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Stacy Bengs/Associated Press
Injuries and bye weeks are taking their toll heading into the final weeks of the fantasy football regular season.
The running back position was hit especially hard in Week 12, with D’Andre Swift, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey (out for season) all getting nicked up.
A slew of high-end fantasy talent will be resting this week as well, making for one of the toughest stretches of the campaign. The Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans are all off in Week 13, leaving many managers fighting for playoff spots desperate for replacements.
Fortunately, there are some intriguing free-agent players still available in most leagues right now. Read on to find out which waiver-wire targets you should take note of as you make your claims for this week’s games.
All suggested players are rostered in 50 percent or less of Yahoo leagues.
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John Munson/Associated Press
The Philadelphia Eagles backfield has been a frustrating one for fantasy managers, with the coaching staff utilizing a rotation that has included Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott.
While the crowded platoon has limited upside, Scott may find himself in a position to become the lead back for at least Week 13.
Howard was sidelined against the NFC East rival Giants with a knee injury and could remain out until after the team’s Week 14 bye.
Sanders appears to be banged up just two games after returning from injured reserve, sparingly seeing action in the second half against Big Blue. Gainwell—a healthy scratch in Week 11—returned to the lineup on Sunday but only contributed a meager three receptions for 32 yards and didn’t earn a single carry.
Scott was the most productive back of the bunch, logging 15 carries and taking them for 64 yards and a score. He saw three targets as well, reeling in two for eight yards. The 26-year-old could have had an even better day had another touchdown run not been called back on a holding penalty.
With Philly’s showdown against the soft New York Jets defense on tap, managers in need of a running back in Week 13 should give heavy consideration to Scott.
Gang Green is giving up 128.7 yards per game on the ground (sixth-most in the NFL) and has allowed a league-high 20 rushing touchdowns in 2021.
Even with competition for snaps, Scott should make the most of his touches.
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Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press
DK DFS Value: $7,600
Dalvin Cook is one of the few bell-cow backs left in the NFL, but the Minnesota Vikings star went down with a potentially serious shoulder injury this weekend. He was carted off the field in the third quarter.
Alexander Mattison will be the likely starter for as long as Cook remains out.
While he didn’t do much in Sunday’s 34-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, rushing just seven times for 21 yards and picking up seven yards on two receptions, the backup has looked solid in his two previous opportunities to lead Minnesota’s backfield this year.
Mattison amassed 171 yards on 34 touches in Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks and 153 yards and a touchdown on 32 touches in Week 5 against the Detroit Lions.
Those high-end RB1 numbers may not be sustainable, but it’s clear Mattison has the talent to be a fantastic producer who can help managers make a playoff push and championship run in 2021.
The Vikings have a juicy matchup with the Lions on Sunday. Detroit ranks in the bottom five for rushing defense (conceding 133.9 yards per game) and allows a bottom-10 mark of 26.3 points per contest.
You will want to keep close tabs on Cook’s health this week, but nearly every manager—especially those who have Cook on their rosters—could benefit from claiming Mattison this week in the event he ends up starting for a stretch.
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
DK DFS Value: $5,400
The Vikings weren’t the only NFC North team to lose their RB1 this past week. The Lions opened the Week 12 slate on Thanksgiving Day with a loss to the 16-14 Chicago Bears and lost D’Andre Swift to a sprained shoulder.
With Swift exiting in the second quarter, backup Jamaal Williams was tasked with most of the backfield work.
The veteran performed admirably in his expanded role, racking up 83 yards on 20 touches while seeing the field for 63 percent of the offensive snaps, up significantly from the 30 percent or fewer he logged in each of Detroit’s three prior contests.
If Swift remains out for Week 13 and possibly beyond, Williams is an especially valuable PPR pickup.
He snared five catches against Chicago, which should be around the fifth-year veteran’s floor if he ends up with a large share of Swift’s pass-catching work.
Swift has been the league’s most prolific receiving back this year, catching a position-high 56 balls across 11 games.
If you were one of the unfortunate managers to lose Swift during the holiday, need a spot starter to get through a bye week or are simply desperate for production at the RB spot, make Williams one of your priority pickups in Week 13.
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Steven Senne/Associated Press
DK DFS Value: $N/A
Those who need wide receiver help in Week 13 will find few options on the waiver wire. While no free agent jumps out as potential week-winning pickup, Kendrick Bourne could be a nice score.
The 26-year-old has emerged as New England’s best receiver in 2021, totaling 42 receptions on 53 targets for 623 yards and five touchdowns.
A good portion of that production has come over the last three weeks, during which the wideout has caught 13 of his 14 targets for 201 yards and three scores.
He had one of his best outings of the year in Week 12, toasting Tennessee’s secondary for two touchdowns on just five receptions.
Bourne now trails only tight end Hunter Henry (seven TDs) for most receiving scores on the team and is well ahead of fellow wideouts Nelson Agholor (three) and Jakobi Meyers (one).
While New England has a difficult draw against Buffalo’s stingy defense in Week 13, the Bills’ No. 2-ranked passing defense will be without Tre’Davious White after he suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
The top cornerback’s absence should boost Bourne’s value into the WR3 range this week.
If Bourne does well against this foe, managers may want to hang on to him through New England’s Week 14 bye.
He has a dream matchup against Indianapolis’ weak pass defense after the break before taking on the Bills again in Week 16. The Colts have allowed a league-worst 26 receiving touchdowns this season.
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Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
DK DFS Value: $2,700
Although the Las Vegas Raiders secured a big Thanksgiving Day win over the Dallas Cowboys, they may have lost star tight end Darren Waller for a stretch.
While Waller reportedly avoided suffering a major injury, he was shaken up twice. The tight end exited in the first quarter with a back injury but was able to return to action. Waller left for good in the second quarter after suffering a strained IT band in his knee that has his Week 13 status up in the air.
Expect No. 2 tight end Foster Moreau to play a significant role if the starter can’t give it a go or is limited against Washington on Sunday.
While Moreau hasn’t quite been the breakout player some fantasy managers were hoping for in his third professional season, he has shown himself to be a high-floor option when Waller is absent.
The 24-year-old drew a start in Week 7 when Waller was sidelined with ankle and knee injuries, and he caught all six of his targets for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Fantasy managers with Waller on their rosters and those without a consistent tight end will want to place a speculative claim on Moreau.
If the Raiders are forced to go without their star at the position this week, fire up Moreau as a TE1 with confidence.
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