Week 12 Wrap: Kyren Williams returns with a monstrous fantasy football performance

Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams (23)
Kyren Williams was masterful in his return from IR. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals

Kyren Williams had a monster game while finishing as this week’s top fantasy back during his return from IR. He gave way to Royce Freeman during a second-quarter touchdown drive but had a career-high 181 yards midway through the third quarter anyway. Williams’ 56-yard run in the third quarter was the longest play by the Rams this season, and his day could’ve been even bigger if not for the lopsided score. Despite sitting much of the fourth quarter (there was a Zach Evans sighting!), Williams became the first player since Week 1 in 2017 to record 125+ rushing yards, 50+ receiving yards and two touchdown catches. Williams is at worst a top-10 fantasy back moving forward given his workload, although he faces a couple of tougher matchups (Cle, @Bal) before his schedule eases up in the fantasy playoffs.

Matthew Stafford entered with the lowest completion percentage over expectation in the league this season, but posted a CPOE (+12.8) in the 92nd percentile Sunday. He had a season-high three TD passes by halftime, finishing with four. The Rams’ offense looked good while finally healthy together, but Los Angeles also undoubtedly benefited from facing Arizona’s defense.

Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua somehow finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in receiving on the Rams this week, with Kupp needing his ankle re-taped after the first drive. Game script hurt the LA receivers, but Nacua and Kupp are both playing through injuries. Meanwhile, the Rams were the only team in the NFL without a tight end touchdown before Tyler Higbee scored two in the first half.

Kyler Murray was quiet after an early TD run, but garbage time helped him finish as a top-10 fantasy QB anyway this week. It was a clear step back for Murray, who attempted just one run. He gets a matchup in Pittsburgh and then a bye before facing three defenses with high opponent PROE in the fantasy playoffs.

Marquise Brown saw 12 targets while playing through a painful heel injury, while Trey McBride continued to see elite usage as well. Greg Dortch made a sick one-handed TD catch late in the game and followed it up with an equally impressive celebration down 37-14.

  • The Cardinals executed a successful fake punt early in the second half but then faced a third-and-37 later that same drive.

  • Matt Prater nailed a 56-yard field goal late in the second quarter, but a holding penalty ended the half instead.

Buffalo Bills @ Philadelphia Eagles

  • After recording 125+ receiving yards in an NFL-record six straight games, A.J. Brown has averaged just 27 yards over the last three. Brown didn’t see his first target until 2:57 was remaining in the first half. Good luck to San Francisco’s secondary in Week 13.

  • The Eagles hadn’t allowed a quarterback to rush for a touchdown this season, but Josh Allen ran in two Sunday. He led Buffalo in rushing while throwing an interception for the eighth consecutive game. Allen did everything he could to win Sunday, but fell to 0-6 in overtime during his career.

  • Gabe Davis got Buffalo’s game ball last week despite seeing no targets but saw a team-high 12 on Sunday. He was a top-10 fantasy WR this week, but it could have been much more. Allen missed Davis for a possible third-quarter TD, and they couldn’t connect while open for a game-winning score in overtime.

  • The Bills seemingly got the short end of every shaky call, drawing a whopping 10 penalties in the first half.

  • James Cook suffered a bad drop on a would-be 30-yard touchdown.

  • This marked the fourth straight game Philadelphia has been outgained (and trailed at halftime) yet won, while Buffalo fell to 1-5 on the road this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

  • Trevor Lawrence impressed while throwing an NFL-high 364 yards this week. He got 13.7 YPA with a TD run in the first half and could’ve easily had two more touchdown passes. Lawrence’s lone interception came during a play in which Evan Engram was clearly held, and the QB appears to be over his knee injury. Lawrence had the most passes for 40+ yards (four) in a game (midway through the third quarter) since 2020 during the important win.

  • Calvin Ridley was catchless in the first half and didn’t see his first target until a ball went just off his hands in the end zone with 2:28 left in the second quarter; a theme of his season. But he had a big second half, finishing as a top-10 WR this week while recording an Octopus in the third quarter.

  • Travis Etienne gave way to D’Ernest Johnson for stretches but finished with 26 opportunities. He managed just 2.8 YPC and hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown in four straight games after recording six over his previous three.

