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Quick Grades Week 12 (Fantasy Football Start or Sit Advice)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Nov 25, 2020

 
Welcome back, and thanks for joining me as we go through this week’s quick grades!

Usually this article is published Friday mornings, but we’re pushing it out early this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday. This week’s Quick Grades article is stuffed with players from all 16 games as well as a bonus holiday section grading only players from Thursday’s slate. In honor of tomorrow’s holiday, I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about what I’m thankful for right now.

I’m thankful for my four beautiful children. I’m thankful to be married to my high school sweetheart and best friend. I’m thankful for my parents and sister. I’m thankful for my in-laws. I’m thankful for friends and extended family. And after that, I’m thankful for football season. It may seem like just a game, but this game has been a bit of light in an otherwise dark year. Sports have that awesome power to unite people, and so do fantasy sports. Except, sometimes this imaginary game can bring us even closer than the real thing. After all, in fantasy, you are the GM, you are the coach deciding who goes in your starting lineup, and you rack up wins and losses. It means something, and it gives us all a reprieve from any stresses we’re dealing with at home, at work, or in the world at large.

I’m thankful to be able to write this article every single week. I recently published my 300th solo article with FantasyPros, and reaching that milestone wouldn’t have happened without people in the fantasy community continuing to read these articles. So, I’m also thankful for you! I say it sincerely that I am truly grateful to anyone who takes the time to read my articles and provide feedback. Do you love reading the Quick Grades article? Great! Do you think I’m a clown whose grades are downright ridiculous? Let me have it! The engagement with readers is the best part of it all! It feels like I’m just shooting the breeze, talking football and enjoying every minute of the conversation. Seriously, it’s the best.

I’d like to ask that for this week (if you feel so inclined), please drop a line on Twitter (@ZaktheMonster) and let me know what you’re thankful for this year, what your favorite Thanksgiving side is (unless it’s green bean casserole), how sports have brightened your world, your favorite plays of the week, or how crazy some of these grades are. I’m thankful for the fantasy football community. Every single one of you.

Once the season begins, the most difficult part of any fantasy manager’s week is start or sit decisions. These lineup choices can make or break a week, but unfortunately, not everyone has time to sit down and read lengthy fantasy advice articles. That’s where Quick Grades comes in. Each week of the football season, I’ll be providing a condensed and easily digestible chart of grades for over 250 fantasy-relevant players based on the following four criteria:

Fantasy Ability
Despite a tough matchup, Derrick Henry broke through on a long run last week

Expected Volume
Travis Kelce is always heavily targeted as one of Kansas City’s top pass-catching options

Matchup
Tyreek Hill got loose for 200 yards against Cincinnati’s porous secondary

Surrounding Talent
Sam Darnold has one of the weakest receiving corps in the league

Each of those criteria will be graded on a scale of 1-25, with the cumulative total resulting in a final grade (A+ to F) and a recommendation based on that grade. The criteria are weighted differently based on position, so it’s not a direct 1-for-1 conversion. Surrounding talent refers to offensive line for RB, quarterback play for WR and TE, and skill-position talent for QB.

The players are sorted by grade in descending order with the highest grades at the top and the lowest at the bottom. The highest-graded players receive A+ (Must start), and the lowest receive F. However, there are varying degrees of the F grade, and some players with this grade are flex plays, desperation plays, Hail Mary plays, or should remain on your bench, depending on the grade and position.

I’ll also include D/ST grades, and just like the skill-position players, there will be four criteria used for grading on a scale from 1-25, and final grades will be from 1-100. The four criteria for a D/ST grade are: Matchup, Turnovers, Sacks, and Points Allowed.

