This is one of the saddest weeks for the wire in recent memory. Which further drives home the value in locking up players before you need them — It might be too late when you do. However, with Kansas City and Arizona on bye, there will be a lot of needy fantasy managers this week, especially at quarterback and tight end. Below, you’ll find the top option at those positions for Week 12 fill-ins, as well as my preferred choices for rest-or-season value.
As always, all rostership levels are based on Yahoo leagues. Your mileage may vary depending on your provider and league settings.
Tyrod Taylor, QB Houston Texans (6% Rostered)
Ideally not a long-term solution, Taylor can provide some relief in Week 12. Although fantasy-relevant quarterbacks are mostly healthy, we have the Cardinals and Chiefs on a bye this week. That means no Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray, so their manages will be looking for a quick replacement. Tyrod has actually been solid as the starter in Houston, scoring at least 16 points in three of his four contests (including one shortened by injury.) This week, he gets a matchup with the 32nd ranked Jets defense. There are better long-term options if you need a quarterback to fill games beyond Week 12 — the Jones (Mac and Daniel) are both under 40% rostered — but Tyrod’s matchup makes him the best pickup for a Week 12 cameo appearance.
Ty Johnson, RB New York Jets (21%)
Johnson’s value hinges on Michael Carter’s health — with Johnson having little if carter plays. However, if Carter is out Johnson would be the top pickup of the week. Johnson and Carter get nearly all of the receiving work in the Jets backfield — Tevin Coleman has only six targets on the year. With Carter inactive, I’d expect Johnson to get almost all of the targets, and an increased chunk of the rushing work for the Jets. With the JEts being favored (for the first time all year) they could even have a positive game script in this one. The opposing Texans also rank 27th in DVOA against the run. Carter’s injury doesn’t appear to be long-term, but Johnson has some value as long as Carter is out. If you’re really desperate, Coleman is also widely available.
Laviska Shenault, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (39%)
The appeal of Shenault heading into the season was on designed runs, and “get the ball in space” plays. That hasn’t really worked out, with that role being mostly taken by Jamaal Agnew as of late. However, Agnew is now out for the year, which should clear some work for Shenault finally. (Although the original logic was Travis E’Tienne’s absence doing the same…and here we are.) Regardless, Shenault saw 13 targets over the past two weeks and has a juicy matchup with the 31st ranked Falcons defense in Week 12. If the Jaguars’ offense can get anything going this year, he’ll have some long-term appeal as well.
TY Hilton WR Indianapolis Colts (33%)
Hilton has only seven targets over the past two games. However, both of those were easy wins for the Colts, limiting overall passing. This week the Colts take on the Bucs, who force opponents to pass at the highest rate in the league. That certainly doesn’t make Hilton a great fantasy option in Week 12, but the waiver wires are incredibly thin at this point. It’s also a solid stretch of schedule for “Colts passing” in general, with Houston in Week 13. Hopefully, you aren’t in a bad enough spot that you need Hilton. He’s a reasonable choice if you do though.
Autin Hooper, TE Cleveland Browns (22%)
Hooper has 12 targets the past two weeks, as the Browns run more two-tight end sets post-Odell Beckham (and with Donovan Peoples-Jones injured.) He’s facing a Ravens team that is somewhat soft over the middle, allowing the third-most points to opposing tight ends on the year. Personally, I find defense vs position to be more relevant for tight ends than other positions. (The reasons are a bit complicated for this piece, but as a general rule certain defensive schemes funnel productions to tight ends more than others. The scheme isn’t something that defenses change too much on a weekly basis.)
Last week’s recommendation Dan Arnold (41%) is still frequently available as well. He was weirdly not targeted in Week 11 after drawing at least seven in the prior three games. With Jamaal Agnew out (see the Laviska section) I expect Arnold to be fine moving forward. I’d rather have Hooper for Week 12, but I’d rather have Arnold if I needed somebody the rest of the season (particularly with Hooper having a Week 13 bye.)