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Fantasy Football Rundown: Week 12

Thoughts on every single NFL game and every single player that’s fantasy relevant for Week 12.

USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Welcome to the Rundown where I give at least a sentence on every single fantasy relevant player this week. Let’s begin!

Teams on bye: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, MInnesota Vikings

Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills

Brandon Allen walks into a near-impossible matchup against the vaunted Bills secondary, ranking as a no-go QB3 this week. Accordingly, Courtland Sutton’s expected box score results must be downgraded. However, he can still be started as a volume-based WR2. Tim Patrick injured his shoulder last week, while firmly establishing himself as the team’s No. 2 WR, logging a 73% snap share. He’s an extremely talented player who belongs on fantasy rosters everywhere. This is not the matchup to start him though, given the combination of the Bills defense and the shoulder injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice. Slot receiver DaeSean Hamilton has been fantasy-irrelevant in the post-Emmanuel Sanders world. This is not the matchup for him to change his fortunes. Noah Fant has emerged as a legit TE1, racking up an absurd 10 targets last week. It’s a brutal matchup but that kind of volume is impossible to ignore. If you’re in a tight spot, you could do far worse. This is Phillip Lindsay’s backfield now and contrary to popular thought, this is a great matchup. The Bills smartly allow teams to gain yardage against them on the ground -- a tactic also employed by the Patriots and Eagles -- by loading up the secondary in an attempt to slow opposing offenses via the more-efficient passing game. He’s a high-end RB2. Royce Freeman will be lucky to sniff 8-10 touches. He’s just a non-recommended flex option.

Denver’s pass defense has largely been stout -- outside of last week’s showing by Kirk Cousins -- but Josh Allen’s playmaking ability is too strong to ignore. He slides a bit in the rankings but he’s still this week’s QB10. John Brown will likely see a surplus of Chris Harris Jr.’s coverage, however, he’s getting far too much usage to shy away from him. He’s a weekly WR2 with astronomical WR1 upside, given his game-breaking ability. In the tough matchup, Cole Beasley retains just low-end PPR-only flex appeal. Dawson Knox’s box scores have improved as of late and Denver’s defense was pummeled by Minnesota’s tight end duo last week. He’s a mild-to-moderate TE1. While Devin Singletary can be expected to receive 15-20 touches per week at this point, he’s yet to truly capitalize and bring us a ceiling game. It’s unlikely that happens against Denver’s defensive front this week, however, he remains a sturdy RB2. Frank Gore merely functions as a wrench in Singletary’s box score production and can be either dropped or handcuff-bench-stashed at this point.

New York Giants at Chicago Bears

Daniel Jones is a mid-tier QB2 this week. The Bears’s pass defense is stout but Jones will always retain his rushing floor. Sterling Shepard has had an up and down recovery from this seasons set of concussions. He needs to get three full practices in this week before being cleared. After having Week 11’s bye week to recover, his chances are improved but he should not be counted on until Thursday and Friday’s practice info is known. Making matters worse, tight ends Evan Engram (the dreaded lisfranc sprain) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) are both Doubtful to play this week. All of this adds up to a likely monster workload for Golden Tate III. It’s a tough matchup but he’s got a serious shot at 12 or more targets this week, making him a locked-and-loaded WR2 with an outrageously high floor, and ceiling, in PPR. Darius Slaton’s workload should be reliable as well. His deep-ball style makes him an upside flex option. Saquon Barkley can also be expected to see a large target volume (on top of his bulging carry-total). He’s the overall RB2.

Mitchell Trubisky is looking like he’ll be able to play this week, hurting the value of all Bears’ “skill” players. He’s a weekly QB3. Allen Robinson II should be able to take advantage of the Giants’ porous secondary, although his floor remains questionable if Trubisky is the signal caller. He’s a mild boom/bust WR2. Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel and low-end flex, options, despite the good matchup. There are no relevant, healthy tight ends in this offense. David Montgomery is just a high-end flex option. There’s too much variance here with Trubisky at the helm, even in a good matchup, for him to be relied upon as the RB2 that he should be. Tarik Cohen is a solid PPR-only flex option a la Nyheim Hines this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

QB Mason Rudolph has a great matchup but he’s likely to be without both JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee and concussion) and Diontae Johnson (concussion). He’s a mid-to-low QB2. James Washington should lead receivers in targets this week, making him a viable flex option with WR2 upside. Johnny Holton and Tevin Jones are not recommended WR starts. TE Vance McDonald should absorb a large chunk of the JuJu/Johnson targets. He’s a high-end TE1 this week in a stellar matchup. James Conner is also not expected to play this week after re-aggravating his bizarre shoulder injury last week (AC joint sprains usually don’t have this big of an impact -- I suspect there’s more at play here). We should expect a big performance from Jaylen Samuels this week. Even with Benny Snell Jr. expected to return from his knee injury and Trey Edmunds rushing moderately well, a Week 9 backfield share would be the low-end of Samuels spectrum. Although he carried the ball just 8 times to Edmunds’ 12, he lead the team in targets (13), catching every single one of them. He’s a locked-in RB1. Snell Jr. and Edmunds are afterthoughts as low-end flex options in Standard scoring leagues.

Ryan Finley is the worst-ranked QB this week as the Bengals have seemingly decided on running out the clock to as quickly as possible. They’re committed to losing and heading home. This newfound mantra has worked out very well for RB Joe Mixon though, as he now the featured piece of their offense. In a bad matchup, he remains a volume-based RB2. Gio Bernard is just a bench-stash handcuff. AJ Green still refuses to play while signalling for the trainers to come ice his healed ankle. With Auden Tate not expected to clear the concussion protocol, Tyler Boyd should be in for 10+ poorly aimed Finley targets. He’s only a flex option, even on such absurd volume. WR Alex Erickson and TE Tyler Eifert are technically starters, however, they are not recommended for fantasy purposes.

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns

Ryan Fitzpatrick enters Week 12 as a mid-tier QB2 with some very real high-end QB2 upside. Suspensions to Larry Ogunjobi and Myles Garrett bode well for the Dolphins’ offensive aspirations. DeVante Parker has seemingly developed into the player we’d always hoped he’d be. He’s a weekly WR2 with back-end WR1 upside. Former expected-breakout star Albert Wilson is unusable. However, in leagues where return yardage and touchdowns are counted, Jakeem Grant has thrust himself onto flex-fantasy radars. He’s, surprisingly, a worthy option. Bearing The Devil’s Mark, Mike Gesicki walks into Sunday’s matchup with target totals of 6, 6, and 6 over the last three games. Cleveland got roasted by Noah Fant in Week 9 before giving up modest, yet .5PPR-useful, outings to Dawson Knox and Vance McDonald in Weeks 10 and 11. Gesicki can be considered a helpful tight end streamer this week. 47th string running back Patrick Laird was given work in relief of Kalen Ballage and his appalling 9 carries for 9 yards and a score last week, parlaying 6 catches on 6 targets into 51 yards with a 7-yard rush on top. Both backs can be started this week, given Cleveland’s depleted front. Laird is on the PPR-only flex radar while Ballage takes on Standard scoring-only flex consideration.

Baker Mayfield has quietly been ascending in box score-dom over the last three weeks and now faces the perfect team for a back-end QB1 outing. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be able to put up points against the Browns, forcing Baker to continue throwing against the JuCo Dolphins. Put on the shades of yesteryear and fire up Odell Beckham Jr. as a WR1. There’s no one on the Dolphins squad that can even pretend to keep pace with Beckham. Get ready to rock’n’roll like the good ol’ times. Jarvis Landry’s a scoring-irrelevant WR2 this week with a Revenge Game narrative on tap, to boot. With Antonio Callaway suspended and cut, ancillary pass catchers all receive a slight boost. Rashard Higgins could be started as a desperation 2nd-flex in Standard leagues. He’s unlikely to see more than 3 targets but they should be deep. Ricky Seals-Jones would be a good start but David Njoku is eligible to return from IR this week. We’ll wait to see how things are shaking out during Friday’s practice to make any prognostications -- one of them will likely be worth a flyer though. This is the game where we see what Nick Chubb’s ceiling should’ve been this season. Fire him up as this week’s overall RB7. Kareem Hunt is now a featured part of the Browns’ passing game. He’s got an excellent shot at surpassing 10+ touches this week, more than half of which through the air. He’s a back-end RB2.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Start your passing game components of these two squads.

