Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 12
As we now approach the final stretch before the playoffs, every single game matters just that much more for fantasy football managers looking to keep their postseason aspirations alive. We saw another week of devastating injuries, breakout performances, and disappointing results across the league. With no teams on bye this week (finally), there is a full plethora of players to choose from, making decisions that much harder. We will take a look at the players and the matchups to take advantage of and the ones to shy away from.
Recapping last week
It was another up-and-down week for our selections. Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger both finished as top-15 quarterback plays and Jameis Winston won’t count as he did not start for the Saints. Damien Harris finished as a top-20 option and Ronald Jones predictably struggled in a tough matchup with a scoring output outside the top-40 while Nyheim Hines disappointed with an outside top-36 performance. Amari Cooper finished inside the top-30 and Robby Anderson predictably struggled with a WR4 finish but Jakobi Meyers fell flat and finishing outside the top-50. Unfortunately, Logan Thomas was a TE4 in Week 11 while Dallas Goedert had a top-five performance. With that, let’s look at Week 12.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 12 QB’s
Patriots vs Cardinals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 35.8%
While Newton had a season-low six rushing yards in Week 11, he had 365 yards and a passing touchdown against the Texans. Maybe, more importantly, he went a third straight game without a turnover. He now faces a Cardinals defense that has given up the third-most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this season. They have allowed four straight quarterbacks to run for at least 35 yards and throw at least two passing touchdowns. Newton has started to play much better as of late and should be in for another high-scoring affair in Week 12 as he settles in as a top-15 option with QB1 upside.
Dolphins vs Jets
ESPN Starting Percentage: 16.2%
While Tua was eventually benched in Week 11 due to poor performance, he is confirmed to be back in as the starter for Week 12. He has a terrific opportunity to have a “get-right” game against the winless Jets squad who has been burned by opposing quarterbacks in fantasy football as of late. The Jets have given up at least 300 yards passing in four of their last six games and allowed for three or passing touchdowns in three of their last five games while only forcing two interceptions. Tua will have the perfect opportunity to build his confidence back up again and has a lot of streaming appeal as a top-18 option in Week 12.
Falcons vs Raiders
ESPN Starting Percentage: 49.6%
While Ryan may have a solid matchup on paper, he has struggled mightily this season when not having Julio Jones on the field. Jones suffered a hamstring injury in Week 11 and did not return. With the Falcons squarely on the outside looking in for even a Wild Card spot, it would make no sense to rush Jones back at the end of the season. Ryan may have Calvin Ridley but he was under so much pressure that he was forced to target Russell Gage a team-high 12 times, which isn’t optimal. Ryan won’t be recommended outside the bottom-half of the QB2 range if Jones sits.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 12 RB’s
Saints vs Broncos
ESPN Starting Percentage: 9.0%
In Taysom Hill’s first career start at quarterback, it was Murray who led the way amongst the Saints running backs. Murray had a team-high 14 offensive touches, one more than Alvin Kamara’s 13. Kamara had zero receptions for the first time this season while Murray had a season-high 85 yards from scrimmage. Murray has double-digit touches in eight-of-10 games this season and now faces a Broncos defense that is only one week removed from giving up over 200 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns to Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker. Murray will be a high-end RB3/FLEX in Week 12.
Colts vs Titans
ESPN Starting Percentage: 34.1%
The Colts held true to their “hot hand” approach as we saw Taylor hit 20+ carries for the second time this season and pace the Colts running back room in touches (26) and scrimmage yards (114) in Week 11. Nyheim Hines would only see nine offensive touches this past weekend after 17 in Week 10 while Jordan Wilkins only had five touches. Taylor is clearly the most talented back of the three and this may be the break he needs to get things going down the stretch. He now faces a Titans squad that has given up seven total touchdowns over the last four games and 70 yards rushing to an opposing running back in two straight games. Taylor will be a mid-to-low tier RB2 in Week 12.
Bengals vs Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 51.3%
After two straight weeks of 18 offensive touches, at least 78 yards from scrimmage, and a touchdown in Weeks seven and eight, Bernard has struggled as of late. He’s had a total of 25 touches over the last two weeks for a combined 102 scoreless scrimmage yards. Even with Joe Mixon not coming back from injury anytime soon, Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury hurts Bernard’s fantasy value that much more as Cincinnati is forced to play Ryan Finley under center. Bernard won’t be more than a very uninspiring RB3/FLEX for Week 12 and beyond.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 12 WR’s
Panthers vs Vikings
ESPN Starting Percentage: 31.5%
After a dud of a performance in Week 10, Samuel was right back on track in Week 11 with 70 yards receiving and a touchdown on 10 targets. That makes it four out of his last five games where Samuel has at least 50 or more scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Even with P.J. Walker under center, Samuel continued to put up very good numbers for fantasy football owners. He now has a very favorable matchup against a Vikings defense that has given up the second-most receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers (17) this season. Regardless of who is under center, Samuel will be a solid WR3/FLEX option for Week 12.
Giants vs Bengals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 2.3%
It’s flown quite a bit under-the-radar but Shepard has six or more receptions and at least 47 scrimmage yards in each of his four games since returning from injury. The Giants pass offense has been very hot-and-cold thanks to quarterback Daniel Jones but Shepard has remained consistent week-over-week. He now faces a Bengals squad that has given up seven receiving touchdowns over the last three games and is only one game removed from giving up at least 50 yards and one touchdown to three different Steelers’ wide receivers. Jones has played better as of late and now has a cake matchup out of the bye. Shepard should be one of the biggest beneficiaries of that.
Bengals vs Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 52.8%
Like with Bernard, this has more to do with the current situation rather than the player or the matchup. Going from Burrow to Finley is a massive downgrade and will negatively impact every Bengals skill player. Tyler Boyd should retain WR3/FLEX value as a safety valve in the slot but Higgins may be the most affected by Burrow’s injury. Finley just isn’t a good quarterback and can’t be trusted to keep two wide receivers fantasy-relevant, let alone one. Higgins just can’t be trusted until we see anything to suggest otherwise. He needs to be benched for the time being.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 12 TE’s
Giants vs Bengals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 16.7%
Engram did struggle in Week 9 against the Eagles before the bye with only two receptions and 15 yards. Prior to that, he had seen at least nine targets in three straight games and pulled in five receptions and 46 or more receiving yards in each of them. He has a chance to rebound against a Bengals squad that has been one of the most generous against opposing tight ends with the ninth-most receptions (50), fourth-most receiving yards (589), and sixth-most touchdowns (six). In the wasteland known as tight ends in fantasy football, Engram is lined up for a top-12 performance simply because of matchup and has the chance for a top-six week as well.
Saints vs Broncos
ESPN Starting Percentage: 35.1%
When a tight end who has been completed touchdown-dependent (only three games with three or more receptions and 50+ receiving yards) suddenly doesn’t score touchdowns, his value drops like a rock. Cook has a combined six targets over the last three weeks for a total of three receptions, 36 yards, and zero touchdowns. With Hill in at quarterback, Cook’s perceived value drops even more. He now faces a Broncos squad that hasn’t given up a touchdown to opposing tight ends in the last NINE games and has only given up 50+ receiving yards once this season. Even in such a barren position, Cook isn’t startable this weekend.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL