Waiver Wire Week 12: Latavius The Workhorse?
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Season-long numbers this far into November can be tricky little devils.
Injuries, coaching changes, player development, philosophical crises, and a smattering of other in-season issues can alter the way an offense operates, making some teams unrecognizable from their September form.
We’ve seen a handful of NFL teams this season go from run heavy to pass heavy, or pass heavy to run heavy, or from one of the extremes to balanced. That, of course, affects the opportunity players have in said offenses. A guy’s weekly fantasy prospects can change dramatically with an offensive coordinator’s shift to the run or pass.
Below are the ten offenses with the highest pass rate over expected (PROE) through the past four weeks, along with five teams sporting the league’s lowest PROE.
|PROE from Week 8-11
The Chiefs remain the PROE champs, raising questions about Isiah Pacheco‘s rest-of-season prospects even if KC steamrolls teams and sets up what should be run-heavy game scripts.
The Vikings have established themselves as a decidedly pass-first offense, which should help Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson reach their fantasy ceilings in games where Minnesota isn’t humiliated before a national audience. Minnesota over the past four weeks has the NFL’s 11th lowest PROE on first down, an inexplicable offensive approach for a team with Justin Jefferson.
Pittsburgh has been forced to mess around with a pass-heavy approach over the past month, in part because their rushing attack has been so ineffective. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has Kenny Pickett dropping back at the sixth highest rate in the league since Week 8. It could be enough to make Pickett interesting in the season’s final month.
Seattle’s offense has, incredibly, leaned more toward the pass over the past month. The Seahawks have the league’s seventh highest PROE on the season but have bordered in KC-level pass rates since Week 8. If it holds through the season’s final month, it could be a league-winning development for DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Geno Smith. No team has a higher PROE on first down, making Pete Carroll our new Analytics King. Long may he live.
Now for the ten NFL offenses with the lowest PROE over the past four weeks.
|PROE from Week 8-11
We all joke about Arthur Smith and his old-school run-heavy ways. Big Blue isn’t all that far behind the Falcons though. I don’t know if fantasy gamers have fully grasped how much the Giants was to establish it. New York has been under its expected pass rate for seven straight games. They show no signs of experimenting with the forward pass if they don’t absolutely have to. It makes Daniel Jones and every Giants pass catcher thin fantasy options week in and week out.
The Commanders -- a top-five PROE offense in September -- are all in on the fragile defense-and-running formula that has moved them into the postseason picture since Taylor Heinicke took over for Carson Wentz. Washington’s determination to run the rock will make Terry McLaurin a somewhat frustrating fantasy option even as he commands a hearty target share. No other Commanders pass catcher is fantasy relevant as long as Washington remains this run heavy, and Antonio Gibson has sneaky upside as the team’s best back.
Tennessee’s numbers are skewed because they operated like a high school offense with Malik Willis under center in Weeks 8 and 9. With Ryan Tannehill back in Week 11, the Titans were 2 percent over their expected pass rate -- the second time all season they’ve achieved such a feat.
Below are Week 12 waiver priorities, along with crowdsourced free agent budget data from fantasy football researcher Freeman Smith. Hopefully Smith’s data (from his FAAB Lab) helps you wrap your head around how your league mates will value waiver wire players this week.
Kenny Pickett (PIT)
Rostership: 11 percent
Pickett isn’t good and probably isn’t the Steelers’ long-term answer at quarterback. He was also very close to a monster Week 11 stat line against the Bengals. George Pickens dropped what would have been a 49-yard touchdown and a Steelers wideout was stopped at the one-inch line on the game’s final drive. Pickett finished with 265 yards and a touchdown, adding 14 rushing yards.
Pickett’s penchant for fleeing the pocket -- he had 16 rushes in the two games before Week 11 -- offers some fantasy appeal, however fleeting. His Week 12 matchup against the Colts isn’t exactly appealing though. Indianapolis has allowed the 11th lowest drop back EPA this season.
Bryce Perkins (LAR)
Rostership: 0 percent
Perkins would be something close to a QB1 if Matthew Stafford is out in Week 12 and Sean McVay goes with Perkins over John Wolford. Perkins against the Saints in Week 11 completed half of his ten passes for 64 yards and -- importantly -- rushed three times for 26 yards after Stafford left the contest.
McVay said Monday that the team would be exceedingly careful with Stafford. What he didn’t say is that 2022 is officially a lost season for the Rams and that Stafford has little reason to risk further brain damage with a hasty return to action. Perkins showed flashes in the preseason, completing 71.2 percent of his passes at 8.1 yards per attempt. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions on 65 preseason drop backs.
Perkins had 73 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on seven preseason rushing attempts. He has a history of rushing production that peaked in his 2019 season at the University of Virginia, when Perkins was fifth in quarterback rushes (132) and sixth in QB rushing yards (1,015). He scored 11 touchdowns on the ground that season. Every rushing quarterback is a cheat code in fantasy football -- some more than others. Perkins could be started in one-QB formats if he gets the nod in Week 12.
Other quarterbacks to roster
Mike White (0 percent) or Joe Flacco (1 percent): Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Monday all but sealed Zach Wilson‘s fate when he wouldn’t commit to him as the team’s Week 12 starter. Flacco or Mike White will take over for Wilson. We don’t know which guy will get the gig as of this writing. White was promoted to QB2 a few weeks ago, suggesting he might be next up. Whoever gets the starting job should be rostered in superflex formats.
Andy Dalton (10 percent): Dalton will probably be forced into a pass-heavy game script this week against the heavily-favored 49ers. That puts him in play as a streaming option even though the Niners defense is a definite run funnel. Probably that won’t matter in this matchup.
Jacoby Brissett (10 percent): After showing real fantasy upside in Week 11 against Buffalo, Brissett should be in a similar spot (chasing points) this week against Tampa. Brissett is averaging 34.9 pass attempts and 4.6 rushing attempts per game in Cleveland losses this season. That might make him serviceable against the Bucs.
Editor’s note: Isiah Pacheco should be added in all formats. He’s on the wire in 36 percent of leagues. The Chiefs had their lowest pass rate over expected in Week 11 against the Chargers. Perhaps that was matchup driven, though Pacheco has clearly taken over as Andy Reid‘s preferred early-down back. Jerick McKinnon in Week 11 mixed in with six carries and led the backfield in routes and targets while out-snapping Pacheco.
Latavius Murray (DEN)
Rostership: 24 percent
The deeply unhappy marriage between the Broncos and Melvin Gordon came to a sudden end on Monday when the team waived the veteran back (don’t drop Gordon, who could easily land in a more fantasy friendly backfield this week).
Gordon had led the Broncos backfield with a 45 percent snap share since Latavius Murray landed in Denver in Week 4, though it’s Murray who has seen 49 percent of the team’s carries to 29 percent for Gordon. Murray absorbing around half of Gordon’s rushing workload would instantly make him a viable if touchdown-dependent RB2 candidate, even in Nathaniel Hackett‘s horrific offense, which was surely forged in the hottest circle of hell.
Mike Boone (ankle) has been on IR since late October and Chase Edmonds picked up a serious ankle injury in Week 11 against Vegas; Edmonds is expected to miss at least a couple weeks. Murray could get the entire Denver backfield to himself this week against the Panthers. That includes most (all?) of the passing down work after the exodus of Gordon, who had a 10 percent target share since Week 4. Marlon Mack, who apparently plays for the Broncos, could sub in for Murray now and again.
Expectations should remain in check for the rumbling, stumbling Latavius. He’s third to last among all NFL running backs in rush yards over expected per attempt. The only two backs worse than Murray this season: Cam Akers and, you guessed it, Gordon.
Samaje Perine (CIN)
Rostership: 9 percent
I’m going to make a bold call and say Perine won’t score multiple receiving touchdowns every week, as he did in Week 11 against the Steelers. I’m nothing if not brave.
Perine is line to serve as the Bengals’ top back in Week 12 against the Titans as Joe Mixon enters the league’s concussion protocol following his Week 11 brain injury. Perine’s pass-catching upside is downright mouthwatering if Ja’Marr Chase remains sidelined with his hip injury. Mixon’s fantasy profile has been elite in Chase’s absence; his target share over the past two games (21 percent) trails only Tee Higgins (22 percent). That’s a chunk of running back targets that would go exclusively to Perine.
Mixon of course could clear the protocol by Friday or Saturday and suit up against Tennessee, scuttling any fantasy appeal Perine might have.
Tyler Allgeier (ATL)
Rostership: 51 percent
Allgeier is the Falcons’ lead early-down back and in Week 11 he tied Cordarrelle Patterson in pass routes. Atlanta has a string of bad teams coming up on their schedule. Expect Arthur Smith to establish the run hard enough to open a wormhole to 1972, where his offense will look modern and fun.
Allgeier, who leads the Atlanta backfield in expected fantasy points since Patterson’s return to the lineup, should be a lock for double-digit carries over the next few weeks.
Other running backs to roster
Cam Akers (27 percent): It took 18 hours to make myself write about the Rams backfield. What a bleak situation it is. If you’re desperate, Akers might be worth a pick up. Against the Saints in Week 11, he had 14 carries -- seven more than Kyren Williams -- for 61 yards. Williams, however, operated as the Rams’ pass-catching back.
Trestan Ebner (3 percent): Ebner is Chicago’s No. 2 back and one snap away from taking over as the lead runner. Khalil Herbert is out for at least another three weeks and David Montgomery has hardly proven the most durable back.
Mike Boone (2 percent): The analytics truther’s favorite running back could come off injured reserve in the next week or so. Melvin Gordon out of the picture and Chase Edmonds down with an ankle injury could put Boone one Latavius Murray injury away from being Denver’s lead back. He’s a smart stash in deeper formats.
Alexander Mattison (37 percent): We’ve reached the time of year when Dalvin Cook drafters should snag Mattison in case disaster strikes and Cook goes down. Mattison is essentially a one-for-one replacement when Cook is sidelined.
Dontrell Hilliard (12 percent): Derrick Henry‘s backup, Hilliard has been excellent on limited opportunities in 2022. He could be a league-winning pickup if Henry misses any time in the season’s final month.
Deon Jackson (11 percent): Jackson played 13 snaps and ate into Jonathan Taylor‘s pass-catching role a bit in Week 11 against the Eagles. It’s clear Jackson would take over as the top guy in the Indy backfield if Taylor were to miss time.
Keaontay Ingram (4 percent): Ingram has worked his way into the Cardinals’ RB2 spot with some impressive running in limited chances. Following the departure of Eno Benjamin, a James Conner injury would catapult Ingram into a potentially 20-touch-per-week role in the run-first Arizona offense.
James Cook (17 percent): The rookie saw a season-high 11 carries for 86 yards last week against the league-worst Cleveland rush defense (he was targeted twice on three pass routes against the Browns). I would bet Cook functions as the lead guy if Devin Singletary misses any time over the next month. You could do worse than Cook as a bench stash.
Justice Hill (2 percent): Hill was nipping at Kenyan Drake‘s heels in Week 11 against Carolina, getting seven carries to ten for Drake while running two fewer pass routes and nearly equaling Drake’s snap share. Ravens coaches love Hill -- that’s important. He has a narrow path to fantasy viability if Drake and Gus Edwards get dinged up.
Isaiah Spiller (4 percent): It looks like Spiller -- who was second in running back snaps and routes against the Chiefs -- is the next guy up behind Austin Ekeler. Sony Michel would certainly cut into his early-down workload though.
Editor’s note: Josh Palmer, available in 41 percent of leagues, should be a top priority on the waiver wire this week. Mike Williams is once again injured and Palmer has an unbelievable 40 targets over LA’s past four games. That kind of opportunity-based fantasy value is hard to find.
