Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team leagues, unless specifically stated otherwise. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.
Bye weeks: none
Fantasy football waiver wire targets
Priority Free Agent
Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints
Hill acquitted himself well in Week 11 as the starter, even though he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. The upcoming slate of games offers a blend of possible passing and rushing success for Drew Brees’ replacement. Be aware, there’s always a chance Jameis Winston is thrown out there if Hill struggles or the offense falls behind. As long has he plays inspired, productive ball, like we saw in Week 11, Hill figures to remain the starter until Week 15 or so. Ahead is Denver, Atlanta again, and Philadelphia. While these teams offer up-and-down matchup opportunities, anyone playing Hill is banking on his legs more than his arm.
1-Week Plug & Play
Daniel Jones, New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals
This one is, IDK, 92.5 percent about the matchup itself and not so much anything Jones has done to date this season. The Giants return from a bye week and face a team that is emotionally deflated after losing its leader in Week 11. Furthermore, Cincy just isn’t very good at stopping quarterbacks, no matter its collective mental state. The position has generated three 30-plus-point results in the last five games, one 21.7-pointer, and a 12-point showing in which Alex Smith was asked to pass only 25 times as the ground game took over. This matchup is 32.3 percent better than the league average in the past five weeks and offers Jones a chance for a hint of redemption in what has been a horrid season to date.
1-week plug & play
Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
This is a total desperation move here, but there’s a chance for Edwards to warrant a lineup spot after both J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram were placed on the COVID-19 list and will miss Week 12. The upside is a potential workhorse role for Edwards vs. a team that allowed him to go for 16-87-1 in Week 8. The negative aspect is Pittsburgh has been an awful opponent for running backs. In fact, Edwards was the last one to find the end zone vs. this defense. There’s almost no upside to playing Edwards beyond the opportunity for a touchdown, but we’re at that point in the season….
Grab & Stash
Frank Gore, New York Jets
Running back LaMical Perine (ankle) left early in Week 11, and his status currently isn’t know for Week 12. The ageless Gore made his way into the end zone vs. the Los Angeles Chargers for the first time as a Jet, and he remains about the only stable aspect of this offense. Gore lacks the upside of explosive play, but injuries and poor performance have robbed gamers of plenty of starting options to date. Miami and Las Vegas are ahead for the cagey veteran, and while neither are promising matchups, all it takes is a short TD (chances that Perine has been garnering) and Gore becomes a platable desperation play after his usual 50-ish offensive yards are factored in. He managed 11 PPR points in the last meeting with Miami and hadn’t even scored, so there’s utility to be found here in the right situation.
1-Week Plug & Play/Grab & Stash
Denzel Mims, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Two Jets?!?! Yeah, yeah, I know. Don’t look at it that way … terrible teams still need someone to step up, and Mims has been a quietly productive option in the passing game of late as he feels his way through an injury-impacted, COVID-hampered rookie season. In the last four outings, Mims has seven or more targets in three of the contests, and he has produced 10-plus PPR points in the past two games. The Baylor receiver was slightly better with Joe Flacco starting in place of the injured Sam Darnold, and there’s no current update on the latter’s Week 12 availability. Miami has permitted 14 different efforts of at least 10 PPR points in 10 games, and that should be your accepted target for a flex play of Mims. He has stash worth, too, with remaining contests against Las Vegas, Seattle and Cleveland ahead.
1-Week Plug & Play
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Julio Jones kept coming in and out of the lineup in Week 11 with a hamstring issue. He very well could play through the ailment in Week 12, which would make Gage far less appealing, so this is one gamers will need to track as the week progresses. Throwing a speculative buck or two at Gage is not a terrible idea. There could be more utility for Olamide Zaccheaus, too, but Gage has displayed more consistent value when given the chance. The Raiders have yielded a TD per game to receivers in the last five weeks, and 15 times in 10 games has a wideout posted 10 or more points in PPR.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
Feeling frisky? This one is a major gamble and will be contingent upon what happens with injured receivers Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills in Week 12’s short week of practice. Coutee caught two passes in Week 11 and managed to score, adding almost nothing (10 yards) otherwise. The Lions have been extra friendly to running backs this year but also hospitable to WRs. Detroit has given up only two scores to the position in the last six games, although this is one of the top matchups for receiving volume per outing. The Lions were tied for the fourth-highest receiving average over that period before Week 11, and Carolina’s primary trio combined for 23 grabs. Coutee has a strong matchup ahead for receiving yardage, too, so he has a chance to contribute more evenly meaningful stats this week.
Steve Sims Jr., Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys
There are qualifiers required when recommending someone like Sims: 1) His volume won’t be great, and 2) know what kind of risk you’re assuming. That said, he has a tremendous matchup opportunity and is coming off of landing eight of his last nine targets over the past two games with Alex Smith starting. The matchups in those games were quite favorable, too, and a fringe player being able to produce against low-level competition is always a good sign. Back to the first point: With no more than five catches in any game this year and only once in his career, Sims isn’t going to post eye-popping numbers. He can exploit creases in the secondary to be a safety outlet for his veteran quarterback, and fantasy owners should be content with a line around 4-50-1 from the finally healthy receiver. Dallas has permitted 10 touchdowns to the position in the last six games.
Priority Free Agent
Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers
San Fran returns from its bye week with Reed available in slightly less than half of the leagues polled. The upcoming schedule offers hope for a strong stretch run as we near the fantasy postseason. Upcoming games at the Los Angeles Rams, vs. the Buffalo Bills and vs. the Washington Football Team present differing chances for success against units that have struggled to contain the position at varying points of 2020. The Niners have been decimated by injuries and, ironically, their most injury-plagued weapon needs to step up more than ever. Reed should be fully healthy as San Fran returns from its bye.
1-Week Plug & Play
Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
Smith previously appeared in this space but ended up missing that game due to a groin injury. He has returned to the field and now faces one of the top matchups the week has to offer. Carolina has conceded seven different performances of at least 10 PPR points to the position in the last six games, and all five TDs allowed have come over the last eight games. There is considerable risk in playing Smith, but we saw signs of his game heating up prior to the injury. Hopefully a tremendous matchup can get him back on track.
1-Week Plug & Play
Dan Bailey, Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
This one digs about as deep as one can at the position, and it’s purely matchup-driven in nature. The Vikings have afforded Bailey exactly two field goals over the last five games combined, and both of which came in Week 10. He has attempted just eight total three-pointers on the year otherwise, making all but two. Carolina, though, has yielded 17 kicks in the last six games and 20 in the past seven. The position has banged through all but two on this side of the equation as well. Seven kickers have racked up at least nine fantasy points against this unit.
1-week plug & play/Grab & Stash
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears
Focusing on Week 12, the Chicago offense has to make even the Green Bay defense a viable fantasy candidate. The Packers have been presented several other fine matchups in 2020 and have rarely delivered the goods, which has me skeptical to recommend them. The Bears provided opposing defenses 14 sacks, eight turnovers and a defensive TD in the five games prior to going on bye in Week 11. Keep your expectations of the Packers to “serviceable.” If this one works out, consider keeping this unit around for matchups with Philadelphia and Detroit in the next few weeks.
1-week plug & play
New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals
Fresh off their bye, the Giants get to face a Cincinnati offense that is still recovering from a gut punch after losing their No. 1 overall pick and face of the franchise, Joe Burrow. The offense more or less ground to a halt after he blew out his knee Sunday, and even a modest expectation for New York should see this group being a high-quality fantasy starter. The G-Men produced top-five fantasy returns in the five games leading into the Week 11 vacation.