10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets Heading Into Week 13
Week 12 of the NFL season is just about in the books, and hopefully all of your playoff hopes are still intact. Those playoffs start as soon as a week from now in some leagues, and your needs on the waiver wire can vary wildly depending on where your fantasy teams are at right now.
If you're sitting pretty and have more or less clinched a playoff spot, you can afford to skip this week's streaming plays and instead stockpile resources for the games that matter. If that's the case, you'll want to take a look at some of this week's top stashes below. And of course, keep an eye on the most valuable handcuffs in case of injuries at the running back position -- players like Alexander Mattison, Tony Pollard and Gus Edwards would be in line for massive workloads if anything happened to the guy in front of them.
If you're still scrapping for a playoff spot and can't afford to spend valuable roster space on players that might not make an immediate impact, there are plenty of players on the waiver wire this week to help you seal the deal. There's a decent selection at most positions this week, so you're in luck pretty much whatever your needs are.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Yahoo Ownership: 18%
Remember when the Seattle Seahawks spent a first round pick on a running back, only to sideline him in favor of a back they drafted in the seventh round the year before? I'm willing to bet Rashaad Penny does.
Penny took over for Chris Carson this Sunday after Carson lost his fourth fumble of the season -- his eight total fumbles are now tied for the most among running backs since Adrian Peterson's nine in 2008. Before the half, Carson handled five carries to Penny's four. After the half, the Seahawks let Penny roll with it, giving him 10 carries to Carson's 3. It seemed pretty clear that the Seahawks were fed up with Carson's fumbling, and it may be time for them to let another back lead the backfield.
Penny was hyper-efficient with his touches, breaking off an impressive 58-yard touchdown run on which he hit 20.78 miles per hour per Next Gen Stats and eventually finishing the game with 129 rushing yards on 14 attempts. While it's not certain what this backfield will look like going forward -- head coach Pete Carroll has always been a little difficult to pin down -- Penny is now in the conversation for the starting role. That's a valuable role for fantasy football, as Carson has shown us for the first 11 weeks of the season.
It's always hard to come by running backs with dominant workloads, and that's especially true at this point in the season. Penny is available in most fantasy leagues and could be your best bet at a top running back for the rest of the way.
Bo Scarbrough, RB, Detroit Lions
Yahoo Ownership: 43%
If you didn't add Bo Scarbrough after his surprising breakout last week, make sure you consider him again this week. Scarbrough has now handled 32 carries over the past two weeks, and that's going to be good enough for a lot of fantasy rosters.
Scarbrough racked up 98 yards on 18 carries in the Detroit Lions surprising loss to Washington, out-pacing teammates Ty Johnson (4) and J.D. McKissic (1) by a significant margin on the ground. Unfortunately, Bo doesn't add much in the passing game and was virtually a non-factor in that role last week. While the other backs on the team each earned multiple targets, Scarbrough was targeted just once on a play where he was clearly not supposed to be a real option.
Still, 18 carries is no joke -- that number tied for tenth in the league among running backs. That's an enviable workload, and it's probably available on your waiver wire if you need it. The Lions are clearly missing Matthew Stafford and want to duke it out on the ground until he gets back -- if he comes back at all -- and Bo Scarbrough is their best option for executing that plan.
Benny Snell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo Ownership: 5%
In somewhat surprising news, it seems that Benny Snell Jr. has jumped Jaylen Samuels on the Pittsburgh Steelers' running back depth chart. While Samuels has filled in for the injured James Conner before, it was Snell who convincingly looked like the lead running back in Week 12.
Fresh off of a knee injury that had him sidelined since Week 8, Snell handled a huge workload in his return. His 21 carries were tied for the fourth-most among running backs in Week 12, while his 98 rushing yards tied Scarbrough for sixth. He out-touched Samuels 22 to 5 over the course of the game, while Trey Edmunds took a definitive backseat with just 2 carries.
Like Scarbrough, Snell isn't a strong option in the passing game. While he did catch his only target of the game, he had just one target to Samuels' three and did not have a particularly strong pass-catching resume coming out of college. However, Snell did amass an impressive 3,873 rushing yards in his three seasons playing for the Kentucky Wildcats in the challenging SEC and obviously caught the eye of the Steelers' scouts, as the team drafted him in the fourth round of this year's draft.
