Hello everyone, and welcome to another installment of our Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em series.
Hopefully all of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday full of great family, friends, food and hockey! Can’t you believe that the Canadiens clawed out another close win against Carolina, and now they are 15-4-2! If only they could start Carey Price every game…. oh, and the Cowboys are 10-1 I guess. I dunno.
We are now one week away from being one week away from the fantasy playoffs, and I hope most of you (hopefully all?) are looking good for some fantasy postseason action, and if you aren’t, hopefully you are close! And if you are at the bottom of your league… well, there is always next year.
I can definitely say that I have greatly enjoyed my time here at Razzball currently over these past two years, and I believe this is a direct result of how awesome some of these writers are here. One of which being my good friend Tehol. Over these past two weeks, Tehol has finished 4th and 2nd out of all of the other experts in the FantasyPros rankings challenge, and I want to give him some mad props for it. If you are feeling good about your team, double-check some of your crucial week-to-week decisions with the Lord himself to get the edge on your competition. You won’t regret it.
Alright, enough jabber. Let’s get to Week 12!
Start of the Week: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo
It finally happened you guys! I did it! A “Start of the Week” actually did well for once! After many weeks of sub-par performances from my cover guys, I finally was able to have a “Start of the Week” put up a very nice game, and boy did Steve Smith do that exactly against the Cowboys, even in the loss. So let’s keep it going, shall we?
McCoy was one of the most consistent backs in the NFL right before his injury a couple of weeks ago, and although he did not put up a major statline against Cincinnati last week (although he did find the endzone), he’s still a weekly RB1 that you are starting, unless there is injury problems.
McCoy will get a great opportunity to put up a big statline this week against Jacksonville, a defensive front that looks good on paper, but has only been average this season, allowing close to 124 all-purpose yards per game on average, with 0.7 TD’s in the process, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 23-best team against the run.
What’s even better for McCoy’s value for the upcoming week is that the Bills will be without backup RB Mike Gillislee with a hamstring injury. With only Reggie Bush to take some work away from McCoy, the normal bell-cow back will be even more bell-cowy (if that is a word) that usual.
Fire him up with confidence.
Note: I will be more than happy to answer specific lineup questions below, but I won’t be selecting the “obvious” plays unless I don’t think they are so obvious. Regardless of a great matchup, you won’t see names like Tom Brady, David Johnson or Antonio Brown. Those are no-brainers. Fire ’em up with confidence.
Cam Newton (@ OAK)
Newton hasn’t played the way we would have wanted him to play after winning the MVP last year, but against this Raiders defense, we should see some of last year’s Cam Newton in full effect. The Panthers will square off against a Raiders defensive unit that allows close to 287 yards and 2 TD’s per game to opposing QB’s, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 24th-best team against the pass. I mean, Brock Osweiler nearly put up 245 yards and 2 TD’s against them last week if Hopkins hadn’t stepped out of bounds, or put himself in a position to be called for stepping out of bounds. But you get the point.
Eli Manning (@ CLE)
Who else gets the feeling that Eli has been really disappointing this year? I mean, sure, the Giants are 7-3, and although it might be early to tell, they look like a team that could give Dallas a run for their money, doesn’t it seem like Manning should be throwing for 4 TD’s a game, easily? Without a running game, and with Odell, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz at his disposal, I get the feeling that Eli should be doing way better than he is right now. Anyway, not much to say about this one, he’s going against a Cleveland team that allows 275 yards and 2.3 TD’s per game. Find a way to get him in there.
Ryan Tannehill (vs. SF)
A nice streaming option for those that need it. If you are feeling blue about your fantasy team for this week, or even in the future, a nice dose of the San Francisco 49ers is good for what ails ya. The Niners have given up 258.7 yards and 2.3 TD’s per game on average, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 21st-best team against the pass. Although they are certainly not as bad against the pass as they are the run, Tannehill should have a relatively stress-free day. The Dolphins have been playing well as of late, and they should pad their win streak Sunday.
Brock Osweiler (vs. SD)
You know the drill, start Osweiler against the worst of the worse, and bench him in any other situation, esepcially those that qualify as “middle-of-the-road”. Osweiler was one long Hopkins TD away from being a top option against the Raiders last week in Mexico City, but now he is back to reality against a Chargers team that is pretty respectable, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 9th-best team against the pass. San Diego is not nearly as good against the run as they are in the pass, giving up production to backs on the ground and through the air, and I find it tough to predict a path of success for Osweiler if Lamar Miller is the one having success come Sunday.
Andy Dalton (@ BAL)
The 2016 NFL Season might very well be one to forget for Dalton, as the fact that he is 21st in the NFL in QBR rating with 57.1%, behind names like Tyrod Taylor and Trevor Siemian says it all. The fact that it is likely he’ll be without his #1 best friend in A.J. Green for the remainder of the season makes Dalton virtually impossible to start in leagues for the remainder of the fantasy season as well. This week is not one to be without Green, as he’ll face a Baltimore defense that ranks as Football Outsiders’ 10th best team against the pass, and if it weren’t for the selfishness of Dak Prescott to do well against him, that number may very well be lower.
