Week 12 is upon us, and with that we get into my personal favorite part of the weekly grind: the waiver wire! Whether you play in a league that does standard waiver claims or FAB (free agent bidding), we will highlight players below based off players rostered in 33.3% or less of ESPN leagues. If you happen to play in a 10-team league or smaller, this article will serve more as a "watch list and stash" report, rather than a guide to directly making your top pickups and FAB bids. For a complete list of our waiver wire rankings, by position with no write-ups, check out my weekly Waiver Wire Rankings page here.
Author's Note: We want to jump on the opportunity to improve our rosters as often as humanly possible, and we do this through waivers, trades and streaming positions at QB, TE, D/ST and/or Kicker. The ability to drop these positions at the start of the week and make at least one or two additional, speculative adds, can often be the difference in hitting on a league-winner off the waivers and not. It's the owners who stand pat and stay stagnant who often see their fortunes fade down the stretch. That's why it's so important to grind the bottom of your rosters each week and not be afraid to cut players with "household names" who aren't seeing good usage. Have a specific add/drop question or anything more specific that isn't covered? Hit me up on Twitter @maddjournalist or @betpredators.
Daniel Jones (Roster Percentage - 17.1%): Don't look now, but the 2020 breakout season for Daniel Jones is coming. The 2019 first-round pick out of Duke has struggled immensely in his sophomore campaign, sure, but he has now put up 200+ passing yards and four touchdowns in his three games before the New York Giants' Week 11 bye, and he enters a stretch in which he faces the Bengals, Seahawks, Cardinals and Browns from Weeks 12-15. You're going to have to find another quarterback streamer when Jones gets the Ravens in Week 16 for the fantasy championship, but he could provide quite the ride until then for those needing a guy with QB1 upside and a rushing floor. Let's not forget, Jones put up QB1 numbers in stretches last season, and (warning: "hot take" incoming) I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Jones outscores Lamar Jackson during that Week 12-15 stretch, or at least keeps pace there. He also now has 20+ yards rushing in his six of his last eight games, with 49 carries for 384 rushing yards on the year as well.
Gardner Minshew (11.4%): Reports have it that "Mustache Mania" could draw the start at quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12 against the Cleveland Browns, and despite the sophomore season struggles in 2020, Gardner Minshew clearly gives us fantasy managers - and the Jaguars, for that matter - better upside on any given play than Luton does. From Weeks 1-7, before missing games due to his injury, Minshew was fantasy football's QB12 overall and was in the top half of the league in fantasy points per game (19.3), actually averaging more fantasy points per game than the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford. Minshew also adds a rushing floor that Luton simply does not, and his upcoming schedule in Weeks 12-14 include fantasy-friendly defenses in the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans. Minshew could be a sneaky pickup and a streamer spot start off waivers this week before your opponents catch wind of his return, and help you make a final playoff push.
P.J. Walker (1.1%): We might only get one more start out of the XFL superstar for now, but boy was Phillip Walker fun to watch in the Carolina Panthers' 20-0 shutout victory over the Detroit Lions. Walker wasn't afraid to sling it deep, connecting with DJ Moore early on a 52-yard bomb down the left sideline and completed 70% of his passes (24-for-34), for 258 yards and a touchdown. The 25 year-old NFL rookie did throw two interceptions, but I'm chalking that up to some over-aggressiveness that can be tamed down and turned into more efficiency. He looked quick moving in and out of the pocket as well, and I believe a potential rushing floor is there in more competitive matchups if he does indeed draw more starts. The Panthers have fallen fast out of playoff contention, and with a Week 13 bye looming, I wouldn't be surprised to see them sit both Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey until Week 14. Walker would definitely warrant a stream/start in Week 12 against a hapless Minnesota Vikings secondary.
Honorable Mention: Teddy Bridgewater (29.2%), Kirk Cousins (20.6%), Philip Rivers (9.4%), Alex Smith (11.6%), Andy Dalton (3.6%), Drew Lock (9.8%)
Deep(er) League Adds: Nick Mullens (1.9%), Baker Mayfield (18.3%), Sam Darnold (1.3%), Jalen Hurts (0.8%), Nick Foles (8.8%), Mitchell Trubisky (1.0%),
Gus Edwards (Roster Percentage - 7.0%): We led off this section with the "Gus Bus" in Week 9, one week after ran roughshod over the Pittsburgh Steelers to the tune of 16 carries for 87 and a touchdown, including a long run of 25 yards. And that game was with J.K. Dobbins splitting the backfield touches. Well folks, in Week 12 we get no Mark Ingram and no Dobbins, after both running backs tested positive for COVID-19 and are now set to miss the Baltimore Ravens' rematch and AFC North divisional showdown with the Steelers on Thanksgiving. Gus will have the backfield all to himself, with a little Justice Hill possibly mixing in, and we can comfortable project for 15+ touches and maybe even 20+ touches in this matchup, with goal-line work and targets to boot. This is simply a priority one-week pickup, with the assumption that either one of both of Ingram and Dobbins will be back after Thanksgiving. But for now, in Week 12, there isn't a single back owned in less than 1/3 of ESPN leagues who has that load.