Although the Falcons defense has turned things around with Dan Quinn being relieved of defensive play-calling duties, the Bucs’ passing offense is too hot to shy away from. Jameis Winston threw his second-highest interception total last week (4!) and still tied for QB12 honors. The last time he didn’t put up numbers in the 300-yard range was Week 6, when he threw for 400 yards. As we discussed on Episode 153 of the Fake Teams podcast starting both Jameis Winston and the Atlanta Falcons D/ST in your lineup is a viable option. He’s likely to post multiple turnovers -- possibly a pick-6 -- en route to another QB1 outing, making both options great starts. He’s the overall QB5 this week. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are matchup-proof WR1s. Cameron Brate caught a preposterous 10 of 14 targets last week for 73 yards after OJ Howard was permanently benched for attempting to hand himself the ball behind his back a la fancy pants basketball maneuvers. Howard will be lucky to ever play for this team again. Ronald Jones II was cast aside for passing specialist Dare Ogunbowale last week. Peyton Barber was fortunate enough to score on one of his two touches last week. Jones is just an RB3 in a likely shootout. Ogunbowale is an extremely risky PPR-only flex start while Barber does not belong anywhere near a starting lineup.

With the Bucs playing shutdown run defense and nonexistent pass defense, expect the Falcons offense to similarly punt on using their running game. In Devonta Freeman’s absence last week, none of Brian Hill (38 yards on 16 touches), Quadree Ollison (11 yards and a vultured score on 4 carries), nor Kenjon Barner (2 carries for 15 yards and one 3-yard pass) looked good. It was thought that Devonta Freeman (foot) would be returning this week but he missed practice on both Thursday and Friday. Should he return, he’s just an RB3. Should he miss, Brian Hill would likely retain lead back duties but really shouldn’t be in starting lineups. Matt Ryan vaults up to the overall QB4 spot, one ahead of his Week 12 counterpart. If Julio Jones ever had a shot at repeating his 300-yard performance against Carolina back in 2016, this is it. Calvin Ridley is a high-end WR2. Without a tight end adequately filling Austin Hooper’s void, No. 3 WR Russell Gage is a viable flex option this week as well. TE Jaeden Graham could be started if necessary. The Bucs are allowing the 2nd-most .5PPR points to opposing tight ends.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

Even with Marshon Lattimore Out this week, QB Kyle Allen is not a startable fantasy option. He’s the QB24. DJ Moore’s outstanding target volume and run-after-the-catch ability makes him a weekly flex/WR2 option, with a high floor in .5PPR/PPR. Curtis Samuel is much more a boom/bust flex option, seeing about half the work that Moore does. Greg Olsen has earned safety-blanket back-end TE1 consideration. Christian McCaffrey is the overall RB1 from here on out. Reggie Bonnafon needs to be bench-stashed by all CMC owners.

Even with the Panthers playing excellent pass defense, Drew Brees remains a mid-tier QB1. Michael Thomas is a god among men. He’s a weekly candidate to lead his position in scoring, no matter the matchup. His PPR floor and ceiling can’t be overstated. Although Ted Ginn Jr. finally made something out of a good matchup last week, there really aren’t any viable pass catchers outside of Michael Thomas, Jared Cook, and Alvin Kamara. Tre’Quan Smith does not need to be considered here either. Jared Cook is a TE1. Alvin Kamara is the overall RB8 this week while Latavius Murray is a low-end flex option as the Panthers run defense is downright woeful.

