Week 12 Start/Sit


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Week 12 Start/Sit

Graham Barfield and Scott Barrett are here to help you out with all of your Start / Sit needs with a deep rundown of their favorite- and least-favorite plays every single week. This article will be continually updated with news throughout the week, so make sure you keep it locked on our projections and on this column all the way through to kickoff on Sunday.

Start / Sit recommendations for “Shallow” leagues refer to 10-team leagues while “Deep” is 12- or 14-teamers.


Shallow leagues

At this point, you know who you are rolling with in 10-team leagues. QB really falls off a cliff after the top-8 this week, so we’ll stick to deeper league/streamer plays…

Deep leagues

Start: Geno Smith vs. Raiders

I’d like to take this time to remind the reader that Smith has been legitimately excellent this season – almost as if he’s swapped bodies with Russell Wilson. From a fantasy-perspective, Smith ranks 9th in FPG (18.7), well ahead of names like Dak Prescott (17.2), Justin Herbert (17.1), or Tom Brady (15.5). From a real-football perspective, he ranks as PFF’s 5th highest-graded QB, and he not only leads the league in completion percentage over expectation (+7.9), but also posting the 3rd-best mark from any QB this past decade.

And Smith draws an ideal Week 12 matchup, up against a Raiders defense ranking worst in passer rating allowed (106.4), worst in fantasy points allowed per dropback (0.52), and 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+5.9). I’d start him this week as a borderline mid-range QB1. [SB]

Start: Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Saints

We were on JimmyG as the top streamer play last week and he delivered for his best game of the season (20-of-29, 228 yards, 4 TD, 25.4 FP). Garoppolo has now finished with 15 or more FP in every single one of his starts since Week 5 and has five top-12 (QB1) finishes to show for it. This is the best Garoppolo has played in his career and it’s obviously no surprise as to why. I am treating JimmyG as a less talented, lower-ceiling version of Tua Tagovailoa for the rest of the season. Whereas Tua is in the top-5 mix every week and lifted by his weapons, JimmyG is going to hang around as a back-end top-10 option every week thanks in large part to his weapons. The Saints aren’t a matchup to be afraid of at all – so keep going right back to Garoppolo if you’ve been playing him. [GB]

Running Backs

Shallow leagues

Start: James Conner vs. Chargers

By all appearances it seems as though Conner is fully back to being a highest-end bell cow, reprising the role he had at the end of last season when he averaged 23.6 FPG over his final 7 games to close out the year. Over the last two weeks Conner has played on 86% of the team’s snaps (most by any RB over this span) while handling 92% of the backfield XFP (also most), and averaging 18.0 carries, 4.0 targets, 18.0 XFP/G, and 18.5 FPG.

And it’s hard not to drool over his upside with this workload and in this near-perfect matchup against the Chargers who rank 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+4.1), as well as worst overall in YPC allowed (5.75).

My only possible concern is that maybe we should be rooting for Kyler Murray to sit out another game. Because over the past two seasons, Conner averages 17.4 carries, 4.6 targets, and 22.8 FPG in the 5 games Colt McCoy has started. In all other games, he averages just 11.7 carries, 2.7 targets, and 13.5 FPG.

But that’s probably just a DFS distinction with me quibbling over his upside. Regardless of whichever QB earns the start, you’re playing Conner as (at worst) a low-end RB1 this week. [SB]

Start: Antonio Gibson vs. Falcons

It’s incredible how we’ve come full circle on Gibson. We’ve gone from him potentially losing his job this summer, to his teammate getting robbed and nearly killed, to him actually losing his job when Brian Robinson came back… and now Gibson is playing better than he ever has in his career and has earned the starter role over a now-healthy Robinson. Whew.

Gibson dominated this backfield last week, getting 68% of the snaps, 21 touches, and earning 14.7 XFP as a result. Brian Robinson still racked up 15 carries in their blowout loss vs. Houston, but Gibson dominated the passing down work and ran a route on 64% of the team’s pass plays. Robinson’s role was only worth 6.7 XFP. Ironically, this is the exact type of usage we have been asking for with Gibson for years now – which pushes him forward as a high-end RB2/FLEX play for Week 12. [GB]

Sit: Dameon Pierce at Dolphins

This is a painful one to write considering how much I love Dameon Pierce, but it’s just the right process to be a little afraid of how low his floor is at this point. The Texans are turning to Kyle Allen for a “spark” that Davis Mills clearly couldn’t provide and they are massive 13.5-point underdogs this week against Miami as a result. I have no doubt that the Texans will want to give Pierce the rock as many times as possible on the ground this week, but how long they can is another question.

