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The Primer: Week 12 Edition (2021 Fantasy Football)

Nov 24, 2021
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A few thoughts about Thanksgiving:

This is one of the most underrated sports weeks of the year. We get college basketball tournaments early in the week, an NFL triple-header on Thursday, some great college football rivalry games, and then more NFL on Sunday to close out the week. It’s glorious.

I love Thanksgiving food. Not everyone does. Lord knows it’s not healthy. If our daily diet consisted entirely of Thanksgiving food, we’d all live another seven or eight years, tops. My mom makes stuffing every year. It’s not Stove Top. This is the real deal, a recipe passed down from her grandmother – cubes of white bread, onions, a little of this, a little of that, and turkey organs aplenty. The composition process is real butcher-shop-basement stuff. If you watched my mom make it, you’d wretch. Later, you’d ask for seconds.

The sameness of Thanksgiving appeals to me. We watch the Lions every year. We go to the same house to celebrate every year. We see mostly the same people every year. Your uncle tells the same jokes every year. It’s familiar. It’s home.

And yes, Thanksgiving is about gratitude and pondering all the reasons we’re grateful. This week, I’ve had a good ponder.

A few months ago, I left the traditional media company where I’d worked for years and went to work at FantasyPros. I had skirted around the periphery of the fantasy football industry – and by “industry,” I mean the part of it that actually generates money – for a long time, since I first started writing about fantasy for Pro Football Weekly.

Working full-time in the fantasy biz is cool, I’m not gonna lie. It may not fulfill my ambition of living in a 12-bedroom manor, but spending a workday recording a podcast and studying the career game logs of Cooper Kupp isn’t bad.

I’m very grateful to the upper management at FantasyPros for bringing me aboard. I had admired FP from afar for a long time. Well, not too afar, since I was part of its rankings accuracy competition from the very beginning, back when there were only 20 of us being tracked rather than nearly 200. FantasyPros is even more impressive up close. The developers, the business team, the customer service people – it’s a well-oiled machine powered by dedicated people who live all over the country (and in Canada). I feel like the free agent who signed with a team that ended the prior season on a five-game winning streak and is primed to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.

And I don’t mean to flaunt my gratitude in front of the hungry. To those of you who aspire to a job in the fantasy industry, keep trying. Be a burglar. Try windows and doors. Slipping in through an unlocked door is better than smashing a window. There are ways in; you just have to find them. Make an earnest effort. And if you can’t find a way in, it’s OK to walk away. You have to make money. But while you’re working in some other field to support yourself and your family, keep staking out the house for a way in.

Speaking of people who worked hard to find a way into the fantasy industry, have I mentioned how grateful I am to have known Mike Tagliere? I miss him, and I’m sad that I didn’t get the chance to work with him. But I’m trying to focus on being thankful that he came into my life.

I’m also thankful to you for not openly expressing your disappointment with me.

I probably answer 500 start/sit questions from Saturday night to Sunday kickoff. Obviously, I’m not batting 1.000 on those picks. Maybe .510 if I’m lucky, but I’m getting a lot of them wrong. A LOT of them. It’s amazing how few people feel compelled to let me know when I’ve steered them wrong. There are a few who do, sure. But the vast majority of the aggrieved either don’t blame me or simply curse me under their breath and keep their disappointment to themselves. I’m grateful for that.

Last but not least, I’m grateful to all of you for reading the articles, checking the rankings, listening to the podcasts. You’re part of the family, too.

Welcome home.

