The best fantasy owners are the ones that maximize the talent on the waiver wire. Playing matchups, gauging a player’s role in the offense and determining the opportunities they have to rack up stats is the key to picking up the right players. Here are three waiver-wire pickups that should be on your radar this week.
Quarterback: Case Keenum vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Owned in 24 percent of ESPN leagues, 51 percent of Yahoo! leagues
If you’re scrambling to find a starting quarterback for Week 12, look no further. Case Keenum has been a very solid option so far and he’s set to have the best game of his young career on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jacksonville is giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and they’re fresh off a game in which they let Carson Palmer dissect them for 419 yards and two touchdowns. They’re allowing 31.8 points per game (second-most in the NFL) and the second-highest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
Throw in the fact that they have a nonexistent pass rush (ranked 31st with 15 sacks) and can’t cover the likes of Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, as their negative-26.2 pass coverage grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) suggests, and you have all the makings of an excellent fantasy day for Keenum.
Running Back: Chris Ogbonnaya vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Owned in 9 percent of ESPN leagues, 22 percent of Yahoo! leagues
It’s uncertain how many times in recent history that it has been a good idea to start a Cleveland Browns running back against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, but it couldn't have been a frequent occurrence. Nevertheless, it’s something that you should consider this week.
Chris Ogbonnaya’s role in the offense has grown in recent weeks, and he set career-highs for snaps, touches and total yards in Week 11.
We're scraping here but on Sunday Chris Ogbonnaya hit 58% of snaps, Fozzy had 29%, Willis had 16%. Ogbonnaya unowned in 66% of lgs.— Dave Richard (@daverichard) November 18, 2013
Ogbonnaya is especially valuable in PPR leagues, as he has the second-most targets on the team since Jason Campbell took over as the starter.
7.2 targets-per-game for Chris Ogbonnaya over his last 5 games. Yes, that's crazy high. #Browns— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) November 18, 2013
The Steelers are a top-10 fantasy matchup for running backs, and they’re giving up 125 rushing yards per game. With plenty of opportunities and a solid matchup, Ogbonnaya will have a good game and be a valuable contributor to your team as an RB2 or flex play.
Wide Receiver: Jerricho Cotchery vs. Cleveland Browns
Owned in 20 percent of ESPN leagues, 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues
We’re staying with the Steelers-Browns game for the last waiver-wire gem. Jerricho Cotchery has been on fire in recent weeks, ranking as the sixth-best wide receiver over the past three weeks.
He’s incredibly touchdown dependent, but he’s found the end zone five times in the last three games and is receiving a good amount of red-zone targets.
The Cleveland Browns are actually the sixth-worst fantasy matchup for wide receivers, but most of that is due to Joe Haden.
Haden has been phenomenal in 2013, locking down No. 1 receivers and taking them out of the game. When quarterbacks throw into his coverage, their passer rating is 56.8, the eighth-lowest mark for NFL cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
In Week 12, Haden will be draped all over Antonio Brown, which means that the other receivers will need to take on a bigger role in the offense.
Cotchery will be a good bet to find the end zone, but he will also be able to put up a decent yardage total against the Browns.