We knew Sunday of Week 12 was going to be a wild one in the NFL, what with all of the absences due to injury and COVID protocols. The Broncos QB-less offense was somehow worse than expected, as they had more interceptions (two) than completions. Many of the best performances of Week 12 happened on Thanksgiving, but there were still plenty of impressive showings Sunday, including a nearly record-breaking performance by Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill.
Of course, Mitchell Trubisky was also the No. 6 QB for Week 12 in a two-interception game and Mike Glennon was a top-10 QB, so it wasn't all great. Catch up on everything you need to know from Sunday's action with my breakdown of the biggest winner and loser for each game as well as what you might have overlooked from around the NFL. For an early look at the Week 13 waiver wire, head over here. And catch up on the biggest storylines from Week 12 with Heath Cummings' Believe it or Not column here.
Both offenses sputtered in the second half, but the Bills did enough early to hang on for the win.
- Winner: Austin Ekeler -- Worried the Chargers would work Ekeler in slow? Well, he had 14 carries and 16 targets, Sunday, so I sure hope you had him in your lineup. If you didn't, you'll make sure you do moving forward. Joshua Kelley did vulture a touchdown, but this was Ekeler's backfield as he played 59 of 82 snaps. Ekeler has top-five upside, and I think he'll be right in that conversation for the rest of the season, because Justin Herbert has made this offense better than ever.
- Loser: Josh Allen and Justin Herbert -- There were always going to be some rough patches for these two, and they hit one at the same time Sunday. Allen struggled with his accuracy and decision making, while Herbert just wasn't at his best overall, especially in the second half.
- What you might have missed: How bad did things get in the second half? Well, the Bills and Chargers both scored on their first drives of the second half, but then here's how the next eight drives went: BUF three-and-out, LAC turnover on downs, BUF fumble, LAC field goal, BUF fumble, LAC punt, BUF INT, LAC INT. The Chargers forced three turnovers in the second half and had three points to show for them. And it was a lot of self-inflicted issues, none worse than when Herbert completed two Hail Mary's in a row in the final minute -- the first overturned by an offensive pass interference, the second caught at the 2-yard line. Inexplicably, the Chargers ran up the field and … ran the ball. With no timeouts. Austin Ekeler got stuffed, and that was pretty much the game. They still had a chance, but they blew it with inexplicable play calling.
- Winner: Devante Parker -- Parker had actually fared pretty well with Tua Tagovailoa, catching 12 of 20 passes (20.6% target rate) for 116 yards and a pair of scores, but it's obvious Fitzpatrick is better for him. He was targeted 14 times Sunday, catching eight for 119 yards, and he is now averaging 8.9 yards per target with a 23.2% target rate with Fitzpatrick. It looks like Fitzpatrick could start multiple games with Tagovailoa's thumb injury, and I'll probably view Parker as a No. 2 Fantasy WR in Week 13 against the Bengals if that is the case.
- Loser: Jamison Crowder -- We had hoped Darnold's return would lead to a return of Crowder as the passing game's focal point, and it looked like it would happen early on, as three of Darnold's first five targets went to Crowder. However, he would receive just two more for the rest of the game, finishing with three catches for 31 yards. He now has just 11 targets over the past three games, and can't be viewed as much more than a low-end flex unless that early-season role returns.
- What you might have missed: DeAndre Washington didn't really get much work until garbage time, but that's not necessarily because he's just a garbage-time back for the Dolphins. It may have more to do with Matt Breida and Patrick Laird, who fumbled on consecutive drives, leading to Washington's increased workload. Maybe that leads to more faith in Washington moving forward.
Neither offense was at its best, but the Patriots did just enough to cinch it up with a game-winning field goal.
- Winner: James White -- White didn't have the expected passing game role, as Cam Newton targeted him just twice. However, the absence of Rex Burkhead was clearly still a boon for his value because White took on Burkhead's red-zone role, scoring twice on his five carries. He'll need more work than that moving forward to be a reliable starter, but he should get it, and it was a good sign to see him getting those valuable touches in close.
- Loser: Kyler Murray -- The concern with Murray playing through a shoulder injury was that it would make him less precise as a passer and less aggressive as a rusher, and that's pretty much exactly what we saw Sunday. Murray was just a bit off as a passer and ran the ball just five times for the second week in a row, matching a season-low. Murray should remain healthy enough to play, but what we've seen over the past two games is a little concerning as he tries to play through this injury.
- What you might have missed: Murray could have had a better day, but he and Christian Kirk just missed on a few plays. Kirk nearly brought in a long catch from Murray, but stepped just out of bounds, and he was overthrown on a few other deep shots. But the real killer came late in the second quarter, when Kirk couldn't hang on to what would have been a short touchdown from Murray as he rolled into the end zone.
The Panthers missed a few too many opportunities in a game where they couldn't afford it.
- Injuries: D.J. Moore (ankle) -- Moore suffered a non-contact injury trying to catch what should have been a touchdown, but was thrown behind him. He landed awkwardly and came up favoring his ankle, but it didn't appear as if he rolled the ankle, which raises concerns about a more serious potential injury. We'll hopefully find out more Monday … Teddy Bridgewater (shoulder) -- Bridgewater took a big hit on the team's final offensive play, and was favoring his left arm when he spiked the ball to stop the clock and had trouble getting off the field. We'll see what the injury is, but it could be an issue moving forward.
- Winner: Justin Jefferson -- Some wide receivers struggle when they are asked to step up as the No. 1 option, but Jefferson really didn't. Sure, it wasn't his most efficient game ever, but he beat one-on-one coverage for his touchdown and continued his strong rookie season. Adam Thielen should be back in time for Week 13, but at this point, you're starting Jefferson every week no matter what.
- Loser: Mike Davis -- The role has always been there for Davis, but he hasn't been able to get close to his early-season highs for a while. Sunday was another just-decent showing for him, but that might have been his last for a while if Christian McCaffrey's shoulder allows him to get back after the bye, as expected. Experience shows you shouldn't necessarily drop Davis, but you can't expect him to do much for you anymore.
- What you might have missed: Before Moore left with his injury, he was having a tough game, as much for the plays he didn't get a chance to make as anything else. Bridgewater just overthrew Moore for what would have been a 40-yard touchdown early in the game, and then he missed him at end of the game what would have been a short touchdown -- that was his worst throw of the game. In between, Moore got his hands on another ball that would have been a touchdown, but it got broken up. I've written a lot this season about how Moore's role as the downfield guy in the Panthers offense gives him high weekly upside, but there's always a slim margin for error between meeting that upside and getting written about for the touchdowns you almost scored. The Panthers are on a bye in Week 13, so hopefully Moore is good to go in time for the Fantasy playoffs.
Mike Glennon was able to keep the Jaguars in it, though this was one of those games that never felt as close as it was. The Browns approach to offense makes it somewhat hard to pull away, but they never really struggled.
- Winner: Jarvis Landry -- Landry has been seeing a huge target share since Odell Beckham's injury, but it hadn't turned into big Fantasy production because the Browns were barely throwing it and were often stuck in poor conditions for throwing. Under sunny skies Sunday, Landry showed what kind of upside he has, catching eight of 11 passes thrown his way for 143 yards and a touchdown. The Browns ideal game plan doesn't feature many throws from Baker Mayfield, but he'll look Landry's way often when he does, and you can view Landry as a borderline No. 2 WR moving forward.
- Loser: Kareem Hunt -- This is one of those, "Well, someone has to fit the category" situations. Hunt wasn't bad at all Sunday, rushing for 62 yards on 10 carries, but he had just two targets and failed to bring in either. That gives Hunt just one catch over his past two games, and he hasn't had more than 28 receiving yards in a game all season. He still gets enough touches overall to be worth starting, but you'd sure like to see more from him in the passing game.
- What you might have missed: Mayfield ended up with decent numbers, but he left a lot of points on the board with his struggles with accuracy. Mayfield missed Rashard Higgins wide open in the end zone early in the game with no pressure in his face -- he just fell away from the line and overthrew Higgins. He also missed Landry multiple times in the end zone, threw behind Kareem Hunt on what could have been a touchdown in the red zone, and then couldn't connect with Harrison Bryant later on. This could have been a laugher.
The Titans won in their ideal style, with a ton of Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown making big plays.
