Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
Update 11/28/20: Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to start this week as Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury has relegated him to a Doubtful designation.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa is battling an unknown thumb injury but he’s managed limited practice participation on both Wednesday and Thursday, putting him in line to play on Sunday. Given the rookie’s recent struggles, we can expect the coaching staff to only ask Tagovailoa to do what’s necessary to get the win, before killing the clock with the run game. The Jets’ atrocious secondary is allowing 22.3 FPPG to opposing signal callers, 4th-most in the NFL, making for a easy path to mid-tier QB2 numbers.
DeVante Parker enters blow-up territory as the undisputed top dog in the Dolphins pass catching corps. The Jets’ secondary is getting burned to the ground by opposing wide receivers (34.5 .5PPR PPG — 5th-most in the NFL), as most recently evidenced by the King Kong outings of Keenan Allen (16/19-145-1) and Mike Williams (4/7-72-1). Consider Parker a Top 15 play with Tua at the helm but keep in mind, it’s entirely possible the coaches opt to bench Tua so as to not put him at risk of worsening his thumb injury. The Jets pose little threat of winning the game so Ryan Fitzpatrick entering at half-time is a definite possibility. If that’s the case, Parker’s ceiling would rise even higher as Fitzpatrick would launch non-stop YOLO balls at the talented, towering receiver.
Proficient fill-in receiver/returner Jakeem Grant worryingly “tweaked” his hamstring during Thursday’s practice, putting his Sunday availability in doubt. Should he play, he’s a high-floor/high-ceiling flex option. Should he miss, Mack Hollins and Antonio Callaway would become Hail Mary flex options.
Miami scaled back their two-tight end set usage last week, drastically dropping the snaps of No. 2 TE Durham Smythe who’s operated as a thorn in the side of No. 1 TE Mike Gesicki for weeks now. The Jets have been sledgehammered by lesser tight ends all year (ie. Jordan Reed — 7/8-50-2, Mo Alie-Cox — 3/3-50-1, and Miami’s own Adam Shaheen — 3/3-51-1), giving Gesicki great odds at a Top 12 finish at the position.
The Miami backfield is shaping up to be The Matt Breida and Patrick Laird Show with Myles Gaskin donning a red non-contact jersey (MCL) on Wednesday and Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) recording back-to-back Did Not Participate designations on Wednesday and Thursday. If this is the case, Breida would operate as the team’s primary ballcarrier with Laird handlig as the backfield’s pass catching duties. Against a Jet’s front allowing the most receptions per game to opposing RBs, 6.6, Laird would draw flex consideration in full-point PPR leagues — with the acknowledgment that the last time Laird was in line for this kind of role, he completely failed. Breida would be a high-floor flex option who may have a low ceiling as his diminutive stature does not profile well as a goal-line back.
Update 11/27/20: As predicted, Salvon Ahmed has been ruled out for Week 12.
Jets QB Sam Darnold looks like he’s ready to return to action (shoulder) as he was upgraded to a full participant in practice on Thursday. Unfortunately for him, the gnashing jaws of the Dolphins’ secondary eagerly await his arrival. Miami has knocked down a whopping 53 passes attempted by opposing quarterbacks, 2nd-most in the NFL, en route to just 13 passing touchdowns allowed, 3rd-fewest. Darnold is a no-go in fantasy this week.
The only Jets’ pass catcher that deserves starting consideration this week is Darnold’s go-to, slot receiver Jamison Crowder. That said, it took 20 targets for fellow slot receiver Cooper Kupp to produce a decent day against them. Crowder’s just a low-end flex option with moderate upside in full-point PPR leagues.
Studly downfield receiver Breshad Perriman should be rostered in all formats though. He’s blown past defenses for long touchdowns in back-to-back games, establishing himself as a real deal 2020 deep threat. After this unfortunate outing against Miami, Perriman enters blow-up spots against Las Vegas and Seattle in Week 13 and 14.
With Lamical Perine landing on Injured Reserve this week (ankle), Frank Gore enters the flex-streaming conversation against a Dolphins run defense that’s been left for dead as the team builds up the infrastructure of its pass defense units. Their 1,342 rushing yards allowed and 13 rushing touchdowns allowed rank 6th and 8th-most, respectively.
Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (throwing shoulder sprain) looks ready to rock on Sunday after managing limited practice participation on Wednesday and Thursday. Even if the shoulder keeps him from throwing, his unholy rushing ability may lead to an even larger fantasy output. The dual threat dynamo is a no-brainer QB1 even in a tough match-up.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has produced up-and-down performances over the last five games but fantasy managers should roll with Hopkins as a Top 12 option in what’s shaping up to be a shootout. The Cards’ own inability to stop opposing offenses will help push the pace of the their offensive output and with Larry Fitzgerald out this week (COVID-19/Reserve List), Hopkins will be heavily relied upon.
Fitzgerald’s absence also clears the way for the talented, yet seldom used, downfield receiver Andy Isabella. Isabella can take the roof off of any defense and with Hopkins commanding the majority of CB Stephon Gilmore’s attention, Isabella and No. 2 WR Christian Kirk will be running free. Consider both Kirk and Isabella as multi-flex options with Kirk preferred in full-point PPR and Isabella in .5PPR/standard.
Even if there were fantasy-relevant tight ends on the Cardinals’ roster, they would be ill-advised starts against a Patriots defense allowing the 4th-fewest .5PPR PPG (7.5).
Although the snap share between running backs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds has remained close over the last two weeks, the touch-count is tipping heavily in Drake’s favor (32 to 17), making Drake the slightly better fantasy bet to for rushing and receiving production. A noteworthy occurrence from last week though was Edmonds handling the entirety of the team’s kick return responsibilities — a duty that added four fantasy points (100 return yards) to his daily total. Edmonds had been splitting kick returns with teammates but last week may have signaled a changing of the guard. Nifty add-ons like this can be dynamic difference-makers in fantasy box scores. Consider Drake a back-end RB2 and Edmonds a high-end flex.
Injuries from Arizona’s defensive side of the ball have piled names high on the Injured Reserve, providing big time opportunities to a number of Patriots’ players. Their losses in the front-seven specifically boost the prospects of a rushing quarterback like Cam Newton too. In each of the last four games, Arizona has allowed opposing signal callers to rush for no fewer than 35 yards per game. Fire up Cam Newton as a high-end QB1.
Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers’ fantasy roster percentage took a dip after last week’s dud with shortsighted fantasy managers bailing on a non-sinking ship. Since Meyers’ took control of the Patriots’ passing game in Week 7, his 0.76 Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR) has dominated that of his teammates, with Damiere Byrd registering a distant second (0.48). Usage like that against a Cards’ defensive back group yielding the 6th-most .5PPR PPG to opposing receivers (33.9), cements Meyers firmly into the WR2 ranks.
Downfield receiver Damiere Byrd has a chance to build on his strong Week 11 performance as Arizona’s deep threat-coverage has been lacking in recent weeks, allowing three receiving touchdowns of 20+ yards.
N’Keal Harry has been far too fluky to be trusted for fantasy purposes.
There are no tight ends of fantasy relevance in New England.
The aforementioned losses in Arizona’s front-seven bode very well for New England’s running back brigade. Damien Harris should continue to operate as the team’s primary rusher but with Sony Michel now off of Injured Reserve (a healthy scratch last week), fantasy managers will need to monitor Michel’s game day status. Regardless, Michel has played well enough to lead back duties for Week 12. He’s a mid-tier flex option.
Do-it-all back/pass catching specialist Rex Burkhead is believed to have torn an ACL in Week 11, leaving the pass catching duties all to tried and true veteran James White. White carries high-floor flex viability in all formats with high-end upside in full-point PPR leagues.
Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings
QB Teddy Bridgewater is back to practicing in full after missing Week 11 with a sprained MCL. His Week 12 row with the Minnesota Vikings will be the first time Teddy takes meaningful reps against the team that drafted him with the final pick of the 1st Round in the 2014 NFL Draft. Lucky for him, it should be a comfortable homecoming party as the Vikings’ putrid pass rush is generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks just 20.2% of the time — 11th least frequent in the NFL. Their 2,607 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns allowed rank 9th and 3rd-most, respectively. The Vikings’ gator-armed secondary has batted down just 30 pass attempts, 5th-fewest in the NFL. Bridgewater is a locked-in QB1 for Week 12.
D.J. Moore has eviscerated opposing secondaries in back-to-back weeks as the Panthers’ designated downfield threat, posting overall WR4 numbers (35.9 .5PPR points) during that span. Talent-deficient (Marquez Valdes-Scantling — 4/6-96-1) and uber-talented (D.K. Metcalf 6/11-93-2 and Julio Jones 8/10-137-2) players alike has thrashed Minnesota’s weak sauce DB group all year. Accordingly, Moore deserves Top 15 consideration with elite upside.
X-receiver Robby Anderson, who likewise possesses undeniable long speed, has a great shot at a bounce-back game after producing ho-hum results over the last few weeks. Trust Minnesota’s Sorcerer’s Stone effect on opposing wide receivers and fire him up as a high-flying Top 15 option.
Curtis Samuel’s slot receiver/gadget rusher role, implemented consistently over the last five games has led to five total touchdowns and there’s no reason to think that kind of production stops this week. Samuel is a high-floor/high-ceiling WR2.
Panthers’ tight end Ian Thomas is nowhere to be found on Sunday afternoons. Leave him in free agency.
Fill-in running back Mike Davis got back on track last week, trouncing the hapless Detroit Lions and retaking control of the team’s backfield snap share. The knock on Davis comes from Samuel’s short-area involvement in the passing game with an average targeted air yards mark of 6. Still, David can be trusted as a mid-tier RB2 against a Vikings’ front-seven that’s allowed the 12th-most rushing yards on the year (1,221).
