Week 12 of the fantasy football season is here, and the biggest piece of advice I have for you isn’t on the waiver wire; it’s at the dinner table.
If you’re headed to someone else’s house for Turkey Day, and you’re responsible for a dish, make the dish you make well. Thursday is not the time to attempt that Gordon Ramsey recipe you saw last week. A good backup is always that gargantuan Costco pumpkin pie for $6 and some whipped cream. Play. It. Safe.
You don’t want to be watching Thanksgiving day football from the porcelain throne, but you can make your Week 12 waiver wire claims from there.
Teams on bye in Week 12: None
As always, the players below are rostered in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 12 Pickups (2023)
(Rostership percentages courtesy of ESPN)
Zach Charbonnet (RB, Seattle Seahawks) | 32.2% Rostered
Unfortunately, one of the key fantasy football players injured in Week 11 was Seattle Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker. The second-year RB left the game with what’s being called an oblique strain. Seattle will take on the formidable San Francisco 49ers defense and on short rest, no less, for the Thanksgiving nightcap, so it’s likely Walker sits.
Rookie Zach Charbonnet should see the majority of work, as he received 21 touches and an overall 84% snap share after Walker left the game Sunday. While the matchup isn’t ideal for Charbonnet’s first start, he has looked great in limited opportunity this season. This past week, he collected 69 total yards and six receptions. It looks like Charbonnet will be a workhorse for at least a week and he should have a solid fantasy day on volume alone. I’m looking at this game a bit like an audition for Charbonnet to carve out a more established role, even if Walker is back sooner rather than later. He’s my top waiver wire add in Week 12.
Isaiah Likely (TE, Baltimore Ravens) | 0.9% Rostered
Week 11 also claimed the season of star TE Mark Andrews, who suffered a syndesmotic ligament injury and cracked fibula. Insert Isaiah Likely. Fantasy Alarm’s Andrew Cooper put out a great thread on X about why Likely’s two targets in the box score on Thursday don’t give the entire picture of his usage and what the night that could have been.
While Likely isn’t a one-for-one replacement for Andrews, he could have some ceiling games down the stretch that mirror that production level. The next three matchups for Baltimore are the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars. All are in the bottom 13 of fantasy points allowed to the TE. Likely should be rostered everywhere.
Demario Douglas (WR, New England Patriots) | 24.8% Rostered
With the Patriots on bye in Week 11, Demario Douglas’ rostership actually dropped, making him a tasty waiver wire add for Week 12. Douglas has ended with double-digit Points Per Reception (PPR) points in three of his last four contests. The Patriots take on the Giants in Week 12, a team giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. They will then get the Chargers in Week 13, who are allowing the second-most points to the position. At a bare minimum, Douglas should be rostered, as he’s primed for at least two great weeks.
Trenton Irwin (WR, Cincinnati Bengals) | 6.1% Rostered
With the season-ending loss of Joe Burrow, the Cincinnati Bengals will turn to the former high school Gatorade Player of the Year, Jake Browning, as their QB. The rookie Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA) has 15 pass attempts on the season and in his NFL career. Of those attempts, WR Trenton Irwin received five targets on Thursday night. It only led to three catches for 36 yards, but the bigger picture is that Browning looked for Irwin early and often. This happens a lot with backup QBs; they look for the player they’re familiar with in practice. In this case, it’s Irwin.
Assuming Browning can find a few plays where he isn’t running for his life from T.J. Watt, as the Bengals take on Pittsburgh this week, the Steelers have been allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to the WR position. With teammate Tee Higgins unlikely to rush back from a hamstring injury, Irwin could be a sneaky Week 12 waiver wire add with another valuable matchup ahead.
Keaton Mitchell (RB, Baltimore Ravens) | 35% Rostered
For the first time in three weeks, Keaton Mitchell didn’t have a massive explosive play for a touchdown. And of those weeks, this was his lowest output at 5.1 PPR points. The good news? Mitchell played 37% of Baltimore’s snaps, his highest of the season. Mitchell also had another run of over 20 yards. The Bengals’ field was slick all Thursday night, with multiple players sliding for seemingly no reason. It’s plausible that Mitchell was closer to another big game than not. I’ll be more bullish on Mitchell after their Week 13 bye, but it is worth noting that they take on the Chargers this week, who allow nearly 25 fantasy points per game to the RB position. He’s worth a stash from the waiver wire in Week 12.
Thanks for reading my favorite fantasy football waiver wire Week 12 pickups. Looking for more fantasy football advice? Follow me on Twitter @ThatMattKelley.
*Photo Credit: Jessica Rapfogel – USA TODAY Sports*