Treylon Burks (TEN)
Rostership: 20 percent
The rookie had a mini-breakout performance in Week 11 against a pretty good Green Bay secondary. Running fewer routes than Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Burks was targeted on a stellar 38 percent of his routes and caught seven balls for 111 yards.
Neither Westbrook-Ikhine nor Woods are the kind of receivers who can get open consistently and make the most out of every reception. Burks does. Burks, who finished his Arkansas career with a 36 percent yardage share -- outrageous for a three-year player. Burks in college was a yards-after-catch star who feasted on screens and got up to speed quickly despite his big frame. It’s what helped Burks draw comparisons to A.J. Brown, whom he ostensibly replaced in the Tennessee offense.
I mentioned it in this space last week with Christian Watson: Sometimes it takes rookie wideouts half a season to get their proverbial sea legs. Burks, after struggling through various nagging injuries and failing to earn coaches’ trust through much of the season’s first 10 weeks, emerged as the Titans’ clearcut No. 1 receiver last Thursday against the Packers. Tennessee’s run-heaviness will make Burks a low-end WR2, at best, rather than the high-end WR2 he might be in a pass-first system. Burks’ rostership needs to get to at least 80 percent this week.
Darius Slayton (NYG)
Rostership: 51 percent
Slayton since Week 5 leads the Giants with 29 targets. His 21.4 percent target per route run isn’t fantastic but it’ll suffice if you’re in a league that starts up to four wideouts. Wan’Dale Robinson -- Slayton’s only target competition this season -- is done for the year with an ACL tear. It’s all lining up for Slayton to command enough of the Giants’ target pie that he can get by even on somewhat inefficient weeks.
Slayton has dominated air yards in New York’s run-heavy offense over the past month and a half, seeing 36 percent of the team’s air yards, the 15th highest rate in the NFL over that span. With the well-compensated ghost of Kenny Golladay, David Sills, and Marcus Johnson as his main target competition, I like Slayton to be a consistent fantasy factor down the stretch.
Demarcus Robinson (BAL)
Rostership: 5 percent
Robinson’s nine-catch, 128-yard Week 11 performance wasn’t the flukiest thing that’s ever happened in fantasy football. In fact, it wasn’t fluky at all. LateRound.com’s JJ Zachariason points out that Robinson had target shares of 23.5 percent and 19.1 percent in the two Ravens games before their Week 11 win over Carolina, when Robinson commanded a team-high 28 percent target share.
Lamar Jackson in Week 9 told reporters he wanted to get Robinson more involved in the struggling Baltimore passing attack. That mission was certainly accomplished against the Panthers, as Robinson found himself in single coverage time and again while Carolina defenders tried like hell to keep the ball away from Mark Andrews.
“He played lights out,” Jackson said of Robinson after the team’s Week 11 win. “We’ve known what he’s capable of though; we just have to keep feeding him the ball.”
Meanwhile, Devin Duvernay -- who looked for all the world to be the team’s WR1 in the aftermath of Rashod Bateman‘s season-ending foot injury -- has a mere two targets over his past two games while running a route on nearly every Ravens drop back. Though Robinson won’t win fantasy titles -- far from it -- he can be a stabilizing WR3 option in PPR formats if he keeps his role as Jackson’s go-to guy not named Andrews.
Van Jefferson (LAR)
Rostership: 11 percent
Jefferson split slot routes with Ben Skowronek in the Rams’ first game without Cooper Kupp last week against New Orleans. He tied Allen Robinson for the team lead with five targets; he caught three for 41 yards.
Jefferson’s sky-high average depth of target plunged in Week 11 to 12.2, meaning he’s finally seeing some intermediate looks from Matthew Stafford. That should make Jefferson less of a boom-or-bust downfield threat and give him something of a floor in the Kupp-less LA offense. Without Stafford under center, no Rams receiver is worth starting in Week 12.