– Pat Fitzmaurice

MATCHUP LINKS:

CHI vs. DET | LV vs. DAL | BUF vs. NO | PIT vs. CIN | CAR vs. MIA | PHI vs. NYG | TEN vs. NE | ATL vs. JAC | TB vs. IND | NYJ vs. HOU | LAC vs. DEN | MIN vs. SF | LAR vs. GB | CLE vs. BAL | SEA vs. WAS |

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Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions

Date/Time: Thursday November 25, 12:30pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Bears -3
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 41.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Bears 22.25, Lions 19.25

Quarterback

Andy Dalton: Dalton came into the game last week in relief of Justin Fields and immediately connected with Darnell Mooney for a 60-yard touchdown. It’s just a fact that Dalton seems to be a better fit for what Matt Nagy wants to be on offense and that’s a whole separate article and rant in and of itself. He will get the nod here as the starting QB against Detroit on Thanksgiving with Fields battling a rib injury and he’s instantly on the streaming radar purely because of the matchup. The Lions defense is a favorable matchup for opposing passing games and Dalton should be able to do enough to return mid-range QB2 value. Start him if you’re in a pinch.

Jared Goff: Goff is reportedly going to start against the Bears on Thursday despite an oblique injury, but you’re going to want to avoid playing him in fantasy. He has historically struggled mightily against the Chicago defense and he’s most likely not going to be at 100%. Goff is nothing more than a high-end QB3 for Week 12.

Running Backs

David Montgomery: Montgomery’s stats from Week 11 won’t wow you, but he continues to be one of the most heavily involved RBs in all of fantasy football. In his two games since returning from injury, Montgomery has seen 27 carries on the ground and he’s averaging a healthy 4.5 Yards Per Attempt on the season. The scoring opportunities remain limited in this offense with the way it’s performing, but this could be a get-right game for Chicago. The Lions’ defense is being gashed on the ground and they’re one of the best matchups in all of fantasy football for opposing RBs. Montgomery should see his standard 15+ touches again in this one and plenty of opportunity to carve up the Lions’ defense like every dad to the Thanksgiving turkey. Fire up Montgomery as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 this week.

Khalil Herbert: There was some speculation that Herbert would remain involved in this offense when Montgomery was back and healthy and that simply has not been the case. Herbert’s nothing more than a high-end insurance policy at this point. He can be dropped to the waiver wire if you need to now.

D’Andre Swift: Over the past two games, Swift has seen 53 total touches. Dan Campbell is choosing to lean on Swift as a true workhorse RB and he’s responding with insane production. Swift has 266 rushing yards the past two weeks and he’s helping carry fantasy rosters to a victory single-handedly. Against the Bears defense that just isn’t the same without Khalil Mack in the lineup, there’s very little reason to be scared off of Swift in your starting lineup for Week 12. He can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end RB1 yet again.

Jamaal Williams: Williams came back into the lineup this past week against Cleveland and played only 13 snaps to Swift’s 35. He saw seven carries, but it resulted in just 11 yards. At this point, Williams is just an insurance policy for Swift and he shouldn’t be considered for starting lineups this week.

Wide Receivers

Darnell Mooney: Mooney had a whopping 16 targets this past week against Baltimore and he showed that he can be a WR1 for an NFL team if called upon. Despite the Bears not getting much done on offense, Mooney was able to end the week with 121 yards on five receptions and a touchdown. This total was enough to lead to the highest fantasy point total of Mooney’s young career and he’s now put together dominant back-to-back performances. (In fact, the past two games are Mooney’s two highest fantasy totals ever) In a matchup this week against the Lions’ defense that seemingly can’t slow down anyone at the WR position, Mooney belongs back in starting lineups as a mid-range/low-end WR2 with upside.

Marquise Goodwin: Goodwin was able to come up with what should have been the play of the game last week against Baltimore and he had a solid fantasy outing because of it. With Allen Robinson all but declared out already at the time of writing for this game against Detroit, Goodwin at least deserves consideration as a dart-throw FLEX play. However, we can’t trust him as anything more than that at this point.

Amon-Ra St. Brown: At this point of the season, St. Brown just might be one of the most underrated and least talked about WRs in the NFL. However, for as talented as he is, there’s very little consistency surrounding him from a fantasy perspective due to the QB play. He’s routinely making plays and he has the potential to be a valuable fantasy asset down the road, but we cannot trust him yet and he should remain on your bench.

