Fantasy Football: Matchups to avoid and exploit in Week 12
Three days after the Chiefs and Rams kicked off with a record point total of 63 ½, the Falcons and Saints will engage in a relative defensive struggle where Vegas forecasts a combined 59 points.
This is the new NFL, and it gives fantasy football fans, if not old football purists, a lot to be thankful for. A few fantasy fracases this year making this author thankful: John Dorsey freeing Nick Chubb; owners continuing to criminally underrate future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers; and Kenny Golladay exceeding the hype.
Ravens (vs. Raiders)
Perhaps you envisioned Lamar Jackson becoming the first quarterback in the modern era with 100-plus rushing yards in his starting debut. We didn’t, but we did suggest streaming him, and he modestly delivered despite 150 passing yards without a TD. But if you saw Gus Edwards (who?) finishing Week 11 as a rock-solid RB1, can you tell us what time our in-laws will actually serve Thanksgiving dinner and maybe what will be in the Mueller report? The 238-pound undrafted bruiser from Rutgers earned 49 snaps after playing 31 combined in his first four games and officially is the Baltimore back to own in a Jackson-led run game that could soon be unstoppable.
Don’t hesitate: QB Lamar Jackson, RB Gus Edwards, WR John Brown
Think twice (but it’s alright): RB Alex Collins, WRs John Brown, Willie Snead
Bucs (vs. 49ers)
Jameis Winston is back because — and you won’t believe it — it turns out Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the Bucs’ answer. In what’s likely his actual last chance to prove he can be Tampa’s long-term QB solution, Winston comes off a two-TD second half after replacing Fitzpatrick and nearly rallying the Bucs back from a three-score third-quarter deficit. The Niners have allowed an average of 29 points and 2 passing touchdowns against their past four opponents that weren’t the Raiders. Quietly, Peyton Barber is producing for owners, and Adam Humphries will try and become the fourth straight slot receiver to score over the stretch we mentioned above.
Don’t hesitate: WR Mike Evans, TE O.J. Howard*
Think twice (but it’s alright): QB Jameis Winston, RB Peyton Barber, WRs DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin
Colts (vs. Dolphins)
No one has ever won Comeback Player of the Year and MVP in the same season, but don’t tell that to Andrew Luck. His streak of tossing at least three touchdowns reached seven consecutive games, while he avoided being sacked in a fifth straight contest. He’s feeling so good that he laid out on the receiving end of a trick play with Eric Ebron as the trigger man (please don’t call this again, Frank Reich). And the Colts aren’t a two-man band with only Luck and Ebron. Newcomer Dontrelle Inman has carved out a potentially usable fantasy role, especially this week with T.Y. Hilton drawing Xavien Howard, and box-score stuffing rookie Darius Leonard’s ‘D’ sticks as a streamer vs. Brock Osweiler.
Don’t hesitate: QB Andrew Luck, RB Marlon Mack, WR T.Y. Hilton, TE Jack Doyle
Think twice (but it’s alright): WR Dontrelle Inman, TE Eric Ebron
Patriots (at Jets)
Presumptive QB1 Josh McCown is 0-3 in his career against the Patriots, who are 5-1 vs. Gang Green’s lame-duck coach Todd Bowles. Tom Brady has tossed one or fewer touchdowns in four of his past five games but could get Gronk back after a week off to self-scout and slip in some extra TB12 secrets to rediscover his 2017 MVP form in time for the stretch run.
Don’t hesitate: QB Tom Brady, RBs James White, Sony Michel, WRs Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, TE Rob Gronkowski*
Lions (vs. Bears)
No Kerryon Johnson and likely no Marvin Jones means a heavy dose of Kenny Golladay, who’s an obvious start, and Theo Riddick, who’s obviously the only back worth considering vs. the NFL’s top-rated run ‘D,’ with LeGarrette Blount barely over the Mendoza line (2.3 YPC) and not cresting double-digit rushing yards in more than a month. This situation also should remove Matthew Stafford from starting consideration, even with Pat Mahomes and Jared Goff resting and Stafford basically rolling out of bed to throw for 300-plus passing yards on Thanksgiving (five of the past six seasons, when the Lions are 4-2).
Think twice (but it’s alright): QB Matthew Stafford, RB Theo Riddick, WR Kenny Golladay
Don’t do it: RB LeGarrette Blount
Jaguars (AND Bills)
It’s the playoff rematch none of us want or need, and somehow both teams’ QB situations are worse than they were in January, when Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor combined for a scintillating 221 passing yards and 3.7 yards per attempt in Jacksonville’s 10-3 wild-card triumph. Buffalo’s top pick Josh Allen returns to the starting lineup following five weeks off to rest his injured throwing shoulder, in a scenario that doesn’t feel all that different than Nathan Peterman getting thrown to the wolves in L.A. last season. Any time the Jaguars want to throw Bortles to the wolves is fine by us.
Don’t hesitate: RBs Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy
Don’t do it: Everyone else
Cardinals (at Chargers)
How’s this for a stat line: Josh Rosen tossed three touchdowns on nine attempts Sunday in the loss to Oakland. Unfortunately, he also tossed two interceptions and averaged less than 7.0 yards per attempt for the sixth time in seven starts. Then there’s this: The Chargers are 7-2 without Joey Bosa and 0-1 with him. We wouldn’t expect that to slip to 0-2 this week, when Larry Fitzgerald gets a tough matchup in Casey Hayward and David Johnson could be bottled up by an angry Bolts ‘D’ that allowed three rushing touchdowns to Denver, the same number it gave up in the first nine games combined.
Don’t hesitate: RB David Johnson
Think twice (but it’s alright): WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk
Don’t do it: QB Josh Rosen, TE Ricky Seals-Jones