(note-fantasy scoring ranks are according to ESPN Fantasy metrics, with 1st being the BEST defense among 32 teams, and 32nd being WORST defense among 32 teams)
We are coming off of a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving day slate of games, despite the fact that the BAL-PIT tilt has now been moved to Tuesday night. This will also affect next Thursday’s scheduled DAL-BAL game which has now been moved to the following Monday, for a MNF double header. Still keeping up? We can see after a relatively quiet early season in terms of Covid effects, the virus is once again rearing its ugly head and wreaking havoc on the NFL.
With teams such as the Broncos, Vikings, Rams, and of course the Steelers and Ravens heavily affected by the virus, it remains to be seen how much of an impact that all this will have on fantasy. But we persevere, and plan to the best of our ability. Here are the notes and nuggets for week 12, with this obviously being written after Thursday’s Thanksgiving day games. For those matchups, I will simply discuss what happened, how it looked, and what we can apply to our fantasy teams going forward.
1. ARIZONA CARDINALS- (@ NE 13th Rush, 20th Rcv, 10th Pass)
The news of last week’s exciting Cardinals loss to the Seahawks was Kyler Murray’s shoulder, which seemed to be bothering him throughout most of the game. While he and the coaching staff insist that the injury is nothing and Kyler will be fine, we can’t help but wonder if the shoulder will impact one of fantasy’s hottest QB’s this weekend, on the road in Foxboro.
Kenyan Drake continues to play well coming off his ankle injury, scoring last week and catching 4 passes for 31 yards. Still, Edmonds remains a low flex play because of his juice and fresh legs, as well as the way he is used. You’re not benching many players on this offense, and the relative lack of firepower coming from the NE offense suggests this may be more of a run heavy game for the Cardinals, especially if Murray isn’t 100%.
2. ATLANTA FALCONS- (vs LV 29th Rush, 18th Rcv, 23rd Pass)
It was announced on Friday that Todd Gurley would be out for this contest due to an unspecified knee injury that kept him out of practice the past week. Brian Hill and Quadree Ollison would step up in Gurley’s stead if you’re inclined to try to replace Gurley with a Falcons back, and the matchup rating indicates that it may be prudent. However, with how well the Raiders and Derek Carr are playing lately, it’s unclear how much running will factor into Coach Raheem Morris’ game plan on Sunday.
On the receiving front, Julio Jones is questionable, and barely played his usual complement of snaps last week, due to being in and out of the game. Calvin Ridley, however, is healthy and stands to be an even better start if Julio were to somehow miss. Use tight end Hayden Hurst at your own risk, who gave you a big fat ZERO last week with no catches on only 2 targets.
3. BALTIMORE RAVENS (vs PIT 2nd Rush, 19th Rcv, 1st Pass)
The aforementioned covid showdown has now been moved to Tuesday night, after already being rescheduled once from Thanksgiving to Sunday. Lamar Jackson has tested positive for Covid 19, as well as the majority of the Ravens O Line and backfield.
Gus Edwards is the only healthy running back and should stand to see a huge workload, especially with the lack of Jackson running the offense. Staying away from most of the other offensive options for BAL would behoove most fantasy owners at the end of the day.
This game is obviously in question, so I recommend you have a backup plan for anyone on the Steelers or Ravens this week; perhaps a contingency plan to substitute a player who plays on Sunday in the event of a cancellation, as was common practice early in the season.
4. BUFFALO BILLS (vs LAC 22nd Rush, 8th Rcv, 26th Pass)
Coming off the BYE week, the Bills have their work cut out for them as they face a hot Chargers team and their boy wonder QB, Justin Herbert. The Chargers defense shouldn’t pose too much of a problem, however, as they have been pretty generous in most categories.
The truly interesting question fantasy-wise is: Did the Bills figure anything out with the running game over the course of the planning period? Zack Moss the rookie has shown flashes, and Devin Singletary is more talented than his numbers belie, but Moss is the only one who seems to hold value as he has a chance at scoring in the red zone, a situation in which Singletary has been mostly the forgotten man.
Receiver John Brown will miss this game, and the bulk of the extra work will likely go to Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley, the latter who has been very startable on a regular basis. Tyler Kroft re-enters the picture at the TE position, having cleared covid protocols. Use the DST at your peril, as the Chargers are likely to score early and often in this contest that figures to be a shootout.
