Week 12 Fantasy Football News and Notes, including important Colts and Texans updates

Thursday night's AFC South showdown between the 6-4 Colts and 6-4 Texans will determine who has the inside track in the divisional race as we come down the home stretch. It also has major Fantasy Football implications, with several players banged up and statuses unclear. 

Colts Updates

Let's start with Indianapolis, who will be without lead running back Marlon Mack, who broke his hand in Week 11. After Mack exited, Jonathan Williams went on to rush for more than 100 yards, averaging nearly 9 yards per carry thanks in large part to a 48-yard run. He also broke off a 31-yard reception earlier in the win over Jacksonville. 

But Williams might have more company in the backfield for Week 12, as Jordan Wilkins — who missed Week 11 due to an ankle injury but had played ahead of Williams as Mack's backup earlier in the season — is getting in limited practices this week.

It's not clear whether Williams did enough in Week 11 to move ahead of Wilkins, or whether Wilkins will even be ready to play four days after missing the Jaguars game, but Mack's injury has accelerated the Colts' need for healthy backs. 

Another key factor here is the matchup with a Texans team that has been pretty good against early-down backs this year, but has given up the most receptions to the position. Perhaps no team is more sensitive to game script than the Colts, and should Indianapolis fall behind we could see a lot of Nyheim Hines, who is my favorite of the three backs in PPR formats. In standard formats, Williams or Wilkins could both be in play, but we'll be hoping to get more information about how the carries might split out. If it's a timeshare, and considering the presence of a pass-catching back in Hines, there's not a lot of appeal here. 

As for the receiving options, T.Y. Hilton appears headed for a game-time call. Hilton didn't practice Tuesday with his calf issue, and neither did Eric Ebron as he nurses an ankle injury. If both are inactive, Jack Doyle becomes a solid streamer, while Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson would be the main outside receiving options for the Colts. If either Hilton or Ebron plays, they both obviously have the potential to lead the team in targets and would limit the viability of the deeper options for the Colts. 

Can we trust Fuller?

The big question on Houston's side is whether Will Fuller will make his much-anticipated return from a hamstring injury. Including the Week 7 game Fuller exited early, DeAndre Hopkins has seen a massive 37% target share over the past four games, as none of the secondary pieces in the Texans' passing attack have stepped up to fill the void. Kenny Stills has been more involved, most notably going over 100 yards in the game Fuller left, but has since produced just 101 yards in three games. 

Over the first six games of the season, Hopkins was seeing 28% of the targets, so Fuller's return could limit his huge share of the passing game. But overall, the Texans passing game looks like it is need of Fuller's services, as Deshaun Watson has thrown for just 370 yards combined over the past two weeks. 

Fuller would be a risky play if active, given he's returning from a hamstring injury. For a speed receiver, and especially for Fuller who has a history with hamstring issues, there's always the concern of re-injury. But that also explains the Texans' cautious approach with Fuller. 

The reality is we can't know whether he'll be on a snap count without more information. Bill O'Brien has said there's "a chance" he suits up, and Fuller sounds like a game-time decision. But he's getting in limited practices, and he was getting in limited practices last week as well before sitting out Week 11. He'll be a high-risk Fantasy option but one with plenty of upside, and his presence would be a boost for Watson while perhaps a slight knock to Hopkins.   

Here are some more situations to monitor for Week 12. 

  • James Conner aggravated his shoulder injury last Thursday night against Cleveland, and his status for Week 12 is unclear, and will depend how he feels throughout the week. Given that Conner has already aggravated the injury once, the Steelers are likely to take a cautious approach. Trey Edmunds led the backfield in snaps in Conner's absence, with Jaylen Samuels mixing in, though Edmunds notably ran more routes than Samuels. Rookie Benny Snell also appears ready to return, and should Conner miss, Snell would likely be the lead back, with Samuels playing on passing downs, although there's some potential Samuels' role is again limited. 
  • Both starting wide receivers for the Steelers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, are in the league's concussion protocol. Smith-Schuster is also dealing with a knee ailment. If either or both receivers are unable to go, it would be a boost to James Washington and Vance McDonald, though the Steelers are also likely to lean heavily on their running backs in a matchup with the Bengals. 
  • Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Howard both got in limited practices Wednesday, but both should still be considered questionable for Week 12. We'll need to monitor their status, but the Eagles could obviously use the pair after a poor offensive showing against the Patriots in Week 11. Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert will remain the top targets in the passing game should Jeffery miss again, while Miles Sanders may be subject to more of a timeshare even if Howard misses again, as Jay Ajayi will have had a full week with the team by the time Sunday rolls around. 
  • After meeting with the league, Antonio Brown's camp is reportedly optimistic there's a chance he could play this season. We haven't heard much from the league, and Brown is technically not suspended but rather just a free agent. He would seem to have the most value to teams trying to gear up for the postseason, and a reunion with a Patriots team in need of playmakers on the outside might be the most logical landing spot, should that come to pass. 
  • Amari Cooper is still dealing with his knee injury, but is expected to play through it in Week 12 as he has the past two weeks. Cooper wasn't very productive in Week 11, but that perhaps had more to do with a tough matchup against Darius Slay than his knee, given he rattled off a 14-11-147-1 line while playing through it in Week 10. He'll again have a tough matchup against New England in Week 12, but you'd have to have strong alternatives to sit him. 
  • Brandin Cooks is expected to make his return from his second concussion of 2019 in Week 12. Cooks should slot back into his normal role in a Rams offense that went very run-heavy in Week 11 as they deal with offensive line issues. Their Week 12 opponent, the Ravens, likely won't allow for such a conservative game plan, as they are far more likely to apply pressure to the Rams' defense than the Bears did in Week 11. Expect the Rams to throw a bit more in Week 12. Cooks is a risk/reward option if he returns. 
  • Sterling Shepard is also hoping to return from his second concussion of 2019 and has been a full participant in practice. Shepard's return would limit the target potential for Darius Slayton. Evan Engram has not practiced through Wednesday, but is reportedly also a candidate to return in Week 12. The Giants have a shot to have their pass-catching group back at full strength in the near term. 
  • Tyreek Hill's hamstring injury has been described as minor. Hill was able to walk off under his own power, and this tracks with what seemed to not be a major injury during the game. With the Chiefs on a Week 12 bye, Hill will likely be ready for Week 13 without missing any games. 
  • The Browns have designated David Njoku to return from IR, but expressed caution about how quickly he'll be brought back. Njoku seems likely to have a role by at least the Fantasy playoffs, and is a stash option for TE-needy teams, but his Week 12 status is still up in the air. If we get positive reports, he'd be a worthwhile streamer against the Dolphins in a slim week for the position. 
  • Rob Gronkowski has no plans to return to football this year, but would not rule out 2020. If you stashed him in any deep redraft leagues, you can give up hope. 

So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 12 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

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