Last week in this space, "sure thing" running back pickups Ronnie Hillman, Beanie Wells, Jalen Parmele, and Bryce Brown provided some of the best late-season waiver options you'll see. Although only two of the four (Wells and Brown) hit, you were still able to make a case for each as a fantasy starter last weekend. At least, you were until the Broncos decided to revert to their ingrained Shanahan-tendencies and honor their old ball coach with a running back switcheroo at the last moment.
You won't have that luxury this week: there are very few waiver wire options out there that can come in and help you immediately.
Sure, maybe you're lucky and have Beanie Wells or Michael Bush sitting there, and you must absolutely pick them up if you do. But for the rest of us who are forced to scavenge the actual wire this week, the prospects aren't pretty. It's Moreno or bust, my friends; hop on board.
Top 6 Fantasy Football Waiver Pickups for Week 13
Colin Kaepernick - San Francisco 49ers
Week 12 Fantasy Points: 19
Leagues Owned: 27.6%
So maybe Harbaugh did the right thing, as much as it pains any non-San Francisco fan to admit. It's not too often I include quarterbacks in my top waiver pickups, but Kaepernick has the potential to be something special. Not only on the field, mind you - his 0.28 Net Expected Points (NEP) per pass so far this season is tops among all QBs the past two weeks. But with his running ability, Kaepernick's fantasy potential could shoot sky-high.
So far this season, 47% of Kaepernick's rushes can be considered successful, meaning that on 14 of his 30 total rushes, Kaepernick increased the 49ers' potential to score. Considering that he's been viewed primarily as a running threat this entire season, that's a pretty successful figure. Do I see him becoming a starting fantasy quarterback along the lines of RGIII? Not quite yet, especially as long as San Francisco continues to pass the ball on less than 50% of their offensive plays as they have the past two weeks. But his efficiency can give Kaepernick a load of points in very few chances.
Knowshon Moreno - Denver Broncos
Week 12 Fantasy Points: 8
Leagues Owned: 4.2%
Which number is greater: Moreno's Week 12 rushing attempts, or the number of curses said by the average fantasy owner who picked up Ronnie Hillman last week as the game progressed? Considering Moreno finished with 20 carries, I'd say it's a close call.
In a week with no major injuries (except for Andre Brown, but we'll get to that in a second), Knowshon Moreno represents your best chance to pick up some easy workhorse back numbers if you're hurting. Moreno has only been moderately effective in the past; he averaged -0.15 (in 2009) and -0.16 (in 2010) per rush during his two seasons as a starter in Denver. But given his starting experience and his 83% of total Broncos rushes on Sunday, he's face to ride as a starting back going into the future. Tampa Bay can be tough, but the season-ending Oakland, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City schedule should provide plenty of fantasy postseason worth.
Jacquizz Rodgers - Atlanta Falcons
Week 12 Fantasy Points: 13
Leagues Owned: 12.4%
A PPR-league darling for most of the season, the man with one of the best first names in the entire NFL (he's coming for you, D'Brickashaw Ferguson) should be picked up in everybody else's league as well.
For those of you insistent upon Michael Turner being the starting back in the ATL, take a look at the time each has spent on the field over the past two weeks. Rodgers has actually seen more playing time than the back started in 80% of ESPN leagues last week, outpacing Turner 31 plays to 23 in Week 12 against Tampa Bay. Think more Andre 3000/Big Boi than Ludacris/Everybody else on a Luda track.
And recently, Sir Lucious Quick Foot has been more effective than his top billing counterpart, finishing with a higher yards per carry average in each of Atlanta's past three games. You have to imagine the coaching staff is noticing. With the dead-last opponent-adjusted defense on the schedule in New Orleans, this could be Rodgers' breakout week.
David Wilson - New York Giants
Week 12 Fantasy Points: 1
Leagues Owned: 39.8%
I'm not quite sure how Wilson is still owned in nearly two-fifths of all ESPN leagues. But I am quite sure that those particular owners just received a belated gift to give thanks for this holiday season following Andre Brown's injury.
Without a further injury to Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson currently isn't RB1 or RB2-worthy (although I wouldn't count out that injury, as Bradshaw's been an injury report staple this season). However, he provides more value than most other backup running backs because of the way the Giants typically split carries. Take last week for example: Brown with 13, Bradshaw with 10, Wilson with six. Game before? Bradshaw with 10, Brown with seven. Game before that? Bradshaw with 15, Brown with seven. The New York backup receiving significant carries is a trend that doesn't seem to be going away soon.
While the Redskins might only be an average matchup for Wilson this week, don't be afraid to take a look one week ahead: that New Orleans Saints defenses comes to MetLife Stadium in Week 14.
Mohamed Sanu - Cincinnati Bengals
Week 12 Fantasy Points: 14
Leagues Owned: 1.1%
Don't look now, but that Bengals passing attack may just be one of the strongest in the entire league. Having gained 65.38 total NEP through passing the ball this season, there's a reason the Bengals have passed the ball on 56% of their offensive plays so far this season. Of course A.J. Green is going to be the main beneficiary, but Mohamed Sanu has been making a case to be a clear #2 in this Cincinnati offense.
With his nine targets (32% of Dalton throws) this past Sunday, Sanu has now been the number two receiver in targets over each of the past three weeks for the Bengals. This past week, he was helped immensely by Andrew Hawkins sitting out of the lineup, but he outpaced him both of the prior weeks. At this point, the clear totem pole in the Cincinnati offense seems to be Green at the top, Gresham and Sanu second, and everybody else at the base. This means nothing but opportunities for Sanu moving forward.
With a schedule over the next four games of San Diego, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, the Bengals offense should have ample opportunity to shine. Expect Dalton to take advantage, with Sanu reaping the benefits.
Jarius Wright - Minnesota Vikings
Week 12 Fantasy Points: 4
Leagues Owned: 0.4%
One-week wonder alert: Jarius Wright only has value if Percy Harvin continues to sit on the bench. But considering Harvin's sprained left ankle currently leaves him no immediate timetable to return, Wright is the best of the one-week wonder options for Week 13, ahead of even more tenuous plays Ryan Broyles (if Titus Young comes back from suspension and immediately regains his old job) and Chris Givens (Amendola's not going to be injured every week).
The value for Wright comes from the fact that, well, who else is Mr. Samantha Steele supposed to throw the ball to? Both Jenkins and Simpson seem to have fallen out of favor; their nine combined targets on Sunday couldn't match Wright's ten by himself. Rudolph and Peterson are solid options - they had 16 combined targets against Chicago - but this offense revolves around a playmaking receiver to be effective. Wright may not currently hold the pedigree, but through being the Vikings' most-targeted receiver each of Minnesota's past two games, he seems to be the one they trust right now.
The fantasy playoff schedule of Chicago, St. Louis, and Houston does not look promising, but then again, Wright likely should not be started those weeks anyway if Harvin comes back fully healthy. Keep an eye on the injury report this week, but if you're in a pinch and need a receiving option, Wright could be the beneficiary of a Vikings/Packers shootout in Week 13.
Guys You Won't See:
Bilal Powell: Still all about the garbage time for the second straight week; Greene's the clear #1 back.
Bryce Brown: Maybe you're impressed by running over the Panthers' D, but I'm skeptical he earns anything more than a timeshare when Shady McCoy returns.
Chris Givens: Only has value if Amendola doesn't play, and right now, I'm not sure I trust anybody on the Rams offense anyway.
T.Y. Hilton: His big play ability is excellent. Three targets in Week 12 and one target in Week 10 is not.
Charles Clay: Came out of nowhere to be the #1 fantasy tight end this week. Only problem is, his Week 12 FP more than doubled his season total.
Who I would pick up this week, in order (with auction waiver $, assuming a $100 spending limit)
1. Moreno ($23)
2. Kaepernick ($19)
3. Rodgers ($18)
4. Sanu ($14)
5. Wilson ($12)
6. Wright ($6)