Welcome to your Start/Sit for Week 12!
If you managed to stay alive in the playoff hunt this past week, good job. This week’s no different, as we’re now only a couple of weeks away from the fantasy post-season. This week is the last bye week of the year, so make sure you find effective streaming options and start/sit options as you make your way towards a title.
As per the usual, here’s my master key to give you an idea of how I break down these players:
Start: These are players who have an enticing matchup, and could prove a massive asset to your fantasy team due to a vulnerability by an opposing defense or a breakout performance.
Flex Start: Players in a flex position are also usually controlled by a game script, but this opportunity benefits them (such as a WR2 receiving less attention than the WR1, thus increasing odds for a good performance).
Sit: Players in this category have a poor matchup and could be rendered completely useless by game script or a digression in opportunities.
Sleeper: For players that fly under the radar, the sleepers are potential breakouts for this particular matchup. Players that are not considered as big of a threat but have an increase in things such as targets or snap counts are ideal for this category. They could surprise you for the week with a big game.
Teams on Bye this Week: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings
Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles
** Quarterback Start of the Week **: Russell Wilson (QB)
The man has been on a tyrannical rampage this season, enjoying the lowest interception percentage of his career (0.6% of passes) and his highest QB rating to date (114.9). While the Eagles are fairly in the middle in points allowed to quarterbacks, Wilson and the Seahawks have been outright explosive. He’ll take advantage of a battered secondary this week and finish as a QB1, as he has most weeks.
Fire up your Metcalves.
Philadelphia is currently allowing the 8th-most points to wide receivers (39.0 ppg). Lockett is practicing in a limited fashion, so keep an eye on him and the injury report to make sure that he sees the field.
Start: Chris Carson (RB)
Carson, meanwhile, has a tougher task ahead. The Eagles are currently the 8th-toughest matchup for running backs but don’t be alarmed. He’s been a dominant fantasy force all season and is the clear workhorse on his team though, so don’t even consider benching himself unless you have top tier guys to replace him.
The heir-apparent to Will Dissly has enjoyed back-to-back great games, bumping him all the way up from nothingness to TE No. 35 on the season. Wilson’s trusted him in the red zone at crucial times, and I think you should too. He’s rostered in only 15% of leagues, but he’s looking a lot like the next great tight end this season. Scoop and score.
Gordon is still situating himself into this offense. He’s really only in flex consideration if Lockett somehow is out this week. Downgrade him to a sit if Lockett is indeed in, but keep him close in case there’s a last-second change around.
Sit: Rashaad Penny (RB)
An already negative game script makes a 2nd-stringer to a workhorse less and less pretty as the season drags on. He lost a fumble last game, so he actually hurt you if you had him in your lineup. Bench him (or drop him).
This is of course based upon the availability of Alshon. He has a real shot to play after two weeks off with a wide-receiver-friendly matchup and a mutual trust with Carson Wentz. Ertz, meanwhile, has been steadfast in the rollercoaster fantasy production that’s been Carson’s season and should see plenty of looks.
Flex Start: Dallas Goedert (TE)
Goedert is also in a good position this week. With a susceptible tight end defense, Ertz may see more looks, but Goedert is still a startable asset if he’s needed.
Despite a favorable matchup, I just can’t be excited by Wentz after the catastrophe the past month has been. He’s only posted three games above 20.0 points in PPR formats and hasn’t had a good game since Week 6! I’m out on him until further notice (or until he faces Miami in Week 13, the Giants, Washington, Dallas, and the Giants again). The rest of these guys are hurt or not explosive enough to garner attention from me. Sit ’em.
Sleeper: Jay Ajayi (RB)
Unless he’s just an emergency backup, Ajayi should be in for a nice game with his former team. Howard’s questionability and Sanders’ durability aside, Ajayi knows the offense and is seemingly ready for action. He’s a risky as hell flex, but the upside is too great to ignore.
Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins
A rapport with new QB Jeff Driskel bumps Jones up from flex to a high-end WR2. Golladay is still the No. 1, but he’s seen less fantasy production since Driskel took the reins. All of these guys see a positive matchup this week against a down-and-out Redskins team that’s middling against wideouts and quarterbacks. Stream Driskel if you need a QB this week.
Flex Start: N/A
Who knows what the workload is for any of these guys. A committee in place of a former one-man show and a seldom-targeted tight end doesn’t equal much for fantasy. Bench them.
Start: Derrius Guice (RB)
This is nuts, but Guice is my only start. Honestly, I’m excited for this guy to really get going. He’s missed his first season and a half of football and now gets his chance to finally show what he can do. He replaces Adrian Peterson as the main guy in the backfield and gets his easiest matchup of the year with a Lions team that’s dead last against the run.
