Week 12 continues later today with one more early game, this time an AFC East showdown between the Jets and Dolphins. The Dolphins are hoping they can figure out their road woes (three straight road losses and four straight with 20 or fewer points) and put up points on a good defense, while the Jets are hoping that moving on from Zach Wilson can help kick-start their moribund offense.
I have more confidence in the former than the latter, but if Tim Boyle can clear the low bar of being an upgrade on Wilson, that could actually be pretty important for Fantasy. We'll see.
Today's newsletter features previews for that game and the other 12 on the Week 12 schedule to make sure you have everything you need to get your lineups set, whether you're chasing points from Thanksgiving or sitting on a lead. Before we get to that, though, let's do a quick takeaway from each of Thursday's three games:
Takeaway No. 1: Jordan Love might be making a leap
It's been an up-and-down first season as a starter for Love, but we're starting to see signs of him figuring it out. One thing that's helped is the further development of an extremely young Packers receiving corps, and that was boosted by Christian Watson finally looking like the guy he was at the end of last season, catching five passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, by far his best game of the season. Jayden Reed continued to make plays, and rookie tight end Tucker Kraft stepped up in Luke Musgrave's absence to find the end zone. I'm still not sure you can trust any of the receivers here on a weekly basis, but there's pretty clearly talent and upside here, and Love now has seven touchdowns to two interceptions over his past three games while averaging 293 passing yards per game. He's always going to be an aggressive passer, and if he's succeeding in sanding down some of the rough edges, Love could actually have a top-12 ceiling at the position.
Takeaway No. 2: Tony Pollard can still make an impact
One thing that's been especially frustrating about this season for Pollard is how many of the Cowboys games have been blowouts, seemingly paving the way to the huge season we were hoping for. Unfortunately, Pollard hasn't been able to take advantage of them more often than not, but that changed Thursday. Rico Dowdle scored the team's first touchdown, an ominous sign, but it ended up being the only thing Dowdle really did, as Pollard ended up with 13 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown, his second in as many games, while adding six catches for 24 yards. That's now 10 catches over the past two games for Pollard to go along with the touchdown in each, and he's been efficient running the ball, too. The Cowboys offense has created a ton of opportunities for Pollard -- he entered Week 12 fourth in expected Fantasy points for the season at RB, per ESPN's metric -- and now he's starting to take advantage. That would be huge if he continued it into the Fantasy playoffs.
Takeaway No. 3: Zach Charbonnet flopped -- as expected
The timing for Charbonnet's first career start couldn't have been worse, as the 49ers defense looks like one of the league's toughest right now, and the game went pretty much as expected for Charbonnet. He go a pretty solid workload, with 14 carries and four targets, but turned it into just 58 total yards and no touchdowns, as the Seahawks offense struggled to move the ball -- Geno Smith dealing with an elbow injury surely didn't help. And the problem for Charbonnet is, if Kenneth Walker has to miss more time moving forward, things won't get any easier, as the next three games are at Dallas, at San Francisco, and then home against the Eagles. Charbonnet still belongs in that low-end RB2 range thanks to the workload, but more frustration could be on the way.m
Alright, now let's get to the rest of the newsletter. Today, we're focusing on those lineup decisions for every remaining game on the Week 12 schedule, beginning with this afternoon's Jets-Dolphins tilt. . Let's get to it:
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- Week 12 Position Previews: | | |
- Jamey, Dave, Heath's Rankings
- My Week 12 Rankings: | | |
- Cheat Sheets: |
🔍Week 12 Game Previews
There's something to watch in every game on the NFL schedule every week, even if you have to squint to see it sometimes. Here's a look ahead at every Week 12 game, with some notes on what Vegas is expecting to see, the latest injuries, and the toughest lineup decisions:
- Friday, 3:00 p.m.
- Line: Dolphins -9.5; 40.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Dolphins 25, Jets 15.5
The Jets finally benched Zach Wilson, but they are turning to one of the few quarterbacks who might actually be a downgrade: Tim Boyle has three touchdowns to nine interceptions on 120 attempts in the NFL (and, incredibly, had one touchdown to 13 interceptions in parts of three years at UCONN). The Jets had to do something to try to salvage their season, but that doesn't mean this offense is necessarily in better hands.
