Week 11 was a disaster for fantasy owners with season-ending injuries to Justin Forsett and Joe Flacco. Then, as if that wasn't enough after the plethora of RB injuries we've seen this season, news came down this week that Marshawn Lynch has a sports hernia that will knock him out for the rest of the fantasy football season.
Other minor injuries could keep guys like Charcandrick West (hamstring) and Devonta Freeman (concussion) from taking the field in Week 12 as well. The early word is the Falcons expect Freeman to be cleared in time to face the Vikings, but West's status is bleaker than Freeman's. Word from inside the Chiefs is signs are pointing towards West sitting out Week 12, so make sure you keep an eye on the injury reports for him as Sunday draws closer.
The hot waiver wire grabs this week were Thomas Rawls, Javorius Allen, Spencer Ware, Ahmad Bradshaw, Devin Funchess, and Brian Hoyer for those streaming QBs. Rawls is the prize here, with Allen and Bradshaw being more flex plays; Ware is only worth playing as a flex while West is out. Funchess on the other hand is a bit more of a mystery. I'm not ready to play him, despite his increased workload the past few games and praise from the coaching staff. He's someone to keep an eye on, but only play in desperate situations.
Carson Palmer – Cardinals: Things couldn't look brighter for the Cardinals this week if they had a spotlight shining down on them. The 49ers are as bad on defense as they are on offense, and Palmer is playing as good as he has in years. I would put Palmer above every other QB in the NFL for Week 12!
Brian Hoyer – Texans: Hoyer is going to end up being a sneaky fantasy play this week, especially for those in DFS leagues. The Saints secondary gives up an embarrassing 28.4 PPG to fantasy QBs this season, the most in the NFL. DeAndre Hopkins is a legit WR1 regardless who is playing under center, and this week I could see Hoyer and Hopkins reaching for the top of the fantasy rankings in their respective categories.
Thomas Rawls – Seahawks: The Steelers are one of those teams you just can't figure out, with their defense giving up just 13.0 PPG to fantasy RBs this season, yet have given up 96 rushing yards to Latavius Murray, 60 yards on 15 carries to Jeremy Hill, and 110 rushing yards to [Charcandrick] West. With Lynch out and Russell Wilson up and down, Rawls is a must-start fantasy RB at home this week.
T.J. Yeldon – Jaguars: Yeldon is ranked 15th in the NFL for rushing yards (585) and receptions (27) at the RB position, not bad for a fantasy RB taken in the later rounds. This week he gets to put his multipurpose skillset to use against a Chargers defense that gives up 30.3 PPG to fantasy RBs in PPR formats, the most in the NFL. I would consider Yeldon an RB2, with upside into the RB1 ranks if he can find the endzone in Week 12.
Travis Benjamin – Browns: I never thought I'd see a Browns player on the starter list, but given the state of affairs in Baltimore, and the fact that Josh McCown has been reinstated as the starting QB, I could see this one being another big day for McCown and Benjamin. The Ravens give up the 3rd most fantasy points to WRs this season (28.3 PPG), and Benjamin broke back out against the Steelers (7 catches for 113 yards) before the Browns Week 11 bye.
Calvin Johnson – Lions: It seems like just yesterday Megatron was in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts, and he was rewarding his owners with dominating performances each and every week. That, however, isn't the case in 2015 as the Lions WR is struggling to just stay in the top 15 for fantasy WRs. This week should be different as he draws an Eagles team that is imploding right in front of our eyes. I am looking for Mathew Stafford and Johnson to rekindle that chemistry that made them both fantasy studs just a few years ago.
Delaine Walker – Titans: Walker has been one of those TEs that is either boom-or-bust, which is all too common for the position. But Walker, due to his QB and offense, Walker is up and down more than others. This week however I have him as a top 5 fantasy TE playing against a Raiders defense that gives up 11.3 PPG to TEs, which is tied for 3rd most in the NFL. But beware, like Eric Ebron last week, TEs are a fickle bunch!
