I'm only in two redraft leagues this year, and this was officially the week that determined whether or not the waiver wire would matter going forward or not. That's another way of saying that in one league, I improved to 8-3 as I coast toward a playoff spot. In the other, my record worsened to 3-8.
If you're reading this, you're most likely not in the situation that my second team is in — and for that, I congratulate you and wish you the best going forward. And if you're in the situation that my first team is in, I simultaneously congratulate you and warn you not to get too comfortable where you're at. That's why we're here: keeping you prepared and up-to-date on all the savvy moves you could look to make on the waiver wire.
Granted, this is not the most exciting week in the world of waiver wire pickups. There were no big injuries to big-time players which then propelled an obvious backup into must-own territory. And that's a good thing, obviously, as we never want to actively root for player injuries to open up other opportunities.
But... yeah. Candidly, not much excitement going on here. That doesn't mean there's nothing to look into, though, and who knows? A diamond in the rough on the waiver wire could appear when you least expect it.
All players owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues. Some players from the past couple columns, including Elijah Moore, Logan Thomas and (believe it or not) the Philadelphia Eagles defense, should still be looked at this time around and qualify as for the <50 percent threshold, but won't be included below.
Cam Newton | Carolina Panthers, QB
Yahoo: 51% owned | ESPN: 38% owned
Yeah, alright. I'll bite. The rushing touchdowns came at a fast and furious rate last season with the Patriots, and it looks like that's going to be the case this time around with Carolina, and we loooove a quarterback who can get a quick six points on the ground like Newton can. It's also worth mentioning that the longtime quarterback, still shaking some of the rust off, had a much higher passer rating than Sam Darnold had in any of his 2021 performances.
Not a bad option this week, especially with Patrick Mahomes on bye and Kyler Murray injured/on bye.
Jeff Wilson Jr. | San Francisco 49ers, RB
Yahoo: 65% owned | ESPN: 49% owned
Wilson is technically only eligible on ESPN, but we've got to include him anyway. With the sudden news of Eli Mitchell's broken finger, there's a possibility that Wilson is the lead running back again in Week 12, though that's certainly a situation that we'll have to monitor throughout the week. If Mitchell is able to go against the Vikings in Week 12, Wilson's value drops dramatically. However, if Wilson is at the helm and can draw his third straight game of double-digit rushing attempts, he's certainly not someone you should ignore.
Ty Johnson | New York Jets, RB
Yahoo: 20% owned | ESPN: 19% owned
The biggest injury news in the fantasy world coming out of Week 11 was probably the ankle injury sustained by Jets rookie running back Michael Carter. Tevin Coleman will get some touches as well, but it seems like Johnson should be the bigger name in the backfield despite a near-complete dud against the Dolphins. Prior to that game, Johnson was quietly the No. 25 running back in the game from Week 5 to Week 10, averaging 13.0 PPR points per contest, and could pick back up at that rate without Carter in the picture for the next few weeks.
Will Fuller | Miami Dolphins, WR
Yahoo: 25% owned | ESPN: 34% owned
Fuller's total stat line on the season? Two games, four catches, 26 yards and no touchdowns. That's a whole lot to get excited about, eh?
However, as his injury is coming to an end, he makes for an intriguing wide receiver candidate. He didn't return in Week 11, though it was at least a question as to whether or not he'd be able to, so you'd have to think that his return is coming soon. With DeVante Parker also out with an injury, there's a chance that Fuller can step in as the Dolphins' WR1 alongside rookie phenom Jaylen Waddle if he returns soon.
If it still takes him a little while, why not take a flier on a guy who will be going up against the lowly Jets defense in Week 15 for a Hail Mary — literally — FLEX play in the playoffs?
Chicago Bears | Defense/Special Teams
Yahoo: 18% owned | ESPN: 11% owned
Another week, another defensive waiver wire recommendation. We usually don't do that, seeing as FLEX positions are much more important for fantasy purposes given their long-term value, but the Bears could be a week winner right here. For any team desperate to sneak into the playoffs, choosing a good Bears defensive unit going up against the lowly Lions offense — on Thanksgiving, nonetheless, which is always more fun — could certainly give you the boost you need to win in a make-or-break week of fantasy football.