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Week 12 Fantasy Football Game By Game Breakdown

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After a fun three-game NFL slate on Thanksgiving, our fantasy football attention turns to the remaining 13 games this weekend as Week 12 continues. With no teams on bye for the first time in weeks, lineup decisions may not be as difficult as they have been, though there are still plenty of injuries impacting things.

 

Let’s break it all down.

Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Total: 44, BAL -4
Pace: JAC: 26.63 sec/snap (5th), BAL: 30.4 sec/snap (32nd)

What to watch for: Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley is questionable to play with an ankle injury.

Jaguars

Quarterback

Before the bye week in Week 10, Trevor Lawrence put together a strong game against the Chiefs, completing 29-of-40 passes for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Now Lawrence will face a pass funnel Baltimore defense. Opponents are sporting the second-highest passing play percentage against the Ravens this season at 65.6%, and 74.3% of the yardage against this unit have come through the air, the second-highest rate in football. They have been solid in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing signal callers this season, but they have also faced Joe Flacco, Mac Jones, Daniel Jones, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton and Baker Mayfield in six of 10 weeks. Lawrence is a solid QB2 this week but if looking to stream the position, I’d probably look elsewhere, though with no teams on bye, I’m not sure you’ll need to.

Running Back

Travis Etienne finally had a down game in Week 10, rushing for 45 yards on 11 carries, adding three receptions for 28 yards. Still, since taking over the Jacksonville backfield in Week 6, Etienne is the RB11 in fantasy, averaging 17.4 carries, 2.2 receptions and 18.8 fantasy points per game. During that same span, Etienne leads the NFL in missed tackles forced (30), ranks fourth in runs of 10-plus yards (13) and second in runs of 15-plus yards (8), despite having a bye during that stretch. Meanwhile, no player is averaging more avoided tackles per attempt during that span than Etienne (0.34), who has truly been one of the most efficient running backs in all of football. This week’s matchup against the Ravens isn’t easy, as Baltimore is coughing up the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, while around 10% of the runs against this defense have gained 10 or more yards, one of the lowest rates in football. You’d love to see more consistent passing game usage from Etienne but still ran a route on nearly 60% of dropbacks last game. 

Wide Receiver

Christian Kirk stayed hot last game, hauling in 9-of-12 targets for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kirk now has three touchdowns over his last two games. Over his last four contests, he is averaging a healthy 9.5 targets per game. This could be a spot for him to keep it going. As we mentioned earlier, the Ravens have been a pass funnel, but have also been vulnerable to the slot. Baltimore is coughing up the second-most receptions (6.3), fourth-most targets (8.6), sixth-most receiving yards (75.7) and third-most fantasy points (16.6) per game to the slot this season. That obviously bodes well for Kirk, who is lining up in the slot 76.7% of the time this year, the 10th-highest rate among qualified wideouts. And as we discuss so often in this column, Kirk is simply more productive and efficient when playing in the slot, which he does almost exclusively whenever both Marvin Jones and Zay Jones are in the lineup. Both are healthy for this game, which means Kirk should be in your lineup as a strong WR2.

If you are hurting at wide receiver this week, Zay Jones isn’t the worst replacement. He saw 10 targets last week and has seen a respectable eight end zone targets on the season, tied for the eighth-most in the league, despite only playing nine games. 

Tight End

In Week 9 against the Raiders, Evan Engram suffered a back injury, which led to a season-low 55% snap share. However, Engram was healthy in Week 10 and returned to his usual healthy role, playing 88% of the snaps, running a route on 41-of-48 Jacksonville dropbacks (85.4%). It didn’t lead to a great game, however, as Engram caught just three passes for 14 yards but if you don’t have a solidified top seven or eight tight end in fantasy, you are chasing routes and Engram provides plenty. In fact, his 304 routes run are the fifth most among all tight ends and because of that usage, Engram remains a high-end TE2 for me.

Ravens

Quarterback

It has been a rough stretch for Lamar Jackson as of late. After averaging a gaudy 29.8 fantasy points per game through the first four weeks of the season, Jackson has averaged just 16.9 fantasy points per game in six games since. His average fantasy finish during that span has been right around QB14, while scoring 20-plus fantasy points just once. The touchdowns have plummeted, as Jackson has one multiple touchdown game since Week 3 but what is really hurting Jackson is the lack of downfield passing game in Baltimore right now. The Ravens passing game has struggled without Rashod Bateman, who was creating splash plays earlier in the year. However, Jackson has struggled since Bateman suffered his injury and is now sporting the sixth-lowest completion rate on deep passes on the year at 28.2%. Jackson averaged 5.0 deep attempts per game in Weeks 1-4, but that number has dropped to 3.1 since, while his deep passing rate dropped from 17.1% to 11%. Opposing defenses are playing a lot of Cover-0 and Cover-1 defense against the Ravens, while blitzing Jackson very often. In fact, he is being blitzed on 38.9% of his dropbacks, the second-highest rate in all of football. They don’t fear any of the Ravens wide receivers making plays down the field, which is hurting Jackson’s upside, who is averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt since Week 5 (sixth worst). 

It is difficult to sit Jackson due to his immense floor. He is still averaging 9.7 rushing attempts and 66.6 rushing yards per game on the year, rushing for at least 30 yards in nine of 10 games this season. The Jaguars are allowing 18.6 points per game to opposing signal callers (ninth most) and five passing scores of 20-plus yards, the fifth most in the league. 

Running Back

With Gus Edwards sidelined last week, Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill shared the backfield for Baltimore. Drake logged just over 50% of the snaps, touching the ball 12 times for 53 yards, falling one yard shy of a touchdown. Hill, meanwhile, played around 41% of the snaps, recording 10 touches for 38 yards. It was a step down from Week 9 where Drake played 68% of the snaps and handled 26 of 34 Baltimore running back touches. If Edwards is back in the lineup this week, this backfield will likely be a mess and an avoid for fantasy if possible. 

Wide Receiver

Demarcus Robinson, WR1.

Robinson caught all nine of his targets for 128 yards against the Panthers last week, sporting a 28% target share. He now has a solid 21 targets over his last three games, settling in as the top target in this passing game after Mark Andrews. And over the last three weeks, Robinson is sporting a target share of 24.4%. This is a solid matchup, as the Jaguars are allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, making Robinson a viable WR3 play in deeper formats.

Tight End

Mark Andrews returned to the lineup last week, catching 6-of-8 targets for 63 yards. He still leads all tight ends with a 27% target share on the season, and as long as he is over his injuries, Andrews should return to posting monster stat lines before you know it. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Cleveland Browns

Total: 43, TB -3.5
Pace: CLE: 28.1 sec/snap (19th), TB: 25.9 sec/snap (2nd)

What to watch for: Leonard Fournette (hip) is expected to play but Rachaad White could start at RB. 

Browns

Quarterback

Jacoby Brissett played really well against the Bills last week, throwing for 324 yards and three touchdowns, while also having a few touchdown passes dropped. It was his first game with multiple passing scores since Week 3 and Brissett will have one more start before the potential arrival of Deshaun Watson. On a slate that has multiple teams on bye, Brissett would be a lot more interesting but with all 32 teams in action this week, it is tough to make an argument for Brissett as a starting fantasy option, especially against a Tampa Bay defense that is allowing the third-fewest yards per pass attempt (6.5). 

Running Back

Give the Buffalo Bills credit. They really slowed down Nick Chubb last week, limiting the All-Pro running back to just 19 rushing yards on 14 attempts. His day would have been absolutely dreadful if it weren’t for a few screen passes he turned into 48 yards. It was just simply a bad day for Chubb, who has been outstanding more often than not this season. Tampa Bay’s run defense got off to a bit of a slow start earlier in the season, but they have settled in as of late, especially before the bye back in Week 10, bottling up Kenneth Walker to the tune of 17 rushing yards on 10 carries. Of course, you are still starting Chubb as a top-10 fantasy running back.

Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper Week 12 Fantasy Football Game-By-Game

He wasn’t at home. He wasn’t on the road. Amari Cooper played in a neutral site last week. And Amari Cooper smashed.

With the home/road splits surrounding Cooper last week, Cooper ended up playing in Detroit due to the snowstorm in Buffalo. Cooper, who has been much more productive indoors throughout his career, torched Buffalo’s secondary to the tune of eight receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper was targeted 12 times and now returns home where, for whatever reason, he has been great this season, averaging 10.4 targets, 6.4 receptions, 90.6 receiving yards, one touchdown and 21.06 PPR fantasy points per game in five outings. The veteran wideout still ranks 12th among all wide receivers in air yards market share (36.5%) and faces a Tampa Bay defense that is allowing the eighth-highest passing touchdown rate in the NFL at 4.9%. Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis are good defensive backs, but Cooper can produce against anyone. He remains a strong WR2.

I’m not sure if I am quite ready to consider Donovan Peoples-Jones a must-start wide receiver, but he’s close. DPJ caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown Sunday, giving him at least 60 receiving yards in seven of 10 games this season. Since Week 6, Peoples-Jones is the WR24 in all of fantasy, while finishing as a top-34 wide receiver in each of his last five contests. And since Week 6, Peoples-Jones ranks 12th in the league in receiving yards (386), 15th in aDOT (14.2 yards), seventh in yards per target (13.3) and 24th in fantasy points. He also has a reception of at least 25 yards in each of his last five games, while catching at least four passes in seven consecutive contests. After scoring his first touchdown of the season, Peoples-Jones is gaining a ton of steam and is a high-end WR3 against the Bucs.

Tight End

David Njoku returned after a two-game absence with an ankle injury. He only caught two passes for 17 yards, as he didn’t return to his full-time role, logging just 37% of the snaps and running a route on 41% of dropbacks. Njoku played behind Harrison Bryant, something that likely changes this week, and as long as he’s close to his usual usage, he’ll be a borderline TE1 against a Tampa Bay defense that is coughing up the sixth-most fantasy points (13.9), sixth-most receptions (5.2) and 10th-most receiving yards (55.5) per game to opposing tight ends on the year.

Buccaneers

Quarterback

Tom Brady is coming off one of his best games of the year, completing 22-of-29 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against the Seahawks before the bye. It was the best Brady and the Bucs offense have looked in quite some time, and I believe he can be trusted as a back-end QB1 in a favorable matchup against a struggling Cleveland defense that is surrendering the second-most points (2.48) per drive this season, while opposing offenses are scoring points on 46.4% of drives against the Browns, the highest rate in the league. Cleveland has also been a terrible play-action defense this season, which we saw Tampa Bay implement more into their offense last game. On the year, the Browns are allowing the most yards per completion (15.5), second-most yards per pass attempt (9.38) and fifth-highest aDOT (9.9 yards) off play-action, making this a good spot for Brady to find continued success.

Running Back

This backfield just got a lot more interesting. Rookie Rachaad White was already starting to earn a larger role before Leonard Fournette suffered a hip injury back in Week 10. Fournette left that game early, paving the way for White to rush for a career-high 105 yards. He outcarried Fournette 22-14 in that game, and while Fournette obviously left with an injury, it didn’t happen until the fourth quarter, and White actually started the game. He played every single snap on the team’s opening drive, with Fournette entering for the second drive, though White ended up playing 7-of-10 third-down snaps. The good news, however, is the fact that both running backs should be able to find success this week. Cleveland’s run defense is one of the worst in football, as the Browns are surrendering the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, while also allowing 12 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs, second worst to only the Texans. Cleveland is also allowing the most yards before first contact in the NFL, while just allowing both Buffalo running backs to rush for nearly 90 yards. Given how favorable this matchup is, I’d be comfortable starting both Fournette and White this weekend.

RBs vs. Cleveland since Week 4
Player Carries Rushing Yards TDs Fantasy Finish
Cordarrelle Patterson 9 38 1 RB32
Tyler Allgeier 10 84 0 RB25
Austin Ekeler 16 173 1 RB1
Rhamondre Stevenson 19 76 2 RB2
Gus Edwards 16 66 2 RB10
Jeff Wilson   17 119 1 RB7
Raheem Mostert 8 65 1 RB10
Devin Singletary 18 86 1 RB8

Wide Receiver

After an unsustainable stretch of targets without scoring a touchdown, Chris Godwin found the end zone last game, hauling in six passes for 71 yards. Godwin has now caught at least six passes in every game since returning from a hamstring injury back in Week 4, while only Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, Stefon Diggs and Michael Pittman have more targets during that stretch (65). He’s still seeing a ton of manufactured short-area targets, as his 14 targets and 13 receptions off screens rank third among all wide receivers, but it is a huge reason behind Godwin’s strong floor. As the top option in this passing game, Godwin remains a high-end WR2 play.

Mike Evans, meanwhile, is also a must-start wideout, despite coming off consecutive underwhelming outings. Evans has still seen double-digit targets in three of his last four games, and this is a solid matchup, with the Browns coughing up the sixth-most fantasy points per game (14.0) to opposing wideouts on the left side of the formation, as well as the fifth-most receiving yards (70.8) and seventh-most receptions (4.6) per game. That bodes well for Evans, who operates on the left side of the formation over 40% of the time. Both Evans and Godwin are top-15 wide receivers, per usual.

Tight End

With Cameron Brate back in the lineup last week, rookie Cade Otton saw his snap share drop to 61.3%, running a route on just nine of 30 dropbacks (30%). Brate, meanwhile, ran a route on half of the team’s dropbacks, making this a situation to avoid in fantasy, just as it was to start the season.

Denver Broncos @ Carolina Panthers

Total: 36, DEN -2.5
Pace: CAR: 27.23 sec/snap (12th), DEN: 26.6 sec/snap (6th)

What to watch for: Jerry Jeudy is still day-to-day with an ankle injury. For Carolina, Sam Darnold will start at QB.

Panthers

Quarterback

After one week of watching Baker Mayfield again, the Panthers have decided to start Sam Darnold at quarterback. And as strange as it sounds, this actually might be good news for DJ Moore, but more on that later. Anyway, you obviously aren’t starting Darnold in any fantasy format, especially against a Denver defense that is surrendering the league’s lowest passing touchdown rate (2.2%) and second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers (10.9).

Running Back

Heading into last week, I was worried about the potential of D’Onta Foreman against the Ravens, mainly because the Panthers could have been chasing points early. That wasn’t the case, however, as Carolina kept the game tight, but the Ravens’ run defense was too strong, limiting Foreman to just 24 yards on 11 carries. We did see Chuba Hubbard actually outsnap Foreman 23-22, though Foreman is touching the ball when he is on the field. This feels like a better spot for him, as the Panthers can once again keep the game close, but also face a more vulnerable run defense. Denver just allowed over 100 yards to Josh Jacobs last week and for the season, are allowing the sixth-most yards per carry (4.7). 

Wide Receiver

DJ Moore’s roller coaster season continues. He’ll now play with his third different quarterback of the year, which seems to be a yearly tradition for Moore. And while Darnold obviously isn’t the best quarterback in the world, Moore was productive with him a season ago. In 12 games with Darnold under center last season, Moore averaged 9.75 targets, 5.67 receptions, 70.7 receiving yards and 14.4 PPR points per game. Of course, this Carolina offense is still terrible, and he has a brutal matchup with the Broncos on tap, who are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Moore also might see shadow coverage from Pat Surtain, who is allowing just 0.11 fantasy points per coverage route this season, along with a 56% catch rate. Surtain has shadowed five different times this season and if he follows Moore in this game, it could be a long day. He’s a boom-or-bust WR3.

Tight End

Do not start Ian Thomas or Tommy Tremble in fantasy football.

Broncos

Quarterback

It didn’t lead to a great fantasy performance, which is perhaps alarming considering every quarterback thrives against the Raiders, but Russell Wilson looked a little more comfortable last week. It was Denver’s first game with Klint Kubiak calling the plays, and we saw Wilson under center a lot more in this game. He ended up completing a season-high 77.4% of his passes but if you can’t get it done against the Raiders, you probably aren’t going to get it done against anyone. Wilson is dealing with injuries at wide receiver, offensive line and running back, while there is nothing special about a matchup with the Panthers. Wilson is a middling QB2 that lacks much of a ceiling considering he is averaging just 0.38 fantasy points per dropback this season, 24th among quarterbacks.

Running Back

With Chase Edmonds sidelined and Melvin Gordon released, Latavius Murray is now the unquestioned lead running back in Denver. It seems Murray always finds his way to fantasy relevance, and he is now a viable flex play against the Panthers. He has not been very efficient at all, averaging just 1.4 yards after contact per rush this season, the third-lowest mark among qualified running backs this season. Still, opportunity is more important, and Murray should be in line for at least 15-18 touches in this game, as well as all of the goal-line work. You can run on the Panthers, too, as they are allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game (137.0), as well as the sixth-most rushing touchdowns (13).

Wide Receiver

Courtland Sutton had a solid game with Jerry Jeudy inactive last week, hauling in 5-of-7 targets for 80 yards. Sutton usually posts strong numbers when Jeudy is out of the lineup and that continued Sunday, as he saw a healthy 25% target share. Since 2020, the year Jeudy was drafted, Sutton is averaging 8.38 targets, 5.63 receptions, 83 receiving yards and 15.4 PPR points per game in eight contests with Jeudy sidelined, compared to 5.85 targets, 3.1 receptions, 39.5 receiving yards and 7.5 PPR points per game in 20 contests with Jeudy active. If Jeudy is active for this game, Sutton becomes a high-end WR3, especially in this matchup against Jaycee Horn, who has been stellar this season, allowing just 0.07 fantasy points per coverage route. He is also allowing a reception every 19.7 coverage snaps, the second-best mark among qualified defensive backs. But if Jeudy doesn’t play, volume would push Sutton into WR2 range, despite the tough matchup.

Tight End

I was expecting a strong game from Greg Dulcich last week, but it didn’t happen. The rookie tight end caught just four passes for 30 yards. That said, the five targets were solid, and he played 83% of the snaps and ran a route on 86% of dropbacks. Since emerging as Denver’s top tight end back in Week 6, Dulcich ranks fourth among all tight ends in routes run (163), seventh in targets (26), seventh in yards per reception (13.1), second in deep targets (6) and eighth in air yards share (20.8%). Dulcich remains on the TE1/TE2 borderline, leaning more toward the former if Jeudy remains sidelined.

Miami Dolphins @ Houston Texans

Total: 46, MIA -13
Pace: HOU: 28.78 sec/snap (25th), MIA: 28.1 sec/snap (21st)

What to watch for: Derek Stingley missed last week’s game with a hamstring strain.

Texans

Quarterback

Davis Mills is coming off a brutal game, completing 19-of-33 passes for 169 yards and a pair of interceptions and after the game, head coach Lovie Smith stated that “changes are coming.” It sure sounds like Mills could be benched starting this weekend, which would lead to Kyle Allen also not being anywhere near your fantasy lineups.

Running Back

Dameon Pierce had to overcome both a brutal matchup and terrible gamescript for the first time this season last week, rushing for just eight yards on 10 carries against the Commanders. Houston fell behind 20-0 nothing relatively early, limiting Pierce to his fewest carries in a game all year long. The Texans are huge home underdogs again this week so you hope they can keep the game close for Pierce, who, despite last week, is still averaging a healthy 19.9 touches per game during his rookie campaign. I do worry that this might not be the matchup for Pierce either, as Miami has been more vulnerable to running backs in the passing game than on the ground. The Dolphins are stuffing 21% of runs at or behind the line of scrimmage this season, good for the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. It was encouraging to see Pierce run 24 pass routes on 41 dropbacks (59%) but he still isn’t playing enough on third downs and in two-minute drills. In this spot, Pierce is more of a low-end RB2 for me.