5. CAROLINA PANTHERS (@ MIN 16th Rush, 29th Rcv, 19th Pass)
Coming off of the 20-0 shutdown of the Detroit Lions last week, Teddy Bridgewater will be back under center for CAR after mending from the MCL sprain. CMC is still out, however, which gives us yet another week to use Mike Davis, who scored last week and put up better numbers than he had in the last few matches.
DJ Moore absolutely DOMINATED last week, going 7/127 and adding another 21 yards on the ground, even while being held out of the endzone. The conventional wisdom is that Bridgewater loves throwing the ball to fellow WR Robby Anderson, but Moore owners everywhere are crossing their fingers that he has shown enough to demand involvement in the game plan.
Curtis Samuel is in play here as well, continuing to be used on gadget plays as well as close to the goal line. Though PJ Walker performed admirably at QB last week, the Panthers should run more smoothly and be able to do some damage to the struggling MIN defense on Sunday.
6. CHICAGO BEARS (@ GB 30th Rush, 9th Rcv, 6th Pass)
Another team who had two weeks to plan for a divisional opponent, the Bears have the tall task of traveling to Lambeau field ahead of them while being in, let’s just say, not the most stable of positions. 3rd year QB Mitch Trubisky will be back under center this week, and many Bears fans are welcoming it.
Though Trubisky has definitely been shaky and mistake-prone in the past, the Bears offense is in desperate need of a spark plug that comes in the form of Trubisky’s mobility. Foles, statuesque as he is, often provided no upside when plays broke down for the Bears and their shabby offensive Line.
Running back David Montgomery is back from his concussion, and couldn’t ask for a much more favorable matchup, as the Packers have surrendered at least 30 fantasy points per game to the RB position. The question is, will the Bears have to abandon the run in the event of a blowout. The silver lining is that Monty generally gets good passing game usage; you can expect his usual high floor, even though there isn’t much of a ceiling (albeit perhaps higher than usual).
7. CINCINNATI BENGALS (vs NYG 23rd Rush, 17th Rcv, 5th Pass)
The unthinkable happened last week, when the Bengals’ prized young QB Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury, tearing his ACL and MCL, and taking the Bengals back to their all-too-familiar position of wondering how the hell they’re going to win football games. Joe Mixon remains sidelined, which means the volume will be there for Gio Bernard; but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want to use him.
I’m benching all Bengals options until further notice, at least until we see what Brandon Allen looks like in the offense. For some reason, they chose to go with him over Ryan Finley, who was dismal in relief of Burrow against WAS last weekend. Perhaps they have seen something in practice that we have yet to see, but Allen looked pretty awful when he started a few games for the Broncos last season.
8. CLEVELAND BROWNS (@ JAX 26th Rush, 28th Rcv, 30th Pass)
More tasty matchups await for your Browns players this week, and you might even be excited about using Baker Mayfield, who has only managed just over 20 fantasy points combined in his last three games played. You can still expect the usual heavy dose of Hunt and Chubb out of the backfield, with both proving their value as must-starts every week.
The matchup is especially enticing for Tight End Austin Hooper, who has yet to achieve the heavy usage he saw last year as an Atlanta Falcon. Hooper has only 4 targets in two games since coming back from an appendectomy, but with the Jaguars giving up the 2nd most fantasy points in the league to the TE position, the numbers are in his favor; he’s generally only recommended as a deep league or fill-in/stream play.
9. DALLAS COWBOYS (vs WAS, L 16-41)
It’s back to the drawing board for the Dallas Cowboys, who were blown out at home by the Washington Football team on Thanksgiving Day. Dalton once again proved he was shaky at QB and cannot be trusted, except in the deepest of circumstances.
Ezekiel Elliot saw volume, but couldn’t get anything going and also lost a fumble that would lead to a WAS score. The only Cowboy who had a decent day was Amari Cooper, who compiled 112 yards on 6 catches, one for a touchdown. Dallas mostly kicked field goals, and no other receiver provided anything to get our hopes up about their future prospects on a Dalton-lead offense.
The next opponent for the Cowboys will be Baltimore, in a game that will likely be pushed from next Thurs. to the following Monday for an MNF doubleheader.
