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Fantasy football buy or sell: The Patriots defense makes wide receivers unstartable

Determining which Week 12 storylines are for real and which are fake.

USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

The Patriots secondary, headlined by shutdown corner and defensive player of the year candidate (yea, I said it) Stephon Gilmore, have been the best unit in the NFL this year. They’ve allowed ONE receiving touchdown to a wide receiver this season and are giving up the fewest yards to the position by a long shot. Only one wideout, Golden Tate back in Week 6, has gone for over 15 PPR points against them.

New England’s defense was back at it Sunday against the Cowboys, holding the offense to only 212 passing yards. They held a red hot Randall Cobb to 86 yards on four catches (almost all of which came on one busted coverage play), Michael Gallup to 55 yards and your DPOY Gilmore completely erased Amari Cooper who caught neither of his two targets.

Is it time to stop challenging the Patriots defense and bench any WR1 that faces off against New England?

There are always big storylines to come out of each NFL week and I like looking at these narratives and figuring out—with you the people in the twittersphere’s help—just how much I believe them and how that should dictate my fantasy moves for the week. So, let’s see which Week 12 reactions we’re buying and selling.

Say what you want about this maybe being an overreaction coming off Cooper’s goose egg but that’s the whole point of this article! We’re trying to determine if overreactions are real or fake, and let me tell you people, this one is real!

Only four wide receivers have reached 70 yards against the Patriots this season and only one of those guys—JuJu Smith-Schuster back in Week 1—was a WR1 going up against Gilmore. The other three were Tate, Cobb and Cole Beasley back in Week 4. I’ve seen enough of this Patriots secondary to be worried about starting any receiver facing them, let alone the guy who’s going to be getting the Gilmore treatment.

Next week the Patriots take on the Texans, meaning DeAndre Hopkins will be the next WR1 to face off against Gilmore. Hopkins’ stats vs Gilmore as a Patriot (two games): nine targets, six catches, 85 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, 57.4 passer rating. I benched Cooper last week. If I were a Hopkins owner, I’d bench him this week.

Verdict: Buy Gilmore’s DPOY status

Rashaad Penny is the Seahawks’ new RB1

Wouldn’t it just be nice if for once when a running back has a break out game, the team reliably gives him a larger role in the weeks to come? Wouldn’t that just make life so much easier? It would have saved us all from the Lions’ backfield debacle and would have justified our Ronald Jones hype. And now we have to deal with the mind of Pete Carroll, which is never a place you want to find yourself.

I have to think that even such a stubborn coach like Carroll would move on from Chris Carson after putting the ball on the ground SEVEN times this season. Especially when you add Penny’s terrific performance in spell of Carson into the equation. But this statement isn’t so much about trusting Penny as it is trusting Carroll and the Seahawks offense to do the right thing moving forward, which personally, I don’t.

Do I think Penny should be the Hawks RB1 rest of the season? Hell yea. Will he be? *shrug emoji*. Clearly y’all have as much faith as I do.

Verdict: Sell because who knows what “throw it on the goal line” Pete Carroll is thinking

You can trust the Browns offense

I’m surprised the majority of you are selling this. Yes their offensive explosion was against the Dolphins but it’s now been three games in a row which Baker Mayfield has scored at least two total touchdowns, something he only did once in the weeks prior. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the Browns offense looking better directly coincides with the return of Kareem Hunt. My guess is we’re finally seeing the offense Freddie Kitchens had planned all along with Hunt back in the mix. With games against the Bengals (twice) and Cardinals still on the schedule, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this offense continue to jell and put points on the board. I might even start starting Odell Beckham Jr again. Shocking I know.

Verdict: Buying back all my offseason hype

A.J. Brown is a WR2 rest of the year

Brown is coming off his biggest game of the year, going for 135 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Ryan Tannehill has been a godsend for this Titans offense and Brown certainly has benefited from the quarterback change, averaging more targets, catches and yards per game with Tannehill at the helm. That being said, I think I was a bit more optimistic about how Brown measured up against his fellow fantasy wideouts in recent weeks than I should’ve been. Over the last four weeks, Brown has been the WR37 in PPR leagues, a far cry from the WR24 I said he could get to.

There’s certainly a chance for Brown to put up fantasy points—the Titans play the Raiders and Texans twice—but unless the bye week magically changed the Titans offense, I’m not expecting them to suddenly be a highflying attack.

Verdict: Sell, but not by much

Aaron Rodgers owners should find a new QB

I’m buying this and, speaking of Ryan Tannehill, know just the man Rodgers owners should replace him with. The 49ers defense ranks up there with the Patriots in terms of shutting down the pass so it’s no wonder Rodgers had a tough time doing anything against them on the road. That being said, it’s now been three games in a row that Rodgers has thrown for at most one touchdown, and he’s only tossed more than two twice this season.

Meanwhile, since taking over the starting job in Tennessee, only one starting quarterback has averaged more points per game than Tannehill and his name is Lamar Jackson (minimum five games played). The Titans face off against the second easiest schedule for QBs rest of the way, with games against the Colts, Raiders, Texans, Saints and Texans. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see Tannehill finish a top 5 fantasy quarterback in the coming weeks while Rodgers continues to stew in mediocrity.

Verdict: Sell Rodgers, buy Tannehill