Week 12: Fantasy Football Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em
With just three weeks left in the fantasy football regular season, you probably have tons of questions about who to start, especially with two of the most high-powered offenses on byes (the Arizona Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs). Fortunately for you, FantasySP has the answers. Managers who own Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, James Conner, Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz will be scrambling for replacements. Even the kickers, Harrison Butker and Matt Prater are two of the more trustworthy players at their position.
This will be an interesting week as not two, but six teams will play on Thursday. Week 12 kicks off with three games on Thanksgiving Day. First, the Chicago Bears travel to Ford Field to take on the winless Detroit Lions, then the Dallas Cowboys will look to get back on track at home against the reeling Las Vegas Raiders, and finally, the night game features a matchup between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints.
Be sure to use FantasySP’s Start / Sit Tool to help you make the most informed decisions in the industry. You know to start your studs each week, no matter what. But what about those flex players? What about those WR3’s? We don’t need to tell you to start Josh Allen, Christian McCaffrey, or Davante Adams. This article is reserved for less obvious options. If you don’t see a player you are curious about, be sure to check out our projections and customizable rankings!
Now that you've checked out this week’s top waiver wire options, used Predictive Analytics, and have sifted through our exclusive Trade Value Charts, it’s time to optimize your seasonal lineups ahead of Thanksgiving’s three NFL matchups. Get ready for this week’s edition of Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em!
Quarterbacks To Start
QB Start of the Week: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Considering where Cousins was drafted in most leagues, he has made fantasy owners very happy this season. Not only did he start the season strong with three consecutive games with at least 22 fantasy points, but he’s been remarkable recently as well, producing 21+ fantasy points in each of his past three outings (including two road games against solid defenses in the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers). Cousins has actually been better on the road this season than he’s been at home, averaging a whopping 27 fantasy points per game in five road contests. In those five games, Cousins has tossed 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions while adding a touchdown on the ground. He’s simply been phenomenal. With Justin Jefferson continuing to prove that he’s among the best receivers in the league after catching eight passes on 10 targets for a season-high 169 yards and two touchdowns in Minnesota’s upset over the Packers last week, Cousins should have no problem delivering another solid performance even against stingy 49ers pass defense. Adam Thielen is still one of the better possession receivers in the NFL, Tyler Conklin has emerged as an extraordinary red-zone threat, and Dalvin Cook helps open up the passing game with his dynamic rushing skills. Cousins won’t finish among the top-three quarterbacks in Week 12, but I like his chances of finishing among the top eight.
Start: QB Tyrod Taylor, Houston Texans
Taylor isn’t a sexy name at the quarterback position but if you are looking for a bye-week replacement for Mahomes or Murray, you couldn’t ask for a better matchup than Taylor against the New York Jets. New York is allowing the most offensive yards per game in the NFL (414.2), the most passing yards per game (282.2), and the most points per game (32.0). As bad as those numbers are, the Jets have been even worse over the last five weeks, specifically against opposing quarterbacks. They have allowed quarterbacks to complete 118 passes, with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions and now have allowed six quarterbacks in a row to produce 20+ fantasy points. Taylor may not have the best arm in the league, but he has decent upside due to his ability to scramble and find the end zone with his legs. Although he didn’t throw a touchdown pass in the Texans’ Week 11 upset over the Tennessee Titans, Taylor totaled 26 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Texans don’t have a ton of playmakers for Taylor to utilize, but Brandin Cooks remains one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL and rookie Nico Collins has shown flashes of really solid play. Against the Jets, Taylor could have his best outing of the season. In SuperFlex leagues, he is a must-start.
Quarterback To Sit
Sit: QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Following Tennessee’s surprising loss to the Houston Texans last week, Tannehill and the Titans will look to get back on track in Week 12. However, it won’t be easy, as they will face a New England Patriots defense that is allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Over the last five weeks, the Patriots have forced 12 interceptions and opposing quarterbacks have a dismal 71 passer rating over that span. We all know that Bill Belichick is a master at taking away opposing team’s top playmakers, so something tells me that A.J. Brown will be double-teamed all day long in Foxboro. That will force Nick Westbrook-Ihkide and Marcus Johnson to step up, which is not something I would bank on happening. With Julio Jones on Injured Reserve, the Titans’ passing game is severely lacking outside of Brown. Not to mention, Derrick Henry is still out, which means Tennessee will continue to utilize a running-back-by-committee approach featuring Dontrell Hilliard, D’Onta Foreman, Adrian Peterson, and Jeremy McNichols. The Titans’ offense simply has nobody that will instill fear into New England’s stout defense. Tannehill is coming off his worst performance of the season after throwing four interceptions against the Texans in Week 11. The veteran signal-caller has thrown just 12 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions on the season. Something tells me that after this week, he will have more interceptions than touchdowns. Leave Tannehill on the bench against New England in Week 12.
