Week 12 Fantasy Cheat Sheet
What should owners expect from Josh Gordon in his first action of 2014? Our Dave Richard shares his thoughts on that and the rest of Week 12 in his latest Fantasy Cheat Sheet.
Editor's note: FanDuel.com is hosting a one-week $2.5 million Fantasy Football contest for Week 12. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $300,000. Starts Sunday, November 23rd at 1 p.m. ET. Enter now to play with Dave.
This week's confidence scale is based on video games for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Because back in the 1980s you were brimming with confidence if you had one of those in your house. You and everyone else.
1. Wall Street Kid. A video game based on making pretend stock
market trades. It was impossible to beat and about as relevant to
elementary school kids as Nintendo was to my grandmother.
2. Back To The Future. Great movie series, awful video game. It's basically Paperboy, minus the bike, with a dash of Root Beer Tapper mixed in.
3. Mighty Bomb Jack. Essentially a rip-off of Super Mario Bros., your goal is to collect bombs (instead of coins) in order to advance level after level and ultimately save The King. Here's how the game ends.
4. Top Secret Episode: Golgo 13. I knew nothing of the Japanese comic, knew nothing of foreign espionage but I loved the intro to the video game. It was all over my head and the game was pretty much impossible to navigate but the storylines in-between all the action was exciting. Or seemed exciting to 10-year-old me.
5. Excitebike. Build tracks, race on them, repeat. And yes, I built a track almost completely made up of those pyramid-looking ramps.
6. Gauntlet. I played a lot of this as a kid, often using the wizard instead of the warrior. Good tactical fighting game. I always liked destroying Death.
7. SNK Baseball Stars. The preferred choice of baseball games (sorry RBI baseball), this one had the best control and little details that made playing virtual baseball fun for those of us who couldn't hit a curve. It was also among the first to have a full season mode where your players got better as you won games. I can't even fathom how much time I wasted playing this.
8. Mike Tyson's Punch Out! Probably one of a handful of games everyone who owned a Nintendo had. As a kid there wasn't a better feeling than knocking out Mike Tyson and getting your hand raised by a state-licensed Super Mario referee.
9. Contra. Up up down down left right left right B A start.
10. Tecmo Bowl. You expected something else? A favorite to many, Tecmo made football impossibly fun and easy to play. Of course it also was a completely farcical version of football. Scoring in your own end zone? Dropping back 50 yards and completing a pass? Secret unstoppable plays? Bo Jackson? Tecmo had 'em all.
Enough about self-absorbing pretend games that take up tons of time for little to no payoff. Let's get on with Fantasy Football!
Packers at Vikings, Sun. 1 p.m. ET
To have any shot against Green Bay, Minnesota needs to get the ground game going. Last week they were down by four points to the Bears at halftime but came out of the second half with a plan to pass. To wit, Jerick McKinnon had one second-half carry. The Vikings have to stick with the run and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field to have a chance to win. They can't rely on Teddy Bridgewater.
Aaron Rodgers (9.5): Unless you replace his offensive line with five fat old ladies and his receivers with the fat old ladies' grandchildren, you can't possibly be worried about Rodgers. The track record is pretty good.
Teddy Bridgewater (2.1): It's an adventure with him out on the field -- and I'm not talking the fun kind like in The Hangover. He's barely completing 60 percent of his passes, has a 6.57 yards per attempt average, is dealing with a banged up receiving corps and doesn't have two touchdowns in a game yet this year. So even if the Packers have allowed multiple scores to four of the last five passers they've faced, don't bet on Bridgewater.
Eddie Lacy (9.4): Lacy made us forget about his rocky start the last time he faced the Vikings, racking up over 130 total yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota has allowed opposing lead backs to post at least 15 Fantasy points in each of their last two games and at least 150 total yards to running backs as a whole in six of its last seven games.
Jerick McKinnon (4.8): McKinnon needs more work for Fantasy owners to feel better about using him -- eight carries last week just wasn't enough. Could he do damage with, say, 15 touches against the Packers? Depends what you call "damage" -- of the 10 running backs with at least 15 touches against Green Bay this season, five have put up at least 10 Fantasy points with another one getting nine Fantasy points. McKinnon has had at least 15 touches in four of the five games since the Vikings' loss at Green Bay in Week 5 -- he should be in the flex conversation.
Jordy Nelson (9.0): Nelson had a 66-yard touchdown catch make up all of his stats vs. the Vikings back in Week 5. Last week, the Vikings allowed three touchdowns to the Bears stud receivers. I think he'll be fine.
Randall Cobb (8.6): Can't remember the last time Cobb had a sub-10-point Fantasy game? It was actually in Week 5 against these Vikings -- he had nine. With 100 yards and/or a touchdown in each of his last nine (he actually scored on the Vikes), there's no getting away from Cobb in Fantasy.
Charles Johnson (3.9): Who is this guy and what is he doing here? Strangely enough, he was the Vikings most-targeted receiver last week, catching six passes for 87 yards. If Greg Jennings is out then Johnson could be in position to rack up more opportunities from Bridgewater. The Packers have allowed at least one touchdown to a receiver in each of its last five games.
Kyle Rudolph (2.4): Fourteen snaps. That's all he had last week after we were led to believe he'd play more, catch more, do more. Until the Vikings come out and say he won't be on a snap count and will play a lot, keep him benched. Among tight ends, only Jimmy Graham has scored on the Packers in 2014.
Packers (8.6): With the Vikings inability to score points and sustain drives, the Packers defense looks particularly great. Minnesota has scored under 17 points in five of its last six games and has been held to 16 points or less in all of its losses.
Vikings (1.4): Aside from a sack or two, the Vikings DST won't get you many more points than the Panthers or Steelers DSTs this week. You'll catch the joke if you look at a Week 12 schedule.
Buccaneers at Bears, Sun. 1 p.m. ET
Assuming the weather fully cooperates (rain is in the forecast) this should be a very high-scoring game. That's because both of these defenses run the same kind of fundamental schemes -- the Bears are still running the 4-3 format that Lovie Smith put in while he was in Chicago. Smith has since installed the same defense in Tampa Bay. These offenses practice against these defenses daily and should be fully prepared to attack them.
Josh McCown (7.8): The former Bears backup is coming back to take on his old team, and he'll do so riding a two-game hot streak where he's averaged 294.5 yards per game with a pair of touchdowns in each. The big reason for his success is Mike Evans, who has been unstoppable. The good news is that the Bears defense doesn't offer a big pash rush and the secondary might be ill-equipped to contain McCown's targets. The Bears pass defense has allowed 24 touchdowns this season -- 21 in its last seven games. McCown is the best streaming quarterback you can find this week, not to mention a strong consideration in one-week leagues.
Jay Cutler (9.0): Wasn't it great to see Jay Cutler play well last week? Well, great if you're not a Vikings fan (or if you didn't play against him last week). Don't expect Cutler to fall into the same pitfalls that RG3 did last week against the Bucs. Griffin was one of three quarterbacks to not throw multiple touchdowns against the Bucs in the last four games. The others? Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Ryan, believe it or not. Otherwise you'd have to go back to Week 2 to find a quarterback to not throw multiple scores on the Bucs. There is something to be said for defensive-minded coaches coming back to play against the quarterback they used to work with, but Cutler should play well.
Charles Sims (3.9): Sims is clearly the future of the Bucs backfield, though the future looks big and unproductive thus far. That's because Sims has 59 rush yards on 21 carries and 25 yards on five catches in two NFL games. For the first time this year, the Bears held an opponents' crew of backs to under 10 cumulative Fantasy points last week. But they have allowed 4.28 yards per carry and 9.46 yards per catch to running backs over their last three games. It'll take a lot of work from Sims to grind his way to good Fantasy numbers, but he should be in the flex conversation in deeper leagues.
Matt Forte (9.6): Forte has been an animal, posting at least 16 Fantasy points in all but three games this season. Maybe you'd like to know that one running back has put up at least 16 points on the Bucs through 10 games (Pierre Thomas). Maybe that shouldn't matter in your decision to start Forte. Maybe I'm wasting my time writing about a player you're absolutely going to start this week no matter what.
Mike Evans (9.1): You'll start him of course, but you might like to know that during his three-game breakout he has caught 11 of 16 deep targets, including four of five for touchdowns. Of those targets, 7 of 9 came from McCown including 2 of 3 into the end zone. Don't expect this trend to slow down against a Bears secondary that has been exploited for four 10-plus-point games by opposing receivers in their last four overall.
Vincent Jackson (6.0): So while Evans has been plugging away, Jackson has been serviceable but not spectacular. Over 29 targets the last three weeks he has 17 catches for 204 yards and no touchdowns and no more than eight Fantasy points in a game. Eventually a defense will try to take Evans away with more than single coverage, and when they do, Jackson will have a good game. This could be the week, though Jackson might still be able to come up with numbers even while Evans does his best work. I'd put Jackson in the No. 3 receiver category.
