Week 12 Start/Sit PLUS: Cam Newton, Michael Gallup, Damien Harris (2021 Fantasy Football)
Two high safety defenses continue to ruin NFL fantasy studs with the Bills, Chiefs and Seahawks all having their struggles against the new tactic for beating the league’s best offenses. The Titans, meanwhile, are struggling with injuries while the Eagles, Vikings, Bengals, and WFT suddenly look like legit contenders. It’s been one of the more unpredictable seasons for offensive consistency, but that means there’s plenty of opportunities if you look in the right places. First, let’s get into some Start/Sit plus: We’ll be looking at six categories (which are described in detail here in our Week 1 article). And to ensure total transparency, I’ll also note at the bottom of each section how I went in last week’s article (It was a good week for me outside streamers, I’ve logged it as 61 hits and 23 misses, meaning a 70% success rate so far this season, but you be the judge). If you disagree or have start/sit questions, hit me up on Instagram or Twitter.
Start (Players who have become every week starters, regardless of matchup)
Cam Newton (QB – CAR)
The time has come! I said last week I needed to see a larger sample size from SuperCam, but he delivered for those who streamed him. He’s still available in many leagues, though, and he’s a great option whether you’re struggling with Mahomes or Murray bye weeks or if you’re looking for an alternative to take you down the stretch. This week is a particularly juicy matchup against the Dolphins, who most QBs have taken advantage of this season.
Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)
Cousins has made a mockery of matchups, failing against the Lions, Browns, and Cowboys but crushing the Packers and Cardinals, two top-five QB defenses. This week isn’t a great matchup, but apparently, that’s irrelevant for the former Redskin. He’s a start for me down the stretch unless something changes in Minnesota.
David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
We did this last week, but I’m going again. The volume has been there for Monty. He just hasn’t yet converted it into performance. Andy Dalton is scary for this offense, but the added check-downs and the Lions run defense should make up for the offensive inadequacies.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
Since the bye, Gibson has been back in a big way, and the Football Team has been rolling. He didn’t get the touchdown last week, but everything else is going well for him, starting with a great matchup against the stuttering Seahawks this week. So pop him in with confidence.
Adam Thielen (WR – MIN)
Thielen was a major sell for me after his fantastic start to the season, and unsurprisingly, he slowed down. However, he’s still a weekly start and gives you big TD upside in an offense that scores a lot through a limited number of players. The 49ers aren’t a great matchup this week, but I’d still expect the Vikings to do enough to make Thielen a worthwhile risk.
Michael Gallup (WR – DAL)
This is such an odd situation. After spending most of the season injured, Gallup is suddenly the only healthy Cowboys starter, and he’s so obviously the most talented receiving option in Dallas. While that will make him a target for opposition defenses, there are enough other playmakers on this offense that I’d expect Gallup to be heavily involved. So start him this week and onwards if CeeDee Lamb‘s concussion becomes an ongoing issue.
Dawson Knox (TE – BUF)
He’s baaa-aaack! The early season TD star suddenly became a target hog as Josh Allen was forced to check down against a slew of 2 high safety looks. Of course, Knox won’t have double-digit targets every week, but he’s certainly got more about him than the other options in his range.
Rob Gronkowski (TE – TB)
Speaking of guys who are back, the best version of Gronk has returned too! Eight targets for 71 yards is a good day for any tight end, and finishing top ten at the position without a touchdown is a great sign. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a top-five option by the end of the season, but for now, I’m just reminding you to start him.
- Elijah Mitchell (RB – SF)
- DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI)
- Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)
- Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL) – They have to pass to someone!
Sit (Players you should consider benching if you have a viable alternative)
Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA)
It’s been an injury-plagued season, but Tua has been consistently good for fantasy when healthy, with five straight Top 16 fantasy finishes. Most weeks (outside his Falcons demolition) have been mediocre performances, but that consistency is valuable. This week, things get tougher against a Panthers defense that hasn’t conceded over 205 passing yards in the last five weeks. Tua will need to get it done in TDs, and while that’s possible, I wouldn’t want to bank on it.
Derek Carr (QB – LV)
After a couple of overtime games boosted his early season points, Carr’s crashed back to earth. He’s yet to manage more than two TDs in a game all season, with the run game taking on a core role in the red zone both pre- and post-Gruden. So avoid him if you can.
