Thanks for coming back for another weekly start and sit article. The fantasy football season is nearly here and gone, so let’s enjoy this week and get that W! Before we dive into my Week 12 Starts and Sits, don’t forget to join our free Slack community. I’ve had a lot of fun interacting with the #TFAFam and we’d love to see some new faces in the channels. With that out of the way, let’s get to it.
*Spreads and O/U numbers below are pulled from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
- NO -8.5
- O/U 47
The Panthers come into this one trying to break a two-game losing streak while the Saints will try to build upon a turn-around performance against Tampa Bay in Week 11. The clear matchup to be exploited here is Alvin Kamara versus Carolina’s run funnel defense. Carolina has had a bottom-ranked run defense all year and currently sits at 32nd in rush defense DVOA. That alone is enough to get you excited for Kamara, but if you needed something else, PFF has the Saints run-blocking unit at third across the NFL. Although Carolina’s passing defense is much better (7th in DVOA) and James Bradberry was able to play last week, Michael Thomas is still an elite option this week. As mentioned on this week’s TFA Podcast, Thomas has spent nearly 21% of his snaps in the slot this year. Even if Bradberry is able to keep Thomas in check, HC Sean Payton will just slide MT inside. For Carolina, things aren’t looking as rosy recently and this isn’t a “get right” spot by any means. New Orleans’ defense has been improving and rank fourth in Football Outsider’s recency weighted metric (less emphasis on earlier season games). Marshon Lattimore’s availability is still unknown, but his absence would obviously be welcomed by Carolina.
Start: Everyone except Kyle Allen
Sit: Kyle Allen
YOLO Play: Ted Ginn – there really aren’t many dart throw kinda plays here as the touches are concentrated for both Carolina and New Orleans.
Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills
- BUF -4
- O/U 37.5
What an ugly game and game total. Both teams are in the bottom 8 in terms of half-PPR fantasy points allowed per game to wide receivers and both are in PFF’s top 5 for coverage grades. The Broncos rush defense has turned around from their early-season woes, while Buffalo is more vulnerable on the ground. Here are rushing totals from the Bills most recent games: Jordan Howard/Miles Sanders – 170 yards, Adrian Peterson – 108 yards, and Nick Chubb – 116 yards. (Last week they played Miami so that basically doesn’t count for anything). Denver has a top-1o rushing offense DVOA as well as a top-10 run-blocking grade.
Start: Phillip Lindsay
Sit: Courtland Sutton
YOLO Play: Tim Patrick – In his first action since week one, Patrick played 73% of the snaps, had 8 targets, and ran just four fewer routes than Sutton. Tre’Davious White will be plastered to Sutton all game, potentially making life easier for Patrick.
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins
- DET -3.5
- O/U 41.5
The game we’ve all been waiting for: Jeff Driskel vs Dwayne Haskins! I tried. While it may not be the sexiest game of all time, there are fantasy matchups we can exploit here. Both defenses are in the bottom six of FO’s Weighted metric, bottom nine in pass DVOA, and are marginally better against the run via DVOA. Fantasy wise, however, Detroit averages the most half-PPR fantasy points per game allowed to running backs while Washington checks in at eighth-most.
Start: Jeff Driskel, Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Terry McLaurin
Sit: T.J. Hockenson, Dwayne Haskins
YOLO Play: Bo Scarbrough – It’s extremely difficult to trust anything in this Detroit backfield, but Scarbrough should have game flow in his favor, and last week he out-snapped both Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic playing his first game.
Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns
- CLE -11
- O/U 44.5
This is a simple one: it’s a (mostly?) competent offense who get to line up against the Dolphins defense. Cleveland is a middle-of-the-road defense that should be better based on talent alone. In terms of their fantasy points allowed per game allowed, here is how that looks: QB-12th, RB-20th, WR-24th, TE-12th. They’re not a shutdown unit by any means, but the issue is their opponent’s offense.
Start: Cleveland offense, DeVante Parker
Sit: Kalen Ballage
YOLO Play: Albert Wilson – Bert saw six targets last week while running the third-most routes amongst their receiving group. With Ward and Williams on the outside for Cleveland, Wilson could be in a plus matchup.
