At this point in the season, the waiver wire options are looking like the Thanksgiving leftovers: seriously picked over, and what remains, remains for a reason. Still, for contenders and rebuilders, the scraps are worth a look.
Keep in mind when reading:
- This advice is geared more toward 14- and 16-team dynasty setups, or 12-team setups with fairly large roster limits (65 spots or so). My goal is to write this for managers who must dig deeper on the wire in order to stay ahead for both this season and future years.
- I’m probably not going to list many IDPs you can find in my top 150 rankings. I’ll list some obvious “shallow” league options but I don’t plan to go into much detail on those players unless there’s some growing dynasty (this season and beyond) appeal.
- Not everyone I list is a recommended add. Sometimes I may just want to write up a player to convince you not to waste your FAAB on him.
Carlos Basham and Shaq Lawson, BUF
Gregory Rousseau is on track to return from an ankle injury that has cost him three full weeks, and the timing is impeccable considering Von Miller’s knee injury – likely season-ending – and A.J. Epenesa’s lingering ankle injury, which has him looking very questionable for week 13. Basham (53 snaps and no stats to show for it) and Lawson (one tackle for loss on 49 snaps) were both ineffective on Thanksgiving, but decent volume should be in play on Thursday night vs. New England.
John Cominsky and James Houston, DET
Cominsky, mentioned here last week, saw a massive Thanksgiving day snap share (63 of 77) and turned in a whopping nine pressures, per Pro Football Focus, and two quarterback hits. In normal fantasy scoring systems he didn’t have a big day (just two combined tackles), and that big club he sported on his hand to protect the thumb he injured back in week two probably hurt his ability to wrap up. You have to think those pressures (26 on 272 snaps this season) will start to pay off with sacks at some point.
Houston played a scant five snaps on defense in his professional debut but still managed two sacks, both coming on a third down. The sixth-round rookie, a former backup at Florida who turned into an FCS All-American during his final season at Jackson State, should get a longer look moving forward with Detroit searching for an effective pass rush rotation.
Justin Hollins, GB
Waived (freed?) by the Rams, Hollins stepped into a nice immediate opportunity in Green Bay. Rashan Gary is of course out until at least week one of next season while he recovers and rehabs from a torn ACL, leaving Preston Smith as the Packers’ lone proven edge rusher. And with just rookie Kingsley Enagbare to compete with for snaps, Hollins looks primed for a nice role for the remainder of 2022. He’s also approaching free agency, and a good impression with consistent snaps would be beneficial for his financial condition. Hollins is off on the right foot, picking up a sack of Jalen Hurts in his Green Bay debut among his two tackles for loss.
Myjai Sanders, ARI
If you’re looking for competition with Atlanta for worst edge group in the NFL, look toward the desert. The Cardinals are starting to put Sanders on the field more; the rookie from Cincinnati saw a season-high 29 snaps on Sunday. He posted a modest stat line with one solo tackle, a quarterback hit and a pass defensed, but I’d anticipate a growing role. He’s worth a stash in true position and/or big play formats to see how he finishes the season.
Maliek Collins, HOU
The former Cowboy came alive against Miami with two sacks among his four solo tackles (three for loss). It would be hard to bring yourself to check the box next to Collins’ name when setting your starting lineup, but he typically generates a handful of pressures each game. And Cleveland, which travels to Houston in week 13, represents a good matchup for opposing defensive tackles. You at least know Collins is going to see a healthy share of the Texans’ defensive snaps.
John Ridgeway, WAS
I’ve mentioned fellow rookie Phidarian Mathis previously as a Commander to keep an eye on with Da’Ron Payne playing out his rookie contract. While Mathis hasn’t played since early in week one due to a season-ending knee injury, Ridgeway has served as a space-eating tackler whose play has improved as of late. He made a key play in week ten by forcing a fumble by Dallas Goedert, and saw a season-high 31 snaps against Atlanta en route to three assists. He’s nothing more than a depth option in really deep, defensive tackle-premium leagues, but at least he’s carving out a role for himself.
A.J. Klein, BUF
A plague upon thee, Tyrel Dodson! I started the Buffalo backup with confidence in week 12 in multiple leagues, and it cost me dearly. Dodson, an LB1 in week 11, played just ten snaps and ceded a full-time role to Klein, who produced six solos and three assists on 71 snaps. To say this was unexpected would be an understatement, as Klein was making his Buffalo debut after registering all of 18 snaps with Baltimore during the first half of the season.
Buffalo again plays on Thursday, and should welcome back Tremaine Edmunds from a groin injury. It could still make sense for contenders to roster Klein in case of an aggravation to Edmunds’ sore spot – especially with some sort of illness working its way through the Bills locker room.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, HOU
Coming off a career season (75 combined tackles) in Detroit, Reeves-Maybin landed in Houston last off-season and quickly got lost in the shuffle of a crowded (not necessarily talented) linebacker room. He finally found the field outside of special teams on Sunday after rookie Christian Harris left late in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and posted six tackles (four solo) on 51 defensive snaps. As of Sunday evening there is no word on the severity of Harris’ injury, so keep an eye on any news related to the rookie’s availability for week 13. The Texans keep two linebackers on the field, so Reeves-Maybin could be worth consideration this week in a good matchup against Cleveland.
