Week 12 Starts and Sits
Bye Weeks: Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams
Matt Ryan (at New Orleans)
Matt Ryan and the Falcons had a rough go of things in week 11 at home against the Cowboys. All things equal, Ryan had a strong showing against one of the premier pass defenses in the NFL, throwing for 291 yards and a touchdown (plus 1 interception). He gets a short week (but favorable) matchup Thursday night against the Saints in week 12. While the Saints defense is coming off back to back solid performances (holding the Bengals to 14 points in week 10 and completely shutting down the Eagles to the tune of 7 points in week 11), this matchup still has great potential. Even with the strong performances, the Saints are still one of the worst teams in the NFL against QBs this season, allowing 22.1 points per week to the position even with their shutdown effort against the Eagles. Ryan is playing excellent football this season and has the perimeter weapons to exploit this matchup.
Nick Mullens (at Tampa Bay)
Nick Mullens struggled in his follow up performance against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football (in week 10), throwing for 250 yards and a touchdown with 2 interceptions. While the encore wasn’t as good as the main performance, it was very encouraging that Mullens threw the ball 39 times in a losing effort. Mullens gets a perfect matchup coming off his bye week, drawing a Buccaneer defense that is a sieve to opposing quarterbacks (allowing a league-worst 23.4 points per week) and are starting Jameis Winston again (which means plenty of extra opportunities to throw the ball given his history of turnovers). Mullens may not have a clear starting future after this season, but he’s a great streaming option this week.
Jameis Winston (vs San Francisco), Eli Manning (at Philadelphia), Baker Mayfield (at Cincinnati)
Speaking of Jameis Winston, he should have an opportunity to put up numbers in week 12. Yes, he does have 11 turnovers in 5 games. And yes, his best performances have come in relief efforts in games he didn’t even start. But he is averaging 276 yards a game and has thrown the ball at least 35 times in each of his 3 starts. The 49ers are a bottom 10 passing defense this year (allowing 19.4 points to quarterbacks this season) and have only generated 2 interceptions on the season. That number will probably go up, but Winston is a solid play regardless. The Eli Manning resurgence tour powers on! Since the noise for anybody except Eli Manning became deafening (roughly 2017 but especially after a 2 interception performance against Washington in week 8), Manning has been on fire, throwing for 419 yards and 5 touchdowns (to 0 interceptions) the last two weeks against San Francisco and Tampa Bay. While those aren’t the most intimidating matchups, Manning has still been able to get the ball out quick to exploit these teams. Manning gets another blessing in the form of the injury-riddled Eagles defense that just got absolutely embarrassed by Drew Brees and the Saints. Against the Saints alone, the Eagles lost Sidney Jones, Jordan Hicks, Avonte Maddux, and Rasul Douglas to injury. While none of them are season-ending, all of them could cause problems in week 12. The bye week didn’t come at the best time for Baker Mayfield as he was on a roll in the 4 weeks prior. In that time, Mayfield accumulated 908 yards with 9 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions, culminating in a 216 yard, 3 touchdown performance in a win against the Falcons. Mayfield has a prime opportunity to build upon those numbers coming off the bye, facing the bottom 2 Bengals passing defense that is allowing 23.3 points per week to signal callers.
Nick Chubb (at Cincinnati)
In terms of pure volume, you’re going to struggle to find as sure of a thing as Nick Chubb since the Carlos Hyde trade. In the 4 weeks leading up to the bye week, Chubb got at least 20 touches per game three times, scored a touchdown in 3 of 4 games, and registered at least 1 catch in 3 matchups. He exploded against the Falcons in week 10, rushing 20 times for 176 yards (including the longest play of the season; a 92-yard touchdown run) and a touchdown while adding 3 catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Chubb gets a great matchup against the Bengals, a defense that just allowed 265 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns to the Ravens.
