We have four teams on bye in a must-win week, which feels, frankly, like an attack on the fantasy community. Cleveland, Green Bay, Tennessee and Carolina are all out of the mix in Week 13.
Below, you'll find priority pickups to help get you through this mess; all are available in over 50 percent of leagues and approved for use.
Running backs to prioritize
Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (49%)
It is absolutely wild that Alexander Mattison wasn't already rostered in 90-plus percent of all fantasy leagues. We've repeatedly seen what he can do when given a full workload, and it's outstanding. Mattison has received 20 carries in two games this season and he rushed for over 100 yards each time. He also caught 13 balls in those two games. He is a verifiably good football player — no, he isn't quite Dalvin Cook, but he's excellent.
Cook exited Sunday's loss to the Niners with a shoulder injury, reportedly a dislocation and a torn labrum, and he was immediately ruled out. The injury isn't necessarily believed to be a season-ender, but it clearly has the potential to cost Cook multiple weeks. Mike Zimmer gave us only "I'm not gonna say" and a few "day-to-day"s when asked about Dalvin on Monday.
Mattison remains Cook's direct replacement and he's fully capable of delivering RB1-level performances regardless of his matchup. Detroit happens to be up next on the schedule, so you surely don't need an expert to tell you to fire him up in Week 13. This is an empty-the-wallet waiver situation for anyone who needs a win.
Recommended waiver offer (assuming $100 budget): All of it.
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers (39%)
Here's a fire drill we've experienced before, unfortunately. On Sunday, Christian McCaffrey suffered an ankle injury severe enough to send him to IR, which means the consensus No. 1 pick in drafts is done for the year. Simply brutal. Hubbard is not a particularly efficient runner (3.5 YPC) and he won't see the sort of receiving volume that CMC handled, but he's obviously in for significant workloads over the balance of the season. Carolina has a bye ahead, followed by matchups with Atlanta, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. So the schedule is not ideal. His O-line is also less than ideal. And his offense is directed by a quarterback who will dominate goal-line carries. And Ameer Abdullah played a bunch (doing little) in the non-competitive loss to Miami.
All things considered, it's not the greatest setup. Still, Hubbard is going to see plenty of touches in December, enough to remain in the flex conversation. Here's hoping we get a fully operational CMC next season, because the league is certainly more fun when he's rolling.
Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions (39%)
Jamaal Williams handled a season-high 20 touches for Detroit on Thursday, gaining 83 yards and playing 63 percent of the team's offensive snaps. D'Andre Swift suffered an early shoulder sprain against Chicago and was ruled out after seeing only six touches and 10 snaps. If Swift remains sidelined in the week(s) ahead — which seems like a reasonable approach for a winless team to take — we can assume Williams will dominate backfield touches for the Lions. Jermar Jefferson and Godwin Igwebuike should merely have supporting roles.
Williams is a respectable runner with receiving ability, perfectly capable of producing RB2-ish numbers when he's being fed. He deserves serious consideration in any fantasy format.
Matt Breida, Buffalo Bills (23%)
Matt Breida was out-snapped by Devin Singletary on Thursday, 45 to 21, but he still handled 11 touches, gained 55 yards and scored his third touchdown in three games. Breida has decisively leapfrogged Zack Moss, who found himself inactive on Thanksgiving. Buffalo's backfield hasn't exactly been a fantasy goldmine in recent seasons, but we're still talking about an offense that ranks top-5 in both total yards per game (389.3) and scoring (29.6). Breida has excellent top-end speed and he's a patient, crafty runner...
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 26, 2021
When healthy, he's an explosive talent with big-play potential on every touch. It may feel as if he's been around forever, but he's actually still only 26. The Bills face a pair of top-10 run defenses over the next two weeks (NE, at TB), which isn't ideal, but Breida has been a useful receiving weapon in recent weeks. Considering the quality of this team's offense, Breida belongs on a roster in pretty much any 12-team league.
Dontrell Hilliard, Tennessee Titans (29%)
The Titans are headed into a much-needed bye week, so Dontrell Hilliard can't help you in your upcoming fantasy matchup. If that fact removes him from waiver consideration for you this week, it's understandable. But let's just note that Hilliard led Tennessee in rushing on Sunday, gaining 131 yards on the ground on only a dozen carries, with a 68-yard score included...
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) November 28, 2021
Hilliard is running in a two-man committee with D'Onta Foreman, who also topped 100 rushing yards at New England. Foreman is the (far) less elusive runner and Hilliard has been more involved as a receiver, catching nine balls over the past two weeks.
Jeremy McNichols should return from his concussion in Week 14, which would further complicate this team's murky Derrick Henry-less backfield. Hilliard, however, has plainly earned a slice of the touches. Jacksonville is up next, so the run should be in play all afternoon.
