Rookies ready to be difference-makers

Hey, look, the waiver wire isn’t necessarily a goldmine every week. But right now, at this critical point in your season, the wire happens to be loaded with potential difference-makers. A collection of talented young players crashed the fantasy party in Week 10. Let’s get aggressive out there, people.

Here’s a fresh batch of approved pickups, all unattached in a majority of Yahoo leagues…

Running backs on the wire

On a memorable Sunday in Munich, White stiff-armed his way into our rest-of-season fantasy plans:

He’s been a recommended stash all season — a recurring character in our pickups columns and pods — because he’s a talented rookie who’s had a solid rotational role for Tampa Bay behind Leonard Fournette. We’d been patiently waiting for a signature game and he finally delivered against Seattle. White rushed 22 times for 105 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He’s also a gifted receiving threat who caught 43 balls last year at Arizona State.

Fournette suffered a hip injury on Sunday, which was certainly a factor contributing to White’s busy day. But for what it’s worth, the rookie actually got the start against the Seahawks and he was seeing plenty of touches before Fournette checked out. The Bucs are headed into their bye following the European trip, but they return with an exceedingly friendly matchup at Cleveland in Week 12. Don’t assume White’s fantasy value is entirely tied to Fournette’s health.

Recommended waiver offer, assuming $100 budget: Officially $26, but don’t be afraid to go all-in if you need backfield help.

KC’s backfield had been a nightmarish three-man committee in recent weeks, an absolute mess for fantasy purposes. But in Week 10, they basically whittled it down to two players: Jerick McKinnon and Pacheco, the rookie from Rutgers. Clyde Edwards Helaire played only four snaps and didn’t record a touch. Workload was distributed in a tidy way between McKinnon and Pacheco, as the vet saw all the targets (8 on 18 routes) and the rook handled pretty much all the carries (16 for 82 yards). Pacheco is an explosive player with 4.37-speed who now appears to be the featured runner in Andy Reid’s offense. He has a stellar matchup ahead against a user-friendly Chargers defense. If you have RB needs, make a spicy offer.

Offer: This is another potential empty-the-wallet situation. But we’ll say $25, for those who demand specificity.

Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco looks like he’s becoming more a part of the offense, boosting his fantasy appeal down the stretch. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Edwards is expected to return from his hamstring injury following Baltimore’s byewhich means you can expect a few more of these moments in the season’s final weeks:

Kenyan Drake and Edwards should both be playable moving forward as co-chairs of the backfield committee for a run-committed team. Gus has been extremely efficient as a runner since entering the league, averaging 5.2 YPC for his career and 4.9 on limited attempts this season. He deserves a spot on someone’s roster in any 10-team fantasy league. This week, Edwards will face a Carolina defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing backs. You might recall that Joe Mixon had a pretty decent afternoon against the Panthers back in Week 9.

Offer: $18

Additional RBs to consider: Jerick McKinnon (his six catches on eight targets should not go unnoticed by PPR managers), Jaylen Warren (on a day in which Najee Harris was surprisingly effective, Warren was even more efficient, gaining 77 yards on a dozen touches and catching all three of his targets), Latavius ​​Murray (he continues splitting work with Melvin Gordonhe’s trusted at the goal-line and he gets the Raiders on Sunday afternoon).

Widely available wide receivers

Just when even the most patient fantasy managers had given up on the NDSU rookie, he erupted against a quality Dallas pass defense. Watson was targeted eight times on Sunday, dropping two and catching four, delivering 107 yards and three scores. So it was the full Watson experience. Without question, he’s a serious athletic talent, gifted with size, 4.36 wheels and leaping ability. He was an unsolvable problem for the Cowboys in Week 10.

The Packers aren’t exactly loaded with talent at receiver at the moment, so they had no choice but to remain committed to the rookie on Sunday. He’ll face a less-than-dominant Tennessee pass D this week, coming off his breakout performance.