Jeff Wilson (RB – SF)
Wilson was very frustrating last week for fantasy owners who’ve stashed him for most of the season and finally got to start him. The dropped catch in the end zone hurt, but Wilson was all-around mediocre. Assuming Mitchell is back, Wilson is only a desperation play.
D’Onta Foreman (RB – TEN)
With Adrian Peterson now off the team, Foreman should be a must-start, right? No pumpkin, no. This is an awful matchup, and the Titans look poor at the moment. He’ll get some volume, but I wouldn’t anticipate any efficiency, and he’ll need a lucky touchdown to pay off.
Damien Harris (RB – NE)
This has all the appearances of a committee backfield against a strong run defense. Expect the Pats to throw and Harris to need a touchdown to pay off. Given he’s only going to get half the goal line carries, I don’t like those odds.
Jerry Jeudy (WR – DEN)
This feels like a game where the Broncos should be focussing on the run. The Chargers’ run defense is awful, and when they throw, options are abundant, including $96 million of newly signed receivers and a quarterback who loves to spread it around. Oh, and the Chargers are poor against tight ends too. Jeudy may get a bit of volume, but it’s hard to see him having the kind of game that makes you regret sitting him.
Hunter Renfrow (WR – LV)
He’s just so TD-or-bust that I can’t justify starting him outside perhaps some PPR leagues. He hasn’t cleared 60 yards since Week 3 and faces a mediocre Cowboys defense that knows how to shut down opponents on their day. There’s just not enough here for me to feel good about him.
Gerald Everett (TE – SEA)
He’s been busier the last couple of weeks, but the former Ram still isn’t a guy you can start with any confidence until the scheme changes or Russ can work out those throws over the middle.
I wouldn’t tell you to sit these guys in all situations, but I’m more nervous than usual about Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, and Matthew Stafford due to their matchups, but there’s enough upside here that they’re still worth starting for most people.
- Ben Roethlisberger (QB – PIT)
- Trevor Siemian (QB – NO) – In all leagues, including Superflex
- All Bills Running Backs
- Devonta Freeman (RB – BAL)
- Latavius Murray (RB – BAL)
- Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE)
- Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB)
- Jack Doyle (TE – IND)
- Hunter Henry (TE – NE) – He’s TD or bust. You can take the risk, but that’s the gamble.
- Tyler Conklin (TE – MIN)
Stream (Players you wouldn’t usually start who should have a good week)
Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
Since returning from injury, he hasn’t been cooking and has struggled against two-high safety looks, but the WFT defense has been a treasure trove for opposition quarterbacks. He’s not close to being a reliable option this week, but it’s very possible someone dropped him, and if you rostered Mahomes or Murray, he’s likely the best you can get in Week 12.
Tyrod Taylor (QB – HOU)
This is for deeper leagues as Taylor is not close to being a reliable option, but he’s had two Top 12 finishes in his four starts this season, and he takes on the awful Jets, so he’s worth a gamble if you’re desperate.
Mark Ingram (RB – NO)
If Kamara is out again, I’d still start Ingram, even against the Bills. This has nothing to do with Jonathan Taylor‘s running demolition last week and everything to do with Trevor Siemian‘s need to check down and the lack of other potent weapons.
Melvin Gordon (RB – DEN) and Javonte Williams (RB – DEN)
The Chargers love letting teams run all over them, and now they face the run-heavy Broncos. Indeed there are touchdowns and yardage aplenty between these two.
Tevin Coleman (RB – NYJ) and Ty Johnson (RB – NYJ)
This is a pretty deep one, but the Jets have a solid matchup against the Texans, and Michael Carter is out. The return of Zach Wilson should provide Johnson with plenty of volume, and I’d expect some early-down and goal-line looks for Coleman. If you’re desperate, they’re here.
Rex Burkhead (RB – HOU)
Even more desperate? The Texans just released Philip Lindsay, and Burkhead got the bulk of the rushing work. In the coming weeks, David Johnson may be the guy, but in a game, I expect the Texans could win (gosh, did I just say that?) Burkhead is the man.
Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ)
I loved him in the pre-season, but I hadn’t seen enough of Moore to make him a weekly starter every week just yet, until Week 11. His performance last week with Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder also available gave me a lot more confidence that this might be an actual emergence. This week he faces the mediocre Texans who admittedly made the Titans look awful, so it’s a risk, especially in Zach Wilson‘s first game back, but it’s one you may need to take.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN)
I don’t trust the target volume, but the Chargers are so bad against tight ends he’s an option. Though one I’d rather avoid.