Brandon Marshall (9.2): I like the chances for Marshall to get physical with the Bucs cornerbacks and collect on his glut of targets for another strong game. Since the bye, Marshall has had 10 targets per game and has found the end zone at least once per game with 90 yards or more. Those are very strong stats.
Alshon Jeffery (8.7): Last week's defense by the Bucs had more to do with the Washington offense misfiring than anything else. Before that game, the Bucs had allowed 14 touchdowns and 187.0 yards per game to receivers. Tampa Bay has allowed five receivers to notch at least 10 Fantasy points in its last five games, including two pairs of teammates getting there in that span. Jeffery should roll.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6.2): Expect more involvement from Seferian-Jenkins this week as the Bucs didn't have to throw a ton last week and had a lot of success on the outside against the Redskins. The Bears have been beat up from pillar to post by opposing tight ends, including Rhett Ellison last week. I mean for crying out loud they've allowed at least one touchdown to a tight end for four straight weeks. McCown knows how to exploit this defense and will do so with Seferian-Jenkins. He's a marvelous gamble for one-week league play.
Martellus Bennett (4.5): You know, you'd like to think that Bennett could find some room to put up numbers against the Bucs defense, but they've actually been great against opposing tight ends. We're in the middle of the third straight season where Bennett has cooled off as the weather gets colder. Very disappointing.
Buccaneers (2.5): The Bears had been giving opposing DSTs some nice finishes until last week when the Vikings were pummeled. Expect the Buccaneers to follow suit.
Bears (4.3): The Bears defense looked super against Teddy Bridgewater last week, but maybe after watching Josh McCown throw up some nice numbers last week, the Bears aren't a sharp choice. But they have to be considered a low-end sleeper -- the Bucs have allowed four of their last five opponents to finish as a Top 12 option.
Jaguars at Colts, Sun. 1 p.m. ET
What a horrible spot the Jaguars find themselves in. Since Gus Bradley took over in Jacksonville, the team has gone 0-3 against Indianapolis, losing by an average of 27.0 points per game. Now they'll take on the Colts in Indy as they come off of a bad home loss. Furthermore, Andrew Luck has lost consecutive games just once over his career. It might take a career game from Denard Robinson to keep the Jaguars in this one -- fortunately he's taking on the right opponent for it. Just ask Jonas Gray.
Blake Bortles (3.5): If there's anything to raise an eyebrow at it's that the Colts secondary has started to get shaky, allowing two passing touchdowns in each of their last two games following Big Ben's big six score party back in Week 8. But all of those scores came from accomplished passers whereas Bortles is still earning his stripes (or spots in the case of the Jags). Playing without his top target (Allen Robinson) won't help things, but he did throw two scores without Robinson catching either when he played for a half vs. the Colts in Week 3.
Andrew Luck (9.8): Luck's averages after three losses this year: 298.7 yards and 3.7 touchdowns per game with one interception. That includes a 370-yard, four-TD game at Jacksonville in Week 3. And now his run game has withered? He'll go off.
Denard Robinson (8.1): The Jaguars best chance to stay alive in this game is to lean on Robinson, who has at least 17 touches and at least 70 total yards in four straight games with at least one touchdown in three of them. The Colts just got flambéed for four touchdowns and 201 rush yards by Jonas Gray last week and have allowed 10-plus Fantasy points to a running back in six of their last seven games. Robinson is a must start, even if the Colts plan to focus on re-establishing their run defense.
Trent Richardson (5.8): Oofah, he's back. Before last week's game he actually had a four-game stretch where he averaged 4.02 yards per carry (189 yards on 47 carries). Then he went all Blutarski last week, averaging 0.00 yards per carry on seven tries. Jacksonville's run defense has taken a step back in recent weeks and could be ripe for Richardson to excel, particularly if he takes on a big workload (say 15-plus carries). Don't write him off as trash -- he's a decent low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 running back candidate this week.
Dan Herron (2.9): No one should start Herron, but people should definitely roster him. The Colts can't afford to be as patient with Richardson this year as they were last year, so if Herron were to succeed with a small opportunity it could lead to something more substantial.
Cecil Shorts (4.8): Shorts might be the safest Jaguar receiver, since he'll pick up a bunch of targets and catches from Bortles. He has scored in three of his last four against the Colts but that goes back to his breakout 2012 season -- Shorts hasn't had more than nine Fantasy points in a game against Indy since that year (he's played them twice since). That might be about what he delivers in standard leagues; in PPR he'll be more valuable.
Allen Hurns (3.5): Hurns is the epitome of a boom or bust receiver, posting 12-plus Fantasy points in three games this year, six or less in his other six. But I like that he scored on the Colts in Week 3 on a bomb from Bortles and I like that his playing time and targets are going to shoot up with Allen Robinson sidelined. Speed has hurt the Colts secondary lately -- expect Hurns to get some shots deep.
T.Y. Hilton (8.9): Believe it or not, Hilton doesn't have a dominant track record against the Jaguars, posting just two games with 10-plus Fantasy points in five career games against them. But guess where those two 10-plus-point games came? If you guessed Lucas Oil Stadium, site of this week's game, you'd be right. Hilton has at least 15 Fantasy points in two career home games against the Jaguars.
Reggie Wayne (5.2): If the Colts run game can't get going, Wayne will become a more important part of the offense. The targets have been there all along for Wayne but the catches haven't. What's nice is that he has done well with his receptions lately, totaling 161 yards and a touchdown on nine grabs over his last two games. In four games with Luck against the Jaguars, Wayne has posted 10-plus Fantasy points once but has had eight or more points three of four times.
Marcedes Lewis (4.7): Lewis is an interesting tight end to think about for Week 12. He hasn't played since Week 2 but when he did play he was impressive, catching a touchdown on two grabs for 71 yards. He's been activated and should play against the Colts, who have allowed at least one touchdown in each of their last three games to a tight end.
Coby Fleener (7.8): We're assuming Dwayne Allen is out, which opens the door for Fleener to pick up more targets even if he doesn't quite play the exact same role as Allen. He's posted 10-plus Fantasy points in each of his last two games and should be in line for at least seven targets against the Jaguars.
Jaguars (1.2): You'd have to be sniffing glue to think the Jaguars DST is a good play this week.
Colts (5.9): I never like trusting a suspect defense but the matchup should suit the Colts well, especially coming off of a loss. The Jaguars have allowed 10 of 11 DSTs they've played against to finish as a Top 12 option.
Titans at Eagles, Sun. 1 p.m. ET
This is the fourth straight year Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt will lead his offense into a game against the Eagles. In his previous three against Philly he's 3-0, scoring at least 21 points in each game and leaning on the passing game to help move the chains and score touchdowns. Last year is particularly relevant as he beat the Eagles current coaching staff to the tune of 33-30 with his quarterback, Philip Rivers, throwing for over 400 yards with three touchdowns. Each of his other wins against the Eagles also involved his quarterbacks throwing multiple touchdowns. The familiarity Whisenhunt has with this team will go a long way in keeping this game close -- assuming his run defense can play better than it did last week.
Zach Mettenberger (5.5): There's a shot for him to play well, though figuring out how he'll do it remains a question mark. Whisenhunt's track record against the Eagles is a big positive, as his quarterbacks have averaged 318.7 pass yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game over three meetings in three seasons. That includes quarterbacks like Kevin Kolb and John Skelton putting up good numbers on Philly. The key is that Whisenhunt leaned on Philip Rivers last year to help deliver a win against the Eagles current defense. Mettenberger's last road start was a skunk in what appeared to be a favorable matchup. The reality this time is that the Eagles are just so darn bad against the pass -- all but one team the Eagles have faced has thrown multiple touchdowns against them, eight of whom had at least 20 Fantasy points. Mettenberger will take some deep shots (Aaron Rodgers threw nine deep passes last week) to help keep the Eagles defense from blitzing him. If you're in a pinch at quarterback, Mettenberger is better than most of the gunk on waivers.
Mark Sanchez (6.9): No one wants to hear this, but the Titans pass defense is pretty legit. Not that they've taken on a lot of great quarterbacks over the last five weeks, but they've held each of them to one touchdown each, including Ben Roethlisberger last week. The hunch here is that Sanchez breaks that streak thanks to the scheme he plays in, but it might not be a monster game. Expect an interception but also plenty of yardage and a couple of touchdown tosses.
Bishop Sankey (4.2): If you need seven or eight or even nine Fantasy points, he'll get you there. If you need 10, 11 or 12 Fantasy points, he'll get you seven, eight or even nine. It's just not happening for Sankey -- he had a golden matchup last week and even scored but couldn't do much else. It didn't help that the Titans didn't run much. So even though Philly's run defense has struggled through much of the year, don't expect Sankey to take advantage.