Offer: $21

When Valdes-Scantling’s hands are actually functioning as intended, he can deliver highlights:

MVS finished with three catches for 60 yards on four targets in Sunday’s win, hauling in his first TD reception as a member of the Chiefs. He is, without question, a high-variance fantasy option, but his big weeks can be particularly useful. He rarely comes off the field for one of the league’s elite offenses — he played 84 percent of the snaps on Sunday — so you shouldn’t need a hard sell. JuJu Smith-Schuster entered the concussion protocol after a brutal hit in the Jacksonville game, and, if he misses time, MVS and Kadarius Toney (and various others) could see a short-term uptick in opportunities.

Offer: $8

Upon returning from injury, Collins immediately saw 10 targets in Sunday’s loss to the Giants, catching five for 49 yards and one score:

The second-year receiver from Michigan has size (6-foot-4), separation skills and contested-catch ability. He’s averaging 6.2 targets over his last six games, which should land him at least on the deep league radar. The Texans might reasonably choose to feed Collins throughout the second-half, as he’s a building block for an obviously rebuilding team.

Offer: $6

Various other receivers to add: Kadarius Toney (he’s 52% rostered and thus not technically eligible for this feature, but we need to drop his name in here somewhere after he delivered Mecole Hardman‘s typical stat line), Darius Slayton (he only drew four targets in Sunday’s win, though he made the most of ’em, finishing with 95 yards and a long score), Paris Campbell (apparently if Matt Ryan is back, then Campbell reenters the fantasy conversation; he saw nine targets against Las Vegas and made his third house call of the season), De Andre Carter (continues to deliver low-level value with Keenan Allen sidelined, catching four balls for 64 yards and a score on Sunday night), Treylon Burks (returned from IR and immediately drew six targets), Jarvis Landry (another wideout who returned from a long absence, he caught three of six targets for 37 yards).

Roster-worthy tight ends: Isaiah Likely (he’s found the end zone in back-to-back games and his team continues to have a desperate need for receiving weapons), Juvan Johnson (he has four TDs in his last four games and he’s coming off a seven-target, five-catch effort), Foster Moreau (he made a house call against the Colts on Sunday and should continue to make noise with Darren Waller on IR), Trey McBride (the talented rookie is an interesting deep league flier with Zach Ertz reportedly done for the season with a knee injury).

Quarterbacks to target

Watson is eligible to practice for the Browns this week ahead of his expected return in December against Houston, his former employer. When we last saw Watson on the field back in 2020 — prior to the trade to Cleveland and his 11-game suspension — he led the NFL in passing yards and yards per attempt. He’ll be throwing to Amari Cooper other David Njoku when he’s back in the mix, so his situation has fantasy appeal. If you’re struggling at QB, he’s likely the best option available for the closing weeks.

Offer: $6

If you’re simply looking for a one-week streaming option at QB, Mariota might be your best bet among widely available options. We obviously can’t promise a significant passing total from a guy who’s finished with fewer than 200 yards in seven of his 10 games. But Mariota has rushed for at least 40 yards in four of his last six, so he has more than one path to fantasy relevance. He has an appealing matchup ahead in Week 11, as Atlanta hosts Chicago.

Offer: $3

Other approved QBs: Taylor Heinicke (Carson Wentz is eligible to return from IR in Week 11, but the Commanders’ plans aren’t yet clear; we can say, however, that upcoming matchups against Houston and Atlanta offer immediate appeal), James Winston (The Saints are at least considering the possibility of pivoting away from Andy Daltonwhich seems reasonable and highly justifiable).

If you’re streaming D/STs

The Jets defense has been respectable across the board this season, ranking seventh in the league in yards against and eighth in scoring while generating more interceptions (11) than TD passes allowed (9). New York also entered the bye tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks (26). This group travels to New England in Week 11 to face a quarterback they sacked six times a few weeks back.

Offer: $2

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