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

November 21, 2017

Every week during the NFL season, Arthur Arkush shares his top nine waiver targets for fantasy owners. This will focus exclusively on players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and this year there’s a twist: we’re sharing our top nine targets at each position, in addition to our top nine overall.

The 2017 NFL draft was loaded with running backs, some of whom began immediately taking the league by storm out of the gate (Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt and, before they were injured, Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson). A few freshman runners have increasingly gained traction as the season has progressed (Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey). And some have shown flashes but now opportunity knocks for them to shine their brightest at season’s end.

It’s that last group that makes up one-third of the Week 12 ‘9 route,’ so let’s talk rookie runners, a few emerging 2016 first-rounders-turned-WR1s and more.

9. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor — Our NFL Draft expert Greg Gabriel, who doubles as our go-to Bills guy, anticipates Nate Peterman gets another chance when Buffalo visits Kansas City on Sunday. But Taylor only needed one half, following Peterman’s mercy pull after his fifth interception, to finish as QB11 overall. Taylor would be a lock-and-load QB1 vs. the Chiefs — fantasy’s 24th-ranked ‘D’ vs. quarterbacks — should Sean McDermott turn back to the veteran. If not, stashing Taylor on your bench in light of Peterman’s poor debut and Buffalo’s enticing remaining schedule is prudent.

8. Texans WR Bruce Ellington — Houston’s new No. 2 receiver with Will Fuller sidelined is averaging eight targets over the past three games and had a career-high 6-63 receiving vs. Arizona Sunday, one week after catching his second explosive touchdown of the season. Ellington may not have Fuller’s straight-line sizzle but he has some juice and, perhaps most importantly, the advantage of lining up across from target and defensive attention hog DeAndre Hopkins. Although his primetime matchup in Baltimore in Week 12 is tough, Ellington gets the Titans and Niners thereafter.

7. Ravens RB Danny Woodhead — His first return to action since Week 1 was fairly inauspicious, as Baltimore made good on its promise to feature Alex Collins in a game that quickly became a rout. Woodhead garnered six targets, trailing only Collins’ 7, but parlayed his six touches into just 23 yards. Both numbers should only increase as Houston and Detroit defenses with issues covering backs are up next.

6. Bears RB Tarik Cohen — After an embarrassing week at Halas Hall, where Bears coaches not only offered no good reasons for Cohen’s lack of usage but outed themselves in the process, Cohen turned 13 touches (his third-highest total and more than the previous three games combined) into 59 yards, including an electric, pirouetting 15-yard touchdown vs. Detroit. Although we’re not suddenly convinced Chicago understands how to maximize its few legit playmakers, the staff is absolutely in must-win mode and Cohen has the unique ability to win a fantasy week with one touch, never mind 10-15 the rest of the way.

5. Washington WR Josh Doctson — One week after his career-best four grabs on seven targets, Doctson set a new high in receiving yards (81) on the same number of chances and catches. With Chris Thompson done for the year, Doctson suddenly becomes Kirk Cousins’ top home-run threat. The rapport continues to build with Cousins, who’ll likely be in YOLO mode down the stretch of his second straight contract year, which befits the former first-round high-pointer perfectly.

4. Dolphins WR Kenny Stills — Matt Moore, who may again be behind center when the Dolphins visit New England if Jay Cutler can’t clear concussion protocol, brings out the best in Stills. They’ve hooked up on seven touchdowns in eight games together, including a massive 154 yards on six grabs Sunday vs. Tampa Bay. Stills has played more than 94 percent of Miami’s offensive snaps and leads the ’Phins with 588 yards and 14.8 YPC. He quietly finished as WR27 last year and WR29 in his final season with the Saints, and the WR15 overall could smoke those outputs this season.

3. Chargers RB Austin Ekeler — Up from No. 5 in last week’s ‘9 route,’ this undrafted gem emerged no worse for the wear after his late fumble in Jacksonville, playing a career-high 32 snaps (compared to 37 for Melvin Gordon). Ekeler only received eight opportunities in the Bolts’ massacre of Buffalo but he made the most of them with 58 yards, including another long touchdown. His role continues to trend upward since the Chargers bye week, and with four touchdowns in his past five games, Ekeler has burst onto the weekly FLEX radar.

2. Browns WR Corey Coleman — Heck of a return from injured reserve by the 15th overall pick in 2016: only future Hall of Famer Antonio Brown (10-157 receiving) has had a better day than Coleman’s 6-80 on 10 targets vs. Jacksonville’s elite defense. And that was with DeShone Kizer turning it over four times. Coleman won’t have a tougher matchup the rest of the way, but he might get some help in distracting defenses from Josh Gordon and he’ll almost certainly continue getting a ton of looks in Cleveland’s lackluster skill group and with the Browns virtually always in catch-up mode.

1. Washington RB Samaje Perine — He did it all in his breakout game, turning 48 snaps into a workhorse-like 24 touches, 126 yards and one touchdown — all career highs. Perine was already earning more chances before Thompson’s injury and he’ll get to show out in prime time each of the next two weeks against beatable NFC East foes — vs. Giants (No. 17 fantasy ‘D’ vs RBs), at Cowboys (23rd and potentially still in a Sean Lee-less rut — then at the Chargers (30th) before fantasy playoffs. Thompson is the last back left standing in Washington. He also happens to have the best pedigree and a soft schedule conducive with the powerful rookie taking early ownership of the lead job in 2018.

QBs

1. Taylor

2. Jacoby Brissett, Colts

3. Case Keenum, Vikings

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

5. Blake Bortles, Jaguars

6. Josh McCown, Jets

7. Joe Flacco, Ravens

8. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

9. Mitch Trubisky, Bears

RBs

1. Perine

2. Ekeler

3. Cohen

4. Woodhead

5. Devontae Booker, Broncos

6. Damien Williams, Dolphins

7. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

8. J.D. McKissic, Seahawks

9. Matt Forte, Jets

WRs

1. Coleman

2. Stills

3. Doctson

4. Ellington

5. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks

6. Mike Wallace, Ravens

7. Marquise Goodwin, 49ers

8. Martavis Bryant, Steelers

9. Jermaine Kearse, Jets

TEs

1. Tyler Kroft, Bengals

2. Charles Clay, Bills

3. Adam Shaheen, Bears

4. O.J. Howard, Bucs

5. Eric Ebron, Lions

6. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans

7. Ben Watson, Ravens

8. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars

9. Coby Fleener, Saints

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