- Toughest lineup decision: Garret Wilson -- Start. The one thing Zach Wilson has done well this season is prioritizing Garrett Wilson as his top target, something he didn't necessarily do last season. Boyle's chances of success aren't particularly high, but his only hope is to lean on Wilson. The Dolphins have talented corners who can match up with Wilson, but if he gets even decent QB play, Wilson shouldn't be shut down. He's not a sure thing, but Wilson's talent and likely volume make him hard to get away from as a high-upside WR2.
- Injuries to watch: De'Von Achane (knee) has a chance to play today after being limited in practice all week, but even if he does play, you don't need me to tell you there's a ton of risk here after he left last week's game after just three snaps. He's got plenty of upside, obviously, but the Dolphins might have to be careful with his usage now. That's the only injury we're really monitoring here, so if you want to take the flier on Achane, make sure he's active this afternoon before locking him in.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Falcons -1; 42.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Falcons 21.75, Saints 20.75
The Falcons named Desmond Ridder their starter again coming out of the bye, and he gets a somewhat soft landing against a Saints defense that will likely be without Marshon Lattimore. The Saints will also be playing without Michael Thomas (played on IR with a knee injury), though Derek Carr is expected to play after clearing the concussion protocol.
- Toughest lineup decision: Rashid Shaheed -- Start. Shaheed is a fringe WR3 for me, so if you play in a two-WR league, he might just be a flex option. However, I do think it makes sense to prioritize a big-play guy with upside if you need one. Shaheed might go for one catch on three targets, but that one catch might be a 50-plus-yard touchdown. Or, with Thomas out, he could see a bigger role and emerge as a truly impactful Fantasy option down the stretch.
- Injuries to watch: Carr was removed from the injury report Thursday and will start for the Saints. That's the most impactful injury we're watching, though Younghoe Koo is dealing with a back injury that had him limited Thursday and led to the Falcons adding a kicker to the practice squad. If you've been relying on him, keep an eye out on alternatives for Sunday just in case.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Steelers -1; 34.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Steelers 17.75, Bengals 16.75
The Matt Canada era ended in Pittsburgh with the team failing to reach 400 yards on offense in any of his 45 games as the offensive coordinator. That's a pretty miserable record of futility, but I'm not necessarily convinced this team is just going to take a big step forward without Canada. Still, with Jake Browning starting for the Bengals, they might have enough to win.
- Toughest lineup decision: Ja'Marr Chase -- Start. Given the state of both offenses, there's no shortage of tough decisions. For what it's worth, I'm probably starting Joe Mixon and both Steelers running backs (with Jaylen Warren ranked ahead of Najee Harris despite projecting the latter for more touches), while Diontae Johnson is a WR3 for PPR and George Pickens and Tee Higgins (if he plays) both in the boom-or-bust WR3/4 range. As for Chase? My expectations are pretty similar for him as to Garrett Wilson, where I think he'll see a lot of low-quality targets and will have to do something absurd to put together a very good Fantasy game. The nice thing is, that he does absurd things pretty regularly. I'm downgrading him, but it's hard to envision a scenario where I'm not starting Chase this week.
- Injuries to watch: George Pickens (shin) didn't practice Wednesday, but he was upgraded to limited Thursday, so hopefully that momentum continues. Of course, Pickens is just a fringe starter absent a significant change in how the Steelers offense operates without Matt Canada, so you might be best off leaving him on your bench either way. Tee Higgins (hamstring) still isn't practicing and looks like a long shot to play yet again.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Titans- 3.5; 36.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Titans 20, Panthers 16.5
In a survivor pool I'm in, the Titans are the biggest favorite left among the teams I can choose from this week, and I just couldn't pull the trigger. Will Levis has looked pretty terrible since his four-touchdown debut, and last week he had 158 yards despite a 43-yard touchdown and a 49-yard completion to Chris Moore -- he had 64 yards on his other 15 attempts. The Panthers have been a cure for what ails a lot of teams, but the Titans haven't proven they can even take advantage of that.
