The bye weeks are finally over and now we can just roll with what we’ve got. But what if injuries and poor play from your roster means you don’t have enough? Well, in an effort to guide you through the playoff push, here’s a look at who will be some of the hot commodities off the fantasy football waiver wire in Week 12. Some of them I think are decent plays for this week and maybe beyond, but most of the wire has players that should probably stay right there.
Caleb Hanie, Chicago
Hanie gets the starting nod and will replace Jay Cutler after his broken thumb will sideline him for the rest of the fantasy season. Hanie, a fourth-year player, has completed 8-of-14 regular-seaosn passes for 66 yards and an interception and a 157-yards, one-TD, two-pick NFC Championship performance during his career. It’s hard to say what you do with such an inexperienced, veteran backup. The Bears travel to Oakland this week, a team that allows the fifth-most points to fantasy QBs, but also allows the fourth-most points to fantasy RBs. So this could be a good day for Hanie or it could be an even better day for RB Matt Forte.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota
He was fantasy’s seventh-best QB in Week 11 after throwing for 211 yards, two scores, three interceptions and rushing for 71 yards. Now the Vikings travel to play an Atlanta team that allows the 10th-most points to fantasy RBs and will do so with an ailing Adrian Peterson (high ankle sprain). The Vikings allow fantasy QBs and RBs to have success against them with ease, and Ponder should have plenty of opportunity to try and get the Vikings back in the game.
Rex Grossman, Washington
Of course he was fantasy’s fourth-best QB in Week 11; just like we all expected. After throwing for 289 yards, two TDs and an interception, Grossman scored 25.56 fantasy points, almost has many as he had combined to score the last seven weeks (27.84) as a starter and then benched player. Jump on the Redskins’ flavor of the week if you’d like but I’m holding off. Washington travels sto Seattle this week, and the Seahawks have limited opposing fantasy QBs to under 200 yards passing in three of the last five games and has allowed just one QB to score above 14 points once in that time. Seattle also has surrendered five touchdowns and picked off opposing QBs five times in four home games this season.
Vince Young, Philadelphia
If Michael Vick (ribs) can’t suit up against the Patriots in Week 12, then Young would get the start again. New England is still the worst team in the league against fantasy QBs, and Young threw for 258 yards, two scores and three picks in his starting debut against the Giants in Week 11. He did complete 63.8 percent of his passes against New York, which is 5.8 percentage points above his career average. If he can keep that up, he could be a consistent fantasy play. The Patriots are allowing opponents to complete 63.6 percent of their passes.
Tim Tebow, Denver
He is still available in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues and he is a guaranteed 14 fantasy points every week and averages 18.71 as a starter over the last six games. I still say just read the box score to see how he did as watching it live is hair-pulling; but if you’re cool with 18.71 points each week, go get him.
Matt Leinart, Houston
Lienart gets the start for the injured Matt Schaub. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is expected to be back and Leinart will be part of a run-heavy offense. But with Johnson at his disposal, TE Owen Daniels and RB Arian Foster as a helluva pass catcher out of the backfield. Those are three targets that can make Leinart a decent play in this kind of offense.
Jake Locker, Tennessee
The rookie came on in relief of Matt Hasselbeck (elbow) and scored 14.7 fantasy points by throwing for 140 yards and two scores. If Hasselbeck can’t go in Week 12 against Tampa Bay, he has a matchup against a Buccaneers defense that allows the seventh-most points to fantasy QBs. It also might be time to consider Locker as a late pickup and stash to help you in the playoff run, as he might get his chance to start as the Titans fall out of the reality playoff run.
Alex Smith, San Francisco
It’s a short week for the 49ers as they prepare to play Baltimore on Thursday night. Smith is coming off a 267-yard, two-TD, one-interception game against visiting Arizona in Week 11. However he completed just 52-percent of his passes and it was Arizona. The Ravens have surrendered no more than one touchdown pass in 10 games and didn’t allow any in three games. They also have intercepted a QB at least one in seven of 10 games. Play at your own risk if you’re looking for a starter this week.
Matt Moore, Miami
Two three-TD pass games alternate with two zero-TD, one-interception games the last four weeks for Moore. Those games also included yardage totals of 138, 244, 209 and 160. So you are really, really dependent on TDs from Moore. Dallas has surrendered 279, 221, 146, 289 yards, five TDs and picked off QBs seven times in the same four-game span. Like Smith, Moore is a play-at-your-own-risk fantasy quarterback.
Kevin Smith, Detroit
Call me a skeptic, but I’m not buying in on Smith. He rushed for 140 yards and two scores on 16 carries and caught four balls for 61 yards and a TD against a Carolina team that had the 28th-ranked rush defense in the league (123.8 YPG). Remember a week ago when Chris Johnson had his breakout against the Panthers. CJ struggled the nine weeks before and was terrible against in Week 11. Detroit entered the game ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing at 84.2 yards per game. The Lions play host to Green Bay on Thursday, and will need to lean on their run game to try and slow down the high-powered Packer offense. Green Bay allows 101.6 yards per game rushing, but has surrendered just five rushing TDs to backs and no receiving TDs to backs. I don’t trust the Lions commitment to the run enough to play Smith, and the fact Maurice Morris was supposed to be the lead with Smith just being signed off the street. Also, Jahvid Best should be back soon. However, if you have space, go ahead and grab him if for no other reason than to hoard him from other owners.
Ben Tate, Houston
With Matt Leinart in at QB for the Texans and the team already leaning rush heavy, Tate is a good play the rest of the way as a flex. The Jaguars have allowed three 100-yard rushers in the last five games; Tate has three double-digit fantasy days in the last four games.
Donald Brown and Delone Carter, Indianapolis
The Colts are playing the Panthers. Enough said. They’ve made struggling backs look like studs the last two weeks in Chris Johnson and Kevin Smith. Prior to that, Adrian Peterson, Tim Hightower, Michael Turner, Darren Sproles, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, James Starks and Beanie Wells all had success. That list takes you all the way back to Week 1. I don’t like either backs, but the track record for the Panthers says pick up both and give it a run.
Joe McKnight, New York Jets
If Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson are both healthy in Week 11, then McKnight’s one-week boost nosedives in Week 12 against the Bills. He had 59 yards rushing and 62 yards receiving on six catches in Week 11 in relief of Greene and LT. Keep and eye on the status of the aforementioned and McKnight could be a decent play against Buffalo.
Toby Gerhart, Minnesota
Adrian Peterson has a high ankle sprain and now Gerhart, who is far from dynamic and certainly a massive drop off from the Vikings’ No. 1 RB. Gerhart is in line to get plenty of touches, but he faces an Atlanta team this week that has seen three 12-carry games from lead backs and a 16-carry game over the last six games. After two 20-point games from RBs in Weeks 1 and 2, no fantasy back has scored over 14.7 points and only two have scored double digits against the Falcons.
Ryan Grant, Green Bay
James Starks was separating himself from Grant, but a knee injury suffered in Week 11 has derailed that for the near future. The Packers are on a short week due to the Thanksgiving game, and with rookie Alex Green already on IR, the lead-back role goes back to Grant. The Lions have been decent against the run the last three games –no rusher above 73 yards — but were terrible the three games prior with RBs collecting 116, 141 and 122 yards. Due to the Grant-Starks duo, no back has been ultra productive, but Starks had at least 11 carries the last eight games. He’s worth a shot as a flex this week due to the offense the Packer offense alone.
Harry Douglas, Atlanta
He came off the 8-for-133 performance with a 4-for-51 performance against Tennessee as Cortland Finnegan kept an eye on him. Roddy White ended up going off (7-for-117), as Finnegan was not assigned to cover the Falcons’ top receiver. Douglas and the Falcons now play the Vikings and face a situation that the Raiders faced in Week 11. A matchup that was very pass-friendly and run-friendly, went to the run side as Michael Bush (17.9 points) went off and the Oakland receivers did not. The Falcons could do the same with Michael Turner this week. Plus, the Vikings not having Adrian Peterson at their disposal, this could get ugly quick. I think Douglas is a good play for the rest of the fantasy schedule, including in Week 12, but the RB might win the day this week.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia
Backup QB Vince Young comes in and connects with backup WR Riley Cooper five times for 75 yards and a score in Week 11. Cooper was in there for the injured Jeremy Maclin, and may serve in the same capacity in Week 12. If Maclin is out, the Eagles have a great matchup against a Patriots team that is the worst against fantasy receivers and allows opposing QBs to complete 63.6 percent of their passes.
Nate Burleson, Detroit
A model of inconsistency as always, Burleson may be a decent play this week as a flex. He has scored double-digit fantasy days the last two weeks and now plays against a Green Bay team that is friendly against receivers. If you are looking for a flex play, Burleson could be a decent one for the remainder of the fantasy season. After Green Bay, the Lions play the Saints, Vikings, Raiders and Chargers.