Running Backs To Start
RB Start of the Week: RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
After missing three games with an ankle injury, Sanders returned to the Eagles’ lineup in Week 11 and played better than most expected. Against a Saints defense that allows the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, Sanders accumulated 94 yards on 16 carries. He also led the backfield in snaps (36). Unfortunately, he didn’t catch a single pass and he lost a fumble. However, veteran Jordan Howard went down with a knee injury of his own and has already been ruled out for Philadelphia’s Week 12 matchup with the New York Giants. With Howard sidelined, Sanders should assume the workhorse role in the Eagles’ offense against a G-Men defense that allows the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs. In New York’s previous six games, they have allowed seven running backs to post 13 fantasy points in PPR leagues. Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell may get some run, but this is Sanders’ time to shine.
Start: RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
Before an injury that kept him out four weeks, Montgomery eclipsed the 100-yard marker twice and scored three touchdowns in his first four games. Since returning from Injured Reserve, he has been reinstalled as the workhorse back but has yet to make a big impact. That should change on Thanksgiving when the Bears face a Lions defense that is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and the second-most receiving touchdowns to the position. Earlier this season against the Lions in Week 4, Montgomery put together his best performance of the season. He turned 23 carries into 106 yards and two touchdowns. In last year’s Thanksgiving game against the Lions, D-Mont carried the ball 17 times for 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also caught all four of his targets for an additional 39 yards. In the Lions’ last four outings, they have allowed five touchdowns to opposing running backs. On the season, running backs have scored 17 times against the only winless team in the league. Although the spread is only three points, I expect the Bears to steamroll the Lions on Thanksgiving day. Favorites playing on the road at Ford Field are 10-2 against the spread on Thanksgiving. Plus, the Bears have won six of their last seven games against Detroit, including two games on Thanksgiving. If the Bears get out to a commanding lead early, Montgomery will see a bunch of touches late in the game as Chicago attempts to run out the clock. Despite his lack of production since returning from injury, he could finish within the top 10 running backs in all fantasy formats in Week 12.
Running Back To Sit
Sit: RB Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers ended their losing streak on Monday night against the Giants but Fournette had little to do with the victory. He finished with 10 carries for 35 yards and six receptions for an additional 39 yards. Fournette has been more involved in the passing game as of late, but he has failed to top 47 rushing yards in any of his last three contests. During that span, he is only averaging 11.3 carries per game and has failed to find the end zone. In Week 12, the Buccaneers face an Indianapolis Colts defense that’s allowed just three rushing touchdowns to running backs all season and is allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to the position. If the Bucs are going to defeat the Colts, Tom Brady is going to have to put the team on his back. Rob Gronkowski returned last week and Antonio Brown has a chance of playing this week. And you can’t forget about Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Indianapolis is much more beatable in the air, as evidenced by the fact that they allow the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. This is most likely going to be a game in which the Buccaneers rely on their passing attack rather than trying to force-feed Fournette. Fournette is still worthy of a flex spot in most formats, but if you play in a shallow league, you may be able to find a better option to start in Week 12.
Wide Receivers To Start
WR Start of the Week: WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
Aiyuk has reemerged as San Francisco’s WR2 behind Deebo Samuel and is finally posting totals that fantasy owners were hoping for when they drafted him in the middle rounds before the season started. In the 49ers’ blowout win over the Jags in Week 11, Aiyuk hauled in all seven targets throwing his way for 85 yards and a touchdown. Aiyuk has now seen at least seven targets in three of his last four games and has tallied 18+ PPR points in two of his last three outings. In Week 12, he gets a juicy matchup against a generous Minnesota Vikings secondary that is currently allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Over Minnesota’s previous four games, seven wide receivers have produced 17+ fantasy points. Although Aiyul is the third option in the passing game behind Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, the 49ers aren’t going to be able to run the ball as much as they have recently against a Vikings team that is pretty solid against the run and that just defeated Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Aiyuk should deliver a solid stat line in Week 12.
Start: WR Elijah Moore, New York Jets
Even with Zach Wilson slated to start in Week 12 for the Jets against the Texans, Moore should be started in all fantasy leagues, especially in PPR formats. After breaking out against the Colts in Week 9 to the tune of seven receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns, Moore had an even bigger game in New York’s 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 11. The rookie tallied eight receptions on 11 targets for 141 yards and two scores. Moore has now produced 12+ fantasy points in four consecutive outings, including two games with at least 27 points. He now has the second-most fantasy points through his first nine games in the history of the New York Jets franchise. Only Keyshawn Johnson had a better first nine games as a member of Gang Green. After a slow start to the season, the rookie has seen at least six targets in five consecutive games. The Jets face a Texans defense this week that ranks in the bottom-third of the league at defending opposing wide receivers from a fantasy standpoint. Nine receivers have tallied 11+ fantasy points in Houston’s last four games. I don’t love the fact that Zach Wilson will be back under center, but Moore has shown that he get produce results no matter who is throwing him the pigskin. He has played well with Mike White, Josh Johnson" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#player-pop-up" href="/nfl_player_news/Josh_Johnson/">Josh Johnson" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#player-pop-up" href="/nfl_player_news/Josh_Johnson/">Josh Johnson, and Joe Flacco. So it’s hard to imagine that Wilson is a downgrade, despite the rookie quarterback’s struggles this season.
