The purpose of a waiver-wire column should be to highlight players who may be on the verge of a breakout. After all, trying to land that player after his breakout is far more difficult. Additionally, waiver-wire moves at this point of the season should be made to add high-upside depth for the fantasy playoffs or improve your chances of winning the upcoming week.
Not all of these columns will feature a future stud or no-brainer add, but we can usually find help for our fantasy teams if we try hard enough. Furthermore, I will try to avoid recommending players coming off a 10-catch or three-touchdown game because it should be incredibly obvious to most that they need to be on a roster at that point.
The players listed here are available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues and stand at least a decent chance of making some kind of impact in the coming weeks:
Fantasy Football Week 13 Waiver Wire Pickups: Quarterbacks
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 12: 278 passing yards and five carries for five yards
Fantasy managers would have to be pretty desperate to start Pickett at this point of the season, but perhaps the most important thing the Pittsburgh offense gave its fans in its first game without former OC Matt Canada is hope.
The second-year quarterback did not throw for a touchdown for the third straight game but set season highs in completion percentage (72.7) and passing yards (278) in Week 12.
The primary reason Pickett gets a nod here, however, is that the Steelers' Week 13 opponent - Arizona - lacks the personnel in the secondary to keep up with the likes of Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth. The Cardinals are also coming off a game in which they allowed Matthew Stafford to throw for four touchdowns, making him the sixth quarterback to throw for multiple scores against them this season.
ESPN ownership: 15.7 percent
Fantasy Football Week 13 Waiver Wire Pickups: Running Backs
Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears
Week 12: 10 carries for 35 yards; five catches on five targets for 40 yards
Johnson took advantage of the absence of D'Onta Foreman (ankle, shin) in Week 12, out-touching starter Khalil Herbert 15-8. There is no way to know right now if game script was the motivation for this (Johnson is considered to be good in pass protection and Chicago was facing the blitz-happy Vikings) or if Week 12 was the start of an increased role for the rookie.
Foreman should be ready to return to roll once the Bears return from their Week 13 bye, which will likely turn this backfield into a low-upside three-headed committee. However, there is also a slight chance that Chicago is looking for any reason to play its fourth-round draft pick as often as possible with virtually no chance of making the playoffs. That is enough of a reason to stash him.
ESPN ownership: 22.1 percent
Other priority add(s): Rico Dowdle, Cowboys (9.2 percent); D'Ernest Johnson, Jaguars (0.4)
Fantasy Football Week 13 Waiver Wire Pickups: Wide Receivers
A.T. Perry, New Orleans Saints
Week 12: one catch for four yards on two targets
Perry's Week 12 output does not suggest he is on the verge of a breakthrough performance. However, there is a distinct possibility New Orleans has little choice but to pepper him with about 6-8 targets in Week 13 after taking several hits to its depth chart at the position.
It is important to note that Perry is a risky bet even if the aforementioned three wideouts miss the team's Week 13 game against the Lions, but fantasy managers may not have many options during a week in which six teams are on bye.
Two potential feathers in Perry's hat: Detroit ranks seventh in most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and has given up six double-digit fantasy efforts to the position since their Week 9 bye, including a 20-point performance in each of their three games over that stretch.
ESPN ownership: 0.6 percent
Other potential strong adds (especially in deeper leagues): Tutu Atwell, Rams (24.2); Khalil Shakir, Bills (7.6); Jonathan Mingo, Panthers (7.6); Hunter Renfrow, Raiders (3.9); Justin Watson, Chiefs (2.2); Jalin Hyatt, Giants (1.7); Dontayvion Wicks, Packers (0.5); Greg Dortch, Cardinals (0.3); Cedric Tillman, Browns (0.2)
Fantasy Football Week 13 Waiver Wire Pickups: Tight Ends
Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints
Week 12: four catches for 45 yards on seven targets
One of the more popular sleeper picks in fantasy entering the season, Johnson has been a virtual non-factor in New Orleans for most of the season when he has been healthy. (He missed four games in October with a calf injury.) Johnson posted his first notable game of the year in Week 9 (5-29-1) but followed it up with a dud in the team's final pre-bye game in Week 10.
Due in part to the injury attrition mentioned above with Perry, Johnson could very well be a serviceable streamer at the very least in Week 13 with Olave, Thomas and Shaheed unlikely to play. Johnson's seven-target Week 12 was the most involved he has been in this offense all season and now he may be needed as much as ever in the passing game against a Detroit team that can score with anyone.
ESPN ownership: 8.3 percent
Other potential strong add(s): Michael Mayer, Raiders (6.5); Tucker Kraft, Packers (0.9); Tanner Hudson, Bengals (0.7)