Things are looking up for Minnesota’s passing game after Tom Pelissero reported that Adam Thielen, who had been placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List due to an early-week positive test, tested negative when tested a second time, revealing the possibility of a false positive via the first test. While Thielen has not yet been re-activated to the active roster, fantasy managers — and QB Kirk Cousins — have a reason for hope. Assuming Thielen is good to go, Cousins finds himself firmly on the high-end streaming radar in a game where talented offenses should pummel each other’s lacking defenses. Carolina’s rookie-made defensive units are 10th-worst, or worse, in passing yards (2,700) allowed, rushing yards allowed (1,285), and rushing touchdowns allowed (14). Their 20.0% QB pressure rate is even more embarrassing than Minnesota’s — as is their interception total (5 — 4th-fewest).
Like their Week 12 counterparts, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, Minnesota wide receivers Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson carry Top 15 rankings into Week 12’s surefire shootout. Thielen will contend for overall WR1 honors.
Should Thielen not get cleared in time, Chad Beebe would make for an acceptable flex option while Jefferson would be upgraded to the position’s elite ranks.
Tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. bear boom/bust TE1 potential in a good match-up.
Carolina’s 14 rushing touchdowns allowed are just three behind the league-leading Detroit Lions but Vikings’ running back Dalvin Cook will do his damnedest to bring them even — the 4th-year running back has been a scoring machine, leading the league with 14 all-purpose trips to the endzone. Cook’s league best 228.8 .5PPR points lead Alvin Kamara by 5.5 points — and the rest of the running backs by more than 52. He’s this week’s overall RB1.
Alexander Mattison and Ameer Abdullah are not reliable enough to be considered flex-worthy options.
Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars
Although the Jaguars’ defensive backs present an entirely unimposing match-up, having allowed 2,822 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns, 4th and 5th-most, respectively, QB Baker Mayfield is still at risk of being game-scripted out of action as the two Cleveland backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are primed for monster outings. Using the drop-down interface at Sharp Football, on the Play Frequency page, one can see that since Nick Chubb returned from injury in Week 10, Cleveland has run at an early-down, 1st-half run rate of 60% — 4th-highest in the NFL. What teams do on early-downs, in the 1st-half, when the game is still within striking distance for both sides, they’re telling us what kind of team they want to be. Against a top-to-bottom dreadful defense like the Jaguars, piling 25 touches apiece on Chubb and Hunt’s plate is a great way to get out of Florida interception-free while also securing an easy win. Jacksonville’s 1,291 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns allowed both rank as the 9th-most in the NFL, big reasons why they’re allowing the 5th-most .5PPR PPG to opposing backfields (23.6). Integral to that failure though, is their allowance of the 4th-most RB receptions per game (6.2) and the 7th-most RB receiving yards per game (44.1) which sets up nicely for dual threat No. 2 back Hunt. Both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt come in as Top 5 options at the position this week.
Writer’s note: Perhaps the best offensive analyst in the business, Brandon Thorn has made clear the the Browns’ offensive success — especially their dominant run game — is made possible by the outstanding play of right guard Wyatt Teller. You can find Thorn’s in-depth breakdown of the 3rd-year O-Line phenom here.
Although Garnder Minshew has managed limited practice participation this week, the Jagaurs have opted to bench one stork-like backup, Jake Luton, for another, Mike Glennon.
As a curious aside — and perhaps indicative of Jacksonville’s inability to construct a winning football team — the east Floridian franchise weirdly employed two 6’7”, immobile quarterbacks, both tipping the scales between 225-229lbs,as backups for a decently quick short-statured gunslinger.
What we can draw from Glennon’s underwhelming seven year career is that he’s at least somewhat more stable than the raw rookie, Luton, and may be able to provide one or two pass catchers with flex-worthy production. Cleveland’s pass defense units have largely underwhelmed this year, struggling both to generate pressure (19.7% QB pressure rate — 7th-worst), and keep pass catchers out of the endzone (20 touchdowns — 7th-most). Making matters worse, their best defensive player, stud defensive end Myles Garrett is out this week (COVID-19/Reserve List). Tied for the NFL’s lead in sacks (9.5) and 12th in QB pressures (22), the impact of Garrett’s absence cannot be overstated.
That said, John Oehser reports that wide receivers D.J. Chark and Chris Conley are both out this week, leaving the potential 3-wide set for the Jaguars as Keelan Cole, Laviska Shenault, and the seldom-used Collin Johnson. Shenault’s status is still up in the air though as a hamstring injury has kept him out over the last two games. Should Shenault play, he’d be a viable flex option as both a slot receiver and run-game gadget man. Cole will see the high-value, yet high-variance deep shots against Cleveland’s leaky secondary. He’s a boom/bust flex play. Johnson is not worthy of fantasy consideration.
Tight end Tyler Eifert is a mid-tier TE2.
