Waiver Wire Week 12: Fantasy Projections for Top Pickups and Sleeper Targets

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2018

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens rushes against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 18, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Heading into the 12th week of the NFL season, you should have a good idea of whether you're a candidate for the fantasy playoffs or not. The postseason is right around the corner, and in larger leagues, Week 12 may represent your last chance to make a postseason push.

Navigating Week 12 could be tricky this year, as both the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs are on bye. This means fantasy superstars like Todd Gurley, Patrick Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Jared Goff are all on bye.

In addition, we had some notable injuries in Week 11 that could impact your fantasy lineup.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

All officially placed on IR: Redskins QB Alex Smith, Rams WR Cooper Kupp, Raiders WR Brandon LaFell.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#Lions RB Kerryon Johnson’s tests on his knee confirmed the initial diagnosis. Source said it’s a sprain — no surgery — and he’ll likely miss a game or two. All things considered, very positive for the standout rookie.

This means the waiver wire is going to be as important as ever. We're here to help identify the top waiver-wire targets—available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues—and one promising sleeper at each skill position. We'll also examine what you can realistically expect for each.

All fantasy stats and rankings via FantasyPros.



Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (18 percent owned)

There's a bit of a caveat here. There's a possibility the Baltimore Ravens turn back to Joe Flacco (hip) this week against the Oakland Raiders. It's still worth putting in a waiver claim for Lamar Jackson—if the rookie starts again, the upside will be tremendous.

Jackson made his first-ever NFL start in Week 11, and he torched the Cincinnati Bengals for 150 yards passing with an interception, and more importantly, 117 yards rushing. This is big because most leagues put far more scoring emphasis on rushing yards than passing yards.

Now, the Ravens are unlikely to allow Jackson to run 27 times against Oakland, but we can expect him to put up similar or even better overall numbers. While the Bengals have the league's worst run defense (153.6 yards per game allowed), the Raiders have the second-worst (142.3).

Jackson should also have a better grasp of the passing offense in his second start. Add in the fact the Raiders are traveling across the country to take on an unfamiliar foe, and Jackson is a must-start if Baltimore again gives him the nod.

Projection: 220 yards passing, 105 yards rushing, 2 TDs


Sleeper: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (48 percent)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott hasn't been consistent fantasy gold this season, and he faces a stout Washington Redskins defense in Week 12.

However, Prescott faced a pretty good Philadelphia Eagles defense in a pivotal divisional game a couple weeks ago and managed to produce respectable numbers. He passed for 270 yards and a touchdown and added a rushing touchdown.

On Thanksgiving, the Prescott and the Cowboys will be in a similar situation against Washington. A win moves Dallas to 6-5 and tied with Washington for first place in the division. The Cowboys will be looking for a big-time performance from Prescott, and the potential for one is there.

While Washington's defense is solid, it isn't a death sentence for fantasy quarterbacks. The Redskins allow the 14th-most points to opposing signal-callers. Expect a good game for Prescott with the possibility of a great one.

Projection: 265 yards passing, 25 yards rushing, 3 TDs, 1 INT


Running Backs

Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles (32 percent)

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 18: Josh Adams #33 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs with the ball for a touchdown  during the first half against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 18, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

If you lost Johnson or need a temporary replacement for Gurley or Hunt, Josh Adams should be your top target. He is quickly emerging as the Philadelphia Eagles' best back now that Jay Ajayi is on injured reserve, and he's a big part of the game plan.

Even though the Eagles trailed big early against the New Orleans Saints last week, Adams still managed to rack up 53 yards and a touchdown, he also caught three passes for an additional 19 yards. The touchdown was the first of his pro career.

"I was excited," Adams said, per Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com. "Obviously the first one so I'm blessed and grateful for that."

It's highly unlikely the Giants will blow out the Eagles the way the Saints did, so we should expect more work on the ground from Adams. The New York Giants rank just 25th against the run (125.4 yards per game allowed), and the combination of role and matchup make Adams a must-start.

Projection: 75 yards rushing, 4 receptions, 38 yards receiving, 1 TD


Sleeper: Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (32 percent)

With Johnson out, the Detroit Lions are going to turn to the combination of LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick in the backfield. Between the two, we like Riddick against the Chicago Bears. This is because the Bears allow the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, and Riddick is more of pass-catcher than a runner.

Riddick has had at least five receptions in each of his last three games, which is a terrific rate for PPR formats—and Riddick is more of a risk in standard.

Expect Riddick to be a significant part of Detroit's passing attack against the Bears on Thanksgiving. With Golden Tate now in Philadelphia, Riddick is one of Matthew Stafford's top targets.

Projection: 6 receptions, 65 yards receiving


Wide Receivers

Taylor Gabriel, Chicago Bears (31 percent)

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 18:  Eric Wilson #50 of the Minnesota Vikings hits Taylor Gabriel #18 of the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at Soldier Field on November 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bears receiver Taylor Gabriel isn't a heavily owned fantasy player largely because of his inconsistent role in the offense. Two weeks ago, he failed to register a catch. Against the Minnesota Vikings last week, he caught seven passes for 52 yards.

Expect Gabriel's production to be a lot closer to what it was last week than in Week 10. When a receiver grabs seven receptions in a game, he's earning the quarterback's trust. That's going to be fresh on Mitchell Trubisky's mind on a short week.

The Lions have a very middle-of-the-pack pass defense—they allow the 17th-most fantasy points to opposing receivers—so while this isn't an ideal matchup, it isn't a bad one either.

Projection: 6 receptions, 63 yards receiving, 1 TD


Sleeper: John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals (13 percent)

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross has emerged as a solid fantasy option over the last couple weeks largely because A.J. Green has been out with a foot injury. This has made him Cincinnati's No. 2 receiver behind Tyler Boyd, and Ross has been able to take advantage by scoring a touchdown in each of his last two games.

There is some risk with Ross, though, as Green may be back to face the Cleveland Browns.

ig: josinaanderson @JosinaAnderson

Source told me that #Bengals WR AJ Green (toe) has a ‘good chance’ of playing next Sunday vs. the #Browns, barring any setbacks, following Green’s visit with Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, WI.

Still, it's worth taking a flier in Ross against a defense that allows the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. If Green does go, he's likely to draw coverage from potential Defensive-Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Denzel Ward. This means more favorable matchups for both Boyd and Ross.

Don't be shocked if the Bengals try to test Cleveland's run defense once or twice with a receiver sweep as well.

Projection: 3 receptions, 39 yards receiving, 18 yards rushing, 1 TD


Tight Ends

Jeff Heuerman, Denver Broncos (24 percent)

Tight end Jeff Heuerman has emerged as a significant piece of the Denver Broncos passing attack over the last two games. He had a breakout performance against the Houston Texans, catching 10 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. 

While Heuerman wasn't quite as productive last week, he still caught four passes for 20 yards and a score.

If you're looking for a Kelce replacement or even a FLEX option, Heuerman is the tight end to target. While the Pittsburgh Steelers' pass rush represents a dangerous challenge for quarterback Case Keenum, Heuerman should get plenty of work as an outlet receiver.

The Steelers allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Projection: 5 receptions, 46 yards receiving, 1 TD


Sleeper: C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals (20 percent)

The concern with Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah is the same as it is with Ross. If Green is back in the lineup, Uzomah won't have quite as many opportunities to be targeted. Still, he's a decent play against a Browns team that allows the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Uzomah has caught at least three passes in each of his last two games, and that should be his fantasy floor in Week 12.

Projection: 4 receptions, 42 yards