Greetings Fantasy Enthusiasts! As we stand at the threshold of Week 12 in the fantasy football season, the echoes of triumphs and challenges reverberate through the league. In this crucial juncture, the waiver wire transforms into a sacred ground where resilient fantasy managers unearth hidden gems that can tip the scales in their favor. In the spirit of perseverance and the pursuit of victory, let's explore the inspiring players poised to illuminate the fantasy realm.
Quarterbacks: Leaders of the Charge
At the forefront of any fantasy team is the quarterback, the commander orchestrating the symphony of points. This week, consider leaders who not only throw touchdowns but embody the spirit of resilience and determination.
Gardner Minshew - Colts: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew, while not the sexiest name on this list, could be the most capable. He’s been solid since taking over for rookie Anthony Richardson and has two solid upcoming matchups against mediocre (at best) pass defenses. With the fantasy playoffs looming, teams in need of a streaming QB help could do worse.
Matthew Stafford - Rams: L.A. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t have the best return from injury this past Sunday, as he tallied only 9 fantasy points in the team’s win over the Seahawks. He does, however, have another week to get back into game mode, and in Week 12, goes up against the Arizona Cardinals, a team who trots out one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Stafford should have a bounce-back game and has solid streamer appeal. He could also play a significant role for QB needy teams down the stretch, and currently plays as a QB2.
Baker Mayfield - Bucs: Until this past week’s matchup against the 49ers (a team that can make any quarterback look bad), Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield was having a solid year and looked the part of a consistent QB2 in fantasy. In Week 12, he could get back on track, as the Bucs take on a Colts team that is much more mediocre against the pass than the 49ers. After that, Mayfield’s schedule includes both the Panthers and the Falcons, two more teams against which he could put up average to above-average numbers. He’s another QB on this list with streaming appeal, and one who should be considered a QB2 for the next few weeks. QB needy teams on the cusp of a playoff berth should consider him.
Running Backs: Heartbeats of Fantasy Teams
In the core of fantasy squads are the running backs, the dynamic playmakers carrying the hopes and dreams of managers. As we scour the waiver wire, let's focus on those whose journeys reflect determination and an unyielding spirit.
A.J. Dillon - Packers: Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon was not having a good year from a fantasy perspective. That is….until two weeks ago, when he began to show some small signs of life. In Week 11, Dillon took over for the injured Aaron Jones and had a decent showing. While his efficiency wasn’t that great, he did show strong work in the passing game as a check-down option for quarterback Jordan Love, and he is set to be the starting back for the Pack moving forward should Jones’ injury be serious (he was carted off the field). While he may already be on the rosters of many fantasy leagues, if he is not he needs to be picked up immediately, as starting RB’s on the waiver wire this time of the year are rare.
Zach Charbonnet - Seahawks: Another running back who, similar to Dillon, was showing nothing in terms of productive fantasy stats until this past week, when he took over the starting running back role for Seattle for the injured Kenneth Walker. The Seahawks drafted Charbonnet for many reasons, including his elite pass-catching ability, and the injury suffered by Walker opened the door for the rookie to start to make his mark. In Week 12, he takes on the San Francisco 49ers, which is admittedly a brutal matchup. However, it presents a potentially-good buy low opportunity for astute fantasy managers, as Charbonnet has league-winning upside. He is another one of those starting RB’s who may be available on the waiver wire and needs to be picked up and stashed immediately.
Roschon Johnson - Bears: As previously mentioned above, it’s pretty rare to find a starting RB off the fantasy waiver wire at this time of the year. However, Chicago Bears tailback Roschon Johnson could be that type of player. He showcased enough talent in the team’s Week 11 loss to the Detroit Lions to warrant some attention. With D’Onta Foreman leaving the game due to injury, it opened the door for Johnson to have an impact, and he was solid in his role. Additionally, the week prior Johnson showed solid receiving skills, indicating that he has the ability to be an every down back for the Bears. While Khalil Herbert is still most likely the starter for the time being, it’s clear Johnson has vaulted himself into no worse than the #2 role, which holds value in all but the shallowest of fantasy leagues. Managers with the bench space should consider adding Johnson and as a result, could end up with an impact player down the stretch.
