So you watched Travis Etienne or Michael Carter go down with an injury and have come seeking waiver wire insurance, have you? Oh boy, do I have just the thing. Might I interest you in an NFL player named Zonovan Knight? No, he's not a Yu-Gi-Oh card or a WWE wrestler. He's a real running back for the New York Jets, who actually flashed quite a lot of juice on Sunday.
And if you're unwilling to add a player you're not convinced is real -- and who had played nary a snap prior to Week 12 -- there are actually quite a few viable options this week. Quite a few of them are significantly rostered (hopefully by you after how often they've appeared in previous versions of this column), but most are still available in about half of NFL.com leagues. And we even have a few wideouts (and some very risky quarterbacks). It's gonna be a blast. And with many leagues on the cusp of playoffs, it's gonna be critical. So buckle up and pay attention!
To the wire!
(And if you want more guys, more explanations, or more answers, hit me up on Twitter @MattOkada!)
Rostered percentages are from NFL.com's fantasy football player trends. Players are roughly ordered by priority within position.
With Leonard Fournette out on Sunday, White had a career-high 19.9 fantasy points with a balanced output of 64 rush yards (on 14 carries) and 45 receiving yards (on nine catches). Nigh on 20 fantasy points without a touchdown is extremely encouraging, and while Fournette will be back, he has averaged 3.4 yards per carry this season and left the door relatively open for White to leapfrog him in usage moving forward. White might have the highest playoff-long upside of this week’s crop of waiver backs, so if he’s still available, don’t be afraid to invest heavily to get him.
Please. For the love of Andy Reid. Add. Pacheco. I’m not sure what depths of stubbornness have kept his rostership below 60%, but this needs to stop. Since becoming more or less a “bell-cow” in Week 10, Pacheco has had 15-plus carries in three straight games and increased his fantasy points in each game. In Sunday’s game, he handled 85% of the running back carries and scored a goal-line touchdown (a responsibility previously allotted to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is now on IR). Granted, this offense will continue to run primarily through Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, capping Pacheco’s upside. But just because he can’t be an RB1 does not mean he shouldn’t be rostered and started in every league. Oh, and by the way, the Chiefs get the hapless Texans in Week 15, which means Pacheco could very well be in line for a playoff-winning performance. I don’t want to have to mention this man again!
Making his eleventy-first appearance in this column, we have Old Man Murray, who put together a 13-carry, 92-yard performance in Week 12 (7.1 yards per carry). Most of Murray’s production came on a 52-yard run in the second quarter, but the fact that he can still do that at nearly 33 years old is honestly encouraging. Murray also scored a touchdown in three of his previous four games with Denver and is honestly one of the only things working about this offense. Like Isiah Pacheco, Murray’s upside is limited (though more by the ineffectiveness of the passing game rather than the over-effectiveness of the passing game), but he is a good spot-start option if you’re in need.
Forget 0.0% rostered. Zonovan Knight (also known as Bam Knight on the NFL Fantasy app) is 0.0% recognized by anyone outside of Robert Saleh and the Jets running back coach. Heck, before Sunday, I don’t even think his teammates knew who he was. That said, beggars can’t be choosers. After Michael Carter exited the game with an ankle injury (update to be determined), it was Knight who led the Jets with 17 touches and 104 yards. He had a 19-yard run and a 16-yard reception that honestly looked impressive all game in the new, Mike White-led Jets offense. For what it’s worth, Ty Johnson also had 78 scrimmage yards, scored a 32-yard rushing touchdown, and is worth a ‘stache in deeper leagues as well (assuming Carter misses any time). But the “White Knight” team name potential for Jets fans is rich, and you know how we buy in on good team names.
ROSTERED: 48% (Henderson), 0.0% (Hasty)
Keep an eye on Travis Etienne’s injury over the next couple of days. While he was back out on the sideline in pads on Sunday, he never saw the field again after exiting early with a foot injury. In his stead, JaMycal Hasty totaled a shocking 20.5 fantasy points thanks in large part to his five catches for 67 yards and one score. However, if Etienne does miss time, it’s also important to note that former Los Angeles Ram Darrell Henderson is waiting in the wings after being picked up off waivers (and made a healthy scratch for Week 12). This could be one of the most fascinating and impactful backfield situations of the fantasy playoffs. Although, I think most of us would prefer it to just be Etienne and his “boring” weekly RB2 output.
Guys to 'Stache: If I had the ability to predict whether Gus Edwards or Kenyan Drake would be more valuable for fantasy in a given week, I would be the only person in the world who could. It's a frustrating roller coaster over there, but it's probably not a bad idea to add one or both in the hopes you can guess the right one within these next few weeks. Recent weeks have shown Samaje Perine is a must-add handcuff. I expect Joe Mixon to be back and Perine to be relegated to backup duties, but he's still worth holding, just in case.