Evan Engram (TE – NYG)
They’re facing the Eagles, who can’t stop tight ends and just lost Davion Taylor, and they just got a new OC who could feasibly use Engram more effectively (he could hardly be used worse).
- Daniel Jones (QB – NYG)
- Brandon Bolden (RB – NE) – In deep PPR leagues, only
- Dontrell Hilliard (RB – TEN) – In very deep PPR leagues, only
- Patrick Taylor Jr (RB – GB) – In even deeper leagues
- Cedrick Wilson Jr (WR – DAL)
- Russell Gage (WR – ATL) – In deeper leagues
- Sammy Watkins (WR – BAL) – In even deeper leagues
- Laquon Treadwell (WR – JAC) – In super-deep leagues, also a stash option
- Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)
- John Bates (TE – WAS) – If Logan Thomas remains out.
- Zane Gonzalez (K – CAR)
- Nick Folk (K – NE)
- Chicago Bears (CHI – DST)
- Philadelphia Eagles (PHI – DST)
Stash (Players you should pick up and bench)
Taysom Hill (QB – NO)
Don’t stash quarterbacks in standard leagues, but Taysom Hill remains an interesting option in dynasty or Superflex. He just signed a huge contract, and it’s not impossible he wins back the starting job either later this season or next year.
Backup Running Backs
What’s that, you want to hear me rant about backup running backs again? Just imagine how nice it would be to have someone like AJ Dillon, Mark Ingram, Rhamondre Stevenson, or James Conner on your roster, then make that a reality by picking up one of the available backups with upside. Here’s my updated, ordered list of guys who may not be owned in your league: Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison, Jamaal Williams, Sony Michel, Devontae Booker, Darrel Williams, Chuba Hubbard, Khalil Herbert, Jeff Wilson, Carlos Hyde, Nyheim Hines, Ronald Jones, Samaje Perine, Latavius Murray, DeeJay Dallas, Qadree Ollison
Alex Collins (RB – SEA)
With Chris Carson sadly out for the season and Rashaad Penny once again injured (because of course, he is), it’s the Alex Collins show in Seattle. Is he anything special? No, not really. Will he get volume? Yes, probably. And sometimes, that’s enough. He has a tough matchup this week, and the emergence of DeeJay Dallas is something to monitor, but I’d be stashing him if your running back room is light.
Josh Reynolds (WR – DET)
He’s gone from the Rams to the Titans and now to the Lions, and last week he got the most snaps and routes of all of their receivers. Do you know who also came from the Rams? Jared Goff! Once Goff is back, Reynolds is an intriguing option in deep leagues.
Kadarius Toney (WR – NYG) and Kenny Golladay (WR – NYG)
Jason Garrett was finally fired. So what does that mean for the stagnant Giants offense? Well, who knows, but I find it hard to believe it can hurt it. Toney and Golladay are worth stashing just to see what happens. You can add Sterling Shepard to the list, too, if you’re a patient guy.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR – TEN)
It’s unclear what the injury situation around the Titans receivers is (well, it was at the time of writing). However, NWI blew up in the Titans’ embarrassing loss to the Texans with 107 yards on eight targets, so he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Nick Vannett (TE – NO)
Adam Trautman was emerging into a starting fantasy tight end, but now he’s out for at least a month. Meanwhile, Nick Vannett has just returned from injury and looked to be the Trautman backup in the pre-season. So he’s worth a stash in deeper leagues just to see what happens.
Dan Arnold (TE – JAC)
Many people will have given up on the better Darnold after his weekend donut, but I’m not giving up. Stash him and see.
- Matt Breida (RB – BUF) – In deep leagues
- Kenyan Drake (RB – LV)
- Philip Lindsay (RB – FA) – In very deep leagues
- Tim Patrick (WR – DEN)
- Joshua Palmer (WR – LAC) – In dynasty leagues
- Logan Thomas (TE – WAS)
- Josiah Deguara (TE – GB) – In deep leagues
Misses: Ray-Ray McCloud
Sell (Players who are likely to lose value in the future and could be sold now for a better player)
Justin Herbert (QB – LAC)
The Chargers chucker has these big boom games, with four top 2 fantasy finishes this season, and everyone so far was followed by a clunker the following week. That pattern could easily continue against the Broncos. Hence, it’s likely worth selling your Herbert shares now, so you don’t need to deal with his variability in the fantasy playoffs where he takes on Denver again in Week 17.