Marlon Mack (at Miami)
Marlon Mack has been relatively quiet since his 132 yard, 2-touchdown performance against the Raiders in week 8. Against the Jaguars and Titans, Mack has rushed the ball 38 times for 90 yards and 1 touchdown, with a bulk of that coming against the Titans in a game the Colts handily controlled. Luckily for Mack, his week 12 matchup, the Miami Dolphins, are one of the worst teams against the rush this season, giving up 29.6 fantasy points per week to running backs. As long as Mack makes it through the week healthy, he should be poised to explode in week 12.
Mark Ingram (vs Atlanta), Joe Mixon (vs Cleveland), Gus Edwards (vs Oakland)
As the Saints offense rolls, so does Mark Ingram. Against a stout Eagles run defense, Ingram compiled 16 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints blew out the Eagles in what was billed as a top matchup. Since returning from his suspension, Ingram has had double-digit touches in every game he’s played in. His emergence proves problematic given the fact that the Falcons are the worst team in football against the run, allowing 33.3 points per week to the position and coming off a 30 touch (7 catch) 201-yard performance against Ezekiel Elliott in week 11. Things could have gone better for Joe Mixon in week 11 against the Ravens. While Mixon did have a touchdown, he managed only 14 yards on 12 carries (although he did have 38 yards on 3 catches). Lucky for Mixon (and the Bengals), the Browns defense is nowhere near as capable against running backs, allowing 29.0 fantasy points per week and 12 touchdowns to running backs on the ground this season. Unless you’re from Staten Island (or the New Jersey area), you probably hadn’t heard of Gus Edwards until week 11. The undrafted free agent from Rutgers got secondary rushing targets (to Lamar Jackson, of course) against the Bengals and made the most of it, compiling 17 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown. According to John Harbaugh, Edwards has stood out in practice each week and earned his reps due to his special teams work. There is always a risk taking a chance on a one-hit wonder, but if Jackson keeps starting (he probably will) and you are missing Kareem Hunt or Todd Gurley in week 12 due to byes, you might as well roll the dice.
Tre’Quan Smith (vs Atlanta)
After a few relatively quiet weeks, Tre’Quan Smith blew up against the Eagles, catching 10 of his 13 targets for 157 yards and a touchdown. It is always difficult relying on any receiver not named Mike Thomas in the big easy, but Smith has a defined role as the field stretcher in the high octane Saints offense that is putting up points at a ridiculous rate. He gets a prime matchup against a bottom 5 Atlanta defense in the passing game, giving up 40.2 points per week to opposing wideouts.
Jarvis Landry (at Cincinnati)
Knowing Jarvis Landry, he’s spent the last 2 weeks fuming over his underwhelming performance against the Falcons before the Browns bye. In week 10, he caught 2 of his 5 targets for 22 yards in a Browns victory. Undoubtedly, the Browns have had an extra week to scheme how to get Landry more involved in the offense, which is bad news for the Bengals bottom 6 defense against wide receivers (allowing 40.3 points per week to opposing wide receivers). It is also worth noting that number is somewhat better than it should be given how little the Lamar Jackson and the Ravens aired the ball out that week.
Josh Gordon (at NY Jets), Amari Cooper (vs Washington), Marquise Goodwin (at Tampa Bay)
The last time we saw the New England Patriots offense, they were getting shellacked against the Titans defense. While Josh Gordon had an inefficient game (caught only 4 of 12 targets), he did have 81 yards leading to a solid yet unspectacular fantasy day. Gordon and the Patriots should have an easier time finding open windows in week 12, drawing a Jets defense that was allowing 40.8 fantasy points to opposing receivers heading into their bye. In his third game for America’s Team, Amari Cooper saw his lowest production totals despite a team win. Cooper was targeted only 5 times (previous low was 8), catching 3 of them for just 36 yards as the Cowboys elected to exploit Atlanta with Zeke Elliott. The good news is Cooper will have a short turnaround to try and bounce back, drawing a Redskins secondary that is allowing a robust 38.6 fantasy points per week to wideouts and starting Colt McCoy after the gruesome leg injury to Alex Smith. Admittedly, Marquise Goodwin is a risky play given he was evaluated twice for a concussion in his last game action against the New York Giants in week 10. Despite being removed twice (both times he tested negative for a concussion), Goodwin was able to catch 4 of 5 targets for 69 yards in his most consistent performance since his week 6 game against the Packers. Goodwin has been boom or bust all season given the tenuous quarterback situation in San Francisco, he draws a fantastic matchup in week 12 against the porous Buccaneers secondary, which is allowing 42.4 fantasy points per week.
Chris Herndon (vs New England)
Going into their bye week, Chris Herndon was establishing a clear and consistent role in the New York Jets offense. Since week 6 against the Colts, Herndon was on the receiving end of at least 2 targets per game, getting a minimum of 34 yards in 4 of 5 games and 3 touchdowns in that time frame. Herndon has a fantastic matchup against a slow Patriots linebacking corp that has allowed 15.4 fantasy points to tight ends per week this season.
George Kittle (at Tampa Bay)
Odds are someone in your league has George Kittle, and if you have him you’re starting him every week. Kittle has been absolutely on fire since Nick Mullen took over as the starting quarterback, combining for 13 catches (on 14 targets) for 191 yards and a touchdown. Kittle has a fantastic chance to be the top tight end in fantasy in week 12, drawing a beautiful matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their bottom 3 defense against tight ends (allowing 15.9 points per week to the position).
Nick Vannett (at Carolina), David Njoku (at Cincinnati), Jeff Heuerman (vs Pittsburgh)
Nick Vannett struggled against a difficult matchup against Green Bay, catching 1 of his 2 targets for 17 yards and falling just short of the goal line in week 11. While Vannett has had only 1 catch in 3 of the last 4 games, he still has scored twice in that time span. He’s definitely a risky play, but he gets an amazing matchup in the form of the Carolina defense that has allowed a league-worst 18.5 points per week to tight ends. The David Njoku rollercoaster continued heading into the Browns bye week as he hauled in his 1 target for 18 yards against the Falcons. Njoku should have a chance to rebound after the bye week, drawing a strong matchup against the Bengals, a bottom five defense against tight ends allowing 15.8 fantasy points per week to the position. Following his week 9 emergence (10 catches on 11 targets for 83 yards and a touchdown against the Texans), Jeff Heuerman had another strong day against the Chargers in week 11. Heuerman caught 4 passes for 20 yards, but he did receive 5 targets. The Chargers are a difficult matchup against tight ends, so it’s entirely possible Heuerman finds more room to operate against a Steelers defense that is giving up 14.5 fantasy points per week to tight ends.
Matt Stafford (vs Chicago)
The Lions got a shocking win in week 11 against the Carolina Panthers, with Matt Stafford having a steady (but generally unspectacular) fantasy day. Stafford completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 220 yards and a touchdown without throwing an interception. While Stafford does get the benefit of a Bears defense playing in the 12:30 Thanksgiving game (after being in the Sunday Night game), that doesn’t necessarily mean he is a great play. Marvis Jones Jr and Luke Willson are ailing, and the Lions will be missing explosive rookie running back Kerryon Johnson. Even with a very short week, the Bears aren’t a defense to ignore, so be wary plugging Stafford into your starting lineup this week.
Derek Carr (at Baltimore)
Derek Carr wasn’t amazing but got the job done against the Arizona Cardinals in week 11 throwing for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns in a rare winning effort for the Raiders. It was a relatively surprising result, given the fact that Arizona ranks as the 2nd best defense against passers in the NFL. Things don’t get any easier for Carr in week 12 as he has a road tilt against a Ravens pass defense allowing a paltry 16.7 points per week to quarterbacks and coming off a shutdown performance against Andy Dalton.
