Week 12 is a pivotal week of fantasy football. The playoffs are just a few weeks away and time is running out for teams to polish their rosters. This waiver wire is pivotal to adding late-season gems to propel a postseason run. There are no bye-weeks in week 12 allowing teams to emphasize season-long value with their additions. Here is a comprehensive position-by-position guide to this week’s waiver wire.
Commonly streamed positions quarterback, tight end, and defense/special teams include weekly matchup recommendations while running back and wide receiver are ranked based on season-long value.
Best Rest of Season Option: Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns (36% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Setting aside Watson’s conduct off of the field, he is one of the best quarterbacks in football when he plays. Watson finished as the quarterback five in the 2020 season. He is now just a week away from making his debut for the Cleveland Browns. Watson could be a league-winner, and now is the perfect opportunity to grab him.
Stream of the Week: Matthew Stafford vs Kansas City Chiefs – 28th in PPG allowed to quarterbacks (47.1% rostered in ESPN leagues)
The Rams’ offense has been a massive letdown this season, but week 12 presents an opportunity for a shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs’ defense is bottom-five against quarterbacks in fantasy football this year. Many frustrated fantasy managers have released Stafford in recent weeks making him an extremely high-floor streaming option.
Sleeper Stream of the Week: Taylor Heinicke vs Atlanta Falcons – 25th in PPG allowed to quarterbacks (23.7% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Heinicke has not produced big numbers in the Commanders’ back-to-back victories, but that could change in week 12. The Falcons’ defense has struggled against quarterbacks this year allowing over 20 fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers. Heinicke is worth a flier for quarterback-desperate teams in deep leagues.
Top 5 Running Backs
Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (34.4% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Rachaad White put fantasy managers on notice after his breakout week 10, rushing for over 100 yards filling in for an injured Leonard Fournette. However, that did not correlate with a major change in availability due to his bye week. Last week presented an opportunity for savvy players to add White, but even if you didn’t grab him last week there is a good chance he is still available in your league. White has league-winning upside as a handcuff back to Fournette, and is also in line for an uptick in snaps to end the year regardless of the starter’s health.
Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs (43.7% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Pacheco has firmly taken over the Kansas City backfield on early downs after his second straight week with 15 or more carries. This time he turned those touches into his first 100-yard game. Pacheco’s lack of work in the receiving game limits his upside, but he can be considered a possible starting option moving forward.
Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals (3.8% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Handcuff running backs are a hot commodity, especially late in the season. Samaje Perine has fallen under the radar for the Cincinnati Bengals. That should change after his three-touchdown outburst against Pittsburgh. His 70% snap count is inflated due to Joe Mixon exiting in the second half with a concussion, but that injury serves as a reminder of why Perine needs to be on rosters. The Bengals coaching staff trusts him to be the three-down backup to Mixon. Perine has been getting snaps on third downs all season long thanks to his ability as a pass blocker. Games like this prove he can be fantasy relevant when presented with the opportunity.
James Cook, Buffalo Bills (20.8% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Many including myself assumed James Cook’s fantasy value was completely gone after the Nyheim Hines trade, but Hines has been a non-factor since the move. Cook ironically received no work in the passing game on Sunday but logged 11 carries for 86 yards. He is not a priority add, but the rookie running back holds some upside heading into the playoffs.
Dontrell Hilliard, Tennessee Titans (8.2% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Another slept-on backup, Dontrell Hilliard may not fill up stat sheets on a week-to-week basis but he is just a Derrick Henry injury away from being a top-20 fantasy play. Hilliard has proven himself as a third-down back when called upon this season and is the clearcut backup over rookie Hassan Haskins.
