Injuries are everywhere in Week 13. Six teams are on bye in Week 14. Fantasy playoffs are mere days away. It would be a brilliant week for a hearty, voluminous waiver wire. Breakout stars everywhere. Season saviors from the dredges of NFL depth charts. Yes?
Welp. I'm not going to lie to you all. You are my trusted and faithful readers (or desperate newcomers seeking a glimmer of hope), so I would never. This might be the toughest week of waivers all season. There are waiver heroes balling out across the league (guys like Justin Fields and Christian Watson, who happen to both be on bye next week), but they were all picked up weeks or months ago (hopefully by you after reading this column). We're going to need some Bruce-Willis-Armageddon-level mining equipment to drill deep enough for any quasi-valuable Week 14 pickups. (Which is, perhaps, fitting, given the mini-Byemageddon on tap this weekend).
So let's frickin' do it. Fire up the space rockets, the asteroid-destroying payloads, and Don't Wanna Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. I don't wanna close my eyes. We're going in.
To the wire!
(And if you want more guys, more explanations, or more answers, hit me up on Twitter @MattOkada!)
Rostered percentages are from NFL.com's fantasy football player trends. Players are roughly ordered by priority within position.
Remember the classic "don't trust Bill's running backs for fantasy," referring, of course, to Bill Belichick's infuriating committees out in New England? Well, funny enough, it's kind of been more "don't trust Bills running backs" over the last couple of years. Buffalo has refused to commit to a guy, and the "hot hand" has so often been vultured near the goal line by Josh Allen. All that said, I'm buying in on Cook. To a degree. He has looked progressively more impressive as his rookie season has gone on, culminating on Thursday Night Football (against those Patriots), where he totaled 105 scrimmage yards on 20 touches (including 6 catches). He's not an auto-start by any means, but Cook should be rostered in all leagues, and I'm considering him a viable FLEX play next week.
If we knew Michael Carter would be out for a significant chunk of time, Zonovan Knight (aka Bam, including on our app) might be the top priority of the week following another great performance on Sunday. The undrafted rookie has skyrocketed from the practice squad to fantasy baller over the last two games, topping 100-plus scrimmage yards and 13-plus fantasy points in both (without yet scoring a touchdown). He is a must-add asset, given Carter's low ankle sprain. He might even give the Jets license to rest Carter a little longer than they otherwise would have. He doesn't technically wear shining armor, but I guess a helmet and shoulder pads aren't far, and I'll happily take the fantasy rescue from Mr. Knight if his opportunity holds.
Wow. I did not think we would be here again. But after unceremoniously dumping Darrell Henderson Jr. and returning Akers to action a few weeks back, the Rams appear to now be "somewhat committed" to the 23 year old as their lead runner (quotation marks my own). Akers logged 14-plus carries and 60-plus rushing yards for the second time in his last three games, but far more importantly, he scored a pair of goal-line(ish) touchdowns on Sunday for a season-high 19 fantasy points. It was the first multi-TD game by a Rams RB since Malcolm Brown two years ago. Now, while I don't think we're anywhere near the glory days of Todd Gurley back in the late 2010s, it's good to see a Los Angeles running back scoring again (oh, I mean besides Austin Ekeler, of course). Akers will likely be touchdown-dependent (a less than thrilling prospect considering the Rams' offensive issues of late), but he should still be rostered for a potential stretch run.
Guys to 'Stache: Monitor the entirety of the Seahawks backfield heading into Tuesday night, and add whoever's healthiest. To fantasy managers' dismay, Kenneth Walker III suffered an ankle injury Sunday and did not return, leaving DeeJay Dallas and Tony Jones Jr. to split the work (with Travis Homer inactive due to injury) while also rotating through the blue tent themselves. It's an absolute mess in Seattle, but there will be value to be found if Walker misses time and anyone else is healthy enough to start.
Over the first four weeks of his rookie season, 16th overall pick Dotson scored four touchdowns and looked like a star in the making. Then he missed five weeks with an injury and returned to log a total of two catches for 27 yards in Weeks 10-12, fast-tracking him to the waiver wire in 95% of leagues. Surprise, he's back! Dotson caught 5 of 9 targets for 54 yards and, shocker, a critical 28-yard game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in an eventual tie with the Giants in Week 13. Of course, Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel also had solid days, so it's hard to project Dotson for any sort of consistency through your playoff run. But where there is an upside, there is fire. I think that's how the saying goes. In any case, there is definitely an upside with Dotson. When you need a big playoff performance from a FLEX start in a tough matchup with your rival coworker, Dotson could be the guy.
