Thanksgiving is upon us, fake footballers, and if you’re vying for a spot in your league’s playoffs, waivers are especially important this week. With three Thursday games, lineup decisions must be made with more haste and less information than in every other week of the NFL season. Study the schedule and plan accordingly. A deep bench counts for nothing on Sunday if your potential replacements for questionable players had their games on Thursday. Without further ado, here are the best available Week 13 waiver wire options:
Better Late Than Never: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt McGloin
As usual, this isn’t the waiver article for you if you’re looking for 10- or 12-team streaming options. I like to focus on the dregs of the QB position for the benefit of owners in 2-QB formats or otherwise deep leagues. Sadly, this means I spend a lot of time writing about Cleveland quarterbacks. The Browns’ revolving door at QB took another spin on Sunday and spat out Brandon Weeden when Jason Campbell took a concussive blow against the Steelers. Weeden is no great shakes, but he keeps Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron relevant and provides mediocre passing stats. Keep your expectations in check, but go get him if your format requires you to do so.
Matt Flynn may have more upside than Weeden for Week 13, but Flynn’s prospects in future weeks are dampened by the looming return of Aaron Rodgers. My rationale behind ranking Weeden higher is that if you’re desperate enough to consider him or Flynn, you probably need help beyond the upcoming slate of games. If you’re looking for a single week’s worth of QB production, Flynn might be the better bet.
Bilal Powell reestablished a timeshare in the Jets’ backfield when Chris Ivory injured his ankle on his first carry of Sunday’s game. In a tough match-up against the Ravens, Powell posted 65 total yards on 14 touches. The green New York team draws the generous Miami rushing defense this week, so Powell is set up for success if Ivory sits. Even if Ivory plays, Powell could have flex appeal on limited touches considering the favorable match-up.
Zac Stacy also left Sunday’s game with an injury – a concussion to be precise – and Benny Cunningham made the most of his opportunity to play in relief. Cunningham carried 13 times for 109 yards and a TD. If he starts for Stacy in Week 13, Cunningham won’t have as much room to run against the 49ers as he did against the hapless Bears in Week 12, but he will be startable.
An injury wasn’t overtly responsible for Ben Tate’s departure from Sunday’s game. He was replaced based simply on ineffectiveness. Dennis Johnson took over for Tate and put up 87 yards on 15 touches. This situation reeks of a timeshare going forward, Johnson could ascend to a feature role if Tate’s well-documented rib woes finally force him to the bench.
Add fumbling problems to the litany of follies leading to running back promotions in Week 12. Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount repeatedly coughed up the ball against Denver, leaving Brandon Bolden as the only sure-handed RB other than Shane Vereen in the New England backfield. Before Sunday, Bolden had primarily been used in the Vereen pass-catching role, but Belichick was more than happy to feed him carries after the claw-handed clinic put on by Vereen and Blount. It’s nearly impossible to forecast how the Patriots will use their various offensive weapons from week to week, but Bolden has to be on fantasy owners’ radar until his fellow backs prove they can secure the rock.
BLTN: Chris Ogbonnaya
Speaking of fumbles, Montee Ball put his namesake on the ground again in Week 12. Knowshon Moreno was seen with crutches and a walking boot after way too many carries on Sunday. If Moreno can’t suit up in Week 13, C.J. Anderson could be in line for the lion’s share of carries for Denver, considering Ball’s bouts with fumble-itis.
Miles Austin didn’t do much in his return to action Sunday (1 catch for 17 yards), but he played more snaps and was targeted more than Terrance Williams. Austin is back just in time to take advantage of the Cowboys’ soft schedule, assuming he can stay healthy. Take a chance on Austin if he’s available.
Dexter McCluster has quietly been targeted 18 times over his past two games, hauling in 12 of those passes for 112 yards. His yards per catch in that short span are uninspiring in standard leagues, but the high volume of targets and receptions are appealing for PPR owners. The Chiefs should continue to air it out for at least one more week with Denver on deck, so make a play for McCluster if you need a PPR producer.
Cordarrelle Patterson has also seen a drastic increase in targets over the past two weeks. He leads the Vikings in that time frame with 20 passes aimed his way. Minnesota has virtually nothing to play for going forward, so look for Patterson to remain involved as the Vikes work to find ways to involve him in the offense.
On the flip side, Julian Edelman will be hard pressed to repeat his Week 12 performance in future weeks. As the AFC’s version of the Saints, the Pats like to mix up which players are featured in the offense from game to game. On Sunday, it was Edelman. In Week 13, it might be Aaron Dobson. Roll the dice with Edelman if you’re desperate, but look for a more consistent option if possible.
BLTN: Delanie Walker
Tim Wright has been featured in this column before, but after a “BLTN” and a couple quiet weeks, he dissolved back into the fantasy football ether. Thanks to a nice game on Sunday against Detroit, Wright is back in the Waiver Wire’s good graces. Mike Glennon clearly trusts the young tight end, but consider Wright’s tough upcoming schedule before you start him over someone like the struggling Jordan Cameron. His Week 13 game against the Panthers is actually the most favorable match-up he has in the season’s final weeks. Wright’s opponents after this week (BUF, SF, @STL, and @NO) are all among the six stingiest teams against fantasy tight ends.
In the event that Julius Thomas continues to miss time, Jacob Tamme is the Denver tight end to own. Otherwise, go with one of the other guys featured in this section.