We are on the brink of the fantasy football playoffs as we enter Week 13. Is your team on track to make it to the dance or are you still battling for a ticket?
Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, we can help. Tristan H. Cockcroft provided you with insight into which backfields to prioritize, and this article identifies pass catchers you should target in trades. Having at least one of these players on your team would be prudent.
Also, as a reminder, the ESPN trade deadline is at 12:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 1. It is important to clarify that all trades need to be accepted by that time.
Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Brown has at least 50 yards in all but two games and 10 or more targets in his last four games, averaging 17.4 fantasy points per game. He also averages 32.6 routes per game, which is comparable to other No.1 receivers such as Davante Adams (33.4), Terry McLaurin (33.7) and Michael Pittman Jr (33.5), which is impressive considering how run-heavy the Ravens are offensively. From Weeks 13-17, Brown will play against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams. These five defenses allow wide receivers an average of 35 points per game. Brown is a weekly WR2 with the potential for more.
DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
Due to inconsistent quarterback play from Jalen Hurts, Smith has had ups and downs all year. That said, the rookie wideout is the Eagles' best playmaker, and he has averaged only 6.3 targets per game this year. Philadelphia's final two drives against the Giants didn't involve him as Jalen Reagor dropped two potential game-winning passes that were right in his hands. Greg Ward and Reagor combined for eight targets while Smith had four. It needs to change, especially when you have a talent like Smith who runs every route flawlessly and can consistently separate from defenders. Following the game, his demeanor and conversation with head coach Nick Sirianni have been well publicized. The Eagles' loss to their division rivals might be a catalyst to correct course offensively and give you an optimal window to trade for Smith. With upcoming matchups against the New York Jets (35), Washington (41) twice, and the Giants (35.3), who all allow a high number of points per game to receivers, Smith is in a position to surpass expectations of fantasy managers.
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
Hopkins has been out of sight and mind of fantasy managers while recovering from a hamstring injury and the Cardinals are on a bye week. It's well known that Hopkins is durable, so he's expected to return ready to play. You have one more chance to acquire him this season. Also, it's worth noting that the Cardinals have a receiver-friendly schedule between Weeks 13-17, which includes the Bears (5th in FPPG allowed to WRs) the Rams (18th), Detroit Lions (20th), Colts (6th) and Dallas Cowboys (17th).
Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers were decimated by the Bengals on Sunday, making it an ideal time to trade for Claypool. In nine active games this season, he has averaged 7.5 targets and 67.5 receiving yards per game. While Diontae Johnson averages more targets per game and more receiving yards than Claypool, both receivers average a similar number of routes per game. Claypool's schedule from Weeks 15-17 is particularly attractive with matchups against the Titans (43.3), Kansas City Chiefs (33.2) and Browns (33), when examining how many points these defenses allow to receivers per game. In a pass-heavy Steelers' offense, he's a terrific WR3 option with good upside on a week-to-week basis. The breakout performances that we anticipated from Claypool during the regular season could happen during the playoffs.
Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
Chase is the most explosive playmaker on the team, so defensive coordinators are plotting to take him away. Over the last four games, the rookie has only seen 31 targets, 15 receptions and 88 receiving yards. Chase has averaged only 10.5 points per game during that period, compared to 21 points per game over his first seven games. Chase had numerous fantasy week-winning performances earlier this season, and he could repeat some of those performances from Weeks 15-17 against the Broncos, Ravens and Chiefs, in matchups that call for Cincinnati to rely more on the passing game than the running game.
As a result of DeVante Parker and Will Fuller's injury-plagued seasons, Waddle is in a position to succeed. In all but one game this season, he has seen six or more targets and he had his first 100-yard game of the season and his first touchdown since Week 6 against the Panthers. In a Dolphins pass-heavy offense that averages 38.3 attempts per game, Waddle should continue to excel. From Weeks 15-17, Waddle will face the New York Jets (35.69 FPPG allowed to WRs), New Orleans Saints (39.81) and Tennessee Titans (46.1) -- three defenses that struggle to contain receivers in the fantasy game.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Since Dalvin Cook is dealing with multiple shoulder injuries, the Vikings may have to rely more on the passing game. That was evident in recent weeks as Thielen scored three touchdowns in the last two games. In the Vikings' last five games, he has also averaged eight targets per game. With upcoming matchups against the Lions, Steelers, Bears, Rams and Packers defenses, Thielen is a WR2 with WR1 upside.
Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans
Jones only has 21 receptions for 336 yards and zero touchdowns in six games this season. Look straight ahead in this situation, not in your rear view mirror. Tennessee's passing game has suffered of late. Due to a hamstring injury, Jones is on injured reserve, but set to return after the Titans' bye week. A.J. Brown won't be eligible to return until Week 16 with a chest injury, also on injured reserve. With favorable matchups against the Jaguars, Steelers, 49ers and Dolphins from Weeks 14-17, Jones will see a lot of targets and could be a difference maker for your fantasy team.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
After the Lions' bye, Hockenson has hit a rough patch. In the last three games, he has averaged four targets, three receptions and 28.6 receiving yards. Remember that Hockenson averaged 13.3 points per game from Weeks 1-8. Josh Reynolds' emergence as the Lions' top receiver is great for the tight end. Having another receiving playmaker looming for opposing defenses could make things easier for Hockenson this season. Only Travis Kelce (98), Mark Andrews (88), Darren Waller (85) and Mike Gesicki (78) have more targets than Hockenson (77).
Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team
Thomas missed most of the 2021 season due to a hamstring injury. Thomas should be able to get right back to work when he returns against the Seahawks on Monday Night Football since, for the first time in his NFL career, he will play in the same offense in consecutive seasons. Thomas has averaged 6.2 targets and 10.6 points per game since the start of 2020 and, with upcoming matchups against tight end-friendly defenses like the Seahawks (12.89 FPPG allowed to TEs), Raiders (18.2), Cowboys (13.62) and Eagles (19.11), it would be foolish to overlook him.