Fantasy Football Waiver Wire, Week 11: Expert Advice on Christian Watson, Isiah Pacheco, More
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Christian Watson.
No matter how deep your league is, Week 10 offered plenty of injuries and potential breakout performances to make sure your waiver wire has intriguing names on it.
Our fantasy football analysts break down key names you’ll be either bidding on or considering with your top waiver claim.
WR Christian Watson, Packers
Sean Koerner: When he’s been on the field, Watson has been very good and has seen a target on 25% of his routes run. However, injuries have derailed his rookie season up until now.
With Romeo Doubs out of the lineup, Watson stepped up in Week 10 with a breakout 4/107/3 performance and ran a route on 91% of Aaron Rodgers’ dropbacks. Watson should be a fixture in Packers lineup going forward and seems to have gained the trust of Rodgers, especially in the red zone, which is huge.
I don’t think Doubs’ potential return will have too much of an impact. We have to remember that Watson was a potential first-round prospect. His measurables are off the charts and he could be in the midst of a breakout.
I consider him a WR3 with WR2 upside for the rest of the season. It’s a shame he had such a big performance in his first full game, because he will probably cost quite a bit of FAAB to obtain.
Chris Raybon: Watson leads the Packers in targets per route (25.0%) and yards per route (2.22). His 4/107/3 line on eight targets in Week 10 came on a season-high 91% route participation rate. If he continues seeing that kind of playing time, he would be a WR2.
It’s unclear if he would take over Doubs’ entire role and continue to see that kind of usage once Doubs (ankle) is healthy, but his talent is worth betting on. With the caveat that we have a smaller sample for Watson (88 routes) than Doubs (253 routes), Watson has clearly outplayed Doubs, who is averaging a 19.0% target rate and 1.24 yards per route. After Watson’s breakout performance, it’s hard to envision him falling out of the top three going forward, which gives him WR4 value as a floor.
If you do manage to acquire Watson or already have him on your roster, I would also consider flipping him for a starting RB. While his future looks promising, there’s a very high chance that we just witnessed his best game of the year.
Samantha Previte: Watson, the WR2 in half PPR in Week 10, shined in the Packers’ thrilling 31-28 overtime victory over the Cowboys. He posted team-highs in every receiving category and reeled in 4-of-8 targets for 107 yards and three touchdowns. (Allen Lazard caught 3-of-4 for 45 yards and Sammy Watkins caught 3-of-3 for 47 yards.)
This was by far the rookie’s best game to date in what was, on paper, a very difficult matchup against a top-ranked Cowboys pass defense.
I am wary of going all-in quite yet, though I do expect him to see a nice uptick of targets with Doubs and Randall Cobb out.
The Packers face the Titans in Week 11, whose defense has allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Watson could be in the streaming conversation for Tyreek Hill, Christian Kirk, Jaylen Waddle, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans or Chris Godwin managers.
Mike Triplett: The 34th pick in this year’s NFL Draft is the most enticing target on the waiver wire this week. Not because I trust him to lock down a consistent role in Green Bay, but simply because the upside is so high and the opportunity is clearly there.
The Packers have been desperate to find reliable WR options all season long, so Watson should get every chance to build off of his breakout performance — especially while Doubs is sidelined. The two things that were holding Watson back were injuries and dropped passes, but neither issue is insurmountable. And if Watson had to regain Aaron Rodgers’ trust, they were forced to quicken that process in the win over Dallas.
RB Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs
Koerner: We’ve had weeks to prepare for the Pacheco breakout game as he has started for three straight games now. The first two matchups were tougher ones against the 49ers and Titans, but we finally saw Pacheco get a full workload against the Jaguars and he went for 16/82/0.
More importantly, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was completely phased out and failed to record a single touch. Pacheco won’t provide much in the passing game, but he’s a home run hitter who is able to score from anywhere on the field.
