A large part of being successful in fantasy football is determining the better match-ups in your lineup. Fantasy owners debate every week on what players are the better starts for their team. The difference in choosing one player over another in just one position could easily cost a win any given week. Each week I feature three quarterbacks, three running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends and two defenses/special teams.
My attempt is not to name the guys you drafted in the first couple rounds that you should be starting every week no matter who they’re playing. These choices are almost exclusively based on the weekly opponent.
Note: scoring is PPR-based via FFToday.
Eli Manning vs. Dallas
Perhaps no quarterback other than Colin Kaepernick has had more than his fair share of disappointments in 2013 than Eli Manning. He hasn’t thrown for more than one touchdown since Week 5 against Philadelphia. Something tells me that streak ends against the Cowboys this week. The younger Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys in Week 1. That was his highest scoring game by far of the 2013 season so far.
The Cowboys still allow the most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to quarterbacks at 28.3. In addition, they have given up the second most passing yards (3,299) and second most touchdowns (20). Call me crazy, but I like Manning as a high-end QB2 this week at home.
Mike Glennon @ Detroit
Coming off one his better performances of the season against Atlanta, Mike Glennon has another great match-up this week against the Lions, who allow 23.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG) to quarterbacks. Just last week Detroit gave up 367 yards and four touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger. Glennon seems to be more comfortable with the Bucs’ offense and has developed a nice rapport with stud wide receiver Vincent Jackson. With Bobby Rainey making defenses respect the running game, Glennon should continue to see success in Week 12. I consider him a borderline QB1.
Case Keenum vs. Jacksonville
Much was made of head coach Gary Kubiak benching Case Keenum for Matt Schaub early in the third quarter on Sunday. It didn’t take long for Kubiak to change his mind again; quickly announcing that Keenum would be the Texans’ starter against the Jaguars this week. It provides a great match-up for Keenum and the rest of the Texans. Jacksonville allows 25.4 FPPG to quarterbacks, third most in the league. With Russell Wilson and Nick Foles on bye, Keenum is at the very least a great spot start.
Fantasy Running Backs
Zac Stacy vs. Chicago
Coming off a week of rest, Zac Stacy and Co. go up against a shambled Bears’ defense that is allowing 25.8 FPPG to running backs. They are one of eight defenses to allow double-digit rushing touchdowns (10). That’s an average of one per game.
Stacy has really taken advantage of his starting role since it was given to him in Week 5. In fact, over the past five weeks, and that’s taking into account his bye week, Stacy is RB6, just behind Chris Johnson. With the Vanderbilt alum rising the fantasy running back ranks faster than a hydrogen-filled balloon, expect Stacy to pick up where he left off before the bye week. I easily consider him a Top 10 RB this week.
Andre Brown vs. Dallas
Andre Brown hasn’t missed a beat since being “eased” into the starting running back role for the Giants two weeks ago. Now it’s time for you, an Andre Brown owner, to “ease” him into your starting lineup for the remainder of the fantasy season. Brandon Jacobs may play the role of vulture a couple times the rest of the way but Brown is indubitably the running back you want to own and start in the Giants’ backfield. He’s carried the ball 48 times for 181 yards and a touchdown since returning from a prolonged leg injury in Week 10.
This week provides a great match-up for Brown, and the whole Giants’ offense really. The Cowboys are dead last in fantasy rush defense this year, allowing 32.5 FPPG to running backs. They’re the only defense giving running backs more than 30 FPPG. With the workload Brown has been given the last two weeks and the atrocity that is the Dallas defense, he could give you Top 10 RB numbers in Week 12.
Ben Tate vs. Jacksonville
The Cowboys may be the worst overall defense in football, but the Jaguars could be considered a close second. They allow 26.2 FPPG to the running back position, including 11 rushing touchdowns. Tate hasn’t been a huge factor for fantasy teams or the Jaguars this season, but that could, and should, change this week against Jacksonville. Even with just 144 yards in his last two games Tate is still averaging a respectable 4.5 yards per carry on the season. He’s been involved in the passing game the last two weeks as well, catching seven passes in those two contests. While Tate has just one touchdown on the year, I expect him to add his second in Week 12 against the Jaguars.