The charts are screenshots of a spreadsheet, but the link to the original can be found below. Because players are not searchable within the sheets in this article, they’ve been added to the bottom of the page so that they can be searched and referenced quickly. In addition to the player grades, I’ll provide:

  • Start of the Week: A player outside of the elite, weekly must-starts who could have a big week
  • Stream of the Week: The best player who will likely be available on your waiver wire
  • Deep-League Stream of the Week: The best player who is less than 5% rostered in Yahoo leagues
  • Fade of the Week: A notable player who could be in for a let-down performance
  • Tough Calls: Two similarly valued players who may give fantasy managers difficult decisions

In honor of Thanksgiving, we’ll be tweaking these names just a bit for this week only:

  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (Start of the Week): A player outside of the elite, weekly must-starts who could have a big week (let’s face it… you ain’t having Thanksgiving dinner without mashed potatoes and gravy… it’s not the main dish, but it’s the king of sides)
  • Mac & Cheese (Stream of the Week): The best player who will likely be available on your waiver wire (mac & cheese is a prime side dish, but it’s not for everyone on Thanksgiving, and there’s usually enough left on the table to go back for more)
  • Baked Corn (Deep-League Stream of the Week): The best player who is less than 5% rostered in Yahoo leagues (baked corn isn’t always on the table at Thanksgiving dinner, but when it is… oh, mama! A deep-league side-dish streamer if I’ve ever seen one!)
  • Green Bean Casserole (Fade of the Week): A notable player who could be in for a let-down performance (Green Bean Casserole is the fade of any Thanksgiving feast. Seriously, it’s a not-so-good vegetable cooked in the cream of a worse vegetable)
  • Splitting the Wishbone (Tough Calls): Two similarly valued players who may give fantasy managers difficult decisions

Link to Full Quick Grades Document

It’s easy to see that an ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grade makes a player a must-start, but it might not make sense at first glance why some players are rated ‘C’ or worse and still have ‘Start,’ ‘Strong Start,’ or ‘Flex’ attached to their names. Because of all the different variables that go into a player’s performance in any given week, only those players with the absolute highest potential, best matchup, and strongest talent get ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grades. Therefore, even solid plays will earn grades that may appear sub-optimal on the surface, but it’s all relative from position-to-position. The hard cutoff is 50 for every position, as grades lower than this will earn a ‘Desperation’ or ‘Hail Mary’ tag in every situation.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the grades. Best of luck in all your matchups this week!

Note: As always, remember to check back on FantasyPros ahead of kickoff to get the latest injury news. I’ll provide “what-if” grades in the event that an injured player doesn’t suit up, but otherwise, these grades assume full health at the time the article is published on Friday morning. 

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Running Backs

Dalvin Cook is starting to become the Travis Kelce of running backs – he’s the top-ranked player nearly every week by default. After him, Nick Chubb vaults up to No. 2 after back-to-back 100-yard performances and a delicious matchup with Jacksonville where he should be able to gobble up yards. Chris Carson and Raheem Mostert are set to return, while Myles Gaskin is out once again.

There is no recommended deep-league stream of the week here, as the running backs who are less than 5% rostered do not have grades higher than ‘F Desperation.’

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: Duke Johnson Jr.

Mac & Cheese: Gus Edwards

Baked Corn: Justice Hill 1% rostered

Green Bean Casserole: Darrell Henderson

Splitting the Wishbone: Kareem Hunt and James Conner are separated by less than a point in this week’s grades, though Hunt’s highly favorable matchup gives him the longer piece of the wishbone.

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins comes in as our highest graded option in Week 12, while Terry McLaurin makes his way into the top-3 thanks to an excellent matchup with Dallas. The usual cast of characters round out the top-10.

Mac & Cheese: Jalen Reagor

Baked Corn: Denzel Mims 5% rostered

Green Bean Casserole: Michael Gallup

Splitting the Wishbone: Justin Jefferson comes in just ahead of Allen Robinson due to a slightly better matchup and much better quarterback play. He comes out on top when the two split the wishbone here.