With opposing defenses having to worry about Patrick Mahomes, I would not be shocked if we saw Pacheco break off a long TD run in the very near future. He is a fringe RB2/3 option going forward and will have more value in game scripts where the Chiefs play with a big lead.
Raybon: Pacheco logged a season-high 56% snap rate in Week 10, rushing 16 times for 82 yards. His talent is evident: He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry to Edwards-Helaire’s 4.2 and Jerick McKinnon’s 3.8 behind the same offensive line.
The rookie has led the Chiefs backfield in carries in each of the past three games and has run more routes than Edwards-Helaire in each of the past two.
However, he hasn’t been very involved as a receiver even when he is on the field for passing snaps, catching just three passes for 13 yards on 56 routes this season. He appears to have settled in as a game-script/TD-dependent RB3.
Previte: The Edwards-Helaire experiment may be done.
Edwards-Helaire, who was selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, was expected to lead the Chiefs backfield this season. He has been on the decline since a hot four-game start to the year — primarily fueled by touchdowns — and recorded zero touches in Kansas City’s decisive 27-17 win over the Jaguars. He saw just four snaps all game to Pacheco’s 35 and McKinnon’s 24.
Pacheco served as the team’s primary ground threat. He recorded 16 carries for 82 yards, while McKinnon tallied seven touches for 58 all-purpose yards.
McKinnon’s role is slightly more game script-proof as the primary pass-catching back, with Pacheco utilized more when the Chiefs are leading. Both could be viable RB3s against the Chargers, whose defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs and ranks fourth-worst in rush DVOA.
Triplett: My optimism is cautious here — the Chiefs remain a pass-first team and Pacheco is splitting time with their preferred passing-downs back, Jerick McKinnon. (I actually prefer Ravens RB Gus Edwards’ upside if he is available in your leagues.)
But you can’t ignore how dramatically the rookie seventh-round draft pick vaulted ahead of Edwards-Helaire in the Chiefs’ early down role, with 16 carries for 82 yards on 35 snaps — Edwards-Helaire disappeared with just four total snaps and zero carries.
The Chiefs have been steadily increasing Pacheco’s role over the past month because they feel like he brings more pop to their run game, and the floodgates opened this past Sunday. Pacheco did lose his first fumble of the season on the opening drive. But the Chiefs stuck with him and trusted him to run out the clock while protecting a lead, which is the type of game script we could see a lot from this team. And they’re about to face one of the NFL’s worst rushing defenses in the Chargers.
RB Rachaad White, Buccaneers
Koerner: I have been banging the table for White for weeks now. He finally leapfrogged Leonard Fournette and got his first career NFL start against Seattle.
Fournette suffered a hip injury in the second half, which led White to a massive workload (22 rushes for 105 yards). This is the very reason why I was adding White anywhere I could over the past month. He offers RB2/3 value when Fournette is healthy, but he has RB1/2 upside if the LSU product ever misses time.
White deserves a healthy FAAB bid this week. This is why I like to stash upside RBs on my bench — you don’t have to rely on the waiver wire once they inevitably have their breakout.
Raybon: Contrary to popular belief, White isn’t vastly outplaying Leonard Fournette.
White is averaging 3.7 yards per carry, 2.33 yards after contact and 1.07 yards per route while Fournette is averaging 3.4 yards per carry, 2.27 yards after contact and 1.19 yards per route.
However, White provides more explosiveness than Fournette – his longest run this season is 29 yards (vs. 17 for Fournette) – which could earn him a bigger share of the carries. That was already happening, as White started in Week 10 and had 11 carries to Fournette’s 14 before Fournette went down with a hip injury, which is a 56-44 split.
Bucs beat writer Greg Ausman believes this is the type of split we will see going forward. That puts White in the high-end RB3 conversation with RB2 upside, a la Khalil Herbert in Chicago.
Previte: The only reason White is not the top waiver priority for me this week is his Week 11 bye.
