I love my birthday. Since I was a teenager, I never wanted to work on my birthday. I did on my 20th birthday, and it almost made me late to see U2 on the original Joshua Tree Tour. Said I’d never do that again.
Today is my birthday, and I still love it because my family makes a big deal out of it. I got a bunch of shirts to commemorate the Dodgers and Lakers winning their titles. Having kids makes birthdays even more special because they turn it into an occasion.
Since that 20th birthday, I took every birthday off except for 2011. That turned out to be the day that Clayton Kershaw won his first Cy Young Award. So proud to see his rise from an 18-year-old high school draft pick, to Cy Young winner, to MVP and now World Champion. That was a special day, and somewhere I have saved a picture I took with him. The only one I took with him ever.
But today I’m working to help you all with your waivers. I even recorded a podcast episode to break down Los Waivers. Happy to do it. As someone once said, if you love your work, you’ll never work a day in your life again.
So let’s have some fun and see if some of these waiver-wire pickups could help you either this week or down the road toward your fantasy championships.
Jameis Winston vs. ATL
He looked tentative against the 49ers, but with a week of preparation as presumably the #1 guy he should look more comfortable and it’ll come across against the #27 pass defense, according to Football Outsiders. Don’t forget that Teddy Bridgewater looked far from comfy when he came in to relieve Brees after a broken thumb knocked the Hall of Famer out for 5 weeks. Then Bridgewater went 5-0. Winston is different than Brees – and Bridgewater – and HC Sean Payton is one of the best play callers in the game. He’ll concoct a good game plan around the former #1 pick’s strengths.
Tua Tagovailoa @ DEN
In Super Flex and 2-QB leagues, Tua has to be owned already. Bye weeks are winding down, and Josh Allen or Brees owners could use Tua as a replacement. He’s thrown multiple TDs in back-to-back weeks, and is showing more poise every game. The Broncos are 17th in FPPG to the QB position, then Miami faces the Jets and Bengals the next two weeks.
Kirk Cousins vs. DAL
Are the Vikings quietly letting Cousins cook? Cousins has 2 or more TDs in four of the past five games. Against the Bears, he was finding Adam Thielen and Justin Jeffereson consistently. The Cowboys are coming off a bye, but that secondary would need to improve a lot to just be adequate. It is 23rd against fantasy QBs.
Alex Smith vs. CIN
Did Smith really throw 55 times against the Lions? He completed 38 of them and led all QBs with 390 passing yards in Week 10. He’s accurate and isn’t turning the ball over. The Bengals just got lit up by Ben Roethlisberger throwing short-to-intermediate passes to the tune of 333 yards and 4 TDs. Those throws are Smith’s specialty.
Salvon Ahmed @ DEN
Raise your hand if you heard of Salvon Ahmed before Halloween. Mentirosos! Ahmed did not have a carry until Week 9, then this past week popped for 21 carries for 85 yards and 1 TD. He had 84% of Miami’s rush attempts, so he might take over the bulk of the workload while Matt Breida and Myles Gaskin recover. Denver got run over by Josh Jacobs last week, so there might be some cracks opening up in what had been a good run defense.
Nyheim Hines vs. GB
Hines had a Kamara-esque 12 carries for 70 yards, 5 receptions for 45 yards and 2 TDs. This is the second game of the past three with 20+ PPR points for Hines. Something is not working with Jonathan Taylor. He had an ankle injury a couple weeks ago, so that might be why Hines got so much work. Green Bay is #30 in FPPG allowed to the RB position, so if Hines gets the touches he could be very good.
Kalen Ballage vs. NYJ
Stop laughing at this mention. Ballage has 33 carries in the past 2 weeks, including 18 carries for 68 yards along with catching 5 of 6 targets for 34 yards. It’s all about opportunity with Ballage, and the Jets being #25 in FPPG allowed to the RB makes him a good option until Austin Ekeler is done posting Instagram videos and is 100% to return.
Carlos Hyde vs. AZ
He’s missed the last 3 weeks, but HC Pete Carroll said Hyde is ahead of Chris Carson in returning to the field. The Seahawks need some semblance of a running game, because opposing defenses have been rushing Russell Wilson with abandon. The Cardinals are #16 against the running game, according to Football Outsiders. The first Seahawks-Cardinals game was a classic, and on a short week, this has shootout written all over it. Hyde gets you into this game.
Michael Pittman Jr. vs. GB
Yes, the 15 targets last 2 games and 101 yards against the Titans tell a good story. But when you watch Pittman play, he just looks like a stud WR. The size/speed combo is rare, as is his determination to make the tough catches. Green Bay is good against the pass, and he’ll likely get Jaire Alexander if he’s off concussion protocol. The schedule lightens up with the Titans, Raiders and Texans (twice) in the next 4 weeks.
Josh Reynolds @ TB
Reynolds, very quietly, has 27 targets in the last 3 games. He caught 8 of 10 for 94 yards against the Seahawks. His target share percentage is very similar to that of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods the past 3 games. He’s in more of the Brandin Cooks role, as his targets are further down the field. The Bucs matchup is tough, though after that the Rams have some good matchups .
KJ Hamler vs. MIA
Another rookie who is seeing his workload increase as the season progress. He has 20 targets in the past 2 games. If Lock is out, Hamler may not get 10 targets a game. Miami is #8 against the pass. The Broncos have other tough matchups following the Dolphins, so Hamler may only be playable certain weeks.
Michael Gallup @ MIN
Fantasy managers dropped Gallup because he wasn’t living up to the expectations built up after a very good sophomore campaign. He has 19 targets the last 2 games with JV starters behind center. Andy Dalton is expected back this week, and the Vikings are #29 against Fantasy WRs. Also, keep in mind the game against the Giants when Dalton came on in relief of Dak Prescott. Gallup made a pair of great grabs off Dalton passes in the closing minutes of the game.
Logan Thomas vs CIN
Such is the state of the TE position that Thomas is a regular in this column. If you don’t have Travis Kelce or a select few other options, Thomas is someone to check out. He has 12 targets in the last 2 games, and the Bengals are #31 in FPPG allowed to the TE. Also, keep in mind that earlier mention about Smith’s propensity to check down. Thomas will be well fed with Thanksgiving coming up.