Wide Receiver

Most of Brandin Cooks’ production last week came off a 41-yard catch-and-run, but it was still his second game with at least 70 receiving yards in his last three outings. Despite the Texans being a bad team, their pass rate hasn’t been as high as it was last year, which has led to Cooks seeing double-digit targets just twice this season, both of which haven’t come since Week 2. He isn’t distancing himself from Nico Collins like he did the rest of the Houston pass-catchers last season, as Collins has seen 17 targets over the last two games. Cooks is a low-ceiling WR3, while Collins is a solid PPR flex play.

Tight End

Thanks, but no thanks.

Dolphins

Quarterback

Coming off a bye, Tua Tagovailoa looks to stay hot. Miami’s MVP candidate has thrown for three touchdowns in each of his last three games, passing for 285, 302 and 382 yards in those contests. Tagovailoa’s 0.62 fantasy points per dropback are tied with Josh Allen for the fourth most in football, as he’s been incredibly efficient in Mike McDaniel’s offense that has featured more pre-snap motion than any other team by a large margin. I love to mention it, but it is so crucial to Tua’s success. In this awesome scheme with two elite wide receivers, Tagovailoa’s pass attempts have been higher percentage than last season. In 2021, 19.3% of Tagovailoa’s pass attempts were into tight windows, the highest rate in all of football. However, so far in 2022, that number has plummeted to just 12.1%, the seventh-lowest rate in the league. I like Tua to keep it going this week, especially if the Texans are once again without Derek Stingley in the secondary. Tagovailoa leads the league in play-action dropback rate this season (44.9%), which bodes well for him in this matchup, as nearly 30% of the passes against the Texans have come off play-action, a top-five rate. Tua remains a top-seven fantasy quarterback.

Running Back

Death, taxes, running backs against the Houston Texans.

Sure, the Washington running backs weren’t great last week, but Antonio Gibson had a walk-in touchdown late in the game until he slid down at the 1-yard line to run the clock out. This obviously remains arguably the best matchup in all of fantasy football, as the Texans are allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, as well as nearly 180 rushing yards per contest. About 14% of the plays against this defense have gained 10 or more yards this season, which bodes well for Jeff Wilson, who has five runs of 10 or more yards in two games since joining the Dolphins in Week 9, the fifth-most in football during that span, despite having a bye last week. He has emerged as the 1A in this backfield, logging 61% of the snaps in Week 10, carrying the ball 17 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. Raheem Mostert, meanwhile, played 28% of the snaps, but also ran well, rushing for 65 yards and a score on eight carries. Playing in this offense is advantageous for running backs, as defenses have to play two safeties deep in order to defend Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, which leads to lighter boxes for Wilson, who saw a stacked box on just over 11% of his carries last game. Houston also ranks bottom five in missed tackles, presenting both Wilson and Mostert with tremendous opportunities to rip off some long runs in this game. I’m comfortably starting Wilson as a strong RB2 and Mostert as a flex.

Wide Receiver

Tyreek Hill Jaylen Waddle Week 12 Fantasy Football Game-By-Game

Even in games where Tyreek Hill doesn’t eclipse 100 receiving yards, he still finds the end zone, which was the case back in Week 10. After a bit of a touchdown drought, Hill has now scored in consecutive games and still leads the entire NFL in targets per route run (33%) and target share (32.5%). We know the Texans don’t face many pass attempts per game because teams are always playing with a lead against them, but they are still allowing 11.6 yards per completion, the third-worst mark in football, which certainly bodes well for Hill, who still leads the league with 23 deep targets on the season. Jaylen Waddle, meanwhile, has recorded at least 65 receiving yards in eight of 10 games this season, as he and Hill have obviously been the focal point of this Miami passing game. 

Tight End

Like many tight ends, Mike Gesicki remains very touchdown-dependent. In the three games since Durham Smythe has been back in the lineup, Gesicki has played 46%, 49% and 46% of the offensive snaps, while running a route on just 63-of-103 Miami dropbacks (61%). He’s been targeted just nine total times over that span.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans

Total: 42.5, CIN -1.5
Pace: TEN: 30.1 sec/snap (31st), CIN: 27.9 sec/snap (18th)

What to watch for: We’ll see if Ja’Marr Chase returns to the lineup this week, and RB Joe Mixon is in the concussion protocol. 

Titans

Quarterback

Ryan Tannehill is coming off consecutive strong games, posting back-to-back two-touchdown games. He was insanely efficient against Green Bay last week, completing 22-of-27 passes for 333 yards, averaging 12.3 yards per attempt. Efficiency is usually on Tannehill’s side, but it was great to see the Tennessee passing game show some serious signs of life last week. The veteran signal caller now faces a banged-up Cincinnati secondary that just allowed 30 points to the Steelers struggling offense last week. Again, with no teams on bye, you likely won’t have to start Tannehill outside of superflex formats, but he is a strong QB2 this week.

Running Back

28 carries, two receptions and a touchdown pass? Yeah, Derrick Henry does it all. Henry rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay last Thursday, while adding a touchdown pass. He was also targeted on two screen passes for 45 yards, something the Titans should honestly do multiple times per game. Henry is averaging 23 carries per game this season and now faces a struggling Cincinnati run defense that just allowed 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Najee Harris last week. I’m not sure I need to convince you to keep Henry in your starting lineup. With the Titans running the football around 68% of the time in first down this season, you know Henry is going to get his 25-plus carries as long as gamescript allows it.

Wide Receiver

In his second game back from a toe injury, Treylon Burks had his breakout game against the Packers, catching 7-of-8 targets for 111 yards, including an impressive 51-yard catch where he beat All-Pro defensive back Jaire Alexander. Burks still ran as the WR3 in terms of playing time, logging 50% of the snaps and running a route on 65% of dropbacks. He mostly played when the Titans operated out of 11 personnel, while Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine played in two-wide sets. Of course, Burks continued to earn targets at an impressive rate, being targeted on a whopping 38% of his routes Thursday. It was the third time this season where Burks has posted a target per route run rate north of 30%. He obviously needs to be added in any leagues he was dropped and while he isn’t suddenly a must-start wide receiver, his matchup this week is solid, as he’ll see coverage from fellow rookie Cam Taylor-Britt, who is allowing 0.23 fantasy points per coverage route and a 66% catch rate. The Bengals just allowed 83 yards and a score to George Pickens last week and it should have been a massive game. 

Robert Woods, meanwhile, had his second game with over 40 yards last week, catching six passes for 69 yards. If I’m still a bit hesitant to start Burks, I’ll be hesitant to start Woods, who doesn’t have much of a ceiling, despite his tremendous playing time.

Tight End

Austin Hooper found the end zone twice last week, but the Titans are still using three tight ends. He played 17 fewer snaps than Geoff Swaim, while running 15 routes to Swaim’s 10 and Chigoziem Okonkwo’s 14. Hooper has less than 20 yards in six games this season so don’t chase his two-touchdown game from last week.

Bengals

Quarterback

Joe Burrow is coming off a very strong game, throwing for 355 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He now has multiple touchdowns in every game since Week 2, and it was great to see him have a ceiling game without Ja’Marr Chase, who could be back for this game. Tennessee’s defense has been fantastic as of late, though to be fair, they have really only faced one top-tier fantasy quarterback since Week 2. Over the last three weeks, the Titans are allowing 5.9 yards per pass attempt and on the season, they are sporting the league’s eighth-highest pressure rate at 23.5%. We know what happened when these teams met in the playoffs last year, as Burrow was sacked nine times. I’m still comfortably starting Burrow against Tennessee’s massive pass funnel defense. Through 11 weeks, 76.4% of the yardage against the Titans has come through the air, the highest rate in football, while a whopping 85.7% of the touchdowns scored against them have been via the pass, also the highest rate. And if Joe Mixon is out for Cincinnati, we might see Burrow pass even more against a Titans defense that sees opponents pass the football 67% of the time this year. Burrow is a top-seven quarterback with even higher upside if Chase is back.

Running Back

A concussion ended Joe Mixon’s Week 11 early and now he is questionable to play this weekend. We saw Samaje Perine steal the show with three receiving touchdowns last week, all products of incredible blocking by the Bengals. But if Mixon can’t play, Perine will be the lead back. Because Perine was already playing on many third downs with Mixon healthy, he’d hardly come off the field if Mixon can’t play this week, especially if Chris Evans also remains out. He might need that work in the passing game in this spot, however, as the Titans run defense has been elite. Tennessee is stuffing 24% of runs at or behind the line of scrimmage this year, the second-highest rate in football, while just 23.5% of the yardage against this defense has come on the ground, the lowest rate in the league. They are allowing 0.2 rushing touchdowns per game this year, the fewest in football, making this a daunting matchup. If Mixon is on your roster and you added Perine, you are probably starting him if Mixon is out, but he is by no means a must-start player in this spot. 

Wide Receiver

Tee Higgins was spectacular last week, hauling in nine passes for 148 yards. He was targeted 13 times and remains a must-start wide receiver, regardless of Ja’Marr Chase’s status. Most of the production Tennessee allows on offense goes to the wide receiver position, which was the case last week when Christian Watson scored two more touchdowns, while Randall Cobb caught six passes for 73 yards. The Titans are also coughing up the third-most receiving yards (70.1), fourth-most receptions (4.9) and fifth-most fantasy points per game (14.1) to opposing wide receivers on the right side of the formation this season, where Higgins lines up roughly 45% of the time. Meanwhile, if Chase is active, you are obviously starting him without hesitation, though it feels like he might be one more week away.

Despite having a great matchup, Tyler Boyd was very quiet last week, catching just two passes for 42 yards. Boyd has remained in the slot in the absence of Chase, lining up there just over 78% of the time over the past three games. You can still go back to Boyd as a high-end WR3 if Chase remains sidelined here, as the Titans also rank bottom-10 in most categories against opposing slot receivers this season, while also ranking bottom-three in yards per reception allowed to opposing wideouts.

Tight End

It is the same argument every week for Hayden Hurst. He is going to be out on the field a ton, ranking fourth among all tight ends in routes run (316), while logging 65-70% of the snaps. The Titans are allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season (12.6), so it isn’t an awful matchup if you are looking for a tight end streamer this week. 