Various other add-worthy RBs: D'Onta Foreman (he's one of the least elusive runners who receives significant volume, but we can't ignore the touches), DeeJay Dallas (he's one of the last men standing in Seattle's backfield and he found the end zone in Week 11), Boston Scott (Philly gets the Jets this week and Jordan Howard is dealing with a knee issue).
Quarterbacks to consider
Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints (5%)
It took longer than most of us expected, but it sounds as if Taysom Hill is gonna get his shot. If he's starting against Dallas this Thursday, he belongs in our fantasy plans. Hill delivered eight combined touchdowns in his four QB starts for the Saints last season, averaging 52.3 rushing yards per game. He plainly has the potential to finish among the position's top-10 in any week in which he's functioning as an every-snap player. Go get him if you have a need.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (33%)
Over the last two weeks, Tua Tagovailoa has completed 54 of 64 pass attempts (84.4%), which of course is absolutely silly. Jaylen Waddle has emerged as an every-week fantasy starter, topping 60 receiving yards in six of his past seven games, routinely delivering highlights...
Tagovailoa has only reached 300 passing yards once this season, so we can't necessarily expect an eruption against the Giants next Sunday. But if you're simply looking to cover a bye with an efficient 250 and 2, he can help.
Other QBs of interest: Jimmy Garoppolo (he's at Seattle next week, continuing his excellent end-of-season stretch of games, but Deebo Samuel's groin injury is at least a small worry), Matt Ryan (we can offer an unenthusiastic semi-endorsement of Ryan, who may find a few fantasy points while attempting to keep pace with Tampa Bay).
Wide receivers and tight ends on the wire
Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots (23%)
Admittedly, we're kinda chasing touchdowns here, which is not typically how the waiver game should work. But Kendrick Bourne has consistently produced useful fantasy performances despite his relatively low target totals. He caught five balls on six chances against Tennessee on Sunday, scoring twice — and both TDs felt like minor miracles.
Just look at this YAC insanity...
And this early score was no less impressive...
Kendrick Bourne came down with it and the Patriots lead 🔥pic.twitter.com/xkd04qAlS0
— Yahoo Sports NFL (@YahooSportsNFL) November 28, 2021
Bourne hasn't seen more than eight targets in any game this season, yet he's still somehow feasting. He's thrown a touchdown pass this year, plus he gets the occasional rushing opportunity, so there are sneaky points to be found here. Even with a tricky matchup on deck on Monday night in Buffalo, he's a viable WR3/flex.
Van Jefferson Jr., Los Angeles Rams (49%)
We featured Van Jefferson Jr. around here last week, but it wasn't enough to nudge him above the 50 percent roster threshold. He roasted Green Bay for a long early score on Sunday...
Stafford ➡️ Van Jefferson for a 79 YARD TD 🔥pic.twitter.com/vHQRbBGd3A
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) November 28, 2021
...his fourth receiving TD of the season. Jefferson rarely comes off the field, he's attached to an upper-tier offense and his targets are secure. If you can't use a player like that ... well, wow. Pretty nice team you've got there, buddy.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (28%)
Look, we are not attempting to convince you that T.Y. Hilton has turned back the clock to 2016. He's clearly no longer the top receiving option for Indianapolis; he hasn't actually drawn more than five targets in any game this year. But he made a house-call against the Bucs on Sunday and he happens to be healthy at the moment. Hilton also has a Week 13 matchup with Houston, a team he's dominated historically. He somehow has 18.9 percent of his career receiving yardage against the Texans and 21.6 percent of his receiving scores. It hardly seems possible that he can finish with fewer than 75 yards against Houston, ever — at any age.
Additional WRs to consider: Russell Gage (he's seen 15 targets in his last two games and he spiked at Jacksonville on Sunday), DeSean Jackson (the big-play specialist will see plenty of playing time against a friendly schedule moving forward), A.J. Green (he's consistently seen a half-dozen targets per game and Kyler Murray should be returning).
TEs deserving attention: Cole Kmet (an 11-target game makes him an auto-add at tight end), Foster Moreau (because Darren Waller suffered a knee injury last Thursday, though it's believed to be a relatively minor issue).
Defense deserving attention
Miami Dolphins (43%)
Over the season's first two months, Miami's defense simply wasn't playing to last year's standard. But things have certainly changed since the calendar flipped to November. The Dolphins have allowed only 46 total points in their last four games (all wins) while forcing 10 takeaways and producing 16 sacks. The Giants are up next, followed by a bye. In Week 15, Miami hosts the Jets. This group is something more than a one-and-done stream.