Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 12
If you’re still reading this then congratulations, you’ve outlasted many eliminated teams! No decision is ever meaningless in fantasy football, but this is crunch time. These are the weeks of must-win scenarios, and even you “top dogs” are at least looking to solidify your playoff seeding. Don’t you want that first-round bye?
Catering to all formats is impossible, but I’ll do my best to provide context as I go. The ECR given is for standard leagues since that’s what we are scored on. Please note that I’m using Tuesday night’s ECR and updates will surely roll in from Wednesday morning on, as well as injury news. I’ll use players that I’m higher or lower on against the consensus that I deem interesting within a reasonable 10- to 14-team range. Let’s dive in.
Tom Brady (at NYJ): Mariano Rank: 8, ECR: 11
Fresh off a bye, Brady and the Patriots are reportedly getting Rob Gronkowski back for a divisional row against the Jets. The Pats are 9.5-point favorites on the road and if you’re into #narrativestreet, angry Tom Brady coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Titans should be ready for a top-10 performance. Over the last four weeks, the Pats’ 64% passing rate is sixth in the NFL and it remains to be seen whether Sony Michel is truly “back” yet. I’d bank on Tom Terrific not having two down games in a row.
Dak Prescott (vs. WAS): MR: 14, ECR: 17
Prescott has taken well to having a No. 1 WR, completing nearly 70% of his passes in three games since the bye when that mark sat closer to 63% prior to it. He still hasn’t thrown for more than 275 yards in a game, but now has four rushing TDs in his last five games after tallying zero in his first five. Dak turned in his most passing yards of the season (273) against Washington in Week 7 alongside a 6-33-1 rushing line. My primary worry is that Ezekiel Elliott does everything as 7.5-point favorites, but Dak’s potential is deserving of fringe QB1 territory.
Aaron Rodgers (at MIN): MR: 11, ECR: 7
Remember all those nice things I’ve written about Mitch Trubisky? Well, Minnesota’s defense just held him to 165 pass yards and one TD against two interceptions (and the 10-43-0 rushing line). In their four games before that, they also didn’t allow a passer to accrue over 240 yards (Josh Rosen had 240, Sam Darnold 206, Drew Brees 120 and Matthew Stafford 199). In Week 2, Rodgers put up 281 yards and a TD with no turnovers, though he was famously on one leg.
Philip Rivers (vs. ARI): MR: 13, ECR: 10
Rivers put up 401 yards and two touchdowns (as well as two INTs) in a last-second 23-22 loss to the Broncos at home. Despite the loss, Rivers now has at least two TDs in all 10 of his games this season. That’s excellent for his floor and he’s been much more impressive at home, but the quality of defense in those contests has been…lesser. I worry about passing volume since the Chargers are whopping 12-point favorites at home and it’s impossible not to note Arizona yields the second-fewest fantasy points to QBs. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler may combine for 50 touches and dump trucks full of points.
Gus Edwards (vs. OAK): MR: 18, ECR: 23
Before Week 11, Edwards was a UDFA with 16 touches and 71 yards across four games and a 3.3 YPC on 53 preseason totes. So naturally, Edwards burst onto the scene in Week 11 with 115 yards and his first career NFL TD on 17 carries. Football, am I right? Say what you will about the Bengals’ defense, and then sprinkle some more laughs on it for the upcoming Raiders “defense.” Yes, Alex Collins still looms but Edwards is the hot hand right now and Oakland just gave up 154 rushing yards to David Johnson and Chase Edmonds. I’m in for another round.
Theo Riddick (vs. CHI): MR: 31, ECR: 37
We need only look back two weeks to see how Riddick collected six catches for 60 yards on seven targets against Chicago, while Kerryon Johnson also had a 6-38-1 receiving line. With Johnson likely out due to a knee sprain and Golden Tate off in Philly, Riddick seeing seven targets (if not more) sounds good to me. It’ll be tough for LeGarrette Blount or Zach Zenner to get much going between the tackles against Chicago’s D-line, so I’m here for Riddick making his mark through the air.
Adrian Peterson (at DAL): MR: 24, ECR: 19
The Cowboys give up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs and have allowed just one rushing TD to RBs since Week 4. Peterson and Washington are on their heels thanks to injuries and while AP salvaged his Week 11 with two rushing TDs, Washington’s likelihood of finding the red zone with Colt McCoy under center is hindered. We touched on Washington being 7.5-point underdogs, which also hurts his chances. Do yourself a favor and pivot elsewhere.
