After an eventful Week 11 in fantasy football filled with breakout players, disappointments, and injuries, it’s time to look ahead. With no teams on bye in Week 12, fantasy owners will now have their full rosters at their disposals as we are now in crunch time and closer to the playoffs. So who are some of the early waiver wire pickups to target in Week 12 for your fantasy lineups? Let’s look at who is deserving of those priority claims.
Week 12 Waiver Wire: Quarterback pickups to target for your fantasy team
Taysom Hill (New Orleans Saints)
Like it or not, Taysom Hill put up solid fantasy football numbers for Week 11. While he only had 233 scoreless passing yards, he had 51 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He did nothing to suggest he’d lose his starting position while Drew Brees is out, and now he faces a Denver Broncos defense that has been inconsistent at best this season.
On top of that, Hill and the New Orleans Saints draw the Atlanta Falcons again in Week 13, providing another really solid matchup that week for the quarterback.
Alex Smith (Washington Football Team)
Alex Smith wasn’t asked to do much against a Cincinnati Bengals team that proved to be small competition. He only threw the ball 25 times but still managed to complete 17 of them for 166 yards and a touchdown. In Week 12, Smith faces a Dallas squad that has struggled mightily on defense but has shown some capability of scoring points when Andy Dalton is healthy. That could mean Smith being relied upon more to keep Washington in the mix in this divisional matchup.
Running back waiver wire pickups to target in Week 12
James White (New England Patriots)
James White’s fantasy football value had dipped quite a bit this season, between Cam Newton’s inclination to run the ball and Damien Harris stepping up as the lead running back for the team. With Rex Burkhead suffering what appears to be a season-ending injury, White is the only capable pass-catching running back on a team with very few viable pass-catching options in general. He suddenly has top-30 upside in PPR leagues as one of the top waiver wire pickups and could continue to see six-to-eight targets per week going forward.
Carlos Hyde (Seattle Seahawks)
While Chris Carson should hopefully be healthy enough to return in Week 12, Carlos Hyde is someone to stash if Carson cannot suit up against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was the clear lead running back for the Seattle Seahawks with 14 carries and two receptions that turned into 95 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in Week 11. On a dynamic offense like the Seahawks, whether it be Hyde or Carson, the starting running back can’t be ignored in fantasy football. The Seahawks face an Eagles squad that struggled to slow down the Browns run game in Week 11.
Frank Gore (New York Jets)
While I find it hard to believe I’d ever suggest Frank Gore as a waiver wire pickup again, here we are. Gore has at least 10 carries in each of his last five games, and now with La’Mical Perine injured with an ankle issue that resulted in him not returning in Week 11, Gore could find himself with even more work if Perine misses time. He has a pretty easy schedule coming up with the Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, and Seahawks on tap over the next three weeks. Should Perine miss time, Gore finds himself as a less-than-inspiring FLEX option for those desperate enough to need him.
Wide receiver waiver wire pickups in Week 12
Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis Colts)
Michael Pittman Jr. has continued to perform well since his return from injured reserve. He has at least 50 yards receiving and/or a touchdown in each of his last three games as the Indianapolis Colts’ number one wide receiver. As we continue to see quarterback Philip Rivers throw the ball more with 35+ attempts in each of his last three games, Pittman should continue to see more targets his way. The Colts also face some weak pass defenses in the coming weeks with the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans (x2), and Raiders on tap over the next four weeks. Pittman should be considered a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 going forward as one of the week’s top waiver wire pickups.
Curtis Samuel (Carolina Panthers)
Despite being a blip on the radar in Week 10, Samuel was right back on track in Week 11 with eight receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. He and DJ Moore led the way for the Panthers towards a shutout victory against the Lions. Since returning from his knee injury, Samuel has 100+ yards from scrimmage and/or a touchdown in four of his five games. He’ll continue to be viable as a strong WR3/FLEX option in fantasy football regardless of who is under center for the Panthers going forward and should be one of this week’s top waiver wire targets.
Russell Gage (Atlanta Falcons)
After a hot start to the season, Russell Gage has cooled off as of late. However, he saw a team-high 12 targets in Week 11 as Julio Jones went out with a potential re-aggravation of his hamstring injury. With the Falcons squarely out of the playoff race, it would make no sense to rush Jones back from injury if he did indeed re-injure himself. Gage would step up as the number two wide receiver on a pass-heavy offense that continues to ignore Todd Gurley in the receiving game and saw Hayden Hurst drop a goose egg in Week 11. He should be a reliable WR3/FLEX option in any game that Jones misses going forward.
Week 12 tight end pickups
Jordan Akins (Houston Texans)
As we have seen all season, the tight end position is more or less a crapshoot to figure out for fantasy football beyond the top three-to-four options. It’s mostly a hot-hand approach to figure out who may be viable as an option and who isn’t. This week, we saw Jordan Akins grab five receptions for a season-high 83 yards against the New England Patriots. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has played well as of late, and after seeing injuries to wide receivers Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills, we could see Watson look towards Akins’ direction more if either wideout misses time.
Robert Tonyan (Green Bay Packers)
Remember when Robert Tonyan had a stretch of three games with 13 receptions, 173 yards, and five touchdowns earlier this season? It seems like so long ago but ’tis the life of a tight end in fantasy football. He hasn’t done nearly as well lately but has at least four targets, three receptions, and 33 yards in each of his last three games, including a touchdown in Week 11. It doesn’t take much to be in the top-12 at the tight end spot, so maybe Tonyan can find himself back on the low-end TE1 radar moving forward even with Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Aaron Jones all healthy.
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Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL.