Fantasy Football: Week-Ahead Stash Candidates for Week 12

A couple players that were injured early in the season have recently been activated off of injured reserve and are worth stashing. Who else is worth grabbing before Week 12 starts?

Fantasy football is all about being a step ahead of your competition, and this weekly column aims to help you achieve that in a couple of ways.

First, I will identify players who could ultimately provide some value for your teams before they become hot waiver-wire adds. This will save you from spending an exorbitant amount of your free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or using a high waiver priority on them, ultimately allowing you to save each of these for when you most need it.

Second, I'll dig through the data and player trends to illustrate why these players will be worth taking up a spot on your roster. I'm going to try to find the diamonds in the rough that inevitably emerge each and every year so that you don't have to sweat over whether or not you claimed them on waivers -- because you will already own them!

My goal each week is to provide you with starting and flex-caliber players at each of their respective positions. That means I'm looking for top-12 quarterbacks, tight ends, and defenses, as well as top-36 running backs and wide receivers. If I've done that, then I've done my job.

So let's take a look at this past week!

Player Positional Ranking Half-PPR Points
Derek Carr 11 20.8
Darrell Henderson DNP 0
Deebo Samuel 9 17.4
Jared Cook 10 10.3

Derek Carr once again continued to play well and has set up the Oakland Raiders to make a run at the playoffs. Deebo Samuell's breakout also continued, even with a healthy Emmanuel Sanders on the field. Jared Cook, meanwhile, took advantage of a plus matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by hauling in his third touchdown over his last four games.

Nick Foles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

ESPN Ownership: 20%

Nick Foles returned to action on Sunday after missing eight games due to a collarbone injury. With nearly 300 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, Foles' stats look a lot better than he actually was. A good chunk of his production came in garbage time while he was doing his best Blake Bortles impression, but those points count all the same in fantasy football.

Foles has clearly built a connection with D.J. Chark, who has caught a touchdown pass from Foles in each of his two starts. Unfortunately, we don't have much to go off of for Foles with his limited playing time this year, but having reliable pass catchers certainly helps a quarterback's prospects.

What also helps is going up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the most porous secondaries in the league. Allowing 290 passing yards and 2.5 passing touchdowns per game, the Buccaneers offer opposing quarterbacks the second-best matchup for fantasy football. The Jacksonville Jaguars trusted Foles to start for them coming off of an injury, now you should trust him as the starting quarterback in your lineup!

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants

ESPN Ownership: 21%

Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton have started to build a connection similar to that of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas. Okay, maybe it's not that special, but there's still some chemistry between Jones and Slayton. Since Slayton got his first start in Week 6, he's second on the team in targets per game behind only Golden Tate and Evan Engram with 6.6 targets per game.

From Weeks 6 through 10, Slayton was the 12th-ranked wide receiver in half PPR leagues. This is in large part due to the four touchdowns he's scored over that span, but, as I mentioned earlier, the volume is also there. He's also been impressive when it comes to contested catches - in Week 10, Slayton hauled in five of his six contested catches, per PFF. That performance was only the third time this year that a player has caught at least five contested catches.

In a couple of weeks, the New York Giants will get to host the Green Bay Packers. Though the Packers are the ninth-worst matchup for opposing wide receivers, they are only the 14th-toughest matchup against a teams' wide receiver two, which Slayton profiles as. The Giants will likely be forced to throw the ball quite a bit against Green Bay, leading to a good share of those targets heading Slayton's way.

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns

ESPN Ownership: 18%

Yesterday the Cleveland Browns officially activated David Njoku off injured reserve after missing X games due to a broken wrist. While it's unclear whether Njoku will get a full complement of snaps in his first game back, it's encouraging that he is able to return to practice this week.

In Njoku's only full game this season, he caught four of six targets for 37 yards and a touchdown. While Njoku was out, Baker Mayfield didn't rely on his tight ends that much and instead focused on trying to get the ball to his playmaker wide receivers in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. That said, the talents of Ricky Seals-Jones and Demetrius Harris don't quite compare to that of Njoku.

Though they haven't been getting targeted as much, Freddie Kitchens seems to be using two tight end sets more frequently as of late. Since the teams' Week 7 bye, the Browns have used two tight ends on 27 percent of their plays compared to a 20 percent rate prior to the bye (per Sharp Football Stats).

Furthermore, the Browns will get to face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a highly-anticipated rematch in Week 13. Despite how dominant the Steelers' defense has been this season, the one weak spot they seem to have is against opposing tight ends. In five of Pittsburgh's past six games, they've allowed a touchdown or at least 50 receiving yards to opposing tight ends. This makes the Steelers the seventh-best matchup for opposing tight ends in fantasy football.

New York Jets, D/ST

ESPN Ownership: 40%

The New York Jets have been as close to a dumpster fire as any team for the first half of the season. From Sam Darnold's troubles to trading away some of their best defensive assets, the Jets have seen better days. Despite that, it appears as though Jamal Adams and some of the other Jets' defensive players are still playing with a purpose.

This defense has been blessed with a number of positive matchups over the past three weeks, and they've been able to get it done against these teams without both Leonard Williams and C.J. Mosley. In that same span since Week 9, the New York Jets D/ST ranks eighth among defenses in points per game. This is in part due to 274 yards per game allowed to opposing teams along with a league-leading 5.3 sacks per game against these teams over those three games.

The Jets will get to visit the Ryan Finley-led Cincinnati Bengals, who are allowing the fourth-most points to opposing D/ST units. The Bengals are also giving up nearly four sacks per game two giveaways per game this season. New York may not have the defensive playmakers that they had earlier in the season, but this Bengals team is so putrid that it won't matter. When you're looking for a win in the final game of the fantasy football regular season, throw caution to the wind and trust that the Jets can get it done against the Bengals.