New York Giants at Chicago Bears
- CHI -6.5
- O/U 40.5
This slate so far is not great, to say the least. As with most games, however, we can find something to help our fantasy teams. For the Bears offense, the Giants don’t have any matchup problems that would need to be avoided and can be had through the air and on the ground. The G-Men are giving up the eighth-most passing yards per game and the tenth-most rushing yards per game. All of this sounds great until you remember the Bears offense has been a colossal disappointment this season. Flipping sides, the Bears defense is still one of the better ones in the NFL, but not what they were last year. Chicago is quietly giving up the tenth-most fantasy points per game to running backs along with giving up the second-most receptions out of the backfield. Their secondary has been far better, but have still given up some good passing days to guys like Joe Flacco (372 yards) and Case Keenum (332).
Start: Allen Robinson, Saquon Barkley, David Montgomery
Sit: Daniel Jones
YOLO Play: Darius Slayton – The matchup isn’t great, but all it takes is one big play from the Auburn rookie to hit FLEX-level value in your lineups. Slayton’s aDOT is 14.8 yards which easily leads the Giants receivers.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets
- OAK -3
- O/U 46/5
Another gross game from strictly an NFL game viewpoint, but one we can benefit from for our fantasy teams. Neither team is particularly strong defensively and both teams have plays at every position. The Jets have surprisingly given up the fewest rushing yards per game all season, and have only given up more than 100 total rushing yards three times (Buffalo, Dallas, Jacksonville). You’re not sitting Josh Jacobs, but temper your expectations. Over the past three weeks, both Sam Darnold and Derek Carr are fantasy QB1s (7 and 10, respectively) while Jamison Crowder is tied for the WR1 with Tyreek Hill in half-PPR. The Raiders have allowed the sixth-most passing yards per game while the Jets just gave up less than 249 passing yards for the first time since Week 5 this past week.
Start: Both passing attacks
Sit: Robby Anderson
YOLO Play: Ryan Griffin – Griffin has been a full-time player in Chris Herndon’s absence and has games of 19+ fantasy points in two of his past four. The Raiders give up the third-most fantasy points per game to the position.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
- PIT -6.5
- O/U 38.5
Woof. Just when you think it can’t get uglier, here come the hapless Bengals and the (literally) beaten up Steelers. Pittsburgh looks like they’ll be without their two top wideouts in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson as well as James Conner. Mason Rudolph hasn’t been able to be fantasy viable with those guys on the field, so this really doesn’t bode well for him, even against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. On the other side, Pittsburgh has been playing great defense while the Bengals have been bungling their way on offense. There really isn’t much to see here.
Start: Joe Mixon, Jaylen Samuels
Sit: Mason Rudolph, Ryan Finley, Tyler Boyd
YOLO Play: Vance McDonald – This is a play based on the fact the Steelers will have basically nobody else to throw to. James Washington as a team’s WR1? Not in 2019, pal.
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles
- PHI -1.5
- O/U 47.5
This ain’t your Pappy’s Seattle defense. The Hawks have been completely average on the defensive side this year, with DVOAs at 16 and 18 for their rush and pass defense, respectively. Seattle is also surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Carson Wentz may have a difficult time taking advantage of Seattle’s secondary, however, with a banged up Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor on the wrong side of questionable.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times this year: the Eagles are a pass funnel defense. They’re allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs while allowing the fifth-most points to receivers. Despite initially sounding like a long-term injury, Tyler Lockett seems to be trending towards returning for this game.
Start: Seahawks passing attack, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert
Sit: Carson Wentz
YOLO Play: Jacob Hollister – Hollister is averaging 6 targets per game over his last four games and with the tight end landscape as thin as it is, you could do worse for a “cross my fingers for a touchdown” type of play.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
- Atlanta -4
- O/U 51
A good ol’ NFC South shootout. Here’s another straightforward game with no hidden gems. You’re playing all of the passing game options in this one. Although Atlanta’s defense seems to have turned it around over their past two games, I’m still hesitant to completely buy in on this turnaround. Jameis Winston is what he is and while it may not be great for his NFL future, fantasy owners certainly don’t mind his chuck-it-at-will playing style. So even if Atlanta makes it three straight games of stingy defensive play, Winston can still give you a solid fantasy day.
Start: Both QBs and all relevant receivers
Sit: Brian Hill, Ronald Jones
YOLO Play: Russell Gage – It’s the Bucs secondary. Need I say more?