Blake Bortles (at Buffalo), DeShaun Watson (vs Tennessee), Kirk Cousins (vs Green Bay)
Blake Bortles continues to baffle in 2018, as he was only able to muster 104 passing yards and a 55.6 completion percentage in a plus matchup against the Steelers. A good amount of this can be attributed to the Jaguars focus on getting Leonard Fournette as many touches as humanly possible against a usually stout Steelers run defense. Knowing my luck, Bortles will blow up this game and throw for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns, but that seems unlikely considering he is traveling up to Buffalo to face the stingiest pass defense in the NFL (12.9 points per week to quarterbacks). DeShaun Watson failed to capitalize on a good matchup in week 11 against the Redskins, throwing for only 208 yards and a touchdown (2 interceptions) against a solid but not stellar Redskins secondary. Watson gets a shot at redemption against a typically strong Titans secondary (16.0 fantasy points against QB’s per week) that just got absolutely picked apart by Andrew Luck and the Colts. Be wary of Watson in week 12. For all intents and purposes, Kirk Cousins actually had a solid showing against the Bears on Sunday Night, completing 65% of his passes for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns (also 2 interceptions). The greater concern is the fact that Cousins simply isn’t very good in primetime affairs, with his career record in primetime games dropping to 4-12 in that loss. Equally concerning for Cousins is the fact that the Packers pass defense isn’t too far behind the Bears in terms of fantasy points given up to QB’s weekly (16.6 for Green Bay vs 16.1 for Chicago).
LeSean McCoy (vs Jacksonville)
Last we saw LeSean McCoy, he was running like it was 2013 against the Jets, accumulating 26 carries for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Jets in a game Matt Barkley started. Even with fresh legs off the bye week, McCoy has a daunting task as the Jaguars seemingly used their week 9 bye to figure out how to stop the run. Since the bye week, the Jags have held James Conner to 9 carries for 25 yards and Marlon Mack to 12 carries for 29 yards. Given the lack of perimeter weapons in Buffalo, that could be bad news for fantasy owners with McCoy shares in week 12.
Lamar Miller (vs Tennessee)
Lamar Miller remains a high volume running back option in Houston, carrying the ball 20 times for 86 yards and adding 3 catches for 22 yards against a solid Redskins run defense in week 11. While the lack of redzone touches remains confusing, it is nice that Miller continues to see steady workloads. Unfortunately, Miller draws a stout Tennessee run defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2018 (18.6 per week) despite giving up 5 touchdowns on the ground. Be wary of Miller in week 12.
Royce Freeman (vs Pittsburgh), Doug Martin (at Baltimore), Theo Riddick (vs Chicago)
Even though Royce Freeman returned to the backfield in week 11 against the Chargers, Denver’s running game ran through Phillip Lindsay. Freeman was able to score but carried the ball only 7 times for 23 yards in a tough fought victory against the Chargers. The Steelers are a top 10 defense against the run in 2018 (20.5 points per week) and have been attacked by pass-catching backs more than traditional runners this season. This seems like another week to store Freeman on the bench as he works back to a more consistent carry load. As a popular week 11 play, Doug Martin found a way to disappoint against the Cardinals (although that could be chalked up to an ankle injury). Martin parlayed 10 carries into 51 yards and 1 catch into 6 yards against a bottom 5 run defense in Arizona. If Martin does play in week 12, there is no guarantee he will be healthy, which is problematic facing the top running defense in the NFL this season in Baltimore (17.6 points per week to running backs). Theo Riddick does figure to see more work against the Bears in the absence of Kerryon Johnson, but he does have very limited upside. He has put up catch totals of 5, 6, and 7 in the last three weeks, but has only surpassed 40 receiving yards once in those games and has been a non-factor in the running game (1 carry for 0 yards). It will be tempting to play him in a short week, but be cautious.
Donte Moncrief (at Buffalo)
Moncrief followed up a promising revenge game against the Colts (4 targets, 3 catches, 98 yards, and a touchdown) with an absolute clunker against the Steelers, hauling in 1 of his 2 targets for 11 yards. It is impossible to rely on a receiver as long as Blake Bortles continues to play inconsistently, but even more so in week 12. Moncrief figures to see a steady diet of Tre’Davious White in the Buffalo secondary, a team yielding only 29.4 points per week to fantasy wideouts.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (at Minnesota)
If you put all your faith in MVS against Seattle in week 11 you were undoubtedly disappointed with the results. Against the Seahawks, Valdes-Scantling took a backseat to DeVante Adams and Aaron Jones, collecting 1 of his 3 targets for an insignificant 8 yards. Valdes-Scantling has all the speed in the world, but it is irrelevant if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t feel like he can consistently trust him to get open. Week 12 provides a difficult matchup in Minnesota, against the 4th best defense (30.6 points per week) in the NFL against wide receivers.
