Fantasy Football 2019: Week 13 Waiver Wire Pickups

If you need to make a late-season push, here are a few players to consider grabbing off the waiver wire heading into Week 13.
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Happy Thanksgiving week! Some of you may already be thankful for clinching a spot in the fantasy playoffs. Others are thankful for still having a chance as Week 13 begins. Whatever your situation is, you may need a little immediate help or just want to strengthen your bench. Below are players I recommend adding who are owned in fewer than 40% of leagues on Yahoo and/or ESPN. All point totals referenced are for PPR leagues.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Since taking over as the Titans’ starter in Week 7, Tannehill hasn’t just been a QB1, he’s been an elite QB1. In that timeframe, only two quarterbacks have averaged more fantasy points per game than Tannehill’s 23.2: Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford before his injury. If you look at just Tannehill’s production as a starter and go all the way back to Week 1, only Jackson is averaging more fantasy points per game at the position. Tannehill’s lowest output as a starter was 18.9 points against the Chiefs in Week 10. He just had his best game of the season with four total touchdowns and 32.4 fantasy points against the Jaguars in Week 12. The Titans travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts this week. It isn’t a great matchup, but it’s not one to be feared either. Expect another 19-20 point performance.

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Another week, another spectacular matchup for the Jets offense. The Bengals may have held the lethal combination of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in check, but that secondary has been pretty generous to fantasy quarterbacks all season long. Going into Week 12, the Bengals had allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this season at 22.7 per game. This week they’ll have to try to slow down a red-hot Darnold coming off back-to-back games of at least three touchdowns. Darnold is the No. 5 fantasy QB over the last three weeks, with nine total touchdowns and an average of 25.4 fantasy points per game. Even with no bye weeks, Darnold should be in the low-end QB1 discussion in many leagues.

Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars

There’s a significant gap between the other two quarterbacks in the article and Foles, but if you’re in a league where almost everyone owns two QBs you may have to dig deeper into the waiver wire. Foles hasn’t been anything special since returning from his broken collarbone two weeks ago, but he hasn’t been terrible from a fantasy perspective—he averaged 16.4 fantasy points in two games against solid defenses. You’re attacking the matchup here against a Buccaneers team that ranks in the bottom five in the NFL against fantasy QBs. Tampa Bay held Matt Ryan in check in Week 12, but gave up an average of 26.1 fantasy points per game to the position over the previous eight weeks. Foles has also only played one quarter of football at home so far this season. Taking that, the matchup and his cache of weapons into account, he should be able to produce a pretty decent fantasy day in Week 13.

Running backs

Jonathan Williams, Indianapolis Colts

Fantasy managers saw all they needed to see from Williams on Thursday Night Football against the Texans. Head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni have complete trust in Williams. They used the 25-year-old in about every situation imaginable as Marlon Mack’s replacement. Williams got early-down work, third-down work, red zone work, etc. He had 29 touches and finished with 121 total yards and a score. He had 147 total yards on 14 touches the week before in a game Mack started but left early with an injury. Williams has the Titans on tap this week. Although they’ll be the best run defense he’s played thus far, Tennessee is only around league average against fantasy RBs. If Williams gets anywhere close to the volume he’s gotten so far, he’ll be an RB2 this week.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

This is more of a short-term stash than an immediate play, but you have to wonder whether or not Chris Carson finally fumbled his way into a timeshare. Carson, a legitimate RB1 when healthy and holding onto the ball, fumbled for the seventh time this season and fourth time in the past three games on Sunday. He was out-touched by Penny 14-12 (14-8 in carres) in what was a fairly close game throughout as a result. Penny had a huge 58-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in the game and finished with 129 yards. Penny was banged up toward the end of Carson’s early-season fumbling spree, so he never really had a crack at the starting role. He’s healthy now and the 9-2 Seahawks may start to rely more on the back that’s held onto the ball this season. The next two matchups against the Vikings and Rams are tough, but if Penny’s getting double-digit touches against the Panthers and Cardinals in Weeks 15-16, he may be able to help you win a championship.

Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers

Snell is the Steelers back you want to roster when James Conner is injured. Pittsburgh spent a fourth-round pick on him back in April and he’s the one that saw an overwhelming majority of the workload on Sunday against the Bengals. He had 21 carries plus a catch in a game where Jaylen Samuels touched the ball five times and all other backs touched the ball a combined eight times. Snell finished with 103 total yards and figures to be the starting running back against the Browns this week if Conner can’t play. The Steelers offense isn’t what it used to be given the state of their quarterback position, so Snell’s upside is somewhat capped. Still, Snell is a solid flex play when starting and a necessary handcuff for all Conner owners.

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

For those who can’t get Jonathan Williams, Hines is a solid consolation prize at the end of your bench in half- and full-PPR formats. The Colts’ usage of him was a little out of character Thursday night. They let him run the ball more than expected (and he did pretty well with 51 yards on nine carries), but also took him out in favor of Williams on a few third downs as a result. Still, Hines will have a bigger role in the offense with Mack out. He had 11 touches last week instead of the usual six or seven. Keep in mind that the rest of the schedule is a mixed bag for Colts running backs. This week’s matchup with Tennessee is about average, followed by a pair of tough matchups on the road in Weeks 14 and 15 against the Buccaneers and Saints. However, the fantasy championship matchup is a great matchup at home against the Panthers. Hines is a solid high-floor insurance policy on your bench that can start for you this week in a pinch.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

This is the first and (unless there’s a Dalvin Cook injury) last time I’ll have Mattison on this list. Why? It appears that fantasy players as a whole have already made up their minds on Mattison. Either they view him as an elite handcuff with league-winning potential or they don’t. That’s why he continues to not only be available in the majority of leagues like he has been all season, but available in more than three-quarters of leagues right now. Bye weeks are over. Evaluate your bench and figure out who actually has a chance to play for you the rest of the way. Don’t keep low-upside players on your bench when you know you’re never going to start them. Mattison should be owned by 100% of Cook owners and probably 75% of non-Cook owners. He’s a league-winner if Cook goes down. You likely have the space now to stash him on your bench.

