9 route: Top 9 fantasy football waiver targets in Week 12

Rookie running backs, a perennially underachieving TE and some intriguing streamer QBs top list

By ARTHUR ARKUSH -- aarkush@profootballweekly.com
Published: Updated:
Green Bay Packers tight end Jared Cook (89) carries the ball between Washington Redskins inside linebacker Will Compton (51) and cornerback Quinton Dunbar (47) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Green Bay Packers tight end Jared Cook (89) carries the ball between Washington Redskins inside linebacker Will Compton (51) and cornerback Quinton Dunbar (47) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) — Patrick Semansky

Every Tuesday, Arthur Arkush shares his top nine waiver wire targets for fantasy football players. This will focus exclusively on players owned in less than 50 percent of all Yahoo! leagues.

A note of caution: just because a player is on this list, it doesn't mean readers should exhaust their claim priority and/or waiver budget. Those decisions should be based on individual roster makeup, injuries and other outside forces.

Have specific roster questions for your fantasy team? Tweet @ArthurArkush

Just missed the cut: Jaguars WR Marqise Lee, Steelers WR Eli Rogers, Vikings RBs Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, Titans WR Tajae Sharpe, Giants RB Paul Perkins, Raiders RB Jalen Richard, Eagles QB Carson Wentz

9. Washington WR Pierre Garcon: Welcome back on the fantasy radar. It'd be easy to write off Garcon's monster 6-116-1 outing because, well, it was against the Packers, but he's actually come on of late in a contract year. Garcon might be worth a flier against a Cowboys 'D' due for a letdown, and more than that, if/when historically brittle Jordan Reed or DeSean Jackson again drop out of Washington's covetable fantasy situation.

8. Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz: He has a higher catch average and as many touchdowns as DeAndre Hopkins (sigh). His hands have improved immensely, but one of the 93 drops that occurred in Mexico City was his, costing Fiedorowicz his first 100-yard game in the NFL. Brock Osweiler doesn't look comfortable doing anything, but throwing to Fiedorowicz is as close as it gets. The third-year tight end has at least 61 yards or a touchdown in five of the past seven games, plus bad defenses ahead.

7. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick: The worse San Francisco's defense gets — though there may not be another level of stink for it to reach — Kap's fantasy outlook just gets better. But forget fantasy outlook for a minute; Kap, in reality, is improving, with six total touchdowns to just two giveaways in his past three games. Worried Andrew Luck owners should target an insurance policy from NIners-Dolphins. Frankly, it's a coin flip between Kap and Ryan Tannehill.

6. Bengals WR Tyler Boyd: We hate that it took an injury to A.J. Green to get Boyd, one of our favorite offseason rookie sleepers, to awaken. But he immediately capitalized on absences of Green and Gio Bernard with his best receiving day since Week Two, plus his first NFL score. Boyd, not Brandon LaFell or Jarius Wright, should be Andy Dalton's top wideout target with the Eagles, Browns and Steelers, respectively, looming after Baltimore.

5. Jaguars RB Chris Ivory: T.J. Yeldon went down with an ankle injury in Detroit and Ivory's opportunities shot up to a season-high 23 touches for 114 scrimmage yards. If you're looking for exciting and/or dependable, we shouldn't have to tell you to look elsewhere than the Jaguars. But if you seek a relatively high floor, Ivory should at least provide that, provided Yeldon is out of the picture. The Jaguars' upcoming schedule isn't ideal but few things are in Week 12 of fantasy football.

4. Bills RB Mike Gillislee: You'll have to beat out LeSean McCoy owners to Gillislee, but he's more than a handcuff because of Buffalo's powerful and diverse ground game and McCoy's dislocated thumb. The Bills say Shady will strap it up and play despite the injury as their playoff hopes are at least flickering. Once the false hope dissipates, though, it could become Gillislee's backfield with a fantasy playoff slate of the Steelers, Browns and Dolphins, all at home.

3. Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon: As expected, Dixon looked like Baltimore's most dynamic back for a second consecutive week, with a robust 6.2 yards per carry, including the Ravens' longest run — 20 yards — since Week Five. Inexplicably, however, they went away from Dixon (21 snaps) and Terrance West (23) after intermission, when the run game was clicking for the first time in more than a month. Perhaps Cincinnati will help, considering the Bengals will be without their best offensive player and managed to make the Giants' and Browns' run games viable before Buffalo, without LeSean McCoy much of the day, rung up 183 yards.

2. Packers TE Jared Cook: Could Cook have had a more fitting bust-out for the Packers? In his first action since suffering an ankle injury in Week Three, the perennial boom-or-bust tight end was cooking with gas, firing up his first 100-yard receiving day — 6-105-1 — since Week 1 of the 2013 season. He showed off the vertical speed and imposing size in the red zone Green Bay has desperately missed. Cook also demonstrated why he'll always leave fantasy owners wanting more by failing to turn around for a second, easy touchdown and squandering the Pack's last gasp by losing a late fourth quarter fumble. Nonetheless, he's healthy — unlike Green Bay's defense — which means the Pack, and you, will deal with his flaws for his big-play prowess, particularly if you own Gronk (injured) or Delanie Walker (Week 13 bye).

1. Eagles RB Wendell Smallwood: What's one way to gain clarity on Doug Pederson's Belichickian backfield? Injuries. Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (ribs) exiting early in Seattle cleared the way for Smallwood, who translated his busiest day as a pro into 17 touches and 79 yards — both matching career-highs — against a strong Seattle front. Meantime, Philadelphia's fifth-rounder, who Pederson says "would be OK taking the brunt of the load" if needed, faces a Packers run 'D' whose inside linebacker injuries could necessitate a move back to the middle for Clay Matthews.

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