LeSean McCoy (8.2): This has to be it for McCoy. Has to. Tennessee is ranked 31st in Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs and has allowed every running back with at least 20 touches (six on the season) to get at least 12 Fantasy points. McCoy has averaged 22.4 touches per game this season. The Titans are playing on a short week and should crumble under a strong rushing effort by McCoy and the Eagles.
Darren Sproles (5.5): Call it a gut feeling, but I expect the Eagles to lean on the run heavily. Sproles is averaging 8.8 yards per touch, which isn't bad. He just hasn't gotten a lot of work -- seven touches or less per game since he sprained a knee ligament. I'd bank on that correcting with a favorable matchup ahead, putting him in the flex discussion.
Kendall Wright (5.0): It's crazy, but Wright has the most targets and catches among wideouts in Mettenberger's three starts but not the most Fantasy points. He remains a touchdown-dependent receiver -- all of his double-digit stat lines this season have come in games where he's scored. Don't count on that happening against the Eagles, as Wright has just one end-zone target in Mettenberger's starts. He also has just three deep targets from Mettenberger, connecting on two. The matchup is great but he's not a safe start.
Justin Hunter (2.9): How many more chances are we going to give this guy? Fine, usually when we say that we bench (or cut) the receiver and then he goes off. It's clear he's a deep threat for the Titans and that Mettenberger doesn't mind chucking it to him -- six of his 16 targets with Mettenberger have been deep shots and two have been end-zone targets. But he also has six targets total in his last two games with Nate Washington taking in a deep pass that is usually reserved for Hunter. I wouldn't feel good starting him this week even if the Eagles have allowed a bunch of numbers to receivers.
Nate Washington (2.8): Washington is the Titans third receiver who benefitted from blown coverage late in the half last week. It was in that game where he saw his snap count drop to 38 percent, his lowest since Mettenberger took over as the starter. On the whole he has seven catches on nine targets from Mettenberger, but most of the production came on the 80-yard bomb last week. I don't see Washington as a good Fantasy option.
Jordan Matthews (7.5): I predict that Matthews, by virtue of his matchup and his targets, will be the best Eagles receiver for Fantasy this week. Tennessee's slot corner -- Coty Sensabaugh -- isn't a bad player but he's beatable. Matthews' recent numbers speak for themselves.
Jeremy Maclin (7.3): Let's not call Maclin a bust just because he's expected to line up across from cornerback Jason McCourty, but let's not call him a slam dunk for Fantasy points either. I'd be surprised to see him play very well -- No. 1 receivers have hit 10-plus Fantasy points against the Titans five times this season with several of them putting up numbers away from McCourty. You'll still start Maclin but not expect a big game.
Delanie Walker (5.9): The Eagles went through a skid where tight ends dominated them but that stopped over their last three contests against the Texans, Ravens and Steelers. Mettenberger has leaned on his tight ends (21 targets), so I might expect Walker to be a serviceable starter.
Titans (3.1): With a weak run defense and the Eagles expected to run the ball a good amount (not to mention pass effectively), this is a bad week to get cute with the Titans defense.
Eagles (6.4): The Titans are averaging 15.7 points per game under Mettenberger and the Eagles are allowing 20.0 points per game at home. The Titans should settle in right around there on the scoreboard with a couple of turnovers and sacks kicked in. I'd trust this DST.
Lions at Patriots, Sun. 1 p.m. ET
Here comes another battle between Jim Caldwell and Bill Belichick. These coaches have squared off four times since January of 2012 -- including two playoff games -- battling to a 2-2 draw. But in three of the four meetings Caldwell's passing game has been effective, thanks to help from his tight ends and some deep passes mixed in. Covering tight ends has been a weakness for the Patriots, but the Lions haven't really leaned on their tight ends much this year. Maybe that changes this week, be it because Caldwell has seen it work before against Belichick's defenses or because Matthew Stafford has to throw it around while playing from behind.
Matthew Stafford (6.5): This is the fourth straight quality quarterback the Patriots have faced, going up against Jay Cutler, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck in their previous three games. While the Pats have defeated all three, those quarterbacks have posted at least 23 Fantasy points. Stafford had that many Fantasy points four weeks ago and has posted 20-plus Fantasy points in two of his last three games. This is a tough spot for him, no doubt about it, but if he has to throw as much as pretty much every quarterback does against the Patriots (at least 35 times), then he should end up with production. In four games with at least 35 pass attempts this season, Stafford has hit over 20 Fantasy points twice and was one passing yard away from making it three times. Playing outdoors isn't exactly a good thing, but the recent track record of Jim Caldwell-coached quarterbacks against the Patriots isn't exactly a bad thing.
Tom Brady (8.9): This will be the toughest challenge Brady's line will face all season and it should lead to a lot of quick passing from Brady and not a lot of seven-step drops. That could keep a cap on his Fantasy numbers, just as it has for all but three opposing quarterbacks to take on the Lions. You'll still start Brady, but he might not deliver the huge numbers you might normally bank on. No quarterback has surpassed 24 Fantasy points on the Lions this year.
Joique Bell (5.0): Rushing has typically been part of Caldwell's game plan against the Patriots and he might feel a renewed sense of trust in Bell following his 115-yard outburst last week. All five of the rushing touchdowns allowed by the Pats this year have come from inside the 5-yard line, which is Bell's territory. But note that Caldwell-coached backs have scored two rushing touchdowns versus nine for the quarterbacks in their last four against Belichick-coached defenses. Expect a decent dose of Bell for the obvious reasons of controlling the clock and keeping the Patriots offense on the sideline, though that doesn't guarantee Fantasy production.
Reggie Bush (3.4): It looks like Bush is over his ankle issues (for now) and should participate in the game against the Patriots. Familiar with his body of work, the Patriots should be prepared for Bush in what has been a limited capacity for much of the year -- around 11 or so touches. Bush scored one touchdown and had over 100 total yards once in four games against the Pats while with the Dolphins, which was when he was picking up a lot of work. Even though the Patriots struggle against pass-catching running backs, Bush shouldn't be trusted in his first game back.
Shane Vereen (5.2): Judging by the matchup we should see a lot of Shane Vereen this week simply because the Lions are strong against the run. But it doesn't mean he'll rack up huge numbers. He won't find much room between the tackles, so he'll have to pitch in through the air. The Lions have allowed just two receiving scores to running backs all season (one was a fullback) and no back has had more than 58 receiving yards in a game against them. The Pats could try some edge routes with Vereen in the red zone since they've hurt the Lions recently, but otherwise keep expectations mild for Vereen.
Jonas Gray (1.8): Ever been late to a really important meeting the day after your new, experienced co-worker is hired back with your company? I haven't either, but I'm pretty sure my boss would be ticked off about it.
Calvin Johnson (8.1): Expect a heavy dose of targets for Johnson. The Patriots will have a tough call in covering him -- they might consider Darrelle Revis with some safety help behind him in obvious passing situations over the bigger but slower Brandon Browner. Neither matchup should scare the Lions.
Golden Tate (5.7): With just two official targets last week, Tate was a big disappointment. Like Megatron, Tate will be an interesting matchup for the Patriots to deal with. Browner, his former teammate, is probably too slow to keep up with him. That could mean a lot of Revis and/or Kyle Arrington, who did a heck of a job against the speedy T.Y. Hilton last week. Tate might not crack 100 total yards.
Brandon LaFell (6.4): I like LaFell's chances this week against a Lions secondary that struggled against the deep pass last week and has had trouble with outside receivers for much of the year. Look for way more work for LaFell than the measly four targets he had last week. He has a touchdown in each of his last four games when he has at least six targets.
Julian Edelman (3.7): Edelman had eight targets last week, the seventh time in eight games he's had at least that many. But in that span he's scored once and posted 10-plus Fantasy points twice. He's just not a safe bet against the Lions in standard formats. He's also a little nicked up going into Week 12.
Eric Ebron (4.3): This is a bold, gutsy, borderline kooky sleeper call. Ebron had four targets last week and caught them all in short range, playing on 59 percent of the snaps. If we lean on Jim Caldwell's track record against the Patriots and how tight ends have played a role in helping his offenses against Belichick's defenses, then he should get some opportunities. Ebron is an option for those desperate for a tight end.
Rob Gronkowski (9.1): Would it matter to you if you knew the Lions were good against tight ends? Four have scored on the Lions and only two have posted 10 or more Fantasy points against them. Does that make you change your mind on Gronk? Probably not.
Lions (3.3): The last time a DST finished as a Top 12 option against the Patriots? Week 4, when the Chiefs hosted them and knocked them around. The Patriots have managed to play a little bit better than that of late. I'd pass on using this DST in Week 12 if at all possible.