Pierce doesn’t have a rushing TD since Week 5, largely because the Texans have run the fewest amount of plays (11) inside of their opponents’ 10-yard line since their bye. Because Pierce isn’t super involved as a receiver – he has just 11 receptions in his last five games – we’re left with a fairly low floor when he doesn’t find paydirt. Pierce is averaging 11.5 fantasy points per game when he doesn’t score a TD and he hasn’t eclipsed 15 FP once without a TD.

Pierce will need to get in the endzone here because he’ll likely face tough sledding on the ground. Miami should sell out to stop the run, something they’re already doing well (3.72 YPC allowed; second-fewest). Pierce is a TD-dependent RB3/FLEX play. [GB]

Deep leagues

Start: Jeff Wilson vs. Texans

Wilson seems fairly well ahead of Raheem Mostert. After earning 55% of the team’s backfield XFP in Week 9, that jumped to 66% in Week 10 before the bye, with Wilson handling 17 carries and 6 targets in comparison to Mostert’s 8 and 4. For perspective, that was worth 18.0 XFP to Wilson, which ranked 8th-most among all RBs on the week.

Based on this good volume, the potency of this offense (which looks easily top-3 to me), and Wilson’s efficiency in this familiar scheme (6.54 YPC since joining the team), I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson returns high-end RB2 value throughout the remainder of the season. At the very least, that’s about where I’ll have him ranked this week, in a perfect matchup against a Houston defense that’s given up a league-high 23.2 rushing FPG to opposing RBs (+17% more than the next closest defense). [SB]

Start: Latavius Murray at Panthers

Murray is not very good at football. But, luckily, in fantasy football, the RB position is almost totally driven by volume (with few exceptions) and efficiency is merely an added bonus. Last week Murray scored 17.2 fantasy points on a 17.0 XFP (9th-most at the position), despite handling only 56% of the backfield XFP. But now his backfield partner – Melvin Gordon – is no longer on the team. Chase Edmonds is also out for at least a few weeks with a high-ankle sprain. And Mike Boone is at least one more week away from returning.

And so, now it looks like Murray is staring at a highest-end bell cow workload up against a Panthers defense that ranks bottom-10 in YPC allowed (4.71) and rushing FPG allowed (15.9) to opposing RBs. Based on Murray’s projected touches, the plus matchup, and with this now being a Kubiak-led offense, I’m viewing Murray as a high-end RB2 this week. [SB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Michael Carter vs. Bears

Carter hasn’t been anything special over their last three games since Breece Hall’s unfortunate knee injury. He leads the backfield in snaps (53%) and XFP (9.9) in a middling three-way committee on a horrible offense. Well, with Zach Wilson benched after last week’s performance being the final straw, this attack actually has a chance with Mike White under center.

And if you remember, White checked down to his RBs more often than any QB in the league last season – something Wilson is unwilling (or just unaware) to do. In his four starts, White targeted his RBs on a whopping 38% of his pass attempts and Carter averaged 7.8 targets per game as a result. I don’t expect near that level of volume, but the QB change along with the matchup is enough to leave the light on for a little hope. Carter is a RB2/FLEX in PPR formats. Since trading DE Robert Quinn and LB Roquan Smith in Week 8, the Bears have allowed 85/421/6 (4.95 YPC) and 26.6 FPG to RBs. [GB]

Wide Receivers

Shallow leagues

Start: Tyler Lockett vs. Raiders

Minus a Week 6 game in which Lockett suffered a hamstring injury (which caused him to spend the next two weeks listed as questionable on the injury report), Lockett has scored at least 11.5 fantasy points in 8 of his last 8 games. Over this span (with Week 6 still excluded), he averages 7.9 targets per game (~WR21), 14.1 XFP/G (~WR23), and 16.9 FPG (~WR11).

So, Lockett has been remarkably consistent in spite of this injury, and impressively productive (basically a low-end WR1). And something similar can be said of D.K. Metcalf, who suffered a patellar tendon injury in Week 8. Hopefully both WRs are healthier today following their Week 11 bye week. But if I had to pick one for Week 12, I’d be betting on Lockett.

Lockett has seen 42% of his targets come from the slot, in contrast to only 21% for Metcalf. And that’s a key point this week, because the Raiders are the league’s premiere slot-funnel defense, ranking 6th-best in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (-3.7) but worst in the league against slot WRs (+5.3). [SB]

Start: Gabe Davis at Lions

We actually found a “boring” part of the Gabe Davis coaster last week as he had 5/68 vs. the Browns that could have been bigger if it weren’t for another drop. Despite a few mental errors this season, Davis still makes more sensational plays than not and this is obviously one of the best matchups he’ll get this season. The Lions are allowing the seventh-most yards per target to outside WRs (8.8) and are without their top CB Jeff Okudah. Davis is the highest ceiling WR2 play on the Week 12 slate. [GB]