Running back James Robinson will continue to see sublime usage as the lone back seeing meaningful snaps in Jacksonville. The absence of Myles Garrett benefits Robinson too, as he’ll see far fewer defenders sneaking behind the line of scrimmage with Garrett on the shelf. Robinson’s high-floor production, having failed to reach double-digit .5PPR points just twice in 10 games, en route to overall RB4 totals, the breakout rookie back brings can’t-lose stability to fantasy rosters. He’s a locked-in RB1 every week.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
The Tennessee Titans head to Indianapolis for revenge after getting trounced by the Colts just two weeks ago. It’s fair to point out though that Indy is far more banged up than now than they were for the previous bout, giving Tennessee a better chance at evening the odds. Perhaps most significant among Week 12’s Indy absences is 2019 Second-Team All-Pro, do-it-all defensive end DeForest Buckner, who was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve List earlier this week. The 6’7”, 291lbs athletic specimen has leveled quarterbacks all year, registering 10 QB knockdowns — T-7th-most in the NFL, three of which he laid on Titans QB Ryan Tannehill in Week 10. His presence will be sorely missed. As a result, Ryan Tannehill rises to the high-end QB2 ranks.
Fantasy managers need to monitor A.J. Brown’s stats closely. He got Wednesday off to rest his balky knee, as is tradition, but he also missed Thursday’s practice. A talent like him may not need to register more than a limited practice participation on Friday but again, monitor his availability. He’s Top 12 option at the position every week. Had Brown not dropped that 72-yard touchdown pass against Indy in Week 10, Brown’s WR1 status wouldn’t be up for debate. Trust the talent.
Update 11/27/20: A.J. Brown registered a full practice participation on Friday. He’s good to go.
The boomest/bustiest of boom/bust flex wide receivers, Corey Davis carries his normal high-risk/high-reward play into Week 12’s game. Should Brown miss, Davis would be elevated to a Top 24 option with easy Top 12 upside as the offense’s passing game focal point.
Things are not looking good for slot receiver Adam Humphries. Humphries is currently in the league’s concussion protocol and after getting a full practice in on Wednesday, he was downgraded to “limited” on Thursday. He’ll likely need a full practice on Friday to get the green light. Should he play, Humphries would retain his high-floor flex status but his ceiling would be fairly capped, due to the match-up. Kalif Raymond and Cameron Batson would split time as co-backups to Humphries, if Humphries were to miss. Both are undesirable options but if constructing contrarian DFS lineups, Raymond is the preferred play as he leads the team in average depth of target (aDot) with a mark of 18.4 yards (toggle through drop-down menus to see TEN’s pass catchers).
Fortunately for tight end Jonnu Smith, the increased reps for backup tight ends Geoff Swaim and MyCole Pruitt have more so negatively impacted No. 2 starting tight end Anthony Firkser, than Smith. Although some of that can be attributed to the tight end position picking up the slack of the recently absent, Adam Humphries, the reliance on Smith is reassuring. He’s been a Top 5 scorer at the position in recent weeks and can be treated as a rock-solid TE1 against the Colts.
Even in a “bad” outing against the Colts in Week 10, running back Derrick Henry still cleared 100 yards from scrimmage. It’s entirely possible that the aforementioned absence of Goliath-sized DeForest Buckner ends up making life even easier on Henry than it does on Tannehill. Without the hulking, yet spry defensive end there to slow Henry’s acceleration, linebackers and safeties are going to have a tough time taking the big man down. Accordingly, Henry is this week’s overall RB6.
None of the backs behind Henry are fantasy-relevant.
Colts’ QB Philip Rivers is nursing a fairly significant toe injury, but is in line to play on Sunday. Luckily for him, his immobility shouldn’t be too big of a deal as Tennessee has generated the league’s lowest QB pressure rate, 17.5%. Making things even better, Tennesee’s 2,674 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns allowed rank 7th and 6th-most, respectively. Rivers is a high-floor QB2 in an entirely unimposing match-up.
Big-bodied, athletic rookie receiver Michael Pittman Jr. had his coming out party the last time these teams played, posing a 7/8-101 receiving line while sprinkling a 21-yard carry on top. He followed up that performance with another strong outing in Week 11, going 3/3-66-1. Against a Titans’ secondary that’s been routinely pummeled by opposing wide receivers — 33.6 .5PPR PPG, 8th-most in the NFL — Pittman can be relied upon as a high-end flex option with a great shot at finding the endzone as primary receivers have been known to throw parties there against Tennessee (ie. Adam Thielen — 3/5-29-1, Will Fuller — 6/11-123-1, and Diontae Johnson — 9/15-80-2). The only thing keeping Pittman from locked-in WR2 status is his team’s overall reliance on the run game.
Despite the Colts’ determination to make T.Y. Hilton perform, Zach Pascal is the better bet to return moderate flex value. Both are retaining snap shares between 60-70% and Pascal is the far more capable player.
Marcus Johnson is not fantasy relevant.
