“Family, Football & This Adventure We Call Life” is a year-round column by Nate Polvogt that shares a Colorado dad’s outlook on life and his weekly advice for fantasy football waiver wire pickups. Nate enters the Week 12 waiver wire run in his third season of writing and with the pride of being hot on 2021 league-winner Rashaad Penny early.
“For the yesterdays and today’s and the tomorrows I can hardly wait for – Thank you.” – Cecelia Ahern
As Thanksgiving draws near, it’s impossible not to look around and take stock of everything that has happened in the last year.
I am forever grateful that I am not alone in this journey, and so incredibly thankful for the people I’ve met along the way. This year – as I did last – I want to thank all who have impacted my life in this community of football lovers and friends.
My In-Between Media Family
The last 12 months have been a whirlwind of growth for our little company. We’ve welcomed new writers, editors and content creators to our family. We’ve expanded our reach in the fantasy sports world along the way. This is in no small part to our founder, Seth Woolcock. He keeps us all in line but never hesitates to lend a helping hand. He works ungodly hours, sometimes pushing into the early morning hours to ensure we’re firing on all cylinders.
For all of us you know in the spotlight for our content, there are some people behind the scenes who make everything we do possible. Jen Polvogt, Katie Mest, Joseph Griffin and TrashSandwiches make sure our words pop. Unfortunately, they don’t get the public recognition they deserve, but we would be doing what we do here at In-Between Media (IBT) without them.
“Anyone can write, but it takes a true genius to make it sound good.” – Someone once, I’m sure.
It’s no small feat to produce the content our team puts out into the world. Bo McBrayer and Conor Coughlin crush the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) game with a huge assist from Dave Stewart and Sven. Our weekly podcast crew of Seth, Jen, Scott Rinear and myself try to bring a unique and fun flare of fantasy football to each show. And our NASCAR fantasy/gambling team of Elliot Hicks and Rod Villagomez have become trailblazers in a young space.
Together, we give actionable, entertaining advice every week without fail. The work that goes into ensuring we are on point is nothing to shake a stick at, and I am proud to be helping make it all happen.
Being Different With a Purpose
What drew me most to IBT and Seth’s vision was the unique style of the content. The chance came at a time when I was going through a lot of personal struggle and having the opportunity to air it out on paper and to the world changed me. It’s the same thing that has kept me here for the last two-and-a-half years and why I won’t leave any time soon.
I believe in what we do. The real stories of our lives, fears, battles and wins help those who read our work. Through our writing, we can connect more authentically with our audience than most companies in this space. Like you, we are more than just fantasy sports; I couldn’t be happier to have found a family with IBT.
As grateful as I am for the people I have surrounded myself with at IBT and beyond, I am most thankful for you, the reader.
Without you, I have no platform and wouldn’t have met the fantasy football community members I now call friends. So, as we get closer to the fantasy playoffs and a stressful holiday season, I will strive to continue providing meaningful lifestyle content, as well as league-winning waiver wire and start-sit advice every week.
In addition, I would be remiss if I didn’t show gratitude for why we are all here; Fantasy football. Sure, it seems like a silly game for sports nerds, but it’s much more. It’s an opportunity to bond with people of like minds. We get to feel more connected to the sport we love and get a much-needed distraction in an ever-stressful world. We can argue over a player’s value in tight end premium leagues or which running back will break out mid-season. However, it’s all in good fun at the end of the day.
And with that, it’s time to talk some pigskin.
On To Football
To the surprise of many, Week 11 was a comparatively calm weekend of football. Of course, there was still plenty of drama, but nothing like we’ve seen as of late.
Here’s what you need to know heading into Week 12.
• After an embarrassing overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, The Denver Broncos confusingly released veteran RB Melvin Gordon, who was “clearly” the problem with their offense (not).
• Kirk Cousins and company looked like a Division III college football team against the Dallas Cowboys, getting throttled at AT&T Stadium, 40-3.
• New York Jets QB Zach Wilson completed just nine passes for 77 yards in a loss to New England, prompting head coach Robert Saleh to not fully commit to Wilson as the Jets starter moving forward. So is it Wacko for Joe Flacco season in the Big Apple?
• Despite a losing effort to a tough Philadelphia Eagles squad, the Indianapolis Colts continued to look like a team on a mission under new head coach Jeff Saturday, forcing QB Jalen Hurts to rush for a late touchdown to seal an Eagles victory.
• The surging San Francisco 49ers embarrassed the Arizona cardinals in primetime, walking away with a convincing 38-10 and making us all wonder how much longer the Kliff Kingsbury experiment can continue in Arizona.
Week 11 wasn’t the spectacle we’ve come to expect in 2022. However, it did present some interesting storylines heading into Week 12.
So let’s get at it in this week’s edition of “Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 12 Waiver Wire Brouhaha.”
Hot, Medium & Mild: Week 12 Waiver Wire Brouhaha
We’re heading into Week 12, and the fantasy football playoffs are inching closer. So naturally, any manager in the hunt is working overtime to get their rosters in tip-top shape for a championship run.
Underperforming running backs and injuries to marquee wide receivers have made it all the more important to find that diamond in the rough.
This week I have a sneaky pass catcher who has recently seen a surprisingly increased role, a running back making the most of his limited opportunities and a Week 11 tight end breakout that was a once-in-a-season performance.
