Week 12 Heat Index (Fantasy Football)
Welp, it’s still Week 12.
If all goes well, the Steelers and Ravens will finally play tomorrow at 3:40 p.m. ET on NBC. That’s gonna cut into my “Let’s Make A Deal” time, but hey, whatever it takes to play some fantasy football, right?
As for our regularly scheduled programming, a handful of low-key players exceeded their expectations this week. Are you making a last-second playoff push? Are you prepping for a deep championship run? Here are some intriguing under-the-radar players who could make an impact for your team down the home stretch.
Cam Akers (RB – LAR)
Calling all running back-depleted teams! Cam Akers carried the ball eight times for 84 yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ Week 12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. While the bulk of Akers’ carries were largely unremarkable, he did manage to rip off a 61-yard scamper that set up his goal-line score.
Meanwhile, Darrell Henderson rushed for a paltry 19 yards on 10 carries. Malcolm Brown didn’t do too much better — he rushed the ball three times for four yards, caught two passes for 15 yards, and lost a fumble. If it weren’t for Akers’ breakaway run, all three of the Rams’ running backs would have put forth forgettable performances.
As we’ve seen all season long, the Rams’ backfield touches have been dominated by Darrell Henderson (133) and Malcolm Brown (106). Akers, by comparison, has only 62 touches to his name.
The situation is still a headache, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If your playoff dreams depend on a long-shot running back, Akers might not be the worst option available.
There are two ways to look at it: 1) According to Pro Football Reference, the Cardinals D/ST surrenders only 17.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, which is middle of the pack; and 2) the Rams are rushing the ball an average of 29.8 times per game (eighth-most in the league). This tells me that if you start Akers, you’re looking at maybe 10 total touches and are praying for him to find the end zone. Like I said — desperate times, desperate measures.
Remember, Rams Head Coach Sean McVay may have been stubborn with his RBBC approach all season, but he’s also known as one of the league’s most innovative coaches. The Rams (7-4) could use a spark, and picking a lead dog in the backfield might be the way to do it.
As for all you playoff-ready fantasy managers, view Akers as a high-quality bench stash as you prepare for glory.
Week 12 Heat Index: ??
Rest-of-season Heat Index: ??
Gabriel Davis (WR – BUF)
The Buffalo Bills drafted first-team All-American wide receiver Gabriel Davis in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. In Week 12, the former UCF Knightro (yes, you read that right) caught three passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in the team’s home win against the hapless Chargers. Davis’s 20-yard score came on a slippery trick play when Josh Allen whipped a reverse pass to Cole Beasley, who then fired a bullet of his own to Davis in the end zone. His other reception came on a 44-yard bomb from Josh Allen.
The Bills have put John Brown (ankle) on their injured reserve list, which means that he will miss the next two weeks of action. This all but guarantees that Davis will continue to see the field as an outside receiver for the Bills in Weeks 13 and 14. While Davis will cede targets to Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley, he’ll continue to be a deep threat and goal-line option while Brown is sidelined. It’s worth noting that the Bills’ brass has heralded Davis as a special talent since he joined the team.
So far this season, we’ve seen Bills OC Brian Daboll change up his game plan to pick apart his opponents’ weaknesses. In Davis’s “breakout” game last week, the team actually focused on the run, rushing the ball 30 times for 172 yards (second-most rushing yards by the team this season). What does this mean for Buffalo’s offense moving forward? Let’s take a look at the next two matchups.
In Week 13, the Bills will play the 49ers on Monday Night Football. The Niners’ real-life football defense has been pretty good this season — the unit is giving up only 206.5 passing yards per game and 108.7 yards per game on the ground. In an even-keeled approach from Daboll’s offense, a safe projection for Davis in this game might be 4-of-6 targets for 66 yards. (This game will be played at State Farm Stadium in Arizona, the very site where the Bills gave up a last-second touchdown to the Cardinals in Week 10. You better believe the Bills will be bringing their A-game in this one).
In Week 14, the Bills will play the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. The Steelers are allowing just 203.5 passing yards per game and 103.4 rushing yards per game. There’s nothing in these numbers that could indicate how Daboll might narrow his attack on the defense, but sensible football minds will tell you that the Bills will probably need to chuck the ball around to keep up with the best team in the league. A projection for Davis in this one? Let’s make it a bold one: 7-of-9 targets for 112 yards and a touchdown.
With respect to his Week 12 performance and outlook over the next couple of weeks, Davis could be a sneaky good play if you need him.
Week 12 Heat Index: ??
Rest-of-season Heat Index: ???
Trey Burton (TE – IND)
The Indianapolis Colts were forced to throw the ball 44 times in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans. In that game, Trey Burton caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t exactly a banner day for Burton, but in a world where tight end production is hard to come by, you could do worse than reach for the team’s target-leading tight end. Actually, now that I take a closer look… maybe not.
Through 12 weeks, Trey Burton is averaging 4.5 targets per game, which is 6.8% of the team’s target share. That ranks 26th in the league. Guys who collect a higher target share than Trey Burton on their own teams? Harrison Bryant. Chris Herndon. Tyler Eifert. Greg Olsen. Anthony Firkser. Yikes.
But hey, given the nature of the position, streaming tight ends has been a popular play. So what do Burton’s matchups look like for the rest of the season, and can we expect him to find the end zone? Let’s do a quick “stream or sit” segment.
Week 12 at Texans (SIT): The Texans are giving up 8.1 fantasy points per game to tight ends and have allowed just four scores all season.
Week 13 at Raiders – (SIT): The Raiders give up 7.3 fantasy points per game to tight ends and have allowed just four scores all season.
Week 14 vs. Texans – (SIT): See Week 12.
Week 15 at Steelers – (SIT): Woof. The Steelers are the league’s best defense against fantasy tight ends this season. They give up 4.5 fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Week 16 vs. Jaguars – (STREAM): Finally! The Jaguars give up 10.1 fantasy points per game to tight ends (second-most in the league) and nine total touchdowns (tied for most in the league). If you make it to the ‘ship but your starting tight end just got run over by a bus or something, Burton’s your guy.
Week 12 Heat Index: ??
Rest-of-season Heat Index: ?
(Psst. Denzel Mims is a week away from blowing up. Grab him now while you can.)
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.