By Matt Citak
Week 12 served as a depressing reminder to fantasy owners that this is the NFL, and injuries do occur. In fact, they happen quite often…
Andy Dalton, Jack Doyle and Jeff Heuerman were three of several players that saw their 2018 campaigns come to an end this past Sunday, causing a ripple effect that will likely make or break many of us in the fantasy world. And that doesn’t even take into account some of the short-term injuries that occurred, such as the MCL sprain to Melvin Gordon or the concussion to Marlon Mack.
There is only one week remaining before the fantasy playoffs. Whether you are fighting for a spot in the postseason, a first round bye or a better seed, this is your final chance to shore up your roster before the playoff matchups are set.
Enough talk, let’s get to it.
Here are the top waiver wire adds for Week 13.
QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns- Mayfield has looked like a totally different player since Hue Jackson was fired as head coach of the Browns. In the three games since Jackson’s departure, Mayfield has the second-highest passer rating in the NFL, trailing only Drew Brees, while picking up a 9-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The rookie QB now has multiple touchdowns in five straight games, all while completing 69.6 percent of his passes during that stretch. His remaining schedule isn’t the easiest, but even so, the number one overall pick looks like a borderline QB1 from here on out.
QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens- Speaking of successful rookie quarterbacks, I hope you listened to me when I recommended picking Jackson up last week. If not, hopefully he is still available on the waiver wire. Jackson finished with just over 20 fantasy points in Week 12, as his rushing abilities helped propel him into QB1 territory. Jackson rushed for 71 yards and a score on 11 rush attempts, which more than makes up for his weak passing numbers. Jackson should remain a QB1 for as long as he is starting over Joe Flacco.
RB Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles- Adams is likely no longer still available in your league, but if he somehow is, he should be your top priority on the waiver wire this week. Reports out of Philly prior to Week 12 indicated the Eagles may make Adams their feature back, which is exactly what they did. The rookie out of Notre Dame carried the ball a season-high 22 times, gaining 84 yards while finding the end zone for his second career touchdown. Adams is clearly the back to own in the Eagles’ backfield.
RB Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers- The injury to Melvin Gordon is a tough blow to fantasy owners. While Austin Ekeler is likely already on someone’s roster, Jackson is there for the taking. Ekeler is going to lead the Chargers’ backfield in touches while Gordon is sidelined, but Jackson should still get some touches. In limited action in Week 12, the rookie back received seven carries and managed to gain an impressive 57 yards. As good as Ekeler is, his true value (for NFL purposes) comes as a change-of-pace back. The Chargers know this, and will likely try to get Jackson the ball more than the last time Gordon missed a game (only three touches). If you lost Gordon, go out and get Jackson.
RB Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams- If the injury to Gordon teaches us anything, it’s that having the handcuff to your star running back is quite valuable. Well, no handcuff is as valuable as Malcolm Brown. If anything were to happen to Todd Gurley, Brown would instantly become a top 15 RB in the Rams offense. Brown has already carried the ball 41 times this season, picking up 204 yards to average 5.0 yards per carry. You aren’t going to start him unless Gurley gets hurt, but in the case that does happen, your team will be able to withstand the injury to your top player. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
RB Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs- If Brown is the top handcuff, then Ware is a very close second. The Chiefs offense is operating on another level with Patrick Mahomes under center. As good as Kareem Hunt has been over the last year and a half, Kansas City would likely not be effected that significantly if Ware were to take over as the lead back. The veteran has averaged 5.1 ypc on 22 rush attempts this season, adding 14 receptions for 165 yards in limited action. Just like with Gurley, if Hunt is your number one back, you would be wise to hold on to Ware just in case.
WR Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Humphries has come out of no where to be one of the most consistent receivers in the league over his last five games. Over that span, the fourth-year receiver has topped 50 yards in every game while catching at least six passes in three of the five, in addition to snagging all four of his touchdowns on the season. Humphries has caught a touchdown from Jameis Winston in each of Tampa Bay’s last two games, and the pair will look to make it three straight against the Panthers in Week 13. Humphries is the top wide receiver add this week.
WR Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints- The buzz around Smith has died down a bit due to him missing New Orleans’ Thanksgiving game against the Falcons with a toe injury. But keep in mind it was less than 10 days ago that the rookie caught 10 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. Even if he does not get back on the field in time for the Saints’ Week 12 matchup against the Cowboys on Thursday, Smith should still be a valuable add on the waiver wire. The third round pick has emerged as the team’s number two receiver, and with Drew Brees leading the offense, that is a great role to serve in. Smith could wind up being a league-winner at the end of the season.
TE Matt LaCosse, Denver Broncos- Since the trade of Demaryius Thomas, tight end Jeff Heuerman had quietly emerged as one of Case Keenum’s top options in the Broncos’ passing game. Heuerman suffered a season-ending injury on Sunday, opening the door for LaCosse to make a name for himself with the Broncos’ faithful. The third-year tight end did just that, catching three of four targets for 34 yards and a touchdown after replacing Heuerman. LaCosse is now the top TE in Denver, and with Keenum’s love for targeting his tight ends, the 26-year-old could be a TE1 for the remaining month of the season. If you’re desperate for TE help, LaCosse is worth a roll of the dice.
Matt Citak is a contributor for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter.