Next week’s waiver wire: D’Ernest Johnson, Justin Watson and more players to add now — before the Week 13 rush

I’m using a data-backed, formulaic approach to discover next week’s waiver wire headliners… today. Going position by position, I mine my favorite obscure fantasy football statistics in regard to volume, depth, and efficiency. Then I mash them all together, hopefully identifying some cheap fantasy gems to grab now before the squares do next week (Really proud to help readers add Demario Douglas, to go along with Rashee Rice and Josh Downs, several weeks before the public — chalk another up for the good guys).


Available QBs With +35.0 Dropbacks Per Game (Past Three Weeks)

Available QBs With +3.5 Deep Attempts Per Game (Past Three Weeks)

  • Jameis Winston, NO — 7.0 Deep Attempts Per Game
  • Will Levis, TEN — 5.7 Deep Attempts Per Game
  • Jordan Love, GB — 4.3 Deep Attempts Per Game
  • Aidan O’Connell, LV — 4.0 Deep Attempts Per Game
  • Geno Smith, SEA — 3.7 Deep Attempts Per Game

Available QBs With +0.05 Expected Points Added Per Attempt (Past Three Weeks)

  • Jordan Love, GB — 0.30 EPA/Attempt
  • Baker Mayfield, TB — 0.23 EPA/Attempt
  • Russell Wilson, DEN — 0.16 EPA/Attempt
  • Tommy DeVito, NYG — 0.09 EPA/Attempt
  • Will Levis, TEN — 0.05 EPA/Attempt

The Laghezza household smells like freshly ground sage and pumpkin spice coffee which can only mean two things. It’s Thanksgiving and there aren’t enough hours in the day… so I better get into the hurry-up offense.

In yet another feat of scheduling wonder, zero teams have a Week 12 bye, so most of your QB1 leagues should be well-staffed. Start your starter, if he’s still on two feet, that is. If not, hold your nose; we’re going back to the streaming well with Gardner Minshew to once again face a horrendous Tampa Bay pass defense. The Buccaneers’ secondary is hobbled with injuries and the definition of a modern day pass funnel, especially these last three weeks — Top 3 in Defensive EPA/Rush (+0.26), Rushing Yards Allowed/Game (70.0), Yards/Rush (3.3), Yards Before Contact/Rush (0.71), +20 Yard Rushes (0), and Rushing Touchdowns (0) while conversely occupying the Bottom 3 in EPA/Dropback (-0.31), Opposing Passer Rating (117.4), Passing Yards/Game (305.0), Yards/Reception (14.3), +20 Yard Receptions (15), and Passing Touchdowns (8). There’s not much on the spreadsheet to boast about in regard to Gardner Minshew or his 160.5 Passing Yards/Game over the Colts’ last three contests — other than maybe the defensive matchups presenting a challenge (NO, @CAR, @NE). I’m expecting Indy (who is on the playoff bubble) to understand this matchup matrix and abandon their ground game early on the fast track at home. Hopefully, this opens up the pathway to the back-to-back +305 yard games we got from Minshew in early October. If we do connect on this Hail Mary and it winds up paying off, I’d probably run it back again in Week 13 at Tennessee.

Week 12 QB Streams Ranked

  1. Matthew Stafford — LAR at ARI
  2. Gardner Minshew — IND vs TB
  3. Joshua Dobbs — MIN vs CHI
  4. Jordan Love — GB at DET

Week 13 QB Streams Ranked

  1. Gardner Minshew — IND at TEN
  2. Will Levis — TEN vs IND

Running Back

Available RBs With +6.0 Touches Per Game (Past Three Weeks)

Available RBs With +0.35 Fantasy Points Per Snap (min. 6 Touches; Past Three Weeks)

Available RBs With +40% Touch Per Snap Rate (min. 6 Touches; Past Three Weeks)

  • Tank Bigsby, JAX — 52.2% Touch Per Snap Rate
  • Elijah Mitchell, SF — 50.0% Touch Per Snap Rate
  • Emanuel Wilson, MIA — 47.1% Touch Per Snap Rate
  • Jaleel McLaughlin, DEN — 45.2% Touch Per Snap Rate
  • Royce Freeman, LAR — 43.3% Touch Per Snap Rate
  • Zack Moss, IND — 42.1% Touch Per Snap Rate

For fantasy speculators like us, the second a single snap on the snare even vaguely resembles a drumbeat we’re ready to pounce.  Even in your typical run-of-the-mill fantasy league, most quality backup RBs are no longer available. So if you can actually get your hands on any of the contingency RBs we pumped all season — like Rico Dowdle or Tyjae Spears — they’re still the premier handcuffs to roster. Beyond that — spin the fantasy roulette wheel, keeping a focused eye on anticipating a vacuum to fill the opportunity void. Prioritize plus offenses to the front of the line.