Atlanta Falcons @ Washington Commanders

Total: 42, WAS -4
Pace: WAS: 28.5 sec/snap (24th), ATL: 29.37 sec/snap (26th)

What to watch for: Kyle Pitts has been placed on IR with an MCL sprain.

Commanders

Quarterback

If you gambled on Taylor Heinicke as a streaming quarterback last week, it didn’t work out. Washington’s offense underwhelmed, especially in the red zone. Heinicke threw for 191 scoreless yards and has now failed to throw a touchdown pass in consecutive games. With no teams on bye, you aren’t playing Heinicke in a one-quarterback league but given this week’s matchup, he remains on the QB2 radar in superflex formats. The Falcons are surrendering the third-most points (2.42), second-most yards (37.9) and most plays (6.6) per drive in the NFL, while opposing offenses are scoring points on 44.2% of drives against Atlanta this season, the second-highest rate in the league. They are also sporting the lowest pressure rate in football at 11.2%, which bodes well for Heinicke, who is completing just 43.6% of his passes (seventh worst) with one touchdown and three interceptions when under duress this season. 

Running Back

There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Washington backfield last week because, well, they were playing the Texans. Both Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson underwhelmed, but we did see Gibson take on a larger role, logging a season-high 68% of the snaps. Gibson touched the ball 21 times for over 100 scrimmage yards, while running a route on 20-of-28 dropbacks (71%). Gibson also could have scored a touchdown but instead of scoring, he slid down just shy of the end zone to put the game away for Washington. He’s now had at least three receptions in seven of his last eight games, as he continues to see a more consistent role in the passing game with J.D. McKissic sidelined. Averaging a solid 17 touches per game over the last three weeks, Gibson is suddenly gaining momentum as a solid RB2 ahead of a strong matchup with a Falcons defense that has certainly been giving it up to opposing running backs as of late. On the season, Atlanta is coughing up the sixth-most rushing touchdowns per game to opposing running backs (0.91). Robinson, meanwhile, remains a touchdown-or-bust flex play, though his efficiency has been awful this season, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, 3.3 yards per touch and rushing for 10-plus yards on five of his 108 carries (4.6%).

RBs vs. Atlanta since Week 8
Player Carries Rushing Yards TDs Fantasy Finish
D’Onta Foreman 26 118 3 RB5
Austin Ekeler 14 47 2 RB4
D’Onta Foreman 31 130 1 RB9
David Montgomery 17 67 1 RB6

Wide Receiver

With Washington’s offense underwhelming last week, Terry McLaurin didn’t have a massive game, catching four passes for 55 yards. Still, he once again led the Commanders in targets, something he has done in every single game Heinicke has started so far this season. Since Heinicke took over as the starting quarterback, McLaurin is sporting a healthy 31.6% target share, the sixth-highest rate among all wide receivers. And during that stretch, McLaurin also ranks sixth in receptions (28), third in targets (40), fifth in receiving yards (425), second in 100-yard games (2) and eighth among wide receivers in fantasy points. In Weeks 1-6 alongside Carson Wentz, McLaurin didn’t lead Washington in targets in any game, while sporting an uninspiring target share of 16.1%. And in five games with Heinicke under center, McLaurin is averaging 8.6 targets, 5.6 receptions, 85 receiving yards and 15.1 PPR points per game. McLaurin remains a strong WR2 play against an Atlanta team that is allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, while also surrendering a league-high 0.9 touchdowns, as well as the third-most fantasy points per game (16.2) to opposing wideouts on the left side of the formation, where McLaurin lines up 51% of the time. 

Curtis Samuel scored a rushing touchdown last week and will continue to see a few carries per game. His targets have come down with Heinicke under center, averaging just 4.4 per game, compared to 8.3 per game with Wentz. He was only targeted twice last week and has four or fewer targets in all but one game alongside Heinicke. Samuel has at least averaged 3.2 rushing attempts per game over his last five outings, as he continues to be used in pre-snap motion as much as almost any receiver in football. This is a good matchup, but Samuel is a low-ceiling flex play. 

WR Target Share Leaders Weeks 7-11

Tight End

After totaling two receptions for 12 yards combined in Weeks 8-10, Logan Thomas caught 5-of-6 targets for 65 yards this past weekend. He still isn’t the safest bet for production but if you are chasing a tight end streaming option, you might as well target a player against the Falcons, right? Atlanta is allowing 13.0 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season, the eighth-most in football, while also surrendering the third-most targets (8.0) and seventh-most receiving yards (56.8) per game to the position.

Falcons

Quarterback

Marcus Mariota put together yet another high-floor performance last week, throwing for just 131 yards and a touchdown, but adding 25 yards and an additional score on the ground. Mariota has finished as a top-15 fantasy quarterback in seven different games this season, illustrating that high floor. He’s making up for his lack of passing volume with plenty of rushing production, averaging 6.9 carries and 34 rushing yards per game this season, while rushing for at least 25 yards in eight of 11 games. As a result, Mariota is averaging a healthy 0.60 fantasy points per dropback, the sixth-best mark among all quarterbacks. That floor keeps Mariota as a strong QB2 against a Washington defense that has allowed a quarterback to rush for a touchdown in consecutive games. They are also allowing the fourth-highest passing touchdown rate in the league (5.2%).

Running Back

Cordarrelle Patterson’s playing time increased after being limited two Thursdays ago. He logged just under 50% of the snaps Sunday, touching the ball 12 times for 59 yards. In Week 10, Atlanta used three running backs but this week, it was down to two with Tyler Allgeier seeing nine touches and playing 54% of the snaps. We haven’t seen the workload we saw earlier in the year from Patterson and now he draws a tough matchup with an elite Washington defense that is allowing the eighth-fewest yards per carry (4.2), while only allowing six rushing touchdowns. This is an interesting spot for Atlanta because they are facing a pass funnel Commanders defense, however, the Falcons just want to run the football on seemingly every play. 24% of the touchdowns scored against Washington this year have come on the ground, the sixth-lowest rate in football. They are also allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, making Patterson an underwhelming flex play.

Wide Receiver

While he hasn’t seen great volume as of late, Drake London has now found the end zone in consecutive games. Perhaps there will be more targets heading his way with Kyle Pitts on injured reserve, but this Falcons team still wants to run the football, sporting the league’s second-highest rush rate in neutral gamescripts (57.5%). The floor is still so low, as we even saw last week where his only catch of the game was his touchdown. London has been under 45 receiving yards in every game since Week 3. Even with the absence of Pitts, London doesn’t project as anything more than a low-floor flex play.

Tight End

With Pitts sidelined, Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt will likely form a committee at tight end. Firkser was a healthy scratch last game but should be active this weekend, likely alongside Pruitt and Parker Hesse

Chicago Bears @ New York Jets

Total: 39.5, NYJ -4.5
Pace: NYJ: 27.31 sec/snap (14th), CHI: 28.2 sec/snap (22nd)

What to watch for: Mike White will start at QB for the Jets this weekend, while Justin Fields (shoulder) is questionable for Chicago.

Jets

Quarterback

After Zach Wilson threw for 77 yards on 22 pass attempts last week, the Jets have decided to start Mike White at quarterback. This impacts some things with the rest of this Jets offense, which we’ll discuss, but you obviously aren’t starting White in fantasy leagues.

Running Back

The Jets used three running backs last weekend, as Ty Johnson continues to play on plenty of passing downs. Johnson played four snaps in the two-minute drill Sunday, while playing nine third-down snaps. Michael Carter still logged 50% of the total snaps and led the way with nine touches in a game where the Jets offense did absolutely nothing, totaling two yards of offense in the second half. It’ll be interesting to see if Carter (or James Robinson) see a bump in targets with White under center, as we’ve seen him target the running back position at a massive rate when under center throughout his career. Carter has played in four games with White at quarterback and in those contests, he is averaging a whopping eight targets, 5.7 receptions and 19.3 PPR points per game. And in three full starts last season, White targeted the running back position 39%, 40% and 37% of the time. Carter should be in line for 12-15 touches against a Bears defense that is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, making him a viable PPR flex play this weekend.

Wide Receiver

Garrett Wilson Week 12 Fantasy Football Game-By-Game

Perhaps the change at quarterback will help Garrett Wilson, who caught just two passes for 12 yards last week. I’d like Wilson more if Joe Flacco were under center, as the two developed a nice rapport to start the season, but Wilson should operate as the clear WR1 for the Jets, especially if Corey Davis remains sidelined. Unfortunately, he draws the toughest matchup of the Jets receivers here, as he’ll face Jaylon Johnson, who has gone multiple games this season without even being targeted in coverage. The slot is the best place to attack this Chicago pass defense and playing in an offense led by Mike White still isn’t exactly a positive.

Tight End

Really nothing has changed for Tyler Conklin. He’s playing more than C.J. Uzomah and in games where the Jets will be throwing the football, he’ll flirt with high-end TE2 numbers.

Bears

Quarterback

Justin Fields had another great fantasy outing last week, throwing for 153 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 85 yards and a touchdown. It was his fifth consecutive game with a rushing touchdown, as Fields has now finished as a top-six fantasy quarterback in each of his last five games. He is, however, dealing with a shoulder injury and is listed as day-to-day. If he starts, it is difficult to get away from him, despite the tough matchup against an elite Jets defense. Fields is averaging an insane 11 rushing attempts and 75.8 rushing yards per game this season, rushing for at least 60 yards in each of his last six games. Keep an eye on his status throughout the week but if he’s active, I don’t see how you get away from Fields right now. If he’s unable to play, it’ll be Trevor Siemian for the Bears.