10. DENVER BRONCOS (vs NO 1st Rush, 21st Rcv, 9th Pass)
After surprisingly beating Miami and their over-performing defense last week, Denver faces another tough test in the New Orleans Saints. Though the running backs had a great week against Miami, especially Melvin Gordon, chances for a repeat performance are slim to none. The Saints have been shutting down opposing teams run games in a major way, holding Todd Gurley to just 29 total yards last weekend.
It seems the place to attack the Saints is through the air, and Drew Lock is not afraid to sling it. While he will likely turn the ball over a couple of times, he may have to air it out repeatedly if the Saints offensive prowess under Taysom Hill continues. Young receiver Jerry Jeudy is questionable, and if he’s unable to go, Tim Patrick would be somewhat appealing as a streamer.
11. DETROIT LIONS (vs HOU, L 25-41)
The Lions looked good in the early going on Thursday, with Adrian Peterson scoring two first-half TDs in Deandre Swift’s (concussion) stead. However, the HOU pass rush had a rare good day, sacking the Detroit QB 4 times, and grabbing a pick-six courtesy of JJ Watt. The Lions are still sorely missing star WR Kenny Golladay, who is simply much more dynamic than anything else the team has to offer on offense. With TJ Hockenson being a bright spot and proving he belongs in the TE1 conversation, the offense will be limited as long as Marvin Jones III is the top target.
The Lions have a tough test against the Bears in week 13, and will hope to regain the health of some of their feature pieces in the receiving game and in the backfield.
12. GREEN BAY PACKERS (vs CHI 10th Rush, 2nd Rcv, 4th Pass)
It got real for the Packers last week as they lost on the road to the Colts in overtime. Fortunately for Aaron Rodgers, he loves playing the Bears, and generally dominates when he plays them. The numbers against the Bears are stingy as one would come to expect, and coming off the BYE, you would think they might have had some time to scheme something up against Matt LaFleur’s offense.
The return of WR2 Alan Lazard didn’t go very far to help the passing game last week, with the young WR only putting together a modest 2/18 performance. However, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling threatening to miss the game with an Achilles, one can’t be blamed for returning to the Lazard well this week. The volume, however, will likely be concentrated in its usual places: Aaron Jones and Davante Adams.
13. HOUSTON TEXANS (@ DET, W 41-25)
Deshaun Watson put on a masterful performance on Thanksgiving Day against the flailing Lions, putting up 318 passing yards and 4 TDs; two of them went to Will Fuller V, who absolutely shredded the Lions secondary for 171 yards on only six catches, with TD catches for 40 and 34 yards. Duke Johnson was once again rather pedestrian on the ground, but showed his prowess in the receiving game, catching a beautiful pass TD from Watson that required some YAC skills not many RBs would sneeze at.
The Texans face a tough matchup in week 13 against the Colts, but with the Colts facing the Titans this week after the Packers last week, their defense will have been repeatedly tested and maybe showing some cracks.
14. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (vs TEN 27th Rush, 23rd Rcv, 25th Pass)
Jonathan Taylor lives! That’s what many fantasy owners are shouting after the rookie’s 114 all-purpose yards totaling performance against the Packers last week. Nyheim Hines was an afterthought after shining in week 10, proving that there is almost nothing harder to predict than an Indianapolis Colts backfield in 2020. Just when we all though Taylor was unstartable, he showed that he is still on the shortlist of the best rookie running backs in the league.
The Titans are in the bottom third of the league in all categories surrendered to fantasy opposition, and Philip Rivers has been playing well. A toe injury saw him exit the contest last week, but all signs are pointing to the veteran QB being available for this week’s game, which the Colts would love to have on their AFC South resumé.
Late-Breaking Note: RB Jonathan Taylor has been added to the Covid list and is ruled out for Week 12.
15. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (vs. CLE 7th Rush, 22nd Rcv, 21st Pass)
The news this week out of Jacksonville is the return of backup QB Mike Glennon, the NC State product who has made a career as a very serviceable backup, without having to do too much at all. Still, his number gets called this week in a matchup at home against the Browns, with Gardner Minshew II unavailable once again.
