For most leagues, we are a week or two away from fantasy playoffs! It’s time to fortify your bench for the playoff weeks by adding handcuffs and a second defense if you have already locked up a playoff spot.
Of course, if you are still battling for a playoff spot, you can’t waste spots on planning for the future, as you have to focus on winning now. It doesn’t help that the NFL scheduled six byes this late in the season, but no fantasy season is easy! Take a look below and see who can be a bye-week replacement to help save your season. Happy shopping!
*Player rostered in under 65% of ESPN leagues considered*
Week 13 players to add
Pickup of the week – Zack Moss: The big news that broke Tuesday was that Jonathan Taylor will require surgery on his thumb, which will cause him to miss multiple weeks. This is a massive break for Moss, who will take the lead role back in the Colts’ backfield. When JT was out earlier this season, Moss was a legit RB2, and there should be no reason for that to change now. The Colts don’t have the best schedule for running backs coming up, but when you can add a starting running back this late in the season, it’s worth throwing in all your FAAB.
Top pick – Jordan Love: Love had his best performance of the year last week, throwing for 268 yards and 3 TDs. This was two weeks in a row with good performances for Love, who looks like the best option for a bye-week replacement on the waiver wire right now. The only issue for Love is he gets a Kansas City defense this week that has been shutting down opposing passing attacks, especially with CB Snead and Chris Jones playing at all pro levels. This matchup could make Love look more like he did early in the season, but in a week with six byes, you can do a lot worse than Love on Sunday Night.
Next – Derek Carr: Carr has a very nice matchup against the Lions that made Jordan Love and Justin Fields look like all pros the last two weeks. The main issue for Carr is that most of his WRs are injured, and due to this, Taysom Hill should see more work at QB running it. I still think Carr can do enough in a good matchup to be a solid bye-week replacement, but check the injury report as hopefully Olave can return. If none of his wide receivers are healthy, you could look at Baker or Minshew instead.
Stash – Aaron Rodgers: you don’t have to rush to the waiver wire to grab Rodgers right now, but if you have an open IR slot, this seems like a “why not” type add as the Jets activated him, and he is targeting a Week 16 return.
Check to see if available – Baker Mayfield has a solid matchup this week, so it could be worth a look. Matthew Stafford showed out with a big week last week; it is hard to trust against a tough Browns defense, though. Gardner Minshew has a very nice matchup against the Titans this week, so a nice bye-week replacement if needed.
Top pick – Jeff Wilson Jr.: With another week of “what are the Dolphins going to do with Achane and his knee,” it’s a good time to grab Jeff Wilson as, at worst, insurance but, at best, a nice flex play. The Dolphins get the Commanders this week in what should be a bloodbath of a game, which should lead to plenty of second-half opportunities for the Dolphins’ running backs to get massive fantasy points. If Achane is back, then Wilson could be, at worst, a healthy scratch, but if Achane is out, Wilson should get a ton of work as the backup. Grab him now and continue to check the injury reports all week.
Next – Antonio Gibson: Gibson didn’t have a big week last week against a tough Dallas Cowboys defense, but not many players on the Commanders did. With an over/under of 50.5 this week, the Miami vs. Washington game should have lots of fantasy points to go around, and with the Dolphins being big favorites, it would make sense for the Commanders to have to use their pass-catching back a lot in this one. I think if you are in a pinch with bye’s, Gibson is the ideal spot start this week.
Stash – D’Onta Foreman/Roschon Johnson: With the Bears on bye this week, these two could hit a lot of waiver wires; if you have the ability to stash them, it’s a very great depth move. Roschon seemed to have taken over the lead role from Khalil Herbert last Monday Night, but before his injury, Foreman was the clear lead back. Either way, I think both have value for RB-needy teams, even though Chicago’s schedule does not look too favorable the rest of the way.
Check to see if available/others of note – Chuba Hubbard had a very nice game last week and seems to have the lead in the backfield with the new coaching staff. Tyjae Spears is still one of the best handcuffs in football, but more of a long-shot stash at this point. Rico Dowdle is another very good stash handcuff; Pollard got hurt late last year. Elijah Mitchell is the handcuff to CMC; throw him at the end of your bench.
