Fantasy football waiver wire recommendations refer to 12-team league formats, unless specifically stated. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.
Check back for any updates throughout Monday and Tuesday as more injury news becomes available.
Bye weeks: Colts, Dolphins, Eagles, Patriots
Fantasy football waiver wire targets
Priority free agents
1) WR K.J. Osborn, Minnesota Vikings: Wide receiver Adam Thielen suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 13 and is bound to miss time, at least the upcoming Thursday Night Football. Osborn will enjoy single coverage as the Pittsburgh Steelers will have their collective hands full with Justin Jefferson. Osborn started off hot, scoring twice in the first six games and topping 76 yards on five or more grabs in three of those outings. His production fell off in a run-heavy offense that found a role for TE Tyler Conklin. Osborn is a borderline must-play in PPR vs. a defense that has allowed 21 receivers to land four-plus passes in 2021. While the overall numbers aren’t gaudy, Pittsburgh has benefited from playing LV, CLE, CHI and DET — hardly passing juggernauts. High-ankle sprains tend to be four- to six-week injuries, although Thielen hasn’t been given that kind of prognosis as of writing this sentence … Minnesota closes out with PIT, @CHI, LAR, @GB, CHI.
2) RB Dontrell Hilliard, Tennessee Titans: The Titans return from their bye week with a barren cupboard at the skill positions as WR A.J. Brown (chest) and WR Julio Jones (hamstring) are both on IR for at least another week, and RB Derrick Henry (foot) is poised to miss the rest of the regular season. In the passing game, Hilliard stands to benefit from the pair of injured star receivers, and he has seen ample action on the ground to warrant a fantasy start in most formats. There’s a chance he wasn’t claimed prior to the bye or was cast back to the wire out of desperation, and gamers need to take a peek. From Weeks 14-18, Hilliard faces three easily exploitable ground units and a San Fran defense that has struggled to keep RBs out of the end zone in recent weeks.
3) TE Ricky Seals-Jones, Washington Football Team: Seals-Jones missed the past few games with a hip injury while tight end Logan Thomas finally returned from a severe hamstring strain. As Thomas started his upswing, it was feared he suffered a torn ACL and an MCL against Las Vegas. Monday tests said the ACL is intact but he’s expected to miss the remainder of the season. Seals-Jones filled in admirably when Thomas previously was unavailable, and the journeyman tight end is nearing a return after being a game-time decision in Week 13. Washington faces one of the softest schedules the rest of the way for TEs with a pair of battles each with Philly and Dallas, plus another divisional tilt against the New York Giants. Facing the Eagles twice alone makes him a worthwhile addition.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings: One-week rentals dominate waiver claims this time of the year, and if you’re desperate for a quarterback gamble, Big Ben is your man. His two best fantasy games have come in the last three weeks, and while his arm isn’t what it used to be, he can remain efficient in short-area passing to rack up a few touchdowns. Minnesota is an injured mess on defense, and while RB Najee Harris will get his on the ground, he’s also a huge factor in the aerial game. Roethlisberger has at least two TD passes in three of the last four contests, and Minnesota has given up three or more such plays in the last five games, including a 296-3-0 line to Jared Goff last week. Even Dallas backup Cooper Rush torched this defense in Week 8. In the five games leading up to Week 13, this defense ranked 31 percent better than average, a figure that will grow once Detroit’s stats are included into the mix.
RB Adrian Peterson, Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans: There could be some rest-of-season utility here with Peterson sticking around as a weapon around the stripe, but everything during his Tennessee stint lined up favorably, too, and still he was cut. Seattle afforded AD a touchdown in his team debut, but he ran for 16 yards on 11 carries, and he has now averaged 2.6 yards per carry over his last 38 totes. Not encouraging. But, if for only one week in time, Peterson should be quite capable of exploiting a Houston defense that gave up the seventh-most rushing yards per game and eighth-highest TD frequency to the position in the five contests leading up to Week 13. Should Peterson stick around, Seattle faces a few worthwhile matchups the rest of the way (@LAR, CHI, DET).
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears: The Pack return from a well-timed bye as Aaron Rodgers desperately needed to rest a broken toe. Valdes-Scantling has an intriguing gamble matchup ahead. While Chicago has fared okay vs. WRs in recent weeks, this was the third-worst unit at giving up big plays in the five games leading into Week 13. It also allowed receivers to turn the 10th-fewest catches into the 10th-most yards as a result. MVS offers nothing in fantasy without a trip into the end zone, but Chicago will have all it can do to prevent Davante Adams from wreaking havoc. Last year, in his lone meeting with the Bears, Valdes-Scantling caught two passes for 87 yards and a score — something in that vein is the target here … two or three catches, 60-90 yards and a TD vs. a unit that has allowed 14 WR scores in 12 outings.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens: A groin injury hampered Peoples-Jones before Week 13’s bye, and the time off should help put him closer to full strength. Now, there’s legitimate quarterback concern with Baker Mayfield, but the goal here is to exploit a Baltimore secondary that has been ravaged by injuries. Once arguably the strongest aspect of this defense, the loss of two Pro Bowl cornerbacks this year leaves Anthony Averett as the top cover man, which is something akin to plugging a hole in the Hoover Dam with toilet paper. There’s serious risk in trusting anything Cleveland passing attack right now, but the upside is juicy.