The tight end target distribution is far too convoluted to start any of these guys confidently but the Titans are allowing the 7th-most .5PPR PPG (11.7) to opposing tight ends. Mo Alie-Cox is the clear-cut most talented pass catcher of the bunch. He warrants boom/bust, high-end TE2 consideration.
Update 11/28/20: Nyheim Hines is set to start in a great match-up against Tennessee’s lacking defensive-front after Jonathan Taylor was placed on the COVID-10/Reserve List. Taylor, himself, has not tested positive but did have close contact with someone who has. Hines warrants high-end flex appeal with the understanding that the coaching staff may opt to have the bigger-bodied Jordan Wilkins take the majority of carries. Wilkins likewise deserve a flex start this week. Both have excellent ceilings that likely come at the expense of one another. The Colts have great match-ups for both backs in the coming weeks as well (at HOU, at LV, HOU).
The Colts’ backfield provides fantasy managers with a unique level of frustration and anxiety. Despite the coaches’ declarations that Nyheim Hines was the lead back last week, it was Jonathan Taylor took the most snaps and had, by far, the best box score of the bunch — he even caught more passes than Hines(!). Of course, it was Hines’ stellar performance against the Titans in Week 10 that started the Week 11 “Hines talk”.
With Tennessee likely to have an easier time on offense, this game should be more competitive than Week 10’s route. In that case, there would be cause for the Colts coaching staff to utilize Taylor more than they have for much of this year. Taylor rests on the back-end RB2/high-end flex play borderline while Hines hangs around in the flex realm, possessing moderate upside in full-point PPR.
Jordan Wilkins is not fantasy-relevant.
New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals’ defense hasn’t had much luck stopping opposing offenses and now their own offense is shot to hell with stud rookie QB suffering a season-ending knee injury. Expect a quick route of Cincy by the ho-him New York Giants.
QB Daniel Jones carries mid-to-high QB2 value against the Bengals’ toothless defense. His rushing production solidifies his high floor.
Wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram show little difference between the three, usage-wise. All own steady, high chunks of the snap share and are generally schemed into the weekly game plan. Consider Shepard a high-floor flex option as his short-area route running (6.8 average targeted air yards) keeps him firmly in Jones’ field of vision. Same goes for Engram (5.7 average targeted air yards), whose safety blanket usage keeps him in the back-end of the TE1 ranks. Both players’ ceilings are limited though. Slayton, meanwhile, offers a flower floor, yet higher flex-ceiling that Shepard. His 13.1 average targeted air yards give him the best shot at a touchdown, outside of the red zone. Of course, Jones’ errant passing doesn’t help his case.
Golden Tate is not fantasy-relevant.
The Giant most likely to pop off in the box score is fill-in running back Wayne Gallman, whose snap share has been on a lovely upward trajectory in recent weeks. Dion Lewis will steal targets and Alfred Morris will plod on his handful of carries, but sturdy lead back duties should yield a storng return against a Bengals’ defensive-front allowing the 7th-most .5PPR PPG to opposing backfields (23.3). Consider Gallman a mid-to-high, volume and match-up-based RB2.
The only fantasy-relevant player on the Bengals at this point is slot receiver Tyler Boyd, who fill-in QB Brandon Allen is likely to funnel targets to as a safety blanket pass catcher. Boyd is a high-floor flex play. Allen is just a QB3.
Reports now indicate that lead back Giovani Bernard will somehow recover from an early-week concussion in time for Week 12’s kickoff. Should this really be the case, he’ll likely return to the reduced workload he was working with last week. For whatever reason, Bernard — a 5’9”, 205lbs pass catching specialist — is being asked to handle lead rushing duties while Samaje Perine — a 5’11”, 240lbs rumbler — has been asked to take on passing game duties. Bernard is just a low-ceiling flex play in an offense that could be held out of the endzone entirely. Perine is not worth starting.
Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills
2020’s favorite to win Rookie of the Year, QB Justin Herbert heads to Buffalo to take on his pre-draft comparison, Josh Allen, in a looming surefire shootout. Since Herbert took the helm in Week 2, he’s decimated every passing game he’s faced — good or bad. During that time he’s racked up 224.66 fantasy points, good for 4th overall. He’s an elite QB1 option week-in and week-out.
Although No. 3 wide receiver Jalen Guyton continues to see a high-volume of snaps, it’s mostly cardio. This passing game runs through Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and “Big” Mike Williams (BMW). During Herbert’s reign, Allen has averaged a Faustian 11.5 targets per game. He’s remains a weekly contender for overall WR1 honors.
Hunter Henry’s target total trails only Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and Evan Engram. Both Waller (9/12-88) and Kelce (5/6-65-2) turned in dominant performances against the Bills. Likewise, less talented pass catching tight ends, like the platoon that Seattle Seahawks (8/11-99) work with have found box score success against them. Henry is a high-end TE1.
