Five up, five down for Week 12
It's another tough week for running backs as Fantasy owners continue to look for their best bets. Nathan Zegura offers his top starts and sits for Week 12 to make things a little easier.
The bye weeks are over and you will have your full roster at your disposal as you make a push for the Fantasy playoffs. Unfortunately it seems like as the bye weeks end, the injuries are mounting so you may still have some less-than-ideal decisions to make.
Here are five to start and five to sit as well as some favorable and unfavorable matchups to exploit to bring you a win in Week 12. Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy your turkey and may your players provide all of the stuffing you need in the stat sheets.
Get 'em active ...
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts (vs. BUF)
Current own/start %: 99/55
I'd start him over: Robert Griffin III (at DAL), Matt Schaub (at DET), Carson Palmer (at CIN) In Week 11, Andrew Luck had his best passing game yet on the road, with 334 yards and two touchdowns against the New England Patriots. His Fantasy totals were undone by four turnovers in that game, but he should have no such issues at home against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have just two interceptions and no quarterback fumbles in their last four games combined and Luck is a beast at home. In his five home games, Luck has accounted for 11 touchdowns and has thrown only two interceptions. It is no wonder that Luck has produced an average of 25.6 points per game at home this year and has never been below 18 points in a single game. Luck now has multiple touchdowns in seven of his last nine games and has thrown for 280 or more yards on eight occasions as well. The Bills are giving up 20.6 points per game to quarterbacks this year, eight most in the NFL despite only facing a legit quarterback in three games total all year. In those three games, Tom Brady (twice) and Matt Schaub combined for eight touchdowns and averaged just under 27 Fantasy points per game. Look for Luck to have the big numbers without the turnovers this week and he will be a solid Top 12 option.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (vs. OAK)
Current own/start %: 96/48
I'd start him over: Cam Newton (at PHI), Tony Romo (vs. WAS), Matthew Stafford (vs. HOU) Did you know that Andy Dalton has six games with three or more total touchdowns and has produced at least 25 Fantasy points in all of them. Dalton has a 60 percent big game rate this year, tied for fourth among all quarterbacks behind only Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. The Red Rifle can flat out ball and also has four games of 30 or more points to his credit in 2012. It certainly helps to have a wide receiver like A.J. Green on your side as Green has caught a touchdown pass in a remarkable nine straight games. This should be Dalton's seventh big game and Green's 10th straight with a score as the Bengals host the horrendous Oakland Raiders in Week 12. The Raiders have allowed an average of 28 Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over the last three weeks. During those games, they have surrendered nine total quarterback touchdowns and even allowed Joe Flacco to lead all players in Fantasy points in Week 10. Yep, in their last road game the Raiders let Flacco throw for 341 yards and three touchdowns while he ran in another score. Oakland has given up at least 38 points in three straight games and Andy Dalton should feast on an overmatched secondary that gets no help from a non-existent pass rush.
Other QBs with favorable matchups: Cam Newton (at PHI), Josh Freeman (vs. ATL), Matt Ryan (at TB), Tony Romo (vs. WAS), Colin Kaepernick (at NO), Robert Griffin III (at DAL), Matt Schaub (at DET), Carson Palmer (at CIN), Philip Rivers (vs. BAL), Ryan Fitzpatrick (at IND)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals (vs. OAK)
Current own/start %: 99/78
I'd start him over: Ryan Mathews (vs. BAL), Shonn Greene (vs. NE), Felix Jones (vs. WAS) It was tough to endorse BenJarvus Green-Ellis last week, but it worked out against the Kansas City Chiefs and I am going back to the well with him this week. After all, The Law Firm will get to run wild on the Oakland Raiders in Week 12 and that is really all the reason you should need to start him. The Raiders have allowed seven rushing touchdowns in their last three games alone and are giving up an average of 31 Fantasy points per game to running backs during that span. Opposing runners are averaging 5.9 yards per carry over the last three games and have also added a healthy 46 yards per game catching passes out of the backfield as well. Now Green-Ellis is not going to catch many passes, but he should have a good shot to score against the Raiders this week because every runner with at least 12 carries has scored against Oakland this season. Last week it was Mark Ingram, who ran 12 times for 67 yards and a touchdown and if you add up Ingram and Chris Ivory, they would have run 20 times for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders in Week 11. That is exactly what Green-Ellis could do this week and I can't believe I am saying it, but it is very likely he will have 100 yards rushing with a touchdown for the second straight week.