If you can afford to, you should pick up White, who was the Buccaneers’ lead back in Tampa’s 21-16 win over Seattle. White rushed 22 times for a career-high 105 yards while Fournette was held to 14 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. The rookie is the RB18 in half PPR entering Monday night( Fournette is the RB16).
White has been trending up for a while now. He saw a season-high eight carries for 27 yards and caught three passes for seven yards last week while Fournette had nine carries for 19 yards and caught five passes for 41 yards.
Fournette was also banged up at the end of this game with a hip injury, so White could potentially vault into the Bucs’ RB1 role after the bye in an amazing Week 12 matchup against the Browns.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Browns
Koerner: Peoples-Jones is another player I have been praising for the past few weeks.
He’s caught at least four passes in six straight games, though he’s benefited from David Njoku being sidelined the past two games. DPJ will likely take a slight hit once Njoku returns, which could be as soon as this week.
However, with Deshaun Watson expected to make his season debut in a couple of weeks, it could open up the Browns’ passing attack and DPJ could offer consistent WR2 value down the stretch.
Previte: Despite not having any touchdowns, Peoples-Jones has been a quietly productive fantasy player.
He had his best game of the year against Miami in Week 10, leading the team in all receiving categories. Capitalizing on a soft matchup, DPJ caught 5-of-9 targets for 99 yards, outshining Amari Cooper, who caught 3-of-3 targets for 32 yards.
This was Peoples-Jones’ seventh game (of nine) with seven or more fantasy points, and fourth game with double-digit points in half-PPR scoring. He was the WR26 in half PPR and should continue to see a nice boost in targets with tight end David Njoku sidelined.
His next two games are brutal (Buffalo, Tampa Bay), but after that, the Browns take on Houston with Deshaun Watson — not Jacoby Brissett — presumably under center.
WR Darius Slayton, Giants
Koerner: The David Sills, Richie James and Marcus Johnson experiment in New York seems to be over as all three have been phased out of the offense. That’s left long-time Giant Darius Slayton as a top-two option for Daniel Jones and he’s been posting solid numbers since Week 5.
Kenny Golladay returned to action last week, only to be benched in the second half. I don’t view him as a threat to Slayton’s rest-of-season value and would consider Slayton a low-end WR3 option who has the potential for spike weeks.
Raybon: Among Giants pass-catchers who have run at least 50 routes, Slayton leads the team in targets per route (19.3%) and yards per route (2.26). He has great chemistry with Daniel Jones, with the two connecting for 1,807 yards and 11 TDs since coming into the league together in 2019.
Slayton’s route participation rate has been between 70% and 82% over the past four weeks, which is not quite high enough for WR3 value on a low-volume pass offense. He figures to be an inconsistent — but high-upside — WR4 going forward.
Previte: After a disappointing Week 8 defeat, Jones and the Giants bounced back and topped the Texans, 24-16, for their seventh win.
It was (unsurprisingly) the Saquon Barkley show opposite this horrific Texans‘ run defense, with the Penn State product handling 35 carries for a whopping 152 yards and a touchdown. Slayton also had a nice day and led the team in all receiving categories, with three catches on four targets for 95 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson was held to two catches for 20 yards.
Slayton could end up being what we hoped Robinson would be after the Giants were stagnant at the trade deadline (outside of trading Kadarius Toney). He is my preferred Giants receiver and he could be a WR3/flex play next week against the Lions, whose defense ranks 26th in pass DVOA and has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
WR Parris Campbell, Colts
Koerner: Campbell is one of the Colts who benefits from Matt Ryan being back under center. In the last three games with Ryan, Campbell has posted lines of 7/57/1, 10/70/1 and 7/76/1.
I wouldn’t go overboard trying to land him (outside of deeper leagues) as he still has to compete with Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce for targets — plus the Colts will likely be a bit more run-heavy with Jonathan Taylor fully healthy. I view Campbell more as a high-floor WR4.