Jordan Howard (at DET): MR: 26, ECR: 21
The Lions run defense was a joke early on in 2018, but a trade for Damon Harrison has really helped them figure things out lately. Howard only mustered 32 yards on 12 touches in Week 10 and Christian McCaffrey did most of his damage in the passing game in Week 11 (6-57-0 compared to a 13-53-0 ground game). Howard cedes most passing work to Tarik Cohen and while it’s favorable for JoHo that the Bears are favored by as much as four points at some Vegas books now, one cannot rely on him in fantasy on roughly 16 touches per week as a TD-dependent RB3.
I wrote the above paragraph before seeing reports that Mitch Trubisky is likely going to miss the game, but Chase Daniel starting doesn’t change his rank. Chicago’s offense and their likelihood at hitting the red zone takes a hit, but they should lean on Howard and the run game more. Touches yardage gets a slight uptick but TD probability sinks.
Marquise Goodwin (at TB): MR: 43, ECR: 55
By the same rationale that made Christian Kirk a good play last week, Goodwin is San Francisco’s big-play machine and will get his chance to sprint past a terrible Tampa Bay defense in Week 12. The only reason I can’t prop him more is due to believing in Nick Mullens delivering a deep ball instead of relying on a simple slant route turning into more. We’ve seen the Bucs give up big games to burners in Ted Ginn (5-68-1) and Taylor Gabriel (7-104-2), which puts Goodwin on the radar here.
Quincy Enunwa (vs. NE): MR: 54, ECR: 65
The good news behind Enunwa’s ugly 4-18-0 line in Week 10 is that he saw eight targets, which bodes well going into a home date with the Patriots. My hope is that Stephon Gillmore doesn’t shadow Enunwa and that the Jets are sensible enough to let Q eat from the slot as he did to open the season — but hope and Jets playcalling have not gotten along well in recent weeks.
Calvin Ridley (at NO): MR: 31, ECR: 25
The Saints have been nothing short of dominant in the last two weeks, holding Cincinnati and Philadelphia wideouts to 200 combined yards across 120 minutes of football. While Julio Jones is matchup-proof (sorry, Marshon Lattimore) thanks to an absurd amount of volume, the Mohamed Sanu’s and Calvin Ridley’s of the world are likely to suffer. The last five weeks have seen Ridley logging a 15% target share to Jones’ 26% and in line with Sanu’s 13%. So why is Ridley up at the WR2/3 turn and Sanu is a WR3/4?
Golden Tate (vs. NYG): MR: 39, ECR: 34
Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh straight up said that fitting Golden Tate into Philadelphia’s offense has been “difficult.” How in the world am I supposed to feel peachy keen about Tate’s prospects after reading that? Sure, his eight targets, five catches and 48 yards paced the Eagles in Week 11, but Week 12 brings a Giants secondary into Philly that has surprisingly yielded just 256 pass yards per game.
Cameron Brate (vs. SF): MR: 6, ECR: 13
The ECR will catch up as the news of O.J. Howard hitting the IR spreads, but this does well to serve as a general PSA to start the Harvard man you just picked up. Brate instantly becomes a midrange TE1 as Tampa Bay’s starting TE in a neutral matchup against the 49ers. While Peyton Barber looked good in Week 11, the Bucs are still a pass-happy offense that will need all aerial weapons on deck to balance out their terrible defense. Brate and Jameis Winston have shown strong chemistry in the past, especially in the red zone, so fire Brate up with confidence.
Jonnu Smith (at HOU): MR: 17, ECR: 24
Those looking for deeper options should check in on Smith, who was nothing but disappointing after Delanie Walker went down but has quietly been useful in three straight games (2-33-1, 3-45-1, 6-44-0). The Texans have given up big games to Jeff Heuerman (10-83-1) and Jordan Reed (7-71-1) in their last two games, making Smith a snappy TE2 option in 16-team leagues even if Marcus Mariota can’t go.
Eric Ebron (vs. MIA): MR: 14, ECR: 9
Ebron’s lone Week 11 touch saw him attempt a pass to Andrew Luck on a “Philly Special,” but it was just out of Andrew’s grasp. Ebron’s goose egg burned many owners seeking to chase the dragon of his three-TD Week 10, but the volume simply isn’t there. He’s a fine dart throw due to his involvement within the red zone, but Mo Alie-Cox plays more than Ebron and Jack Doyle is the clear TE1.
Evan Engram (at PHI): MR: 18, ECR: 14
Engram and the Giants are running headlong into an Eagles team that was just disgraced by the Saints and will almost surely take it out on Big Blue. This is an Eagles team that has surrendered an average stat line of three receptions and 37 yards to opposing TEs and Engram has combined for just seven targets in their last two games despite strong 27-23 and 38-35 victories. Being the third option in a tough road matchup where Engram may be needed more in chipping edge rushers is a bad recipe.