Wide Receiver To Sit
Sit: WR Odell Beckham Jr., Los Angeles Rams
In his first game with the Rams, Beckham caught just two passes for 18 yards and was the target on one of Matthew Stafford’s interceptions on the Rams’ first drive of the game. Beckham has just 19 receptions for 250 yards and no touchdowns on the season. After the Rams’ Week 11 bye, some fantasy owners may be tempted to start him, thinking that he has now had enough time to learn the playbook and develop chemistry with the best quarterback he has ever played with. However, it’s hard to trust OBJ considering the last time we saw him in the end zone was in Week 4 of last season. This week, the Rams face a Packers secondary that is allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Even with Robert Woods out for the season, Los Angeles has a ton of weapons, and Cooper Kupp will continue to see double-digit targets just about every game. I am expecting the Rams to run the ball frequently in Week 12 in order to keep the ball our of Aaron Rodgers’ hands for as long as possible. While Beckham should find the end zone eventually this season, I don’t think it will come in Week 12.
Tight Ends To Start
TE Start of the Week: TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
Although Courtland Sutton just signed a big contract, he’s been fairly useless since the return of Jerry Jeudy. Last week against an Eagles team that’s been absolutely terrible against tight ends, Fant hauled in five receptions for 59 yards. It wasn’t the type of production we were looking for in a juicy matchup, but it’s hard to complain when your tight end accumulates double-digit fantasy points. This week, Fant will face another generous defense against tight ends in the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers have allowed eight touchdowns to tight ends this season and the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position. In his two games against the Chargers last season, Fantasy tallied at least 11 fantasy points in each outing. Fantasy has not scored since Week 6 but I expect that to change in Week 12.
Start: TE Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Many fantasy owners gave up on Gronk and dropped the injured tight end even though he scored four touchdowns in his first two games of the season. The veteran finally returned in Week 11 against the New York Giants and didn’t miss a beat, hauling in six-of-eight targets for 71 yards. Although he didn’t score a touchdown, he proved that he isn’t as touchdown-dependent as many of us had thought. He’s still capable of being a chains mover and producing solid lines in PPR formats. In Week 12, the Buccaneers face a Colts defense that allows the sixth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Gronk may not be the player he once was, but he is the TE1 on arguably the best passing offense in the NFL.
Tight End To Sit
Sit: TE Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers
Cook simply isn’t getting it done as of late. Over his last four games, the veteran tight end has 10 receptions for 101 scoreless yards. That equates to five PPR points per game. With Mike Williams turning it back around, Justin Herbert hasn’t been looking Cook’s way very often. The Chargers have a ton of awesome playmakers on the offense with Keenan Allen, Williams, and Austin Ekeler. Cook has only eclipsed 50 yards in two of his 10 games this season. It’s just hard for him to do much when he’s fourth in the pecking order. This week, the Chargers face a Denver Broncos defense that is allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends. Astonishingly, the Broncos have not allowed a single tight end to finish within the top 10 at the position in any week this season. That will most likely change when the Broncos face Travis Kelce and the Chiefs, but still, that’s a pretty remarkable feat. Keep Cook on the bench in Week 12.
Defense / Special Teams To Start
Start of the Week: D/ST Houston Texans
If you read our Predictive Adds article this week, you would know that the Texans’ defense was being added more than any other defense in fantasy football for streaming purposes. Houston is 2-8 on the season, so it’s a bit odd featuring them in this article. However, they have actually been quite good over their last two outings. Against the Dolphins and Titans, Houston has forced a whopping 10 turnovers and has six sacks while allowing just 30 points over their last two games. In Week 12, they get a Jets offense that is allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. In Zach Wilson’s first game back from a long absence, the Texans are going to go after him quite often. I’m anticipating several sacks a few turnovers.
Kicker To Start
Start of the Week: K Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings
If Joseph hadn’t missed a few critical field goals, the Vikings could be the top in the NFC North. Still, he’s been an absolute stud at the position from a fantasy perspective and leads the NFL with six field goals longer than 50 yards. Joseph has the second-most fantasy points among kickers this season, only behind New England’s Nick Folk. However, Folk has yet to have a bye week while Joseph has, so Minnesota’s kicker is averaging the most fantasy points per game at the position. Joseph has been on a roll recently, scoring at least nine fantasy points in five of his last six games.
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