Tight Ends

Cole Kmet: Kmet had started to emerge as a viable fantasy asset finally in this Bears offense prior to Week 11 and it all came crashing back down against the Ravens. Kmet had just two targets and finished with only one reception for 12 yards after putting up a 6-87-0 stat line the week prior. This is a matchup that we should be considering Kmet in, but we simply cannot trust him right now with the state of this offense. Until we see the coaching staff cycle out and the scheme change, Kmet will be nothing more than a volatile play any given week.

TJ Hockenson: After seeing just one target in Week 10, Hockenson got back to being a focal point of the receiving game against Cleveland last week. Hockenson posted six receptions on eight targets for 51 yards with an impressive 2.43 Yards Per Route Run metric. He hasn’t delivered the top-tier numbers like many were projecting coming into the year, but he’s still a very valuable fantasy asset at the TE position. Through 11 weeks now, Hockenson is averaging 9.1 Fantasy Points Per Game and is the TE8 overall on the season. Against the Bears defense that’s a top-7 unit in defending opposing TEs from a fantasy perspective, Hockenson should be viewed as a mid-range/low-end TE1.

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Las Vegas Raiders vs Dallas Cowboys

Date/Time: Thursday November 25, 4:30pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Cowboys -7.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 51.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Cowboys 29.5, Raiders 22

Quarterback

Derek Carr: Things have been a little unpredictable for Carr from a fantasy perspective over the past few weeks. Ever since Henry Ruggs was released before Week 9, Carr’s production has taken a bit of a dip and this offense doesn’t look the same. Without the deep speed element – DeSean Jackson‘s barely involved – things aren’t flowing as smoothly for the veteran QB and Las Vegas has struggled to put points up on the board recently. To illustrate that point, over the last three games Carr has a poor 51.4 PFF Grade, he has a 1:1 TD/INT ratio, and he’s averaging just 7.1 Yards Per Attempt. Now, Carr has to take on a Dallas defense that is 4th overall in Football Outsiders’ Total DVOA. If you’re unable to find a better pivot option, Carr’s still a decent option to roll out there as a high-end/mid-range QB2. However, we shouldn’t be expecting the type of production we were getting from him previously. This offense simply isn’t the same.

Dak Prescott: Do you remember the cartoons where someone would be riding a bike through the mountains or over big hills? Their torso would stay in the exact same place, but their legs would stretch out and rise and fall with the terrain. Do you know what I’m talking about? No? Okay, never mind. Regardless, that’s what I feel like Prescott’s fantasy production has been like over the past few weeks. He’s continued to be someone that we view as a solid, mid-range QB1 each and every matchup, but the production has been about as up-and-down as they come. The Cowboys failed to do much against Denver a few weeks ago, Dak then came out and torched Atlanta, and then Prescott and the Dallas offense fell flat this past week against Kansas City. In that game, Prescott averaged just 5.0 Yards Per Attempt, he had just 216 passing yards, and he threw two interceptions to no touchdowns. He finished the week as the overall QB28 in fantasy and it’s going to be difficult to trust him as a locked-in QB1 this week without potentially his top two WRs. The matchup against Las Vegas (who is allowing 21.0 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs) is enticing enough to keep Dak in the top-12 of consensus rankings, but we have to acknowledge that it might not be pretty again this week.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs: Coming into the 2021 season, one of the seemingly locked-in guarantees of the year was that Jacobs was going to see a massive workload on the ground each and every week. There were questions about what his upside was due to his lack of involvement in the receiving game, but no one was concerned about his volume as a runner…but maybe we should have been? Jacobs hasn’t carried the ball more than 16 times once in his 2021 campaign, which for comparison he had six such games in 2020. The silver lining here is that Jacobs is finally seeing plenty of work as a receiver in this Jon Gruden-less offense in Las Vegas, but even that is failing to result in significant production. Jacobs has 14 receptions over his last three games, but he’s only averaging 45 Yards Per Reception over that time span. We can continue to roll out Jacobs as a low-end RB2 each and every week that we know isn’t going to crush our lineups, but the upside just quite frankly isn’t there. In a matchup against the Cowboys’ defense that’s allowing the 7th-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs, it’s difficult to see how that changes here.

