Fantasy Football: Week 12 sit-start lineup advice

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.

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Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots

Sit: All Titans

Start: Damien Harris (or Rhamondre Stevenson)

Ryan Tannehill is running out of weapons with so many injuries in Tennessee, and New England’s defense has been playing extremely well. It’s possible Dontrell Hilliard (No. 12 PPR RB last week!) catches a bunch of dump-offs in a game the Titans are touchdown underdogs, but no Tennessee player can be started with any confidence Sunday.

The Titans enter allowing the second-most fantasy points to QBs and the fourth-fewest to RBs, but favorable game scripts likely had a lot to do with that (they are TD underdogs Sunday). Mac Jones is a fine start if needed, but New England ranks dead last in situation-neutral pass rate (45%) since Week 4, and Tennessee ranks worse in DVOA against the run than the pass. Both Harris (neck) and Rhamondre Stevenson (knee) are listed as questionable, so NE’s backfield health needs to be monitored (Stevenson would become a top-10 RB if he’s in and Harris is out).

New York Jets @ Houston Texans

Sit: Corey Davis

Start: Texans D/ST

While the switch back to QB Zach Wilson could very well be good news for Davis’ fantasy value (the rookie QB peppered him with targets throughout preseason), he’s a shaky start this week. Davis is playing through a groin injury, faces an underrated Houston secondary that ranks No. 6 in pass defense DVOA and has an emerging teammate (Elijah Moore) who’s been the No. 1 fantasy PPR WR over the last month.

The Jets are being forced to turn back to Zach Wilson with Joe Flacco getting COVID, and the rookie returns to face a Houston secondary that ranks No. 6 in pass defense DVOA and just recorded four picks last week. Wilson has gotten 5.8 YPA with a 2:4 TD:INT ratio while taking 14 sacks over four games on the road this season. Wilson has the league’s worst completion percentage above expectation (-6.9), and the Jets have gained the second-fewest yards per play (4.7) on the road this season (and will be missing Michael Carter).

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants

Start in DFS: Miles Sanders ($17)

Start: Kenny Golladay

Sanders isn’t suddenly a true workhorse, but he saw a season-high 16 carries during his first return to action last week, while Jordan Howard is now out with a sprained knee. More targets would be nice for Sanders, and it’s worth noting he lost a fumble — Sanders had the highest fumble percentage during his final season at Penn State and committed four fumbles over 12 games last season. But Philadelphia has become the NFL’s most extreme run-heavy team, including 82 rushes compared to just 32 passes in the second half over the last four games. With a healthier Eagles offensive line, Sanders has a lot of fantasy upside if he’s going to be given 15-20 touches moving forward. He’s a bargain this week against a bottom-barrel DVOA Giants run defense.

Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders
Philly's run-heavy approach bodes well for Miles Sanders. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Golladay hasn’t seen more than three targets or reached 30 receiving yards in a game since Week 4, and he gets an Eagles defense allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to WRs (and is always at risk of leaving mid-game with an injury). But he’s a top-35 WR this week given Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard are both out. Saquon Barkley looked anything but 100% last week, and the Giants should be forced to throw plenty as underdogs against a white-hot Eagles team. With a lowly ECR as the WR48, Golladay is a sneaky fantasy start this week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts

Start in DFS: Rob Gronkowski ($22), Carson Wentz ($26)

Gronkowski was back as a full-time player last week and is finally healthy again. This week he gets a pass-funnel Colts defense that’s tough to run against but is one of the most favorable matchups for fantasy tight ends when adjusting for opponents. With Mike Evans battling a back issue and Antonio Brown out again, I ranked Gronk as my No. 1 tight end this week.

Wentz is coming off a couple of quiet games, including last week’s that called for just 20 pass attempts when the Colts dominated on the ground. Jonathan Taylor had little trouble with a Buffalo defense entering playing well, but they get another stiff run D this week facing Tampa Bay (albeit possibly missing Vita Vea); the Bucs are allowing 3.8 YPC with just six rushing scores all season and are the NFL’s premier pass-funnel defense. Bucs/Colts has the week’s highest total (51.5 points), so Wentz should be looking at unusually high volume Sunday. Michael Pittman ($23) and T.Y. Hilton ($11) are viable stacking options.

Atlanta Falcons @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Start in DFS: Kyle Pitts ($20), James Robinson ($27)

Pitts continues to disappoint fantasy managers but is coming off a rough stretch of schedule and should benefit from facing a pass-funnel Jacksonville defense that’s tough to run against but ranks No. 30 against tight ends in DVOA. Pitts is due to cash in some unrealized air yards, and there’s hope Atlanta’s offense gets a boost with Cordarrelle Patterson’s return.

Robinson’s heel appears to be getting healthier after he returned to a full practice Friday, and he should be looking at a big workload Sunday (including more targets with Jamal Agnew out) against a poor Falcons defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs.

Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins

Start: Cam Newton

Sit: Tua Tagovailoa

Newton played well during his first start of the season last week when the QB handled 36% of the Panthers’ designed rushing attempts yet also saw the team’s neutral pass rate spike. This week the Panthers get a Miami defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

Tagovailoa has been playing well but continues to have to deal with an extremely shaky offensive line while missing Will Fuller and DeVante Parker. This week he gets a tough matchup against a loaded Carolina secondary ceding the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

Start: Pat Freiermuth, Joe Burrow

Freiermuth has more targets inside the five-yard line (five) over the last four games than any other tight end in football has this season. The rookie should also go back to being a full-time player with Eric Ebron now out with a knee injury.

Pittsburgh will be getting some reinforcements back on defense, but the Bengals figure to rely heavily on Burrow and their passing attack after taking a backseat to Joe Mixon last week. The Steelers have been a highly favorable fantasy matchup for QBs when adjusting for opponent, and Burrow has gotten 8.6 YPA at home this season. Both Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins have a bunch of unrealized air yards, suggesting blowups are incoming.

Los Angles Chargers @ Denver Broncos

Start in DFS: Keenan Allen ($24), Jerry Jeudy ($14)

Allen is third in the NFL with 106 targets, including at least 11 in each of the past four games (and already matching his total inside the 10-yard line from all last season). Facing a Denver defense that’s been ravaged by injuries this year, Allen has an enticing DFS salary.

Jeudy immediately took over as Denver’s clear WR1 after returning from a high-ankle sprain and should be healthier now coming off Denver’s bye. Jeudy looks like the type of receiver capable of being a second-round fantasy pick in the right situation. He’s admittedly up against a run-funnel Chargers defense allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to receivers this week, but Ben Roethlisberger just threw three TDs against LAC’s secondary without practicing for two weeks. Jeudy’s DFS salary is outside the top-30 WRs this week — something you won’t likely see many times again in his career.

Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco 49ers

Start: Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins

Garoppolo has put any Trey Lance talk to rest (for now) posting an NFL-high four straight games with a 100+ Passer Rating, and he’s also a fantasy option this week while looking at increased volume. Jimmy G has gotten 9.2 YPA over the last month and is a top-15 fantasy QB with Elijah Mitchell banged up but Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle all finally healthy together. Garoppolo gets a Vikings defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and will be missing defensive linemen Dalvin Tomlinson and Everson Griffen.

Both these teams admittedly want to play offense at a slow pace but could easily be forced to throw more than usual given their issues on defense. Cousins has posted a 12:0 TD:INT ratio on the road this season and faces a pass-funnel SF defense that ranks No. 3 against the run and No. 21 versus the pass in DVOA. It also helps to have a teammate like Justin Jefferson, who’s becoming unguardable.

Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers

Start in DFS: Cooper Kupp ($36), Davante Adams ($31)

Kupp has 13 targets in three of the past four contests and double-digit looks in all but one game this season. His volume will continue to be sky-high with Robert Woods now lost for the year, and Sunday’s matchup with the Packers should be high scoring. Kupp is a strong DFS building block as the current NFL leader in targets, receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns and fantasy points per game; in fact, Kupp is on pace to record the most fantasy points by a WR in NFL history. With Jonathan Taylor facing the league’s best run defense and Kansas City on bye, Kupp has a strong argument to pay up for in DFS this week.

Adams is the NFL’s leader in WOPR, and is coming off a big game, but has a salary that’s $5 less than Deebo Samuel and 22.5% less than Christian McCaffrey’s. This week Green Bay gets a solid Rams defense, but LA entered its bye reeling, having been outscored 59-26 over back-to-back losses. In a slate with mostly low totals, this matchup’s over/under (48.5 points) is one of the highest. Aaron Rodgers has a 10:1 TD:INT ratio at home over just four games this season, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s breakout last week could really help Adams moving forward.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

Sit: Jarvis Landry

Start: Rashod Bateman

Landry finally had a decent fantasy game last week, but it was the result of a rushing score, and he’s still yet to reach 65 receiving yards in a game since October. Last week was the first time Landry reached double-digit fantasy points (half-PPR) in a game since Week 1. He gets a Ravens defense Sunday night that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points against the slot over the last month (and Baker Mayfield has been struggling badly).

Bateman was a big disappointment last week, but that was mainly due to Tyler Huntley getting the sudden unexpected start. Lamar Jackson should return Sunday night while Marquise Brown is dealing with a thigh injury that cost him last week. Cleveland is tougher to run against than pass, and Bateman has impressed during his rookie campaign. Don’t hold last week against him.

Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Football Team

Start: Russell Wilson, Antonio Gibson

Wilson has struggled since returning from finger surgery but count on a big bounce back from someone with his Hall of Fame resume. He got 8.0 YPA against a strong Arizona defense last week, so it’s not like his passing has been a total disaster. Monday night the Seahawks get a Washington defense allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, and Wilson should be getting healthier.

Gibson has reached double-digit PPR fantasy points just once since Week 5 (ironically against TB), and it’s clear he’s not going to be used in the passing game as fantasy managers hoped. He also isn’t going to be fully healthy until the offseason. But Gibson has 14 red-zone carries (and five inside the 5) over the last two weeks, and his schedule now shifts from an incredibly tough stretch of run defenses to a Seattle one on Monday night that’s allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season.

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