The good, and bad, thing about fantasy football is you know by around Week 4 if you did well in the draft, and have a chance to make the playoffs. Or, if you missed the mark and are on the outside, looking in, on the post-season. With Week 12 at our feet, are either in, out, or in the final rounds of the fight for that last playoff spot.
With that said, it is more important now than ever for you to get the right line-up in place to win this week. Danny Woodhead is back for the Ravens, meaning you can safely cut Javorius Allen in all formats; Samaje Perine has taken over RB duties for the Redskins, but Byron Marshall will handle the passing-down duties… for now; Mike Davis looked like he might take over Seahawks RB duties last week, but then hurt his groin and is now unlikely to play in Week 12.
Tyrod Taylor is the QB for the Bills… for now. But, the Bills have shown no confidence in him for a few years now, and replaced him with Nathan Peterman in Week 11. Peterman was a complete disaster, doing everything he could to break the NFL single-game interception record in the process! The team named Taylor the starter for Week 12, but he is in Kansas City to take on a Chiefs team in desperate need of a win after going 1-4 in their last 5 games, and losing 2 straight.
Everyone wants to know what waiver wire gems are out there still, and as you can see above, there is no diamond in the rough waiting to be plucked. What had value, was taken before now. And, what is left, has just as many flaws to it as the guy standing next to him. The only viable options I see out there would be Perine, Devontae Booker, Kenny Stills if Jay Cutler is out, Cooper Kupp, and Tarik Cohen in PPR formats as a desperation flex play.
Kirk Cousins – Redskins: Cousins and the Redskins are going to have to rely on former practice-squad RB Byron Marshall for passing-down duties now that Chris Thompson is out for the rest of the year with a broken fibula. As if that weren't enough, WR Terrelle Pryor had ankle surgery on Monday, and he too will miss the remainder of the season.
Thompson's loss hurts, but Pryor has been a non-factor all year anyway. Even without Thompson, Cousins has a juicy match-up this week, taking on the New York Giants, at home. The Giants give up the 3rd most fantasy points to fantasy QBs this season at 22.9 PPG. Through their 10 games this season, they have given up 2,713 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and have managed just 6 INTs.
The Giants/Redskins game is always a tough division rivalry, but I am expecting Cousins to finish the week with high-end QB1 numbers for Week 12.
Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: Big Ben and the Steelers are coming off a 40-17 beat-down they delivered to the Titans, one that could have been much worse if they didn't take their foot off the gas. Roethlisberger missed a 300-yard bonus by just a single yard (299), but he made up for it by tossing 4 TDs, with no INTs.
This week the Steelers get a Packers team sitting at 5-5 this season, with virtually no hope of making the playoffs. The Packers actually give up the 13th fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at 18.9 PPG. But, of their 10 games this season, I would say they've only played against 4, maybe 5, QBs that are worth mentioning in fantasy circles. Their defense hasn't been tested much, and I really want to see what they do now that they are clearly not going to make the post-season.
I like Big Ben this weekend, and think he has as good of a chance as any QB in the NFL to throw 4 TDs in Week 12. If he can reach 300-plus yards, it would be icing on the cake.
Samaje Perine – Redskins: Perine finally stepped up and had a good game in Week 11, totting the ball 23 times for 117 yards and a touchdown. The 23 carries are a new season-high, and the 117 yards weren't that far off from doubling his season rushing total (210) up till then. Does one game now make him worth starting? Yes, but with an asterisk.
Perine has been largely a bust all season, managing 3.18 yards-per-carry through his first 9 games. The touchdown and 100-yard game were his first of the season, and he is a non-factor in the passing game. With that said, for all the same reasons I like Cousins this week, I am going to ride on the back of Perine where I need RB depth.
Understand that Perine is a standard scoring RB, whose value is slightly less when switching over to PPR formats. If all goes to plan, Perine should be able to finish with at least RB2 numbers, and a shot to jump into the RB1 rankings if the Redskins get up and run the ball to drain the clock.
Dion Lewis – Patriots:The Patriots have possibly the most frustrating fantasy situation in the NFL at every position except QB and TE. You simply don't know which WR will be huge from week-to-week, and you don't know which RB will log the most touches between Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and James White. The only good news about the RB rotation is Mike Gillislee is no longer a factor you have to deal with in it.