You could ask for a worse matchup to face in your return to the NFL, with the Browns being below average in points given up to QBs and WRs. With receiver DJ Chark already ruled out with a rib injury, expect the target share to increase for Keelan Cole Sr. and the returning, promising young Leviska Shenault Jr.
James Robinson continues to stand out as one of the best young RBs in the league, with the undrafted FA compiling almost 100 total yards against the Steelers stellar defense. His situation is appealing in that he is one of the only RBs in the league who doesn’t seem to cede much work at all to a backup, so you can continue to start him with confidence. Perhaps staying away from any other Jags backfield option would be advisable, however, at least until Chris Thompson comes off IR.
16. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (@TB 4th Rush, 13th Rcv, 8th Pass)
When Pat Mahomes got the ball back last week with less than a minute left against the Raiders, almost EVERYONE knew exactly what was going to happen. They were going to win; and any team that leaves Travis Kelce SO wide open possession after possession probably deserves the loss. That being said, the Raiders played remarkably well against the Chiefs, reinforcing the postulation that Jon Gruden may have Andy Reid’s number, to a certain extent. However, it wasn’t enough this time.
This week, the Bucs defense will surely deliver a tougher test for Andy Reid and co., being in the top third of the league against the rush and the pass. Multiple bruisers upfront can make life difficult for Mahomes, although he will get an extra weapon back in Sammy Watkins, who has missed the last 5 matchups with a calf/hamstring injury.
More outlets for Mahomes is always better, and with the stout run defense of Tampa Bay, the Chiefs may have to rely on the passing game even more than usual. Still, rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire has taken his place as the team’s clear first option in the backfield, and a short-yardage TD is definitely on the table, even though veteran Le’veon Bell snagged his first of the season last week in Las Vegas.
17. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (@ATL 5th Rush, 30th Rcv, 32nd Pass)
Jon Gruden and his team don’t have long to dwell on what could’ve been last week, losing to the Chiefs in heartbreaking fashion. But the Raiders have a lot to be happy about after last week, going toe-to-toe once again with their division rivals who also happen to be the class of the NFL and current Super Bowl champs.
If you’ve been streaming Derek Carr at QB, you can continue doing so comfortably this week, as Atlanta is dead last in the league when it comes to defending QBs. Agholor and of course Waller are also great plays, and the author has a hunch that they may try to get their young WR Henry Ruggs III involved, who has the tools to be a Tyreek Hill-esque player if everything breaks right for him.
Despite the tough matchup against the run, you are obviously starting Josh Jacobs, who had another great week against KC. He has 4 TDs in the last 3 weeks and has proven his worth in the red zone even when his total yardage isn’t staggering. The game has one of the highest O/U of the week at 54, suggesting there will be plenty of scoring, and you want to get as much fantasy action as you can on this matchup.
18. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (@ BUF 19th Rush, 11th Rcv, 28th Pass)
Justin Herbert continues his torrid pace, slinging 366 yards and 3 tuddies last week against the Jets, with no interceptions. The rookie QB now has a Touchdown/Interception ratio of 22/6 on the season with only one fumble. The kid appears so calm under pressure and is rarely seeming to make any mistakes. Being wise beyond his years when it comes to going down or throwing the ball away, and not making the ridiculous YOLO throws that QBs like Daniel Jones and Carson Wentz have come to be known for this season, are setting him apart in a big way.
The real news is the imminent return of dynamic RB Austin Ekeler, who when at his best has proven to be a formidable weapon for the Chargers. We also have not yet seen Ekeler and Herbert truly firing on all cylinders together. I, for one, am very excited for these prospects, however, I’m not starting Ekeler on his first game back. Kalen Ballage figures to once again get a lot of work, regardless of whether Ekeler is activated.
Look for the Bills defense to key in on Keenan Allen, who has been Herbert’s favorite target by far and saw a jaw-dropping 19 targets against the Jets. However, not only is Allen one of the best route runners in the league and essentially matchup-proof, Herbert has also shown the ability to spread the ball around and get it done regardless of who he is targeting.
19. LOS ANGELES RAMS (vs SF 8th Rush, 12th Rcv, 17th Pass)
Jared Goff was pretty great against the Bucs stout defense last week, tossing 3 TDs and almost 400 yards passing, despite the 2 interceptions which took away from his fantasy day. Robert Woods had a career day, and Cooper Kupp looked like one of the best wide receivers in the league after the catch, compiling 145 yards on 13 targets. The aforementioned Woods had 130 yards. What does that tell us? The Rams pass offense is coming on in a big way.