Flex Start: Terry McLaurin (WR)
This may be the last time you even want to take a shot on McLaurin this season. Detroit’s allowing 38.5 points on average to wideouts, but Terry’s pretty boom-or-bust. Take a shot on him if you feel confident.
Haskins hasn’t done enough to warrant fantasy consideration yet. Peterson DNP two days in a row this week and Thompson is questionable for Sunday. Save yourself some trouble and don’t take a risk with these guys.
Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets
Must Start: Tyrell Williams (WR)
Williams has had a quiet month since his return from injury back in Week 8. This week, I’m calling my shot on Tyrell. He’s going to have a big game, with the Jets giving up 41.1 points a game to wideouts (4th-most) and the 10th-most passing touchdowns in the league (18).
A porous secondary means a great matchup for a QB and his No. 1 passing weapon, setting up Carr and Waller for Top-10 weeks. Jacobs has a tougher match on deck, but his volume and high carry numbers make him an every-week starter.
Flex Start: N/A
Light usage doesn’t make for trustworthy assets. Sit ’em.
Sam Darnold must’ve read what I typed last week because he came out and threw 4 touchdowns and had the best game of his career. He’s a viable streamer against a weak Raiders secondary and is available on the waiver wire basically everywhere. Bell and Crowder also make their hay in PPR and should see plenty of looks. Griffin also came out and had a great game; he’s trusted in and around the end zone by Darnold, so I don’t expect that to change.
Flex Start: N/A
Anderson has done nothing with his opportunities, and Thomas has been dealing with a hamstring injury this week. I don’t trust them and neither should you.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
** Wide Receiver Start of the Week **: D.J. Moore (WR)
A New Orleans team that’s allowing 36.7 points a game to wideouts (13th in the NFL) and a missing defensive piece (Marshon Lattimore) sets up Allen No. 1 wideout for a killer outing this week.
Must Start: Christian McCaffrey (RB)
A weekly starter in all formats.
Start: Greg Olsen (TE)
Allen’s top targets have enjoyed solid stat lines the past few weeks, introducing Olsen back to fantasy relevance and pushing him into TE1 territory. The Saints have allowed 10.6 points a game to tight ends, but Olsen demands enough looks (especially in PPR) to be a weekly starter.
Flex Start: Curtis Samuel (WR)
Sit: Kyle Allen (QB)
Allen threw 4 interceptions last week against a team that’s supposed to be one of the easiest to throw on. Sit him.
** Running Back Start of the Week **: Alvin Kamara (RB)
Kamara has one touchdown on the year, but I don’t think it’s out of the question to see him get 2 this week. Super KaMario gets a Carolina rush defense that is one of the most forgiving in the league, having allowed a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns.
Elite talent means leaving them in your lineup. While Brees is slightly less matchup-proof then he has been in the past, this is a positive game script for the veteran signal-caller.
Flex Start: N/A
The Panthers have been dominant at shutting down tight ends. Cook has been solid in his recent games, but I’m tempering my expectations for him this week against Kuechly’s defense. Ginn also made good on his WR2 status, but it was only on the back of 2 receptions and a TD. Murray was steadfast in Kamara’s absence, but he’s little more than a change of pace back while Kamara’s in. Sit these guys this week.
Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns
Flex Start: DeVante Parker (WR)
Get used to seeing Parker in consideration every week. Cleveland is among the Top-10 toughest matchups for receivers, but Parker’s volume and trust with Fitz make him a weekly starter, whether it’s a high-end flex or a low-end WR1.
None of these players are steady enough to consider putting into your lineups. Ballage has the backfield mostly to himself now, but if he can’t do anything with it this week (especially with Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi out), he’ll be reduced to a committee with rookies Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird.
Must Start: Nick Chubb (RB)
While Kareem Hunt continues to hawk the ball from Chubb in the passing game, this is such a plus matchup that it may not even matter. The Dolphins are a doormat for Chubb to wipe his RB1 cleats on before entering Week 13.
The Browns are slowly coming to life with back-to-back wins against the Bills and Steelers. Mayfield gets another chance to try and make up for his bust status with a Miami team that’s allowing 21.8 points a game to quarterbacks (7th-most). Landry has also established himself as the more consistent and efficient wideout and will be in a similar game script this week. Just like Josh Allen and John Brown last week, I expect these guys to connect efficiently and often.
Standard formats notwithstanding, these guys make their payday in PPR. I don’t expect either to see the end zone, but they have high upsides in a game where they could see plenty of looks.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Start: Jaylen Samuels (RB)
What a difference a week makes. With Conner out for the foreseeable future, it’s Samuel’s backfield. The Bengals are allowing the 5th-most points to running backs (28.2), setting the 2nd-year back up for an RB1 showing.
Flex Start: N/A
Rudolph is not a good quarterback, and that hurts offensive players that rely on him.