Carlos Hyde (32.6%): I actually ranked Carlos Hyde ahead of Gus Edwards on my Week 12 Waiver Wire Rankings, but this is a completely situation-specific matter in terms of which running back you need. Hyde offers value in Week 12 also, because we simply cannot assume yet that Chris Carson is ready to take the field and resume a full workload. Carson has been injury prone in the past as well, and with the Seattle Seahawks operating a true one-back system with either Carson or Hyde if one is healthy, then we have a huge opportunity for touches down the road if Carson either misses more time or gets banged up again. Hyde, in his first game back in more than a month in Week 11, dominated the backfield touches for Seattle, taking 14 of 21 RB carries (14-79-1) and posting a 2-16 receiving line on three targets. In the two games he has filled in for Carson, both against the Arizona Cardinals for that matter, Hyde has now racked up 29 carries for 147 rushing yards and two TD's, averaging a robust 5+ yards per carry in the process.
Ty Johnson (0.1%): If you're starting lineup is set and your bench depth, stashes and handcuffs are solid, then I'd recommend taking a potentially high upside flier in Ty Johnson with La'Mical Perine being placed on IR and set to miss at least three weeks. Johnson actually finished Week 11 with six targets, ranking second overall for the New York Jets only behind Denzel Mims. If he continues to see decent passing game usage and inherits the Perine change-of-pace of role, we could be looking at a decent plug-and-play flex option or low-end RB3 in deeper leagues. I'd rather take a shot on him in a pinch than someone like presumed starter Frank Gore, who is basically TD-dependent and not involved in the passing game, severely limiting his upside in PPR scoring formats. Johnson, in an extremely limited sample, is averaging 9.5 yards per carry (6-57) and posted three games with three or more catches in a change-of-pace role with the Detroit Lions in 2019. Garbage time fantasy point potential can only boost him short term.
Honorable Mention: Boston Scott (29.4%), Tony Pollard (21.5%), Kerryon Johnson (28.8%), Cam Akers (28.3%), Devonta Freeman (24.7%), Justin Jackson (32.8%)
Deep(er) League Adds: Tevin Coleman (24.0%), Rashaad Penny (2.2%), Sony Michel (14.7%), Frank Gore (8.8%), Benny Snell (5.9%), Brian Hill (5.3%)
Michael Pittman (Roster Percentage - 25.7%): This is the time of the year we want to be buying in on (most) rookie wide receivers, and the usage spike we've seen with Michael Pittman Jr. over the past three weeks point to an emerging WR1 in this Indianapolis Colts offense. Pittman has totaled 18 targets, 14 catches and 223 yards over his last three weeks, and although he had just three targets in Week 11, he caught all three for 66 yards and his first receiving touchdown of the season. At this point in the fantasy football season it's tough to find an alpha WR for his team simply sitting on waivers, but I believe that to be the case for Pittman entering Week 12. Keep in mind that the three targets this past week might've had more to do with the fact that Green Bay had both Jaire Alexander and Kevin King suit up after missing time. Pittman's upcoming schedule over the next month includes much more juicier and more than beatable matchups with the Houston Texans (twice), as well as the Tennessee titans and Las Vegas Raiders. I'm all in.
Tim Patrick/KJ Hamler (13.9% and 6.1%): I'm including both Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler in this space here, with a slight nod to Patrick, who led the Denver Broncos with eight targets in Week 11, catching five balls for a team-high 119 yards. A lot of that came in garbage time on one 66-yard reception, but garbage time is actually something that we can consistently bank on when we're dealing with Broncos skill position players in 2020. Patrick now has at least three catches and/or a touchdown in every game since Week 3, including three 100+ yard games in his last six outings. Those are mighty impressive numbers for the Broncos 1A/1B counterpart with Jerry Jeudy on the perimeter. Patrick appears fully healthy after missing some time in early November, and his rest-of-season schedule is solid enough to count on WR3/flex production. Same goes for the rookie KJ Hamler, who saw six targets out of the slot on Sunday in Week 11 and now has three straight games with at least four catches and/or six targets for Denver.