Greg Dortch (ARI)
Rostership: 2 percent
My sources are telling me it is once again Dortch Szn. Rondale Moore injured his groin on the first play from scrimmage in the Cardinals’ Monday night drubbing at the hands of the 49ers and Dortch posted a cool nine catches for 103 yards, trailing only DeAndre Hopkins in targets.
As a refresher, Dortch started the 2022 season with 20 receptions in from Week 1-3 on the strength of a 17 percent target share. He’s certainly worth starting in PPR leagues if Moore misses time.
Jameson Williams (DET)
Rostership: 22 percent
I’m not all that excited about Williams’ potential NFL debut in a run-first Detroit offense with an alpha WR1 in Amon-Ra St. Brown and a quarterback who either can’t or won’t throw downfield. D.J. Chark‘s eventual return to the lineup should further squelch any giddiness about Williams getting on the field.
I suppose he’s worth rostering in some formats in case I’m completely wrong and he immediately carves out a full-time role as the team’s primary deep ball threat. The Lions are 21st in pass rate over expected and Jared Goff is 28th in passing aggressiveness, per Next Gen Stats. Seems bad for someone with a profile like Williams.
Other receivers to roster
Parris Campbell (40 percent): Campbell followed up his big Week 10 with a quieter Week 11, but one in which he saw a 20 percent target share and continued running as the Colts’ main slot guy. None of the Colts wideouts are going to see ceiling performances when the team plays from ahead. The hope with Campbell in Week 12 is that Indy struggles against the Steelers. I’m not sure how likely that is.
Skyy Moore (6 percent): JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s eventual return to the KC lineup complicates things for Moore, who in Week 11 against the Chargers ran a route on 41 percent of the Chiefs’ drop backs and had five receptions for 63 yards. Moore was targeted on 37.5 percent of his pass routes against the Bolts -- a superb mark, and one worth noting. Maybe Kadarius Toney‘s 19th hamstring injury of the season will force the team to ramp up snaps and routes for Moore.
Zay Jones (19 percent): Jones is a close second in the Jacksonville pass-catching pecking order. He has more expected fantasy points than JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVonta Smith. I take no pleasure in reporting this. But Jones should be started in most 12-team PPR leagues.
Terrace Marshall (11 percent): Marshall led the Panthers in targets, catches, and receiving yardage against Baltimore in Week 11. He might be a better fantasy option than D.J. Moore at this point. I’ve never written anything sadder in my life.
Olamide Zaccheaus (1 percent): The Falcons possibly losing Kyle Pitts for the rest of the season is similar to the Rams losing Cooper Kupp for an extended stretch. Both guys dominated targets and air yards. In fact, Pitts has the 13th highest weighted opportunity rating this season, a measurement of a pass catchers’ share of targets and air yards. That’s among all NFL pass catchers. Zacchaeus, a staple in two-receiver sets for Atlanta over the past couple months, should join Drake London as the primary beneficiaries of Pitts’ absence. There’s always the chance Arthur Smith operates a wishbone offense from here on out.
Evan Engram (JAC)
Rostership: 34 percent
It’s almost as if fantasy managers don’t take much stock in expected fantasy points. Engram is tenth among all tight ends in expected fantasy points. He’s also fourth in tight end pass routes and ninth in targets. The process!
You probably can’t do better than Engram on the waiver wire at this late date. Jacksonville’s run-first ways threaten to cap Engram’s target upside, though I suspect the down-bad Jags will find themselves in chase mode more often than not over the season’s final month and a half. That could be good for Engram.
Greg Dulcich (DEN)
Rostership: 60 percent
I understand Dulcich has been rostered in competitive leagues since the sun stayed up until 8 p.m. He’s still out there in a fair number of leagues though.
Dulcich is running plenty of routes to be fantasy viable, if only Russell Wilson was slightly less terrible at playing quarterback. Only seven tight ends have more pass routes than Dulcich over the past five weeks. I have serious doubts Dulcich can tap his upside in a Broncos offense that ranks 28th in expected points added (EPA) per play.