Patriots (5.5): I'm just not sure how often the Patriots will get to Stafford. They could end up blitzing a bunch and thriving off of it, but they could also opt to play their linebackers and safeties back to protect against the big play. They'll be OK but not great. Note: They play at Green Bay next week and will be ripe for a smack down from Aaron Rodgers, so if you're not sold on the Pats DST this week then cut them loose now, since you won't feel comfortable with them next week either.
Bengals at Texans, Sun. 1 p.m. ET
The Bengals have some experience already in splitting reps between Giovani Bernard and another back. That's what's expected to happen beginning this week as Jeremy Hill has earned a bigger chunk of the rushing workload following two huge games in his last three without Gio. In 2013, Bernard had 10.6 carries and 3.5 carries per game on the season but 12.8 carries and 4.0 catches per game in his final four including a postseason loss. I might look for him to be closer to 15 touches per game eventually, but expect around 10 in his first game back.
Andy Dalton (7.1): I have a hunch that we're on the cusp of a Dalton hot streak. He has one of these three-game spurts every fall where he gets at least two touchdowns per game and plays well overall. The Texans' pass rush is scary, but Dalton should be able to take advantage of their secondary. The Texans stopped a seven-game skid of yielding multiple touchdowns to quarterbacks last week and still allowed over 300 yards and a touchdown. I feel like Dalton is a safe play.
Ryan Mallett (4.4): Though there were some bonehead moments, Mallett ultimately looked good last week, especially when getting the ball out quickly. His accuracy was pretty good and his deep attempts were fine as he tried a bunch of them. Look for more of the same this week, especially off of play action. Enough to call him a Fantasy starter? Probably not to be honest, but he'll play at Jacksonville in a couple of weeks and might shine bright then.
Jeremy Hill (7.0): Hill should lead the Bengals in carries against a Texans run defense that isn't quite as good as it looked last week against the Browns. They have allowed six running backs to get 10-plus Fantasy points in their last six games including two instances of multiple backs on the same team getting double digits. Hill has averaged 5.7 yards per carry and 9.3 yards per catch in three games without Bernard. Look for at least 15 touches on Sunday.
Giovani Bernard (4.7): Because the workload won't be large, don't count on Bernard as a slam-dunk starting option. In fact he might only see work on third downs where his receiving skills can come in handy. It helps that the Texans have allowed at least 9.45 yards per catch to running backs in each of their last four games.
Alfred Blue (6.65): Expect Blue to pick up a lot of carries just like he did last week. Vontaze Burfict still won't play for the Bengals, making their run defense exploitable. I have no problem calling him a No. 2 running back.
A.J. Green (8.8): An absolute must against a Texans pass defense that has allowed at least one touchdown to a receiver in nine straight games.
Mohamed Sanu (6.3): It's been two games since Green's been back and Sanu has totaled 43 yards on five catches. That looks awful but now is a good time for your patience to pay off. Sanu has 13 targets in his last two games including three deep balls, two into the end zone and another three coming last week where he was targeted inside the opponents' 5-yard line (catching two of them). Citing the weakness of the Texans defense, Sanu should be given one more try this week as a low-end No. 2 receiver. I might even chance it on him as an under-the-radar pick in one-week leagues.
DeAndre Hopkins (6.6): This is a tough matchup for Hopkins, but I still would take a chance on him on the Texans fast turf, not to mention the deep balls coming from Mallett. The Bengals secondary is good but they are susceptible to long passes.
Andre Johnson (4.9): Not surprisingly, Johnson had the most targets on the Texans last week with nine, catching seven passes for 68 yards. Not surprisingly, those were second-best yardage numbers among Houston's receivers. With the Bengals cornerbacks likely to contain Johnson this week, he remains a safe pick for under 10 Fantasy points in standard leagues but over a dozen in PPR.
Jermaine Gresham (3.5): Gresham had his first career two-touchdown game last week, and he did it on two catches. The Texans have played well against tight ends all season -- expect it to continue.
Bengals (5.3): The Bengals defense is good -- they just rocked the Saints in New Orleans last week -- but they're in for a tough fight against the Texans. Put them in the sleeper pile.
Texans (5.1): Andy Dalton flipped the switch last week and the Bengals finally put up some points. There's no wind to mess with his throws, no defensive back to scare him away from any pass and a pair of running backs for Houston to be focused on. Outside of some sacks, don't expect the Texans DST to be great.
Browns at Falcons, Sun. 1 p.m. ET
The Falcons have come close to putting up more points in their last couple of games but haven't. They're staring at a great matchup this week against a defense that could have trouble attacking Matt Ryan and slowing down the Atlanta run game. The Browns lost pass rusher Jabaal Sheard for a week or two and linebacker Karlos Dansby also will miss the game. That should put the Falcons in prime position to get right in their first game in Atlanta since Week 6!
Brian Hoyer (4.5): If you give an NFL quarterback a new weapon, he'll do everything he can to use it. Hoyer only played with Josh Gordon for basically a couple of games last season but connected on 14 of 20 targets for 217 yards and a touchdown. There's probably going to be too much temptation for Hoyer to throw at Gordon against a Falcons pass defense that has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in four straight games. Hoyer is a very shrewd Week 12 starting option.
Matt Ryan (6.3): Will a little 'home cooking' satisfy Ryan's Fantasy owners' hunger for big stats? The very good news is that he shouldn't be under too much pressure against the Browns. But in fact the bad news is that the Browns front seven is so banged up that the Falcons might choose to run the ball more than throw it. And even if that's not the case and Ryan does have to throw more than 30 times, he'll do so against a pass defense that hasn't allowed a single Fantasy quarterback to post 20 or more points against them all year. He's no lock for the Top 10 among quarterbacks.
Isaiah Crowell (6.3): Removing Ben Tate from the running back mix gives enough clarity to suggest that Crowell has earned at least a part time role and potentially the lead rushing downs role. Crowell is a physical runner but has some fumble issues that could always hold him back -- he's fumbled in each of the Browns last two games. The Falcons recent run defense numbers look good (3.2 yards per carry, one rushing touchdown allowed over its last four) but those have come against mostly inferior run games. Then again, it's not like the Browns run game is the most unstoppable force in the universe. Cro's no better than a No. 2 Fantasy running back.
Terrance West (3.7): West could find himself plugged into the passing downs role, which isn't so bad. On the year, the Falcons are allowing 8.8 yards per catch to running backs (8.35 over their last three games). Plus, if Crowell doesn't satisfy the coaches, then West could find himself doing more than just occasional work. I wouldn't start West, but I would keep him stashed.
Steven Jackson (7.9): The Browns are going to have a hard time with Jackson thanks to their banged up linebacking corps. Not that their run defense was very good to begin with -- Alfred Blue poked a hole in them for over 150 yards on 36 carries last week. Jackson will end up getting about half that amount of work -- maybe 18 carries -- but perhaps half those yards -- in the 75 yard neighborhood -- and with a touchdown to boot.
Devonta Freeman (3.3): Here's another name to get onto your roster, especially as a handcuff for Jackson. Freeman has looked downright explosive with the ball in his hands and should end up getting more work with Antone Smith done for the year. Seven touches per game might be a start.
Josh Gordon (6.9): All eyes will be on Gordon following a 10-game suspension. He has a great matchup to come back to, but be careful with expectations. The guy hasn't played since the preseason and probably has some rust to knock off. I'd be surprised to see him contribute in a huge way but wouldn't rule out a touchdown. It's worth pointing out that he had some excellent numbers with Hoyer last year -- 14 catches on 20 targets for 217 yards and a score in basically two games.
Andrew Hawkins (4.3): One thing's for sure -- no one is talking about Hawkins this week. And that's probably just fine with him. Not only will the attention in the media be paid to Gordon, but the Falcons will pay Gordon plenty of attention as well. Look for Hawkins to end up exploiting a matchup against a backup Falcons cornerback, likely Javier Arenas. That's a juicy matchup. Don't be so surprised to see Hawkins do well with the targets he gets now that Gordon is back.
Roddy White (8.0): White has been the better receiver for the Falcons of late and shouldn't see a lot of Joe Haden in coverage. That should be more than enough to roll with him. Cleveland allowed eight touchdowns to receivers in a five-game span, then shut out receivers in their last two games.
Julio Jones (7.1): It feels like Julio is due. He hasn't scored in seven straight games but has eight or more targets in six of those seven. He also looks as quick and speedy as ever. Yeah, the hunch is that Joe Haden sticks to him and not Roddy White, but there could be some one-on-one situations that Jones can win. Fantasy owners shouldn't feel obligated to start Jones -- there are better choices. But don't make a bonehead move and sit him for someone who doesn't come close to Jones' potential.
Browns (3.7): They turned out to be a bad choice last week as the Texans ran over them and posted 23 points in the process. It wouldn't be surprising in the least to see the Falcons do the exact same thing this week.
