Good morning everyone! There are a lot of good low-end fantasy players worth considering for starts in Week 12. I stay abreast of what other analysts in the business are saying, and this is the most consensus I’ve seen between all of us this season. So hopefully that means solid fantasy points and victories for those who are putting in the extra time to tweak their rosters before game time.
First, let’s look at the Houston Texans. They host the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars today. By win-loss records, these two teams are evening matched. But Houston’s 2-9 record is deceptive. They have been the victim of key injuries and bad moments. They were about to put the clamp down on Seattle in the final minutes before throwing a Pick Six. And they were throttling the Colts at halftime when Gary Kubiak collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. They are much better than their 2-9 record indicates.
It’s time for the Texans to make a statement, and you can expect them to begin to make it with this game. Keenum faces the worst passing defense in the league. He looks to Andre Johnson frequently – and with success at that. Expect more of the same this week, as well as connections with TE Garrett Graham. I like Keenum this week as a high-end QB2 with upside. Andre Johnson is a must-start, and fantasy owners should consider Garrett Graham a low-end TE1 for Week 12. Oh – and let’s not forget about Ben Tate. He should be given his due. He will have some great opportunities in this one. Consider him a low-end RB1 this week with upside as Texans find ways to pound the Jags on the ground and in the air.
Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon is another low-end quarterback worth starting if you don’t have a good QB1 available to you this week. He plays at Detroit today. The Lions rank 5th against the run. So don’t expect much from Rainey or Leonard on the ground. Instead, the Bucs will probably take to the air, and Glennon has been proving himself quite capable of moving the ball. The Lions defense is ranked 30th in passing yards allowed this season. That’s a great match-up for Glennon, making him a low-end QB1 with upside this week. Teammate Vincent Jackson should be started as a WR1.
Giants RB Andre Brown has a nice game ahead of him at against Dallas. The Cowboys defense has been a mess. They can’t stop the run or the pass (near bottom in both categories this season). Brown gets solid RB2 status in Week 12, with the potential to put up RB1 numbers. And QB Eli Manning is worth starting in 2-QB leagues. Another running back with upside this week is Zac Stacy. He plays at home against Chicago, who is can’t seem to stop the run. Remember how the struggling Ray Rice broke out against them last week? That probably has more to do with the Bears defense than it does with Rice waking up. In fact, Rice is only a RB3 in my book this week as he goes against the #1 rushing defense in the league – the Jets. But Zac Stacy is a RB1 this week. Start him if you have him.
Speaking of the Jets rushing defense, it should force Baltimore to go to the air today. So WR Torrey Smith should see the ball often. In fact, he could break a long one for a score. Smith is a high-end WR2 with upside in Week 12. Another wide receiver worth starting this week is Green Bay’s Jarrett Boykin. He has developed great rapport with QB Scott Tolzien, who is likely to continue to turn to him in their game against the woeful Minnesota Vikings. Play Boykin as a low-end WR2 with upside this week. On the flip side in this game, if you are looking for a WR3 or a flex to take a chance on, try Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings are beginning to target him more frequently, and he has the speed to break free down the field against any defense. Don’t be surprised if his numbers continue to climb.
Some others worth thinking about… Ryan Fitzpatrick might not be winning games, but he is putting up some good numbers. Fantasy owners should raise their expectations for him as he goes against Oakland. He is a QB2 this week. More important, owners of Colin Kaepernick should see his game against the Redskins as an opportunity to score lots of fantasy points. The Redskins defense is already pretty bad. And now their team appears to be coming apart at the seams. Kaepernick is a QB1 in Week 12 – start him if you have him. Likewise, start Brady in his shootout against Denver despite the weather forecast for a windy night. The Houston DST is worth a start against Jacksonville. And anyone looking for a sleeper running back should think about starting Cleveland’s Chris Ogbonnaya. He’s beginning to see more carries, and is effectively Cleveland’s primary back. The Steelers are weak against the run, so expect the Browns to go there. Ogbonnaya is a decent flex play this week.
As far as who to avoid this week, let’s start with the Miami Dolphins offense. They are minus three starters on the offensive line, and they are going up against the Carolina Panthers defense. Fantasy owners should bench Tannehill, Miller, and Wallace. TE Charles Clay is an okay start, but only if you don’t have some other legitimate fantasy tight end to turn to. Likewise, owners should avoid playing Philip Rivers against Kansas City. That’s just a bad match-up, and when Rivers crumbles, he tends to crumble hard.
Another offense to be concerned with is the Indianapolis Colts. They are on the road in Arizona today. The Cardinals defense is pretty good. But that’s not the full story here. The rest of the story is that Arizona is led by head coach Bruce Arians, who was the interim head coach for the Colts during most of the 2012 season. He knows the Colts and their offense quite well – too well, in fact. Fantasy owners of Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton should proceed with caution here. Arians is likely to key in on little-known tendencies and weaknesses, so expectations for these two should be lowered to a QB2 and a WR3 respectively. And the Colts running backs should be avoided altogether this week.
Owners of WR Antonio Brown should also lower their expectations. He goes against Joe Haden, who has been shutting down everyone this season. If A.J. Green can’t beat him, we shouldn’t expect anything better from Antonio Brown. Brown becomes a low-end WR2 at best this week. And in New England, definitely sit the Patriots DST. They are banged up. Even if they manage to slow Peyton Manning a bit, the Broncos are still likely to put up good yards and points against the Pats.
Finally, be careful about starting Patriots RB Stevan Ridley. He had a key fumble near the goal line in last week’s loss to the Panthers. Head coach Bill Belichick has a way of punishing his players for their mistakes by taking them out of games or their normal starting roles. Ridley has a good match-up against Denver, but if he loses several carries, his value is diminished. There are no good answers here. We don’t know how forgiving Belichick may or may not be about what happened last week. But my guess is that Ridley pays a small price, making him a low-end RB2 (albeit one with upside) this week. Shane Vereen is a good bet to see some of the action in Ridley’s place, making Vereen is a solid RB3 or Flex option in Week 12.
So there you have it folks. All the best to you this week as you work to make it into your league playoffs and position your teams for a good seed. I’ll be available to answer your questions here or on Twitter @murphysguide throughout the morning.