Fantasy Football Week 12: Players to start or sit

Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 12 lineups.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Atlanta Falcons

Start: Derek Carr, Russell Gage

The Falcons have allowed a whopping 8.4 YPA and the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, while Carr has the third-best Passer Rating when not under pressure. It’s an especially good matchup for Carr, as the Falcons have quietly been the stingiest defense against fantasy backs recently but are vulnerable to Las Vegas’ strength, allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends this season.

[Week 12 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Julio Jones is highly questionable, while Calvin Ridley remains banged up, so Gage should continue to see good targets (he got 12 last week) in a game indoors with one of this week’s highest over/unders. Moreover, the Raiders have been gashed for the most fantasy points to the slot over the last eight weeks.

Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots

Start: Christian Kirk, James White

Kirk disappointed in a prime matchup last week but gets another one Sunday versus a Patriots secondary that’s yielded an NFL-high 8.7 YPA this season, and it sets up nicely with Stephon Gilmore likely shadowing DeAndre Hopkins. After looking historically good at one point last year, the Patriots’ defense continues to rank last in DVOA.

White is back on the fantasy radar after Rex Burkhead went down for the season, and New England enters this matchup with a huge advantage in the trenches. White is hardly guaranteed to see a bunch of targets with a mobile QB as a teammate, but he saw nine last week, and Burkhead had been sneaky productive in PPR leagues over the last month in the same role.

New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals

Start: Sterling Shepard

Sit: All Bengals

William Jackson will likely be shadowing Darius Slayton, while the Bengals have allowed the most fantasy points to Shepard’s primary side this season, and it’s been more than two years since he’s seen fewer than six targets in a game he fully played. Daniel Jones is also a fine start this week against a Bengals defense that’s been the most vulnerable to fantasy QBs over the last five games (Danny Dimes surprisingly owns the best Passer Rating (142.4) on deep balls this season).

Cincinnati’s backfield has delved into a committee and should struggle to run Sunday, while the Bengals’ receivers will be facing a rested Giants defense coming off a bye and seeing throws from Brandon Allen, who a few days ago was behind Ryan Finley on the QB depth chart. The loss of Joe Burrow is a big problem for a Bengals team that was already reportedly dealing with locker room turmoil.

Cleveland Browns @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Start in DFS: Nick Chubb ($30)

Sit: DJ Chark

The Browns have become by far the most run-heavy team in football, and they enter Sunday with a big advantage along the line against a Jaguars defense that’s been busy all week sending players to the IR. It should be a favorable game script for Cleveland, as Jacksonville’s QB situation is so bad they are turning to Mike Glennon, as the team has gone Jake Luton-free (after the rookie QB was sporting the worst CPAE by a mile). That should result in a bunch of carries for Chubb, who impressively ranks #2 in Juke Rate this season.

Some poor weather has no doubt helped, but the Browns have been incredibly stingy against fantasy wideouts lately, and Chark has just one touchdown since Week 4. Maybe Mike Glennon taking over at QB helps, and Chark isn’t an awful flex play given his projected targets, but expectations need to remain tempered, and it’s worth looking toward possible alternatives (I’d prefer to gamble on an Antonio Brown type).

Carolina Panthers @ Minnesota Vikings

Start: Curtis Samuel, Kirk Cousins

Samuel has four touchdowns over his last four games and has seen increased targets lately, which should continue Sunday with Christian McCaffrey likely out again, Mike Davis struggling in his place and the Vikings likely to score many points. Minnesota has ceded the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and the second-most TDs through the air this season. Getting back Teddy Bridgewater (who ranks #2 in adjusted completion% this season) is an added boost for Samuel as well.

Cousins is getting 10.1 YPA at home this season, with 14 touchdown passes over five games. He gets a favorable matchup this week versus a Carolina defense that’s been far easier to pass against than run on recently.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

Sit: Ryan Tannehill

Start: Michael Pittman Jr.

Tannehill is playing well and benefitting from the A.J. Brown and Corey Davis tandem, but he gets a Colts defense that’s allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, and Tennessee continues to feel the loss of LT Taylor Lewan. The Colts held Tannehill to just 147 passing yards (5.4 YPA) two games ago, and now he has to face them on the road.

Pittman Jr. saw just three targets last week, but he took one of them 45 yards to the house, and the Colts would be smart to make the rookie the focus of their passing attack down the stretch. Facing a Titans defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers on his primary side, Pittman is well worth starting in a game that projects to be fast-paced and high scoring.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Buffalo Bills

Start: Mike Williams, Zack Moss

Williams is starting to become more consistent and has unreached upside with a star at QB now throwing to him (Justin Herbert leads the NFL in Passer Rating (100.2) when under pressure), and this game has a high total and should feature a bunch of plays.

Moss doesn’t have a huge ceiling while sharing carries with Devin Singletary and fighting his QB for scores at the goal line, but the rookie’s role was increasing before the team’s bye and should only grow further down the stretch. Moss gets a Chargers run defense that’s been one of the most favorable for fantasy backs over the last five games.

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Start: DeVante Parker, Denzel Mims

Tua Tagovailoa is banged up (and has a long way to go), so this isn’t an ideal situation for Parker, but he should see many targets against a Jets funnel defense that ranks #9 versus the run yet dead last against the pass in DVOA. Miami’s running backs are a question mark, and Jakeem Grant injured his hamstring in practice this week, so Parker should be busy Sunday.

Mims has passed the eye test and somehow is tied for third in WOPR this season, so there’s major potential here (few receivers in football have brighter futures than Mims with Trevor Lawrence on the way and Adam Gase on the way out). The rookie wideout is a fine DFS ($15) option even in a tougher matchup this week and saddled by poor quarterback play (Sam Darnold is set to return, but has the worst Passer Rating when not under pressure and has gotten an NFL-low 5.0 YPA on plays there weren’t play action this season, which aren’t signs one would typically define as “encouraging”).

New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos

Sit: Taysom Hill, Melvin Gordon

I was in on starting Hill last week, and he exceeded expectations both for the Saints (looking like a mobile Drew Brees, including the under-thrown deep ball) and for fantasy managers with two rushing scores, but he’s outside my top-15 QBs this week in a much different environment. Hill should carry plenty of fantasy value moving forward thanks to his legs even if he regresses passing with more film on him, but he’s best benched in Week 12 playing outdoors against a Denver defense that’s better prepared and has yielded just 6.7 YPA this season (third-fewest) while being stingy against fantasy QBs.

Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints
Will Taysom Hill falter in Week 12? (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Gordon scored twice last week and nearly had a third, and he’s understandably going to be started on plenty of fantasy teams given the RB situation throughout the league, but he’s a borderline top-30 option on my board this week against a Saints defense that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs and just 3.3 YPC (second-fewest) this season. During the last four games with a healthy Phillip Lindsay, Gordon has averaged just 10.0 carries and 2.5 targets, and the Broncos are near-touchdown underdogs Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams

Sit: 49ers

Start: Jared Goff

The 49ers don’t have to travel far and are coming off a bye, while the Rams are coming off a big road win Monday night, so the setup helps San Francisco, but that’s likely not enough considering Trent Williams has joined the laundry list of 49ers on IR. Meanwhile, the Rams have allowed the fewest passing TDs (11) this season and an NFL-low 6.1 YPA, with the next best defense ceding 6.6. It’s an unfair matchup against an undermanned SF team devastated by injuries (Raheem Mostert and/or Brandon Aiyuk become flex options if they play Sunday).

Goff leads the NFL in adjusted completion% (85.8) this season in a clean pocket (Daniel Jones is #3!), and the 49ers have struggled mightily getting to the quarterback lately while suffering through a comical number of injuries. The 49ers have a tough run defense, not unlike last week’s opponent (the Bucs), so it’s entirely possible the Rams surprise and go pass-heavy yet again.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Start in DFS: Travis Kelce ($33), Ronald Jones ($25)

Kelce is dominating the tight end position like no other, and he even has the fourth-most receiving yards among all pass catchers this season. He quietly has a sneaky favorable matchup this week against a Tampa Bay defense that’s extremely difficult to run against but has been getting lit up through the air recently (the stats would look even worse had Daniel Jones played better), especially by tight ends. Kansas City is favored in a game with the highest over/under of the week, so stacking Patrick Mahomes with Kelce looks awfully attractive.

Jones is a gamble as someone who sometimes gets removed at the goal line and struggles as a receiver in a game Tampa Bay enters as underdogs, but he also possesses upside that only a handful of other current fantasy backs can match, making him a perfect DFS tournament play. The Chiefs come in with a run-funnel defense that ranks #10 versus the pass and #30 versus the rush in DVOA, and Jones has looked terrific at times this season when he has the fourth-most yards after contact among running backs (only Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, and Josh Jacobs have more).

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers

Sit: David Montgomery

Start: Packers D/ST

Montgomery is set to return, and fantasy managers are firing him up (his ECR is RB20 this week) against a Packers defense that’s yielded the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season. I expect most to regret that decision with the Bears near double-digit road underdogs against a fired-up Packers team coming off a tough overtime loss. Montgomery hasn’t scored since Week 5 and ranks outside the top-50 RBs in yards per touch and breakaway run rate this season.

The Bears are likely turning back to Mitch Trubisky at quarterback, who ranks last among 40 qualified QBs (which includes Dwayne Haskins and Jake Luton) in adjusted completion%, and that was before he hurt his throwing shoulder that affected both his labrum and rotator cuff. Trubisky is getting 3.3(!) YPA on throws traveling 20 yards or more downfield this season.

Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles

Start: Seahawks D/ST, Jalen Reagor

Seattle has a middling defense, but Philadelphia is likely to struggle running the ball Monday night, and Carson Wentz enters somehow “leading” the NFL in sacks, picks, and fumbles. If that’s not impressive enough, he’s gotten just 5.8 YPA while committing 10 turnovers over five home games, so the Seahawks’ fantasy defense is worth starting this week.

Now healthy, Reagor could easily emerge as Philadelphia’s #1 wide receiver down the stretch, and he should be busy Monday night with the Eagles likely forced to throw frequently. The Seahawks have allowed by far the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, which includes 40+ more catches and nearly 500 more yards than the next worst teams.

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