Alex Smith (@ DEN)
Smith has never been a fantasy stud; he’s always been a very good QB and game-manager. This week makes Smith even more unattractive for us in fantasy, as he’ll face a Denver defense that on a per game basis (through Week 11), is the best defense against the QB position, only allowing 210 yards, 1 TD, and forcing 1 INT on average. Jeremy Maclin has been absolutely terrible in 2016, and although Tyreek Hill is a very good deep threat, Smith won’t have much help in the passing game, and like always it seems, the Chiefs’ production will lie on the shoulders of their backs.
*Note* – Yeah, you’re starting Jay Ajayi this week
Thomas Rawls (@ TB)
Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. After years of Christine Michael moving to place to place, the Seahawks gave him one more chance to suit up, thanks in part to their lack of depth with Rawls being placed on IR since his injuries the previous year. Well, although it seemed like he got off to a good start, he resembled the old Christine Michael enough for Seattle to let him go with the arrival of a healthy Thomas Rawls, and now, he’s Seattle’s main guy with the injury to rookie C.J. Prosise. Rawls will face a Tampa Bay front seven that has yielded almost 100 yards and 1 TD on the ground per game, ranking as the 20th-best defense against the run, per Football Outsiders. The likely game-script is in Rawls’ favor as well, as if Russell Wilson and Co. get out to a nice and comfy lead behind their defense, we’ll see a whole lot from Rawls Sunday.
Chris Ivory (@ BUF)
The frustrating thing about Ivory, and even his counterpart in T.J. Yeldon, is that when opportunities have been presented to the two backs, they haven’t done much with them, even dating back to the beginning of the season when Ivory was in the hospital, and Yeldon only had 39 yards on the ground (albeit a goal-line touch to go with it). Well here we are once again with Yeldon likely missing Sunday with a knee injury after not practicing all week, and although history doesn’t favor us, it’s a good matchup against a Bills defense that ranks as the 19th-best defense against the run, per Football Outsiders. If Blake Bortles continues to throw interceptions off of his teammates’ shoes, then I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaching staff let’s Ivory dictate their offense.
Terrance West (vs. CIN)
Terrance West has been okay so far in 2016, in that he’s not made huge mistakes (hasn’t lost a fumble thus far), but he hasn’t been brilliant. In fact, I say if he struggles at all in this game (which I hope he doesn’t for your sakes), the Ravens coaching staff should turn things over to the rookie Kenneth Dixon. Anyway, the chance that West should struggle in this tasty matchup is minimal. He’ll get to square off against a Bengals defense that allows 101.6 yards and 0.6 TD’s per game on the ground, in addition to 41 yards through the air (not that West is the pass-catching back, however). He’s not exciting, but he’ll get the job done as a nice RB2 or flex option.
Jeremy Hill (@ BAL)
I am a big fan of Jeremy Hill rest of season, and I hope you acquired him before league trade deadlines (for those of you that can, get Jeremy Hill!!!!). In an offense that no longer has Gio Bernard or A.J. Green for a majority of the rest, if not all of the season, Hill’s production rate should skyrocket. However, it’s better to buy low, and if you want to wait a week after this week’s game against a stellar rush defense in the Ravens, then that is ideal. Hill will face a Baltimore front seven that is really good against opponents not named the Dallas Cowboys, only giving up around 68 yards per game on the ground.
Doug Martin (vs. SEA)
Well, here we have another running back in our “Sits” section against the Seattle Seahawks. Yes, there is always the possibility that Martin could have a Top-5 day, but like his counterparts that have faced the Seahawks in the past, there is so much going against Martin. First, I don’t need to tell you the numbers, you already know it’s a bad matchup. We also have a negative game-script against Martin, thanks in part to Tampa Bay’s suspect defense, which would lead to the Bucs abandoning the run after a few quarters if they find themselves down. It’s best to stay away; I find it hard to see Martin eclipsing 10 points.
Devonta Freeman (vs. ARI)
Freeman is in trouble for two reasons this week. One, it’s a tough matchup. The Cardinals are really good against the run, only allowing 68 yards per game on the ground. Second, HC Dan Quinn told the media this week that Tevin Coleman will return, and if there is any indication that Tevin Coleman won’t be playing minimum snaps, we can expect more of the same: Coleman eating away at Freeman’s production unless going against a sieve defense like the Saints. It;s bad enough that Freeman has to face Arizona, and it’s worse that he’ll have to do it sharing time with Coleman.
Jordan Matthews (vs. GB)
The Green Bay cornerbacks aren’t very good, and they haven’t been very good for the entire year. Ranking as the 23rd-best defense against the pass, on average, the Packers allow 11.8/180.7/1.7 per game to the WR position, and Matthews should have a very nice outing as a result of the great matchup he has been presented with.
Brandon Marshall (vs. NE)
The whole Jets offense has been very disappointing on the year (expect for some weeks where Matt Forte looks great), and it starts with Fitzpatrick’s struggles. As a result of Fitzpatrick and the absence of Eric Decker to draw attention of opposing defensive backs, we’ve seen Brandon Marshall struggle as well. However, Marshall gets a very nice matchup this week against New England. I’ll be the first to tell you as a Pats fan that our defense isn’t playing very well right now (and they never really have. Patriots defenses, mostly secondaries, historically have been pretty bad, except for the one instance where you get Brandon Browner and 2014 Revis Island on the same roster), an excuse of a “bend-but-don’t-break” defense. Ranking as the 27th-best defense against the pass, per Football Outsiders, and giving up 11.9/155.4/0.9 TD’s per game to the WR position, Marshall should not have too many worries on Sunday, especially if the Patriot offense plays like they did last week, and even if Fitzpatrick has his fair share of struggles.
Sterling Shepard (@ CLE)
Sterling Shepard is a very stellar, very consistent receiver, and has had 3 TD’s in the last 3 games, bringing his total to 5 on the year. Although the general consensus (my thoughts included as you saw above) is that the Giants should be blowing the doors off of opponents, they have still been very viable options, and personally, Shepard has been my flex for these last three weeks (PPR league. I”ll definitely take 14, 15 and 16 from my flex). All 3 main wideouts are all startable, in my opinion, as the Browns allow 12/172/1.4 per game to receivers, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 31st-best team against the pass. It should be a fairly painless afternoon for the New York Football Giants.
Terrelle Pryor (vs. NYG)
Like I’ll mention with Barnidge down below, the Giants have a very good secondary and CB corps, allowing less than a TD per game to all wideouts through 11 weeks, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 7th-best team against the pass. . The good thing about Pryor is that the game script favors him greatly, as it is likely that the Browns will be down early and often, however this is a tough matchup for Browns receivers not names Gary Barnidge (I’ll explain more below), and unless he is your definite #1 or #2, I would try to explore other options.
I was going to list all Packers wideouts here only becausethe matchup is hard, however the game script is heavily in their favor, as I would bet my money Aaron Rodgers throws the ball more than 40 times once again, and any QB that throws it that much is bound to lead to some sort of production. I instead I wanted to shortly state the obvious, that this game is going to be a defensive struggle, and a game marked by Vegas as the lowest-scoring affair on the week. If you absolutely have to start wideouts from this game, then do what you must, but this game should be avoided at all costs, unless you have any pieces of the running game for either team.
Gary Barnidge (vs. NYG)
Barnidge has had a quietly consistent year thus far, although it’s most likely come in PPR leagues, as he has scored only once this year. However, the matchup could not be better with McCown back at the helm with Kessler out for the week with his concussion. Barnidge will get to face a Giants defense that has some very strong CB’s, but has struggled in their LB coverage in the middle of the field, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 24th-best team against the TE position, giving up an average of close to 65 yards per game.
Tyler Eifert (@ BAL)
Like I have stated before, the Bengals will be without A.J. Green and Gio Bernard for the time being, and Eifert will likely draw the most attention from opposing DC’s with the #2 target for Andy Dalton being Brandon LaFell. The Ravens do a fantastic job defending against opposing TE’s, ranking as Football Outsiders’ best team in doing so.
Caleb Sturgis (vs. GB)
Like I will state below, and have stated above, the Green Bay defense is not very good (shocker), and the Eagles should have no issues putting up points at home.
Cairo Santos (@ DEN)
Yes, he’s in the thin air of Denver, however in what is likely to become a defensive struggle (lowest game total on the week according to Vegas), there are other options to explore.
Defense & Special Teams
Tennessee Titans (@ CHI)
I usually wouldn’t list the Titans here for a couple of reasons. One, they are on the road, and two, they aren’t very good. However, they’ll face off against a Chicago Bears team that will be without Alshon Jeffery, Jay Cutler (meaning Matt Barkley will get the start, although it might be better with Cutler there, amirite?), WR Eddie Royal (possibly), and LG Josh Sitton (doubtful). Will all of these key injuries and lack of experience at QB, the Titans are immediately brought into our streaming conversation.
Green Bay Packers (@ PHI)
Green Bay’s defensive unit is just plain awful. They’ve suffered injuries all year long, and when they have had these replacements in, they have been downright terrible. Through 11 weeks, the Packers defense has been rated as the 23rd best team against the pass. If you have kept onto Green Bay after all this (I don’t know why you would), now is certainly not a good time to start them as they travel to Philadelphia, one of the toughest places to win this year.
Thanks for sticking around to the end for what is shaping up to be a great twelfth week of the NFL season. As always, if you agree or disagree with a player above, or have a general question or comment about your team, please do not hesitate to leave one below.
Best of luck, and I’ll talk to you guys next week as we try to get your team to 13-0 on the season.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @ohuhave12.