If it’s a coveted role on a prolific offense we seek, what better fit than Elijah Mitchell in San Francisco? Christian McCaffrey is undoubtedly one of the best football players in our lifetime and an outright fantasy god. That said, he’s shouldering an inordinate amount of the Niners’ workload this season — boasting a double-digit lead on the entire NFL in touches. While we despise injuries and never wish them on anyone, we also understand that to ignore their inherent inevitability is folly. Elijah Mitchell’s back and looking sharp for San Fran. More importantly, he’s the only RB beside CMC to touch the ball in the backfield dependent on familiarity and continuity. There’s no question whatsoever Mitchell’s headlining waiver wires everywhere in an unfortunate case of injury.

Unfortunately for us, the 49ers played on Thanksgiving and you’ll have to wait until next week to try to add Mitchell. But with McCaffrey’s status unchanged, there won’t be any more of a rush than usual for Mitchell.

I can be so formulaic and regimented in approach at times — forgive me if I come off as robotic; I assure you I’m the life of most parties. As I was digging into McCaffrey’s workload in relation to the league, I also noticed he was currently 4th in Team Touch Rate at 73.7%. Who were the three RBs leading the way, you ask? Joe Mixon, Josh Jacobs, and Travis Etienne. Well, only one of those players are currently on a good team. I mentioned Jags’ backup D’Ernest Johnson last week as a potential value-add:

…and his usage increase continued again. Johnson’s in a plus offense with a more vulnerable passing down situation than SF — and Jacksonville’s finally finding its footing in a playoff push. Thanks to our friends at TruMedia, I’ve been afforded a new means of expression (yay!) so now I can show you the trend more easily than I can explain it (image below). If this gap continues to close, we could be on the verge of standalone value from Johnson.

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Wide Receiver

Available WRs With +33.0 Routes Run Per Game (Past Three Weeks)

Available WRs With +25.0% Target Per Route Run (min. 5 Targets; Past Three Weeks)

  • Austin Trammell, LAR— 30.4% Target Per Route Run
  • Sterling Shepard, NYG— 30.4% Target Per Route Run
  • Odell Beckham, BAL — 29.6% Target Per Route Run
  • Justin Watson, KC — 27.6% Target Per Route Run
  • Tre Tucker, LV — 27.0% Target Per Route Run
  • Kalif Raymond, DET — 26.1% Target Per Route Run
  • Dontayvion Wicks, GB — 26.0% Target Per Route Run

Available WRs With +0.40 Fantasy Points Per Route (min. 5 Targets; Past Three Weeks)

  • Noah Brown, HOU — 0.78 Fantasy Points Per Route
  • Odell Beckham, BAL — 0.76 Fantasy Points Per Route
  • Dontayvion Wicks, GB — 0.54 Fantasy Points Per Route
  • Kyle Philips, TEN — 0.46 Fantasy Points Per Route
  • Khalil Shakir, BUF — 0.43 Fantasy Points Per Route
  • Mecole Hardman,  KC — 0.40 Fantasy Points Per Route

Despite a mention right here in last week’s piece, followed by 11 Pat Mahomes targets, Justin Watson remains rostered in only 3% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Outrageous! Clearly, I am not that popular (yet). Perfect for today’s giddy-up pace, the calculus here’s simple enough — a chance at the lion’s share of targets from the universe’s best quarterback (image below). Over the Chiefs’ last three games, Watson’s leading the entire team (including Travis Kelce) in Targets (16), Receiving Yards (68), Touchdowns (1), Target/Route (27.8%), Air Yards/Game (109.5), and Red Zone Targets (3). Unfortunately the utilization breakout we hoped for Rashee Rice in late September has given way to Watson, who’s simply criminally under-rostered right now.

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Tight End

Available TEs With +70.0% Route Participation (Past Three Weeks)

Available TEs Earning +5.0 Targets Per Game (Past Three Weeks)

  • Jake Ferguson, DAL — 7.3 Targets Per Game
  • Cole Kmet, CHI — 6.3 Targets Per Game
  • Logan Thomas, WAS — 6.0 Targets Per Game
  • Cade Otton, TB — 5.7 Targets Per Game
  • Hunter Henry, NE — 5.5 Targets Per Game
  • Tyler Conklin, NYJ — 5.3 Targets Per Game
  • Tanner Hudson, CIN — 5.3 Targets Per Game

Available TEs With +35.0 Air Yards Per Game (Past Three Weeks)

  • Hunter Henry, NE — 45.0 Air Yards Per Game
  • Cade Otton, TB — 42.7 Air Yards Per Game
  • Jake Ferguson, DAL — 40.3 Air Yards Per Game
  • Hayden Hurst, CAR — 38.5 Air Yards Per Game
  • Mike Gesicki, MIA — 37.5 Air Yards Per Game
  • Tyler Conklin, NYJ — 37.3 Air Yards Per Game
  • Chigoziem Okonkwo, TEN — 37.0 Air Yards Per Game

Top 10 Rest-Of-Season Available TEs Ranked

  1. Jake Ferguson, DAL
  2. Isaiah Likely, BAL
  3. Cole Kmet, CHI
  4. Cade Otton, TB 
  5. Michael Mayer, LV
  6. Tanner Hudson, CIN
  7. Tucker Kraft, GB
  8. Hunter Henry, NE
  9. Jonnu Smith, ATL
  10. Chigoziem Okonkwo, TEN

(Top photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

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