- Damone Clark, DAL – The rookie from LSU played a season-high 46 snaps (72 percent) with Anthony Barr sidelined, producing six solos and one assist, and forcing a fumble. Grab and stash in dynasty where available, as both Barr and Leighton Vander Esch are in contract years. Either or both of Clark and Jabril Cox could be in line for large roles in 2023.
- Kaden Elliss, NO – It’s amazing, but in this moment, Elliss is “the” LB1 and an auto-start until Pete Werner returns. If you picked him up since Werner’s injury, you reaped the rewards of Sunday’s 12-solo tackle, two-assist jackpot.
- Chad Muma, JAC – I mentioned Muma in week 11’s column after he started eating into Devin Lloyd’s snaps. Granted, he’s not available in most dynasty IDP spots, but his fantasy prospects certainly went into a tailspin after landing in Jacksonville. So, for those in shallow leagues, I hope you have some FAAB remaining. And if you missed out on Lloyd on draft day, now would be a good time to think about buying low.
Reed Blankenship, PHI
Should the rib injury that knocked Chauncey Gardner-Johnson out of Sunday night’s game with Green Bay prove to be serious, Blankenship would be the beneficiary. He stepped in for Gardner-Johnson after the emerging Pro Bowler collided with a teammate in the first quarter and was later carted to the locker room. Blankenship, a rookie free agent signing, picked up three solo tackles and three assists – and he can tell his grandkids that he once intercepted Aaron Rodgers.
These are the trust throws that people are begging for. Lots of slander all over but this one isn’t warranted. Have to go as flat as needed to cross the safeties face on a thru route. Ran it like it was traditional 3 deep zone. Just what I see. pic.twitter.com/UQYle1MGLm
— Kurt Benkert (@KurtBenkert) November 28, 2022
The midseason waiver wire hero from 2021 may have new life. Already playing without rookie Jaquan Brisker (concussion), Chicago lost star Eddie Jackson to a foot injury, as well as backup Dane Cruikshank (hamstring). Should Jackson miss extended time (it was a non-contact injury, and that’s never a sign of a short-term issue), Houston-Carson would likely carry S2 or S3 value in the interim. he posted nine tackles (six solos, including one in the backfield) plus a quarterback hit against Magic Mike White and the Jets.
Keanu Neal, TB
It’s easy to forget how highly regarded Neal was after his first two seasons in the NFL. Early-season injuries in back-to-back seasons really set him back as a player, but at least this season he now has some semblance of fantasy value as an S3 or backup safety. With Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards both currently healthy, Neal is playing a fairly productive box nickel safety role, and worthy of S3 consideration. He rang up eight combined tackles (four solo) and half-a-sack on two quarterback hits against the Browns on Sunday.
Jason Pinnock, NYG
I’m not going out of my way to add Pinnock this week, despite a stat line of seven solo tackles and one assist. The 2021 fifth-rounder from Pitt played all 75 snaps on Thanksgiving, replacing rookie Dane Belton in the lineup while Xavier McKinney heals his broken hand. Simply put, I’m not trusting Pinnock anywhere as he’s not very good, and liable to be benched at any point.
Taylor Rapp, LAR
It’s hard to trust Rams safeties, but Rapp has been getting more work in the box the past few weeks, and the fantasy production has been noticeable. He led L.A. in tackles (seven solos, five assists) against Kansas City, and is averaging 7.6 combined tackles per contest since the Rams’ week seven bye.
- Alohi Gilman, LAC – Gilman led the Bolts in combined tackles with ten (five solos) but he only got a lot of run with Nasir Adderley sitting with a thumb injury. It doesn’t sound like a long-term issue, so I’m not bothering with Gilman.
Michael Carter, NYJ
I’m assuming Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed are rostered in almost all cornerback-required leagues, but if not, they’re primed for a nice fantasy outing in week 13 at Minnesota. Carter, the Jets’ nickel defender, makes for a decent streaming option if nothing else on your cornerback depth chart looks appealing.
The 2021 fourth-round pick has been Atlanta’s preferred outside corner opposite A.J. Terrell for the past six weeks, and he’s been playing fairly well. For fantasy, he’s been productive for two straight weeks. He’s also widely available, and is worth grabbing for this week’s prime fantasy matchup against Pittsburgh. On title contenders he’s worth keeping since the Falcons host Arizona in week 17.
Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills, NE
The Patriots host the pass-happy Bills on Thursday night, making both Jones and Mills viable plays for the second consecutive week. Jones is coming off a big outing with seven tackles (six solos) and an interception on three passes defensed, and seems to be the better bet for fantasy production. In addition to Buffalo, New England corners have a nice fantasy matchup in week 14 at Arizona, and in week 16 against Cincinnati.
- Cam Taylor-Britt, CIN – The rookie is receiving a trial-by-fire right now, and the Bengals have little choice but to let him learn on-the-fly. It’s been good for fantasy, and Taylor-Britt scored as one of the better cornerback options in week 12 with seven solo tackles, one assist and a forced fumble. Cincinnati hosts Kansas City this week.