Falcons (4.1): It's too big of a risk to trust the Falcons DST, down a starting cornerback against a team getting back a stud wide receiver.
Cardinals at Seahawks, Sun. 4:05 p.m. ET
The Cardinals have played some fantastic football this year, but this might be one matchup that is too tough to overcome. The Seahawks run defense is hoping to get a big piece back in linebacker Bobby Wagner. That makes an already difficult assignment for Andre Ellington even tougher. If the Seahawks operate as they normally do -- move the ball behind a big dose of Marshawn Lynch and a sprinkle of big plays from Russell Wilson -- the Cardinals will be forced to throw with Drew Stanton to a receiving corps featuring an up-and-down Michael Floyd, a banged-up Larry Fitzgerald and speedy rookie John Brown. The Cardinals can't afford this game to get one-sided and expect to come back and win.
Drew Stanton (4.1): Stanton has found a way to throw multiple touchdowns in two of four starts, and it's been in large part because of his ability to chuck it into single coverage. Stanton might end up having to do a lot of heavy lifting in this game, but it might not come early on. After allowing multiple touchdowns to quarterbacks in five straight games, the Seahawks have quelled their last four opponents to the tune of three total touchdowns. Getting their secondary in order has helped. Stanton is tough to trust.
Russell Wilson (5.7): Wilson's track record against the Cardinals isn't very good -- one game in Arizona where he caught fire and three games where the Cardinals made him look silly, including a home game last year. Count on the Cardinals taking a lot of chances with their blitz packages and attacking right up the gut against Wilson. Four of the last five quarterbacks to play the Cards have finished with nine Fantasy points or less -- the one that didn't -- Nick Foles -- threw 62 times. Wilson is a sit in my book.
Andre Ellington (5.9): We're worried because Ellington had a hard time running last week (and the week before that), and while the return of linebacker Bobby Wagner will hurt things, the Seahawks defense did just give up three rushing touchdowns and 191 yards on the ground to backs last week. There's no fear that the Cards won't try to run, just fear that Ellington won't gain enough stats on the volume of his work. Helping the cause is that the Seahawks have cracked under the workload of running backs this year -- three of the four backs with at least 18 touches against Seattle in 2014 has posted at least nine Fantasy points with three exceeding 14 points. Only one (DeMarco Murray) did it in Seattle, however. Ellington is a legitimate No. 2 running back this week.
Marshawn Lynch (8.3): Count on a solid game from Beast Mode, even if the Cardinals run defense has traveled well for much of the year. Arizona has allowed five rushing touchdowns to backs with a 3.5 rushing average. Lynch typically plays better at home anyway.
John Brown (5.1): Maybe the best parts about Brown are that he's still a regular target of Drew Stanton's and that he's unlikely to draw Richard Sherman in coverage. That keeps his value up as a potential No. 3 receiver.
Michael Floyd (4.4): Putting himself back on the proverbial map last week might have helped the Cardinals win, but it also alerted the Seahawks to his re-emergence. Floyd actually was a deep target three times last week (four if you count a pass negated by a penalty), scoring on one of them. He's never had more than nine Fantasy points against the Seahawks and might wind up with a lot of Richard Sherman in his face since he's more of a dangerous threat than Larry Fitzgerald is. Don't expect another big game.
Larry Fitzgerald (2.0): There's too much going against Fitzgerald. His knee is banged up and probably will limit his role to being a short- and mid-range receiver. He also has an awful track record against the Seahawks -- 100 receiving yards in his last four games combined with no touchdowns. You'll feel better about other Fantasy options this week.
Doug Baldwin (2.2): Baldwin scored last week and is clearly the top receiving threat for the Seahawks, but the Cardinals cornerbacks are playing great. They're coming off of a game where they held Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate to exactly 100 yards combined. Wilson has six career touchdowns against the Cardinals over four games -- receivers have caught two of them and neither one was Baldwin.
Cooper Helfet (4.1): Tight ends have consistently played a role in how Russell Wilson puts up points on the Cardinals. Four of his six career touchdowns against Arizona have been to a tight end, and not just at the goal line either. The tight end most likely to cash in would be Helfet, who doesn't have the most catches or targets on the Seahawks but does have the most yards and has a touchdown to his name. It's just a hunch play based on Wilson's track record.
Cardinals (6.0): Seattle's been putting up points lately, but the Seahawks are not expected to light up the scoreboard on Arizona. Expect a couple of sacks and a takeaway from the Cardinals in what might wind up being a low-scoring game.
Seahawks (6.1): Assuming Bobby Wagner plays for the Seahawks, their defense is a very good starting option. It might be a good option even without Wagner -- under Stanton the Cardinals offense hasn't been responsible for more than 23 points in a game.
Rams at Chargers, Sun. 4:05 p.m. ET
Maybe you can't buy into the Rams offense becoming a powerhouse after upending the Broncos, but you should absolutely believe in the Rams defense. The key has been in the front four defensive linemen applying more pressure and the linebackers playing lights out. San Diego's offensive line has become a little shaky and the cat's out of the bag that Philip Rivers is banged up. Another good effort by the St. Louis defense could bring home yet another win.
Shaun Hill (3.8): Hill has the guts to chuck the ball deep -- we were reminded of that last week. But counting on him for a lot of Fantasy stats, even against a defense that's been as up-and-down as the Chargers, is pretty much unnecessary.
Philip Rivers (6.0): This home non-conference game feels like a big opportunity for Rivers, but is it? Already once this year he surprised the Seahawks with three passing touchdowns at home and he did the same thing to two NFC opponents in 2013. But logic says that scenario seems unlikely this time around given the state of the Rams pass defense and the state of Rivers himself. The Rams are racking up sacks in bunches and as a result the secondary is starting to perform better. Exhibit A: their Week 11 upset win over Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Additionally, the Rams specifically have been consistent against opposing tight ends, taking away an easy security blanket for Rivers. Tack on that he's beat up and his offensive line isn't as good as it was earlier this year and that he has one touchdown in his last two games, and it makes for a rough outlook. I just can't shake the feeling that he'll end up playing well, just can't explain it. He's a Top 15 quarterback for me.
Tre Mason (5.3): San Diego's run defense has started to sag. Over the last four weeks, the only team not to feature a running back with at least 10 Fantasy points was the Raiders last week. Their running backs stink. Mason isn't exactly the next Eric Dickerson, but he's being given a lot of chances to carry the ball -- 30 touches last week, 18 the week before, 20 the week before that. He should be good enough to work as a low-end No. 2 running back in Week 12 with potential to deliver 10 Fantasy points.
Ryan Mathews (4.3): I'm going against Mathews for only one reason -- the Rams front seven. They've done an incredible job since their Week 4 bye, allowing an average of 3.14 yards per carry and just four touchdowns in seven games to backs. I'd expect another 15 to 18 touches for Mathews with some challenging results, but I'm not sure he can score on any of them.
Kenny Britt (4.6): Does Britt have another chance to score? He does have a touchdown in two of his last three games and did tie a season-high in targets last week with seven -- notable since there was a quarterback change and that quarterback, Shaun Hill, has a propensity to chuck the ball. San Diego has allowed 10 touchdowns to receivers this season but nine have come in bunches over the last five games. But of those nine, only two went to a team's true No. 1 receiver. Britt is in the No. 3 wideout discussion, that's about it.
Malcom Floyd (6.1): The Rams have come around against the pass -- after giving up eight touchdowns to receivers in their first five games, they've cut back to four in their last five, including just one in each of their last three against the 49ers, Cardinals and Broncos. And lately it's been the big play that the Rams have struggled with, so it makes sense to go with Floyd again and hope he can deliver on a couple of deep throws.
Keenan Allen (3.4): Who's still starting Allen at this point? I mean, besides those who have dealt with him this long in PPR leagues. He has 55 catches, good for 12th among all receivers, but he's averaging less than 10 yards per catch. It's tough to imagine him pulling away for a big score against anyone, especially a Rams secondary that has speed and talent.
Antonio Gates (5.0): The matchup is tough -- the Rams have allowed only two touchdowns to tight ends this year, and only one of them added more than 40 yards with it (Cooper Helfet). Go back to last year and only four tight ends scored on the Rams with two getting more than 40 yards in the process. So they're pretty good thanks to the defense installed by Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Here's the thing -- Gates has obliterated Fisher's defenses to the tune of at least 50 yards and a touchdown in four of five career meetings. Against Williams, Gates is one out of two in getting at least 50 yards and a touchdown. The big concern I have is that his targets have dwindled -- eight in the last two games after averaging over six per game through the first eight games of the season. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Gates had a decent outing, which is why he's still ranked in my Top 12.