- Winner: A.J. Brown -- The thing about Brown is, he just needs one play to make you glad you started him, and he's better than just about anyone in the NFL at making that one play. What makes him so special is his ability to make plays in every level of the field; he's one of the best yards after catch players in the NFL, leading WRs each of the last two years per reception, but he also regularly sees targets down the field. Usually, you have to trade off between those two things. Brown is the rare player who can do both, and it's what makes him such a dangerous player -- and a truly elite Fantasy option.
- Loser: Michael Pittman -- I still think Pittman is going to have a good stretch at some point, but you can't bet on it at this point. He led the team's WRs with nine targets Sunday, but caught just two of them for 28 yards. Some of that was his fault, but mostly Philip Rivers just wasn't very accurate. Pittman is the Colts No. 1 WR, and that just may not be enough to make him a Fantasy starter.
- What you might have missed: On multiple occasions, the Colts brought in Jacoby Brissett to replace Rivers at the goal line, and on two such occasions, Brissett found the end zone on QB keepers. Maybe it was just because Rivers' toe was bothering him, or maybe the Colts RB issues -- Jonathan Taylor was unavailable and Jordan Wilkins was out for stretches with a hip injury -- but Brissett was the ultimate vulture in Week 12.
Giants 19, Bengals 17
What devolved into a Colt McCoy-Brandon Allen duel didn't have many fireworks. I know, surprising.
- Injuries: Daniel Jones (hamstring) -- Jones went down awkwardly on a rush attempt, and had trouble coming off the field. He tried to go back into the game, but just clearly wasn't up for it. We'll see how serious it is this week, but it would be tough to trust Jones even against a bad Seahawks defense.
- Winner: Evan Engram -- Engram has made some really high-profile mistakes, and he may never get that part of his game out of the picture. However, Sunday was a nice reminder of what we're holding on to. There aren't many tight ends with Engram's ability to make big plays down the field, so hopefully Sunday was the start of a second-half breakout. I wouldn't bet on it, but I would be starting Engram every week down the stretch.
- Loser: Bengals offense -- Well, that was about as bad as we expected. Brandon Allen threw for just 136 yards on his 29 attempts, and they added 40 yards on the ground as a team. Tee Higgins found the end zone, but he led the team with just 44 yards on his five catches, which is about as uninspiring as it sounds.
- What you might have missed: When the backup comes in, you're just hoping they can keep you afloat and make the plays that are there, and Colt McCoy didn't really do that Sunday. He completed six of 10 but for just 31 yards, and no miss hurt more than when he overthrew Dion Lewis in the red zone for what should have been an easy touchdown. If McCoy starts for the Giants, expectations should be very low for this offense.
Things had been going so well for Derek Carr, so of course he flopped against the Falcons. Maybe they aren't such an easy matchup anymore?
- Injuries: Josh Jacobs (ankle) -- Jacobs had just seven carries Sunday before the injury, and he is expected to have it examined Monday to determine the extent of the injury. If Jacobs is out, Devontae Booker would be the top waiver-wire pickup for Week 13 and a must-start running back.
- Winner: There really wasn't much to take from this game that was positive. Matt Ryan continued to struggle without Julio Jones, and while Brian Hill played better than Todd Gurley has for most of the season, he ceded touches to Ito Smith, something Gurley hasn't really done this season.
- Loser: Derek Carr -- You can probably just chalk this one up to a bad day, but it was more than a bit alarming. The Raiders line struggled to protect him, and he struggled to read the rush. He should get Trent Brown back on the line soon, and with a matchup against the lowly Jets on the way in Week 13, you'll probably want to go back into battle with him. You just won't feel great about it.
- What you might have missed: Raiders coach Jon Gruden told reporters he wanted to do a better job of getting Henry Ruggs involved, and that was a focal point early Sunday. He nearly scored on a long catch in the first half, but stepped out of bounds just before the end zone; Ruggs couldn't bring in another long target and finished with three catches for 55 yards on five targets, his most involvement since Week 1.
A huge letdown game for the Rams, though maybe the 49ers aren't as much of a pushover now that they are starting to get healthy-ish.