Flex Start: Joe Mixon (RB)
Mixon’s put up 17 points in three straight outings, and while it’s possible he could make it four, this week presents a tougher challenge. The Steelers are just as good on defense as they are bad on offense, so expect an upside of RB2 numbers if Mixon is able to perform against this Top-6 rush defense.
Inefficient wideout usage and leaning on the run game takes Finley and Boyd outside the starting tier.
Sleeper: Tyler Eifert (TE)
Pittsburgh’s allowing 13.1 points a game to tight ends. While no longer a big-play kind of guy, Eifert certainly has the opportunity (if nothing else) this week.
New York Giants @ Chicago Bears
Must Start: Saquon Barkley (RB)
Hey, remember Saquon? Well, he’s going to make sure to jog your memory this week. The Bears are allowing 25.4 points a game to running backs. Seeing as he’s the running back (seriously, do they even use Wayne Gallman anymore??), Saquon’s set up nicely for a huge bounce-back game. He needs it.
Flex Start: N/A
A bad aerial matchup shoots down any other hopeful starters on this team. Engram is still out, so he’ll miss out on an excellent matchup…
Sleeper: Scott Simonson (TE)
…But this guy won’t. A primarily blocking tight end could make a huge impact as a quiet red zone target for Daniel Jones against a team that is terrrrrrible against tight ends. This is the deepest of deep sleeper picks, so roll with this one if you’re playing against someone who hasn’t set their lineup in 6 weeks.
Start: Allen Robinson II (WR)
The poor man’s James White, Tarik the Dinosaur Hunter is rostered in 70% of ESPN and might be available for you to pick up and play this week. He’s a PPR machine and has back-to-back games with a receiving touchdown. Montgomery is also in flex consideration, but I’m low on him for this one. The Giants are middle of the pack in terms of rush defense; if Trubisky can’t get it done through the air (shocker), he may see more use in any kind of garbage time.
Don’t let the past couple of weeks fool you; inconsistency is too prevalent to trust either of these wideouts this year.
Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills
A tough road matchup with a quarterback making his third career start and a shutdown secondary make me nervous to roll either of these guys out at all. There’s certainly upside, but it limits Sutton and Lindsay to flex territory. Be wary.
The Bills are 4th against QB’s and 1st against TE. Don’t do it.
Start: Josh Allen (QB)
I expect this to be a low-scoring game, but Josh Allen might put up another huge game on the ground. His damage is done with his legs, and I expect plenty of scrambling to get away from Von Miller in this game.
Chris Harris Jr. is going to be all over John Brown, yet Brown’s always found a way to deliver for you this year. He’s a high-end flex with super-high touchdown upside. Singletary is also considered a flex for me this week, but I’m much more down on him. This is the toughest run defense he’s faced all year; he’s going to be challenged on the ground constantly. Look elsewhere first before you slot him in this week.
Oh, Beasley. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to be down on you this week. I expect the theatrics to be at a low during this low-scoring affair; downgrade these guys for the time being (I just hope Gore gets that rushing title – he’s close).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
Must Start: Mike Evans (WR)
An opportunity to blow up an exposed Falcons secondary sets the No. 2 fantasy receiver up for another stand-out performance.
Start: Jameis Winston (QB)
Winston is a terrific streaming option this week. While the revitalization of Atlanta’s defense should be noted, Winston has two top-tier wideouts to toss the ball to. He’s a low-end Qb1 with upside.
A dip in production over the past month has Godwin digressing into a reliable WR2 range. This is as good as it gets for matchups, though, so there’s a high upside for the speedster. Jones will have a harder time on the ground, but his command of carries over Barber gives him a nod in the RB2 direction.
At this point, it could be either Howard or Brate that shows up. A promising Week 10 followed by a tipped interception makes Howard too hard to trust, and Barber’s usage offers zero fantasy guarantees.
An aerial battle like this doesn’t happen every week, so let’s sit back and enjoy the fireworks. While Atlanta is 27th against wideouts, Tampa Bay is actually worse. This should be a nice high-scoring affair; don’t be surprised if we see another overtime game this week.
Start: Calvin Ridley (WR)
An amazing matchup for Jones makes a great matchup for Ridley. The duo gets a Bucs team that’s allowing the most points a game to wideouts, a league-leading 46.7. He’s a high-end WR2.
Flex Start: N/A
Like good is the enemy of great, inconsistency is the enemy of reliability. Ergo, don’t play them.
Sleeper: Jaeden Graham (TE)
Austin Hooper-lite gets a Bucs team that’s allowing 17.8 points a game to the position. Luke Stocker is active this week, but he’s mainly a blocker and doesn’t see very many looks. Graham’s caught every pass that’s been thrown his way this season, including two last week. Let’s go for 5 and a touchdown in this game.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
A middling Colts defense has proven beatable in recent weeks. Nick Foles’ rapport with 2nd-year breakout receiver Chark and a heavy workload for Fournette to work with place these guys comfortably in a starting tier.