Rams (5.7): They've been playing great -- 13 sacks and three interceptions in their last three games. They should be able to contain a Chargers offense that's scored 54 points in their last four overall. But only two of those four DSTs to go up against the Chargers has finished in the Top 12.
Chargers (6.5): It's hard to dislike the Chargers given the matchup. It's a tough sell that the Rams will post over 21 points for the second straight week when they have had only one instance of back-to-back 21-point games this season.
Dolphins at Broncos, Sun. 4:25 p.m. ET
The Dolphins front four will put as much pressure on Peyton Manning as they can, but it'll take a ton of work to get to him. Manning hasn't been sacked more than twice in any game this season. Because the Broncos offense is expected to bounce back, the pressure will fall on Ryan Tannehill to keep up. I'm still not convinced his offensive line is solid after getting sacked five times against Buffalo. Maybe the Broncos don't get to him as many times, but the combination of a good Broncos pass rush and equally good (if not better) secondary will create some trouble for Tannehill and the Dolphins passing game.
Ryan Tannehill (5.9): Tanny has three games this year with at least 35 pass attempts and, surprisingly, has just one touchdown in each. That number, 35 attempts, is important because seven of 10 quarterbacks to face the Broncos has had to attempt that many, with two more attempting 34 passes. It's pretty clear that the Dolphins can't get by simply handing off, nor would they. I do think Tannehill can back into some good stats given the volume of passes he'll throw, which has worked out for half of the quarterbacks the Broncos have faced this year. He's in the streaming mix at quarterback.
Peyton Manning (9.3): Unrelated-to-Peyton note/embarrassing fact about the author, Vol. 11 of 16: I've tried a sandwich before with peanut butter. And mustard. And ketchup. And relish. And mayo. And I didn't hate it.
Peyton Manning (9.3): For real this time: It's a tough spot for Manning since the Dolphins pass rush is good, but there's no way you'd think about sitting him, especially now that Emmanuel Sanders is expected to roll.
Lamar Miller (5.1): It sure looked like Miller was over his shoulder issues last week when he totaled 98 yards against the tough Bills run defense. He finds himself in a tough situation as the Broncos have allowed two running backs to land 11 Fantasy points in their last six with everyone else getting five or fewer. Four of five backs to get 11-plus Fantasy points on the season against Denver have done it on 20-plus touches. Miller has one game this season with 20 touches, averaging 15.0 touches per game on the year. He's a risk.
C.J. Anderson (7.2): The Dolphins run defense remains stout and should put the Broncos in a similar pickle that the Rams had them in a week ago. It could make the ground effort tough on Anderson again, but he's been great as a receiver, catching 12 of 17 targets over the last two weeks for 159 yards and a touchdown. Expect him to be utilized in that pass-catching role some more. He's a good start in standard leagues and a great start in PPR leagues.
Mike Wallace (6.7): On one hand, you have to figure that the Dolphins will have to throw a lot to stay in this one. On the other, Wallace is taking on a Broncos defense that tends to play well against No. 1 receivers. Of the eight touchdowns allowed to receivers in the Broncos last six games, four have been caught by No. 1 types like Wallace. But six of the eight have been in the red zone, which is where Wallace has caught all six of his touchdowns on the season. I wouldn't be afraid to try him as a No. 2 receiver.
Jarvis Landry (5.3): Landry has at least five catches in each of his last three with a touchdown in two of them. The expectation is that the Dolphins will throw a lot, so Landry should have a shot to deliver some good numbers again this week. Don't be surprised to see him finish as at least a No. 3 receiver.
Demaryius Thomas (9.25): You should expect to see a lot of Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes on Thomas in this one, but you'd have to be part of Grimes' family to even consider sit him.
Emmanuel Sanders (8.1): Jump back in with two feet on Sanders, especially if he doesn't have to sweat double coverage from the Dolphins.
Charles Clay (4.6, if healthy): Week 11 was the first time in five weeks where Clay didn't get a target in the end zone. That's despite the Dolphins running more than 10 plays in the Bills red zone. The Broncos have allowed plenty of stats to tight ends of late and the Dolphins are going to have to throw, so Clay is still in my Top 12 provided a hamstring injury suffered this week doesn't knock him out of the game.
Jacob Tamme (4.4): We're assuming at this point that Julius Thomas rests his ankle, opening the door for Tamme. There were two games last season Thomas missed with an injury -- one against the Patriots where Tamme had five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown, and another where he had one catch for 3 yards. The Broncos put up at least 28 points in both of those games. Given the receiving corps for the Broncos, it wouldn't surprise me in the least for Tamme to get a lot of work, but the Dolphins have been great against tight ends this season and especially recently.
Dolphins (4.5): It's never an easy task to take down Peyton in his stadium, but at the very least the Dolphins have the personnel to sack him a couple of times and at least make it challenging. I'd take my lumps with the Dolphins DST this week if it means holding on to them for their matchup at the Jets next week.
Broncos (7.2): As efficient as the Dolphins have been, each of the last two DSTs to play them have finished as Top 12 options. Those would be good defenses in the Lions and Bills. I consider the Broncos defense to be just as effective. Ride with them.
Redskins at 49ers, Sun. 4:25 p.m. ET
There are two types of teams: Those who rally around each other when controversy surrounds their locker room and those who mail it in when things start going bad. This week we saw Redskins head coach Jay Gruden pretty much call out quarterback Robert Griffin III for calling out his teammates. They say they're squared away and all is forgiven, but who knows what state the Washington offense is really in? All we can tell is this: They average 13.0 points per game in RG3's three full games played (and are 0-3) and 23.5 points per game when he doesn't play (3-4). Playing at the 49ers will be tough.
Robert Griffin III (2.0): I hesitated to go with him last week since we hadn't seen good numbers out of him in limited play this season, and I paid the price for it. The natural reaction is to run the other way as fast as possible, but the truth is that's what you should do. Griffin won't play with his starting left tackle and has 16 Fantasy points or less in all of his games this year.
Colin Kaepernick (7.4): At first glance it's hard to trust Kaepernick, but if you've been riding with him then you might want to give him one last shot. Yes, he's posted 15 Fantasy points or less in each of his last four games (and five of his last six) and has only one strong game at home all season. And yes, the 49ers are winning games in spite of Kaepernick, owning a 5-0 record in games where Kaepernick attempts 32 or fewer passes (1-4 when he throws 33 or more passes). Kaepernick shouldn't have to throw too much this week, but that might not matter because the matchup is irresistible. Seven of the last eight quarterbacks to play the Redskins have thrown multiple touchdowns (six of the eight have had at least 22 Fantasy points). The clincher: Kaepernick completed 15 of 24 passes against the Redskins in Washington last year ... for 235 yards and three touchdowns. He's familiar with their defense, which isn't as competent as we had seen a few weeks back. He's in the Top 10 mix at quarterback.
Alfred Morris (4.9): The 49ers run defense doesn't have their top linebackers from last year and yet they're still effective against the ground game. They haven't allowed a touchdown to a back in three straight and have allowed just three running backs to get 10-plus Fantasy points against them on the year. Morris will need 20 touches to get close to double digits -- he got there last week against Tampa Bay, but this matchup is totally different.
Frank Gore (6.8): If there's been one positive to the Washington defense it's that it has been solid against the run. It hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown in five of its last six and has allowed just three 100-total-yard games to backs all season. But Gore's been getting work, averaging 21 carries and 4.2 yards per carry in his last two. I think he could also buck the trend and score on the Redskins in what should be a blowout win for the 49ers.
DeSean Jackson (5.8): Jackson's Fantasy point totals in three games with RG3: 6, 18 and 3. It was brutal to see him not get a ton of targets and thus not a ton of Fantasy points last week against the Buccaneers. While the Redskins should end up throwing a good amount, there's no telling just how effective Jackson will be. The silver lining is that speed receivers have posted at least nine Fantasy points in three of the last four against San Francisco.
Pierre Garcon (3.2): Garcon's last two games with Griffin: seven targets, four catches, 21 yards. Garcon has five Fantasy points combined in his last three games and has a lucky touchdown catch-and-run to save him from what has otherwise been a horrible seven-game skid. There's no way you can trust Garcon until further notice.
Anquan Boldin (6.5): I especially like this week's matchup for Boldin, who plays quite a bit in the slot. Last week there were a lot of coverage breakdowns out of the slot for Washington. Those problems might not get fixed so easily. Boldin should bounce back against Washington, a team he scored twice on last season.
Michael Crabtree (4.5): The one thing that sticks in my craw about Crabtree is that his touchdown last week seemed like a fluke. He doesn't make a lot of catch-and-run plays in traffic like that. The good news is that he's still targeted a good amount even if he's not an every-down player for the 49ers. He's in the mix as a third receiver since the Redskins secondary is very suspect.
