Waiver Wire: Building best squad for playoff run

Heads up, people: We have a game scheduled for Tuesday Wednesday this week, which means waivers will be processed on Friday morning. Please don’t yell at us when your offers are still pending on Thursday.

Also, we’ve now reached the point in the season when you really need to do whatever is necessary to get the next week’s fantasy win. If that means blowing the rest of your waiver budget on a highly streamable QB or D/ST, then do what you have to do. You can’t take those funds into 2021.

Quarterbacks deserving attention

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (40% rostered)

The Kirk Cousins experience has been uncharacteristically smooth and dud-free in recent weeks. Life is good when you’re throwing to obnoxiously talented rookie receivers like this guy…

Cousins passed for 307 yards, three scores and zero picks in the comeback win over Carolina, connecting with Justin Jefferson on a pair of touchdowns. Game-flow led to 45 pass attempts for Cousins, which we won’t often see from this run-focused team. Still, we gotta give him all kinds of credit for delivering a big performance in a week in which both Adam Thielen and Irv Smith were sidelined.

Over Minnesota’s past four games, Cousins has tossed 11 touchdown passes and just one interception. He entered Sunday near the top of the leaderboard in intended air-yards per target (9.1) and leading the NFL in yards per attempt (8.9), so he’s making the most of his limited opportunities to throw. He gets the Jaguars next week, so the streak of multi-TD games should continue.

Recommended offer, assuming $100 budget: $12

Other QBs to consider: Ryan Fitzpatrick (it sure appears that Fitz gives Miami their best chance to win, but Coach Flores keeps reaffirming his commitment to Tua), Philip Rivers (he’s averaged 297 passing yards and two scores over his previous three games and he gets Houston twice in his next three), Jalen Hurts (just in case the Eagles do, in fact, decide to take a long look at their non-Wentz options), Mitchell Trubisky (garbage-time began in the second quarter on Sunday night, allowing him to produce a useful fantasy line; Chicago’s rest-of-season schedule is a gift, beginning with Detroit this week).

Running backs on the wire

Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers (34%)

It’s rare that we promote a player who’s yet to play in a given week, but, hey … this is not a typical year. As of this writing, the Steelers are still scheduled to host a junior varsity version of the Ravens on Wednesday, and Snell remains widely available. He’s likely to see a substantial workload against Baltimore this week after James Conner was placed on the COVID-IR list. (Here’s hoping for a quick and problem-free recovery for Conner, a cancer survivor.)

Pittsburgh is of course a heavy favorite, so Snell should benefit from positive game script. He’s not the flashiest runner in the player pool, but he was a #BSOHL club member this offseason and he’s been effective near the goal-line. Snell also gave us 113 rushing yards back in the opener against the Giants, you might recall. For however long Conner is out, Snell and Anthony McFarland will find themselves at the top of the team’s backfield hierarchy. They’ll have a tight turnaround this week ahead of a Sunday matchup with Washington.

Offer: $12

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (29%)

Akers led the Rams in rushing in Sunday’s loss, thanks largely to a wonderfully blocked 61-yard run on which he went untouched for the first 57-or-so yards…

You’d prefer to see him switch the ball to his outside arm (and not get chased down by every DB on the field), but we’ll take the stats without regard to style points. Akers punctuated the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge, so he’s spiked in back-to-back weeks. Darrell Henderson led LA’s backfield in touches (10) and Malcolm Brown led in snaps (25), so we continue to have a three-man committee on our hands. For now, view Akers as a flex with potential. The Rams travel to Arizona this week to face a bottom-third run defense allowing 4.5 YPC.

Offer: $11

Devontae Booker, Las Vegas Raiders (9%)

Josh Jacobs suffered an ankle injury (while fumbling) during Sunday’s humiliation at Atlanta, so we’ll be attentive to his practice status throughout the week. If Jacobs can’t go against the Jets next Sunday, Booker will find himself in a terrific spot against the NFL’s least explosive team. He’s been plenty efficient on a per-touch basis this season, averaging 5.5 YPC and catching 11 of his 14 targets. Booker is just two weeks removed from an 81-yard, 2-touchdown performance feast against Denver, so he’s fully capable of producing useful fantasy lines when presented an opportunity. Keep him in your plans.

Offer: $8

Additional RBs of interest: Jordan Wilkins (he’s running behind Nyheim Hines, but Jonathan Taylor is out of the mix at the moment and he’ll face Houston in two of his next three games), Alexander Mattison (he’s an understudy with league-winning upside if injuries created a path to touches), Frank Gore (he’s like 15 years past his prime but still chugging along, coming off a 21-touch game), Ito Smith (because it turns out he, not Brian Hill, was the back who benefited from Gurley’s absence; unfortunately, the Saints D is up next).

Wide Receivers and tight ends to add

Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers (39%)

Look, it will never make any sense that Green Bay passed on a phenomenal wide receiver class in the 2020 draft so they could select depth at the two positions at which they were totally set. It may eventually cost them, deep in the playoffs. But for now, the Packers are doing just fine. It helps that 12 can do ridiculous stuff like this…

That’s just filthy. Unfair. A little bit cruel.

Lazard is back from IR and again seeing his usual half-dozen targets. At 6-foot-5, he’s an appealing red-zone presence tied to an MVP-level passer. Green Bay doesn’t have a stay-away matchup for the rest of the season (Phi, at Det, Car, Ten), so he’ll remain in the flex conversation through the fantasy playoffs.

Offer: $8

Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs (44%)

Watkins might go unnoticed while your league is placing offers this week, because he was relatively quiet in his return from injury (4-38-0). But please take note of the fact that he was on the field for 72% of his team’s offensive snaps and he drew seven targets from Patrick Mahomes. He’s a burner who routinely faces friendly coverage situations, considering his team context. If you’re looking for a cheap share of the league’s most dangerous offense, go get him. Any Chiefs receiver who sees significant snaps is a multi-touchdown threat, regardless of matchup.

Offer: $8

Various assorted WR options: TY Hilton (oh, hey, look who finally joined the fantasy party for Indy, finally hauling in a touchdown pass that wasn’t negated by penalty), Jalen Reagor (gets a friendly schedule in the money weeks, with Arizona and Dallas in Weeks 15-16), Breshad Perriman (he didn’t disappear with Darnold at the controls, drawing eight targets), Nelson Agholor (caught five of his six targets in a shameful loss at Atlanta and he gets the Jets next week), Collin Johnson (the 6-foot-6 rookie is coming off a 96-yard effort, but it’s tough to see a path to usefulness when Chark returns from injury). Keke Coutee (he’s certainly not a direct replacement for the suspended Will Fuller, but those targets gotta go somewhere)

Tight ends to consider: Trey Burton (he’s scored in back-to-back weeks and saw six targets on Sunday), Logan Thomas (made a return visit to the end zone after a few weeks away), Jordan Reed (only caught two balls in Sunday’s win, but saw six targets), Dalton Schultz (because any time you can snag Andy Dalton’s fourth option, you have to do it. Oldest rule in fantasy).

Streamable defense

San Francisco 49ers (38%)

First of all, this group is coming off a terrific performance against the Rams, complete with two sacks, four takeaways and a defensive TD. Robert Saleh’s squad was awesome (and Jared Goff was not). They face Buffalo on Monday night in Week 13, which is clearly not a layup. But we can trust Josh Allen to put the ball at risk a time or two (or three). Looking beyond this week, the Niners will face Washington and Dallas in Weeks 14-15.

Offer: $2

Follow the Yahoo fantasy crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Minty Bets, Dalton Del Don, Matt Harmon, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski and Tank Williams.

Listen to the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast