First, I’d like to say I hope the counsel of the Waiver Sherpa helped keep you warm during these cold nights. If you don’t make it past next week, I am thankful you have chosen me to be your guide during the 2019 season. Now, onto business!
This is it! The last checkpoint until we bid adieu to about half of our compatriots, as the chosen ones will press on to the ultimate destination. Like every season, it’s been a weird season. We’ve seen second year resurrections (Ronald Jones) while some bona fide studs have washed away (David Johnson). There’s even been undrafted rookies make the improbable journey to starter then even becoming fantasy relevant (Preston Williams).
Today as we prepare for the postseason, a new delicacy can be seen high up on the mountainside: a rare but beautiful species called freshicus legstronimus. Commonly known as “fresh legs,” this seasonal fruit sprouts from newly minted starting running backs. Look for them growing just beyond the edge of the trail, giving off the scent of victory. Because they blossom so late in the year, the elements have not sapped their potency. Fresh legs come in many shapes and sizes such as 2009 Jerome Harrison or 2015 Tim Hightower. Be sure to gather as many as you can and they will propel you to the summit!
Priority will be classified in 4 ways:
HIGH – immediate starter on most teams and trade bait at worst; be aggressive!
MEDIUM – probable FLEX-level starter right now; add if you have need at the position.
LOW – still a lottery ticket, but showing signs of growth; add if you have bench room.
FREE – likely can add post-waivers without using FAAB or priority if your league allows.
Players with “PPR+” designation mean they will be extra useful in formats that reward receptions.
First Aid Kit
Players set to inherit a bigger role due to injury
Jonathan Williams, RB, IND (priority HIGH pending Marlon Mack’s status) – Ah, look at this classic specimen of fresh legs! Williams is somehow still available in 71% of ESPN leagues heading into week 13. After his Thursday night performance, you probably don’t need me to tell you he’s a strong play. With two straight 100 yard rushing games and a decent receiving role, JWilll is a must-add until Marlon Mack returns. As long as he remains atop the Colts depth chart, he is a RB1/2 down the stretch.
Benny Snell, RB, PIT (priority MEDIUM pending James Conner’s status) – Back from his knee scope, Snell slid into the role of Pittsburgh’s primary running back against the hapless Bengals. He saw the ball 22 times for a total of 103 scoreless yards. Athletically, I wouldn’t call him a “specimen” but he can grind for yards and fall forward which is all the Steelers’ seem to want to do anymore.
While week 12’s matchup was pristine, Snell will continue to be called upon to do the dirty work until Conner returns. Some are reporting that Conner could be back as soon as week 13, but after a shoulder re-aggravation I think he’s at least a 1-2 more away. Snell is a prime fresh legs find and Pittsburgh gets weak rushing defenses over the next 3 games with Cleveland, at Arizona and Buffalo.
Russell Gage, WR, ATL (priority MEDIUM pending Julio Jones’ status) – The top 2-3 options in the Falcons passing game are absolutely fantasy relevant. With Julio in and out of the game Sunday, Gage saw a career high 10 targets which he converted into 76 yards. Frankly, there isn’t much in Gage’s profile that stands out, but if Julio misses time he’s certainly in a FLEX conversation. The Falcons have tons of targets to give in a good passing offense with a bad defense attached to it.
High calorie options to grab for a boost
Devlin Hodges, QB, PIT (priority MEDIUM in multi-QB leagues) – This is merely due process for multi-QB leagues as Hodges is probably not someone you want to actually start even as a QB2. It seems like anything is an upgrade over the shellshocked Mason Rudolph, though. In non-injury relief of the aforementioned Rudolph, Hodges made one nice deep throw to James Washington, which Washington took to the house with some post-catch domination.
In any event, the Steelers want to run the ball and play defense, so whoever is behind center is unlikely to tilt fantasy matchups down the stretch. If you’re interested in his college exploits I outlined them here a few weeks ago.
Rashaad Penny, RB, SEA (priority HIGH) – This is an interesting one, and I’d be lying if I said I truly knew where it was going to land. Chris Carson now has 8 fumbles on the year, which is very… not good for a running back.
Enter the former first round pick, Penny, who exploded for 129 yards and a score on 14 carries. It’s tough to believe Carson would completely lose his job after this but a 50/50 split could show up. Given his home run speed, Penny’s fresh legs could carry you a long way should he get 12+ touches a game down the stretch.
Darius Slayton, WR, NYG (priority HIGH) – Well if you wanted to know what would happen to Slayton when Sterling Shepard got back from injury, he just led the team in receiving. This should solidify his as a legitimate WR3 for the rest of the season. Like the Falcons, the Giants are horrendous on defense and will never have games they can just sit on the ball. With even decent volume of 6-8 targets, Slayton’s top 12 average depth of target will allow him to rack up points in bunches.
James Washington, WR PIT (priority LOW) – It’s been slow coming, but James Washington is carving out a role on this Steelers team. He’s seen 7 targets and had over 90 yards in 2 of his last 3 games. He is a deep threat and also a monster after the catch, so designing splash plays for him should be a coordinator’s goal. While still raw from a technical perspective, once he has the ball in his hands he is deadly. With bye weeks over, I’m not sure he will help playoff bound teams but should an injury befall you, check JWash out.
N’Keal Harry, WR, NE (priority LOW) – Yes, he’s “on the Patriots.” Yes, he saw 81% of the snaps. Yes, he caught a touchdown. But I am still pumping the breaks as a redraft add. Harry has done a nice job of staying relevant in an organization that buries injured players, especially rookies. However, the reality is that he still only saw 4 targets, although one resulted in a wonderful, contested back shoulder TD.
I think he’s a good player but this New England “offense” is low key trash. This is not Harry stepping into 2007 Randy Moss’ role. I won’t tell you NOT to add a good young player but temper expectations for the rest of 2019.
Mike Gesicki, TE, MIA (priority HIGH for TE needy teams) – Four weeks in a row of 6 or more targets makes Gesicki a shockingly consistent part of his offense. The Dolphins are using him more like a receiving weapon (37% slot snaps) rather than a true in-line TE. This is good for us because we don’t get points for blocking. He hauled in his first career TD against Cleveland and may be destined for more with the Dolphins playing catch-up for almost 60 minutes each week.
Leave these guys behind, it’s time to move on
Curtis Samuel, WR, CAR – This one is painful but outside of dynasty, I think CSam is a drop. He’s getting reasonable volume but Kyle Allen just can’t seem to connect down the field with him. Combined with DJ Moore’s ascension, Samuel’s lack of production makes him a concerning start as we get into do-or-die matchups.
TJ Hockenson, TE, DET – He can’t even be considered a streamer at TE right now. Outside of dynasty, cut him for something more useful.
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