Vernon Davis (4.9): Acting on a gut feeling, I think Davis will have a sufficient week for Fantasy owners. You can tell the Niners want to try and get him more involved -- he was targeted on two long passes last week against the Giants but both were off target. Now he'll take on a Redskins defense he scored on last season. I'll start him as a low-end option on the hunch that he's due and that Kaepernick finds a way to connect with him. Washington has allowed a touchdown to a tight end in each of its last two road games.
Redskins (1.8): Even with a good run defense, they're too tough to trust. It's possible the Washington offense forces the defense to play on bad field position after a turnover and that could lead to some points given up.
49ers (8.4): Glenn Dorsey won't be back for the Niners but so long as Aldon Smith is playing, Robert Griffin III could be in for a long day.
Cowboys at Giants, Sun. 8:30 p.m. ET
Defensively, the Giants are spent. Offensively, they should still have some life to them provided that the offensive line can hold up and give Eli Manning sufficient time. That's been the key to grounding him this year and last year -- get in his face, knock him down and make him throw errant passes. With both Rolando McClain and Tyrone Crawford getting back into practice this week, the Giants front seven will be as close to 100 percent as they'll be this season. It could lead to another challenging week for all of the Giants.
Tony Romo (8.0): Earlier this year, Romo connected for three touchdowns and 279 yards against the Giants. He'll take them on again coming off the bye and with his back feeling good. So long as he has the receivers around him that made plays in the Cowboys last game, Romo should be great for Fantasy. The Giants have allowed 10 of their 15 passing touchdowns in their last five games, evidence that their secondary is very much under siege.
Eli Manning (6.7): Manning had a great game at Dallas back in Week 7, extending his multi-touchdown streak against the Cowboys to three games. In fact, Manning has thrown at least two scores in 9 of his last 11 meetings with Dallas. The quarterbacks to not throw two or more touchdowns against the Cowboys this season are Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Russell Wilson, Colt McCoy and Blake Bortles. Given his offense and his own skills, Manning is in a better position than all of those guys. A bad game would be a surprise.
DeMarco Murray (9.5): Well, we made it this long with him. Murray says he's refreshed following his bye week and feels good. The odds are looking up that he'll play in every game this season. He should dominate the Giants.
Rashad Jennings (5.05): I like that the Giants gave Jennings 22 touches last week, but I don't like that the Cowboys front seven is getting healthy. I also don't like the Giants re-shuffling their offensive line. Jennings is a No. 2 back this week but not one I am rushing to start.
Dez Bryant (9.3): The best cornerback on the Giants is playing hurt and the team has allowed four scores to receivers in its last four games. This should be a lay-up for Bryant, who has a touchdown in each of his last three games and posted 151 yards on the Giants back in Week 7.
Terrance Williams (2.5): Romo might be healthy, but this isn't a great week to go with Williams. The Giants have had his number pretty much every matchup so far in his career, including in Week 7 when he scored on his only touchdown grab. New York's secondary is very iffy and the coverage will be tilted toward Dez, so maybe Williams can come up with a couple of nice catches. But Williams has seven Fantasy points or less in five straight, suggesting that he's been usurped in the offense by others like Jason Witten.
Odell Beckham (7.6): The hunch is that the Giants will throw a lot against the Cowboys, which is typical of them be it because of the matchup or because of how the game will flow. Beckham has delivered at least nine Fantasy points in each of his last four games and in all but one of his 2014 contests. Only twice this year have the Cowboys allowed multiple touchdowns to receivers in the same game -- the Giants game in Week 7 was one of them, and Beckham had both!
Rueben Randle (3.6): Randle caught 6 of 9 targets for 74 yards when he played against the Cowboys in Week 7. Since that game, he has nabbed 16 of 36 targets (that's it) for 200 yards and no touchdowns. He had a monster game last week as the 49ers gave more defensive attention to Beckham than Randle, but he still made mistakes and blew some assignments. I wouldn't start him in a standard league and wouldn't feel good about starting him in a PPR league.
Jason Witten (6.8): Witten's last bad, bad game came in Week 7 against the Giants. Since that outing, he's caught 16 of 22 targets for 165 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, he has a touchdown in two of his last three games. Maybe he's not just a blocker anymore. Expect him to continue getting chances to make plays. New York has allowed six touchdowns to tight ends in its last five games (though none in its last two).
Larry Donnell (6.0): Donnell was a big part of the Giants' demise at Dallas in Week 7 as he fumbled the ball away twice while catching seven passes for 90 yards. He should make amends for that in Week 12 as the Cowboys have struggled with competent tight ends for pretty much the entire year.
Cowboys (4.7): Having a mostly-healthy defense should help the Cowboys out a lot. They're worth trusting as a low-end starting option if only for the turnovers Manning should have, not to mention the sacks. If the Giants offensive line isn't fixed, this could get ugly for the G-men.
Giants (2.8): The Cowboys are averaging 26.1 points and 387.5 total yards per game. It would take a touchdown from the Giants defense or return team to give this DST the value it needs to be good. Don't start them.
Jets vs. Bills, Mon. 7 p.m. ET
Mother nature dumped a bazillion tons of snow on Buffalo, forcing the game to Detroit's Ford Field. Something like this happened in 2010 when the Metrodome roof collapsed and the Vikings were forced to play the Giants in Motown. Minnesota wasn't prepared in the least (Adrian Peterson was awful). That doesn't mean the Bills won't be prepared but they didn't get to Detroit until Friday. How much practice can the coaches cram in? Meanwhile it's been a normal week for the Jets, who are coming off a bye as it is.
Michael Vick (4.9): Through two games as a starter, Vick has done a good job of managing the Jets offense without turning the ball over. He's not doing a lot to put up huge stats, and that's likely to remain the case this week since the Bills have allowed only four passers to post multiple touchdowns against them this year. He's in the bye-week quarterback mix.
Kyle Orton (3.2): Orton has stunk over the last couple of games and is unlikely to settle into a groove quickly following the events of the week. I can't start him with much confidence even with the favorable matchup.
Chris Ivory (5.7): Don't look now, but the Bills run defense has started to sag a little bit. Since Ivory scored on them twice back in Week 8, the Bills have allowed a total of three touchdowns and given up an average of 4.8 yards per carry to running backs. Ivory was a big goal-line factor for the Jets in that Week 8 matchup -- he should have some red-zone opportunities again this week. I'd put him in the low-end No. 2 running back mix since he's scored in each of his last two against the Bills, including in Buffalo last season (coming off a bye).
Fred Jackson (4.1): Jackson is a huge question mark given his workload and role. Bryce Brown took a lot of the reps he normally gets two weeks ago (when Jackson was healthy). Worse yet, the Jets run defense remains strong. This isn't a good week to roll with Jackson even if he plays.
Bryce Brown (4.0): Brown's biggest impact has been as a pass catcher, hauling in 13 passes for 122 yards in his last two games. Whether Jackson plays or not, it would be silly to keep the targets away from Brown, especially since the Jets might make it hard to count on the Bills on handoffs. Brown is in the mix as a Top 24 running back in PPR leagues.
Eric Decker (5.4): Buffalo has allowed a dozen touchdowns to receivers, but No. 1 guys have had half of those scores. Look for the Jets to try taking some shots at cornerback Corey Graham, who is replacing Leodis McKelvin. Decker is basically a touchdown-dependent receiver incapable of putting up big yardage, so it'll come down to him finding the end zone. He's in the No. 3 receiver ballpark.
Percy Harvin (3.8): Hopefully the Jets have found some new ways to get Harvin the ball besides screens and sweep plays. Expect the Bills to hone in on him and keep him limited like the Steelers did two weeks ago. Harvin is OK as a low-end No. 3 receiver -- his potential keeps him as an interesting Fantasy option even if his reality isn't as exciting (one game this year with 10-plus Fantasy points).
Sammy Watkins (6.8): The biggest problem Kyle Orton has had is not connecting with Watkins. The receiver won't go for 157 yards like he did against the Jets in Week 8, but he should find the end zone and have some pretty good yardage to go with it. He's a No. 2 receiver in my book.
Chris Hogan (3.0): It's hard not to notice Hogan following 12 catches on 16 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown in two games since the team's bye. He has taken over as a primary receiver for the Bills and should have some good opportunities against the Jets weak pass defense. If you're in need of a sleeper in PPR leagues, you've found him.
Jace Amaro (3.8): Amaro is also in the desperation tight end conversation, though he's probably less safe for six than Chandler. Though Amaro had five catches for 51 yards against Buffalo in Week 8, the Bills have done a nice job against tight ends on the year, holding all but three to six Fantasy points or less.
Jets (4.9): The Bills have allowed the opposing DST to get into the Top 12 in seven of their last eight games. The only defense that didn't do it? You guessed it -- the Jets in Week 8. I kind of like them this week, since the Bills run game is a mess and their passing game hasn't been great, but the Jets big weakness in the secondary looms large. I'd probably avoid the Jets DST if I could.