Fantasy Wide Receivers
Torrey Smith vs. NY Jets
Inconsistency. The word applies to so many players in fantasy football and Torrey Smith is one of those inconsistent players. He may be turning that tide, however. After catching just one touchdown in his first eight games, Smith has scored in each of his last two games. He also caught five passes in each of those games, an added bonus for those who have Smith in PPR leagues.
As far as Smith’s match-up is concerned, the Jets have actually been a pretty good defense this year; it’s what has kept them afloat. Their pass defense, however, has left something to be desired. New York is giving opposing wide receivers 38 FPPG. Their 12 touchdowns allowed to wide receivers are tied for seventh most in the NFL, another reason why I like Smith scoring his third touchdown in as many weeks.
Kendall Wright @ Oakland
When we think of up-and-coming fantasy stars, the name Kendall Wright takes a while to come to mind, sometimes it doesn’t come at all. Nevertheless, Wright is proving to be a great draft day value, especially in PPR leagues. He continued his impressive sophomore campaign with nine catches for 80 yards last Thursday and has undoubtedly become Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target, at least among wide receivers. There is something to be said about Delanie Walker.
What I really like about Wright’s match-up in Week 12 is that Oakland has allowed the third most receptions to receivers this season (146), not to mention 11 touchdowns in 10 games. Wright should be considered a high-end PPR WR2 this weekend.
Anquan Boldin @ Washington
Boldin returned from his extensive rendezvous with Carmen San Diego to post his third best statistical game of the 2013 season on Sunday (6 REC, 56 YDS, 1 TD). No one had seen the guy since Week 4. I think he’s back for at least another week. The Redskins allow 38.8 FPPG to Boldin and friends. The 1,861 yards they’ve surrendered to wide receivers is the seventh most in the league. Boldin is at the very least a good PPR flex start this week.
Fantasy Tight Ends
Coby Fleener @ Arizona
It was somewhat of a coming out party for Coby Fleener last Thursday night against the Titans. He totaled season highs in catches (8) and yards (107) and reasserted himself as Andrew Luck’s safety blanket/go-to-guy. Even more impressive, he’s coaxed me into developing what seem to be the early stages of a man-crush. In fact, my affinity for Fleener has increased so rapidly that he’s currently in my Top 5 tight ends for Week 12. A large part of this ranking comes from the fact that the Cardinals are the worst fantasy defense against tight ends this season, allowing 21.3 FPPG. Fleener is quickly turning into a nice TE1 on the season.
Garret Graham vs. Jacksonville
Speaking of coming out parties… Garret Graham went off in Week 11 like a trucker’s stomach after too many chili dogs. He had season highs in targets (12), receptions (7), yards(136) and added a touchdown. The outing was extremely encouraging for those who had been waiting for Graham to produce since Owen Daniels went down with a fractured fibula in Week 5. Last week will probably be Graham’s best outing of the year, but it certainly could be a sign of things to come, especially this week against a Jaguars’ squad giving tight ends 11.4 FPPG.
Ravens vs. NY Jets
It’s surprising Geno Smith hasn’t been endorsed by IHOP with all the turnovers he’s created this season. The rookie signal-caller has thrown 16 interceptions and the Ravens have been a completely new defense after the Week 1 debacle against the Broncos. I also consider the Ravens as a Top 5 D/ST in Week 12.
Texans vs. Jacksonville
You can realistically stream the defense that plays the Jaguars each week. The Texans have Top 5 D/ST potential this week at home against lowly Jacksonville.
Click here to check out all of our positional rankings and projections for Week 12.
Zach hails from the bustling metropolis of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Three things Zach enjoys are football, food and water. Three things Zach doesn’t enjoy are kale, mushrooms and the company of those who enjoy either (except hobbits). Zach is a life-long Broncos fan and has been playing fantasy football longer than he hasn’t. He had top-five finishes in FantasyPros’ 2016 NFL DFAC competition and the 2016 SFB480.