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StatHero NFL Lineup Advice: Week 12

by Isaiah Sirois | @is_sirois | Featured Writer
Nov 28, 2020

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Aggressive Lineup: Arizona Cardinals

I usually target games with league-leading projected point totals, but I’m making an exception this week. The KC/TB currently has the highest projected total (56.5), but I profiled the Chiefs last week, and the Buccaneers have too many weapons to fit into a StatHero lineup. There’s too much risk that you pick the wrong MVP (or the wrong FLEXES) and burn yourself as a result. So instead, I’m featuring a team with the perfect number of weapons in a game with a relatively high projected total (49).

MVP: DeAndre Hopkins
Yes, I know Stephon Gilmore exists. And yes, I’m aware that Gilmore will cover Hopkins this week — he’s been hyping it up all week. But the former Defensive Player of the Year hasn’t played particularly well this season. ProFootballFocus gives him a coverage grade of 61.1 for his work thus far, a far cry from his grade of 82.8 from last year. We’ve also see Hopkins handle coverage well this year — remember his game-winning touchdown from Week 10? Through 10 weeks, Hopkins leads the league in receiving yards (912), ranks third in catches (72), and has three all-important long-distance touchdowns. And since the Patriots give up the league’s highest explosive pass rate (12%), I expect Hopkins to make a few splash plays.

QB: Kyler Murray

FLEX A: Christian Kirk
Since I’m betting on Hopkins to make a few splash plays, I’ll double down by taking Kirk to make one or two of his own. Kirk has actually scored more touchdowns than Hopkins thus far, and while four of them came inside the red zone, two of them went for 50-plus yards. Kirk actually leads the Cardinals in target share inside the 10-yard line (30%), so he’s a must-start if you’re using Arizona this week.

FLEX B: Kenyan Drake
Drake hasn’t been the high-upside asset that some hoped he would be this year, but he’s been a rock-solid, volume-based play most weeks. Drake ranks ninth in total rushing attempts (146), and he’s one of two players to rank that high despite having played in only nine games. While he hasn’t been the most efficient back ever, as he averages just 4.4 yards per attempt, pairing him with Murray and Chase Edmonds gives you control over all of Arizona’s rushing attempts — including their goal-line work. The Cardinals average 2.9 attempts and 0.9 touchdowns per game from inside the 10-yard line.

FLEX C: Chase Edmonds
You’re picking between Edmonds and Larry Fitzgerald here. Neither option is perfect, but Edmonds probably has more upside. The pass-catching back averages 4.2 targets and 3.6 receptions per game, a bit lower than Fitzgerald’s 5.7 targets and 4.3 catches, but red-zone usage is where the two players are most distinct. While the Cardinals don’t run the ball with Edmonds near the goal line, he has a team-best target share inside the 20-yard line (24.2%), and he has scored three times from that range. In contrast, Fitzgerald has just four targets inside the 20-yard line, and he’s yet to score a touchdown this season.

Contrarian Lineup: Minnesota Vikings

The Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings are projected for the fourth-most points on the slate (50), and they’re an attractive team to target against the Panthers. Both teams have given up lots of points to their opponents — the Vikings rank 27th with 27.8 points allowed per game, while the Panthers rank 15th with 24.7 (but if you ignore last week’s shutout of the Lions, they would rank 23rd with 27.2). I’m expecting plenty of points in this one, and with Adam Thielen likely sidelined, we can trust our MVP to score most of Minnesota’s points.

MVP: Dalvin Cook
Cook ranks second in rushing yards (1,069) and first in rushing touchdowns (13) despite having only played in nine games. He ranks first in all-purpose yards (1,303) as well. If you used Cook as your MVP back in Week 8, he would’ve scored you 109.2 points by himself. Cook is set up for a similarly high-scoring performance. The Panthers give up the fifth-most PPR points per game to running backs (27.8), and that includes the fifth-most rushing yards (1,123), sixth-most touchdowns (10), and third-most receptions (68). Yes, the fact that Carolina is one of six teams to have played in 11 games adds to those counting stats, but they’ve still been incredibly vulnerable on the ground. Cook will exploit that for another huge fantasy performance.

QB: Kirk Cousins

FLEX A: Justin Jefferson
With Thielen unlikely to play due to COVID-19 protocols, Jefferson should get the bulk of the receiving work. While the Vikings are a run-first team, Jefferson and Thielen have been able to explode on occasion. Jefferson’s lack of competition this week gives him a chance to add another huge performance to his resume. With Panthers CB1 Donte Jackson sidelined, he won’t even have much competition from the other side, and I’m expecting big things as a result — Carolina was already giving up the eighth-highest rate of explosive pass plays (9%)! I’ll conclude by reminding you that Jefferson ranks first in the league in yards per route run (3.16) as a rookie. He’s a cheat code, and he’s a fantastic reason to target the Vikings.

FLEX B: Kyle Rudolph
The Vikings won’t have Irv Smith this week, and that should give Rudolph enough volume to post fantasy-relevant numbers. The two tight ends average a combined 5.2 targets, 3.8 catches, 47.1 receiving yards, and .31 touchdowns per game. They also have a combined 33% target share inside the 10-yard line, which is all the more significant when you consider that Thielen, who probably won’t play, controlled 60% of those targets. Rudolph should be Cousins’ go-to option in the red zone on passing plays, and as a result, he’s one of the safest Vikings to include in your lineup.

FLEX C: Alexander Mattison / Adam Thielen
If Thielen somehow clears the COVID-19 protocols and plays, start him. If not, roll with Mattison. The backup running back averages 8.1 touches per game, but he’s seen his volume decrease in recent weeks — he’s touched the ball just three times since Week 9. So why am I including him? Easy: security. If you’re betting on Cook based (at least in part) on his matchup, it makes sense to control for injury risk by rostering his backup. You’ll also get a nice chunk of points if Mattison makes a splash play while spelling Cook for a down or two. You don’t have a better option here, anyway, as your alternatives are Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe.

Check out StatHero’s $6,000 Survivor Special >>


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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.