Goff was still able to support two 100 yard receivers against one of the best pass rushes in the league, which gives you supreme confidence going forward in using these guys for fantasy. The 49ers are getting a bit healthier on defense, but the Rams have shown the ability to almost always play well in these divisional matchups under Sean McVay, and with uncertainty at the QB position for Kyle Shanahan, they will have their hands full with this Rams team that is lately looking like one of the best in the NFC.
Stay away from the Rams running game once again, as the committee approach continues stronger than ever. Rookie Cam Akers caught a TD last week, which is just an indicator of the unpredictability of this rushing attack. All are RB3/flex until further notice.
20. MIAMI DOLPHINS (@ NYJ 21st Rush, 27th Rcv, 29th Pass)
Rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa was benched last week (not injury related according to Coach Brian Flores, which may or may not be coach-speak), but will start against the Jets generous defense on the road in New Jersey.
This should be an ideal bounce-back spot for Tua, although his receiving corps may have taken yet another hit with Jakeem Grant currently listed as questionable. Still, his mouth must be watering after the Jets surrendered 366 pass yards to Justin Herbert last week, and the recent moves in the secondary indicate they are in full tank mode.
It’s still unclear as to whether Myles Gaskin will return from short term IR, and Savon Ahmed is also banged up with a shoulder and will miss the contest. Matt Breida, Patrick Laird, and Deandre Washington would likely form a committee in the event that Gaskin is unable to return. Miami DST should smash this week against a Jets team who is still winless on the season despite scoring 25+ in the past two games.
Late-Breaking Note: Dolphins Coaching staff Saturday morning said that Tua is no guarantee to play, and they would exercise caution with his thumb if it’s holding him back. Ryan Fitzpatrick would start if the rookie were to miss the game.
21. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (vs CAR 28th Rush, 6th Rcv, 12th Pass)
Covid 19 has affected the Vikings this week, with their star WR Adam Thielen being unlikely to suit up for the contest against the Panthers. Thielen was a rock star last week, scoring 2 TDs on 8 receptions for 123 yards, so it’s definitely disappointing to not have him in lineups this week.
Cousins will have to lean on rookie Justin Jefferson more, as well as Kyle Rudolph, Chad Beebe, and potentially young TE Irv Smith Jr. if he is available. This has all the makings of another huge Dalvin Cook game, as the Panthers are near the bottom of the barrel against the run, despite holding up fairly well against the Lions’ backup RBs last week. Still, Cook has amassed a staggering 750 yards and 7 TDs in 4 games and is battling with Derrick Henry weekly for the league rushing title.
22. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (v ARI 14th Rush, 24th Rcv, 24th Pass)
The Patriots came back to earth last week after a promising win against the Ravens in week 10. Just when we thought that Jakobi Meyers was distinguishing himself as the top passing target in the offense, Damiere Byrd consumed the majority of the targets against the Texans in week 11.
With Rex Burkhead suffering a season-ending knee injury, James White looks to step back into his regular role as hurry-up and passing downs RB, a job that he has perfected in the Patriots offense. I am excited about the potential for White to be a weekly RB3/flex with high upside in PPR formats.
Cam had his second 300 yard plus passing game as a Patriot, which bodes well for the 10-year veteran heading into week 12, against a Cardinals defense that is in the bottom third of the league against the pass and against receivers. Kyler and Arizona will be looking to bounce back after losing last week to the Seahawks, and will likely have no problem putting up points against the Patriots mish-mash defensive line. If Cam is chasing points, he will likely be a low-end QB1 again this week.
23. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (@ DEN 15th Rush, 16th Rcv, 18th Pass)
Last week’s blurb quickly became obsolete as Taysom Hill, not Jameis Winston, drew the QB start in week 11, causing havoc in fantasy leagues where he still held TE eligibility (ESPN leagues). Many players who started Hill at TE secured a win through this loophole, with the QB performing well in his first full-time start for the Saints. However, with his eligibility now changed to QB only, managers who used Hill at TE will have to find another solution.