- Winner: Cam Akers -- At some point, the Rams need to give Akers an extended look, right? This was his best game of the season, as he rushed for 84 yards on nine carries with a touchdown, but Darrell Henderson still had more carries and targets, while Malcolm Brown had just two fewer touches. Akers is definitely starting to show signs of life, and he's a solid add where available, but I wouldn't expect to be able to start him any time soon. Still, he's got as much value as any of the handcuffs right now, at the very least.
- Loser: Jared Goff -- That's three games in the past four with one or no touchdowns for Goff. He actually has a higher touchdown rate than last season overall, but it's hard to feel like you can trust him at this point. He's too reliant on Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods making plays after the catch, and that's an inconsistent way to rack up points.
- What you might have missed: Given that he started the season out with an injury and then had to go on IR mid-season, you would think the 49ers might have wanted to work Deebo Samuel back in slowly. Instead, he played 63 of 72 snaps, ran 34 routes, and led the team with 13 targets, 11 catches and 133 yards. Amazingly, his targets traveled just 8 yards down the field total. That bodes well for his value moving forward, because Brandon Aiyuk has shown solid skills down the field, which allows them to coexist without necessarily taking away from one another. It's an unorthodox role, but the 49ers want to get the ball in Samuel's hands in space, and Kyle Shanahan is about as good as anyone in the NFL at doing that.
Saints 31, Broncos 3
Hot take: Neither team had an NFL-caliber quarterback on the field Sunday.
- Injuries: Phillip Lindsay (knee) -- Exited the game in the third quarter and was unable to return, so that'll be a concern moving forward. Lindsay technically started the game at QB for the Broncos, running the Wildcat several times and having some success with it until the Saints snuffed it out.
- Winner: Latavius Murray -- In two games with Taysom Hill under center, Murray has 173 rushing yards on 31 attempts plus three catches for 38 yards. He won't keep up a near-6.0 yards per carry mark, but the addition of Hill, the threat of his running, and the inherently conservative game plan the Saints are using means more opportunities for Murray. He's in the low-end No. 2 RB discussion now.
- Loser: Alvin Kamara -- But it has been very bad for Kamara's value. Kamara is a solid runner, but what makes him stand out for Fantasy is his pass catching, and he was on a historic pace until Hill took over. Now, in two games with Hill, Kamara has three targets and one catch -- and that catch went for -2 yards on a screen pass Hill badly miss threw. You have to wonder if the Saints are just trying to keep Kamara fresh given his foot injury and the blowout nature of their two wins.
- My biggest takeaway: I think this might sound stupid given that they've scored by 55 points and won their two games by a combined 43, but the Taysom Hill experiment is not working. Or, more accurately: It is working within the very specific circumstances the Saints have found themselves in, against an overmatched Falcons team and a Broncos squad that, quite frankly, shouldn't have been on the field Sunday. Hill still looks like a bad thrower -- bad -- and this offense isn't going to work against a more prepared opponent. The Saints might not face that in Week 13 against the Falcons, but eventually if he remains the starter, it's going to hurt them. And it's already hurting the Fantasy prospects of Kamara.
Chiefs 27, Buccaneers 24
This one wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated -- Tyreek Hill made sure of that.
- Winner: Tyreek Hill -- That was, simply put, one of the most dominant performances we've ever seen from a wide receiver -- he scored the sixth-most PPR points of any WR ever in his 13-catch, 269-yard, three-TD game. He had 203 yards in the first quarter. There were some concerns among some Fantasy players about Tyreek Hill after he was only on pace for 1,024 yards and 11 touchdowns after the first six games of the season. In five games since? Hill has 43 receptions for 637 yards and nine touchdowns. With five games left, Hill already has 68 catches, 1,021 yards and 13 touchdowns. That would have made him the No. 6 WR last season and No. 12 in 2018.
- Loser: Antonio Brown -- While Mike Evans and Chris Godwin looked more or less like we hoped they would Sunday, Brown was a total non-factor. He was targeted just three times, catching two for 11 yards. That's disappointing after he had 13 targets last week, however given that those 13 targets only led to 57 yards, it's probably not the wrong idea for the Bucs offense. Brown has no games with double-digit points in non-PPR or 15-plus in PPR, and he's now averaging 42 yards per game and 5.8 yards per target in four games. You might not have the courage to cut someone with his name, but Brown doesn't look like a must-start option to me.
- My biggest takeaway: One thing that has been clear since the start of the season is that the Ronald Jones-Leonard Fournette backfield just doesn't make much sense. The problem is, they are pretty much the same player, with similar strengths and, most importantly, weaknesses. Neither is a particularly good pass catcher, which is a problem because they play with Tom Brady. Coming into Sunday's game, Jones and Fournette had combined for as many targets as Mike Evans; they still have more between them entering Week 13 than anyone but Evans. If you're wondering why this offense has been a bit disjointed, that's certainly part of it. The Buccaneers would be better off if they could swap Fournette out for a James White or J.D. McKissic type -- and it would be a much better situation for Fantasy. Instead, we're just left with a mess of ill-defined roles and inconsistent usage.
Mitch Trubisky wasn't the problem, but he isn't the solution either.
- Winner: David Montgomery -- Ever since Tarik Cohen went down with an injury, we've been telling you that Montgomery's role in this offense makes him too valuable to sit, and we saw why Sunday. No, he won't rush for 103 yards on 11 carries every week; he probably won't rush for 103 yards on 22 carries every week. But you're looking at a guaranteed lead back with no competition for carries who also gets passing game work. The Bears are a mess, Montgomery is a bust, yada yada yada. Role > talent at running back. Don't forget it. Tattoo it on your arm if it helps you remember.
- Loser: It's hard to identify anyone who really has less value Monday than they did Sunday from this game. Partially, that's just because expectations are so low for the Bears. However, this was another disappointing showing for Anthony Miller, who continues to see decent target volume with little to show for it. He could be a viable Fantasy option if the Bears get a better quarterback, but there's no need to roster him outside of deeper formats.
- What you might have missed: This one was pretty much garbage time from the end of the first quarter on, but there were signs of life early on, as the Bears got down to the Packers 9-yard line before their drive stalled out and they settled for a field goal. Montgomery did most of the heavy lifting on a 57-yard run, just his sixth run of 20 yards or longer in two seasons.
Seahawks 23, Eagles 17
At some point, the Eagles seriously have to consider making a change at quarterback.
- Winner: DK Metcalf -- Pro tip for future Seahawks opponents: Don't go up to Metcalf before the game and tell him he's good, but he's not as good as Calvin Johnson, as Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz allegedly did before kickoff Monday. Metcalf is the guy who holds a grudge against every team that passed on him in the draft -- which is every team. Early in the season, I said Metcalf wouldn't sustain his touchdown rate, and he hasn't; he has one touchdown every 12.8 targets over the last six games, compared to one every 7.8 targets in the first five games. Of course, after Monday's 10-catch, 177-yard performance, he's still averaging 17.4 PPR points per game in that stretch of six games. The combination of Metcalf's prodigious skills and his growing workload with Russell Wilson's historic efficiency makes him one of the best receivers in Fantasy.
- Loser: Carson Wentz -- Wentz was pressured on 19 of his 52 dropbacks, and it's really hard to succeed in those kinds of circumstances. But the bigger issue is it looks like he's being pressured even when he isn't. His pocket presence has regressed badly, and whether you want to blame the poor offensive line play, he's not even coming close to making the most of a bad situation. Wentz was actually a decent Fantasy QB this week, but his play has been bad news for pretty much everyone in this offense. You can start Dallas Goedert, and you probably can't go away from Miles Sanders at this point, but that might be it until Zach Ertz gets healthy. I'm not even sure if Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, or Alshon Jeffery even need to be on a 12-team roster.
- What you might have missed: According to pre-game reports, the Eagles were allegedly planning to get Jalen Hurts more week in Week 12, and he did play more snaps than in Week 11; he upped his snap count from one to two. Given how well Wentz has played in the past, I get why the Eagles wouldn't want to give up on him -- he could find it just as easily as he lost it, in theory. But at some point, you've gotta see what you have in the guy you drafted in the second round, right? My guess is, if the Eagles fall more than one game back of the NFC East lead, we'll see Hurts at some point. It's not guaranteed to be better, but it will at least be different.
- And one other note: Shout out to the two people who split the top prize in the FanDuel Monday Million contest on the last-minute Richard Rodgers tipped Hail Mary touchdown. Sometimes, you've just gotta be lucky.