* If Julio Jones is out, Calvin Ridley becomes an ‘A Must Start,’ Russell Gage becomes a ‘D+ Flex,’ and Olamide Zaccheaus becomes an ‘F Desperation’
* With John Brown out, Cole Beasley becomes a ‘D+ Flex,’ and Gabriel Davis becomes a ‘D Flex’
* If Adam Thielen is out, Justin Jefferson becomes a ‘B Must Start’

Quarterbacks 

Facing off against one another, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert come in with our highest grades of the week. No surprises among the top-graded options, except a Derek Carr sighting in the top-10 thanks to a fantastic matchup with Atlanta, where the Las Vegas signal-caller should be able to stuff the stat sheet.

There is no recommended Baked Corn this week, as the quarterbacks who are less than 5% rostered do not have grades higher than ‘F Desperation.’

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy & Mac & Cheese: Derek Carr

Green Bean Casserole: Ryan Tannehill

Tight Ends

Kelce and Waller as one and two should be expected every single week, but Evan Engram jumps all the way into the top-3 facing a generous Cincinnati defense. Hayden Hurst will look to bounce back from his Week 11 donut, while Jonnu Smith faces fantasy’s toughest tight end defense.

Mashed Potatoes and GravyAustin Hooper

Mac & Cheese: Dalton Schultz

Baked Corn: Tyler Eifert 5% rostered 

Green Bean Casserole: Jared Cook

D/ST

New Orleans earns top honors against a struggling Denver defense, Miami’s rock-solid defense comes in just behind the Saints while facing the league’s worst team, and the G-Men will look to tee off against Brandon Allen, who was just elevated from the practice squad.

There is no recommended Baked Corn this week, as the D/STs who are less than 5% rostered do not have grades higher than ‘F Desperation.’

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy & Mac & Cheese: New York Giants

Green Bean Casserole: Chicago Bears

?? Thanksgiving Special ??

In this bonus section, grades will be reflective of Thanksgiving games only. The grades used in this section do not represent the player’s overall grade as it stands for the week. Instead, these grades represent only how each player is graded in relation to his Thanksgiving counterparts, and it can be used as a guide for Thursday-only DFS slates. Deshaun Watson isn’t the highest-graded QB of the week overall, but he is the highest-graded QB of the six who are playing on Thanksgiving.

Running Back

Most likely to feast: ? Ezekiel Elliott ?

Wide Receiver

Most likely to feast: ? Terry McLaurin ?

Quarterback 

Most likely to feast: ? Deshaun Watson ?

Tight End

Most likely to feast: ? T.J. Hockenson ?

D/ST

Most likely to feast: ? Washington Football Team?

Player Search, Find

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Quarterback

Tight End

D/ST

  • New Orleans Saints A Must Start
  • Miami Dolphins A Must Start
  • New York Giants B Must Start
  • Pittsburgh Steelers B Must Start
  • Los Angeles Rams B Must Start
  • Washington Football Team C+ Strong Start
  • Seattle Seahawks C+ Strong Start
  • Cleveland Browns C+ Strong Start
  • Arizona Cardinals C Strong Start
  • Green Bay Packers D+ Start
  • San Francisco 49ers D+ Start
  • Buffalo Bills D+ Start
  • Carolina Panthers D Start
  • Kansas City Chiefs D Start
  • Dallas Cowboys D Start
  • Cincinnati Bengals D Start
  • Philadelphia Eagles F Desperation
  • Indianapolis Colts F Desperation
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers F Desperation
  • Baltimore Ravens F Desperation
  • Houston Texans F Desperation
  • Tennessee Titans F Desperation
  • Minnesota Vikings F Desperation
  • Detroit Lions F Desperation
  • Jacksonville Jaguars F Bench
  • New England Patriots F Bench
  • Chicago Bears F Bench
  • Los Angeles Chargers F Bench
  • Atlanta Falcons F Bench
  • Denver Broncos F Bench
  • New York Jets F Bench
  • Las Vegas Raiders F Bench

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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