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Fantasy Football Week 12 Takeaways: Surprises & Disappointments (2022)

by Andrew Seifter | @andrew_seifter | Featured Writer
Nov 28, 2022
Josh Jacobs

Josh Jacobs wants you to know the wrong #28 was the RB1 in drafts.

Thanksgiving Week is always a special one on the NFL calendar. Being around friends and/or family, it links fantasy matchups of seasons past to specific memories in a way other weeks of the season don’t.

That said, it also helps when we get a side of good football with our turkey. This week didn’t disappoint, and I’m not just saying that because my Wolverines STOMPED the Buckeyes on Saturday (although that was a pretty big reason).

The NFL delivered the goods, too. We got not one, not two, but three competitive games on Thanksgiving Day. Then, we got two games on Sunday that ended on last-second two-point conversions and two other back-and-forth games decided in overtime. While there was ugly offense from expected places (Houston, Chicago, the Rams, New Orleans, and of course, the 32nd-ranked Russell Wilson-led Broncos “offense”), most teams moved the ball more competently than usual.

While we may be suffering from the usual Monday morning “football food coma,” it wasn’t the kind of week that gave us too much heartburn or indigestion.

Top Five Surprises

Josh Jacobs shakes off injury scare, tops 300 yards from scrimmage.

Mid-week downgrades are never something you want to see, so it was at least somewhat concerning when Jacobs was added to the injury report on Friday with a calf ailment. We received word that Jacobs was likely to play well ahead of the Raiders’ 4:05 PM ET kickoff, but with Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah, and Brandon Bolden all active for the game, the risk of a reduced workload was there if Jacobs’ injury was truly significant.

Well, it wasn’t. Jacobs not only got his usual allotment of playing time; he actually played his second-most snaps of the season (61) as the game went to overtime. And he put up a stat line for the ages, rushing 33 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns while also catching six passes for 74 yards. He finished as the number one fantasy player of the week by a huge margin, including quarterbacks.

Jacobs was already having a fantastic fantasy season, but this unbelievable performance vaulted him up to the overall RB1 of the year. Next up, he gets a Chargers defense that has been gashed on the ground all year.

With an average draft position (ADP) in the fifth round, Jacobs is now the leading candidate for the fantasy MVP of 2022.

Mike White breathes life into the Jets’ offense

With the way Zach Wilson was playing, the question was not whether Wilson should be benched — it was whether the Jets should turn to Joe Flacco, who moved the offense well early in the year, or White. It looks like Robert Saleh made a good choice.

White threw as many touchdowns in his first start (three) as Wilson had thrown in his previous six games, leading New York to a resounding victory over the hapless Bears. As he had shown in glimpses last year, White kept the offense moving, making quick decisions, showing good rhythm — and not being afraid to check down to running backs when necessary. His arrival provided a huge boost to superstar-in-the-making Garrett Wilson, who hauled in five balls for 95 yards and two scores and also awoke Elijah Moore, who had his first useful stat line (2-64-1) of 2022.

While he won’t get to face Chicago every week, four of White’s five remaining games are plus matchups (@MIN, DET, JAX, @SEA). Only a Week 14 trip to Buffalo presents a major obstacle. White suddenly looks like a viable streamer, and Wilson is a must-start moving forward.

Sam Darnold brings DJ Moore back from the dead.

I know Halloween was the last holiday, but things were getting downright spooky for Moore’s fantasy managers until Darnold arrived to bring him back to life, Undertaker-style. Moore caught four balls for 103 yards and a TD against Denver, marking just the second time he’s topped 70 receiving yards this year.

Darnold isn’t the type of player you’d typically think of as a savior, and it would be a major stretch to call him a fantasy option in his own right. But prior to this year’s failed Baker Mayfield experiment, Moore put up a 1,157-yard, four-touchdown season in 2021 with Darnold as his primary quarterback. That was right in line with Moore’s numbers from the previous two seasons and a fair estimate of what we can expect from him moving forward.

Miles Sanders gets back on track.

While not quite on Josh Jacobs’ level, Sanders has proven to be a fantasy bargain this year. Typically drafted outside the top-80 picks, Sanders has returned borderline RB1 value.

If there was one thing to worry about with Sanders, it was his lack of passing game usage, an issue that has been there across multiple quarterbacks and coaching staffs but has been particularly apparent of late. Entering Sunday night, Sanders had caught a grand total of two passes for two yards over his last five games. He didn’t suddenly transform into Austin Ekeler by catching three balls for 17 yards against the Packers. But for one week at least, it didn’t matter, as Sanders burst loose for 143 yards and two scores on the ground.