- Toughest lineup decision: Derrick Henry -- Start. There really aren't many tough decisions to be made here: I'm starting DeAndre Hopkins as a WR3 and Adam Thielen as a high-end WR2 ... and that's pretty much it. The Panthers running backs are splitting reps too much to view either Chuba Hubbard or Miles Sanders as anything more than a fringe option. Henry is a starter for me, but I have him at RB17 right now, which might be the lowest he's ever been ranked for me. The Titans haven't been force-feeding him the same way they did in the past, with rookie Tyjae Spears continuing to play in a pretty even snap share, especially when they are trailing. What Henry has going for him this week is an opponent the Titans should be able to keep it close with, and potentially even beat. Henry has become extremely matchup-dependent, but this should be a good one.
- Injuries to watch: Treylon Burks (concussion) and Hayden Hurst (concussion) still aren't practicing as of Wednesday, and that's all the Fantasy-relevant injuries we're monitoring for this one -- and that's kind of stretching the definition of "Fantasy relevant."
Buccaneers at Colts
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Colts -2.5; 43.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Colts 23, Buccaneers 20
The schedule has been very favorable for the Colts lately, and it lines up remarkably well for them to make a surprise playoff run -- they've got the Titans, Bengals (without Burrow), Steelers, Falcons, and Raiders leading up to a Week 18 matchup against the Texans. That could be a surprisingly important game for the AFC playoff picture.
- Toughest lineup decision: Chris Godwin -- Start. It's pretty hard to get excited about Godwin at this point, who has just one touchdown on the season and no games with more than 54 receiving yards since Week 7. But I remain pretty optimistic about his usage -- he has 13 red zone targets as well as eight targets thrown into the end zone, with no touchdowns to show for it. The league average catch rate on end zone targets is 36%, so you'd expect three touchdowns on those eight targets, more or less. He's not the WR1 he has been in the past, but I think we'll see better production from Godwin moving forward and I'm still ranking him in the WR2/3 range.
- Injuries to watch: At least as far as Fantasy relevant players are concerned, these two teams are in good shape heading into Sunday's games at this point, assuming Chris Godwin's limited tags Wednesday and Thursday with knee and elbow injuries are as minor as they seem.
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Patriots -3; 33.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Patriots 18.25, Giants 15.25
This is the lowest over/under on the schedule for this week, and I'm honestly surprised it's not a little lower with the Patriots still waffling on their starting QB. These are two of the worst offenses in the NFL right now, and clearly, Vegas isn't buying into the Giants surprise win against the Commanders last week.
- Toughest lineup decision: Rhamondre Stevenson -- Start. The potential for the entire Patriots offense to unravel makes it hard to trust anyone here, but Stevenson remains in the low-end RB2 range with the hope that he'll see something close to his Week 10 role when he had 20 carries and five targets. The passing game role remains pretty consistent, but that was his first game with more than 10 carries since Week 4. It's a precarious Start call, for sure.
- Injuries to watch: The Patriots are playing coy about their starting QB, but not because of injuries -- Mac Jones had X-rays taken after their past game but is not on the injury report for this week. DeVante Parker (concussion) was limited Wednesday, so he could be back this week, which does complicate Demario Douglas' Fantasy appeal.
Jaguars at Texans
- Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
- Line: Jaguars -2; 48.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Jaguars 25.25, Texans 23.25
This is about the time of the year in 2022 when Trevor Lawrence started to turn it on, and the hope is his four-touchdown performance last week can kick-start what has otherwise been a pretty disappointing season. And the stakes are pretty high here because the Texans could be in first place in the AFC South if they win this week.
- Toughest lineup decision: Calvin Ridley -- Start. Ridley had his best game of the season in Week 11, and now the question is whether it was just another boom for a boom-or-bust receiver or something he can repeat. I'm ranking him as a high-end WR3, so I'm kind of buying into it, but not really. They did some interesting things with Ridley by moving him around the formation and getting him in motion more to combat the press coverage he has struggled with, but that might have just been a one-time thing or a matchup-specific approach. If he has another big game this week, it'll be a lot easier to buy in.