Running Back

In his first game without Khalil Herbert last week, David Montgomery logged 80% of the snaps and ran a route on 75% of dropbacks. Montgomery touched the ball 20 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, handling 20-of-26 Chicago running back touches. His 80% snap share was his highest since Week 2 and it’ll be interesting to see what this offense looks like this week. With Fields active, Chicago’s entire offense is built around the quarterback, whether it be through the air or on the ground, where Fields has 66 designed rushing attempts. The presence of Fields has created more running lanes for Montgomery, as the Bears are second in the league in yards before contact per attempt (3.28). If Fields is out, Montgomery likely sees even more carries, but the efficiency likely drops, while the offense as a whole won’t be as good. Montgomery is a low-ceiling RB2 against a tough Jets matchup, though the volume may be too high to overlook.

Wide Receiver

Darnell Mooney found the end zone last week, giving him at least 50 receiving yards or a touchdown in eight consecutive games. Mooney is quietly the WR22 in all of fantasy and among all of the Bears pass-catchers in this game, he easily has the best matchup. Perimeter wide receivers have been turned away against the Jets this season, as Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed have been elite. However, slot defensive back Michael Carter is allowing 0.24 fantasy points per coverage route, as well as a 74% catch rate. Mooney remains in the WR3 discussion but if Fields doesn’t play, I’m not starting anyone from Chicago outside of Montgomery.

Tight End

Cole Kmet caught three passes for 35 yards last week, ending his impressive touchdown streak. If Fields plays, Kmet remains a touchdown-or-bust TE2 in fantasy, and someone I’ll avoid if Siemian is under center for the Bears. 

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Chargers

Total: 47.5, LAC -4.5
Pace: LAC: 25.91 sec/snap (1st), ARI: 26.23 sec/snap (3rd)

What to watch for: Mike Williams aggravated his ankle sprain last week and did not return. For Arizona, Rondale Moore left Monday’s game with a groin injury, while Marquise Brown is questionable to return to action.

Chargers

Quarterback

Justin Herbert is coming off his best game in weeks, completing 23-of-30 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs. It was a season-high in both completion percentage (76.7%) and yards per completion (9.3), as Herbert finally had all three wide receivers available. You know, at least for a few plays. Regardless of whether Mike Williams plays in this game, Herbert is a strong QB1 in a terrific spot. This game features two teams that rank inside the top-three of pace, while Arizona has struggled against opposing signal callers as of late. In fact, since Week 7, Arizona has allowed four quarterbacks to finish as top-six fantasy quarterbacks against them, with John Wolford being the only passer to not get it done. The Cardinals are also allowing the fifth-most fantasy points (19.7) and third-most passing yards (241) per game to opposing passers. Arizona is surrendering the third-highest passing touchdown rate (5.4%), while teams are scoring points on 43.7% of drives against them. Herbert could be in store for a second consecutive great game.

Running Back

Shockingly, Austin Ekeler caught a season-low two passes last week, despite facing one of the league’s worst defenses against running backs in the passing game. Still, Ekeler made up for it by carrying the ball a season-high 19 times for 83 yards and a touchdown. Ekeler still leads all running backs in target share on the season, while averaging a healthy 19.2 touches per game. He faces an Arizona run defense that is allowing 15.5% of runs against them to gain 10 or more yards, the third-highest rate in the league, while also coughing up three receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs. 

Wide Receiver

Keenan Allen finally returned to the lineup last week, hauling in 5-of-8 targets for 94 yards. He was initially expected to be limited but after Mike Williams left in the first quarter, it forced Allen to play nearly 70% of the snaps. Allen should be in line for a strong target share this week, especially if Williams is inactive. Arizona blitzes at the league’s third-highest rate (36.9%) and we could see a lot of quick passes to Allen as the first read from Herbert, who will look to get the ball out of his hands quickly. As long as he is good to go, Allen is back to being a strong WR2 in fantasy.

Meanwhile, Joshua Palmer is coming off a huge game Sunday night, catching eight passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Palmer was targeted 10 times, giving him at least eight targets in each of his last four games, while seeing double-digit targets in three of four. Of course, Allen and Williams missed all of those games, but Palmer might once again play with one of the two receivers sidelined this week. In three games with Williams inactive since the start of last season, Palmer is averaging eight targets, 5.3 receptions, 64.3 receiving yards and 13.7 PPR points per game. If Williams can’t play, Palmer would remain a low-end WR2/high-end WR3. Williams, meanwhile, has a chance to play but dealing with an aggravation of a high-ankle sprain makes him an extremely risky play right now.

Tight End

This is an elite matchup, as Arizona has been the worst defense at defending tight ends. George Kittle just eclipsed 80 yards and scored twice against them last week, as the Cardinals are now coughing up the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends (20.2), as well as the most targets (8.7), most receptions (7.2) and most receiving yards per game (78.4) to the position. If Gerald Everett (groin) can get back in the lineup, that would be amazing, especially since Everett is great in terms of yards after the catch, averaging 5.3 yards after the catch per reception. Arizona, meanwhile, allows the most yards after the catch in the NFL, which everyone saw in full display last Monday night. Keep an eye on Everett’s status throughout the week.

Cardinals

Quarterback

After missing the last two games with a hamstring injury, Kyler Murray was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, putting him on track to return this week. If he’s active, Murray will be in the QB7-10 range for me ahead of a matchup with a Chargers defense that is surrendering the sixth-highest passing touchdown rate (5.0%) and ninth-most yards per pass attempt (7.4) this season. The Chargers are also allowing the sixth-most points per drive (2.29), while opponents are scoring on 43.6% of drives against Los Angeles, the fourth-highest rate in football. Meanwhile, no team in the league is allowing more yards per completion over the last three weeks than the Chargers (13.2). You’d like Arizona’s wide receivers to be at full strength for this game, but the matchup is still great for Murray, who has also rushed for at least 25 yards in nine games this season.

Running Back

For over a year now, James Conner has been rather touchdown dependent in fantasy. However, he’s been finding the end zone lately, scoring three times over the last two weeks. He is dominating playing time for the Cardinals, logging 96% and 77% of the snaps over the last two weeks. Conner hasn’t been the most efficient running back over the last two seasons but a matchup with the Chargers could lead to plenty of efficiency. Los Angeles is allowing 3.01 yards before first contact per attempt this season, the second-most in the league, while allowing 2.45 yards after contact per rush, also the second-most in football. The Chargers are also coughing up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, while they are one of just five teams to allow at least one rushing touchdown per game to opposing running backs. Five different running backs have rushed for 100 or more yards against this reeling Chargers defense, making Conner a must-start here.

Wide Receiver

It is entirely possible that DeAndre Hopkins is the only healthy wide receiver for Arizona right now. 

Rondale Moore is unlikely to play this week with a groin injury, while Marquise Brown is still working his way back from a foot injury. Finally, Greg Dortch has a thumb injury that could sideline him. Oh, and if Hollywood does play this week, head coach Kilff Kingsbury stated he’ll be on a pitch count. There are a lot of moving parts here, but we know that we are starting Hopkins no matter what, who is sporting a healthy 32.2% target share since making his season debut in Week 7, the third-highest rate in football. He’s been targeted on 30% of his routes, seeing double-digit targets in four of five games. If Moore and Hollywood are out and Dortch plays, he’s back in our lives as a WR3. In games where he’s been the full-time slot receiver for the Cardinals, he’s produced, averaging 7.6 targets, 6.6 receptions, 66 receiving yards and 15.2 PPR points per contest. 

Tight End

With Zach Ertz out for the remainder of the season, rookie Trey McBride drew his first career start, logging 76% of the snaps and running a route on 36-of-40 dropbacks (90%). He only caught four passes for 14 yards but that is elite involvement in terms of playing time and route participation and with the Cardinals so banged up at wide receiver right now, McBride could be called upon quite often this weekend.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Seattle Seahawks

Total: 47.5, SEA -3.5
Pace: SEA: 27.64 sec/snap (16th), LV: 27.58 sec/snap (15th)

What to watch for: Both Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow remain on injured reserve for the Raiders.

Seahawks

Quarterback

Geno Smith is a must-start quarterback. It doesn’t matter how many weeks into the season we get, it still sounds strange to say it. But Smith has been incredible this season and is making a strong case as a legitimate MVP candidate. Smith has thrown multiple touchdowns in four consecutive games and all but two games over the course of the season. He’s been great when standing tall in the pocket but has also been stellar when throwing outside of the pocket, sporting the second-highest completion rate off the play type (69.3%). Smith also ranks second in yards per attempt (10.4), first in passing yards (512) and third in passing touchdowns (4) on throws outside of the pocket. Now Smith gets to host the lowly Raiders, who have allowed eight quarterbacks to finish as top-12 fantasy passers against them this year, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position (20.0). The Raiders are coughing up the fifth-most points (2.38), third-most yards (37.0) and second-most plays (6.5) per drive on the year, too. 

I’d start Smith over: Kyler Murray, Kirk Cousins, Lamar Jackson

Running Back

Kenneth Walker had a quiet game before the bye in Week 10, rushing for just 17 yards on 10 carries against the Bucs. He made up for it by catching six passes for 55 yards, while seeing eight targets. While that certainly isn’t sustainable, it was great to see. Walker is still the clear lead back for the Seahawks and has an elite matchup with the Raiders this week, who are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (27.3). And if Walker is going to continue seeing decent passing game usage, that bodes well for him in this spot, facing a Las Vegas defense that is surrendering the third-most receptions (6.6), fourth-most targets (8.0) and the most receiving yards per game (52.8) to opposing running backs. The Raiders have also allowed 100 rushing yards and/or a touchdown to each of the last four lead running backs they have faced.

Wide Receiver

Seattle’s passing game got off to a slow start against Tampa Bay in Week 10, but DK Metcalf finished with a solid 71 receiving yards, while Tyler Lockett found the end zone. Both receivers continue to do a ton of heavy lifting for this passing game, accounting for 48% of Seattle’s targets, 44.3% of the receptions and 49.3% of the receiving yards this season. Metcalf has been getting most of the looks from in close, as he’s seen a whopping 40% of Seattle’s red zone targets, the highest rate in football, while his 42.9% target share from inside the 10-yard line also leads the league. That is very exciting ahead of a matchup against the worst red zone defense in football, as the Raiders are allowing opposing offenses to score touchdowns on 71% of red zone trips this season, tied with Minnesota for the highest rate in the league.

Lockett, meanwhile, has now found the end zone in three straight games and gets an elite matchup with a Raiders team that cannot defend opposing slot receivers. They have allowed slot touchdowns to Greg Dortch, DeAndre Carter, Jerry Jeudy, Phillip Dorsett, Christian Kirk and Parris Campbell this season, and Kendall Hinton was a foot away from scoring a slot touchdown last week. The Raiders are now surrendering the fourth-most receptions (5.9), third-most receiving yards (83.9) and most fantasy points (19.5) per game to pass-catchers lined up in the slot. Lockett lines up in the slot about 50% of the time, giving him a good chance of taking advantage of a matchup with Amik Robertson, who is allowing 0.27 fantasy points per coverage route and a 70% catch rate so far this season. Both Metcalf and Lockett are high-end WR2 options this week.

Tight End

I say it every week, but the Seahawks continue to use both Will Dissly and Noah Fant in a committee. Seattle runs as many two tight end sets as any team in football, resulting in Dissly and Fant usually logging 60-70% of the snaps. Fant has been garnering more consistent targets than Dissly, so if you had to take a chance on someone here, it would be him.

Raiders

Quarterback

Despite facing a tough Denver pass defense last week, Derek Carr completed 23-of-37 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He was on the same page with Davante Adams all day, something he’ll have to continue to do with Las Vegas so depleted on offense. Carr now has multiple touchdown passes in each of his last three games ahead of a road matchup with the Seahawks, who are allowing the ninth-most yards per pass attempt this season (7.4). Seattle also allows the fifth-most yards per drive in football (34.8), though they have done a good job of limiting splash plays against them. Consider Carr a high-end QB2 here.

Running Back

Josh Jacobs Week 12 Fantasy Football Game-By-Game

Although he didn’t find the end zone, Josh Jacobs was phenomenal last week, rushing for 109 yards on 24 carries, while adding three receptions for 51 yards. It was the fourth time this season where Jacobs has seen 25-plus touches in a game, as he now ranks second in the league with an 83% opportunity share. He also has 82% of the Raiders rushing attempts, the highest rate among any running back in football. Jacobs now ranks second in the league in avoided tackles per attempt (0.32), and his 58 missed tackles forced lead all running backs. He is averaging an awesome 21.7 touches per game and faces a vulnerable Seattle run defense that is allowing 2.13 yards after contact per attempt this season, as well as the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields. Jacobs remains an easy top-eight running back, especially with how involved he’s been in the passing game.

Wide Receiver

As you’d expect, this entire passing game is flowing through Davante Adams right now. The All-Pro wideout dominated last week, hauling in seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted 13 times for a 35% target share and for the season, ranks third among all players in targets per route run (31%). Adams has seen double-digit targets in each of his last three games, averaging an insane 14.6 per game during that span. And over those last three games, Adams has recorded at least 126 receiving yards three times, while finding the end zone five times. The floor and ceiling combination is massive right now and while Seattle has quietly done a good job against opposing perimeter wide receivers this season, they also haven’t faced the greatest wideouts. Adams is an obvious start, while Mack Hollins is worth a look as a flex in PPR leagues. With Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller on injured reserve, Hollins operated as the Raiders’ No. 2 pass-catcher last week, catching 6-of-9 targets for 52 yards. 

Tight End

The opportunity has been there for Foster Moreau to post top-10 tight end numbers, but he just hasn’t been getting it done. For the second time in four weeks, Moreau played 100% of the offensive snaps for the Raiders, but only caught one pass for 33 yards, which didn’t come until the second-to-last play of overtime. Since Waller has been sidelined, Moreau has played 96%, 100%, 97%, 96% and 100% of the snaps but this past week, his route involvement went down, as he ran a route on 63% of dropbacks, which is solid, but not as good as it was in Week 10 when he ran a route on 37-of-39 dropbacks (95%). The good news is that Moreau has an elite matchup this week if you are looking to chase again, as Seattle is coughing up the second-most fantasy points (18.8), fourth-most targets (7.7) and second-most receiving yards per game (74.0) to opposing tight ends this season. 

Los Angeles Rams @ Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 43, KC -15.5
Pace: KC: 26.71 sec/snap (7th), LAR: 29.58 sec/snap (27th)

What to watch for: Matthew Stafford has been ruled out for this game. For the Chiefs, Kadarius Toney and JuJu Smith-Schuster are questionable, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been placed on IR.

Chiefs

Quarterback

The clear MVP, Patrick Mahomes dazzled again Sunday night, completing 20-of-34 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. He is on a tear right now, throwing three or more touchdown passes in five of his last seven games, while averaging over 27 fantasy points per game during that stretch. Mahomes has eclipsed the 300-yard mark in each of his last five games and now faces a Los Angeles defense that just allowed 260 passing yards and three touchdowns to Andy Dalton last week. It feels like the Rams are throwing in the towel for the season and also are sporting the league’s second-lowest pressure rate at just 14.1%. It is unlikely the Rams create a back-and-forth shootout here but once this game does get out of hand, Mahomes is going to be the reason why.

Running Back

Isiah Pacheco continues to operate as the lead running back in Kansas City, something that isn’t going to change with Clyde Edwards-Helaire on IR. Pacheco rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries last week after rushing for 82 yards on 16 carries the week before. He’s been very efficient on the ground this season, averaging 5.1 yards per touch on the year and a healthy 3.1 yards before first contact, tied for the ninth-best mark among qualified running backs. He hasn’t found the end zone over the last two weeks, something that will be an issue at times considering the Chiefs are passing the football 63.4% of the time in the red zone this season, the fifth-highest rate in football. And Pacheco offers nothing as a pass-catcher, catching three passes all year long and seeing targets on just 5% of his routes, easily the lowest rate among all running backs. This makes Pacheco more appealing in standard or half-PPR formats, but being a huge home favorite is the exact scenario you want from a player in Pacheco’s role. He’s a solid flex play but if he doesn’t score, you are looking at middling production. The Rams run defense, meanwhile, is strong, as just 7.4% of the runs against Los Angeles have gained 10 or more yards, the lowest rate in the league.

Wide Receiver

Kansas City continues to deal with a multitude of wide receiver injuries. 

With JuJu Smith-Schuster out last week and Mecole Hardman on injured reserve, everyone grew excited about the potential of Kadarius Toney as Mahomes’ top wide receiver. However, his hamstring issues flared up again, and Toney left the game after just 14 snaps. It seems unlikely that he plays in this game. Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster was a full participant and could return to the lineup Sunday. As long as he is active, Smith-Schuster is a must-start wide receiver, especially given how depleted Kansas City’s wide receiver room is right now. The Rams are a pass funnel defense, which is not an issue for the pass-happy Chiefs. 69.4% of the yardage against the Rams has come through the air, the sixth-highest rate in the league, while Los Angeles is also coughing up the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. 

There could also be an opportunity for Skyy Moore, who is coming off a mini breakout game, catching five passes for 63 yards. He played 42% of the snaps, but the return of Smith-Schuster could impact his playing time more than Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Justin Watson, who played 88% of the snaps last week. Valdes-Scantling plays a ton of snaps but doesn’t draw many targets, making him a risky flex play, even against a Rams team that is allowing the most targets (10.5), second-most receptions (7.3) and second-most fantasy points (18.4) per game to opposing wide receivers on the left side of the formation. 

Tight End

Travis Kelce is an absolute cheat code. He dominated once again last week, hauling in 6-of-10 targets for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Kelce has had at least 90 receiving yards or a touchdown in all but one game this season. He’s one of the best players in all of fantasy and if he is on your roster, you have a huge weekly advantage over the rest of your league. Kelce faces a reeling Rams defense that has allowed an opposing tight end to find the end zone in three of the last four games.

Rams

Quarterback

With Matthew Stafford out, the Rams will start Bryce Perkins at quarterback, who filled in for Stafford last week against the Saints, completing 5-of-10 passes for 64 yards, while adding 39 rushing yards on five carries. You aren’t starting Perkins in fantasy unless you are really desperate in a two-quarterback league. In his final two college seasons at Virginia, Perkins rushed for 769 and 923 rushing yards, while scoring 20 rushing touchdowns. 

Running Back

The Rams released Darrell Henderson this week, which at least makes Cam Akers a little bit more interesting. Henderson started the game last week, playing the first drive. However, Kyren Williams played the second drive, with Akers and Williams sharing work the rest of the way. Akers rushed for 61 yards on 14 carries last week, logging 39% of the snaps, his highest snap share in a game since Week 3. Williams, however, played 7-of-8 third downs and all 18 snaps in the two-minute drill, which might actually make him the preferred running back here in a game where the Rams are 15-pont underdogs. They also face a pass funnel Chiefs defense that is allowing the most receptions (7.1), second-most targets (8.5) and second-most receiving yards (49.1) per game to opposing backfields. Both Akers and Williams are risky flex plays this weekend.

Wide Receiver

In Los Angeles’ first game without Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson led the Rams with 33 routes, running a route on 92% of dropbacks. He was targeted just five times but caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. It was an end zone target for Robinson, something he’s seen plenty of over the course of the year, as the veteran wideout now ranks third in all of football with 11 end zone targets. Robinson has also seen 42.9% of the Rams targets from inside the 10-yard line, which is tied for the highest rate in the league. You’d like to see more than five targets, but the Rams are going to have to throw all day in this game, especially against a Kansas City pass funnel. 71.4% of the passing yardage against the Chiefs has come through the air, the fourth-highest rate in football, while 77.7% of the touchdowns scored have been via the pass (3rd-highest). Teams are sporting the third-highest passing play percentage against the Chiefs (64%), while offenses are scoring touchdowns on 69.7% of red zone trips, also the third-highest rate. Robinson is a high-risk WR3, while Van Jefferson and Ben Skowronek are desperation flex plays.