In the aforementioned Seattle/Buffalo game, downfield receiver D.K. Metcalf smoked the Bills perimeter coverage en route to a 7/9-108-1 receiving line, letting us know that the Chargers’ deep threat, BMW, has a good shot of returning Top 24 results this week.
Buffalo’s run defense has been surprisingly friendly to opposing backs, allowing the 5th-most rushing yards (1,350) and 3rd-most rushing touchdowns (15) on the year.
Fantasy managers will have to practice patience this week as Austin Ekeler is looking like a long shot to play and Kalen Ballage has received the Questionable tag. If both backs are active, expectations for Ekeler would have to be lowered to the back-end of the Top 24 ranks — he’s likely to be eased back into things if he were to be active so soon. Ballage, meanwhile would be reduced to a moderate flex play.
If Ekeler is out and Ballage is a go, Ballage would be a no-brainer RB2. Visa versa, Ekeler’s prospects probably don’t change.
Troymaine Pope likely has the No. 3 job sewn up, over Joshua Kelley, who’s reported to be in trouble with the coaching staff. If Pope is the top guy active, he’d need to be in fantasy lineups as a Top 24 option.
Bills QB Josh Allen takes the field on Sunday against a largely underwhelming Chargers’ defense, unable to neither bat down passes (35), nor pick off opposing signal callers (5). Allen remains an elite QB1 in a duel with the man coming trying to become the second coming of Allen, himself. He’s this week’s overall QB2.
Stefon Diggs is set for a monster workload with sidekick John Brown out again (ankle) this week. Diggs should have issues ripping up the box score on double digit targets.
Whenever John Brown is out, slot receiver Cole Beasley’s workload erupts, securing his Week 12 high-end flex status across all formats.
Rotational downfield receiver Gabriel Davis will fill in for the absent Bills and immediately fly onto the boom/bust flex radar with a decent shot to return value in contrarian DFS lineups.
Tight end Dawson Knox does not see enough work to aggressively be considered as a streaming option but Los Angeles does allow the 5th-most .5PPR PPG (12.1) to opposing tight ends, with a knack for getting scored on by them (0.8 touchdowns per game).
Big-bodied back, Zack Moss, has taken the driver’s seat in the Bills’ backfield, out-snapping Devin Singletary over the last three games, raising his floor to that of a mid-tier flex option. Singletary has devolved into low-ceiling, ill-advised flex start. Although Moss should see a decent touch total every week, Josh Allen’s red zone rushing prowess nerfs Moss’ overall dynamism and scoring ability.
Las Vegas Raiders at Atlanta Falcons
Derek Carr is back in streaming territory as a mid-to-high QB2 against a Falcons’ defense who’s passing yardage (3,003) and touchdowns (22) allowed both rank 2nd-most in the league. The biggest beneficiary of the match-up is pass catching tight end Darren Waller — the 2nd-most targeted tight end in the league (84) — as the only position that the Falcons cover worse than wide receiver is tight end (13.7 .5PPR PPG allowed — most in the league). Waller will compete for overall TE1 honors again this week.
Las Vegas wide receivers, likewise, can expect red carpet treatment from Atlanta’s abysmal secondary (36.2 .5PPR PPG allowed to opposing WRs — 2nd-most in the league). As evidenced by their last two match-ups, in which seven pass catchers hauled in gains of 19-yards or more, downfield play-makers have had a field day when facing the ATL defensive backs. It just so happens that downfield receiver Nelson Agholor has ascended to to No. 2 in the pass catching pecking order. Although he’s always a risk for drops, this is can’t-lose territory for the journeyman receiver. He’s a Top 24 option this week.
In recent weeks, slot receivers facing Atlanta have provided sturdy flex value: Curtis Samuel — 4/5-31-1, K.J. Hamler — 6/10-75, and Emmanuel Sanders — 4/5-66, setting up Hunter Renfrow for a promising Week 12 box score.
Bryan Edwards, Henry Ruggs, and Zay Jones have all been far too variant to be used.
Running back Josh Jacobs should continue his high-floor RB2 campaign against the middling Falcons front-seven. He will, unfortunately lose work to both Devontae Booker and Jalen Richard though — the latter of which could return full-point PPR value in deep, multi-flex leagues. Atlanta notoriously concedes passing game usage to running back. On the year, they’re allowing 5.5 RB receptions and 40.6 receiving yards per game.
Booker does not draw fantasy consideration.
Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Julio Jones registered two limited practice participatoin designation on Wednesday and Thursday before a Did Not Practice on Friday. It’s possible that the Falcons coaching staff just opted to rest him for Sunday morning’s game but it’s more likely that his troublesome hamstring kept him from practicing at the end of the week. In the five weeks where Julio was limited in-game, or out (Weeks 2-4 and Week 11), QB Matt Ryan has produced just one usable fantasy day.
Following the advice of The Fantasy Doctors’ Dr. Jesse Morse may lead managers to trade Julio away if possible. Complication with scar tissue present season-long concern, and the fallout from an unreliable player being incorporated into the weekly game plans could hurt the other pass catchers — not to mention Matt Ryan.