Kansas City Chiefs defense: The Chiefs are a widely owned defense, but you should check anyway in standard rotisserie leagues because their Week 12 is better than those big-box websites think it is. Tyrod Taylor is dealing with shoulder problems that have him listed as questionable. The Bills are in dire need of a win, so they will do everything in their power to get him on the field for this one. The Chiefs give up just 18.6 PPG to fantasy QBs this season, the 8th fewest in the NFL. If you stop the QB, you stop the WRs; if you stop the QB and WRs, then you turn the offense into a one-dimensional process that is infinitely easier to shut down.
Brock Osweiler – Broncos: Osweiler looked pretty good last week, finishing with 250 yards and 2 TDs, but he did take 5 sacks in the process. And, that was against a dreadful Bears defense. This week he draws the undefeated Patriots, and you can be sure Bill Belichick will throw everything in the playbook at a player making just his second career start.
Matt Ryan – Falcons: Matty-Ice has been a QB1 most weeks this season, but he also had poor showings against the Redskins and Titans, two teams he should have beat up on. The bad news for the Falcons is the Vikings give up the 7th fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at 18.2 PPG. Ryan may also be without Devonta Freeman, which drastically changes the running game with Tevin Coleman in the backfield. I'd consider Ryan more of a mid-range QB2 than someone you should consider starting.
Spencer Ware – Chiefs: All signs are pointing towards West missing Week 12, which would put Ware and Kniles Davis in the backfield against a Bills defense desperate for a good game. While Ware did put up an impressive line of 96 yards and 2 TDs, it should be noted that it was against the Chargers (worst in the NFL against RBs), and with the game clearly over. Ware is much more of a low-end RB2 than the RB1 some websites are trying to tout him as, even with the laundry list of injuries at the RB position. He is boom-or-bust, and his value is largely dependent on his ability to find the endzone.
Jeremy Langford – Bears: Langford filled in nicely for starter Matt Forte, piling up 216 rushing yards, 196 receiving yards, 4 TDs, and a 2-point conversion in the process. But with Forte set to return this week, nobody is exactly sure just what role the two backs will play going forward. Forte is a pillar in the Bears organization, so the chances of him losing his role to Langford is slim at best. I'd sit Langford down until we see exactly how the touches shake out in Chicago with both players in the mix.
Sammy Watkins – Bills: If the Bills do indeed go with Taylor as their starter at QB this week, Watkins value takes a hit in my books. The injury to Taylor's shoulder is a concern, and the fact that it is to his throwing shoulder only makes me more concerned. Watkins has only had one truly "good" game (Week 9: 8/168/1 line) this season, and despite playing in 7 games this season, the WR has an underwhelming 39 targets, 25 receptions, 368 yards, and 3 TDs to show for it.
Kendall Wright – Titans: Wright is expected back this week after missing three games with a knee injury. While Wright's addition to a WR corps that has been forced to lean on rookie Dorial Green-Beckham, it will be a bit of a reach for owners to expect even WR2 numbers from the possession receiver. Wright is a guy that has more PPR significance than standard value because his value is in his receptions, not the yards or touchdowns produced from those receptions. I'd be careful with him this weekend, and would prefer to just sit him out altogether in standard formats.
Eric Ebron – Lions: After last week's 0 catch debacle (2 targets), I wouldn't trust Ebron if he told me the sun was hot and water was wet! This week the Lions take on a struggling Eagles defense that is surprisingly effective against TEs, allowing just 5.1 PPG (2nd fewest) to them this season. Ebron has admitted that he is having trouble adjusting to new OC Jim Bob Cooter's offense. Until Ebron figures things out, I'd find other options at TE.
Denver Broncos defense: I've seen fantasy websites that have the Broncos defense listed as high as #6 for Week 12, which is crazy considering the offense is in transition and the Patriots are as hot as any team in the NFL right now. I know the Broncos are as good as they are largely because of their defense, and they may very well limit what Tom Brady and Co. are able to do. But, that doesn't mean the Patriots won't put points on the board and limit the turnovers in the process. I wouldn't cut the Broncos D, but I would find room on the roster to stream another defense this week.