Kenyan Drake: There were a few games from weeks 6-9 where it looked like Drake was set to be a reliable RB2 alongside Jacobs in this backfield, but that optimism has taken a complete nose dive over the past two weeks. Drake has finished as the RB46 and RB45 each of the past two games in Half PPR scoring and he’s seen just 12 total touches over that time span. In a tougher matchup for opposing RBs against Dallas this week, it’s probably best to leave Drake on your bench. He can be viewed as a low-end RB3/high-end RB4 this week.

Ezekiel Elliott: Zeke was knocked out of last week’s game with a knee injury for a bit, but he did end up returning. While he only put up 10 fantasy points, which would typically be viewed as a disappointing week, this was good enough to put him at RB18 on the week. Week 11 was a weird one for fantasy football RBs and we need to take it with a grain of salt as we evaluate the position moving forward. All indications at the time of writing are that Zeke is going to be ready to roll for this Thanksgiving Day matchup and he belongs right back in your starting lineup as a locked-in RB1. Las Vegas is surrendering 104.1 rushing yards and .8 touchdowns per game to opposing RBs, while also surrendering the 5th-most fantasy points to the position. He might not necessarily be at 100%, but in a game that should see the Cowboys move the ball on this Raiders defense routinely, Zeke’s a solid bet to find the end zone. He can be viewed as a low-end RB1.

Tony Pollard: Pollard was forced to step up last week for a decent stretch of the game with Zeke on the sideline battling a knee injury and he delivered solid production with that limited opportunity. The Dallas offense wasn’t able to do much, which limited Pollard’s touch totals, but he was still highly effective. For this Week 12 matchup against Las Vegas, we should have Zeke back and healthy and that will move Pollard back to his complementary role. With so many other key injuries at the RB position in fantasy, plus some crucial bye weeks, Pollard might have to be placed into your starting lineup this week. If that is the case, he can be viewed as a high-end RB3 in a favorable matchup against the Raiders defense.

Wide Receivers

Hunter Renfrow: Here in recent weeks, Renfrow has been nothing short of spectacular for fantasy purposes. In the three games prior to Week 11, Renfrow had finished as the WR34, the WR14, and the WR10 respectively. However, he went quiet last week against the Cincinnati Bengals and saw just a 16% target share. He was able to reel in all four of his targets, but just for 30 yards and no touchdown. The Raiders offense has been struggling as of late and Carr hasn’t looked like his normal self, which could play a role in Renfrow’s dip in production this past week. Regardless, Renfrow belongs right back in your starting lineup this week against Dallas. The Cowboys are allowing an average of 21.4 fantasy points per game to opposing WRs and the Raiders should be focused on making sure Renfrow’s more of a key part to their passing game this week. He can be viewed as a mid-range WR3 in Week 12.

Bryan Edwards: Unfortunately, there’s very little incentive at this point to holding onto Edwards on your fantasy roster, let alone considering playing him. He has the big-play potential as a FLEX option, but the target volume isn’t there for him to be viewed as a reliable threat. In an offense that’s struggling to put up points on the board, Edwards can’t be trusted in starting lineups this week. He should remain on your bench or your league’s waiver wire.

Michael Gallup: Gallup went from being an intriguing add off the waiver wire just a few weeks ago to a rock-solid play this week against the Raiders. Without Amari Cooper and potentially CeeDee Lamb, we could see Gallup soak up targets yet again this week. He wasn’t able to make the most of his 23.8% target share last week, but he showed enough to warrant strong consideration this week against the Raiders pass defense that is the 22nd ranked defense in Football Outsiders’ Pass DVOA. If Lamb is out, Gallup should be viewed as a borderline top-15 play.

CeeDee Lamb: Lamb is out for week 12 after suffering a concussion vs. the Chiefs last week.

Cedrick Wilson: Wilson was plenty involved this past week with Cooper out and Lamb exiting the game early. He saw seven targets, but he was only able to reel in four of them for 36 yards as he was credited with two drops. Wilson at least becomes an intriguing fantasy option this week if Lamb is forced to miss this contest due to a concussion, but we do need to temper our expectations. This offense isn’t the same without Cooper and Lamb and we could see Gallup and Dalton Schultz take center stage. If Lamb is out, Wilson at least enters low-end FLEX consideration. However, if Lamb does end up suiting up, it’s probably best to leave Wilson on your bench.

Tight Ends

Darren Waller: Not much went right for the Raiders on offense last week, but Waller returning to form had to make Raiders fans and fantasy managers alike very happy. Waller saw a whopping 32% target share in Week 11 and he reeled in seven of his eight targets for 116 yards and no score. He also averaged a ridiculous 4.14 Yards Per Route Run, which was second in the entire NFL last week only behind Justin Jefferson (min. 5 targets). There are plenty of questions surrounding the other fantasy assets on Las Vegas, but we should be completely confident in plugging Waller into our starting lineups this week as a top-2 TE option. In a matchup against the Cowboys that’s allowing the 9th-most fantasy points to opposing TEs, we could see Waller feast.

Dalton Schultz: All eyes were on Schultz last week with Cooper out of the lineup and he did come through with a decent performance. He saw a 19% target share in Week 11 and that resulted in six receptions for 53 yards and no score. With CeeDee Lamb potentially out for this matchup as well, we could see an even higher target share for Schultz this week and he should be right back in starting lineups as a mid-range/low-end TE1. Las Vegas is allowing the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing TEs this season and Schultz is going to have every opportunity to soak up targets yet again.

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Buffalo Bills vs New Orleans Saints

Date/Time: Thursday November 25, 8:20pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Bills -6
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 45.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Bills 25.75, Saints 19.75

Quarterback

Josh Allen: Allen turned in a clunker of a performance last week against the Colts and has laid eggs in two of his last three games, sandwiching a strong Week 10 performance against the Jets (366 yards, two TD passes) between a 264-yard, zero-TD, two-INT game in a 9-6 loss to the Jaguars and a 209-yard, two-TD, two-INT showing in a 41-15 loss to the Colts. He’ll try to bounce back against the Saints’ Jekyll-and-Hyde pass defense, which has been all over the map this season. The Saints rank fifth in the league in opponent passer rating, yet they’re giving up 22.1 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, the second-highest total in the league. The Saints smothered Aaron Rodgers and harassed Mac Jones into three interceptions, but they also gave up 402 passing yards and two TD passes to Daniel Jones, and 342 passing yards and two TD passes to Matt Ryan. The Saints’ pass defense ranks 14th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, and maybe that’s the best way of viewing it – as a neutral matchup. Allen is the QB2 this week. Considering that Allen has topped 300 yards only once in his last four games and hasn’t thrown more than two TD passes in any of his last four games, he’s a fade at a pricey $7,800 on DraftKings.

Trevor Siemian: In his first two starts, Siemian threw for a combined 547 yards against the Falcons and Titans, with four TD passes and no interceptions. Last week, however, he was exposed by the Eagles, completing 22 of 40 passes for 214 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Two of Siemian’s TD passes and his 17-yard TD run came in the fourth quarter of the Saints’ 40-29 loss to the Eagles after the game was already out of reach. Earlier, Siemian made a terrible throw that was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Darius Slay. Siemian has averaged 20.7 fantasy points over the last three weeks, making him the QB4 in fantasy scoring over that stretch. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t an investment you want to make for fantasy, especially not this week with Siemian facing a tough Bills defense.

Running Backs

Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, Matt Breida: It was hard enough to squeeze value out of this backfield when it was Singletary and Moss sharing work. Now Breida has crashed the party, making the Buffalo RB situation even more inscrutable. The Bills ran 56 offensive plays against the Colts in Week 11. Singletary led the RBs in snaps with 21, Breida had 18, and Moss had 16. Breida had five carries for 51 yards, while Singletary and Moss had three carries each. Don’t wade into this backfield in Week 11, either in season-long leagues or DFS. The division of labor is too unpredictable, and the Bills face a Saints defense that’s yielding 89.8 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry.

Mark Ingram, Tony Jones: Alvin Kamara will miss another game with a knee injury, and Ingram is dealing with a knee injury of his own. Ingram practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday. Jones, who just played his first game since Week 4 after recovering from an ankle injury, would be ticketed for a heavy workload if Ingram couldn’t answer the bell, although significant touch volume wouldn’t necessarily mean worthwhile fantasy numbers. The Saints face the Bills, and the Buffalo run defense has been tough this year aside from maulings by Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor. Henry ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns against Buffalo in Week 6, and Taylor trampled the Bills for 204 total yards and five touchdowns last week. Monitor this situation carefully in the run-up to this Thanksgiving-night affair.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs: The 23 receiving yards that Diggs had against the Colts in Week 11 were a season-low, yet he had his first multiple-TD game of the season, with a gorgeous 6-yard touchdown on a crisp out route and a 9-yard TD catch on a play where Josh Allen bought time for Diggs to streak uncovered across the back of the end zone. Diggs has scored five touchdowns in his last five games, though he’s topped 100 yards just once over that span. Diggs may see some of Saints’ shutdown CB Marshon Lattimore on Thursday night, but Lattimore normally plays the right side and isn’t likely to shadow Diggs throughout the game. He’s a high-end WR1 this week. Considering all the injuries to wide receivers scheduled to play on Thanksgiving, Diggs at $7,900 might be a good way to spend your money in DraftKings’ Thursday showdown.

Emmanuel Sanders: Over his first five games, Sanders averaged 13.3 fantasy points per (0.5 PPR). Over his last five games, he’s averaged 6.1 fantasy points. Sanders has averaged just 29.5 receiving yards over his last four games and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 5. Sanders is likely to see Saints CB Marshon Lattimore on a good number of his snaps Thursday. Manny is a low-end WR3 this week.

Cole Beasley: Over a three-game stretch from Week 6 to Week 9, Beasley was targeted 33 times and had 25-231-1 receiving. Over his last two games, Beasley has 6-38-0 on seven targets. It just so happens that Bills TE Dawson Knox returned from a broken hand two weeks ago, coinciding with the start of Beasley’s downturn. Wait for a “prove it” game from Beasley before reinserting him into your lineup. He’s a low-end WR4 this week against the Saints.

Marquez Callaway: Callaway has scored a touchdown in three consecutive games, but TDs have been the only source of fantasy value for him lately. During his three-game TD streak, Callaway has had 14 targets, six catches, and 88 receiving yards. He’s been held to 37 or fewer yards in each of his last five games. Callaway’s modest target/catch volume is concerning, and on Thursday he’s going to run most of his routes against Bills CB Tre’Davious White, one of the top cover men in the league. Callaway is the WR53 this week. At $5,000 on DraftKings, he offers only contrarian appeal.

Tre’Quan Smith: Smith has 9-108-1 over his last two games. He’s seen 15 targets over those two contests, amounting to a healthy 19.7% target share. The growing role is encouraging, but Smith hasn’t topped 64 receiving yards in any of the five games he’s played in 2021. He’s a high-end WR5 against the Bills.

Deonte Harris: Going into Week 11, Harris had amassed 18-295-1 receiving and 2-28-0 rushing in his previous five games. He had 2-11-0 against the Eagles last week on five targets. Harris can fly, but this is a fragile production profile. He lands at WR59 in the Week 11 rankings.

Tight Ends

Dawson Knox: When Knox returned to the Bills’ lineup in Week 10 after missing two games with a broken hand, he caught his only target for 17 yards against the Jets. In Week 11, he had a season-high 10 targets in a loss to the Colts and finished with 6-80-0. Knox has been one of 2021’s more pleasant surprises at the TE position, and it was good to see him get back into a groove last week post-injury. He’s back in TE1 range this week, checking in at TE11. Knox is priced at $4,400 on DraftKings, and there are better buys at tight end.

