This week’s waiver wire isn’t filled with established veterans, and it likely won't be a battle for Josh Gordon, who is already owned in most leagues, but it does have plenty of young players who are finally getting their shot.
Will this week's most popular acquisitions be stars? That’s doubtful. But replacing struggling duds and short-term injuries may make the difference between making the playoffs and quietly seething in the season's final weeks. The last two teams take their byes this week -- Panthers and Steelers -- and then the league returns to a full slate.
• Catch up on everything you missed from Week 11 in the NFL
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are barely owned in more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Drew Stanton, Josh McCown, Jonas Gray, Isaiah Crowell, Bryce Brown, Davante Adams, Kenny Stills, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Coby Fleener, Cairo Santos, Blair Walsh and Packers defense.
Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans (Owned in seven percent of CBSSports leagues, 2.0 percent of ESPN leagues and three percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- Anyone who watched the first half of Monday night’s game against Pittsburgh was likely impressed with the Titans offensive display under the rookie out of LSU. Even after his first pass of the night was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, Mettenberger finished with a 110.0 quarterback rating, 263 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Eighty of those yards came in one chunk, on a long touchdown pass to Nate Washington at the end of the first half. Looking ahead, the Titans will next face a bad pass defense in Philadelphia. Only the Jets have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Eagles this year.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns(21 percent, 20 percentand 14 percent) -- After 11 weeks, Hoyer ranks as a top-20 fantasy quarterback in spite of the receivers he has had to work with. The addition of Gordon should help Hoyer climb closer to the top 15 by season’s end. Over the next five weeks, Hoyer will face three units ranked among the league's bottom 13 defenses against quarterbacks.
Keeping an eye on: Houston’s Ryan Mallett.
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders(one percent, 0.7 percentand one percent) -- It only took nine and a half games of mediocrity for the Raiders to finally decide to give Murray a good look in their league-worst running game Sunday. Of his four carries, he had a 14- and a 23-yard run and also caught three passes for 16 yards. The Chiefs come to Oakland for the Thursday night game, but Murray’s time might have arrived.
Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys(15 percent, 4.8 percentand five percent) -- The Cowboys are coming off a bye week, but in their last game, Randle scored on a 40-yard run for his first touchdown of the season. Over the past 25 years, only 11 other players have had 200 rushing attempts in the first eight games, as DeMarco Murray has done (238 carries after 10 games). Those 11 running backs had an average of just 155 carries in the second half. Randle is bound to pick up those extra touches.
Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts(zero percent, 0.1 percentand one percent) -- Ahmad Bradshaw’s broken ankle opens an opportunity for Herron to get some touches behind Trent Richardson in the Colts offense. Indianapolis hosts the Jaguars in Week 12, and the Jacksonville defense ranks as one of the easiest for running backs, allowing an average of 21 fantasy points per game.
Keeping an eye on: Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman and New Orleans’ Travaris Cadet.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins(19 percent, 9.7 percentand 16 percent) -- Landry was highlighted in this space last week before he went out and hauled in his third touchdown catch in the past six games against the Bills on Thursday night. He has 15 targets over the past two games, and after this week’s battle with the Broncos, the Dolphins face two teams (Jets, Ravens) that rank among the league's worst against wide receivers.
Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams(12 percent, 12.5 percentand 15 percent) -- There are actually several reasons to consider adding Britt to the back end of your fantasy wide receiving corps. With Brian Quick out for the season, Britt’s the top dog in the St. Louis passing game. Shaun Hill’s return to the starting lineup has proven to be a good thing for this offense. Britt is coming off his best game as a Rams receiver and his first 100-yard game in nearly two years, and St. Louis next faces a San Diego defense that has had a lot of problems with wide receivers lately. Over the past five games, the Chargers have allowed 28.8 fantasy points per game to wide receivers -- and Britt is up next.
Keeping an eye on: Cleveland’s Taylor Gabriel and Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver Broncos(one percent, 0.3 percent and two percent) -- Julius Thomas’ ankle injury might cost him Week 12's game against Dolphins -- he’s considered day-to-day. Owners looking to gamble at the position could do much worse than adding a Peyton Manning target. Thomas’ owners should certainly consider adding Tamme this week.
Keeping an eye on: Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham.
Randy Bullock, Houston (10 percent, 2.5 percentand six percent) -- With Ryan Mallett under center, the Texans put together several scoring drives in Cleveland, and Bullock had his second-best game of the season as a result. He kicked three field goals, including a 50-yarder, and the only miss he had was another 52-yarder. Also, Houston hosts the Bengals in Week 12. Only four other defenses are allowing more field-goal attempts per game than the Bengals’ 2.30.
Keeping an eye on: St. Louis’ Greg Zuerlein.
Chicago Bears, DST(30 percent, 11.7 percentand 41 percent) – The Bears host the Buccaneers at Soldier Field this Sunday. Tampa Bay has scored more than 17 points just three times this season, and the Buccaneers offense ranks among the league's worst in sacks allowed and turnovers. The Bears are also coming off a game in which they held the Vikings to under 250 total yards.