Raybon: Campbell’s underlying metrics on the year don’t look great, as he’s averaging just a 13.2% target rate and 0.99 yards per route. However, he’s been trending up with Ryan under center, posting at least nine targets, seven catches, and a touchdown in each of Ryan’s past three starts.
Campbell is running a route on 90% of the dropbacks each week and is worth taking a flier on as a WR4/5 to see if Ryan keeps feeding him.
Triplett: The return of Ryan at QB was a return to fantasy relevance for Campbell, who has now been targeted 32 times with 24 receptions for 203 yards and three TDs in their last three games together.
Campbell isn’t exactly a game breaker, but the volume should be there with Ryan at quarterback. Ryan was tied for the NFL lead in completions through the first seven weeks — before he was benched — because he throws so many quick, short passes to survive behind Indy’s struggling offensive line.
TE Juwan Johnson, Saints
Koerner: Johnson has had some big games over the past few weeks, but I still view him more as a mid-range TE2 option.
He took advantage of both Adam Trautman and Jarvis Landry being out of the lineup, but with both pass catchers back in action, it dings Johnson’s value a bit. Plus, we have been seeing Taysom Hill mix in a bit more as a pass-catcher.
Johnson will have a few more spike weeks going forward, but he will also mix in duds because the Saints offense has a variety of playmakers, which makes it tough for him to see consistent targets.
Raybon: Johnson’s route participation rate is hovering around 70% but his underlying metrics – 14.9% target rate, 1.16 yards per route – are pedestrian, which explains why he is yet to top 44 yards in a game. What Johnson does have working in his favor is the third-most red-zone targets on the team (six), which makes him a TD-dependent low-end TE2.
Previte: Johnson was spectacular for the third time in four weeks in the Saints’ road loss to the Steelers. He caught 5-of-7 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown — his fourth in four weeks.
Johnson is the TE3 since Week 7, capitalizing on a streak of favorable matchups against the Cardinals, Raiders, Ravens and Steelers — three of which rank bottom-13 in pass DVOA.
In spite of the tougher schedule ahead, he will be a high-end TE2 and potential low-cost streaming option for Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant or Cade Otton managers who need a one-week fill-in. The Rams rank 22nd in pass DVOA, but have been tougher against tight ends as they haved allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position.
Triplett: Johnson now has four touchdown catches over the past four games. And this time he did it while catching five passes for 44 yards on seven targets (all of those numbers either set or matched career highs for the third-year pro).
It’s hard to expect consistent production from Johnson going forward given he is in a crowded TE group that also includes Adam Trautman and Taysom Hill (on occasion). And most of his production has come when the Saints are in their two-minute, hurry-up offense.
However, that has been a frequent predicament for New Orleans, and Johnson ranks third on the team in both targets (43) and catches (28) this year as a result. His opportunity won’t change even if the Saints switch back to Jameis Winston in the coming weeks.
TE Trey McBride, Cardinals
Koerner: Off to a slow start in his rookie season, McBride has a microscopic target rate of 4.4% on routes run. However, he is set to take over for Zach Ertz as the starting TE for the rest of the season, which could lead to TE2+ fantasy value if he shows improvement.
I think we can forgive McBride for his lack of production as most tight ends take more time to adjust to the NFL. He was the top TE prospect of the 2022 class and was the first one taken off the board (in the 2nd round) for a reason.
I would be willing to bet on talent with McBride as a potential TE2 option rest of season in deeper, TE-premium formats. In your standard 12-team league, I think it’s safe to leave him on the wire for now.
Raybon: At this point, McBride is a bet on volume – he posted a season-high 80% route participation rate last week with Ertz going down with a season-ending knee injury – and draft pedigree, as he was the Cardinals’ second-round pick this year.
His on-field performance so far leaves much to be desired as he’s been targeted on just four of 90 routes (4.5%). He figures to settle in as a mid-range TE2 based on volume, but it’s difficult to envision him cracking the TE1 tier when he’s behind DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore and James Conner for targets (plus Marquise Brown whenever he returns).