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles

Russell Wilson should demolish this atrocious Eagles’ secondary. He’s this week’s overall QB2. Tyler Lockett is trending towards being able to play this week after his shin-scare in the aftermath of Week 10’s showdown with San Francisco. He’ll be a serious candidate to finish as a Top 5 WR. DK Metcalf can be fired up as a WR2 in this glorious matchup. Another one of his patented 40-yard touchdown bombs can more or less be taken to the bank. He’d be a back-end WR1 if Lockett were to sit out. Josh Gordon deserves serious flex appeal with back-end WR2 upside. TE Jacob Hollister is similarly set to wreck the box score and can realistically be considered a Top 5 option. Chris Carson should still see 18+ touches this week, making him a high-end RB2, even in a tough matchup. Rashaad Penny is merely an afterthought.

Even in a great matchup, Carson Wentz is tough to trust. He has high-end QB2 upside given the likely game script but he’s just a mid-tier QB2 in the rankings. Alshon Jeffery is on track to play this week and would immediately take on mid-to-low WR2 value. The real stars of the passing game show are TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Both are excellent TE1 options this week in what should be a high-scoring affair. Don’t bother with Jake Matthews or Nelson Agholor (knee), even if the latter is able to play. Jordan Howard has still not been cleared for contact after suffering a stinger two weeks ago. He should not be expected to play. Miles Sanders was most shutdown last week but that was due to the Patriots committing heavily to stopping him. His outstanding dual threat abilities are well known -- and apparently feared -- at this point. The Seahawks’ defense is nothing like that of the Patriots. Miles Sanders should see no real competition from backups Boston Scott and Jay Ajayi. He’s a locked-and-loaded RB2 this week.

Detroit Lions at Washington Football Team

Jeff Driskel has become the quintessential athletic fill-in QB at this point. He’s not great via the eye test but boy, oh boy, do his legs (and supporting cast) get the job done. Against this porous Washington defense, Driskel is an excellent streaming option. Expect Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. to produce as strong WR2s this week, making plays for Driskel of their own accord. WR Danny Amendola and TE TJ Hockenson are largely ignorable. Bo Scarbrough came out of nowhere and stole Ty Johnson’s job. He’s now the Lions’ banger back and this is a great spot for him to put up RB2 numbers on 15 or so touches. Folks will dismiss his large frame as that of a plodder but this guy is a serious freak athlete. A 1.56 second 10-yard split, a 40” vertical, a 10’9” broad jump, and a 4.34 second 20-yard short-shuttle at 6’1”, 228lbs is legit. For reference, Ezekiel Elliott is 5’11.75”, 225lbs and ran a 1.58 second 10-yard split with just a 32.5” vertical. He did not participate in the broad or short shuttle. Saquon Barkley, at 6’, 233lbs, posted a 1.54 second 10-yard split, 41” vertical, and a 4.24 second 20-yard short shuttle (did not do the broad either). JD McKissic is just a low-end PPR-only flex option.

Although the Lions’ defense is largely unimposing, Dwayne Haskins’ top target, Terry McLaurin is likely to be shadowed by sometimes shutdown CB Darius Slay. Haskins is just a QB3. Accordingly, Scary Terry can only be considered as a flex option at this point. There are no other Washington pass catchers worth considering. Adrian Peterson should retain lead back duties and can be started as a decent flex option. Derrius Guice’s passing game role is likely to take a hit as pass catching maven Chris Thompson is likely to return this week. Neither are recommended starts this week as we really don’t know how those two will split work.

Oakland Raiders at New York Jets

Derek Carr is a legit QB1 this week against the hapless New York Jets. Receivers Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow can both be started this week. Williams is a WR2, Renfrow a solid flex -- both, regardless of format as the Jets are giving up the 2nd-most fantasy points to wide receivers in .5PPR. Darren Waller should have no issue contending for Top 5 TE honors this week either. The ancillary pass catchers like WR Zay Jones, RB Jalen Richard, or TE Foster Moreau are not worth considering. Josh Jacobs is set to steamroll the now Leonard Williams-less Jets front-seven. He’s the overall RB9.