One thing Hill showed was that he was NOT afraid to target Saints star WR Michael Thomas, who received 12 targets on only 23 pass attempts. With the Falcons a much more generous secondary than the looming Broncos, and with altitude being one of the last remaining true home-field advantages in the NFL this season, it remains to be seen if Hill will repeat his success.
The Saints DST is a top candidate for your lineup this week against Drew Lock, who has thrown 11 INTs in the past 6 weeks, not to mention the tendency of the Broncos RBs to put the ball on the ground at inopportune times.
24. NEW YORK GIANTS (@CIN 20th Rush, 25th Rcv, 20th Pass)
Coming off the bye week, the Giants head to Cincinnati to face a struggling Bengals team who just lost their starting QB. Wayne Gallman should be great on the ground this week as the Giants will likely try to slow the pace down and let their defense do the work. Brandon Allen will start at QB over Ryan Finley, and the Giants rested defense will be a stiff test as the offensive line has proven they are largely ineffective.
Almost all of the Giants receiving weapons will be in play here, with Slayton and Shepard figuring to see the most work. However, with the Bengals surrendering the third-most points in the league to the TE position, Evan Engram will be in play as well for managers streaming tight ends.
Daniel Jones will look to continue his ascendance toward mistake-free football, as the turnover-prone signal-caller hadn’t turned the ball over in two weeks prior to the bye.
25. NEW YORK JETS (vs MIA 25th Rush, 15th Rcv, 15th Pass)
The good news for Jets fans is that they will be getting back their young QB, Sam Darnold, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, after also missing time earlier in the season. It will be interesting to see if the more mobile Darnold can breathe some life into the Jets passing offense, who has promising young rookie Denzel Mims emerging, as well as trusted target Jamison Crowder, and recent signing Breshad Perriman.
With all that out of the way, I am once again advising managers to steer clear of the Jets in fantasy if at all possible. Ageless wonder Frank Gore will dominate the backfield after rookie La’Mical Perine went to short term IR with an ankle injury, but the matchup stats for the Dolphins are a bit skewed, with the unit performing much better the second half of the season, despite last week’s letdown in Denver. If you’re hurting for a volume play at RB, you could do worse than Gore this week.
26. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (vs SEA 18th Rush, 32nd Rcv, 31st Pass)
The latest news out of Philadelphia is that Tight End Zach Ertz will likely be held out yet another week, opening the door for Dallas Goedert to once again have a big role. The talented TE prospect scored a TD last week, his first since returning from IR, to go along with 77 yards on 5 receptions. Still, if the past few weeks have been any indication, Richard Rodgers will be involved just enough to irritate those who start Goedert hoping for a huge day.
Nothing is better for an ailing passing game than the Seahawks secondary, which has been called “The Legion of Room” by some, rather than their former foreboding moniker. Receivers Alshon Jeffery, Travis Fulgham, and Jalen Reagor should all be decent starts this week, despite Carson Wentz’s struggles behind this disappointing offensive line. If anything, PHI will be pressured to score early and often to keep pace with the Seahawks potent offense.
27. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (vs BAL 9th Rush, 4th Rcv, 13th Pass)
Having their game postponed until Tuesday after being removed from the primetime Thanksgiving slate is not sitting well with many of the Steelers players, many of whom have spoken out on social media. The most notable being Juju Smith-Schuster, who tweeted the following:
First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh.
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) November 25, 2020
What does this all mean? You can bet the Steelers will be ready on Tuesday night against a decimated Ravens squad, who will be missing several starting defensive players, almost all of their RB corps, and their QB. This is likely to be a “burn the tape” week from Baltimore who will unlikely be able to withstand the onslaught of the smoking Steelers offense and brutal defensive line. Start all your Steelers and hope the game doesn’t get postponed even further. As mentioned above, a contingency or backup receiver plan should be in play for managers looking to start these players.
Late-Breaking Note: RB James Connor has been added to the team’s Covid list and is unlikely to play if the game happens on Tuesday. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland Jr. would see a bump in carries if Connor is held out.
28. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (@ LAR 2nd Rush, 1st Rcv, 2nd Pass)
The 49ers will likely get some welcome help back this week, with RB1 Raheim Mostert likely to return from short-term IR. QB Garoppolo could come back, but it seems less likely, which would mean that Nick Mullens would start yet another week. This doesn’t bode well against a Rams defense that is solidifying as one of the best units in the league, being near the top in almost all metrics.