None of this is to say that Sanders’ production to date is unsustainable. The Eagles are a high-scoring, powerhouse offense, and Sanders is their hammer. Enjoy the big games like this one, but just realize that the lack of receiving work will make him more touchdown-dependent and volatile from week to week.

Trevor Lawrence slices and dices the Ravens

I dubbed Week 3 as Lawrence’s “coming out party,” but that may have been a little premature. After throwing eight touchdowns and two interceptions over his first four games, TLaw endured a rough five-game stretch from Weeks 5-9 in which he tossed just three touchdowns and four interceptions. But he got back on track with a 259-yard, two-touchdown day against the Chiefs in Week 10 and then put together his best game of the season coming out of the bye, throwing for 321 yards and three scores in the Jags’ come-from-behind victory over Baltimore on Sunday.

While Christian Kirk has been Lawrence’s go-to guy all year (and will continue to be), Zay Jones stepped up against the Ravens with 11 catches for 145 yards and the game-clinching two-point conversion.

There may well be more ups and downs with Lawrence, but it’s clear that he has enough talent and weapons to be a fantasy factor under Doug Pederson’s tutelage. More QB1 performances could be on the way, with plus matchups against Detroit and Tennessee next on the schedule.

Top 5 Disappointments

Christian McCaffrey posts the first dud in 30+ healthy games

As a CMC manager, I look forward to reading Ian Hartitz’s tweet counting how many consecutive non-injured/traded games McCaffrey has had with 100+ yards and/or a touchdown each week. In other words, how many games has it been since he last posted a fantasy dud? That streak stood at 31 games entering Sunday afternoon when it came to an unceremonious end.

McCaffrey has certainly held his own since joining the 49ers from the Panthers last month, and all hope for elite production is not lost after just five games in San Francisco. But his reduced snap counts have left less margin for error. While CMC regularly played 80-90% of the snaps in Carolina, that number has hovered around 65% over his last three games with San Francisco. Despite Kyle Shanahan’s reputation as a running game genius, rushing efficiency and touchdowns have not made up for McCaffrey’s reduced playing time, at least not yet.

One reason McCaffrey’s snaps have been down is that Elijah Mitchell is one of the league’s premier backups, but Mitchell could be looking at another multi-week absence after potentially suffering his second MCL sprain of the season. Unfortunately, McCaffrey may not be fully healthy himself. He’s reportedly dealing with some “knee irritation,” so he may continue to see lighter workloads than he had with the Panthers.

Dameon Pierce flops again.

Pierce took hold of the Texans’ backfield in Week 2 and immediately became a must-start fantasy option. While his biggest games were before Houston’s Week 6 bye, Pierce never finished lower than RB20 in any game from Week 3 to Week 10.

Over the last two games, it’s been a very different story. The Texans’ offensive line has failed to open up holes against the tough defensive fronts of Washington and Miami, and Pierce has run for just 16 yards on 15 carries. While Pierce has regularly played 70+% of the snaps despite Houston regularly falling behind in games, that trend was halted on Sunday when he played only 55% of the snaps against the Dolphins.

The Texans were already a bottom-three offense in the NFL, and yet it’s entirely possible that Kyle Allen is a downgrade from Davis Mills. The lack of touchdown upside makes Pierce an RB2 rather than an RB1, but one game is not enough evidence to conclude that he will suddenly start getting subbed out in passing situations and blowouts.

Pierce gets an ideal bounce-back opportunity against the Browns’ woeful run defense next week. If he flops in that game, then we can talk about readjusting our rest-of-season expectations. Until then, keep the faith.

Travis Etienne, Michael Carter bow out early.

While Trevor Lawrence had the Jaguars’ offense cooking against Baltimore, it was a frustrating day for Etienne managers. Jacksonville’s talented bell cow back exited in the first half with a foot injury after carrying the ball twice for three yards.

While word of a foot injury is alarming for a player who missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, this injury is reportedly to Etienne’s other foot. After the game, Etienne expressed confidence that he won’t miss time, but we’ll have to see what the practice reports look like this week.

JaMycal Hasty didn’t get much going on the ground in Etienne’s absence, but he did make an impact as a receiver (5-67-1). Hasty and Darrell Henderson, who recently joined the Jags, could be worth looking at on waiver wires if Etienne’s injury is worse than anticipated.