Tight End

After a brief stretch where his snaps and routes were down, Tyler Higbee climbed back up to elite usage last week, logging 92% of the snaps and running a route on 89% of dropbacks. He posted a middling stat line of four catches for 45 yards on eight targets and is dealing with a knee injury, so we do need to track his status. The offense is likely to struggle but volume should be on his side again, which keeps Higbee in the low-end TE1 range as long as he’s active. 

New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers

Total: 43, SF -9.5
Pace: SF: 29.81 sec/snap (30th), NO: 28.4 sec/snap (23rd)

What to watch for: The Saints defense is banged up right now, as Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, Pete Werner and Marcus Davenport are dealing with injuries. 

49ers

Quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo is coming off a great game, completing 20-of-29 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns. It was an elite matchup for Garoppolo, who gets most of his production after the catch, facing a Cardinals defense that allows the most yards after the catch in the NFL. Still, Garoppolo has now scored multiple touchdowns in five of his last six games and has been the QB8 in all of fantasy. The Saints defense is banged up right now, as Marshon Lattimore, Cameron Jordan, Pete Werner and Marcus Davenport are injured, though they could play. Still, Garoppolo is a high-end QB2 against a Saints defense that is sporting the league’s fourth-lowest pressure rate (18%).

Running Back

The usage of Christian McCaffrey has been interesting since the return of Elijah Mitchell. In Week 8 against the Rams, McCaffrey’s first full week with the 49ers, McCaffrey logged 81% of the snaps and handled 26-of-32 running back touches for San Francisco. However, Mitchell returned from injury in Week 10, playing about 34% of the snaps, carrying the ball 18 times for 89 yards. And this past weekend, Mitchell played just 26% of the snaps but had nine carries to McCaffrey’s seven. McCaffrey was the clear lead back to start the game, playing all but three first half snaps. However, the duo split snaps in the second half. Fortunately, McCaffrey’s role in the passing game has been massive, as he’s averaging seven targets and 6.3 receptions in three full games with San Francisco, while running a route on 79.3% of dropbacks. McCaffrey remains a top-seven running back but may not be the RB1 that many may have believed. Mitchell, meanwhile, is a touchdown-or-bust flex play, as he should see 8-10 touches.

Wide Receiver

Most weeks, the 49ers don’t throw the ball enough for all fantasy relevant pass-catchers to have strong games. However, last week was an exception, as everyone from San Francisco’s passing game got theirs last week. But it was Brandon Aiyuk who once again was the best wide receiver from this team, catching two touchdown passes. He’s absolutely rolling right now, posting four games of 80-plus receiving yards over his last five, while scoring five touchdowns in that stretch. Since Week 6, Aiyuk has been the WR6 in fantasy, averaging 18.8 PPR points per game. Aiyuk has been extremely consistent, and I like him to keep it going this weekend, facing Paulson Adebo, who is coughing up 0.38 fantasy points per coverage route this season, as well as a 76% catch rate in coverage. Adebo has also allowed four touchdowns in coverage (4th-most), as well as the sixth-most receiving yards (474) and sixth-highest passer rating (137.4). Aiyuk is a strong WR2 once again.

Samuel, meanwhile, remains a WR2 as well. He caught seven-of-nine targets for 57 yards last week, while rushing for a 39-yard score. His rushing production has climbed as of late, seeing seven carries and rushing for 64 yards and a score over the last two weeks. 

Tight End

George Kittle Week 12 Fantasy Football Game-By-Game

If George Kittle didn’t deliver last week, there would have been an issue.

It was a dream spot for Kittle, facing Arizona’s league-worst defense against tight ends and Kittle took advantage, erupting for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns. We know that Kittle isn’t going to have the weekly floor that other tight ends do because he is so valuable in the run-blocking game but when Kittle has his ceiling games, they are as high as anyone. You are starting him every week and while the Saints are surrendering the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season (7.7), they haven’t exactly faced the greatest tight ends in the world:

Saints

Quarterback

Andy Dalton was fantastic last week, completing 21-of-25 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams. Dalton hasn’t been a lock to start at quarterback each week, but his Week 11 performance likely ensures he’ll be under center going forward. Unfortunately, he faces an elite San Francisco defense that is allowing the third-fewest points (1.53) and sixth-fewest yards (27.3) per drive in football, while also coughing up the third-lowest passing touchdown rate (2.7%). With no teams on a bye, Dalton is not very fantasy relevant this weekend.

Running Back

Alvin Kamara ended a touchdown drought back in Week 8, scoring three touchdowns and scoring over 40 fantasy points. In three games since, however, Kamara has scored 29.6 total fantasy points. The touches have come down a bit, as Kamara is only averaging 13 touches per game during that three-game stretch, though he’s still dominating the snaps, logging 88%, 79% and 70% of the snaps. You still feel pretty good about the usage in the passing game, especially with Dalton under center, as Kamara is averaging nearly seven targets, 5.43 receptions, 52.2 receiving yards and 16.3 PPR points per game alongside Dalton this season. I wouldn’t anticipate Kamara finding much success on the ground against San Francisco, as only 7% of the runs against this defense have gone for 10 or more yards, the lowest rate in football. But Kamara should continue to do enough in the passing game, keeping him in the high-end RB2 range.

Wide Receiver

Jarvis Landry returned to the lineup last week and made an impact, catching three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. He was somewhat limited, logging 56% of the snaps and running a route on just under 60% of dropbacks. In his second game back, the playing time and usage could rise, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Landry have a strong game again. The 49ers are an outstanding defense, but they have been a bit vulnerable to slot receivers. On the season, wideouts from the slot are averaging the most receiving yards (90.5), fourth-most receptions (5.9), second-most touchdowns (0.8) and second-most fantasy points (19.4) per game against the 49ers. They also just allowed nine receptions for 103 yards from the slot to Greg Dortch last week. Landry is a fine WR3 in deep formats.

Of course, Chris Olave remains this team’s best wide receiver. He showcased his tremendous ability last week when he cruised past Jalen Ramsey for a 50-yard touchdown. The volume wasn’t elite (six targets) but the Saints also only attempted 25 passes. Olave still ranks first among all wide receivers with at least 30 targets in air yards per route run (4.1), while seeing 36% of New Orleans air yards on the season. His combination of volume and high-value targets, on top of his raw talent, keep him in the WR2 discussion each week. 

Slot WRs vs. San Francisco since Week 7
Player Receptions Yards TDs
JuJu Smith-Schuster 7 124 1
Cooper Kupp 8 79 1
DeAndre Carter 4 64 1
Greg Dortch 9 103 0

Tight End

Don’t look now, but Juwan Johnson has now found the end zone in three consecutive games, scoring five touchdowns over his last five games. And while touchdowns are tough to project, he’s also provided at least 40 receiving yards in three straight games, which is a solid number for a fringe starting tight end in fantasy. The production is great, but the touchdowns are obviously going to stop, especially since he still only has two end zone targets over the last five games. Over the last few weeks, three of his touchdowns have come from 15 yards or more out. Johnson is still playing enough and seeing decent enough work to consider as a high-end TE2 but I’m not forcing him into my lineups.

Then there is Taysom Hill, who is always interesting to talk about when it comes to fantasy. After a stretch where it looked like he was a must-start fantasy tight end, Hill’s involvement in the offense started to decline. In Weeks 9 and 10, Hill carried the ball just four times for seven yards, while playing less than 40% of the snaps. During that span, Hill played just 10 total snaps at quarterback. However, prior to last week’s game, the Saints had a plan to put the ball in Hill’s hands more and it showed, as he rushed nine times for 52 yards, attempted three passes and caught a pass for eight yards. Hill’s 17 snaps at quarterback were his most in a game all year, and the first time with double-digit quarterback snaps since Week 8. If this usage continues, it could definitely hurt Kamara a bit, while Hill would return to being ranked as a top-12 fantasy tight end. Of course, San Francisco is elite against the run, but Hill should be able to see 8-10 touches, which is more than enough for a “tight end.”

Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Total: 46.5, PHI -6.5
Pace: PHI: 26.93 sec/snap (8th), GB: 29.73 sec/snap (28th)

What to watch for: The Eagles are scuffling, after their first loss and a narrow win over a floundering Colts team. Can they right the ship?

Eagles

Quarterback

After a five-game stretch where he failed to reach 30 rushing yards, Jalen Hurts rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries last week, his most in a game since Week 1. Hurts has finished as a top-10 quarterback in all but one game this season, averaging 0.71 fantasy points per dropback, the second most in the league. Hurts should always be considered a top-five quarterback but his Week 12 matchup isn’t exactly the easiest, as Green Bay is surrendering the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers (13.8), though they were just torched by Ryan Tannehill last week to the tune of 333 yards and two scores on just 27 pass attempts. Green Bay is also blitzing 39.1% of the time this season, the second-highest mark in football. And so far this year, Hurts is completing 62% of his passes against the blitz (21st), while his yards per attempt drops from 8.3 to 7.7 when blitzed. 

Running Back

Miles Sanders has been underwhelming as of late, rushing for just 101 yards on 25 carries over the last two weeks. The Eagles have been quickly getting away from the run in recent weeks, though the Commanders and Colts are two of the best run defenses in football so perhaps it makes some sense. Sanders is still handling most of the running back touches, though he isn’t seeing much work in the passing game, catching just 12 passes on the year, with just two coming in the last five weeks. This week’s matchup is more favorable for Sanders, as Green Bay is allowing the ninth-most rushing yards per game (135.8), while just 11% of runs against the Packers have been stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage this season, the lowest rate in the NFL. They are also allowing 2.37 yards after contact per rush, the third-worst rate in the league, making this a good spot for Sanders to get back on track.

Wide Receiver

A.J. Brown has now put together consecutive quiet games, catching a combined six passes for 67 yards over the last two weeks. Brown still ranks third among all receivers in air yards share (41.8%) and eighth in target share (29.3%) on the season and remains a must-start wide receiver, despite a potential matchup with Jaire Alexander. Meanwhile, DeVonta Smith posted a healthy 39% target share in the Eagles first game without Dallas Goedert in the lineup, catching six passes for 78 yards. It is obviously just one game but considering the Eagles targeted their tight ends just once last game, it seems likely that the passing game will go through Smith and Brown until Goedert is back in the lineup. I have Smith as a high-end WR2 going forward, regardless of matchup.

