By Will Mirrer

Weekly recommended fantasy football free agent pickups, all under 50% ownership in ESPN leagues. Generally divided between “priority” value adds and “speculative” adds.


  • Priority
    • None. But two speculative streaming possibilities for teams in need at QB, see directly below:
  • Speculative:
    • Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (29.5% ownership)
      • Cutler is always easy to scoff at, given his “Don’t Caaaaaaaare” reputation (  and penchant for a bad interception here and there.  He’s always had talent, however, and offensive coordinator Adam Gase is getting the most out of Cutler this year.  Now, Alshon Jeffrey is healthy, giving Cutler his best weapon down the fantasy playoff stretch.  His next four matchups, the final week of the regular season and the fantasy playoffs? Home against the 49ers, home against the Redskins, at the Vikings and at the Buccaneers.  With the exception of perhaps the Vikings matchup week 15, I’d feel no qualms about firing up Cutler as a streaming option in these must-win games to come.
    • Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (26.3% ownership)
      • I can’t say I’d be thrilled about my season coming down to conjuring some FitzMagic, but he did finally look healthy this past Sunday  against the Dolphins.  If you need a plug-in quarterback, Fitzpatrick does have the Giants and Titans weeks 13 and 14, two somewhat appetizing quarterback fantasy matchups.  He did throw for 277 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Dolphins as well, for what it’s worth.


  • Priority:
    • David Jonhson, Arizona Cardinals (22.9% ownership)
      • Chris Johnson, the Cardinals starting running back entering week 12 against the 49ers, reportedly has a fractured tibia and should miss 6-8 weeks.  His primary backup, Andre Ellington, is now suffering from turf toe and should miss week 13, and perhaps another week or even more.  This sets up David Johnson, a third round rookie out of Northern Iowa, as the Week 13 starter for the Cardinals, and potentially the starter moving forward throughout the fantasy playoffs.  His value beyond week 13 will depend on the severity of Ellington’s injury, but I wouldn’t be surprised if David Johnson significantly eats into Ellington’s touches even if Ellington is healthy by week 14.
    • Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers (35.3%)
      • With Carlos Hyde still out with an injury and no timetable on his return, Draughn has been the bellcow in the backfield for the 49ers and will continue to be so in week 13, and potentially for the rest of the season.  Given the 49ers’ overall offensive limitations, the fantasy upside isn’t quite there, but the touches certainly are, and any running back serving as a bellcow, no matter the ineptitude of the offense, is worth owning in all but the shallowest of leagues.
  • Speculative:
    • Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts (1%)
      • Ahmad Bradshaw is done for the year, leaving Dan “Boom” Herron as the primary backup running back for the Indianapolis Colts.  With starter Frank Gore fading badly the last few games, I’d scoop up Herron if you have the room, given his upside should he step into the starting role for a game or two.
    • Robert Turbin, Dallas Cowboys  (8.5%)
      • Turbin, too, is a handcuff who would have serious value should he step into the starting role, as the backup running back to Dallas Coyboys’ starter Darren McFadden.  However, the ultimate upside of this backfield, despite a stellar offensive line, has certainly taken a major hit in the wake of quarterback Tony Romo’s season-ending injury.
    • Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens (2%)
      • With Justin Forsett out for the year, West has stepped into the backup running back role in Baltimore behind Buck Allen.  West did see 7 carries in week 12, so perhaps it will be closer to a RBBC between Allen and West than we previously imagined.


  •  Priority:
    • Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (34%)
      • Perennial mediocre WR3/4, Doug Baldwin had a career game against the Steelers week 12, putting up 6 catches for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns.  I wouldn’t expect that to continue, given Russell Wilson’s tendency to spread the wealth, but with Jimmy Graham now out for the year, Baldwin should see added looks moving forward.
  • Speculative:
    • Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins (4.8%)
      • Devante Parker, a first round draft pick out of Louisville, has been a disappointment his rookie year, unable to get on the field much at all for the Dolphins.  With Rishard Matthews now hurt with multiple fractured ribs, Devante Parker should finally serve in the number 2 wide receiver role, having scored his first career touchdown week 12.
    • Cecil Shorts, Houston Texans (9.3%)
      • Shorts has seemingly passed Nate Washington on the depth chart since his return, and the Texans have been force feeding Shorts the ball via the air and the run game, and even via the pass on a pretty trick play.  He’s not going to put up flashy numbers every week, but the targets should settle in Shorts as a wide receiver 4 the rest of the way.
    • Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers (23.8%)
      • Devin Funchess, a second round rookie out of Michigan, may have just become the “number one” receiver for the Carolina Panthers. I use quotations since we know tight end Greg Olsen is the functional top receiver, and amongst receivers, Cam will continue to spread it around.  Still, Funchess is worth an eye on, or a stash, if you have the room.
    • Dontrelle Inman (7.7%)
      • With Keenan Allen injured the rest of the way, expect Inman to continue to receive added looks, albeit while remaining behind Antonio Gates and Stevie Johnson in Rivers’ target pecking order.
  •  TE:
    • Priority:
      • Scott Chandler, New England Patriots
        • With Gronk sadly injured, as well as Edelman and Dion Lewis, (and perhaps Amendola) expect Scott Chandler to soak up targets week 13.  Gronk owners will obviously want to bid even more for Chandler given the uncertain extent of Gronk’s knee issue.


(Remember, this list only includes defenses owned in fewer than 50% of ESPN leagues and thus applies only to those who stream defenses weekly)

  • Houston Texans (@ Buffalo Bills; 49.7%)
    • Remember when we watched Hard Knocks and everyone thought this team would look like the 2000 Ravens? Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Finally the Houston defense is hot, playing like an elite unit the last few weeks, including making Drew Brees miserable in week 12.  Houston’s defense should be owned at this point, period.
  • Tennessee Titans (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars; 24.4%)
    • The Titans have an underrated rush defense, a pretty decent pass rush, and Blake Bortles is good for a costly mistake or two.  I wouldn’t feel too nervous tossing the Titans into the fire, despite their 2-9 record.

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