- Injuries to watch: Dameon Pierce (ankle) practiced in full Wednesday and was taken off the injury report Thursday, which complicates Devin Singletary's value for this one. Singletary has been terrific, with 42.9 PPR points over the past two games with Pierce out, but he's more like an RB3 if he's going to split work with Pierce. It's not inconceivable that Singletary has done enough to remain the lead back moving forward, but Pierce will likely still have a role, and I'm not sure this offense has room for multiple backs to be Fantasy-relevant. Noah Brown (knee) still isn't practicing as of Thursday, so it looks like he'll miss another week.
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
- Line: Broncos -1.5; 34.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Broncos 18, Browns 16.5
This features the second-lowest over/under on the schedule, and it's pretty clear this is how the Browns are going to have to win moving forward -- Dorian Thompson-Robinson attempted 43 passes with a 3.4-yard average depth of target last week, with just nine of his 43 passes going at least to the first-down sticks. They're going to try to win every game 13-10.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jerome Ford -- Start. Ford is playing in a true timeshare, and last week he played his lowest snap share since Week 8 when he was playing through an injury. That's not great, though he did at least get the goal-line work after it seemed like Kareem Hunt might be taking that role for himself. Ford should be good for 12-15 carries and a decent amount of targets -- Thompson-Robinson's lack of aggression helps him there -- against a defense that still struggles against the run. Ford is a fine fringe RB2/3, better if he finds the end zone.
- Injuries to watch: Samaje Perine (knee) was limited Wednesday, but got a full practice in Thursday, so he should be back in his role as the third-down and two-minute back in the Broncos offense.
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
- Line: PUSH; 44.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Rams 22.25, Cardinals 22.25
The Rams have felt weirdly off-kilter for much of the season, and injuries certainly haven't helped -- right when they're getting Kyren Williams back from IR, Cooper Kupp's status is up in the air due to an ankle injury, and Puka Nacua is dealing a shoulder issue, too. When they're right, I think the Rams are the better team, but they just haven't been right enough this season.
- Toughest lineup decision: Kyren Williams -- Start. It's going to be fascinating to see how the Rams approach Williams coming off IR. Sean McVay talked about how their usage of Williams early on wasn't sustainable, and then he broke down after six games. But the thing about McVay is, that's kind of a recurring theme; he'll talk about wanting to split RB work, but when he finds a back he trusts, he tends to play them 70% of the snaps or more most weeks. Williams was an elite Fantasy option thanks to that workload earlier, and if he returns to that role, you might have a top-12 RB on your hands ... as long as he doesn't break down again.
- Injuries to watch: Cooper Kupp (ankle) missed practice Wednesday but was limited Thursday, a sign he's not going to end up missing any time. Puka Nacua (shoulder) was a full participant Thursday, as was Williams, so we should see the Rams at full strength for the first time in a while, and I'm starting all three in a good matchup. On the other side, Marquise Brown (heel) was downgraded to a DNP Thursday after being limited Wednesday, a sign he might not be able to go. He's a WR3 if he does play.
Chiefs at Raiders
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: Chiefs -8.5; 42.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chiefs 25.5, Raiders 17
The Chiefs are coming off a loss that wasn't necessarily shocking, but it was gutting given the opportunities they squandered late against the Eagles. The margin for error should be a lot wider this week.
- Toughest lineup decision: Josh Jacobs -- Start. I'm not really considering sitting Jacobs, but I do worry ranking him as a top-12 RB might be too aggressive at this point. When the Raiders won in Weeks 9 and 10, he get 53 combined carries, but he got just 14 in Week 11 when they lost to the Dolphins, which highlighted a serious issue with his usage since the firing of Josh McDaniels: The Raiders aren't using him in the passing game. McDaniels' offenses, going back to his time in New England, targeted their running backs on early downs at a very high rate, which kept Jacobs involved in the passing game despite the fact that he rarely plays third downs. That has changed, and he has just three targets in three games now. If that trend continues, Jacobs is just a boring, TD-or-bust RB2 in a bad offense. And this is a bad matchup, too ... I'm talking myself into moving him down again.