It's not clear when James Conner will return this season, but it seems like Snell will have the majority of the running back opportunities until he does. The Steelers are unlikely to make the playoffs this season -- though their quarterback change could be seen as an improvement -- and have no need to rush Conner back from his nagging shoulder injury. 21 carries is 21 carries is 21 carries. And that's probably a workload you want available to your fantasy teams.
James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo Ownership: 20%
Sticking with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a moment, it would seem -- fingers crossed -- that James Washington has finally made it. The massively-productive college receiver and Biletnikoff award-winner had been truly disappointing to start his NFL career, but he took an impressive step in the right direction in Week 12.
With JuJu Smith-Schuster sidelined and Diontae Johnson missing most of the week's practices heading into Sunday's game, Washington stepped up as the team's top wideout. He finished the game with 98 receiving yards and a touchdown, catching 3 of his team-high 7 targets in the process.
What's worth noting is that most of Washington's production came after the Steelers benched quarterback Mason Rudolph in favor of Devlin Hodges. While Rudolph has been a massive disappointment filling in for Ben Roethlisberger this season, Hodges has impressed in his limited opportunities -- at least relative to his competition. The change at the quarterback position could buoy the Steelers' receivers a little bit for fantasy, and Washington's splash-play ability could greatly benefit without Rudolph's penchant for throwing it as close to the line of scrimmage as possible.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Yahoo Ownership: 27%
Hardman has been truly impressive for a rookie. The speedy young wideout -- who has 2 of the 10 fastest plays measured this season according to Next Gen Stats -- has done his best Tyreek Hill impression on the field this year, making splashy plays when given the opportunity. He hasn't been given much playing time, but his snaps have noticeably spiked when Hill has missed. That could be the case in Week 13 as Hill recovers from the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 11, but Hardman doesn't need Hill to miss to make an impact on the game -- or for your fantasy rosters.
The Chiefs will take on the Oakland Raiders when they return this week, who rank 31st in the league in explosive pass defense according to SharpFootballStats.com. The Raiders' secondary has been giving up splash plays all season to anyone who tries them, and you can almost guarantee Andy Reid will know to test them there coming off the bye. This is the same Raiders defense that allowed Demarcus Robinson and Travis Kelce to go for over 100 yards the last time these teams met, and Hardman has made the case for increased opportunities this time around.
Hardman is definitely a boom-or-bust option for fantasy, but like Tyreek Hill in his rookie season, he only needs one or two plays to make him a worthy start in your lineups. We're at the point in the season where starting quarterbacks start dropping to injuries, benchings, or tanking teams, and as a result, fantasy receivers become harder and harder to come by. Hardman plays with the best quarterback in the league and has the speed to match his quarterback's impressive arm and willingness to throw it down the field.
N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
The New England Patriots have needed some fresh legs at the wide receiver position this season, and it looks like N'Keal Harry is going to fill that need. If your fantasy teams are hurting for wide receiver help, consider the 2019 first-round pick on your waiver wires.
Harry was a dominant college receiver, amassing 2,899 receiving yards in his three seasons with the Arizona State Sun Devils. Perhaps the most impressive part of his collegiate resume was that he established himself as his team's top wideout in his age-18 freshman season. Early dominance at the college level has a high correlation with success at the professional level, and Harry meets that criteria with high draft capital to boot.
Harry hasn't had a lot of time to build chemistry with Tom Brady, but Brady still looked his way in important situations in their second game together. Harry caught his first target for an impressive 10-yard score on the sideline, and the future Hall of Famer looked Harry's way on important plays throughout the game. For fantasy purposes, three of Harry's targets came in or near the red zone, and two were deeper targets.
Harry did take a back seat to fellow rookie Jakobi Meyers in Week 12, and Meyers himself could be considered a waiver wire target in deeper leagues, but it seems safer to bet on the Pats' first-round pick going forward than it does to bet on an undrafted free agent signing for fantasy value. Brady looked for Harry on the most valuable plays for fantasy production, which means we should be considering him for our fantasy rosters.
Ryan Griffin, TE, New York Jets
Yahoo Ownership: 44%
It's not a great week for tight ends on the waiver wire, but when is it ever, really? At least Ryan Griffin is available in over 50% of leagues.
This was supposed to be Chris Herndon's big breakout season, but we'll have to take what we can get. In this case, it's the breakout season of a nearly-30-year-old sixth-round pick playing for his second team -- but beggars can't be choosers, and Griffin has been solid in fantasy football this season.