This week the Patriots take on the Dolphins, meaning they should be up early on them. If/when that happens, they will take their foot off the gas and coast to a victory. With Lewis handling the bulk of the carries now, he would be the RB that they would turn to more often than not in that circumstance. He is highly TD-dependent for fantasy value, but he should be able to give you flex numbers at worst.
Devin Funchess – Panthers: I'm not a Cam Newton fan from a passing quarterback perspective. He is a nice guy, and used to be a dual-threat QB. But, his shoulder is clearly not right, and his passing accuracy leaves a LOT to be desired.
With that said, Funchess has been able to put up good fantasy numbers in his two games as the team's No. 1 WR. Funchess has reeled in 5 catches in each of the past two games, and finished with 86 yards in Week 9, then 92 yards and 2 TDs in Week 10. With the Panthers coming off a bye in Week 11, and facing a Jets secondary that gives up the 10th most fantasy points to WRs this season at 22.2 PPG.
The Panthers will be getting Greg Olsen back this week, so he will take some targets away from Funchess. But, I also expect him to open the passing game up a little, and maybe even take some safety help over the top away from Funchess from time-to-time. 5 Catches for 90 yards is realistic, but I wouldn't count on multiple touchdowns.
Cooper Kupp – Rams: Robert Woods has been the most reliable Rams WR this season, racking up a 47/703/4 line through 10 games. However, Woods is going to miss a "couple of weeks" according to Rams Head Coach Sean McVay, which means Kupp has a prime chance to step his game up and be the Julian Edelman I think he can be.
Kupp has been pretty good for the Rams in his rookie season, managing to haul in 38 catches for 481 yards and 3 touchdowns. With Woods out, and Sammy Watkins on every milk carton in, and around, Los Angeles, Kupp has the opportunity to make a leap as high as the WR2 rankings against a Saints defense likely without stand-out rookie CB Marshon Lattimore.
Vernon Davis – Redskins: Davis has been filling in for Jordan Reed, who might go down in history with a life-time questionable tag attached to him. Over the past three games, Davis is avenging 5.3 receptions, and 71.7 receiving yards per-game. What's more, he hardly ever comes out of the game, something Reed owners aren't used to.
It's risky to load your line-up with players from one team, but the chances of you having Cousins, Perine, and Davis are slim. At worst I think you get low-end TE1 numbers from Davis this week, making him an option for you TE needy teams that have been streaming guys all season.
Cincinnati Bengals defense: When the Bengals played the Browns in 4, they held them to 7 points, while notching 2 sacks and an INT for fantasy owners. That one was on the road, but Week 12 has the winless Browns traveling to Cincinnati.
The Bengals have been on the road for the past three games, making the homecoming this weekend much needed. And, when they are at home, the Bengals defense has scored 16-plus fantasy points in 3-of-4 games. If they score 16 points, or more, this weekend, they would easily be a top-end fantasy defense you can most likely grab on the waiver wire.
Dak Prescott – Cowboys: What a difference a running back can make to the ability of a QB to move the ball down the field. With Ezekiel Elliot behind him (Weeks 1-9), Prescott averaged 227.3 YPG passing, with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. In the two games without Elliot, Prescott put up 176 and 145 passing yards, no touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.
Without Elliot at RB, the Cowboys offense is down to an overhyped WR in Dez Bryant, an ancient TE in Jason Witten, and a duo of RBs in Alfred Morris and Rod Smith. And, when you have two RBs, it means you don't have ONE RB! Simply speaking, the Cowboys offense is no longer a threat, and Dak [Prescott] shouldn't be counted on until he has Elliot behind him.
Derek Carr – Raiders: It would almost be funny with how many drops the Raiders pass-catchers have (21), if I didn't own Carr on a few of my own teams. With the Raiders seemingly unable to get passed their dropping problems, Carr has more than just the defensive hurdle to overcome every week.
This week his defensive problem comes in the form of the Broncos. The Broncos have the worst "must-own" defense in fantasy football. The Broncos offense is an absolute mess with them running out practice squad level talent at QB, and the defense is suffering from spending so much time on the field, with their backs against the wall.
