With Week 13 finally here, you’re probably thinking about one of two things in your fantasy leagues: The fantasy playoffs or just shoving this season in the trash. If you’re a part of the latter, well, thanks for the click! But today’s waiver column is mostly for those still vying for a playoff spot or have already clinched a spot. The lesson? Handcuffs. Many typical handcuffs—like Tony Pollard or A.J. Dillon—are rostered in almost all leagues. However, there are still a ton of backups who have way too much upside to be left for your opponents. Stash them over a bench player you may never start. I’ll have a few notable handcuffs for you in a second. I tried to only include ones who are rostered in fewer than 50% of leagues, per FantasyPros’ consensus ownership stats.
You also need to consider the bye weeks of your players. If you desperately need to win your next matchup or two, there may be no point in adding a player who has yet to play his bye week. Here are those remaining teams:
- Week 13: Browns, Packers, Panthers, Titans
- Week 14: Colts, Dolphins, Eagles, Patriots
Tyrod Taylor (QB - HOU)
Week 12 Stat Line: 15.32 points, 158 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, passing TD, 30 rushing yards
Just like the last couple of weeks, there aren’t many good passers left on the market. Taylor has a decent enough floor due to his rushing upside, though he isn’t a weekly starter yet. He does face the Colts in Week 13, who have allowed the fifth-most points to quarterbacks this season. I’d rather have Taylor on my roster than Baker Mayfield, Ben Roethlisberger, and Daniel Jones—all of whom are rostered in more leagues than Taylor. Excluding a dud in Week 9 at Miami, Taylor has averaged 18.6 points in four games. He should produce around that threshold in most of his remaining games, which includes bouts with the Seahawks and the Jaguars.
Derek Carr (QB - LV)
Week 12 Stat Line: 21.02 points, 373 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, passing TD, 30 rushing yards
A week after scoring a measly 8.6 points, Carr bounced back with another big passing performance. He entered Week 12 as the league leader in passing yards, so you can generally bank on him to put up enough yards. From a fantasy standpoint, Carr has failed to reach 11 points in just three games. He’s also hit the 20-point mark five times. Next up, Carr faces a generous Washington defense that’s ranked dead-last in fantasy points allowed (FPA) to quarterbacks. In other words, expect Carr to feast again before his schedule gets a bit tougher.
Players to watch: Mac Jones, Taylor Heinicke, Taysom Hill
Alexander Mattison (RB - MIN)
Week 12 Stat Line: 10.8 points, 21 rushing yards, 2 catches on 3 targets, 7 receiving yards
This one seems a bit obvious, right? I applaud those of you who stashed Mattison for the purpose of replacing Dalvin Cook. Mattison had seven carries following Cook’s shoulder injury, which he parlayed into a rushing touchdown. At this point, it doesn’t matter if Cook misses the whole season or if he somehow suits up in Week 13. Like I said in the intro, Mattison’s value as Cook’s backup is way too high for him to be kept on waivers. And with Cook now slated to miss a few games—maybe even the rest of the season—Mattison should be a top priority in all formats. Few running backs walk into a situation where they can see more than 70% of his team’s snaps. I can’t see star kick returner Kene Nwangwu taking too many reps from Mattison, either.
Jamaal Williams (RB - DET)
Week 12 Stat Line: 13.3 points, 65 rushing yards, 5 catches on 5 targets, 18 receiving yards
Williams was nothing more than a rotational piece in the Lions’ backfield until D’Andre Swift left their Thanksgiving game with an injury. With Swift out, Williams led the Lions’ backfield in every stat and it wasn’t close. If Swift misses time—and Dan Campbell indicates he may—Williams catapults into RB2 territory. He doesn’t have the easiest upcoming matchups, but his potential usage as a receiver presents a high enough ceiling to make him somewhat matchup-proof. Perhaps Jermar Jefferson and Godwin Igwebuike steal a carry or two, though Williams would be the clear RB1 without Swift. Monitor Swift’s status before you target Williams.
Dontrell Hilliard (RB - TEN)
Week 12 Stat Line: 18.3 points, 131 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 1 catch on 2 targets, 2 receiving yards
I wrote about D’Onta Foreman last week and he posted a formidable 10.2 points on a team-high 19 carries. Ironically enough, Hilliard played one more snap than Foreman despite seeing seven fewer carries. The duo only saw three combined targets, too. Hilliard was pegged as the Titans’ receiving back so it’s encouraging to see him essentially split the backfield with Foreman. While his stat line is padded by a 68-yard touchdown, he saw enough usage to warrant a waiver addition. Remember, there are many steady running backs available in most leagues at this stage of the season. So you should pounce on running backs with a large enough backfield share and clear upside.
Boston Scott (RB - PHI)
Week 12 Stat Line: 13.2 points, 64 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 2 catches on 3 targets, 8 receiving yards
Who else is confused about the Eagles’ backfield? A week after Miles Sanders looked like he regained control of it, Scott led Philadelphia running backs in carries, targets, and snaps. He just looked like the better back. If you’re into weird conspiracies, then this may have not come as much of a surprise. Since returning from injury in Week 7, Scott has hit double-digit points in every even-numbered week. Obviously I’m not saying Scott’s worth a pickup because of this weird trend, but he’s done enough to earn a bench spot if you need a running back. And if he continues to outplay Sanders—who reportedly suffered an injury in the second half—he can be a solid flex spot down the line.
Players to watch: Rex Burkhead, Austin Walter, Ronald Jones, Phillip Lindsay
Van Jefferson (WR - LAR)
Week 12 Stat Line: 18.3 points, 3 catches on 9 targets, 93 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
If Jefferson isn’t rostered at this point in your league, then you need to reevaluate who you’re playing with. Just kidding. But seriously, Fantasy Pros says Jefferson is rostered in just under 45% of leagues. That’s way too low. In his last five games, he’s had a point range from 7.1-18.3. He’s also seen seven or more targets in four of those games. Incredibly enough, Jefferson has done all that with a catch rate below 50% in each of his last four games. Jefferson also saw a nearly identical snap count and target share as Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday night. There’s no getting around it: Jefferson is a must-add and an alright flex play each week.
Kendrick Bourne (WR - NE)
Week 12 Stat Line: 23.1 points, 5 catches on 6 targets, 83 receiving yards, 2 receiving TD
Bourne has quietly been on a tear this season. Prior to Week 10, he had four double-digit performances. Let’s see how the next three weeks went:
- Week 10 - 24.1 points, 4 catches on 4 targets, 98 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
- Week 11 - 8.9 points, 4 catches on 4 targets, 42 receiving yards
- Week 12 - 23.1 points, 5 catches on 6 targets, 61 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
Are they the most reliable stat lines? No, but no New England wideout has come close to matching Bourne’s production. He’s been too good to be left on waivers. Scoop him up if you need receiver depth.
Josh Reynolds (WR - DET)
Week 12 Stat Line: 16 points, 5 catches on 3 targets, 70 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
If you need a starting receiver, Reynolds may be the waiver target for you. I use the word ‘may’ loosely, but Reynolds looked like the WR1 in Detroit’s loss on Thanksgiving. He saw just a bit less usage than Amon-Ra St. Brown, though Reynolds clearly outplayed the rookie. Normally, I’m not one to jump on a player after one good game. My intrigue with Reynolds lies in his opportunity in Detroit. Reynolds has the skill set to claim his stake as the Lions’ true WR1. Keep in mind, this is still a team that has passed 60% of the time this season. Reynolds has enough upside to be a sneaky addition to your fantasy lineups. I’d rather have him than Marvin Jones Jr. or Emmanuel Sanders.
Russell Gage (WR - ATL)
Week 12 Stat Line: 18.2 points, 6 catches on 7 targets, 86 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
If you dropped Gage in recent weeks, I don’t blame you. Gage put up two donuts in the last six weeks, causing many fantasy managers to lose patience after he missed a month with an injury earlier in the season. However, when he wasn’t dropping zeroes, Gage put up WR2 numbers in that six-week span. So excluding his two duds, Gage has been pretty solid. Week 12 was no exception as Gage saw seven targets for the third time in four games. He and Tajae Sharpe led Falcons wide receivers in targets and snaps, which was even ahead of Swiss army knife Cordarrelle Patterson. While Gage has officially earned a spot on fantasy rosters, his upcoming schedule isn’t a walk in the park. He’ll face five-straight teams in the top 11 of fantasy points allowed (FPA) to wide receivers. Don’t prioritize him too high.
Players to watch: Cedrick Wilson, Zay Jones, Randall Cobb
Cole Kmet (TE - CHI)
Week 12 Stat Line: 14.5 points, 8 catches on 11 targets, 73 receiving yards
I might as well just pin this statement to the top of this section: There are no good tight ends available. There never are. It’s just a tough position to maneuver. If you have Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews, then congrats. They seem to be the only reliable tight ends these days with a few others sprinkled in there at times. You have to really jump ahead of any potential breakouts. That may be Kmet. He’s produced 14+ points in two of his last three games, and he’s seen 6+ targets in four of his last five games. Jimmy Graham will always threaten to vulture touchdowns, but Kmet still appears to be the preferred option in Chicago. He’s averaging about 85% of the Bears’ snaps, which makes him usable enough to be on your fantasy roster if you need a tight end—with emphasis on “if you need.”
Foster Moreau (TE - LV)
Week 12 Stat Line: 1.3 points, 1 catch on 5 targets, 3 receiving yards
Clearly, Moreau’s inclusion is more based on his upside than his production. Darren Waller left last Thursday’s game twice with an injury, which allowed Moreau to see more than 86% of the Raiders’ snaps. He also led all Las Vegas offensive skill players in snaps, and he ran the third-most routes. If Waller misses time, Moreau could be a sneaky plug-and-play at tight end. He already has three touchdowns this season and faces a suspect Washington defense in Week 13. Like with Swift and Cook, keep an eye on any developments with Waller’s health before you scoop up Moreau.
Players to watch: Jack Doyle, Durham Smythe