaging just 1.0 attempts per game this season after getting 1.8 a day last year.

3. Brandon McManus, Broncos – Owned in 12 percent of Yahoo leagues
If you want a nice floor, Brandon McManus is your man because we know he’ll get plenty of extra points. The Broncos, at home off a loss, are good bets to light the scoreboard even against a very good Dolphins defense. We also get an added bump of McManus’ range being expanded by the Mile High air.

Adam Levitan
Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.