Wide Receivers: Dream Catchers
Wide receivers are the dream catchers of fantasy football, and on the waiver wire, dreams can turn into reality. Seek out those whose stories echo the pursuit of greatness and whose hands are ready to grasp victory.
Jayden Reed - Packers: Green Bay rookie wide-out Jayden Reed has been making a statement as of late to be the alpha receiver for the Pack. With all of the injuries sustained by 2nd year receiver Christian Watson and the inconsistency being shown by Romeo Doubs, Reed has had a chance to step up his game, and he’s done so with flying colors. He currently sports two games with at least 16 fantasy points and has also scored double-digit fantasy points in four of 10 games this year. The team has seemingly found ways to get him the ball, as they’ve given him some limited rushing opportunities as well. With the injury to Aaron Jones, Reed should have even more chances to make an impact, making him a very good waiver wire pickup. He’s on the verge of popping off and quickly becoming a must roster at this point, if he isn’t already.
Rondale Moore - Cardinals: While this recommendation would’ve been unthinkable earlier in the year due to Moore’s disappearance as fantasy-relevant, in the last two games he’s shown signs of life. The return of quarterback Kyler Murray has done wonders to Moore’s fantasy profile, and the team continues to utilize him a bit in the running game as well. Even though he only had one reception in Week 11, he made it count, and took it to the house for a long touchdown. Also, Moore goes up against two mediocre pass defenses in the Rams and Steelers over the next two weeks, and his increasing rapport with Murray could make him a solid streaming option. At this point, teams in need of WR help should take a look at Moore and at the very least add him to their bench due to the potential upside.
Tutu Atwell - Rams: Speaking of a one-week streamer, L.A. Rams wide receiver Tutu Atwell could be that guy. With the injury to Cooper Kupp, it opens the door for Atwell to once again make an impact. In the first three weeks of the year without Kupp, Atwell stepped up and proved to be a solid fantasy asset opposite rookie sensation Puca Nakua. In the games that Kupp played, Atwell was almost invisible. Even though it’s clear that Atwell’s value is currently tied to Kupp’s availability, he is at the moment a solid steaming option. In Week 12 he goes up against a porous pass defense in the Arizona Cardinals, and if Kupp’s injury is serious enough to cause him to miss additional time, Atwell could be a solid play moving forward. At the very least he’s worth a speculative add on your league’s wire to see what happens.
Tight Ends: Unsung Heroes
Often overlooked, tight ends can be the unsung heroes of fantasy triumphs. As we sift through the waiver wire, let's find those whose stories mirror the journey of perseverance and whose hands can secure the victories we crave.
Isaiah Likely - Ravens: Someone in the Baltimore Ravens passing game needs to step up due to the devastating injury to veteran Mark Andrews, and Likely appears to be that guy. The Ravens offense runs through the TE position, and Likely has proven in the past to be a solid and capable contributor when Andrews has been out. Arguably just as athletic as Andrews (if not more so), Likely should play a significant role moving forward. With the tight end position nearly always a bit of a fantasy wasteland, fantasy managers who are astute enough to realize Likely presents a unique opportunity starting in an offense that made Andrews a stud shouldn’t hesitate in putting in a waiver claim and adding him to their team.
Cade Otton - Bucs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cade Otton has been a solid streaming option in the past. In Week 12, he will be a solid streamer once again. Otton boasts at least 4 receptions and 40 yards in four games this year, and the matchup against the Colts is a juicy one. The Colts have been near the bottom of the league when it comes to stopping tight ends, and that doesn’t figure to change any time soon. Fantasy managers in need of streaming help should take a long and hard look at Otton. Additionally, he will face off against the Panthers and Falcons in Weeks 13 & 14, two teams who have been mediocre against the position.