Josh Doctson (at Dallas), Nelson Agholor (vs NY Giants), Corey Davis (at Houston)
Despite being highly targeted (7), Josh Doctson sputtered to a 3 catch, 32-yard performance against the Texans defense in week 11. Not only was that discouraging, the Alex Smith injury (and re-emergence of Colt McCoy) could prove detrimental to Doctson’s value as the Redskins figure to go to a run-heavy approach filled with check down opportunities for Jordan Reed and the backs. Stash Doctson on your bench while the offense gets acclimated to a new signal caller, especially against the Cowboys defense allowing only 30 points per week to receivers. At least we will always have 2017 Nelson Agholor. In what should have been a prime matchup (especially with the overwhelming New Orleans lead), Nelson Agholor put up a zero catch performance on 2 targets. One target was underthrown and the other was in the 4th quarter. There are just too many mouths to feed in Philadelphia right now with Alshon Jeffrey, Zach Ertz, and Golden Tate commanding the most attention from Carson Wentz. Even if the gameplan does expand to include Agholor in week 12, he draws a tough matchup with a Giants secondary who are allowing only 33.4 fantasy points per week to wideouts. The Corey Davis enigma continues, as he followed up his 7/125/1 line against the Texans in week 10 with a 2 catch (4 targets) 30-yard clunker against the Colts. Making matters worse, Marcus Mariota left the game with a stinger, which means he may go back to his inconsistent nature as he tries to play through another injury. If Gabbert does get the start, he is highly unlikely to utilize the deep play ability of Davis, which severely caps his ability to break out against the Texans secondary he torched just 2 weeks ago.
Evan Engram (at Philadelphia)
Evan Engram made the best of his 2 targets against the Buccaneers in week 11, catching both for 66 yards. The Giants showed a dedication to getting the ball in Saquon Barkley’s hands in week 11, which resulted in only 18 pass attempts for Eli Manning. That trend is likely to continue in week 12, which is less than stellar news for Engram as he faces an Eagles defense allowing only 8.3 points per week to tight ends on the season.
Kyle Rudolph (vs Green Bay)
Kyle Rudolph continues to carve out a consistent role in the Vikings offense with new signal-caller Kirk Cousins. Against the Bears, Rudolph caught 2 of 5 targets for only 13 yards in a losing effort. Rudolph has struggled mightily in the new look offense this season, failing to eclipse 40 yards in the last 5 weeks and being held without a touchdown for the 7th consecutive game. He gets a tough matchup in week 12 against a Packers defense allowing only 8.6 fantasy points per week to tight ends.
Austin Hooper (at New Orleans), Antonio Gates (vs Arizona), Greg Olsen (vs Seattle)
Austin Hooper had a solid performance against the Cowboys in week 11, catching 4 of 8 targets for 27 yards in a losing effort. He draws a more difficult matchup in week 12 against the newly resurgent Saints defense allowing 8.3 points per week to tight ends. In their previous matchup in week 3, Hooper collected 3 catches (on 4 targets) for 23 yards. Antonio Gates turned back time in week 11 against the Broncos, catching 5 of his 7 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers lost a heartbreaker to the Broncos. While Gates does have some upside (especially in the red zone), he encounters a much worse matchup against the Cardinals, who are allowing only 9.9 points per week to tight ends despite allowing 3 touchdowns to the position this season. Greg Olsen got an underwhelming workload in week 11 against the Lions, catching only 2 of 3 targets for 9 yards, although one of the catches was in the end zone. Week 12 poses a difficult matchup with the Seattle Seahawks defense that is allowing a paltry 10.1 points to tight ends in 2018.