  • C.J. Stroud was a top-five fantasy QB while running for more yards than Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce combined, including a score. The rookie continues to impress and might have led Houston to victory Sunday if Ka’imi Fairbairn weren’t on IR.

  • Tank Dell had an awesome 58-yard catch in the first quarter nullified by an illegal shift penalty and another catch robbed by referees. Dell would later score, but his day could’ve been even bigger.

  • Nico Collins (who led Houston in first-read target percentage last week) and Dell are both alphas.

  • Matt Ammendola missed two field goals, although the second was a 58-yarder that doinked.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Las Vegas Raiders

  • Isiah Pacheco ran in two touchdowns, saw five targets and finished as a top-five fantasy back.

  • Patrick Mahomes should’ve had a third touchdown pass, but the refs incorrectly ruled Pacheco short of the end zone. Andy Reid didn’t challenge the play with it being first-and-goal, and Pacheco punched in the score the next play.

  • Rashee Rice led Kansas City and set career highs in targets (10), catches (eight) and receiving yards (107) while catching a touchdown. It was an especially impressive performance considering Nate Hobbs (who defends the slot) is Las Vegas’ best corner. Rice ran the most routes on KC this week and became the first Chiefs’ WR to gain 30+ receiving yards over expectation this season. The rookie could be a real fantasy difference-maker down the stretch.

  • The Chiefs scored their first points in the second half since Oct. 22.

  • Aidan O’Connell looked good during the first half, when the Raiders led 14-0 after Josh Jacobs’ long TD run, out-gaining KC 221-13 yards. It wouldn’t continue, as Las Vegas would score just three points over the final 48 minutes.

  • Jakobi Meyers had his best game in weeks and caught a touchdown, benefitting from L’Jarius Sneed shadowing Davante Adams.

  • Daniel Carlson had made 45 straight field goals inside 40 yards before missing a 30-yarder Sunday.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

  • Desmond Ridder threw a couple of ugly picks but got 8.0 YPA and improved to 32-1 at home since high school. He entered averaging more than twice as many fantasy points at home and is a better option than Taylor Heinicke.

  • Bijan Robinson was terrific with 22 opportunities, running in a touchdown and catching another. The rookie has three rushing TDs over the past four games after recording zero over his first seven. Hopefully, there’s no turning back now.

  • Chris Olave had a monster first half (8-7-114) but left after suffering a concussion while attempting to pull down a long catch early in the third quarter. He was showing the best rapport with Derek Carr he had all season before departing, and New Orleans is suddenly super thin at WR with Rashid Shaheed also exiting Sunday’s game (and with Michael Thomas going on IR). Juwan Johnson could see more targets.

  • Jessie Bates forced a fumble and recorded a pick 6, as Carr’s red-zone struggles continued.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts

  • Jonathan Taylor had two touchdown runs against a Tampa Bay defense that hadn’t allowed any to the position all season. He scored the most fantasy points against a Buccaneers defense that had been shutting down running backs.

  • Michael Pittman and Josh Downs both saw 13 targets against a pass-funnel Tampa Bay defense, but the former was a lot more productive. Still, it’s encouraging usage for Downs, who seemingly benefited from Indianapolis’ bye week to get his knee healthier.

  • Rachaad White saw a season-low two targets, but reached 100 rushing yards for the first time this year.

  • Mike Evans caught two touchdowns, while Chris Godwin suffered his first drop of the season.

  • Baker Mayfield was injured on a sneak at the goal line during the opening drive but returned the next series. He’s set for an MRI on Monday.

  • Todd Bowles oddly decided not to use his two remaining timeouts on a second down with 1:24 left in the game.

Baltimore Ravens @ Los Angeles Chargers

  • Lamar Jackson got 5.5 YPA with modest fantasy production during his first game without Mark Andrews, but Baltimore forced four turnovers during the Ravens’ win Sunday night.

  • Keaton Mitchell and Gus Edwards split work evenly, with the rookie’s YPC (7.1) nearly twice as high (3.3).