Matthew Stafford (QB – LAR)
This has arguably been Stafford’s best season since 2011, with Cooper Kupp taking on the role of the rampaging Megatron. The addition of OBJ should offset the loss of Robert Woods, but the bigger issue here is not the dud weeks going into their Week 11 bye but the matchups to come. Things get easier in the playoffs, but Stafford won’t do the job if you need to win now.
Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) and Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC)
These guys are studs, but after a huge week, some people will get over-excited and over-spend. So if you can get Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook +, I’d do it and laugh.
Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)
He’s been on one heck of a TD-scoring run, but Mixon can’t keep running in two touchdowns every week. The matchups get tougher now, so it’s time to sell if someone will value him as a top 6 back.
Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ)
One blow-up game with the notably aggressive Joe Flacco doesn’t make the rookie a sudden star in this mediocre offense. So even though I think he has a lot of upside, he’s unlikely to have value as high as this for the rest of 2021.
Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA)
DeVante Parker and Will Fuller won’t be out forever, and the Dolphins have some tough matchups and a bye coming up. So now is the time to sell him if you need to win now. He does have a sweet playoff schedule if you can afford to hold on, though.
Zach Ertz (TE – ARI)
What a whacky performance that was last week. The Cardinals suddenly looked functional again and leaned heavily on Rondale Moore and Zach Ertz with a heap of short passes. They’re now going on bye, and when they’re back, Kyler Murray likely will be too. Ertz remains a borderline starter, but his value won’t get higher than it is now. If you can get someone like Rob Gronkowski or TJ Hockenson for him, I’d do it and run.
- Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB)
- Taylor Heinicke (QB – WAS)
- Devonta Freeman (RB – BAL)
- Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA)
- Tyler Lockett (WR – SEA)
- Nelson Agholor (WR – NE)
- Rondale Moore (WR – ARI)
- Darren Waller (TE – LV)
Scrub (Players you should drop, assuming a viable alternative is available)
Matt Ryan (QB – ATL)
With Cordarrelle Patterson battling injuries, Calvin Ridley away from the team, and teams smothering Kyle Pitts, there’s little hope for Ryan’s fantasy value to have any semblance of consistency. As a result, he can be dropped even in deep leagues.
Adrian Peterson (RB – FA)
No longer in Tennessee, no longer on our rosters, forever in our hearts (or not). It would have to be a pretty deep league to make stashing AP worthwhile.
Mike Davis (RB – ATL) and Wayne Gallman (RB – ATL)
Gallman has no valuable role, but if Davis can’t score fantasy points with Cordarrelle Patterson out, what’s the point of rostering him either? He’s got no upside at all.
Bryan Edwards (WR – LV)
This isn’t the first time I’ve listed him here, but Edwards’s ownership percentage is way too high! Also, he’s put up two donuts in the last three weeks, so unless you’re a TV show cop, that’s not a tasty proposition.
James Washington (WR – PIT) and Ray-Ray McCloud (WR – PIT)
The return of Chase Claypool has made Washington nothing more than an occasional big-play threat. He’s not worth rostering in all but the deepest of leagues. Ray-Ray McCloud is even more droppable, sadly, unless your league highly rewards return yards.
Cameron Brate (TE – TB)
Even though Gronk was back, Brate still got six targets. He made a big mess of them, though, and is unlikely to hold fantasy value any time soon.
- Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE) – In every 1QB league
- Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN)
- Chris Carson (RB – SEA)
- Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA) – Except in deep leagues
- Trey Sermon (RB – SF) – Don’t get tempted. Elijah Mitchell is back
- Quez Watkins (WR – PHI)
- Nico Collins (WR – HOU)
- Adam Trautman (TE – NO)
- Eric Ebron (TE – PIT)
- Mo Alie-Cox (TE – IND) – Just a reminder
- David Njoku (TE – CLE)
- Ryan Succop (K – TB)
- Younghoe Koo (K – ATL)
- Los Angeles Rams (DST – LAR)
- Indianapolis Colts (DST – IND)
Hits: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Ryan, Baker Mayfield, Larry Rountree, Le’Veon Bell, Rashaad Penny, Salvon Ahmed, Kenneth Gainwell, Mecole Hardman, Zach Pascal, Chargers Tight Ends, Mo Alie-Cox, Ricky Seals-Jones, OJ Howard, Younghoe Koo, Pittsburgh Steelers DST
TBD: Russell Gage
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