Bills (6.2): Gotta roll with this DST again. Despite giving up 22 points last week, they still finished as a Top 12 DST thanks to their sack total -- they lead the league with 39. Vick has taken seven sacks over his last two games and is due for a turnover. The Bills are a must.
Ravens at Saints, Sun. 8:30 p.m. ET
The Ravens will see how the Saints run defense has done over the last couple of weeks and aim to take advantage. They will try to control the clock and keep Drew Brees off the field. They know, like you know, that the Saints offense is the most dangerous in prime-time games like this one. They also know that their pass defense still has a bullseye on it following their cornerback shake up a couple of weeks ago. Winning the battle on the ground will give the Ravens a shot at stealing one on the road.
Joe Flacco (4.3): It's been a long time since Flacco's offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, has matched up with a Rob Ryan-coached defense, but without fail every time since 2005 (five times) Kubiak's quarterbacks haven't done much. Flacco might be asked to throw when the game is in the balance or if the Ravens play from behind, and the matchup is good for him. Andy Dalton threw three touchdowns last week. But it would be out of character for Kubiak to let Flacco rip.
Drew Brees (8.2): Even without Brandin Cooks, you can bet that Brees will test the Baltimore secondary. When they took the field two weeks ago they did it with some players who were literally signed off the street. Since then those defensive backs have gotten acclimated even more with what the Ravens want them to do. Only two quarterbacks have thrown for multiple touchdowns against the Ravens and both came away from Baltimore. Brees will be the next one to do it.
Justin Forsett (8.0): Count on a big dose of Forsett this week from the Ravens. That's because the Saints have allowed 4.98 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns over the last two weeks to opposing running backs. In fact, the lead running back for the Saints' opponents has posted at least 10 Fantasy points in six of their last seven games. And if history is any indication, Kubiak prefers to lean on his running backs against Ryan's defenses -- Kubiak's backs have scored at least once in each of his last seven meetings against Ryan.
Mark Ingram (6.6): All year the Ravens run defense has allowed just 3.5 yards per carry and three touchdowns on the ground. With Pierre Thomas expected back this week and the Saints happy to have someone to make the workload a little lighter on Ingram, I'm nervous the big back will have big stats. Not one running back this season has posted more than 11 Fantasy points on the Ravens, and only four have posted 10 or 11. Ingram is a No. 2 rusher by default this week but expectations are not high.
Pierre Thomas (3.6): Look for Thomas to spell Ingram a little bit and work as the passing downs back for the Saints. Baltimore has allowed a touchdown catch to a running back in each of its last two games, but it seems unlikely for Thomas to deliver a touchdown in his first game back. I'd bench him.
Torrey Smith (7.9): The Saints secondary wasn't great to begin with, but if they play this game without cornerback Keenan Lewis then Smith could have a field day. New Orleans has allowed 12 touchdowns to receivers all season but 10 have come in its last seven games. Smith has begun meeting lofty expectations with a touchdown in four of his last five. The speedy receiver should have his way.
Steve Smith (4.1): We've seen Smitty take a backseat to Torrey since Week 5. Expect it to continue. Sure, the matchup is great for Smith, but the deep throws and end-zone targets just haven't been as plentiful. He might still surprise you, which is why you might find him to your liking as a No. 3 receiver.
Kenny Stills (5.5): A lot of owners are banking on Stills to step up with Cooks out for New Orleans. Only three of the 10 touchdowns allowed by Baltimore this season have come from inside 15 yards. That means the Ravens have been susceptible to the big play score from receivers. Playing at home will help Stills out too. He's my favorite Saints receiver this week.
Marques Colston (4.7): It might not be pretty, but the onus of replacing Brandin Cooks' targets will partially fall on Colston. When push comes to shove, expect Brees to lean on Colston if he's in single coverage while Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills push the Baltimore safeties back 15 yards off the line. Colston could end up with a bunch of catches, but his numbers might not be so appealing.
Owen Daniels (3.9): Fine, the Saints allowed two touchdowns to Jermaine Gresham last week. But those were just the second and third touchdowns allowed by New Orleans to a tight end this season. I wouldn't count on Daniels for a big game, not with the Ravens receivers offering better matchups for Flacco.
Jimmy Graham (9.2): The Ravens have been great against opposing tight ends this season -- only two have scored and neither had more than 11 Fantasy points. But they also haven't taken on a lot of elite-level tight ends either. With Cooks out and the Saints looking for playmakers, expect a big game from Graham.
Ravens (3.9): Brees hasn't been at his best all year, but when the lights turn on Monday night he might deliver a whopper. It's tough to count on the Ravens DST this week, but they might be in line for a big rebound game next week against the Chargers at home.
Saints (3.5): Usually amped up on Monday night, the defense just isn't quite talented enough to pin down the Ravens for four quarters. Injuries to key defensive players might do in the unit. You can do better.
Chiefs at Raiders, Thu. 8:25 p.m. ET
Eventually the Raiders are going to have to come up with some gimmicks offensively to keep them competitive in games. Unless they're cool with losing, which they almost certainly won't be. Don't be surprised to see the Raiders try some unorthodox things on offense to, at the very least, keep the Chiefs defense on their toes. They need anything -- they have 42 three-and-out series on offense this season!
Alex Smith (5.1): Given how bad the Raiders run defense is, there's a chance Smith might attempt only 20 passes in the game, maybe less. Probably less! He had 16 pass attempts last week and only 20 in his game at Oakland last season -- the game he threw five touchdowns! For history to repeat itself Charles would have to catch at least three of those touchdowns and other targets who have no touchdowns to speak of on the season would have to come through. It's worth noting that Smith did start slinging more touchdowns around this time last season in an attempt to "warm up" for the postseason. Maybe something similar happens here, making him a fair bye-week replacement or desperation starter.
Derek Carr (2.2): He's taking on a Chiefs pass defense that allowed its first 20-point game to a quarterback (Russell Wilson) in eight games last week. Carr has one game over 18 Fantasy points this season, none in his last five.
Jamaal Charles (9.8): Charles caught four touchdowns and ran for another at Oakland last year and had two touchdowns in the other divisional game against the Raiders in 2013. Even someone who didn't play Fantasy until this week would realize how good of a start he is.
Knile Davis (4.6): Feeling gutsy? If you assume a blowout, then there should be a chance for work for Davis. He has posted 10-plus Fantasy points in four of five games this season with at least 10 carries. Two teams have already had twin 10-plus-point Fantasy rushers against the Raiders this season. Davis is a flier to take if you're desperate at running back.
Latavius Murray (3.5): Murray had a couple of nice runs last week against the Chargers but wasn't fast. He's big, upright and doesn't have elite wheels. So in order for him to deliver big numbers he'd either have to get really lucky against a Chiefs run defense that has been pretty good all things considered (no touchdowns allowed to running backs) or get close to 20 touches, which Darren McFadden has either come close to or exceeded just three times all year.
Dwayne Bowe (3.3): If by some chance the Raiders keep it close then the Chiefs will need to use Bowe as a mid-range threat. They might even toy with the idea of getting him some work anyway since he hasn't had much of it this year (41 catches). He has one touchdown over his last five against Oakland with one game over 80 yards receiving. Non-No. 1 receivers have ended up struggling against the Raiders most weeks.
James Jones (2.7), Andre Holmes (2.6): I'm not sure who would consider starting these guys given the way the Chiefs defense has played ... not to mention the Raiders offense. Holmes had three deep targets last week and went 0-fer while Jones caught his lone deep pass very late in the fourth quarter. Kansas City has allowed a touchdown to a receiver in each of its last three games, but there isn't one on the Raiders I can feel good about.
Travis Kelce (5.3): Everyone who started Kelce was disappointed with the results, but the Chiefs did in fact lean on him in a favorable matchup. Kelce led Kansas City in targets, catches and receiving yards against the Seahawks, but none went into the end zone and only one was deep (15-plus yards). It's typically been big-name tight ends finding touchdowns against the Raiders, though Antonio Gates wasn't one of them last week. Starting Kelce will likely depend on whether or not you can easily replace him with someone off of waivers. He might be a bigger part of the Chiefs game plan in Week 13 against the Broncos.
Mychal Rivera (4.8): Kansas City has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends over its last five games and eight on the season. Rivera has typically played well in favorable matchups and for whatever it's worth was tied for second in targets and first in catches on the team last week. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I'd still consider him a streaming option.
Chiefs (10.0): Expect them to be among the best DSTs you can go with this week. Only one DST to play the Raiders failed to finish as a Top 12 option.
Raiders (1.6): The DST has posted 10-plus Fantasy points just once this year, and it was in Week 1. The Chiefs have held opposing DSTs to finish outside the Top 12 in all but two of their games this season.
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