Griffin has been quarterback Sam Darnold's favorite target in the red zone this season and has been good for five scores and a two-point conversion in their games together this season. That's not bad. He's only averaging 37.9 receiving yards per game since Darnold's return from mono back in Week 6 -- because we can't really count anything the New York Jets offense did before then -- but we'll take what we can get.
It's also worth pointing out that the Jets have a soft schedule for tight end matchups in the next couple weeks -- the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins both give up double-digit fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends while the Steelers give up the sixth-most in the league. Griffin probably isn't going to pull a full Kittle and rip off any 61-yard touchdowns, but if you are in a bind for a tight end, you could do a lot worse.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Yahoo Ownership: 30%
If you are in a position to stash a tight end, consider the Cleveland Browns's own David Njoku. Njoku hit the injured reserve after a scary play earlier this season, but the team designated him for a return and the young tight end could be back as soon as this week.
The last time we saw the hyper-athletic, former first-round pick, the Browns were in total disarray. Running back Nick Chubb had to put the entire team on his back every game to scrape together any semblance of offense back then, but things have stabilized in recent weeks. Baker Mayfield has thrown seven touchdowns over the last three games while getting more out of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, and Chubb is still a force in the run game.
It has helped that the Browns have played some real soft matchups in that time, but their schedule isn't too bad for the rest of the fantasy season -- especially for tight ends. Like Ryan Griffin, the Browns will also play the Steelers and the Bengals -- two soft matchups for tight ends. But Njoku also has the benefit of a Week 15 match against the Arizona Cardinals, who give up the most points to opposing tight ends in the league (14.2) by a wide margin -- it's almost like their defense forgets that tight ends can catch passes.
Njoku isn't a great option for everyone, as he still technically hasn't returned from the injured reserve. However, if you can afford to spend a bench spot -- or injured reserve spot -- on David Njoku, that decision could pay massive dividends in the fantasy playoffs.
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
Yahoo Ownership: 27%
New York Giants first round pick Daniel Jones does this weird thing in fantasy football where he either scores under 15 fantasy points each game or over 28. And fortunately for fantasy football, I think we're going to see more of those big games than those week-sinking ones in the next few weeks.
Jones has "streaming quarterback" written all over him. He hasn't been particularly effective on the season but has been able to put it together in strong matchups. He scorched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in Week 3 and the Lions and Jets more recently but had some tough days against more competent defenses.
In the next few weeks, Jones will face the Green Bay Packers -- whose once-imposing defense has more or less fallen apart as the season has worn on -- in addition to the Philadelphia Eagles, who are vulnerable through the air, the Miami Dolphins, and Washington. It's one of the easiest upcoming schedules for quarterbacks, especially for the fantasy playoffs.
Jones also provides something of a rushing floor for fantasy. Since taking over for Eli Manning as the starter, Jones has averaged 25.6 rushing yards per game and hasn't been afraid to run it in at the goal line. That's an extra 2.5 or so fantasy points for your team in most scoring formats based on yardage, not to mention that rushing touchdowns are often worth a full 6 points for quarterbacks.
The Giants are also finally healthy. While it was fun watching Darius Slayton break out -- and he still had a decent game this past week -- Jones will finally have a nearly full arsenal of weapons at his fingertips with Golden Tate off of his suspension, Sterling Shepard back from his concussions, and Saquon Barkley getting better after spraining his ankle. If tight end Evan Engram is able to make it back in the next few weeks, the Giants' offense could be one to watch -- or to have on your fantasy rosters.
Carolina Panthers, D/ST
Yahoo Ownership: 33%
If you're looking for a defense in Week 13, look no further than the Carolina Panthers -- I mean, keep looking and do your due diligence, but the Panthers are a pretty safe bet this week.
The Panthers' defense had a strong run between Weeks 3 and 6 with double-digit performances in each of those four games, but they've fallen off of late. Specifically, teams have taken advantage of the Panthers' league-worst run defense. But the good news is that they'll face off against Washington this week, who are arguably the worst offense in football.
With quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who has averaged 3.9 adjusted yards per attempt this season while throwing 6 interceptions to just 2 touchdowns, Washington has been one of the least menacing offenses in the league. The Panthers' offense should be able to put points on the board in this one, which should force Haskins to throw more often than his coaches would prefer. And with his turnover rate, that's something you should target with your fantasy defenses.