Tight End

In Goedert’s absence last week, Jack Stoll operated as the clear TE1 for the Eagles, logging 81% of the snaps and running a route on 70% of dropbacks. It resulted in one catch for seven yards on one target. Feel free to look elsewhere at the tight end position.

Packers

Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers certainly didn’t look his best last Thursday, completing 24-of-39 passes for 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Still, it was his second consecutive game with multiple touchdown passes, and his fifth over his last six outings. Rodgers continues to deal with a broken thumb but practiced in full and will once again suit up. This is a pace-up spot for the slow-paced Packers but that is just about all I can say that is good about this matchup. Philadelphia is allowing the league’s fourth-lowest passing touchdown rate (2.8%), as well as the fewest yards per pass attempt (5.8). The Eagles are also surrendering the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (9.8), the only team allowing single-digit points per game to the position. Rodgers is a mid-range QB2 this week.

Running Back

After carrying the ball 24 times in Week 10, Aaron Jones saw his carries cut in half last week, rushing for 40 yards on 12 carries against Tennessee’s elite run defense. He salvaged his day by catching 6-of-7 targets for 20 yards, as Jones has played at least 67% of the snaps in every fully healthy game since Week 7. AJ Dillon has been getting more and more phased out of the offense and Jones should be in line for 16-18 touches against a vulnerable Philadelphia run defense that is allowing the second-most yards after contact per rush in the league (2.42), which bodes well for Jones, who ranks fifth in the league in missed tackles forced (44) and avoided tackles per attempt (0.31). Jones is a rock solid RB2, while Dillon can remain on fantasy benches.

Wide Receiver

Christian Watson month continued last Thursday, as the talented rookie caught two more touchdowns, giving him five over the last two games. Five touchdown receptions on his last eight receptions seems pretty unsustainable, and this could very well be the week the touchdowns end, as Watson will face the elite duo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry, who are allowing just 0.15 and 0.16 fantasy points per coverage route on the year. Watson is unlikely to see shadow coverage in this game and has clearly caught the eye of Aaron Rodgers, which is the most important thing. He’s a high-upside WR3, though the matchup does favor Randall Cobb in the slot. Allen Lazard, meanwhile, has taken a bit of a backseat since Watson’s emergence but has still seen a solid 15 targets over the last two games, including 11 last week. Lazard has had either 50 receiving yards or a touchdown in eight-of-nine games this season and projects as a WR3 against the Eagles stout pass defense.

Tight End

Robert Tonyan has eclipsed 37 receiving yards in just one game all year long, while having fewer than 20 yards three times. The usage has been too inconsistent this season, while Tonyan’s involvement in the red zone has been non-existent, largely due to the fact that the Packers are averaging less than three red zone trips per game on the year. 

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts

Total: 39.5, IND -2.5
Pace: IND: 27.01 sec/snap (10th), PIT: 26.93 sec/snap (9th)

What to watch for: Jaylen Warren is questionable to play with a hamstring injury.

Colts

Quarterback

Matt Ryan is coming off a tough game where he threw for 213 scoreless yards, as the Colts struggled in the red zone against Philadelphia. He now hosts a Pittsburgh secondary that is certainly vulnerable but is also a lot more difficult of a matchup with T.J. Watt back in the lineup. Still, this matchup does present Ryan with an opportunity to take some shots down the field, as the Steelers have allowed the most deep touchdown passes in the NFL to this point of the season. They have also allowed the most air yards in the league (1,628), as well as the highest passing touchdown rate in football at 6.0%. 

Running Back

Jonathan Taylor now has back-to-back games with 22 carries, scoring touchdowns in both outings. He’s touched the ball 24 and 25 times over the last two weeks and should continue to see as much volume as any running back in the league the rest of the way. The only thing Taylor was missing was usage in the two-minute drill, as Deon Jackson played all 10 snaps in the two-minute drill, though Taylor still played 7-of-8 third downs and all of the goal-line snaps. Pittsburgh’s run defense is solid, coughing up the seventh-fewest rushing yards (103.4) per game this season and while they did just allow three touchdowns to Samaje Perine last week, they all came in the receiving game on screen passes where he went essentially untouched into the end zone, something we can’t count on. Still, Taylor is a top-seven running back but don’t expect all of the work in the two-minute drill like we initially saw after Nyheim Hines was traded.

Wide Receiver

While the floor has been fairly solid, Michael Pittman hasn’t posted a ceiling game in a long time. Of course, he’s dealt with shaky quarterback play in an underwhelming offense, but Pittman hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1, his only of the season. His 75 yards from last week were his most since Week 6, but I like him as a low-end WR2 this week against a weak Steelers secondary that is allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. He’ll see coverage from Levi Wallace, who is allowing 0.34 fantasy points per coverage route this season, as well as the ninth-most receiving yards (449) and sixth-most yards per reception (16.0) in coverage. You’d love to see Pittman used down the field more, as he’s only seen two deep targets this season, while his 62 targets within 0-9 yards lead the league, but it has helped his floor, as the Colts are using him much more on crossing routes in the middle of the field. The matchup is still elite, as 11 different wide receivers have had either 95 receiving yards or a touchdown against the Steelers this season.

Parris Campbell had another solid outing last week, catching five passes for 67 yards. He was targeted six times and is now averaging a very healthy 9.5 targets per game over his last four games with Matt Ryan under center. It didn’t come to fruition last week, but slot wide receivers can find success against this Steelers defense, as they are averaging the fifth-most targets (8.4), fourth-most receiving yards (81.4) and seventh-most fantasy points per game (15.3) per game this season. Campbell is a WR3/flex who sees a boost in PPR formats.

Finally, if you are really hurting at wide receiver in a deep league, consider Alec Pierce. He actually led the Colts in targets last week with eight, catching just three for 28 yards. He also ran more routes than Campbell for the first time last season and when the Colts do take shots down the field, they usually go to Pierce, who has 11 deep targets on the year (24th). The rookie has accounted for 55% of the Colts deep targets at receiver and now faces a Steelers defense that has allowed seven touchdown passes 20 yards or more down the field, the most in football. 

Tight End

We are in Week 12 and still nothing has changed in the Colts tight end room. Indianapolis continues to use three tight ends, mainly Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson. Jelani Woods has been out since Week 9 with an injury but is on track to play this week, which will make this even more of a situation to avoid for fantasy.

Steelers

Quarterback

Kenny Pickett definitely showed some signs last week against the Bengals but was still up-and-down, completing 25-of-42 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown. He missed plenty of throws, too and has still thrown one or fewer touchdown passes in every game so far this season. This Colts defense just held a potent Philadelphia offense to 17 points last week and are in the middle of the league in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to the quarterback position on the year (15.7). Pickett remains an uninspiring QB2 in superflex leagues.

Running Back

After weeks of putting up RB3 production, Najee Harris could find his way back into the low-end RB1 range. 

Harris had a season-best game in Week 10, rushing for 99 yards but he surpassed it last week, rushing for 90 yards and two touchdowns, while adding four receptions for 26 yards. With Jaylen Warren leaving early with a hamstring injury, Harris was an every-down back, logging 92% of the snaps, his highest snap share of the season. Harris also played all 15 snaps in the two-minute drill and 13-of-15 third downs, including every third down once Warren left the game. It is important because Warren had been taking third down snaps away from Harris as of late, playing 9-of-12 third down snaps back in Week 10. If Warren remains sidelined for Monday night, Harris will see a boost, especially in PPR leagues, which can help make up for any inefficiency he might have, though the Steelers run game has looked a lot better since the bye week. Harris could catch four or five passes again this week, facing a zone-heavy Colts defense that is allowing the fifth-most receptions (5.8) and fourth-most receiving yards (42.4) per game to opposing running backs. 

Wide Receiver

George Pickens Week 12 Fantasy Football Game-By-Game

Is George Pickens the WR1 in Pittsburgh? It sure seems like it. Pickens had a strong game last week, catching four passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. It could have been a huge game, as he also dropped a fourth quarter touchdown, but the rookie seemingly makes one or two impressive plays every week and is out-producing Diontae Johnson. He had 122 air yards this past weekend, while his four deep targets led all players from Week 11. Pickett has not been shy when it comes to taking shots down the field and Pickens has been the beneficiary of that. His 11.5 yards before the catch per reception ranks seventh-best in football, while his 14.2-yard aDOT is 12th. The Colts play a lot of Cover-3, which limits explosive plays in the passing game, which has led to them allowing the seventh-fewest yards off deep passes (312), but Pickens remains a strong WR3 play with a solid ceiling.

Diontae Johnson still has not scored a touchdown, giving him a league-leading 86 targets without a score this season. He hasn’t eclipsed 65 receiving yards in a game since Week 3 and has suddenly gone three consecutive games without seeing double-digit targets, which is a concern considering he was accustomed to seeing 10-plus looks on a weekly basis. A drop in volume is a concern for Johnson, who remains extremely inefficient, sporting the league’s 10th-fewest yards per target (5.31), seventh-fewest yards per reception (8.75) and 84th in fantasy points per snap (0.15). Johnson is going to score eventually (I think) but is nothing more than a low-ceiling WR3 at this point.

Tight End

Pat Freiermuth is an easy top-six tight end and given some of the injuries to the position, he is probably top-five. He talked about how he’d see a larger role in the offense since the Chase Claypool trade, and he wasn’t kidding. In the two games since Claypool was traded, Freiermuth has a 29.6% target share, the second-highest mark among tight ends during that stretch. He caught eight passes for 79 yards last game and has seen at least seven targets in each of his last four games, catching eight passes in two of those contests. Freiermuth is a must-start player and might be the best tight end in fantasy outside of Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Dalton Schultz and George Kittle.

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