Flex Start: N/A
Until we see an aerial connection, the only receiver I’m remotely comfortable with trusting is Chark.
Must Start: Derrick Henry (RB)
The Jags are allowing 28.3 points a game on average to opposing running backs, good for 4th in the league. Henry is a no-brainer this week.
Start: Ryan Tannehill (QB)
Tannehill has been terrific since he took the helm, guiding the Titans to a 3-1 record since Week 7. He’s a viable streamer (only rostered in about 14.7% of ESPN leagues), and his emergence as a reliable QB2 in deep leagues means you should probably hold onto him for the rest of season.
Flex Start: N/A
This is a rollercoaster of a roster that the Titans have employed, and unfortunately for you, all of these guys are too short to ride. Tell ‘em to take a hike and bench them.
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots
I almost downgraded Zeke to flex and Dak to a sit, but this offense has been too explosive. They will, of course, be limited in their effectiveness. I would look elsewhere before starting Dak (I’ve already covered several streamers) as this Pats defense is 1st against quarterbacks (10.2 points per game). They’re also 1st against running backs (13.8 ppg), so temper Zeke’s upside.
Flex Start: N/A
This New England team is 1st against wideouts and 8th against tight ends. This is 2019 Jason Witten. He’s going to be contained.
Sleeper: Blake Jarwin (TE)
Much like last week’s Dallas Goedert (2 for 2 on DG predictions btw), I feel a red zone opportunity coming Jarwin’s way. This is more of a pick and play, but if you want to take a shot and risk it, I can’t blame you.
The confidence in these two starts rests solely if you have them in a PPR format. The reliable target machines for Brady have a tough match this week with a stingy Cowboys defenses. They’re both mid-range WR & RB2s.
Flex Start: N/A
A challenging Dallas defense and a lack of opportunities severely undercut the upside of these guys this week.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood is in for quite the skirmish this week as they vie to defeat Jimmy G and the 49ers.
These difference makers are going to be the main targets against a defense that has been shutting down offenses all season.
Flex Start: Jamaal Williams (RB)
This is more of Carlos Hyde-Esque boom-or-bust classification. He’s okay to run as a flex, but I’d find better flex options first before settling in on Williams.
This is a challenging matchup already, especially for quarterbacks. Those low on the depth chart who aren’t likely to receive looks won’t be much of a factor for this one.
This is a prime matchup for two of Jimmy G’s biggest weapons. The Packers are at the bottom of the barrel in terms of tight end and running back defense. Kittle may be out there this week, but if he’s unable to go again than Ross Dwelley is more than capable of taking over that role again.
When given the opportunity, Mostert has been highly effective. I expect Breida to be out again this week, setting up the explosive young playmaker for plenty of action.
This is also a challenging matchup for wide receivers, but Sanders should see a nice amount of looks and Deebo has proven more than capable in Sanders’ stead. They’re both risky flex picks this week with high upside, especially is Kittle is out.
While I expect Breida to miss at least another week, Jimmy G has a stout Packers defense to throw against. They’ve allowed the 2nd-lowest pass completion rate (59.7%) and only 12.2 points on average to quarterbacks. He’s a definite sit this week.
Baltimore Ravens @ Los Angeles Rams
** Tight End Start of the Week **: Mark Andrews (TE)
Andrews gets a Rams defense that’s fairly middling against tight ends. Two weeks ago, he tore apart a Cincinnati team that was the 4th-toughest against the position. His final stat line? 6 receptions for 53 yards and 2 touchdowns. Go figure.
Must Start: Lamar Jackson (QB)
Lamar Jackson is playing at a different right now. There’s no reason to take him out of your lineup.
Start: Mark Ingram II (RB)
The Rams are the 11th-toughest against the run, allowing only 22.2 points a game. Ingram’s volume is more than enough to get him over the jump, so he’s a solid RB2 for this game.
Flex Start: N/A
Sit: Marquise Brown (WR)
He’s too up and down to trust weekly.
Start: Cooper Kupp (WR)
He’s had a rough go of it lately, but he’s still the No. 1 on the team. There’s a reason you keep him locked in; he’s a game-breaking player and a talent that warrants a weekly start.
The Ravens are dominant all over the field, but the wideouts employed by Sean McVay are deadly (when healthy) in their own right. Gurley is still workhorse-ish and should see plenty of check-downs from Goff if this team is to keep the chains moving.
Baltimore is 6th and 4th against quarterbacks and tight ends respectively, so don’t bank on these guys if you need them to come through in a big way this week.
Zach Hargis is a writer for Dynasty Football Digest. He enjoys playing the drums, doing voice impressions, and quoting The Office. If any of those things interest you, he welcomes you to follow him on Twitter @ZachFFDrummer and to check out his personal interests on Instagram @zakktastic.