The Fantasy Football waiver wire is reaching the period of the season where key injuries can open up the door for major opportunities. We saw that this week with the player Chris Towers led this column with last week: Samaje Perine. With Joe Mixon sidelined with a concussion, Perine received a major opportunity as the lead back for the Bengals and he responded with a massive workload in Week 12. Perine received 17 carries to just two carries for backup Trayveon Williams. And although Perine lost some passing down work to Williams, he still finished with seven targets and four receptions -- both good for the third-most on the team. Perine finished with 93 total yards and a touchdown.
Not every injury situation will be as cut and dry. In Jacksonville, breakout second-year running back Travis Etienne was forced from the game early with a foot injury. Although we don't currently know the severity of Etienne's injury, he told reporters after the game "we'll be straight for next week," according to John Shipley of the Jaguar Report. Players are typically more optimistic about injuries than the training staff and Etienne already missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury.
For now, it's better to play Etienne's optimism with caution and that means taking into consideration how the Jaguars replaced him in Week 12. JaMycal Hasty took over as the lead back and saw 12 carries to just three for the rookie Snoop Conner. Hasty averaged just 2.3 yards per carry, but his involvement in the pass game stood out. Hasty caught all five of his targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars also claimed Darrell Henderson off waivers, and head coach Doug Pederson said he "loves" Henderson's "physicality" and "downhill" running style. If Etienne is forced to miss time, we will likely see a timeshare with Hasty leading the way and taking the passing downs work.
The other factor that can generate waiver wire movement is a new starter providing a spark for the offense, and that's exactly what happened for the Jets when they replaced Zach Wilson with Mike White in Week 12 against the Bears. White threw for over 300 yards passing in a windy downpour and he did it in just over two quarters of work before the Jets shut down the pass game with a big lead. White made Garrett Wilson look like a WR2 at worst rest of season, provided a reprieve for all of the Elijah Moore truthers and brought Tyler Conklin back on the radar for tight end streamers.
After the game, White's Jets teammates were ecstatic. Running back Ty Johnson, who took on a bigger role with Michael Carter leaving the game with an ankle sprain and after James Robinson's surprise healthy scratch, was amped up about how the offense looked with White operating under center. Johnson told reporters after the game, "That's Mike White. He's a savage. He's a dog. He's an animal." When Moore met with the media after the game, his teammates yelled "Free that man! Free E!" and "E's free," according to NFL Network's Mike Garofolo. The sky is the limit for the reborn Jets offense under White.
Here's who we'll be looking to add ahead of Week 13:
Mike White QB
MIA Miami • #14
Age: 28 • Experience: 5 yrs.
White isn't going to have the opportunity to face the beat up Bears defense every week, but this is not the first time he provided a spark for the Jets pass offense. Last season, White provided a similar spark and it's easy to see why. Unlike Zach Wilson, White prefers to manipulate and reset the pocket rather than scramble and that gives him an opportunity to keep the pass game on schedule. White also has no issue challenging tight throwing windows that most quarterbacks won't throw into -- on his long touchdown to Garrett Wilson, he threw it right through a defender's outstretched arms into an almost nonexistent throwing window. White finished 315 yards, a 79% completion rate and 11.3 yards per attempt. and he did it almost exclusively in the first half of a blowout win. Regardless of his competition, these aren't numbers to scoff at. With the Vikings, Lions and Jaguars defenses making up three of White's next four matchups, he could push for being starter-worthy in at least two of those matchups and should be added to all Superflex and 2QB rosters immediately.
Elijah Moore WR
CLE Cleveland • #8
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Moore made our 'Sneaky Sleeper' list in Lineup Decisions this week because of Mike White's history targeting slot receivers and Moore's transition into that role over recent weeks. Although volume wasn't the reason for it, Moore's Week 12 performance provided optimism for what's ahead. Moore created an explosive 42-yard catch-and-run where he racked up most of his yardage on a broken tackle before later securing an intermediate target in the red zone for a touchdown. He looked just as explosive as we remembered him from his rookie season and somewhere SportsLine's Jacob Gibbs -- arguably the No. 1 Elijah Moore truther -- is smiling. I'm excited about Moore's Fantasy future due to his schedule, what White provides the pass game, and because he was able to turn in double-digit points in a game where the Jets sat on a huge lead in the second half.
Zay Jones WR
JAC Jacksonville • #7
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Despite operating as Trevor Lawrence's No. 2 option in the pass game for most of the season, Jones has been the forgotten man in Fantasy with his rosters rate dropping all the way to 31% ahead of Week 12. Jones took over as the No. 1 target for Trevor Lawrence -- at least for Week 12 -- as the Jaguars went into comeback mode. Lawrence led an incredible fourth-quarter comeback in what could ultimately be a career-defining game for him and he did it by leaning on Jones. Zay finished with 11 catches for 145 yards and a game-winning two-point conversion. He'll have more value moving forward in PPR leagues, but with Lawrence and the pass game potentially taking a big step forward after the bye week, Jones is worth adding to every roster.
JAC Jacksonville • #22
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Travis Etienne left Week 12 early with a foot injury, and although he seems to suggest he'll be fine moving forward, he never returned to the game. Instead, Hasty took over as the lead back and he earned a big role in the pass game. Hasty's five targets went for five catches, 67 yards and a touchdown. If Etienne is forced to miss time, Hasty could serve as an immediate Flex starter -- specifically in PPR leagues -- with a matchup against the Lions on tap for Week 13.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #27
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Who is Zonovan Knight? Apparently, he's the new lead back for the Jets. Or at least that was the case in Week 12. While Ty Johnson got the touchdown and served as the part time closer in a blowout win, Knight led the way in the run game with 14 carries for 69 yards and he added three receptions for 34 yards to rack up his first career 100-plus yard game. Starter Michael Carter was ruled out after suffering an ankle injury and if he is forced to miss time, Knight is an intriguing add in all leagues after the Jets made James Robinson a healthy scratch in Week 12.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #83
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
It's the tight end position and it's Fantasy Football -- and here we sit with Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz all on the IR. Streaming options become vital, and Conklin is now on our radar after the Jets provided their pass game a massive boost by turning to Mike White. In his first game with White, Conklin saw three targets and he hauled them all in for for 50 yards. With matchups against the Vikings, Lions and Jaguars in three of his next four games, Conklin could be worth streaming if you're still searching for tight end help and leaning on the Taysom Hills of the world.
Skyy Moore WR
KC Kansas City • #24
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Don't look now but Moore now has 10 receptions in his last two games as he has seen his role expand on offense. JuJu Smith-Schuster didn't play much in this game, so maybe it's temporary, but the Chiefs designed two red-zone plays for Moore in this one -- a throw back and a push pass. With Kadarius Toney dealing with a hamstring injury and Mecole Hardman on injured reserve, Moore is the best bet to take over the speed role in the red zone that the Chiefs made famous with Tyreek Hill before turning it over to Hardman earlier this season. Moore was handpicked by this staff in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft and has more upside than just about any player currently sitting on the back end of your benches.