HOT — Scotch Bonnet Pepper
James Cook (RB, Buffalo Bills)
The Buffalo Bills started the 2022 season looking like a freight train that couldn’t be stopped. However, the team heads into a Week 12 matchup against the surging Detroit Lions, losing two of their last three contests and finding themselves tied with the Miami Dolphins for the division lead.
Last week, the Bills got back on their feet, defeating the Cleveland Browns 31-23 after being behind early. While he failed to find the end zone, rookie running back James Cook was a big part of the Bills dominating the final three quarters of their Week 11 victory. Cook was only on the field for 16 offensive snaps. However, he had 11 carries for a season-high 86 rushing yards and two passing targets.
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen finished Sunday with 27 passing attempts, his second-lowest total of 2022. Conversely, the team logged a season-high 33 rushing attempts for 171 yards. While running back Devin Singletary had more carries (18) than Cook, the two backs co-led the team in rushing output. Though Cook is the clear RB2 behind Singletary in Buffalo, head coach Sean McDermott is looking to go more run-heavy the rest of the season. Cook was actively involved in the play on 14 of 16 snaps. In addition to his 11 carries, he also ran three passing routes.
What To Do
Moving forward, Cook has worked himself into a reliable, albeit small, workload chock full of high-value opportunities. Cook is worth a look in an increasingly thin running back landscape. If you’ve been bitten by mediocre running back play or injuries, he will likely be the best option on waivers. Don’t be afraid to dip into your remaining Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) for him.
MEDIUM — Tabasco Pepper
Justin Watson (WR, Kansas City Chiefs)
The hits keep coming for the Kansas City Chiefs receiving corps. Already missing Mecole Hardman to Injured Reserve (IR) and Juju Smith-Schuster to concussion protocol, the team lost Kadarius Toney to a hamstring injury this past Sunday. Smith-Schuster should return from the protocol ahead of Week 12. Hardman will be out until at least Week 15, and the verdict is still out on Toney’s availability moving forward.
With the depleted receiving options for Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes, fifth-year veteran pass-catcher Justin Watson stepped up. Last week he logged a season-high in snaps (57), receptions (three), and receiving yards (67). His 40 pass-play snaps, 37 routes run and Average Depth of Target (aDOT) of 21.5 led the team in Week 11.
Watson’s involvement in the Kansas City offense isn’t a new development. In Week 10, despite only being targeted once, he was tied for second in routes run (29). Regardless of Toney or Smith-Schuster’s status in Week 12 or beyond, Watson has worked himself into a steady role in a pass-forward offensive attack. Not only is his route percentage (92.4) the fourth-highest on the team this season, head coach Andy Reid has trusted him more as a run blocker in recent weeks, logging two consecutive games with 15-plus run-play snaps.
What To Do
Upside in fantasy football is all about opportunity. Watson is in line to continue to see an increased role in Kansas City as he has developed a rapport with Mahomes. For a team marching toward the playoffs and a possible first-round bye, that’s important.
Watson isn’t going to blow your socks off with a WR1 performance. However, the increased opportunities make him a safe bye-week fill-in at worst. He’s also a possible matchup-dependent boom-week candidate should Toney, Smith-Schuster or both miss significant time. Watson isn’t a household name. However, in an ever-desperate fantasy waiver wire landscape, he is likely on your league mates’ radar. Don’t be afraid to spend a small chunk of your remaining FAAB budget to get Watson rostered.
MILD — Golden Greek Pepper
Austin Hooper (TE, Tennessee Titans)
If you’ve been lucky enough not to need to stream the tight end position in 2022, congratulations. You were brilliant and grabbed Travis Kelce in the first round of your fantasy drafts, and it’s paying off. Unfortunately, the rest of us haven’t been as lucky, forced to add and drop bookends almost weekly. In Week 11, it was an even tougher landscape, with Darren Waller and Zach Ertz having landed on IR.
There was some hope for desperate fantasy managers when the Titans’ Austin Hooper logged a second solid fantasy week. He finished Week 11 catching all four of his targets, two for touchdowns, on his way to 19.6 fantasy points. Hooper’s boom week was good enough to make him the overall Point Per Reception (PPR) WR2 this past week.
There’s no denying Hooper has come up big for Tennessee in the last two weeks. His 11 targets in those games are only five fewer than he saw in his previous eight contests combined. However, his 19.6 PPR points are the most he’s managed in a game since 2019.
What To Do
Tennessee’s most recent two opponents – Denver and Green Bay – have been stingy against wide receivers this season. In addition, running back Derrick Henry has been oddly ineffective in those games, averaging just three Yards Per Carry (YPC). However, the Titans’ next three games are against middle-of-the-road rushing defenses. They should be able to get back to doing what they do best in running the ball. Hooper might be worth a stream down the line. For now he’s best left on the waiver wire ahead of Week 12.
I hope you find my spicy and not-so-spicy Week 12 waiver wire pickups and notes useful. Until next time!
Are you tired of my punny Thanksgiving-themed #DadJokes? Of course not! We’re two days away from getting so full of turkey that even our sweatpants don’t fit. So here is a turkey pun from a catchy pop tune to make you chuckle.
“Hey, I just met you, and this is gravy, but here’s my stuffing, so carve me, maybe.“
As always, thanks for reading. For more fantasy and life content, find me on Twitter @NatePolvogt.