Uncovering top-notch waiver-wire targets is becoming increasingly difficult. However, as we turn our eyes toward the toward the fantasy playoffs there are a few players worth stashing that could pay massive dividends when we need them most. Below you'll find a mix of players to start next week, and players to stash for the stretch run as they attempt to come back from injured reserve. If the 15 players covered below aren't available in your league, don't forget to read my my weekly Deep Dive (published Mondays) to keep tabs on high-upside players potentially flying under the radar. For those who use the Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) system, I provide a suggested spend for each player at the end of their analysis. If you have more specific FAAB questions, hit me up on Twitter.
Smallwood was a trendy pickup last week, but his stock is soaring even higher heading into Monday Night Football with Ryan Mathews (knee) officially ruled out. Mathews' status could be up in the air next week, too, so Smallwood makes for a great add as a last-minute spot start this week and a stash for the stretch run. FAAB suggestion: 50 percent.
The Ravens have increased Dixon's playing time in every game since Week 7, culminating in the rookie seeing 46 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 12 versus the Bengals. He out-touched Terrance West 17 to 16 and out-gained the veteran 80 to 64. Dixon adds a more dynamic element in the passing game and should at worst continue to split work with West. He's a solid add as the Ravens get set to host the Dolphins in Week 13. FAAB suggestion: 30 percent.
Peterson has yet to be cleared to even run at full speed, but if he passes the necessary medical hurdles he could be back for the Vikings in Week 15 or 16. It's a bit of a longshot, but playoff-bound fantasy teams could stash A.D. as he'll enjoy two great matchups if he does return late in the season. The Vikings play the Colts and Packers in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively. FAAB suggestion: 10 percent.
Sims, like Peterson, remains on injured reserve, but he at least practiced this past week and is eligible to return in Week 14. Sims would figure to once again assume his change-of-pace role for the Bucs, helping spell Doug Martin and add more as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. If Sims does return in Week 14 he'd face the Saints who allow 52.5 receiving yards per game to running backs on the season. FAAB suggestion: 5 percent.
Watkins was a popular add in recent weeks, but I wanted to include him anyway just as a reminder for those in more casual leagues as he was even on the wire in a few of my leagues late this past week. Watkins caught all three of his targets in Week 12 for a team-high 80 yards, but only played 45 percent of the snaps (as expected). He'll have WR1-upside again next week when the Bills face the Raiders, whose secondary can still be beat deep. FAAB suggestion: 50 percent.
Wilson has seen 15 targets in the two weeks since he was activated from the PUP, with 11 of them coming in Week 12 against the Titans. He was Matt Barkley's go-to target on the day, but Meredith led the position in snaps and saw nine targets himself, though he caught just two of them. Both will be in play as low-end WR2s next week when the Bears host the 49ers. FAAB suggestion: 10 percent.
Last week, Mitchell saw a massive jump in playing time (season-high 84 percent of snaps) and usage with Hogan and Rob Gronkowski out. Hogan returned to action this week, which cut into Mitchell's playing time (46 percent), but both players saw increased targets once Gronk left the game with a back injury. Gronk was seen walking gingerly after the Patriots' win over the Jets and has a long history of back problems. If he misses more time, that will open up more consistent targets for players like Hogan and Mitchell. The Patriots take on the Rams next week, who were just carved up by Drew Brees. Predicting target share is tough for non-Gronk, non-Julian Edelamn players in the Pats' offense, but those in need of a spot start can add one of these two. FAAB suggestion: 10 percent.
So far, Boyd and LaFell are in a dead heat to replace A.J. Green as Andy Dalton's top wide receiver. Boyd owns a slight statistical edge, with 11 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets, while LaFell has posted seven catches for 70 yards and no scores on 18 targets. Each saw nine looks from Dalton in a tough spot against the Ravens in Week 12, though the sledding won't get any easier next week against the Eagles. For now, decide if you'd prefer to roll the dice on the steady veteran or exciting young rookie and adjust your waiver priority accordingly. FAAB suggestion: 10 percent.
Inman has seen at least six targets in every game since Week 7, and leads all Chargers wide receivers in playing time in that span as well. His six-catch, 119-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 12 was a welcome surprise, and could be a sign of things to come. Travis Benjamin played a smaller role as he works through a knee injury, and Inman had no problem picking up the slack. Next week he'll face a Buccaneers secondary that had been beaten routinely prior to an impressive Week 12 performance against the Seahawks. Inman will be a flex option at worst moving forward. FAAB suggestion: 15 percent.
Cook has yet to play in Week 12, but the way the Packers featured him in Week 11 against Washington should have caught the attention of more fantasy owners. Cook gives the Packers the dangerous size/speed combo up the middle of the field they've desperately been missing. Even if he disappoints against the Eagles on Monday night (a strong possibility), he's a solid add this week who will have a better matchup in Week 13 at home against the Texans, who have struggled at times on the road this year. FAAB suggestion: 10 percent.
McDonald has seen six or more targets in five straight games now, with 50-plus receiving yards or a touchdown in his last four games. The tight end position remains a mess (Dion Sims and Lance Kendricks were top-five scorers this week), so McDonald's consistent usage shouldn't be ignore any longer. His next opponent, the Bears, will be without both of their starting inside linebackers, which could open up the middle of the field even more. McDonald is at least worth streaming next week in a good matchup while he's on a bit of a hot streak. FAAB suggestion: 5 percent.
Kap might not be a franchise quarterback in real life, but he could be the face of your fantasy franchise for the rest of the season. Kap is averaging 21.82 fantasy points per game since becoming the starter in Week 6, with three 22-plus point outings in his last four games and a week-leading 33.14 fantasy points heading into Monday night. His upcoming schedule features cushy matchups against the Bears, Jets, Falcons and Rams. Those who streamed him in either of the past two weeks could legitimately roll with Kap as the starter from here on out. FAAB suggestion: 15 percent.