Looking for help with 6 teams on bye and more injuries

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Byes are back with a vengeance this week, with six teams on break, but we have waiver recommendations to address any fantasy football need and accommodate any budget. Each week, we identify a collection of priority fantasy pickups available in at least 50% of leagues and approved for immediate use. These incredible Cyber Monday deals won’t last, so please act fast, people.

Running backs

Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts (49%)

We’re not about to second-guess anyone who’d recently dropped Moss, because A) he was coming off a bye and B) he’d barely seen the field in his previous two games. Moss played only nine snaps in Week 10 and just 13 the week before. Guys like that are generally cut candidates.

Moss, however, unexpectedly reemerged in Sunday’s win over the Bucs, playing 41% of the offensive snaps and producing 70 yards on 10 touches. He was still out-touched and outgained by Jonathan Taylor, but the playing time was surprisingly similar. We learned on Tuesday that Taylor suffered a thumb injury during the game, which “puts his status in doubt going forward.” Yikes.

With six teams on bye in Week 13, Moss was already back on the flex radar. But uncertainty around Taylor’s availability this week (and beyond) now makes Moss a priority add wherever available. He’s been fantastically efficient this season, averaging 4.8 YPC and 7.7 yards per catch.

FAB: Potentially all of it, depending on your situation.

D’Ernest Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars (1%)

It’s been pretty clear for multiple weeks that Johnson had leapfrogged rookie Tank Bigsby as the understudy in Jacksonville’s backfield. We received further confirmation of his status on Sunday, when Travis Etienne briefly exited the Houston matchup with a chest issue (eventually returning). Johnson finished the game with eight touches for 61 total yards, doing most of his damage on a 42-yard reception. He’s averaged 5.0 YPC for his career and he had a few nice moments back in his Cleveland days whenever injuries created a path to significant touches. If you’ve attached your fantasy hopes to Etienne this season, find a spot for Johnson on the bench.

FAB: $6

Additional RBs on the wire

  • Ty Chandler entered the Monday night matchup with Chicago coming off back-to-back productive games in which he’d seen double-digit touches. While Chandler only had five touches for 11 yards in the loss to the Bears, four Josh Dobbs picks definitely impacted the game flow. This is still an elusive runner with 4.3-speed and he’s earned a beefy rotational role in Minnesota’s offense. His team has a bye in Week 13, but he’ll return with friendly road matchups against the Raiders and Bengals. It’s wild that he remains available in 52% of Yahoo leagues.

  • Antonio Gibson deserves a look in deeper leagues after returning from a one-game injury-related absence. He’s caught 18 passes over his past four games and his receiving services will likely be needed in the Miami matchup ahead. Gibson matched Brian Robinson’s snaps on Thanksgiving, playing on nearly every third down.

  • Roschon Johnson is headed into his bye, so he’s out of the mix in Week 13. But he split the backfield touches with Khalil Herbert on Monday night and looked like his usual versatile, bulldozing self. He should retain a significant role in the closing weeks.

  • Rico Dowdle made the most of a light workload on Thursday, gaining 26 yards on four touches against Washington and delivering the game’s first touchdown. He remains a priority understudy RB behind Tony Pollard.

  • Ezekiel Elliott handled 11 touches on Sunday, which gives him 26 over New England’s last two games. The Pats have a pair of favorable matchups on deck (LAC, at PIT), so if Zeke is seeing respectable workloads, he deserves a look.

  • Samaje Perine was sorta frisky on Sunday, rushing for an early three-yard score and finishing with 66 scrimmage yards on eight touches. He’s in a neutral spot against Houston in Week 13. Perine is quietly on pace for a 60-catch season, so he has a certain degree of PPR appeal.

Wide receivers and tight ends

Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers (48% rostered)

In a game that was notable for Christian Watson’s long-awaited reemergence, Reed actually led all Green Bay receivers in targets (eight) and he reached the end zone for the sixth time this season.

Reed simply never takes a week off. The fact that he remains so widely available is, frankly, a huge fantasy scandal. Reed should probably be the most heavily rostered Packers receiver, yet here we are, re-re-hyping him. He currently leads his team in receiving yards (497) and he’s second in catches (36) and touchdowns (six). He’s good at football, people.

If Reed is still unattached in your league, please promptly address that situation. He has several appealing matchups ahead on the schedule, including games against the Giants, Bucs and Panthers in Weeks 14-16.

Recommended FAB, assuming $100 budget: $20

Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers (48%)

Just as we all expected, the OC change in Pittsburgh led immediately to a huge bump in workload for Jaylen Warren George Pickens Freiermuth. After seeing only a modest workload in his first game back from IR a week ago, Freiermuth became the focal point of the Steelers’ passing game against the Bengals. He hauled in nine of 11 targets for 120 yards, all of which were team highs in a game that was (predictably) light on fantasy production. Pittsburgh doesn’t have a stay-away matchup remaining on the schedule, so Freiermuth is back in the rest-of-season top-10 at his position.

FAB: $15

Other priority WRs and TEs

  • Curtis Samuel set season highs in all the important stuff on Thursday, grabbing nine receptions for an even 100 yards on 12 targets against the Cowboys. It was the fifth time he’s seen at least six targets in his last eight games, so volume isn’t usually a worry.

  • Another week, another six catches in a scoreless afternoon for Demario Douglas. He’s a solid play in full-PPR leagues, despite his team’s abysmal QB situation.

  • Gerald Everett has battled injuries this season, but, when healthy, he’s definitely been useful. Everett snagged all four of his targets on Sunday night and scored the team’s lone touchdown. The Pats are up next.

  • Jalin Hyatt is headed into his bye so he can’t help you any time soon, but we should definitely take note of his first 100-yard performance as a pro. Hyatt was an electric receiver at the collegiate level, the 2022 Biletnikoff winner. If targets finally begin to flow his way, he’s gonna make a fair amount of fantasy noise.

  • If you’re touchdown-chasing at tight end, please note that Tyler Higbee made a pair of house calls on Sunday. His upcoming matchups against Cleveland and Baltimore are pretty brutal, however, so we’re not prepared to excessively hype any secondary Los Angeles weapons at this time.

  • Every Saints receiver ahead of A.T. Perry on the Saints roster is currently dealing with an injury, so the 6-foot-5 Wake Forest rookie is gonna see a few targets against the Lions. Do whatever seems best with this information. Please proceed with caution.

  • Juwan Johnson just saw a season-high seven targets and he’s in line for an even larger workload in the week ahead, given the state of New Orleans’ receiving corps at the moment.

Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts (16%)

You better believe we’re running it back with Minshew, a player we touted last week. This man is a [expletive] party. Whenever Minshew eventually retires, he’s going straight to the bye-week fantasy streamer Hall of Fame. No waiting period.

Minshew gave us 251 passing yards and his third rushing score of the season on Sunday in a friendly spot against the Bucs. He has another inviting matchup ahead against Tennessee in Week 13. No need to overthink things if you have a short-term need at QB. Minshew is the guy who gets to throw to Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs, which is a decent way to make a living.

FAB: $5

Additional QB approved for use

  • Matthew Stafford is coming off a four-touchdown game against the Cardinals in which he completed 25 of 33 attempts for 229 yards. His matchup ahead against Cleveland is kinda terrifying, but please note that game-wrecking Browns defensive end Myles Garrett exited Week 12 with a shoulder injury. Stafford is capable of producing a multi-score game at any time when his receiving corps is at or near full strength.

  • Kenny Pickett has only thrown two touchdown passes since September, so it’s fair to consider him something less than a high-ceiling fantasy option. The most likely output for Pickett in any given week is something like 165 scoreless yards. We should acknowledge, however, that Pittsburgh managed to put up 421 total yards in the first game of the post-Matt Canada era, including 268 through the air. Pickett will face a user-friendly Arizona defense next week, so perhaps he can, um … [shrugs sheepishly] … do something of a positive nature.

  • Jake Browning has Ja’Marr Chase on his side and a decent matchup ahead with Jacksonville, the league’s No. 29 pass defense. He’s a fair flier for the truly desperate. Here’s hoping that’s not you.

Defense/Special Teams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31%)

Tampa Bay’s defense certainly has its flaws in reality, but this group has actually forced a respectable number of takeaways this season (16) while also generating 29 sacks. For fantasy purposes, the Bucs D has been situationally useful. Over the next two weeks, this unit gets a pair of friendly divisional matchups against sketchy quarterbacks, hosting Carolina and then traveling to Atlanta. Keep the Bucs in your streaming/DFS plans.

FAB: $1

The Rams are coming off a four-sack win and preparing to face whichever sketchy quarterback the Browns roll out in Week 13. It’s clearly a setup that screams multiple takeaways and another 3-5 sacks. No need to hold this D beyond the upcoming matchup, however, because they travel to Baltimore in Week 14.

FAB: $1

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