Luke Musgrave - Packers: For those of you who are regular readers of this article, you’ll recognize Musgrave, as he’s been recommended here before, and with good reason. He’s shown very good underlying receiving metrics almost all season, and has started to take off over the past three games. Quarterback Jordan Love played much better in Week 11, and Musgrave was one of the benefactors. Assuming Love can build upon that performance, Musgrave stands to have another good game in Week 12, as the Pack face-off against the Detroit Lions. The Lions are another one of those mediocre teams against opposing tight ends, and managers looking for help at the TE position need to give Musgrave a chance.
Defenses: Guardians of Fantasy Realms
Defenses are the guardians of our fantasy realms, and selecting the right one can be a game-changer. Beyond the stats, let's delve into the narratives of defensive units that personify the spirit of resilience and unity.
Denver Broncos: At the beginning of the year, the Denver defense was bad. Over the course of the season, they’ve steadily improved, and are starting to show more consistency. In Week 12, they face-off against the Cleveland Browns and rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The first-year QB struggled in Week 11, and that should bode for the Denver defense to rack up some sacks, interceptions, and fantasy points. Managers in need of a streaming defense for Week 12 could do worse.
New Orleans Saints: A unit that has been solid for most of the year, it’s possible the New Orleans Saints defense is already rostered in most leagues. If they are not, they are worth a serious look. In Week 12 they will take on the Atlanta Falcons, a team that is currently a mess offensively and are turning back to Desmond Ridder at quarterback. Ridder was benched earlier in the year due to ineffectiveness, and the Saints defense will most likely put pressure on the young QB to the tune of a solid fantasy performance.
Houston Texans: I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “the Texans, what??” but this defensive unit has surprisingly been solid on the year, especially against the run. They’re in the top 10 in the NFL in rush defense, and boast a middle-of the pack defense overall. In Week 12, they take on a Jacksonville team that has had a bit of a struggle recently running the ball. While Houston is solid against the run, the same can’t be said against the pass. However, in Weeks 14-16 (most of the fantasy playoffs) they take on low passing offenses in the Jets, Titans, and Browns. Those matchups present some intriguing opportunities for this unit moving forward, and managers in need of help could do worse.
Kickers: Nailing Down Victory with Precision
In the realm of fantasy football, kickers are the precision artists who can tip the scales with a well-placed kick. Beyond the stats, let's explore the narratives of kickers whose journeys inspire confidence and reliability.
Matt Prater - Cardinals: A consistent kicker who started the year off strong, Prater crashed down to earth during the middle of the season. However, with Kyler Murray’s return two weeks ago, it’s been a boon for Prater, as Murray has helped move the offensive chains and restored Prater’s fantasy relevancy. Prater has kicked six field goals of 50 yards or longer this year, and in Week 12 goes up against a Ram’s team that has allowed opposing kickers to post solid fantasy numbers. Prater is a solid streaming option at the position for Week 12.
Matt Ammendola - Texans: Houston Texans kicker Matt Ammendola took over the job two weeks ago, and has since not looked back. With the play of rookie sensation C.J. Stroud, the Houston offense has become potent, and the kicking game has reaped the rewards. Ammendola has kicked three field goals and two extra points in his two games with the team, and will look to keep the good times rolling in Week 12. He should have ample opportunity and is another solid fantasy streaming option moving forward.
Brandon McManus - Jaguars: The veteran has been rock solid so far in 2023, booting 20 field goals in 22 attempts. He also happens to be tied for the sixth-most points among fantasy kickers on the year, and is another good option at the position. The consistency of the Jacksonville offense also bodes well for his prospects moving forward. While he might not be available in many leagues, he is good enough to be picked up and streamed for at least Week 12.
Conclusion: Ignite Your Fantasy Saga
In the grand tale of fantasy football, the waiver wire is where champions are forged. As you navigate the choices ahead and prepare for the stretch run, let inspiration guide your decisions. Look beyond the numbers, and invest in players whose stories resonate with the spirit of triumph. Week 12 is not just another chapter; it's an opportunity to script your fantasy saga with players who embody the essence of victory. May your waiver wire journey be as inspiring as the triumphs it promises.