For those trying to justify a Ryan or Julio start due to the match-up, there’s a case to be made. Las Vegas’ defense displays a malleable nature, specifically allowing opposing offenses to pass their way down the field before swinging open for red zone rushing scores, as evidenced by their pass/run yards ratio, 2,736 (7th-most) vs. 1,122 (21st-most), as well as their pass/run touchdown ratio, 16 (21st-most) vs. 16 (2nd-most). But given the possibility that Julio could start and then exit soon after, it’s best to look elsewhere for a QB1 and WR1. Matt Ryan is just a low-end QB2, while Julio is a recommended sit, if active.
Calvin Ridley maintains WR1 status as he should see a high-volume of targets with Julio either ailing or out. Without proper scheming, due to Julio’s wishy washy status, Ridley’s true ceiling is probably absent in this one. Volume is king though so start him with confidence.
While the coaches will likely keep playing a treacherous game of musical chairs with Julio-fill-in WRs, Olamide Zaccheus and Christian Blake, we do know that Russell Gage has slot receiver duties locked up, making him the most likely to return flex value. Zaccheus gets a slight nod over Blake, for contrarian DFS lineups, as the more recently successful ATL receiver.
Hayden Hurst continues to deserve mid-tier TE1 treatment as an integral piece of the Falcons’ offense.
Readers of the Tiered Running Back Rankings got the tip earlier this week that Brian Hill would likely be the starter for Atlanta with Todd Gurley out, nursing a knee injury. Huge thanks to The Fantasy Doctors for highlighting the Week 11 injury on their early-week show. Few outlets were even talking about the injury but Dr. Jesse Morse nailed it from the start.
Expect Hill to see a healthy, 18+ touch workload this week as the lead back in Gurley’s absence. As mentioned before, the Raiders have warmly welcomed running backs into their endzone this year, making Hill a locked-in RB2.
Keith Smith and Ito Smith are not likely to be fantasy-relevant this week.
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
49ers QB Nick Mullens enters a tough spot against a Rams’ defense that held both Russell Wilson and Tom Brady to QB19 finishes in back-to-back weeks. Mullens is just a QB3 this week.
Passing game top dog, wide receiver Deebo Samuel is due back this week after a multi-week absence due to a hamstring injury. Although he’ll likely face much of Jalen Ramsey’s coverage, fantasy managers can rest assured that Kyle Shanahan will scheme the ball into Deebo’s hands in ways creative enough for him to produce in the yardage column. He’s a high-floor flex with a likely featured role in the redzone.
With Brandon Aiyuk on the COVID-19/Reserve List, Richie James and Kendrick Bourne will round out the 3-wide sets. Production between the two of them is a toss-up with lead-legged Bourne being one of Shanahan’s favorites and James a far superior athlete. Both are low-end flex plays.
Trent Taylor can be ignored for our purposes.
Tight end Jordan Reed had a nice showing in their last outing but was unable to practice on Thursday and Friday (illness). If active, he’d be the preferred TE2 streaming option. Should he sit, TE Ross Dwelley would step into the safety blanket roll and offer similar TE2 playability.
Although Raheem Mostert will be activated off of the Injured Reserve, there’s little clarity as to whether or not he’ll play on Sunday. With the Niners having been in lock-down this week, and therefore unable to actually practice, expectations for a rusty Mostert should probably be limited to back-end RB2 status if he’s active.
Should Mostert sit, Jerick McKinnon would enter a workhorse role and need to be started everywhere as a mid-tier RB2. He needs to be owned in all leagues. If Mostert is active, McKinnon is still likely to see 12-15 touches and could be safely flexed across all formats.
Tevin Coleman is out.
Rookie back Austin Walker is a name to look at in contrarian DFS spots as the likely No. 2 RB, should Mostert sit.
FB/offensive weapon Kyle Juszczyk has a shot at redzone package or two, should Mostert sit as well.
San Francisco has managed to limit opponents from scoring too often (234 points — 9th fewest), both by manufacturing a Top 10 QB pressure rate (24.4%) with a Top 10 blitz percentage (34.1%), as well as slowing down the game’s pace running the 14th fewest place per game (64). They’ll have their work cutout for them though, facing a Rams’ offense that’s Top 5 in plays per game (68.5).
Sean McVay and Co. were able to negate their loss of LT Andrew Whitworth last week by dialing up a quick, pass-happy game plan last week against the pressure-heavy Bucs, indicating a preparedness for Week 12’s match-up. Goff’s a back-end QB2.
Wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods carry their high-floor/high-ceiling WR2 usage into this week’s divisional match-up, hot off of stellar Week 11 performances.
Downfield receiver Josh Reynolds remains a boom/bust flex option in an albeit tough match-up.
Tight end Gerald Everett jumped into the streaming conversation this week after Tyler Higbee (elbow) was unable to record a single practice participation this week. Higbee’s listed as a game-time decision but all signs point to it being the Gerald Everett show. Should that be the case, he’d warrant strong back-end TE1 consideration.