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
- TEN -3.5
- O/U 41.5
We have a run-first team going up against a team that wants to #ReEstablishTheRun. Very, very exciting stuff. This offensive philosophy does bode well for the Titans, however, as the Jags are giving up the fourth-most rushing yards per game to go along with the third-worst rush DVOA. For Jacksonville? Not great news going up against Tennessee as they rank 2nd in PFF’s rush defense grade and rank 4th in rush DVOA. The Titans are more vulnerable through the air, giving up the 11th-most passing yards per game and pass rush and coverage grades in the bottom half of the league.
Start: Derrick Henry, Dede Westbrook, Leonard Fournette (volume play)
Sit: Titans tight ends, especially if Delanie Walker is active
YOLO Play: None
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
- NE -6
- O/U 44.5
I’m really interested in this game to see what the Patriots are going to do defensively in terms of how Belichick schemes for the Dallas offense. We always hear the narrative about New England taking away your strength. Do they load the box to stop Ezekiel Elliott? Focus on Dak Prescott and the passing game? Something interesting will be how they defend Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cooper has been banged up for most of the season and last week played just 41% of the snaps, his lowest outside of Week 6 when he left after the first drive. Will Gilmore be glued to Cooper and Gallup gets doubled? This will be fun to watch from those perspectives.
The Patriots defense is putting up elite statistical numbers and as good as they have been, we have to look at who they’ve played. The Cowboys will be the most complete offense they’ve faced to this point. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens made them look pedestrian. Nick Chubb ran for 131 yards against them the week before that. There’s no doubt Stephon Gilmore is one of, if not the top corner in the NFL, but I don’t think fantasy players have to be overly concerned with any Cowboys they may have rostered. For Dallas defensively, they’ve been another middle of the road team with no clear matchup advantages. They have given up the ninth-most receptions and seventh-most receiving yards to running backs, so maybe we see more involvement from Rex Burkhead and James White.
Start: You can honestly start any piece you would normally start here
Sit: Jason Witten I guess? I’m not ready to trust N’Keal Harry even with Mohamed Sanu likely scratched
YOLO Play: I’ll give you two here. Ben Watson – The Cowboys outside corners have been quietly strong all season, and they’re giving up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to the position. Randall Cobb – New England’s corner play is legit and if there is a soft spot with this defense, it’s in the middle. Cobb has over 100 yards and a score in back to back weeks, along with at 8 targets in two of his past three.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
- SF -3
- O/U 47.5
This is a big game for the NFC playoff picture with both of these teams currently looking at first-round byes. San Fran, like the Patriots, has a dominant defense but hasn’t faced the strongest of offenses. Where a weakness lies with the 49ers is their rush defense. They rank 19th in DVOA and have a PFF rank of 22nd and haven’t allowed fewer than 100 total rushing yards since Week 3. The ‘9ers passing defense comes in at second in DVOA while only allowing 142.5 passing yards per game, fewest in the NFL. It appears they will be without Dee Ford which would only make the Packers fourth-ranked pass blocking offensive line job easier. The Packers have talent in their secondary but haven’t been a shutdown unit. Their rush defense, however, is their clear weakness. Green Bay has given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields as well as the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs. If George Kittle plays, he could be walking into a great matchup as the Packers have given up the sixth-most yards and fifth-most touchdowns to tight ends.
Start: Aaron Jones, Tevin Coleman, 49ers tight end
Sit: Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, any Green Bay receiver not named Davante Adams
YOLO Play: Ross Dwelley, Raheem Mostert, Jamaal Williams
Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Rams
- BAL -3
- O/U 46.5
Let’s just cut to the chase here. This game is all about Lamar Jackson and how the Rams can stop (limit?) him. The Rams come into this contest looking capable of doing so on paper: rushing DVOA – 3rd, PFF rush defense – 5th, PFF pass rush – 2nd, PFF coverage grade – 3rd. The Ravens defense is on the upswing with as they’ve gotten healthier on that side of the ball. FO’s recency-weighted metric has Baltimore’s defense ranked eighth with their pass DVOA ranked third.
Start: Mark Andrews, Todd Gurley
Sit: Jared Goff, Marquise Brown
YOLO Play: None
Thanks for checking out the Week 12 Starts and Sits article. If you have any suggestions on how to make this better, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of us on Twitter or in the Slack chat. Best of luck this week and going forward!