Mostert is still the highest upside back on the team, and his rushing and avoidance skills are top-tier. Aaron Donald and the Rams defensive line will likely have something for him, however, and try to force the shaky Mullens to beat them through the air.
Another silver lining for San Francisco is the return of WR1 Deebo Samuel, who’s dynamic YAC skills may be able to offer the 49ers some path of attack against this daunting challenge. Samuel caught 6 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown the last time these teams met in week 6.
29. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (@ PHI 12th Rush, 10th Rcv, 7th Pass)
Coming off the big divisional win against the Cardinals, the Seahawks travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. Chris Carson will return to the Hawks backfield for the first time since week 7, adding another familiar piece for Pete Carroll to move around the chessboard. Carson is a must-start and is always dangerous, especially with fresh legs. Fantasy managers hope he can stay healthy down the stretch and be a feature for their playoff runs.
Russell Wilson has shown some cracks in his game the last few weeks. Despite throwing less than 200 yards last week, he didn’t turn the ball over and was able to deliver an important victory against their division rival Cardinals. The Eagles pass rush will likely pose a stiffer test than Arizona last week, but the Seattle defense will likely be under less pressure against a questionable Wentz passing attack.
30. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (vs KC 17th Rush, 5th Rcv, 11th Pass)
The Bucs have yet another herculean task on their docket coming off the embarrassing loss to the Rams, having to face the formidable Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium. Though the Chiefs defense has been a bit under the radar in terms of its potency, it will still be a little more breathable than last week’s Rams squad.
There isn’t much to say in regard to the Bucs fantasy starters, you’re basically set, in that regard. Game script will be the true mystery, with conventional wisdom saying that the Chiefs shouldn’t have much of a problem putting up points. The question is if it turns into a shootout, will the Bucs and Brady (who looked old and tired last week) be able to keep up? Or will the TB defense step up and give the veteran QB and Bruce Arians a chance to get back in the win column, in what would certainly be a marquee victory were it to come to pass.
31. TENNESSEE TITANS (@ IND 6th Rush, 7th Rcv, 3rd Pass)
The Titans’ opponent in Indianapolis is coming off a huge win against the Packers last week, and also happens to be tied with them for the division lead in the AFC South, which has turned into something of a two-horse race. It would take a lot for the currently 4-7 Texans to make a run, but with Watson playing out of his mind, it certainly isn’t out of the realm. Regardless, Indy is healthy and ready to roll against this Titans squad, and Tennessee should be a bit afraid.
Rivers is playing the best football of the season so far, and the Colts offensive attack is becoming more balanced, with Rookie Jonathan Taylor coming into his own. The Titans pass defense is in dire straits, with 4 players in the secondary alone designated out, or on injured reserve. Derrick Henry will likely be heavily utilized, but spoiler alert: the Colts know it. They will be ready, and their defense ranks in the top 10 in all metrics. I see a slow-paced game, without a ton of scoring.
Tannehill was a bit better last week against the Ravens, leading them to a comeback victory and throwing over 200 yards for the first time since week 8. The heavy dose of Henry in the backfield that is likely coming may cap the passing game’s upside, especially if the Titans look to slow the game down and keep the ball out of the hands of the opposition.
32. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (@ DAL, W 41-16)
The Football Team absolutely bludgeoned Dallas on the road on Thanksgiving Day, with the story being young Antonio Gibson and his HUGE outing; the rookie totaled 136 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. Gibson is quickly moving up dynasty and keeper ranks, with the Rivera led Washington team showing real commitment to running the ball and throwing to running backs.
Alex Smith is basically just competent, and fortunately, he knows how to get the ball to Terry McLaurin, who pulled a Metcalf-like chase down after an interception by the Cowboys’ Jaylon Smith. McLaurin has force-fed targets at a rate we seldom see in today’s NFL, and his route and YAC skills place him near the top of the list when it comes to exciting young receiving talent.
Washington faces a tough test against Pittsburgh in week 13, and with the Steelers expecting more week 12 covid tests at the time of this writing, everything related to week 13 could be in flux for both teams.