Whatever the Raiders are able to do on offense, the Jets should be able to answer. Sam Darnold is a high-end QB2 streamer with a real shot to finish in the back-end of the QB1s. Jamison Crowder has been a machine over the last three games, finding the end zone in each contest. Although traditionally thought of an a PPR-only starter, Crowder is the overall WR3 in Standard scoring and the overall WR1 in both .5PPR and PPR. Get him into your lineups immediately. Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas have been largely unreliable but in this matchup, both could be considered as low-end flex options -- Anderson in Standard and Thomas in PPR. With TE Chris Herndon on IR, TE Ryan Griffin went off last week, hauling in 5 of 5 targets for 109 yards and a score. He’s a high-end TE1. Le’Veon Bell comes in like a wrecking ball as the overall RB5 in an absolute blow-up spot against this Oakland front. Bilal Powell has taken the mantle of Handcuff-to-Bell from Ty Montgomery. Although he is not startable on his own, he would be a hot commodity should Bell get hurt.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

Nick Foles is likely to game manage as a mid-tier QB2 in what should be a Battle of the Backs Bowl. That being said, DJ Chark Jr. retains back-end WR1 value after the two showed an immediate connection last week, in Foles return to action. Both Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley are PPR flex options with no pass catching tight end on the roster that would steal targets from either of them. It’s worth noting that Keelan Cole has made some noise as of late and may be leapfrogging one of Westbrook and Conley. Leonard Fournette is the overall RB6 this week against Tennessee’s mid-tier defense on a projected 20+ touch workload.

Ryan Tannehill has been an outstanding fantasy option in his time manning the Titans’ helm. He’s a high-end QB2, coming in as the overall QB14. He’s got legit back-end QB1 upside in this solid matchup. Of the receivers, AJ Brown has really been the only one to show consistency. He’s a viable flex option here. Corey Davis is just a boom/bust flex option. With Delanie Walker (ankle) likely returning this week, Jonnu Smith is off of fantasy radars. Walker can be considered a back-end TE1. Derrick Henry will undoubtedly be the star of the show. He’s this week’s RB4, as our Fake Teams twitter account made note of earlier this week. Dion Lewis is not a viable fantasy asset.

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots

MVP contender Dak Prescott has a stiff test in front of him. He’s likely to prevail in the box score though. He’s the overall QB6. Amari Cooper is likely to get shadow coverage from Stephon Gilmore, but his 10ish targets should keep in the WR2 range. It’s a very tough matchup for him though. Michael Gallup is a high-end flex option with easy WR2 upside. The same goes for the recently resurgent Randall Cobb. Jason Witten is just a back-end TE1. Ezekiel Elliot remains an elite RB1 option, regardless of the matchup. Tony Pollard flashed last week, catching 4 of 4 targets for 44 yards, a touchdown, and a 2-point conversion. The Cowboys would be smart to continue using him via the passing game. For now, he’s not a recommended start, however he should owned everywhere as he could find immediate standalone value.

Tom Brady comes in a mid-tier QB1. The offense struggled last week but we can expect Bill Belichick to has spent all week fixing it. With Mohamed Sanu unlikely to play (ankle) and Phillip Dorsett II struggling to get through the concussion protocol, the Pats will need other to step up. Julian Edelman will, of course, be a target hog. He’s a WR1 across all formats. Some could be asked of N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers but it might be more likely that TE Ben Watson suddenly lights up the box score. As our own Pete Rogers pointed out on twitter, the Cowboys have given up “the fourth most catches and touchdowns to tight ends” this year. James White could also see a season-high in targets and can be inserted into lineups as a sturdy flex option with RB2 upside. Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead are both low-end flex options. It’s possible Burkhead takes some snaps at slot receiver, in which case he would be startable as a solid flex option across all formats.

