Fantasy football last-minute pickups for Week 12: Carson Wentz, Texans offense among top options

Carson Wentz has been feeding the ball to Jonathan Taylor the past few games, but can that game script hold up against Tom Brady's Buccaneers? Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire

Each week of the NFL season, we will identify fantasy football waiver-wire pickups specifically for those of you looking for streaming options in deeper formats (including IDP leagues). These are players available in a majority of ESPN Fantasy leagues (or close) who have enticing matchups in the week ahead that make them worthy of consideration for your lineups.

While you might notice some overlap with Field Yates' pickup column that publishes on Mondays, an important distinction is that the options mentioned in this column are focused solely on this week's matchup and not the players' values for the remainder of the season.


Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts vs. Buccaneers (45.0% rostered)

Wentz will play against the Buccaneers' defense, which allows the ninth-most fantasy points per game (18.65) to opposing quarterbacks. In his last two games, Wentz has averaged just 8.57 points, but it's important to remember that from Weeks 5-9 he averaged 23 points. It's likely that Wentz will have a similar performance against the Buccaneers because he will be more involved as a passer and won't rely entirely on the Colts' running game to keep up with Tom Brady and his playmakers.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers at Vikings (14.9%)

Having all his offensive playmakers healthy and thriving, Garoppolo has scored 19.4 points per contest over the last four games and has the fourth-highest yards per dropback (10.05) and a completion percentage of 70.5% over the same period. With the 49ers' running game humming and Garoppolo taking advantage of play-action passing opportunities, he's a quality streamer against a Vikings defense that allows the seventh-most points per game to quarterbacks (19.2).

Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team vs. Seahawks (18.8%)

Heinicke can be streamed against a Seahawks defense that allowed Arizona Cardinals backup quarterback Colt McCoy to throw for 328 yards and a touchdown against it. He averages 21 points per game and has a high floor thanks to his rushing ability (5.15 attempts per game). Heinicke will likely have starting tight end Logan Thomas back, which gives him another playmaker.

Tyrod Taylor, Houston Texans vs. Jets (20.0%)

Taylor is a good streamer against the Jets, who allow the 11th-most points to quarterbacks (18.6), and his rushing ability also gives him a high ceiling, as he demonstrated with his two rushing TDs in Week 11. The Jets allow the most passing yards per game (282.2) to opposing quarterbacks, which also bodes well for him as a passer.

Running back

Devonta Freeman, Baltimore Ravens vs. Browns (59.9%)

Over the last five games, Freeman has averaged 13.2 touches and 13.8 points. Freeman led Baltimore's backfield in touches against the Chicago Bears even with Latavius Murray back. With an offensive line that has the third-highest run block win rate against a Browns defense that allows the 15th-most points per game to running backs, he's a flex option.

Ty Johnson, New York Jets at Texans (25.1%)

The absence of Michael Carter is notable because he averaged 19.2 touches per game from Weeks 7-10. Johnson would be a better choice to replace Carter, because he has been more efficient this season when considering points per touch (1.26 compared to Coleman's 0.55), and is more likely to lead the team in touches because of his receiving ability. The Texans rank 10th in points allowed (25) to running backs.

Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans vs. Jets (5.9%)

The Jets' defense has allowed more points per game to running backs this season than any other (37.4), which is good for Burkhead, since he led the Texans' backfield with 18 rushing attempts last week. Considering the Texans rank next-to-last in run block win rate, this could be one of the few matchups where the offensive line has an edge. Burkhead is an option you can consider against the Jets based on anticipated volume.

Wide receiver

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons at Jaguars (19.0%)

Gage has 19 targets in the Falcons' last three games. While Gage's production hasn't been great without Calvin Ridley, a matchup against the Jaguars' defense, which allows the seventh-most points per game to receivers, makes him a streamer.

Tight end

Evan Engram, New York Giants vs. Eagles (28.6%)

Over his last four games, Engram has averaged five targets. Unfortunately, he averaged only 27.2 receiving yards and scored two total touchdowns during that period. Nevertheless, Engram is a streamer against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that allows 19 points to tight ends per game.

Defense/special teams

Houston Texans vs. Jets (40.8%)

Last week, the Texans defense had five takeaways against the Tennessee Titans. It hosts a Jets offense that has averaged 337.7 yards per game (21st) and 17.8 points per game (27th). New York leads the NFL in fantasy points allowed to defenses.


Joey Slye, Washington Football Team vs. Seahawks (11.4%)

Slye has made all five of his field goal attempts while converting all five of his extra-point tries during his first two games with Washington. He's in a good spot against a struggling Seahawks defense.

Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers vs. Vikings (12.3%)

Since returning from injured reserve three games ago, Gould is averaging 9.3 points per game. Given how dominant the 49ers offense has been as of late, he can exceed that average against the Vikings defense that allows the fourth-most points per game (9.2) to kickers.

Individual Defensive Players (IDP)

Defensive line

James Smith-Williams, Washington Football Team vs. Seahawks (0.1%)

The absence of Chase Young gives Smith-Williams more snaps and he didn't disappoint last week against the Panthers with six tackles and a sack. The seventh-round pick is going places.


Alex Singleton, Philadelphia Eagles at Giants (23.8%)

Because of Davion Taylor's injury, Singleton played his most snaps (89%) of the season last week. Despite his fluctuating snap share, his 83 tackles rank among the top 15.

Defensive back

Eric Murray, Houston Texans vs. Jets (0.5%)

With 19 tackles and an interception in two games since Lonnie Johnson was moved to cornerback, Murray has stepped up.