Top pick – Rashee Rice: Rice had his big blowup week with a stat line of 8 catches for 107 and a TD, and I don’t see why this would stop anytime soon. The Chiefs have needed another pass catcher to step up beyond Kelce, and their schedule looks very tasty the rest of the way. If it weren’t for JT’s injury bumping up Zach Moss’s value, Rashee would have once again been the pickup of the week. He should be a very solid flex option for the rest of the year.
Next – Brandin Cooks: Cooks is as boom as bust as WRs come, but the Cowboys’ schedule sets up for a lot of boom spots in the coming weeks. The Cowboys end the season with a stretch of Seahawks, Eagles, Bills, Dolphins, Lions, and Commanders if you play week 18. All of those are plus matchups for pass attacks, which should lead to some big games for Cooks. Grab him as a nice flex starter not only this week but for the rest of the season.
Stash – Noah Brown: Brown is once again our stash this week as it seems like he will return this week, but it’s still up in the air. To be able to grab any part of the Texans passing game is smart, especially when you look at the numbers Brown put up before his injury. If he plays this week, that is a nice bonus, but at worst, he is worth throwing onto your bench.
Check to see if available/others of note – Jayden Reed seems to be taking a bigger role in the Packers’ passing game every week; nice add if you are in a pinch, but tough match-up against Kansas City this week. Josh Downs didn’t have the game we wanted last week, but he is still a solid add in a great match-up. Jaxon Smith-Njigba continues to impress and is just a DK or Lockett injury away from becoming a top-24 WR. Romeo Doubs is still a low-end flex for those who are in major bye-week trouble. Demario Douglas might not know who his QB will be but whoever it is should make sure to feature him, a solid bench stash and bye week replacement if he is healthy.
Top pick – Pat Freiermuth: Pat blew up in his return game from injury, posting nine catches for 120 yards on 11 targets. While the Bengals playing a two-high safety look helped open up the middle of the field for Freiermuth, it is also encouraging to see him used so much with the new offensive coordinator. With the TE waiver wire being bone dry otherwise, it would be smart to spend most, if not all, the FAAB you have left on The Muth if you need TE help.
Next – Tyler Higbee: I wanted to mention Higbee as he had a huge game last week, but getting 2 TDs on only five catches doesn’t seem like a sustainable stat line. Higbee also has the toughest matchup for TEs this week, having to go against the Browns. Higbee is worth an add for TE-needy teams but is tough to trust this week. Add him at your own risk, but it’s probably better to play one of the Saints TEs over him.
Stash – Gerald Everett: It was nice to see Everett get in the endzone last week, and he seems to be a nice passing option for Justin Herbert in an offense that seems to lose a WR a week. Donald Parham had a goose egg last week, so the Chargers may be leaning into playing Everett more as the better router runner and overall TE. I think he is a solid stash to see how the Chargers continue to use their TEs for the rest of the season.
Check to see if available/others of note – Taysom Hill is always a solid option and is still available in some leagues. Juwan Johnson is getting more involved in the offense, and the Saints are missing lots of WRs. He could be a solid option this week. Tyler Conklin has terrible QB play but did get good targets last week for a team needing a second pass catcher. Cade Otton can be a play if you’re desperate, as he plays every snap.
Top pick – Jaguars D/ST: The Jaguars get an extra day to prepare for Jake Browning, which should see them feast on Monday night. Josh Allen (the defensive player, not the QB) is having an all-pro season and I see him being able to force some sacks and turnovers. Grab the Jaguars as a nice play in a week with lots of good defensive streaming options.
Next – Buccaneers D/ST: Our stash from last week is still a great play this week, getting to matchup against the dumpster fire that is the Panthers. Firing a coach midseason can get the team motivated the next week, but this team has been so rough all year that I’m not even scared of that narrative. The Bucs should shut down the Carolina run game, forcing Bryce Young to throw a lot in this one; that should lead to some nice turnovers for Tampa and your fantasy team.
Stash – Texans D/ST – With a matchup against Tim Boyle and the Jets this is a matchup that can get you into your fantasy playoffs. The Texans are led by one of the best defensive-minded head coaches, so I’m sure he will be able to cause lots of chaos against this lowly Jets offense. Saints D/ST is also a good option against Carolina, but it is just over 65% owned; it’s worth checking if it is available in your leagues.
Check to see if available – Falcons D/ST: They get the incompetent Jets; it should be a nice play. Rams D/ST get to play the Browns, who themselves might not know who is starting at QB. Chargers D/ST get the clown show that is the 2023 Patriots, it should be another huge week for Mack and company.
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