Each week this season, I'll go through some tournament strategies for that week's slate, then give out some picks I like at each position. Let's start this week's article by discussing some strategies to consider for tournament lineups in Week 12.

Week 12 tournament strategy session

Week 12 is a bit of a mess. The Chiefs, Chargers, Vikings and Cardinals all have several good Fantasy options on their offenses, and all are on bye. The Texans and Colts played Thursday, the Packers and 49ers play Sunday night and the Ravens head to Los Angeles to take on the Rams on Monday. You can go position by position to see what that means for the Sunday slate. 

Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson aren't available on the main Sunday slate, while none of Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers or even Kyler Murray are there as secondary options. Dalvin Cook's absence will mean even more focus on Christian McCaffrey than usual, while Aaron Jones, Melvin Gordon and Mark Ingram being off the slate will elevate ownership of other high-priced backs. 

DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Keenan Allen aren't options, while Stefon Diggs, Cooper Kupp, Christian Kirk and others further limit things. There's no Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Hunter Henry or Mark Andrews at tight end. 

While the natural response may be to try to get more contrarian, it's more of a rising tide. Nearly every reasonable play will carry solid ownership, and we'll also see some players in situations that would make them inferior plays other weeks get elevated from afterthought status to an ownership level where they aren't actually providing your lineup much unique value. 

With more condensed ownership on the plays thought to be "optimal," and a weaker risk/reward profile for secondary options, it becomes more important than ever to correlate your lineup in terms of how various games might actually play out, and how those circumstances could benefit certain players. There's also a potential argument to find some truly off-the-map options for larger-field tournaments, and I've dug a little deeper this week for a couple of my plays below.   

Let's get to the picks. 