PK Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions: No team has allowed more field goal attempts than the Lions, and just eight rosters have yielded more extra points. McManus hasn’t exactly been an ideal fantasy play in 2021, but the hamstrung Denver offense has presented him with two-plus field goal attempts in seven games this year. There’s hope for a battle of ineptitude leading to a low-scoring, FG-laden type of game.
PK Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings: In the past five weeks, Boswell has missed two extra points, but gamers need to go back to Week 3 to find the last time he missed a three-pointer. The veteran booter has attempted a trio of field goals in three of the last five, and he has two-plus tries in four of those contests. Minnesota has yielded the fourth-most FGAs per game in 2021, and 10 times have permitted more TD-capping attempts. Ravaged by injuries, Minnesota is poised to give up a load of points to Boswell one way or another.
Tennessee Titans D/ST vs Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags have allowed only 22 sacks on the year, but this offense has turned it over 21 times in 12 games, including two of which that went the other direction. One kick return came against this group, too. Tennessee has been up and down in fantasy this year, but this defense returns from its bye week and will be asked to carry an infirmary of an offense if the Titans have any hope of holding onto their flimsy grasp on the No. 2 seed. The second-best defensive fantasy showing against Jacksonville in 2021 came from Tennessee in Week 5.
Los Angeles Chargers D/ST vs. New York Giants: Los Angeles saved its best defensive effort for Week 13, hounding Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow for six sacks. The four takeaways resulted in a score, and this high-powered offense was held to only 22 points. The Giants may once again be without Daniel Jones (neck), and even if he returns, we’re not talking about a substantial upgrade from Mike Glennon. To make things even better for LA, Jones isn’t expected to play, Glennon has a concussion, and Jake Fromm could be the starter. In the past seven games, Giants quarterbacks have been sacked at least three times on four occasions, and 10 of the 15 total takeaways have come in that window.
Seattle Seahawks D/ST at Houston Texans: Only four teams have yielded more sacks in 2021 than Houston, and whatever on Earth that quarterback showing was last week has to get Pete Carroll’s group excited. In the last five weeks, this offense has surrendered at least four sacks in four of the outings, and eight of the 21 turnovers on the year came in that period of time. Seattle has struggled to do much of anything on defense in 2021, so this one really could go either way, but Houston has been soooooo bad that it’s a worthwhile gamble.
Grab & stash
NEW — WR Jalen Guyton, Los Angeles Chargers: This one solely depends upon the status of Keenan Allen after he tested positive for COVID-19. The star reportedly is vaccinated, which means he can play in Week 14 if able to pass tests 24 hours apart. For now, stash Guyton as an insurance policy and feel comfortable deploying him as a low-end WR3 vs. the New York Giants should Allen indeed have to sit out.
RB Peyton Barber, Las Vegas Raiders: Running back Kenyan Drake was lost for the year with a broken ankle suffered in Week 13, and while he didn’t play much of a role in the last month, Josh Jacobs is an injury waiting to happen, and Barber belongs on all rosters as an insurance policy. There’s a chance he will be worked in slightly more — something like 5-8 touches per game — but shouldn’t be banked on as a playable commodity as long as Jacobs is healthy.
RB Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles: Gainwell has more likely utility than the aforementioned Minshew, largely because Miles Sanders (ankle) has fought durability issues of late. The Eagles also have been without RB Jordan Howard the past few games, and while both backs could return from injury following the bye week, Gainwell belongs on radars in shallow leagues and rosters in more competitive formats.
The following fantasy-relevant players are eligible to return from the Reserve/Injured list and could be on waivers, but inclusion below doesn’t guarantee coming back in the upcoming week. The date when the player was placed on IR is in parentheses.
- WR Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans (11/13)
Deep diving for running backs
If you’re in a competitive league, it is unlikely running backs are just chillin’ on the waiver wire. But that doesn’t mean gamers aren’t still in need of “break in case of emergency” running backs. These players could be available for a dumpster dive:
- Jaret Patterson, Washington Football Team (Antonio Gibson insurance)
- Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals (TD flier)
- Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco 49ers (TD flier)