Robinson has had double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games and, more importantly, seems well-established as the number two in the passing game behind Mark Andrews. Granted, this is the Ravens' passing game, and it might be the Tyler Huntley-led Ravens passing game for a couple of weeks. But it's not like Lamar Jackson has been lighting the world on fire (through the air) anyway. Like I said at the top, this is not a treasure trove of a waiver week. Maybe Robinson is cubic zirconia. But as someone's grandma probably said once, when diamonds are not available, cubic zirconia will do just fine. Convincing, I know.
Guys to 'Stache: Last week's Isaiah to 'stache (Isaiah McKenzie) had a decent game on Thursday Night Football, so we're returning to the well with this week's Isaiah to 'stache: Isaiah Hodgins of the New York Giants. I think he's the 24th Giants wide receiver to make this column as the team continues to fan through the depth chart looking for answers. But after a decent five receptions for 44 yards and one touchdown on six targets Sunday, I'm willing to give it another go. If you're in a really deep league or a really deep hole, Brandon Powell of the Rams looked spicy on Sunday, taking seven creative touches for 84 yards. There is next-to-no healthy competition in that wide receiver room, and Powell kind of looked like what Tavon Austin was supposed to be for this team years ago. Worth a (very long) shot. Nico Collins had 10 targets on Sunday (for dismal 3 catches and 36 yards) and scored a late-game touchdown. He's a dart throw. Also, a weekly reminder to 'stache Jameson Williams. I will keep doing it until he makes that one play that plasters him all over your Twitter timeline.
Believe it or not, Fant has averaged 10.4 fantasy points per game over his last four games and logged 14-plus in two of those four, including Sunday against the Rams. His Week 13 performance featured four catches for 42 yards and one touchdown in a game where Geno Smith looked absolutely red-hot. And with the Seattle run game in injury-induced shambles, it's possible the short-passing game will see a boost in the coming weeks. As far as playoff-push waiver tight ends go, you could do far worse than a talented player on a great offense with a high-level quarterback. And since Travis Kelce most likely isn't available, Fant will do as well. No, I'm kidding. Fant meets all those criteria too.
After a bye and three straight stinkers, Dulcich finally returned to double-digit fantasy value again on Sunday. In a game the bafflingly ineffective Broncos offense failed to score a single touchdown, Dulcich led the squad with 6 catches on 8 targets for 85 yards. Quite simply, in an offense this atrocious (and as a rookie tight end, no less), there will be games Dulcich disappears. If you're going to roster (and/or start) him, you'll have to be ready for that. But he's shown consistent upside when given a chance. Just give him a chance Russ. Please. We all want to ride. Let us ride.
Guys to 'Stache: On a scale of 1 to nope, nope.
To the 2% of you that added Goff after his appearance in this column last week, you're welcome. Goff put together 21.6 fantasy points (his most since Week 4) on the back of 340 yards and two TDs on Sunday. Next week, he draws a Vikings defense that has allowed startable fantasy days to Mac Jones and Mike White over the last couple of weeks (and is allowing the 5th-most fantasy points to QBs year-round). His weaponry has been productive, and his turnovers have been down. I'm all aboard the Goff train. For a week at least. Then I'm probably jumping tracks.
Huntley has rushed for 60 yards per game in four career starts and had 41 yards and one touchdown after entering the game for Lamar Jackson on Sunday. For the record, he also completed 27 of 32 pass attempts for 187 yards. But I couldn't care (much) less about that. It's all about the rushing with Huntley. The Steelers (who Baltimore will face in Week 14) are not as terrifying a matchup for quarterbacks as you might expect. Is he a locked-and-loaded QB1? No, by no means. But if you're in a 2QB league or in need of an emergency start (aka, you had Lamar), I think Huntley can be a manageably decent fill-in for as long as he is under center.
After facing the Bengals in Week 13, the Chiefs D/ST will be readily available in many leagues. Pounce. Now. They get the Broncos in Week 14 and the Texans in Week 15 (and the Broncos again in championship week). They are a potential league-winning D/ST (which is not something I say every day). The Seahawks D/ST has been spotty at best, but they definitely get takeaways and, more importantly, they get the Panthers in Week 14 and the 49ers with a backup QB in Week 15.