Juwan Johnson (NO)
Rostership: 30 percent
I know. In your league, Johnson was drafted before David Njoku. I get it. If not -- if Johnson is still on the wire -- he should be claimed this week. Actually, he should have been picked up a month ago. He has the seventh most tight end pass routes over the past four weeks and the eighth most tight end targets. Johnson, who scored his first non-garbage time touchdown in Week 11, said he had been given part of Michael Thomas’ role in the Saints offense.
“That is Mike’s route, but since Mike’s gone, I’ve taken that role of being that box-out guy,” Johnson said of his score against the Rams, according to NewOrleans.football. “Mike’s done it well for so many years, so just watching his film and trying to emulate that is the biggest thing. All I had to do is make a catch and use my big body.”
Noah Fant (SEA)
Rostership: 10 percent
Things didn’t break right for Fant in Week 10 against the Bucs. He saw just four targets and nearly came down with a 22-yard touchdown, but for one half of one toe out of bounds. Nevertheless, we persist. Fant’s route rate isn’t fantastic; he ran a route on 50 percent of the Seahawks’ drop backs against Tampa. With eight receptions for 130 yards over the past two games, Fant is worth a look on your local waiver wire if you’re scrambling at tight end.
Robert Tonyan (GB)
Rostership: 41 percent
Tonyan is finally seeing his route participation rate rise. Against the Titans last Thursday night, Tonyan ran a route on 70 percent of Aaron Rodgers’ drop backs and caught two of four targets for 19 yards. A party is in order.
Tonyan, like almost every tight end, will be touchdown dependent. So it goes. But he’s out there running routes at a good enough clip that he should be able to stumble into some production.
Other tight ends to roster
Harrison Bryant (1 percent): David Njoku returned in Week 11 from his ankle injury and Bryant promptly out-targeted him, seven to four, gaining more yards in the process. Bryant also ran more routes than Njoku. Perhaps the Browns are easing Njoku back into the lineup. In the meantime, Bryant is in play for folks in 14-team leagues.
Jack Stoll (0 percent): In Dallas Goedert‘s first game on injured reserve, Stoll led Eagles tight ends in pass routes. He was targeted once. I guess he has a shred of fantasy appeal since no other Philly tight end ran more than six routes against the Colts.
Lawrence Cager (0 percent): Hello darkness, my old friend. Things of that nature. Cager is quietly 12th in tight end pass routes over the past two weeks. He has four receptions -- one for a touchdown -- in those outings. While the Giants wait for Daniel Bellinger to return, Cager looks like the primary pass-catching tight end. He’s purely a desperation option.
Joey Slye (WAS)
Rosterhip: 10 percent
Slye, who has never missed arm day, has 13 field goal tries over Washington’s past four games -- the result of Taylor Heinicke and the Commanders maintaining neutral and positive game script with a hyper-conservative offensive approach.
The Commanders enter Week 12 as three-point favorites against an Atlanta defense that can’t stop opponents on the ground or via the pass. The Falcons have allowed the tenth most field goal attempts this season; opposing kickers have 11 field goal tries against Atlanta over the past four weeks. Slye is the perfect process play.
Ryan Succop (TB)
Rostership: 34 percent
Succop is a high-end play in Week 12 as the Bucs are three-point favorites against Cleveland. The Browns, in case you somehow did not know, are allowing the sixth most field goal tries, with seven of ten kickers logging multiple attempts against them in 2022.
Succop, meanwhile, has at least two field goal tries in seven of Tampa’s ten games. The Browns’ quietly bad defense stands little shot of shutting down Tom Brady and company coming off a much-needed bye.
Jason Sanders (MIA)
Rostership: 8 percent
The Dolphins are at home and favored by a million over the minor-league Texans. This is the environment we crave for fantasy kickers. Sanders has multiple field goal tries in five of his past seven games thanks to oceans of positive game script for the Miami offense averaging a solid 3.5 red zone possessions per game. He should be considered a top-10 option in Week 12.