Wide receivers

Randall Cobb, Dallas Cowboys

Cobb continues to be a very useful fantasy option as of late, finishing with more than a dozen points for his third consecutive game even in a brutal matchup and weather situation in New England. He’s averaging 7.5 targets and five catches per game in the four games since Dallas’s bye week and continues to thrive while Amari Cooper deals with various ailments that are limiting his playing time. There may be some hesitancy to add him with two tough matchups with the Bills and Bears next up on the schedule, but he already played his worst matchup of the season and came away with 12.6 fantasy points. He has two average and one great matchup to end the season in Weeks 15-17. He’s a solid WR4 the rest of the way with the ability to spike into WR3 territory over the final three weeks of the season.

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

This may just be me projecting, but maybe we’ve been a little unfair to Brown. Sure, having a one-catch, 17-yard game going into your late-season bye is a recipe to be heavily dropped, but has he really been that bad lately? Since Ryan Tannehill took over as the Titans’ starter, Brown’s fantasy point totals are as follows: 12.2, 9.1, 12.1, 2.7, 23.5. Let’s level out the pre-bye bust and post-bye boom and we’ve got a guy who’s giving you a solid dozen points every week. He’s the No. 37 overall WR in PPR formats since Week 7. He’s been better over that stretch than guys like T.Y. Hilton, Curtis Samuel, Mike Williams, Hollywood Brown, Tyrell Williams and JuJu Smith-Schuster, just to name a few. Brown is a high-end WR4 at worst, especially with matchups against the Raiders and Texans coming to open the fantasy playoffs.

Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears

It took way longer than most fantasy managers expected, but Miller is finally finding his way back into a prominent role in the Bears’ offense. Miller has 12 catches on 20 targets over the last two weeks, finishing with 11.4 and 13.7 PPR fantasy points, respectively. He has another solid matchup with the Lions on Thanksgiving to take advantage of. From Weeks 8-11, the Lions allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers—I’m going to throw out their game against Dwayne Haskins because… well, have you watched Dwyane Haskins? Miller is definitely more in the solid category than the high-upside one, but if you just need to play it safe at the position in a deep league, don’t be afraid to turn to him as a WR4 with a solid chance to score in double figures for the third consecutive week.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

Gage has become a bigger part of Atlanta’s offense since they traded Mohamed Sanu to New England. His breakout game came in a great matchup with the Buccaneers on Sunday in which he was targeted 10 times and caught eight passes for 76 yards. The Falcons don’t have any spectacular matchups for WRs until they face Tampa Bay again in Week 17, but they do play three of their next four games at home and are going to throw a ton. Julio Jones has been a little banged up, even leaving their game against the Buccaneers briefly with a shoulder injury, so if he misses any time Gage becomes a starter. If you’re in a deep league, bet on the potential volume in a good offense.

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

This is a one-week move totally dependent on Tyreek Hill’s health. Hill injured his hamstring in Week 11 against the Chargers and missed the majority of the game. However, the Chiefs immediately went into their bye so he had plenty of time to rest. The injury was initially reported as minor, but it is something to monitor. The Chiefs host the Raiders in what should be a monster matchup for Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and the Chiefs’ WR corps. If Hill can’t go, Hardman is a high-end WR3 with massive upside. You’re obviously touchdown hunting here, but with five on the season and three in his last five games it’s far from a blind dart throw. If you have extra space on your bench, add him and see what Hill’s status is knowing you can just drop Hardman later in the week.

Tight ends

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Njoku was activated off IR last week and should make his return to the field for the first time since being injured in Week 2. He had a 4/37/1 performance in Week 1 after carrying a lot of hype into the 2019 season, following a 2018 season in which he finished as the No. 9 overall tight end in fantasy points in PPR formats. Unless you have one of the premier talents at the position, Njoku is a must-add. The Browns (aside from Week 16 against the Ravens) have a cupcake schedule the rest of the way, making Njoku a low-end TE1 for the rest of the season.

Ryan Griffin, New York Jets

I’m not sure what more Griffin has to do to get more love. He’s emerged as Sam Darnold’s safety blanket in the red zone with Chris Herndon out, he’s caught five touchdowns in his last seven games and the Jets have a very favorable schedule the rest of the way. Since Week 8, Griffin is the No. 3 TE in total fantasy points and No. 6 in average points per game (minimum 3 games played). He has matchups with the Bengals and Dolphins on tap for the next two weeks. He’s a TE1 over the next two weeks that needs to be owned in all 12-team or larger leagues.

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

A bigger role for Doyle in the passing game has emerged with Eric Ebron heading to IR with injuries to both of his ankles. With the pass-catching TE out of the picture for the rest of the season, Doyle should see an increase from his usual 4-5 targets per game. He has an OK matchup against the Titans at home this week and a great matchup in Tampa Bay in Week 14. He’ll be somewhere near the TE1/TE2 border over the next two weeks, serving as a solid fill-in option for Ebron owners or those waiting on the return of Austin Hooper or Evan Engram.

More Advice From SI Fantasy

—Our early rankings give the Top 10 at every position for Week 13

—Frankie Taddeo’s droppables, with some big-name players you shouldn’t feel bad about cutting

—Bill Enright’s injury report takes a look at who is out how long

—Frankie Taddeo’s Week 12 Superlatives dish out awards for last week