Top 5 Wide Receivers
Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans (22.7% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Treylon Burks is the one receiver available on waivers right now that possesses league-winning upside. Burks had his breakout performance, converting his seven catches into 111 yards in his second game back from the injured reserve. The Titans’ offense is in desperate need of playmaking pass-catchers, and Burks seems to have provided that spark. If his finish to the season even somewhat mirrors AJ Brown’s rookie year (21 PPR points per game over the last five weeks), he could be a game-changer for fantasy lineups.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns (38.5% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Amari Cooper draws more attention and headlines, but Donovan Peoples-Jones may have passed him as the Browns’ go-to pass catcher. Peoples-Jones logged an absurd 99% snap count and scored a season-high 17.1 fantasy points thanks to his first touchdown of the year. He has scored double-digit PPR points in seven of ten games and is just a week away from inheriting a massive upgrade at quarterback. Go get Donovan Peoples-Jones now!
Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers (16.1% rostered in ESPN leagues)
After an underwhelming week 10, Marshall Jr. fell under the radar with fantasy managers this past week. He had his third double-digit fantasy performance of the last four games. He had three catches for 76 yards from six targets and a 93% target share. The Marshall breakout is here and he could be a valuable asset in the fantasy playoffs.
Nico Collins, Houston Texans (11.3% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Collins feels on the verge of a breakout after another solid week where he had an 86% snap count. In his two games after returning from injury, Collins has scored 25.7 fantasy points and was targeted 17 times. Davis Mills and the Texans’ passing game are too volatile to feel confident about Collins, but his rest-of-season upside is extremely high.
Demarcus Robinson, Baltimore Ravens (0.6% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Lamar Jackson finally found a wide receiver he trusts in Demarcus Robinson who had a monster game against the Carolina Panthers. He finished as the wide receiver six and had nine catches for 128 yards. The game could be just a fluke, but his 28% target share is too intriguing to ignore.
Best Rest of Season Option: Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (19.2% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Juwan Johnson has a reputation as a touchdown-or-bust tight end, and he has shaken that mantle in recent weeks. He and Andy Dalton have developed a strong connection, and Johnson is excelling after the catch. Yes, he has scored a touchdown in the last three weeks, but he has ten catches in that span as well. Johnson has moved into weekly starter consideration due to recent consistency.
Stream of the Week: Foster Moreau vs Seattle Seahawks – 32nd in PPG allowed to tight ends (24.8% rostered in ESPN leagues)
The Seattle Seahawks are by far the worst defense in football at stopping tight ends, allowing 13.6 fantasy points per game to oppose tight ends. That is over two points more than the next closest team, the Arizona Cardinals. Foster Moreau has taken on a larger role in Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow’s absence. He has not shown enough to be considered a weekly starter, but this favorable matchup makes him the top streaming option for week 12.
Sleeper Stream of the Week: Trey McBride vs Los Angeles Chargers – 27th in PPG allowed to tight ends (7.4% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Zach Ertz is unfortunately out for the season but that means second-round rookie Trey McBride will take on a larger role. In his first game as a starter, McBride was targeted four times. Expect that number to rise this week, especially as Kyler Murray returns. The Chargers just gave up three touchdowns to Travis Kelce. Obviously, McBride is no Kelce, but he carries serious upside in week 12.
Stream of the Week: Broncos D/ST vs Carolina Panthers – 29th in PPG allowed to opposing D/ST (45.8% rostered in ESPN leagues)
The Broncos and Panthers game should be one of the lowest-scoring of week 12. Carolina is coming off of a 13-3 defeat to a good Ravens defense. The Broncos are a top-three statistical defense this year and the Panthers had only 205 yards of offense on Sunday. Denver’s pass rush is getting back to full strength and this defense feels due for a big performance after consecutive weeks with one sack and no interceptions.
Sleeper Stream of the Week: Panthers D/ST vs Denver Broncos – 23rd in PPG allowed to opposing D/ST (5.9% rostered in ESPN leagues)
Doubling down on the Carolina-Denver matchup, the Broncos’ offense has been abysmal all season long. Nathaniel Hackett handed play-calling duties over to Klint Kubiak and things did not change for the better. The run game is in major flux as Chase Edmonds is expected to miss multiple weeks due to an ankle injury and Melvin Gordon was just released. The Panthers’ defense has been mediocre this year, but they have a phenomenal matchup with a sputtering Denver team.