SNF: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

San Fran’s season-long anti-QB defensive stats are heavily skewed towards the dominant first half of the season they enjoyed. Over the last 3 games, they’ve allowed Kyler Murray to finish as the QB7 and QB6 in Weeks 9 and 11, respectively, with a T-QB13 showing from Russell Wilson in Week 10. With their defense ailing (two-straight DNP’s for Dee Ford on Tuesday/Wednesday with quad and hamstring injuries, stud linebacker Kwon Alexander on IR, and starting SAM backer Azeez Al-Shaair in the concussion protocol), Aaron Rodgers should cruise to a QB1 finish. Target monster Davante Adams is a no-brainer WR1 -- Richard Sherman doesn’t travel, pre-snap, sideline to sideline in coverage so Adams will have plenty of Sherman-free routes run. Allen Lazard and Geronimo Allison round out 3-receiver sets with Marquez Valdes-Scantling sprinkled in for the occasional deep bomb. Lazard No. 2 on the WR target-tree and is a viable, if capped ceiling, flex option. Allison is a 2nd-flex PPR option. MVS is a hail mary. The only tight end to find much success against the Niners defense this year has been Seattle’s Jacob Hollister. Jimmy Graham hasn’t done much to this point in 2019. He’s a TE1/2 fringer. Like Frank Reynolds, Aaron Jones is ready to plow. The Niners’ run defense has been sledgehammered by opposing backfields -- both via the pass and the rush -- in each of the last 4 games. He’s a Top 10 option. Likewise, Jamaal Williams can be teed up confidently as a high-end flex option, taking the final spot of the RB2 rankings.

Cracks have begun to show in Green Bay’s pass defense -- which is bad, given that they were already weak against the run. Jimmy Garoppolo retains his mid-tier QB2 status but his narrow passing tree allows his pass catchers to deliver usable fantasy outings. Deebo Samuel has asserted himself as a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Emmanuel Sanders’ rib-caused absence. With Sanders likely returning this week, Samuel should see less double coverage. Both players are back-end WR2s and should be in owners’ lineups. George Kittle (knee/ankle) is trending in the right direction but the Pro Football Doc, Dr. David Chao still sees him favoring his left leg via video. The Doc did make it clear that Kittle could still play, if there was no bone bruise involved in the injury -- something we don’t know -- which would likely require one more week on the sidelines. (Use the site’s interface to find Kittle’s info -- site still in development.) Backup TE Ross Dwelley was an excellent red zone weapon last week, hauling in 2 TDs against the Cardinals. He would be a serviceable option should Kittle be a last minute Inactive. It’s worth noting, Green Bay is giving up the 4th-most points to the tight end position this year in .5PPR leagues. Like the tight end position, GB is also giving up the 4th-most points to opposing backfields in .5PPR, setting the table nicely for lead back Tevin Coleman. Coleman should see 15-20 touches, en route to high-end RB2 production. With Matt Breida (ankle) likely Out again this week, Raheem Moore would be a decent flex play as he’s likely to see 10 touches between the 20s.

MNF: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Rams

Like CMC, Lamar Jackson is on a different, matchup-proof level. If he can’t get it done through the air, his feet will do the trick. He’s the overall QB1. Marquise Brown is in for a hard day at the office though. It’s likely Jalen Ramsey shadows him all night. He’s a boom/bust flex option whose ceiling is a legit WR1. Willie Snead IV is the only other truly relevant receiver. He’s just a low-end 2nd flex option though. As always, TE Mark Andrews is a top-tier option at the position. Nick Boyle even deserves back-end TE1 consideration this week as Marquise Brown isn’t likely to have a ceiling game in the target column. Despite the tough matchup, Mark Ingram II remains a Top 12 option this week. The Ravens’ offense is simply too potent to keep their lead back anywhere else. Gus Edwards is an elite handcuff.

With Robert Woods’ availability up in the air (personal) and Brandin Cooks coming off a month-long absence due to a concussion, Jared Goff’s prospects for Monday night aren’t great -- especially given that he’s facing the Baltimore defense which has drastically improved since their early-season woes. He’s a mid-to-low QB2. Cooper Kupp is on the WR1/2 fringe as Goff’s safety blanket/primary red zone target. Cooks is a boom/bust flex option. Gerald Everrett’s struggled to produce consistently and this week doesn’t look good. The Ravens’ tight end defense is stout. He’s a TE1/2 fringer. The Ravens’ run defense is still middling though and Todd Gurley II is back to seeing bell cow usage. He’s a mid-tier RB2. Neither Malcolm Brown, nor Darrell Henderson Jr. are startable.