  • Zay Flowers led Baltimore in targets while catching and running in a touchdown Sunday night. Fantasy managers appreciated the rookie not going down at the one-yard line late.

  • Keenan Allen led the league with 16 targets and is up to 35 catches over his last three games. He also executed a nice trick play to pick up a third-and-17.

  • Austin Ekeler had a tough matchup but lost a fumble for the second straight game and continues to look like he’s playing injured.

  • Justin Tucker suffered his first missed field goal inside 50 yards this year, making Younghoe Koo the NFL’s all-time FG percentage leader.

  • The Chargers lost as many fumbles Sunday night (three) as they had previously all year.

  • The Ravens’ defense has recorded the most sacks and is allowing the fewest yards per play this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

  • The Steelers topped 400 yards on offense for the first time in 59 games while also outgaining their opponent for the first time all season in Pittsburgh’s first game since OC Matt Canada was fired.

  • Kenny Pickett has just one touchdown pass since Oct. 8 (Week 5) but got season highs in passing yards (278) and YPA (8.5). Sunday was a positive step, but this is still a passing offense that’s limited in fantasy upside. Pickett entered with the fewest passing TDs (six) by a team’s starting QB over its first 10 games in a season in more than a decade.

  • Speculation had Jaylen Warren taking over Pittsburgh’s backfield, but he ended up losing a fumble during one of his worst fantasy games of the year. Najee Harris was more effective on two more carries, including punching in a goal-line score.

  • George Pickens didn’t see a considerable change in role under the new OC, while a healthy Pat Freiermuth led Pittsburgh in targets, catches and receiving yards.

  • Jake Browning, who threw a mere 91 touchdowns during his senior year in high school (but didn’t follow that up in college), was passable while not getting any help whatsoever from his running game (2.3 YPC).

  • Ja’Marr Chase had two separate catches off deflections and another while holding his mouthguard but clearly missed Joe Burrow.

  • The Bengals had won an NFL-high 19 straight games when leading at halftime before Sunday.

Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos

  • Russell Wilson had his most rushing attempts (11) since 2017 and did enough to help Denver win its fifth straight game after starting the season 1-5.

  • Javonte Williams saw 24 opportunities but lost a goal-line TD to Samaje Perine while getting checked on the sideline for a neck injury during the opening drive. Williams’ workload will lead to big fantasy games in future easier matchups.

  • The Broncos had twice as many rushing scores (two) over the first 20 minutes (against a dominant defense) than they had previously all season.

  • Courtland Sutton had a near TD in the fourth quarter, but the ball bounced off his hands in the end zone.

  • Dorian Thompson-Robinson left after taking a huge hit that drew a flag at the end of the third quarter, while Myles Garrett heard something pop in his shoulder and had his arm in a sling after the game. Amari Cooper also exited with a rib injury during a disastrous day for Cleveland.

New England Patriots @ New York Giants

  • Tommy DeVito lost a fumble on the opening drive, but was by far the best quarterback involved in this matchup (and he’s taken 26 sacks over the last three-plus games!).

  • Jalin Hyatt can play. The rookie led the Giants in receiving Sunday when he made multiple impressive catches downfield. Hyatt is the most intriguing long-term WR on New York’s roster.

  • Mac Jones had two picks that easily could’ve been four in the first half and was benched for Bailey Zappe in the second. Zappe promptly led New England on a touchdown drive, but he was fortunate one pass wasn’t a pick 6. He did nothing else afterward. Both quarterbacks’ CPOE were in the bottom-eighth percentile.

  • This game looked destined for overtime, but Chad Ryland shanked a 35-yard field goal with six seconds left.

Carolina Panthers @ Tennessee Titans

  • Bryce Young struggled yet again, while Chuba Hubbard had his best fantasy game in weeks despite seeing fewer carries than Miles Sanders in a tough matchup.

  • Derrick Henry had half as many TD runs (two) in the first half as he had all season, although that included just 24 rushing yards. The scores got it done, but Henry managed a modest 76 rushing yards (after a late 20-yard run) in a highly favorable matchup. He’s unlikely to go on a late-season tear like we’ve seen before.

  • The Titans are 4-0 when playing in Tennessee this season.

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