Other RBs with favorable matchups: Trent Richardson (vs. PIT), Ryan Mathews (vs. BAL), Marcel Reece (at CIN), Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller (at IND), Vick Ballard (vs. BUF), Andre Brown (vs. GB), Ronnie Hillman (at KC), Jamaal Charles (vs. DEN), Steven Jackson (at ARI), LaRod Stephens-Howling if he starts (vs. STL), Jalen Parmele (vs. TEN), Bryce Brown if he starts (vs. CAR)
Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers (vs. BAL)
Current own/start %: 59/34
I'd start him over: Danny Amendola (at ARI), James Jones (at NYG), Mike Wallace (at CLE) No receiver has stepped into a new situation and become an immediate difference maker like Danario Alexander in 2012. Robert Meachem could not cut the mustard and has been sent to the bench for Alexander, who possesses a similar size, speed combination to Vincent Jackson. His production over the last three weeks has been nothing short of spectacular as Alexander has a grand total of 15 catches for 291 yards and three scores on just 21 targets. Alexander is averaging 19.4 yards per catch as well as 13.6 yards and 2.23 points per target in his early remarkable run. With the Baltimore Ravens bringing an injured secondary to town in Week 12, I expect Alexander to find the end zone for the third straight week. In Baltimore's last three games against solid passing attacks (Dallas, Houston and Oakland), the Ravens have allowed five wide receiver touchdowns and given up an average of 27 points per game to the position. Alexander is hot and leads the team in targets over the last three weeks, which is good because the opposing top target in those three highlighted games averaged 14 points against the Ravens and Alexander has that kind of potential this week.
Other WRs with favorable matchups: Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones (at NYG), Cecil Shorts (vs. TEN), Michael Crabtree (at NO), Lance Moore (vs. SF), Miles Austin and Dez Bryant (vs. WAS), Steve Johnson and Donald Jones (at IND), T.Y. Hilton (vs. BUF), Denarius Moore (at CIN), Hakeem Nicks (vs. GB), Danny Amendola (at ARI), Malcom Floyd (vs. BAL), Torrey Smith (at SD), Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell (at PHI), Sidney Rice and Golden Tate (at MIA), Jeremy Kerley (vs. NE), Tennessee wide receivers (at JAX), Justin Blackmon (vs. TEN), Darrius Heyward-Bey (at CIN), Mohammed Sanu (vs. OAK)
Dustin Keller, TE, Jets (vs. NE)
Current own/start %: 58/32
I'd start him over: Kyle Rudolph (at CHI), Brandon Pettigrew (vs. HOU), Heath Miller (at CLE) Keller has been in a bit of a slump, but that will change in Week 12 when he takes on the New England Patriots. In his first meeting with the Pats, Keller caught all seven of his targets for 93 yards and a touchdown and if the Jets hope to keep pace in Week 12, they will need a similar performance. There is a very good chance that Keller can repeat those totals this week because the Patriots have had a very tough time slowing down opposing tight ends. For the year, the Patriots are allowing 9.4 Fantasy points per game to the position, fourth most in the NFL. They are giving up an average of 6.2 catches (second most) and 66.4 yards per game (third most) to tight ends and recently, it has been even worse. In the last four games, the Patriots have allowed seven catches, 77.25 yards, 0.5 touchdowns and 10.25 points per game. Only one tight end group all year has been below six Fantasy points and only two have failed to produce more than 60 yards. The Jets will need to throw the ball a lot this week and Keller should be the seventh tight end in the last nine games to finish in the Top 12 for the week against the Patriots.
Ride the pine ...
Eli Manning, QB, Giants (vs. GB)
Current own/start %: 99/25
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton (vs. OAK), Tony Romo (vs. WAS), Colin Kaepernick (at NO) I truly believe that Eli Manning will be a solid starting quarterback for the rest of the 2012 season, but I want to see it before I get him into my lineups. If you do not have any other options this week, I think you can get a solid 18 points from Eli, but with all 32 teams in action, I do not think that Eli will be a Top 12 quarterback. He has not thrown a touchdown pass in three straight games and has only two touchdown passes with six interceptions in his last five games. Eli has been held under 220 yards passing in four of those five games and he is averaging only 5.6 Fantasy points per game during that span. Believe it or not, but Eli has topped 20 Fantasy points in only three games all season long, so he has not been the consistent Fantasy performer that he was a year ago. Getting a healthy Hakeem Nicks back should help, but I want to see Eli deliver before I trust him two weeks before my Fantasy playoffs. After all, the Green Bay Packers are a surprisingly solid pass defense. They have not allowed multiple passing touchdowns or a 20-point quarterback in five straight games. Andrew Luck and Drew Brees are the only quarterbacks to produce 20 points against Green Bay in the last nine games and over the last five games, Green Bay is allowing just 12.6 points per game to quarterbacks. The matchup is not nearly as enticing as it sounds and Eli needs to bust out of his slump or show some signs of life before I start him at this point of the season.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons (at TB)
Current own/start %: 100/64
I'd rather start: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. OAK), Fred Jackson (at IND), Steven Jackson (at ARI) The Burner snuck in a touchdown in Week 11 to cover up another ugly 45-yard rushing performance against the Arizona Cardinals. Turner has now been held under 60 yards rushing in four of his last five games and has been below 50 yards in three of those games. He has just two touchdowns during that span and is averaging only seven points per game. This week he takes on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who allow a league low 70.7 yards per game to running backs on just 3.6 yards per carry (third lowest). In fact, four of the last six teams to face the Bucs have averaged 3.2 yards per carry or less against Tampa, which is right in Turner's wheelhouse. Since Week 6, only Adrian Peterson has run for more than 55 yards against the Bucs and that also sounds like it is right up Turner's alley. Sure he could fall in the end zone a la Jonathan Stewart last week and give you 10 points, but keep in mind that only two runners in the last six games have produced 10 Fantasy points based on their rushing totals alone. I am not taking that risk with Turner if I can avoid it, so I am sitting him down this week.