- Injuries to watch: There aren't many injuries to worry about here -- Mecole Hardman (thumb) hasn't been practicing, but he's only been playing about 20% of the offensive snaps since returning to the Chiefs as part of their wide-open receiving group. Rashee Rice remains the only WR to consider here, and even he's a fringe WR3.
Bills at Eagles
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
- Line: Eagles -3.5; 48.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Eagles 26, Bills 22.5
The Eagles are in the midst of an absurdly tough stretch in the schedule, and so far, they'd snuck by the Cowboys and Chiefs with one-score games. They've got another tough matchup this week, with the 49ers and Cowboys looming over the following two weeks. If you can afford to stash a DST for the playoffs, they've got the Seahawks, Giants, and Cardinals beginning in Week 15, so it could be pretty valuable if you have the roster spot.
- Toughest lineup decision: Gabe Davis -- Sit. I mean, it's Gabe Davis, who knows. Just when you start to think you can rely on him, he lets you down, and when you think you can finally drop him, he goes off. He's a random number generator, and the Bills really didn't need to take many deep shots in a 32-6 win over the Jets last week. They'll probably need to be a lot more aggressive in this one, so it could be Davis' turn for the coin flip to come up heads. But I wouldn't want to have to rely on him, that's for sure.
- Injuries to watch: The Eagles have a crowded injury report, with A.J. Brown (thigh), D'Andre Swift (ankle), and Julio Jones (knee) all dealing with issues, though they've all been at least limited and should all probably be fine for Sunday.
- Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
- Line: Ravens -3.5; 47.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Ravens 25.5, Chargers 22
I'm far from the first person to note this, but it's just incredible how the Chargers continue to find new, inventive ways to lose in heartbreaking fashion. They're 2-5 in one-score games this season, and are probably better than their record ... if you could ever trust them in a close game.
- Toughest lineup decision: Odell Beckham -- Sit. Beckham isn't a must-sit coming off three games with at least 11 PPR points, but he's definitely not a must-start player yet. He has seven, two, and seven targets in that span while playing fewer than 50% of the snaps in each game, which tells you what the range of outcomes here is. He's been a big-play option for the Ravens lately, but that comes with plenty of variance -- in Week 10, he had one catch, and it just happened to be a long touchdown to save his game. He's in that Gabe Davis range of the rankings for me.
- Injuries to watch: Beckham didn't practice Wednesday with a shoulder injury suffered late in last week's game, though he was upgraded to limited Thursday, so hopefully he won't end up missing any time. Rashod Bateman also left practice Wednesday, though coach John Harbaugh downplayed it, and he was a full participant Thursday, so the Ravens could be at full strength this week. Gerald Everett (chest) got back to limited practice Wednesday and Thursday after missing last week's game, so it looks like he has a chance to return this week. He's a TE2 if he plays, while Donald Parham is a TE2 if Everett is out.
- Monday, 8:15 p.m.
- Line: Vikings -3.5; 43.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Vikings 23.5, Bears 20
Squint and you can kind of see the Bears starting to look like they've turned a corner. They're 3-4 since an 0-4 start, and three of the four losses have been by seven or fewer points. They've got a chance to play spoiler for the Vikings long-shot playoff hopes.
- Toughest lineup decision: Joshua Dobbs -- Start. I'm not even sure Dobbs is a tough decision anymore -- he's my QB7 this week. Partially, that's about having a pretty good matchup while some other typical must-start QBs have tough ones. But he's also scored 26.9, 27.1, and 18.9 points in three starts with the Vikings and might just be a must-start QB on his own merits now.
- Injuries to watch: The main things to watch here are Justin Jefferson (hamstring) and D'Onta Foreman (ankle). At this point, it sounds like Jefferson might take another week and come back after Week 13, but we might not know until Sunday, when they have to decide to take him off IR or not -- and that might not come until after lineups lock Sunday, so make alternate plans. Jefferson continues to be limited at practice, and probably won't play until he gets in at least one full practice, while Foreman didn't practidce Thursday and looks like he could be out.