Meanwhile, in New York/New Jersey, Carter managers may have been hoping for him to have an expanded role after James Robinson was surprisingly declared a healthy inactive on Sunday. Instead, undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight inherited most of Robinson’s snaps, while Ty Johnson also remained involved. Then Carter departed with an ankle sprain.

Tests will be done on Monday to determine how much time — if any — Carter will miss, but expect Knight and Johnson to both remain a part of the Jets’ plans regardless. Three-man committees are bad news for fantasy football, but Jets RBs have an excellent schedule during the fantasy playoffs (DET, JAX, @SEA), so whoever ends up being the lead back for those games will be a high-end RB3 at worst.

Alvin Kamara: 50 yards, two fumbles

This result wasn’t altogether surprising, as Kamara was up against a 49ers defense that allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. The bigger issue for Kamara managers is that his struggles are becoming something of a trend.

Although many people in fantasy circles may still view Kamara as a low-end RB1, he has only finished as a top-18 RB in 0.5 PPR leagues once in his last five games — and three times all season. While he remains a big part of the Saints’ passing game, Kamara has offered very little on the ground. And outside of his three-score explosion in Week 8, touchdowns have been hard to come by in New Orleans’ bottom-12 scoring offense.

Mike Evans is still not on the same page as Tom Brady.

While Chris Godwin was catching a season-high 12 passes for a season-high 110 yards and a score against Cleveland, Evans managed to haul in just two of his nine targets for 31 yards. He now has just 125 yards in his last three games combined and hasn’t found the end zone since Week 4.

The lack of production is even more concerning if you watch the Bucs play. Evans and Brady simply do not appear to be on the same page most of the time, whether it be Evans not running the route that Brady expected or their timing just being off.

While there was reason to believe that Evans’ sheer volume and red zone prowess would be enough for him to get by even if the efficiency wasn’t there, that theory is beginning to get called into question. Fantasy managers have little choice but to sit tight and hope that Evans and Brady can rediscover the chemistry that led to Evans posting 1,000+ yards and 13+ receiving TDs in both 2020 and 2021.

Key Stats

JuJu Smith-Schuster ran a route on just 44% of Patrick Mahomes‘ dropbacks.

The Chiefs eased JuJu back into action after he was a near-every-down player before suffering a concussion in Week 10. We can cautiously project that Smith-Schuster’s snaps and routes will increase next week in Cincinnati. Still, nothing is ever totally cut-and-dried in Kansas City’s perennially-shifting receiver corps.

Tyler Higbee had a putrid 34% route participation and was not targeted in Week 12.

Higbee appeared to be the last fantasy-relevant man standing for the Rams, but no longer. Higbee was mostly deployed as a blocker with a run-first quarterback and an offensive line in shambles. Given the sorry state of Sean McVay’s offense, the potential for double-digit targets was the only thing keeping Higbee on the fantasy radar. He can safely be sent to the waiver wire.

D’Onta Foreman has rushed for 100+ yards in 4 of 6 games since the Christian McCaffrey trade.

Foreman is splitting snaps pretty evenly with Chuba Hubbard, and he has no real role in the passing game, but he’s clearly an every-week RB2 in non-PPR formats. He’s essentially a poor man’s Derrick Henry. The Panthers are on bye in Week 13, but then Foreman gets exploitable matchups against Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

Top Takeaways

James Conner is an RB1.

I tend to be the high guy on Conner, but there is plenty of room on the bandwagon! On Sunday, Conner played 90+% of the snaps for the second time in three weeks. Few running backs in the league are seeing that kind of bell cow usage, and there is no doubt he has a nose for the end zone. He’s a borderline RB1, with the Cardinals’ offense trending up again.

The Commanders’ backfield is completely unpredictable, but both Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson can be started in fantasy leagues.

After falling flat in a dream matchup with Houston last week, Robinson posted the best game of his young career against Atlanta, tying or breaking his previous career highs in rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Meanwhile, Gibson had a quiet game against the Falcons after finishing as a top-16 RB in four of his previous five contests.

It’s become basically impossible to predict whether Robinson or Antonio Gibson will lead the Commanders’ backfield in any given week, but as long as it remains a two-man committee, both Washington backs bring intriguing RB3/flex appeal to the table each week.

Alright, that’s it for this week. If you like what you see here, you can get more of my thoughts on waiver wire pickups, buy-low/sell-high candidates, rest-of-season player values, and more by subscribing to the Rest of Season Rankings Podcast and going to ROSrankings.com. I’m also always happy to help you sort through injury-related conundrums or anything else fantasy-related on Twitter @andrew_seifter.


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Andrew Seifter is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrew_seifter.

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