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Week 12 Fantasy Football Recap: Surprises, Disappointments, Key Stats & Takeaways

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Nov 29, 2021
Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette stole the show in week 12.

Last week marked the beginning of the fantasy football homestretch. And as we enter December, I have just one message for you: trust what you see.

At this point in the year, we have enough games and information at our disposal to make concrete decisions based on what’s happened. Take two of the top tailbacks from Week 12 for example: Leonard Fournette and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Each week, I still feel trepidation about starting both of these guys. What if Tampa Bay goes pass heavy? What if Bruce Arians changes his mind on a whim? Is Patterson’s season a complete fluke? Is regression coming?

These are questions I ask myself as I make difficult lineup decisions. But at this point in the year, it’s safe to believe that what you’ve seen is most likely what you’ll get, with some variance of course.

As we get closer to the fantasy football playoffs, remember not to overthink it. Go with what your eyes and your gut tell you.

Let’s get into the Week 12 recap:

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The Surprises

1. Leonard Fournette steals the show in Indy

Who would’ve thought Leonard Fournette would be the star running back in the Bucs-Colts matchup? Fournette was awesome Sunday, and hopefully made your Week 12 matchup easy. He rushed for 100 yards, caught seven passes for 31 yards and scored four touchdowns. The only bummer was Fournette’s big day came at the expense of Tampa’s passing game, as Tom Brady threw for just 226 yards and one touchdown.

What should we do from here? If like me, you had doubts starting a Buccaneers running back, Fournette’s performance should give you plenty of reassurance. While this game is most likely Fournette’s peak, he should be a weekly fixture in your lineup.

2. Jaylen Waddle arrives

It’s been a pretty good season for the top rookie wideouts, and Jaylen Waddle had his day in Week 12. Waddle finished as the top receiver of Week 12, catching nine balls for 137 yards and a touchdown.

What should we do from here? Waddle should probably be considered a low-end WR2 going forward. He and Tua Tagovailoa have quickly reestablished their connection from their Alabama days. And Waddle’s speed and ability to break big plays gives him weekly upside.

3. Deebo Samuel finishes at top 5 WR with only one catch

Should Deebo Samuel get running back eligibility? Kyle Shanahan seems to think so. Samuel finished as the WR5 despite catching just one pass for 12 yards. Samuel did the bulk of his work on the ground, rushing six times for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

What should we do from here? We need to first closely monitor Samuel’s health, as he left the game late with a groin injury. While Samuel mainly left the game as a precaution, he’ll undergo an MRI Monday to determine the severity of his injury. Hopefully, Samuel won’t miss anytime. And maybe our fantasy platforms can give him running back eligibility in time for the playoffs.

4. Dontrell Hilliard could be the key pickup for the stretch run

The Tennessee Titans got blown out by the New England Patriots Sunday, but a potential waiver wire league winner might’ve been born Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Dontrell Hilliard led Tennessee’s backfield with 131 rushing yards on 12 carries, including a 68-yard touchdown run. He finished as the RB9.

What should we do from here? Hilliard is definitely worth adding in all leagues. D’Onta Foreman got plenty of work Sunday too, rushing 19 times for 109 yards. But I’m curious to see if Hilliard sees an increased workload after the bye week against Jacksonville. Stash Hilliard for now and see how Tennessee deploys him in two weeks.

The Disappointments

1. Lamar Jackson

Maybe Jackson finishing as the QB16 is a miracle, not a disappointment, considering he threw four interceptions in Sunday night’s win over Cleveland. Let’s be real though, Jackson was awful, completing 20-of-32 passes for just 165 yards, a touchdown and four picks. His 68 rushing yards salvaged an otherwise miserable day.

What should we do from here? Jackson’s rushing ability protects his downside even in games like this. But it’s getting harder to trust Jackson as a reliable fantasy starter anyways. Opposing defenses seem to be figuring this Ravens offense out. Jackson can still put up great numbers, but he feels more matchup dependent than ever. Proceed with caution.

2. Cam Newton

What a fall from grace for Cam Newton. He went from proclaiming he was back to being benched in a matter of weeks. Newton completed just 5-of-21 passes for 92 yards and two picks. A rushing touchdown gave him some value, but he was awful.

What should we do from here? At this point, the entire Carolina offense is a stay away from me, aside from Christian McCaffrey, who left the game with an ankle injury. Newton may get another crack after Carolina’s bye week, but this feels like the end for the former MVP.

3. Saquon Barkley

It just doesn’t feel meant to be for Barkley this season. Barkley rushed for 40 yards on 13 carries and caught four passes for 13 yards in New York’s ugly win over Philadelphia.

What should we do from here? It’s so hard to say this considering you likely spent a first-round pick on Barkley. But like I said up top, we have to trust what we see and not hope for things to change suddenly. Barkley is currently the RB43 and he’s on a pretty lousy offense that doesn’t have much upside moving forward. I wouldn’t blame you one bit if you benched him.

Week 12 By the Numbers

165: Joe Mixon‘s rushing yards against Pittsburgh.

134: Hunter Renfrow‘s receiving yards on Thanksgiving against Dallas.

133: Elijah Mitchell‘s rushing yards against the Vikings.

123: Rob Gronkowski and Darnell Mooney‘s receiving yard totals.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato

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