It's a holiday-shortened work week for many, and with time of the essence, let's cut to the chase. Here are 40 players worth considering at the following positions: QB (five), RB, WR, TE (10 apiece) and D/ST (five). Players are in order of how I would prioritize them on the waiver wire by position.
The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
1. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (owned in three percent of Yahoo! leagues) — Does he get another start in Week 12? Who knows? We do know this: he can play. We also know that the 49ers' Week 12 opponent (New Orleans) has a shaky defense. Sometimes, you claim a player and worry how it all settles later. This is one of those cases. Pick. Him. Up.
2. Titans QB Jake Locker (16 percent) — He has an excellent matchup against a porous Jacksonville defense on Sunday, and he has shown some promise when healthy. That's enough for me.
3. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (21 percent) — He might be a little underrated by fantasy owners. He has thrown multiple TD passes in four of his last five starts.
4. Jaguars QB Chad Henne (three percent) — I have no problem with QB-needy owners picking him up, but be careful not to overrate him. His 354-yard, four-TD performance at Houston came out of nowhere. Ask yourself this: in 100 matchups against the Texans' defense, how many times would Henne have a day like that? The Jaguars' offense has mostly sputtered, and Henne has never been a consistent fantasy standout, let alone starter, so I'd proceed with caution.
5. Rams QB Sam Bradford (24 percent) — Faces Buffalo in Week 14 and Tampa Bay in Week 16; might be a nice big-league sleeper.
1. Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (17 percent) — To me, he has the most upside of the backs on this list, which makes him the back to target on the waiver wire. The Broncos' offense is a machine, and Hillman is first in line to get the work that Willis McGahee (knee) would have received down the stretch. With McGahee potentially out for the rest of the regular season, Hillman might be the most coveted pickup of Week 12.
2. Cardinals RB Beanie Wells (27 percent) — Returns to the starting lineup and gets two favorable matchups (St. Louis, N.Y. Jets) right off the bat. However, the schedule turns tougher thereafter, and the Cardinals' running game has been shaky all season. Still, he's a featured back, so he needs to be on more rosters than this.
3. Packers RB James Starks (23 percent) — Five times the Packers have given a running back 20 carries or more in the first 10 games. None have scored a touchdown, and none has reached even 90 yards rushing. What you see is what you get with the Packers' running game, I'm afraid.
4. Saints RB Mark Ingram (29 percent) — While Ingram could lose some touches once Darren Sproles (hand) returns to action, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner has led the Saints in carries in back-to-back games. Ingram has value for owners looking to bolster their RB and/or flex depth.
5. Eagles RB Bryce Brown (four percent) — If LeSean McCoy (concussion) can't play in Week 12, Brown will likely get the bulk of the carries Monday night vs. Carolina. Brown's value is highest to McCoy owners, who should be looking to add him even before there's clarity on McCoy's status. By then, it might be too late to act.
6. Jaguars RB Jalen Parmele (five percent) — Got a featured back's workload in Week 11 (24 carries, three catches) but didn't exactly do much with it (83 total yards). He'll start again in Week 12, and on volume of touches alone, he's interesting in bigger leagues, but I'm not sure he's a long-term solution.
7. Patriots RB Shane Vereen (six percent) — With Brandon Bolden (suspension) out two more games, Vereen is an ideal addition for Stevan Ridley owners
8. Broncos RB Lance Ball (one percent) — If you swing and miss on Hillman and desperately want a Broncos back, I'd suggest Ball.
9. Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas (31 percent) — Can't say I've loved what I've seen from the Dolphins' running game of late, but he does get enough work to be added, especially for owners who have Reggie Bush.
10. 49ers RB Kendall Hunter (21 percent) — I'm a huge fan of his game and the 49ers' rushing attack. He's a very nice pickup-and-stash proposition in bigger leagues. I wouldn't be surprised if he puts up nice numbers, even in a reserve role, against the Saints' defense on Sunday.
1. Chargers WR Danario Alexander (23 percent) — Alexander's stat line in the last two games: 12 catches, 230 yards, three TDs, 18 targets. Just pick him up already.
2. Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (43 percent) — Yes, Justin Blackmon had a breakout game in Week 11, but I still prefer Shorts from a fantasy perspective. Shorts has been the more consistent producer, and he's been much more of a big-play threat. In yardage leagues, Shorts has racked up 11 points or more in four of the last five games.
3. Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (23 percent) — Has racked up 100 or more receiving yards and at least one TD in two of the last three games. Could even get more looks if Donnie Avery (concussion) misses any time, though that's tough to forecast.
4. Broncos WR Brandon Stokley (20 percent) — Eleven fantasy points in each of the last two games, one TD catch in five separate contests, the trust of Peyton Manning. There's plenty to like here.
5. Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon (10 percent) — Comes off a simply wonderful game at Houston (7-236-1), so he needs to be a priority claim for many owners. However, he had only 250 receiving yards in his previous nine games, so I'm not sure if he's someone you immediately rush into the lineup in two-WR formats. Now, in three-WR formats? A roll of the dice is OK.
6. Seahawks WR Golden Tate (26 percent) — Putting up sneaky-good fantasy points, a la Stokley.
7. Titans WR Kendall Wright (37 percent) — Team-high 70 targets for season and has one TD catch in two of last three games.
8. Patriots WR Julian Edelman (three percent) — One day after the Patriots released Deion Branch, Edelman played 85 percent of the offensive snaps against Indianapolis, racking up 105 combined yards and a TD on offense and also scoring on a punt return. You never know how the Patriots are going to utilize their complementary skill position guys from to week-to-week (see Woodhead, Danny), but there's a pretty clear case to pick up Edelman.
9. Lions WR Ryan Broyles (14 percent) — With Titus Young (disciplinary reasons) out for Week 12 and having to work his way back into the team's good graces, Broyles will get the start on Thursday vs. Houston. While Broyles hasn't scored a TD in the last three games, he has hauled in all nine passes thrown his way in that span.
10. Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu (one percent) — Has scored a TD in back-to-back games. Just as importantly, the rookie from Rutgers played 63-of-71 offensive snaps at Kansas City on Sunday. He's a sleeper.
The forearm injury to Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski figures to send quite a few fantasy owners to the waiver wire early this week. Here are 10 widely available tight ends worth considering:
1. Raiders QB Brandon Myers (40 percent) —If you need a tight end and he's available, thank your lucky stars. He's too productive to be on this many waiver wires. He has been targeted 10 times or more in three of the last five games, and now the touchdowns are coming, too (three in the past three games).
2. Jets TE Dustin Keller (38 percent) — Targets have fallen in recent weeks, but he's a good spot play Thursday night vs. New England. In the first 2012 meeting with the Patriots, he hauled in seven passes for 93 yards and a TD.
3. Bills TE Scott Chandler (40 percent) — Gets a favorable matchup against Indianapolis on Sunday.
4. Titans TE Jared Cook (40 precent) — Has some big-play potential, and the Jaguars' defense allowed 17 catches for 159 receiving yards and three TDs (!) to the Texans' Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham and James Casey on Sunday.
5. Buccaneers TE Dallas Clark (12 percent) — Caught another TD on Sunday, his third of the season. The real story, though, is the targets — 11. Clark hadn't been targeted more than six times in any of Tampa Bay's other games.
6. Broncos TE Joel Dreessen (25 percent) — Has been targeted more than Jacob Tamme (22-19) in last five games and has been more of a TD threat.
7. Redskins TE Logan Paulsen (three percent) — Hauled in his first TD catch of the season in Week 11 on his lone target. In the previous three games, he had 20 passes thrown his way.
8. Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis (seven percent) — While Lewis did score a pair of TDs in Sunday's loss at Houston, he was targeted the same number of times (four) as he was the previous week, and he has had only four games of five or more targets this season.
9. Patriots TE Visanthe Shiancoe (one percent) — Shiancoe might be worth a flier in huge leagues early this week, but I prefer all of the tight ends ahead of him until we get a better sense of how the ex-Viking will be used.
10. Browns TE Benjamin Watson (one percent) — Had two TD catches in the Week 11 loss at Dallas, but this was out of the blue.
1. Minnesota (28 percent, at Chicago) — Vaults to the top of the list considering Chicago's pass-protection and general offensive woes in the Bears' Monday-night debacle at San Francisco.
2. Arizona (41 percent, vs. St. Louis) — A startable group even as the Cardinals continue to slide.
3. St. Louis (34 percent, at Arizona) — The Cardinals' offense … my goodness.
4. Cleveland (13 percent, vs. Pittsburgh) — The Steelers are starting their third-string quarterback (Charlie Batch), and they surrendered a punt-return TD in Week 11.
5. Miami (36 percent, vs. Seattle) — The Seahawks' offensive improvement doesn't make the Dolphins the slam-dunk start they might have been earlier in the season.