Damian Williams, Tennessee
He is the perfect example of why you can never trust a receiver out of Tennessee over the years. After back-to-back double-digit fantasy weeks, Williams was limited to one catch for 16 yards on a team-high 11 targets in a game the Titans trailed for the duration. Now Tennessee plays host to Tampa Bay, 10th-worst against fantasy receivers, but when you produce one catch off 11 targets; there’s a chance of a QB change (albeit slight) and the history of trusting receivers not named Kenny Britt in this run-based offense being a bad move, this has me leaving Williams on the wire.
Johnny Knox, Chicago
Remember when he was demoted in the preseason? Will the work with new Bears QB Caleb Hanie in practice pay off at all on the field? He had three catches for 97 yards and his first TD of the season in Week 11 — all passes caught from Jay Cutler. The Bears get Oakland in a favorable matchup to receivers and quarterbacks, but with Hanie at the helm and Matt Forte in the backfield against a suspect Raiders rush defense, it’d be pretty risky to lean on a Chicago receiver.
Earl Bennett, Chicago
He caught three passes for 75 yards — the third straight game of at least 75 yards — but now his Vanderbilt connection is gone with Cutler on the shelf. Like Knox, I need to see it before I believe it with Hanie. The only appealing thing with both Bennett and Knox is that the Oakland matchup is so favorable that you’d hate to be waiting a week while they are out there racking up fantasy points.
Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati
Here we go again. Simpson goes bonkers for 152 yards on eight catches and a team-high 13 targets with A.J. Green (knee) on the shelf. Simpson has gone 13.9, 7.9, 11.8, 0 and 19.2 in the last five games. So he’s been extremely inconsistent. And now the Bengals play host to a Cleveland team in Week 11 that is the best in the league against fantasy receivers and held Simpson to 6.4 points in the Week 1 meeting.
Andre Caldwell, Cincinnati
He had a double-digit, 13.8-point day as a starter in A.J. Green’s place. It was his third double-digit day, but in six of the other seven games he was held under 5.2 points. Caldwell is too inconsistent for me, and I point back to the Browns being the best against fantasy receivers. They’ve allowed just four TDs to the position this season and a receiver hasn’t posted more than 54 yards since Week 6.
Jabar Gaffney, Washington
He was targeted a team-high 11 times by Rex Grossman. So he certainly enjoys having his former Florida teammate in at QB rather than John Beck. Gaffney caught seven of the targets for 115 yards and a score in the OT loss to Dallas. However, he has had six single-digit days this season and now the Redskins travel to Seattle to play a Seahawk team that’s 12th-best against fantasy receivers.
Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis
In Dallas Clark’s first game out of the lineup, Tamme did as he did last year in Clark’s sted: he scored fantasy points. Tamme was targeted a season-high and team-high eight times, catching six of them for 75 yards. He was targeted seven times a week earlier against Atlanta and Clark was targeted 10 times in Week 8, The Colts play host to Carolina in Week 12. The Panthers have seen their LB corps ravaged by injuries this season, thus their terrible numbers against opposing running backs. Six TEs have collected at least 40 yards receiving against the Panthers, and three TDs have been surrendered to the position in the last four games.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia
He still hasn’t hit double digits the last three weeks after doing so in Weeks 6 and 8, but Celek is still productive. He caught six balls for 60 yards in Week 11. While the Patriots are a terrible pass defense as a whole, they are actually quite tough against fantasy TEs; they’ve allowed just three scores to the position, but have given up 48 or more yards five times.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo
Chandler was the infrequent target that caught the TDs early on and then became an afterthought, and certainly was not consistent enough to consider a weekly fantasy starter. That could change starting in Week 12. With news that WR Donald Jones (ankle) could miss the rest of the season, Steve Johnson not having scored in double digits but one time since Week 3, Chandler’s in line for more targets. He caught five of six targets for 71 yards in Buffalo’s terrible offensive performance against Miami. It was a season high in targets for Chandler. He has a tough matchup this week against a Jets team that has allowed just three TDs to tight ends, but has seen the position get at least 40 yards receiving seven times.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville
His targets have risen in seven of the last eight weeks — 2, 7, 8, 3, 9 and 11 last week. Lewis, a fantasy bust this season after a stellar 2010 season, caught seven of the 11 targets for 64 yards in Week 11 against Cleveland. The Jags play host to Houston in Week 12, and the Texans have allowed just two TDs to the position and just two have eclipsed 45 yards receiving this season — Lewis had the 45 in Week 8. He is not consistent enough to start, which is sad considering he was the No. 4 fantasy TE last season and is currently 35th.