Week 12 DFS Picks
Top players
Position
Quarterbacks
SEA Seattle • #3
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PHI PHI -1 O/U 48
DK Salary
$6800
FD Salary
$8200
YTD Stats
PAYDS
2737
RUYDS
256
TD
26
INT
2
FPTS/G
27.9
The 8-2 Seahawks are one-point underdogs on the road against the 5-5 Eagles in a game the Vegas line suggests could be high-scoring and back-and-forth. That's the type of atmosphere we want to target, and Russell Wilson as an underdog against a beatable pass defense is as well, because it suggests he might actually get to throw a decent amount. This sets up like it could turn into a perfect game atmosphere for a ceiling game, and I'm always on board for a potential Russell Wilson ceiling game.
ATL Atlanta • #2
Age: 36 • Experience: 14 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB ATL -3.5 O/U 51.5
DK Salary
$6700
FD Salary
$7900
YTD Stats
PAYDS
2663
RUYDS
77
TD
19
INT
9
FPTS/G
22.3
Matt Ryan is going to be a popular option, but it's for good reason. Brian Hill didn't bring much to the running game last week in a good matchup, and the Buccaneers present more of a challenge on that front. But they do struggle in the secondary, and throwing the ball is what the Falcons want to do. Ryan has a high floor and also a potentially high ceiling if the Bucs can throw on the suddenly improved Falcons defense and this game shoots out.
Running Backs
NO New Orleans • #41
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CAR NO -9.5 O/U 47
DK Salary
$8200
FD Salary
$8300
YTD Stats
RUYDS
472
REC
51
REYDS
373
TD
2
FPTS/G
17.6
Kamara's another guy who will be very popular but I'm plenty comfortable using. The Saints are big home favorites and love to feature their running backs in the green zone. I expect Kamara and Latavius Murray to combine for multiple touchdowns against a Panthers defense that has allowed more rushing scores than any other team in the league. Kamara is obviously the top option, and his multi-touchdown upside is evident and would combine with his receiving role to create a monster ceiling, while Murray makes for a sneaky cheaper play as well.
CLE Cleveland • #24
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs MIA CLE -10.5 O/U 45.5
DK Salary
$8100
FD Salary
$8200
YTD Stats
RUYDS
1011
REC
27
REYDS
166
TD
6
FPTS/G
16.6
It's hard to imagine the Browns failing to put up points on the Dolphins, and in a week like this, you likely need to figure out where you think those points are going to come from and commit to that. My guess is they will be able to control the game and perhaps get a little conservative, with plenty of Nick Chubb dominating things on the ground. Kareem Hunt is also in play as a cheaper and less popular option in a similar game situation, but he carries less of a touch ceiling.
PHI Philadelphia • #26
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SEA PHI -1 O/U 48
DK Salary
$5000
FD Salary
$5600
YTD Stats
RUYDS
374
REC
24
REYDS
314
TD
2
FPTS/G
9.6
If Jordan Howard misses again, it'll be a good week to go back to Miles Sanders. Sanders got the start and played 85% of the Eagles snaps in Week 11, but wasn't very productive in a difficult matchup against the Patriots. Some of that was due to the Patriots making it a point to limit his receiving role, as the rookie has made several plays downfield in the passing game this season. With Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor tentatively expected back, it's unlikely the Seahawks will deploy a similar scheme, and while Jay Ajayi is likely to eat into the early down work a bit, Sanders should have more of an opportunity to produce in a game the Eagles as an offense should be a lot more productive.
MIA Miami • #32
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CLE CLE -10.5 O/U 45.5
DK Salary
$3400
FD Salary
$4900
YTD Stats
RUYDS
11
REC
8
REYDS
66
TD
0
FPTS/G
1.6
Let's be clear: this is a deeper play, and works better on full PPR sites like DraftKings. But Laird played well late in Week 11, catching six passes despite playing just 17 snaps. Kalen Ballage has really struggled as the lead back, and there's a decent chance Miami will trail in this game. The hope is they do, and they turn to Laird for a larger role in the passing game, allowing a guy with an impressive receiving profile in college to rack up receptions late. There's even an outside chance he could earn some early-down work over Ballage.
Wide Receivers
TB Tampa Bay • #14
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ ATL ATL -3.5 O/U 51.5
DK Salary
$7200
FD Salary
$7800
YTD Stats
REC
63
TAR
89
REYDS
887
TD
7
FPTS/G
19.3
Atlanta's defense might be a bit overrated after strong performances in back-to-back weeks, while both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are coming off a couple of average performances — it's been a month since Godwin last had a boom game. That combination makes it a good time to get back on the Buccaneers receivers with the idea the longer trends still have substance, and both receivers have plenty of upside in what should be a high-scoring affair. As the primary slot receiver, Godwin should avoid Desmond Trufant, the Falcons' best corner, so he'd be my preferred option of the two.
SEA Seattle • #16
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PHI PHI -1 O/U 48
DK Salary
$7600
FD Salary
$7400
YTD Stats
REC
62
TAR
76
REYDS
793
TD
6
FPTS/G
17.4
Lockett's a bit banged up, but even if his snaps are limited a bit, he's also one of the league's most efficient receivers and typically doesn't need a ton of targets to put up big numbers. More importantly, if the Seahawks get into the back-and-forth game I'm expecting and Russell Wilson throws more than usual, there's a lot to like about his No. 1 receiver. And make no mistake: even with D.K. Metcalf coming on, Josh Gordon in town and Jacob Hollister providing some tight end production, Lockett is still the lead dog.
NE New England • #15
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DAL NE -6 O/U 44.5
DK Salary
$3300
FD Salary
$5000
YTD Stats
REC
3
TAR
4
REYDS
18
TD
0
FPTS/G
4
Other than perhaps Laird, you were probably wondering when the off-the-wall picks were coming. Well, Harry's that. The first-round rookie had a decent showing in his Week 11 debut, catching three of four passes but for just 18 yards. The Patriots are now banged up at the receiver position, with Mohamed Sanu nursing an ankle injury that could hold him out and Phillip Dorsett not yet cleared from the concussion protocol. If either misses, Harry should be in line for an expanded role in an offense that needs playmakers at the position, which could put him in line for a breakout game.
TEN Tennessee • #2
Age: 32 • Experience: 11 year
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TB ATL -3.5 O/U 51.5
DK Salary
$8000
FD Salary
$8400
YTD Stats
REC
59
TAR
91
REYDS
882
TD
4
FPTS/G
16.7
I highlighted Calvin Ridley in this space last week because the Falcons are a pass-first team with plenty of available opportunity since the Mohamed Sanu trade and subsequent Austin Hooper injury. We got the big game from Ridley, but in came in a winning effort where Matt Ryan threw just 31 passes. I expect that number to rise this week, and I expect Julio Jones' upside to be even higher than Ridley's in the weeks to come, given he's the clear No. 1 and third in the NFL in air yards on the season.
Tight Ends
LV Las Vegas • #83
Age: 29 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ NYJ OAK -3 O/U 46.5
DK Salary
$5700
FD Salary
$6200
YTD Stats
REC
56
TAR
72
REYDS
666
TD
3
FPTS/G
13.7
It's a rough week at tight end in particular, and there's a good argument to pay down and save your money for other positions. But I do like Waller and the Raiders passing game in a road contest against a Jets team with a solid rush defense. Oakland should wind up throwing plenty in this game, and even though the emergence of Hunter Renfrow has meant a less concentrated target tree, I still like Waller to lead the team most weeks. He's a solid option with a decent floor and some PPR upside.
ARI Arizona • #86
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SEA PHI -1 O/U 48
DK Salary
$6000
FD Salary
$6100
YTD Stats
REC
55
TAR
86
REYDS
621
TD
2
FPTS/G
12.5
Ertz is another expensive tight end who at least brings some safety in the form of a solid target floor. Ertz has 11 targets and nine receptions in each of his past two games, and while the pass-catching group should be healthier, I'm expecting a bump in overall passing in what could be a shootout. But if I'm really being honest, I just don't trust any of the cheaper tight ends in a really thin week, though I'm fine with picking your favorite cheap option and hoping for a few big plays.