We’re kicking off the wide receivers with another Jaguar and another regular of the Waiver Wire column. Jones has popped up at least a few times in these articles, but after inconsistency over the middle of the season, his rostership is below 10%. However, that will be until Tuesday night, when you all add him! After having eight catches for 68 yards on 10 targets in Week 10 before the bye, Jones absolutely exploded on Sunday to the tune of 11 catches for 145 yards on 14 targets. This performance did come in a back-and-forth scorefest with the Ravens (whose defense has struggled against wideouts), but guess what? The Jags get the Lions and Titans over the next two weeks, who are both among the top five juiciest matchups for wide receivers so far this season. Jones does play on a somewhat crowded depth chart where Christian Kirk or Marvin Jones can eclipse him in a given week. Although, in good matchups, I’m happy to start more than one of them -- and Jones should be in the start column more often than not.
Williams, the rookie wideout, made an appearance in last week’s Guys to ‘Stache, but with reports suggesting he will finally make his debut in Week 13 against the Jaguars (so much Jaguars in this article), now is the time to make the move. You’d need a decently deep roster or a rough starting lineup to go all-in on Williams, given the fact that he may still need time to ramp up. But the Alabama product was the 12th overall pick for a reason and steps into a Lions offense that has been humming of late and could use an elite burner alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown. The last time we saw him on a football field was at the tail end of a 40-yard reception in the National Championship (the play he tore his now-healed ACL), and that is the kind of upside he could bring to both Detroit and your fantasy lineup if everything goes well.
Claypool had his “best game” as a Bear with his pair of catches for 51 yards on Sunday, but it wasn’t the mildly encouraging performance that lands Claypool on the list this week. It’s the unfortunate ankle injury to Darnell Mooney that will reportedly resort in season-ending surgery. Mooney has led Chicago in targets, receptions and receiving yards (and it’s not been particularly close), so losing him will open up a lot of opportunities in the offense. Given the investment they made to acquire Claypool and his versatility as a weapon in this unique offense, I think Claypool has the best chance at fantasy viability as a result. He is a must-‘stache in case of a late-year breakout.
Guys to 'Stache: Isaiah McKenzie had a big day on Thanksgiving to the tune of a team-high 96 yards and one TD on 10 targets ... possibly benefiting from Josh Allen's lingering elbow injury and the limitations it puts on his downfield throwing. With the revelation of Mike White in New York (technically New Jersey, but semantics), we also got the breakout for Elijah Moore on Sunday (season-high 64 yards and one touchdown). The non-Zach Wilson Jets have been one of the most productive passing teams in the league, and I want pieces.
Moreau was more like Foster Meh-reau in the first few weeks without Darren Waller (yeah, I went there), but after scoring a critical game-tying touchdown on Sunday, he has now scored 12-plus fantasy points in two of the last three games. We don’t really have any sort of reliable timetable for Waller’s return, so in the meantime, you could do worse than Moreau (who also had seven targets in Week 12, by the way). We’re getting desperate here, folks.
Guys to 'Stache: Again, nope.
Pick up If available: Trevor Lawrence (60% rostered), Deshaun Watson (58% and set to start this week against the Texans)
Goff is hardly the pinnacle of reliability, and I don’t really want to have to trust him as my starter in the playoffs. But if you are in great need, he draws top 10 matchups in each of the next two weeks (Jaguars and Vikings) and may be gaining one of the most explosive players in the league with the oncoming debut of Jameson Williams. Goff did put up a clean stat line against Buffalo's defense in Week 12 (on Thanksgiving), and the next couple of matchups are far more forgiving. Heck, Mac Jones just put up 23 fantasy points against the Vikings (also on Thanksgiving).
Here we are. Back on the Mike White Hype Train. Is it a good idea? Maybe not. The last time this happened (midway through the 2021 season), he followed up a red-hot start with a couple of stinkers. White carved up 315 yards and three TDs against the notably bad Bears defense. And yet ... I’m all aboard. It doesn’t hurt that White has a bevy of explosive weapons or that he looked legitimately good on Sunday, regardless of how bad Chicago’s defense was. But also, there’s this: White gets the Vikings, Lions, Jaguars and Seahawks in four of the last five weeks of the fantasy season — all of whom are Top 11 matchups for the position on the season. In fact, Minnesota, Detroit and Jacksonville are all top five matchups over the last month. This could be a sneaky league-winning play. It could also blow up in all our faces. You have been warned.
If the Jets D/ST is still available, add them and start them rest of the season. Period. The Commanders D/ST has been very solid over the last month (11.5 fantasy points per game) and draws the Giants in Week 13 and 15 (with a bye in between). Yes, please. The Brown D/ST has been anything but convincing (in fact, they're the 32nd-ranked D/ST this season), but they get the completely inept Texans in Week 13. Houston has allowed a league-high 11.3 fantasy PPG to D/STs. I think Cleveland wins the battle of stoppable force vs. moveable object.