Juwan Johnson: Adam Trautman had been emerging as a fantasy-relevant TE in recent weeks, catching 14-137-1 over his last three games, but he sprained his MCL in Week 11 and is expected to miss 4-6 games. Juwan Johnson is probably the Saints’ best pass-catching TE with Trautman out, but he was a healthy scratch in Week 11 behind Nick Vannett and Garret Griffin. Avoid this mess.

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals

Date/Time: Sunday November 28, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Bengals -4.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 44.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Bengals 24.5, Steelers 20

Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben returned to the lineup this past week against the Chargers and seemed unfazed from his bout with COVID as he threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. He was credited with 3 Turnover Worthy Plays by Pro Football Focus, but he managed to avoid any and the Steelers’ offense was humming on Sunday night. The Chargers are a traditionally tough defense for opposing QBs though and it was encouraging to see Ben put up his highest fantasy point total of the season. Looking ahead to Week 12, he has another tough matchup on paper against the Bengals defense that’s allowing just 18.9 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs. However, based on what we saw last week, Roethlisberger can be considered as a low-end QB2 against Cincinnati.

Joe Burrow: Burrow didn’t have a great statistical outing last week against the Raiders, but he wasn’t needed all that much in a game where the Bengals were able to rely on their run game so heavily. Burrow completed 20 of 29 passes for only 148 yards and one touchdown, which left fantasy managers disappointed. However, these game scripts are going to play out from time to time and it’s simply a part of playing fantasy football. That needs to be wiped from our minds though as we look ahead to Week 12 and the matchup against the Steelers defense that just gave up 41 points and 382 passing yards to Justin Herbert on Sunday night. This game should be closer than what the Bengals encountered last week against Las Vegas and the Steelers run defense should keep Mixon in check enough to force Burrow to air it out more. Burrow needs to be back in your starting lineup this week as a low-end QB1 with upside.

Running Backs

Najee Harris: Harris saw less than half of the number of carries in Week 11 as he did in Week 10, but it didn’t make much of a difference for fantasy. Harris still was heavily involved in the receiving game as he saw six targets and reeled in five of them for 20 yards. While he didn’t put up tremendous stats on the ground as many expected against the porous Chargers defense, Harris is essentially bust-proof at this point with the Steelers’ commitment to getting him touches. He has now played in 10 games this season and he has finished outside the top-12 RBs just twice. He’s in the running for fantasy MVP at this point and there seems to be no reason to doubt that this type of production can continue. Looking ahead to Week 12, the Bengals have been allowing one of the fewest marks in the league in terms of rushing yards per game with 76.3, but they’ve been gashed by the RB position as receivers out of the backfield. Cincinnati is allowing 7.6 receptions per game on average to the position and 58.3 receiving yards. Even if Harris can’t succeed on the ground in a tougher matchup, we should have zero concerns about his ability to get the job done as a receiver. Fire him up as a mid-range RB1 yet again.

Joe Mixon: After being one of the most divisive players in draft season this year, Mixon has rewarded fantasy managers that took the chance on him at the discounted price. Through 11 weeks, Mixon is now the RB4 in all of fantasy football with 172.3 points and averaging 17.2 per game. He’s now up to nine rushing touchdowns on the season and he remains one of the league’s last true workhorse RBs. The Steelers defense has softened here in recent weeks and they’re coming off a game in which Austin Ekeler was able to total four touchdowns on them, which bodes well for Mixon’s outlook here. He can be viewed as a mid-range RB1.

Wide Receivers

Diontae Johnson: Johnson has played in nine games so far this season and he is currently averaging 10.33 targets, 6.55 receptions, 79.33 receiving yards, and .44 touchdowns per contest. He is one of the most consistent fantasy assets at the WR position and he is someone that fantasy managers should feel extremely comfortable plugging into their lineups every single week. Did you know that Johnson has yet to see more than 13 targets in any single game so far this season? However, he has seen exactly 13 targets in 5 of his 9 games played. Looking forward to Week 12, the Bengals are a top-8 unit in defending opposing WRs from a fantasy standpoint, but Johnson comes with such a high floor that it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Fire up Johnson as a low-end WR1 with confidence.

Chase Claypool: Claypool wasn’t expected to do much in Week 11 as he worked his way back from injury, but he came out and put up an impressive performance against the Chargers. Claypool finished with five receptions for 93 yards on nine targets and he ended the week as the WR26 in Half PPR scoring. Looking ahead to Week 12, it’s a tough matchup on paper for Claypool and the Steelers WRs, but there’s enough upside with Claypool’s skillset to make him an intriguing fantasy option. He can be viewed as a high-end WR3 against the Bengals.

Ja’Marr Chase: Drafting Chase at No. 5 overall this past year has gone about as well as Cincinnati could have possibly hoped. Chase has exceeded expectations for fantasy managers this season and he’s helping carry teams to the fantasy football playoffs with his performance. Through 10 games, Chase now has 47 receptions for 867 yards and a shocking eight touchdowns. He’s averaging 18.4 Yards Per Reception and has an ADOT of 15.3, which speaks to his big-play ability. Even in a game last week where Burrow didn’t need to air the ball out a ton, Chase still came through for fantasy managers with a touchdown. Looking ahead to Pittsburgh, Chase should draw coverage from Cameron Sutton, who is allowing a 67% catch rate on the season and has a poor 56.9 Pro Football Focus Grade. Chase should be viewed as a mid-range/low-end WR1 this week yet again.

Tee Higgins: Higgins started out the year on fire, but he certainly hasn’t lived up to everyone’s lofty expectations here recently. Higgins hasn’t found the end zone since Week 2 against Chicago and he has yet to finish a game with more than 12 Half PPR points over that same time frame. While he still fills a crucial role for the Bengals – and he’s seeing a healthy snap count share – it just hasn’t clicked for him recently to put up the dominant production we had come to know and appreciate. The Bengals should be forced to throw the ball more this week than they did in Week 11, which will open up some opportunity for Higgins, but we do have to downgrade him slightly. He can be viewed as a low-end WR2 this week against the Steelers secondary that’s allowing the 8th-most fantasy points to opposing WRs.

Tyler Boyd: One of Boyd’s main draws in draft season was his assumed consistency. He might not bring tremendous upside each week, especially with Chase now in town, but he was at least going to be someone that fantasy managers could rely on to bring a safe floor game in and game out. Unfortunately, that consistency from Boyd really has not been there this season and he’s been a frustrating player to roster in redraft leagues. In Week 8 against the Jets, Boyd was the WR13 in Half PPR formats. However, he followed that up with a WR85 finish in Week 9 against Cleveland and then just ended the week as the WR31 in Week 11. With Chase dominating the production, it’s essentially Boyd and Higgins left battling for the leftovers in this Bengals offense and that makes it incredibly difficult to predict who is going to have the solid game. In this favorable matchup against the Steelers, Boyd can be viewed as a low-end WR3. However, we have to recognize that there’s the potential that all the production goes to the other receivers and Boyd’s left out in the cold.

Tight Ends

Pat Freiermuth: Freiermuth didn’t put up ridiculous yardage totals in Week 11, but he saved his fantasy day by finding the end zone. While it’s concerning to see his Receiving Routes Run drop from 33 to 23 last week, he still managed to see a 15.9% target share and this offense is proving that it has enough firepower still to be effective. It’s worth monitoring Eric Ebron‘s status as well heading into this matchup as he left last week’s game with a knee injury. If Ebron is out, Freiermuth should be bumped up the TE rankings slightly. Regardless, he can be viewed as a low-end TE1 that stands a very good chance of finding the end zone yet again. Update: Ebron is expected to miss significant time with his knee injury. Freiermuth can be viewed as a top-10 TE moving forward.

Cj Uzomah: Uzomah has done next to nothing here in recent weeks, but he’s still routinely on the redraft radar simply based on the TE landscape. The Steelers are only allowing 5.5 fantasy points per game on average to opposing TEs, so if you do start Uzomah this week, you’re going to be left hoping that he finds his way into the end zone. He can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end TE1.

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