With the Raiders being the only team in the NFL without an interception this season, the Broncos best chance for a successful offensive game could be this week. If the offense can just give the defense a fighting chance, the Broncos are capable of shutting down any offense in the NFL. Be aware, and beware.
Kenyon Drake – Dolphins: Drake had put up back-to-back solid fantasy games, posting 104 and 92 from scrimmage in Weeks 9 & 10. Those numbers made him a sexy sleeper play in Week 11 with the Dolphins facing a fairly generous Buccaneers defense. With a sexy match-up at hand, Drake managed 14 yards, and was out-snapped by Damien Williams 38-27.
Jay Cutler may be out for Week 12 with a concussion, putting Matt Moore under center against one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Patriots. With the Dolphins sporting a middle-of-the-road defense, there is no real reason to think they will slow down the Patriots. And, if the Patriots get up, the Dolphins will abandon the run. Since the Dolphins don't feature their RBs in the passing game, Drake's role could be limited to another 7-10 touches.
Jordan Howard – Bears: Howard hasn't done anything wrong this season, running for 841 yards and 5 TDs in 10 games. However, this week the Bears head out on the road to take on an Eagles run defense giving up just 71.0 YPG rushing, 1st in the NFL. Howard has caught 14 passes all season long, whereas Tarik Cohen has more than doubled that with 33 in limited snaps.
The Eagles offense is the 3rd best in the NFL with 377.6 YPG of total offense, while the Bears defense is giving up 319.0 YPG of total offense. IF Jay Ajayi has the playbook down, this game could get real ugly, real early. If it does, the Bears will have to turn to the passing game, and check down to Cohen, not Howard.
Jordy Nelson – Packers: This one isn't as long and drawn-out as you might hope. Simply speaking, Brett Hundley's NFL career will be that of a back-up, clipboard holder, at BEST. As long as he is playing pitch-n-catch with the defense more than his WRs (7 INTs to 2 TDs), Nelson and the other Packers playmakers can't be counted on.
I know it's hard to sit a WR you probably took to be your WR1, but his QB situation is as bad as any in the NFL. All Nelson's owners can do is pray that Aaron Rodgers hits the field when he is first eligible (Week 15), and that he is healthy and ready to rock.
Ted Ginn Jr. – Saints: Ginn is still one of the fastest WRs in the NFL, making him a big-play threat for the Saints offense. The problem with him is he is the No. 3 option for the Saints behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Being a speed WR also means he tends to disappear from games for whole quarters.
Ginn is only averaging 57.0 YPG receiving, and has scored 1 touchdown in the past five games. If Ginn doesn't score, you are likely to end up with 3-4 receptions and 50-ish yards. Those kinds of numbers leave him on the WR3/4 bubble. If that's all you need, then fire him up. But, if you need upside, give Kupp or maybe Mohamed Sanu a look.
Jack Doyle – Colts: Doyle had quite a run of fantasy relevance, putting up 50 receptions, 441 receiving yards, and 2 TDs through his first nine games this season. Then, in Week 10, the Steelers held him to 2 catches for 9 lonely yards.
Week 10 marked Doyle's worst statistical game of the year, and the road to redemption isn't easy as the Colts face the Titans in Week 11. The Titans got smacked in the mouth by the Steelers in Week 10, and are sure to be looking for revenge. They have allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points to TEs this season at 6.4 PPG. I'm not sure he will be held to single-digits totals again, but I'm not betting on him bouncing back either.
Buffalo Bills defense: As I mentioned in the opening, the Chiefs are a team desperate for a win. Losers of 4 out of their last 5 games, their hot start has their stronghold on the AFC West fading fast. Much like the Broncos, the Bills defense is a victim of their offense. Thankfully they won't have to deal with Peterman's terrible play. But, Taylor comes with his own unique set of problems.
Couple the Chiefs hungry offense, and a Bills team that looks lost on every level, and you have a fantasy defense that is best to be avoided this weekend. Instead, give the Bengals, Falcons, or even the Chargers a look for Week 12.