Week 12 Lookahead Waiver Wire Targets: Pick Up Isiah Pacheco, Deshaun Watson Before Sunday
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Isiah Pacheco.
We've put a bow on Week 10 of the 2022 NFL season and as head coach Bill Belichick would say, "We are on to Week 11." Now it's time to gaze into the crystal ball and see which players we should target on the waiver wire now for a big payoff later.
Reminder: There are no teams on bye in Week 12. Happy Thanksgiving!
Week 12 Early Waiver Wire Targets
QB Deshaun Watson, Browns (44%)
I will continue to put Watson in this column until he surpasses the 50% mark.
Watson practiced with his new squad on Wednesday and is expected to make his first NFL start since Week 17 of the 2020 season just after Thanksgiving on the road in Houston (Week 13). He has been permitted to attend meetings and train in the facilities up until this point.
Backup Jacoby Brissett has been serviceable, but you cannot expect a $230 million player to ride the bench once his suspension is over. Watson was the QB5 in 2018, QB2 in ’19 and QB6 in ’20 — all with limited depth on the Texans.
I expect him to put up at least top-12 numbers with the Browns, who have Amari Cooper, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Harrison Bryant and Donovan Peoples-Jones leading their offensive depth chart. Watson is worth adding prior to Week 13 — especially if you are lean at quarterback and in playoff contention.
WR Parris Campbell, Colts (30%)
cue The Undertaker gif
My faith in Colts pass-catchers has been momentarily renewed following Jeff Saturday's impressive coaching performance in Week 10 and Matt Ryan's reinstatement as the team's starting quarterback.
Ryan is a significant upgrade from Sam Ehlinger from both a fantasy and real-life standpoint. His pass-heavy approach should favor the entire offense, including Jonathan Taylor, who was unleashed this past Sunday for the first time all year.
Campbell is coming off his best game since Ryan was benched. He caught 7-of-9 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown and was the WR9 in half-PPR scoring. He outperformed Michael Pittman Jr. in the effort while Alec Pierce was a non-factor.
Campbell had been trending up in the pre-Ehlinger era. In Weeks 7 and 8, he was the WR7 and WR11, respectively. He is a target hog, averaging almost 11 per game in the last three games quarterbacked by Ryan. He should be rostered in all leagues, especially ones with some form of PPR scoring.
WR Ben Skowronek and Van Jefferson, Rams (23%)
The Rams are having quite the Super Bowl hangover.
Almost every member of their offense — save Cooper Kupp — has struggled, starting with Matthew Stafford, who actually missed last week in the concussion protocol. Things will get even worse now that Kupp is on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain.
While managers and Rams fans await his return, the team will have to rely on a hodgepodge of Allen Robinson, Jefferson and Skowronek.
I personally refuse to fall for the Robinson honey pot at this juncture (and he is 82% rostered, so let him be some other manager's problem). Last week, Jefferson caught 3-of-3 passes for 27 yards and a touchdown, while Skowronek caught 2-of-7 for 14 yards.
One could break out in Kupp's absence, though it's a "pick-your-poison" type situation. Jefferson had the better fantasy day in Week 10, but Skowronek actually out-snapped him 59 to 17. I would lean Skowronek if you want to take a flier on someone.
WR Zay Jones, Jaguars (20%)
Jones shined in Week 10 against the Chiefs, catching 8-of-10 targets for 68 yards. He finished as the WR30 in half PPR and will also be well-rested coming off the Week 11 bye.
The Jaguars have a decent schedule down the stretch with Baltimore, Detroit and Tennessee over the next three weeks — all of which have bottom seven defenses against fantasy wide receivers this year. Jones could return WR4 — or even WR3 — value in those soft matchups.
RB Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon, Chiefs (47% and 21%)
I am actually shocked Pacheco did not jump over the 50% threshold after waivers ran on Wednesday morning.
Pacheco served as the team’s primary ground threat in K.C.'s win over the Jaguars. He recorded 16 carries for 82 yards, while McKinnon tallied seven touches for 58 all-purpose yards. Pacheco was the RB35 while McKinnon was the RB28. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a complete non-factor.
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 and just four snaps all game last week to Pacheco’s 35 and McKinnon’s 24.
McKinnon’s role is slightly more game-script proof as the primary pass-catching back, with Pacheco utilized more when the Chiefs are leading. I believe this could be the Pacheco breakout game against the Chargers, whose defense has allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs and ranks fourth-worst in rush DVOA.
RB Eno Benjamin, Texans (32%)
Benjamin was shockingly released by the Cardinals and then claimed by the Texans, though multiple teams made a play for him. He is a talented back who stepped up when James Conner was injured from Weeks 6 through 8. He was the RB5 in half PPR in Week 7, recording 16 touches for 113 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against Las Vegas.
I expect Benjamin to be used in some sort of rotation with standout rookie Dameon Pierce, who has been nothing short of phenomenal (yes, I will eat crow on my preseason Pierce takes). This addition could negatively impact Pierce slightly, though with how run heavy (or pass averse, depending on how you look at it) the Texans have been, it feels like there should be plenty to go around.
At a minimum, Benjamin is a high-value insurance policy should anything happen to Pierce.
TE Trey McBride, Cardinals (6%)
McBride has been unremarkable as the No. 2 tight end behind Zach Ertz. He has caught all of his four targets for 31 total yards and no touchdowns.
McBride holds multiple single season and career records at Colorado State for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. He was a unanimous All-American in his final season for the Rams and was selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
McBride has an opportunity to step up now that Ertz is out for the year with a knee injury. I suspect Rondale Moore and Marquise Brown (when he returns) will benefit, too, as this offense is very high-volume.
Quarterback Kyler Murray ranks fourth in attempts and completions despite missing last week with a hamstring injury. McBride could be a nice deep-league stash and breakout candidate for Week 11.