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins (vs. SEA)
Current own/start %: 99/61
I'd rather start: Ronnie Hillman (at KC), Andre Brown (vs. GB), Jalen Parmele (vs. TEN) I am done with Reggie Bush and you should be too. I did not like him before the season and after his 10 carries for 20 yards against Buffalo, I like him even less. Bush has been held to five or fewer Fantasy points in four of his last five games and has been limited to 21 or fewer rushing yards in three of those games, including each of the last two. In fact, Bush has not rushed for 60 yards in a game since Week 4 and he has rushed for 70 yards only once all year long. He is sharing carries with Daniel Thomas and has not even produced 75 total yards in a game since Week 2. Without a touchdown he has no chance at 10 points and with the Seattle Seahawks coming to town, I am putting Bush on the far end of the bench. Since Week 3, only Adrian Peterson has scored against this Seattle defense and we all know that Reggie is not even a poor man's AP. Add in the fact that only Frank Gore and AP have rushed for 60 yards against this defense and it is clear that all you need to do is change the last letter of Reggie's last name from Bush to bust for Week 12.
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions (vs. HOU)
Current own/start %: 99/59
I'd rather start: Mikel Leshoure has not produced a receiving point in four straight games, so he will need to rely on his rushing totals for production in Week 12. He is coming off of a very impressive 84 yards and a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers, but the funny thing about Leshoure is that he has not been able to string good games together back to back. Every time Leshoure has scored or produced 10 Fantasy points, he has followed that game up with four or fewer points in the next game. He could be headed for another turkey this week when the Lions host the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving. The Texans have not allowed a running back rushing touchdown all year and they surrender just 9.2 Fantasy points per game to running backs, fewest in the NFL. The Texans are the only team to allow less than 10 points per games to running backs and no running back has even produced 10 Fantasy points against them in six straight games. In fact, only two running backs have topped 50 yards rushing during that span and none have produced more than 80 yards on the ground, which is impressive considering Houston faced Ray Rice, Matt Forte, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson amongst others during that span. After playing a game that was way too close against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I expect the Texans to make a statement in Week 12 and I would keep Leshoure reserved on Thanksgiving.
Other RBs with tough matchups: Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. GB), Rashard Mendenhall (at CLE), Jonathan Stewart (at PHI), Felix Jones if not 100 percent (vs. WAS), Mark Ingram (vs. SF), James Starks (at NYG), Bilal Powell (vs. NE)
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots (at NYJ)
Current own/start %: 100/41
I'd rather start: Brandon Lloyd has a grand total of 124 receiving yards in his last four games, which is a whopping 31 yards per game in the New England offense. Lloyd has been held under 51 yards receiving now in six of his last seven games and has just three games of 10 or more Fantasy points all season long. The worst of his disappointing performances came in Week 7 against these same New York Jets, when Antonio Cromartie held Lloyd to just one catch for six yards on eight targets. Since that game, Lloyd has not seen eight targets in any game and I would think that Tom Brady has become frustrated with Lloyd's awful 4.96 yards per target over the last month. With Rob Gronkowski out, Lloyd will be asked to pick up the slack in the vertical passing game, but I do not think he is up to the task. Lloyd has just four catches on 20 or more yards all year, none of 30 yards and none in the last four games and that was with defenses paying a ton of attention to Gronk. Cromartie may be the toughest cover in the NFL right now, allowing only one receiver, Sidney Rice, to top 10 points against him in the last seven games and Rice needed to score on a wide receiver pass gimmick play to get there. In this span, no other receiver has topped six Fantasy points against Cromartie and Michael Crabtree, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Lloyd and Brian Hartline have combined for just 12 Fantasy points total against AC. Lloyd has a great name and plays in a great offense, but his production has been horrendous and I am not confident that will change this week.
Some WRs and TEs with tough matchups: Percy Harvin (at CHI), Brian Hartline (vs. SEA), Josh Gordon (vs. PIT), Andre Roberts (vs. STL), Pierre Garcon (at DAL), Titus Young (vs. decent behavior), Jeremy Maclin (vs. CAR), Mike Wallace if Joe Haden plays (at CLE), Kyle Rudolph (at CHI), Brent Celek (vs. CAR), Heath Miller (at CLE)
Good luck this week and happy Thanksgiving!
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