Deep leagues

Start: Parris Campbell vs. Steelers

Over his last four games with Matt Ryan under center, Campbell averages 9.5 targets (~WR9), 15.7 XFP/G (~WR12), and 18.5 FPG (~WR8).To be fair, Campbell has had some excellent slot-funnel matchups over this span, artificially inflating these numbers. But he gets another terrific matchup this week – the Steelers are giving up the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing slot WRs (+2.7). He’s probably just a fringe WR3 moving forward, but I’d start him as a low-end WR2 this week. [SB]

Start: George Pickens at Colts

Pickens has finished as the WR27 and WR9 in his last two games out of the Steelers bye and just missed on a monster day last week against the Bengals. He is making at least one spectacular play a week, but it still feels like we are just scratching the surface of his full potential. At this rate, Pickens is already one of the highest upside WR3/FLEX plays every single week – but especially here against this Colts secondary that has been exposed by Terry McLaurin (6/113), Davante Adams (9/126/1), and Eagles WRs (13/169/1 combined) in three of their last 4 games. [GB]

Sleeper You Probably Shouldn’t Start

Underrated: Demarcus Robinson at Jaguars

Robinson was one of the big surprises of Week 11, catching 9 of 9 targets for 128 yards (3rd-most by any WR on the week). And he’s seen a growing route share over his last three games: 44% < 68% < 87%. Over this span, he ranks 8th in targets per route run (0.31), in between Cooper Kupp (0.32) and A.J. Brown (0.29). And, if he had one additional target in Week 8, then he would have led Baltimore in targets in each of these three games (in spite of his capped route share).

I wouldn’t start him in any of my leagues this week, but I would try to make a point to add him where I can – he’s currently unowned in 95% of Yahoo! leagues. And if you try to wait a week, it may be too late. He does get a very favorable matchup this week, up against a Jaguars defense that’s giving up the 8th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing outside WRs (+2.6). [SB]

Underrated: Drake London at Commanders

Trusting a Falcon in fantasy has been a deathwish in fantasy the entire season, so obviously a huge grain of salt is needed here. However… with Kyle Pitts sidelined, rational thinking would lead us to believe that Drake London will take over as the clear #1 for the rest of the season. In the one game that Pitts missed due to injury early this season (Week 5 vs. TB), London got seven targets (29% share). With that type of usage, London is on the WR3 borderline. And this matchup at least brings the confidence that Marcus Mariota does not. Outside WRs have eaten against Washington all season long as this secondary is allowing the fifth-most YPG (122.5) to boundary wideouts. This is a very strong slate for WRs, but London is in the WR3/FLEX mix. [GB]

Tight Ends

Shallow leagues

Start: Tyler Higbee at Chiefs

Through the first five weeks of the season Higbee ran a route on 76.3% of the team’s dropbacks (6th-most among TEs), but that dropped to 47.5% over the next five weeks (34th-most). I might have recommended you to drop Higbee from your roster had that number not rebounded. But fortunately, that jumped back up to 85.7% last week (3rd-most), alongside a team-high 29.6% target share (4th-most).

Minus the three weeks Higbee earned a route share below 60%, he averages: 9.1 targets per game (~TE2), 13.8 XFP/G (~TE3), and 12.0 FPG (~TE4). Although he does have minimal touchdown-upside, his target-floor is high enough to warrant viewing him as an easy mid-range TE1 moving forward.

And this is a great matchup for him. Kansas City ranks 7th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TE1s. Or, better yet – if you want to view him as the team’s WR1 now that Kupp is out (and I think that’s not too-outlandish of an assertion) – Kansas City is giving up the most FPG to opposing WR1s (21.5). [SB]

Start: Pat Freiermuth at Colts

If we exclude a Week 5 game when Freiermuth was exited the game early due to a concussion, Friermuth has seen at least 7 targets in five straight games. Over this span (with Week 5 still excluded), he’s averaging 8.8 targets per game (24.7% target share), 14.5 XFP/G, and 12.8 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 2nd-best (2nd-best), 2nd-best, and 3rd-best among all TEs.

So, yeah, I think Freiermuth needs to be started as a top-5 TE this week (in a neutral-at-worst matchup against the Colts) and probably every week moving forward as well. [SB]

Start: Dalton Schultz vs. Giants

After finishing as the TE6, TE12, TE5, and TE3 in Dak Prescott’s four starts, Schultz had just 3/22 receiving last week as Tony Pollard took over the game. Still, despite the down week, there is more than enough to go back to Schultz with confidence this week. On the season, the Giants are allowing the fifth-most yards (59) and seventh-most receptions (5.1) per game to tight ends. I’m going right back to Schultz as a top-5 TE play on the slate. [GB]

Deep leagues

Start: Gerald Everett at Cardinals

Everett has been a solid but unspectacular low-end TE1 this season, ranking 9th in XFP/G (10.1) and 9th in FPG (9.2). But we like him as a mid-range TE1 this week, in an unlosable matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. [SB]