5 Things We Learned in Week 12
It’s hard to believe how fast the NFL season is flying by. With Week 12 nearly complete, there are only five weeks remaining in the NFL regular season. In fantasy terms, that means that most leagues have just one or two weeks left in their regular seasons before the playoff rounds kick in. As we creep up on the end of the fantasy regular season, it’s easy to look ahead towards your potential first-round playoff matchup. A lot can happen within the span of one week in the NFL (see such examples as Justin Forsett from Week 11). So with hopes that your team has already locked down a playoff spot, here are five things we learned in Week 12.
Eddie Lacy is regaining his RB1 form
After coming into the season with high expectations (Lacy was a consensus top 10 fantasy draft pick), the Packers’ running back has been disappointing up until this point in the season. Through his first eight games, Lacy was averaging a pedestrian 10 carries for 38 yards per game, which led to him being replaced by James Starks as the Packers’ starting RB. However, Lacy has seemed to regain his confidence over the past two weeks and looks like the back many thought he would be coming into the season. In Week 11 versus the Vikings, Lacy carried the ball 22 times for 100 yards. He topped that performance in Week 12, getting 17 carries for 105 yards while adding four catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. Lacy has been known for getting off to slow starts in his early career, but he has never taken this long to get going. The last two weeks have been great for Lacy and it looks like he has regained his form and his starting spot in the Packers’ backfield (Lacy out-carried Starks 17 to seven on Thursday). Due to that, owners should start him with confidence for the remainder of the season.
Julius Thomas is back to his old self
In a similar situation to Lacy, Julius Thomas had high expectations coming into 2015 following his impressive seasons with Denver and his big offseason move to Jacksonville. However, after suffering a hand injury in the preseason, Thomas didn’t see the field until Week 5 and was severely limited in his production in the weeks following his season debut. In Week 12, Thomas finally looked fully healthy and was back at his production levels that we’ve come to expect from him. Thomas had his best game of the season on Sunday in route to a nine-catch, 116-yard day, including a touchdown. With tight end being such a hit or miss position in fantasy (and now add in the injuries to Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski), Thomas is a must-own fantasy tight end. If he is still available in your league, he is worthy of a waiver claim. Even if Thomas would be your backup tight end, the extra security is worth it in a season with as many injuries and inconsistencies that we’ve seen in 2015.
C.J. Anderson may also be regaining his starting job
Week 12 seems to be the week of resurgence, as in a similar situation to Lacy, C.J. Anderson had his best game of the season in a big OT win versus New England. Anderson was also viewed as a first-round fantasy draft pick coming into the season but was so disappointing that he eventually lost his starting job to Ronnie Hillman (sound familiar?). The Denver back had a spectacular night Sunday, carrying the ball 15 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns while adding four catches for 40 yards. However, there is still reason to be cautious with Anderson. Unlike Lacy, Anderson still split carries with Hillman, who received 14 carries (to Anderson’s 15) and also scored a touchdown. Also, Anderson’s stat line was boosted by a big 48-yard touchdown run late in the game. On the flip side, the good news is that while Brock Osweiler is under center it seems like Denver will rely on their running game to drive the offense, meaning both Anderson and Hillman are both useful as fantasy running backs. If Anderson is available in your league (which is unlikely as he’s still owned in 79% of Yahoo leagues), he is also worthy of a waiver claim. But unlike Lacy, it’s not clear if Anderson will be the main back going forward, which makes him a cautious RB2.
Something is up with Todd Gurley
On the reverse side in a week full of resurgent performances, Todd Gurley seems to be stuck in a slump. After recovering from a serious offseason knee injury, Gurley earned the starting job in St. Louis in Week 4. In his first five starts, Gurley set the league on fire while averaging over 22 carries for 131 yards per game and becoming a top fantasy option. However, after his hot start, Gurley has been limited in his last three starts, averaging just 15 carries for 43 yards per game. To make matters worse, Sunday was his worst game as a starter, getting nine carries for just 19 yards in a blowout loss to the Bengals. With poor play and uncertainty at the QB position for the Rams, opposing defenses have been able to focus on stopping Gurley. To make matters even worse, the Rams face some of the best run defenses in the league in the upcoming weeks in Arizona, Seattle and Tamp Bay. At this point in the season, owners probably don’t have many other top options at running back and are forced to start Gurley. Here’s to hoping he finds his groove soon, just in time for the playoffs.
Russell Wilson is in playoff form already
Wilson was another player ranked near the top of his position for fantasy drafts entering the season. While he hasn’t been a total bust, he has not lived up to the high draft pick that many spent on him. After his impressive season in 2014, many viewed Wilson as a top fantasy QB due to his mistake-free passing attack and rushing ability. However, so far in 2015 Wilson has not been running as much, which severely limits his value as a fantasy QB. To make matters worse, through his first nine games Wilson did not have a 300-yard passing game and only had one game with more than one passing touchdown, which had him outside the top 10 for fantasy QBs this season. In the past two weeks, Wilson has flipped the switch and had his showings of the season. In Week 11, Wilson went 24-of-29 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. The Seattle QB bested this in Week 12, going 21-of-30 for 345 yards and five touchdowns which tied him with Matthew Stafford for the top scoring fantasy QB of the week. Overall, it seems like Wilson is hitting another gear and is trying to push his team to a playoff berth. While the season-ending injury to Jimmy Graham will hurt Wilson’s receiving options, he seems to be finding a groove with his other receivers (mainly Doug Baldwin). If you own Wilson in your league, start him with confidence and ride him to the playoffs, just like the Seahawks have done the past two weeks.