Jalen Reagor (22.3%): Another rookie wide receiver, another day another dollar. Jalen Reagor has operated as the Philadelpia Eagles' clear WR1 since returning from IR a few weeks ago and has now led all Eagles wide receivers in yards over the past two games. Although Carson Wentz is struggling mightily himself to deliver catchable balls down the field, Reagor has shown versatility both operating in the short to intermediate areas of the well, as well as serving as a deep threat in this offense. Reagor has registered back to back games with four catches and at least five targets. He has seen at least four targets in every game he's played this season, with just one game under 40 receiving yards. He's not a league-winning type of pickup at the moment, but the upside is there to serve as a solid WR3 streamer or flex option in the right matchup. Garbage time potential looms large, too, further boosting the stock of Reagor with juicy upcoming matchups with the Seahawks, Cardinals and Cowboys down the fantasy playoff stretch.
Honorable Mention: Denzel Mims/Breshad Perriman (4.4% and 14.6%), Steven Sims Jr. (1.8%), Keke Coutee (0.1%), Josh Reynolds (14.3%), Sammy Watkins (30.9%), Russell Gage (10.1%)
Deep(er) League Adds: Allen Lazard/Marquez Valdes-Scantling (32.3% and 16.1%), Mecole Hardman/Demarcus Robinson (27.9% and 2.7%), Damiere Byrd/N'Keal Harry (0.8% and 12.6%), Nelson Agholor (10.4%), Laviska Shenault (13.1%), Larry Fitzgerald (14.4%)
Jordan Reed (Roster Percentage - 12.8%): The tight end wasteland continues in 2020, and with that we could see Jordan Reed put up consistent TE1 numbers the rest of the way, even without touchdowns to match. Reed gobbled up six targets in Week 10 for 62 yards, ranking second on the team in those areas, behind only Brandon Aiyuk in the San Francisco 49er's pecking order. Reed is the clear starting tight end option over Ross Dwelley while George Kittle continues his rehab, and we all know that Nick Mullens has shown the propensity to target his tight ends with regularity in the past. If we get five to six targets and 50+ yards each week, with garbage time boost potential mixed in, we're looking at a potential top five tight end the rest of the way in Reed. The only worry here is Reed's injury history, of course, but we're looking at an extremely cheap cost to nab him off waivers now and getting him as healthy as ever off a bye. Reed could benefit from extra targets in Week 12, too, as Jalen Ramsey looks to take Aiyuk out of the picture in Week 12.
Dalton Schultz (24.8%): We all left Dalton Schultz for dead in the wake of Dak Prescott's season-ending ankle injury, and for good reason. The Dallas Cowboys' offensive line woes were enough to make us wary of starting even the likes of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, but over the past two games for Jerry World's squad we've actually seen some improvement for the passing game overall. First it was Garrett Gilbert, who played competently enough to help the Cowboys cover their first spread of the season in Week 10 before Andy Dalton admirable returned from his concussion and led Dallas to a comeback road victory and upset of the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11. Schultz performed well with both quarterbacks under center too, posting 8 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in both weeks combined. The numbers aren't eye-popping by any means, but four catches and 6-7 targets a game for any tight end gives us a quality starting asset, and the matchup is as good as it'll ever be on Thanksgiving Day against Washington.
Jordan Akins (2.1%): Jordan Akins seemingly broke out of his tight end committee with Darren Fells on Sunday in Week 11, posting a team-high and season-high 83 receiving yards to go along five catches on six targets. Akins already has produced in 2020, posting a 7-7-55 receiving line in Week 2 and scoring a touchdown in Week 1. Akins has been relatively quiet in his two games back since missing more than a month of time on the field, but he has the talent to make plays and continue earning more targets and snaps for this Houston Texans offense. With injuries to Randall Cobb and Kenny Still this past week, we could see more targets funneled Akins' way in the near future as well. The third-year tight end has always had the athleticism and skillset of a potential breakout tight end since being drafted in 2018 out of UCF, you could frankly do a lot worse while combining through the waivers to find a better streamable tight end with upside for both volume/TD's. Did I mention he plays the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving?
Honorable Mention: Robert Tonyan (32.7%), Logan Thomas (29.1%), Trey Burton (6.6%), Irv Smith Jr. (3.7%), Will Dissly (0.8%), Jacob Hollister (0.2%)
Deep(er) League Adds: Richard Rodgers (5.8%), Tyler Eifer (2.5%), Dan Arnold (0.4%), Anthony Firkser (0.8%), Dawson Knox (0.7%), Jace Sternberger (0.4%)