The Rams’ backfield is a total avoid. Stash Cam Akers on your bench, if you please.
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
Fill-in QB Taysom Hill played extremely well last week, flashing a Completion Percentage Above Expectation of 6.4%, 7th-best in Week 11. His two red zone rushing scores put the icing on the cake. With another great match-up on tap against the lowly, injury-plagued Broncos’ defense, Hill is a locked-in QB1.
Hill breathed likewise breathed life into wide receiver Michael Thomas’ 2020 season by targeted him 12 times — seven more than the next closest player. Trust Thomas as a back-end Top 12 option at the position.
Seeing Hill target Emmanuel Sanders at a significantly higher rate than tight end Jared Cook was a surprise, and Sanders’ day could’ve been a lot better had his 57-yard touchdown not been called back. Against Denver’s middling secondary (seven interceptions — 9th-fewest and 41 passes defended, 16th-most), Sanders is high-floor flex option.
The remaining WRs are not fantasy-relevant.
Tight end Jared Cook can now only be trusted as a TE13-24 option.
Rumors swirl as to whether or not Alvin Kamara has been battling a bone bruise or a mid-foot sprain — the latter of which would be very bad news. Making matters worse, Kamara failed to catch a pass in a game for the first time in his career, breaking a 54-game streak. It’s entirely possible his low Week 11 workload was due to the foot issue though, so we’re going back to the well with him this week as Kamara’s immense talent should be able to get things back on track against Denver’s middling defense. Kamara is still a high-end RB1 for now.
Latavius Murray actually out-snapped Kamara last week and saw decent usage, giving Murray flex consideration for Week 12.
Hopefully left tackle Terron Armstead can recover from COVID-19 in time to make Week 13’s game next week.
Update 11/28/20: Benjamin Allbright reports practice squad WR/former Wake Forest QB Kendall Hinton will play QB for the Broncos on Sunday.
Update 11/28/20: Per Mike Klis, No. 3 RB Royce Freeman has been put on notice as the emergency QB while the team tries to figure out if they can promote offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese to their active roster to play quarterback in Week 13. Rob Calabrese was not an effective passer at UCF.
Update 11/28/20: Per Mike Klis, the Broncos are dealing with a quarterback/COVID-19 scare, after contract tracing of Jeff Driskel returned worrying results. Lock’s potential absence would negatively impact the entire Broncos’ offense.
QB Drew Lock is set to start another game (ribs) against a stout Saints’ defense. He’s not a serious consideration for fantasy purposes.
Stud rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy worryingly missed Thursday’s practice with an ankle/Achilles injury designation but returned to practice in a limited fashion on Friday, giving him a great chance to play on Sunday. Although the Achilles injury is cause for concern, Drew Lock’s go-to should be able to churn out high-floor flex value if active.
Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler are both low-ceiling flex options this week, given the match-up. Should Jeudy sit though, Patrick would elevate to Jeudy’s high-floor viability.
Tight end Noah Fant is now practicing in full (ribs), returning him to an ironclad TE1.
Denver’s coaching staff continues to run Melvin Gordon ahead of Phillip Lindsay, despite Lindsay out-playing him for much of the year. The two back’s ceilings are capped though as the team refuses to regularly involve them in the passing game — 47 total RB targets, 6th-fewest in the NFL. As evidenced by Gordon’s six red zone carries in Week 11, while the rest of the team saw none, Gordon carries usage-based, back-end RB2 value into Week 13.
Lindsay is just a high-floor flex option.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
On paper, Tampa Bay has played confounding defense this year: 2,613 passing yards allowed (10th-most) and 20 passing touchdowns allowed (8th-most) but they’ve also recorded the 4th-best QB pressure rate (25.6%), while recording the 2nd-most interceptions (14) and 6th-most passes defended (50). They’ve also shutdown opposing run games (803 rushing yards, 2nd-fewest and 8 rushing touchdowns, 7th-fewest allowed), yet they’ve allowed the 3rd-most RB receptions per game (6.4).
Given all that, Kansas City’s offense more or less can do as they please with any opponent. QB Patrick Mahomes has been lowered to the overall QB5 to account for the KC DB’s ballhawking prowess, but that still means he’s a Top 5 option.
WR Sammy Watkins (calf/ankle) returns to the lineup this week to neutralize any fantasy hope for decent days out of Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman, while bringing little fantasy value, himself.
Tyreek Hill remains an elite WR1 and Travis Kelce leads the tight end field by 62.8 .5PPR points. He’s the best tight end in fantasy and it’s not close.
No. 2 RB Le’Veon Bell has seen an increased role in recent weeks but it’s mostly been on the ground. Running behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire, he’s just a capped-ceiling flex option. CEH, meanwhile, should get things going via the passing game in an albeit tough rushing match-up. He’s a high-end RB2.
No. 3 RB Darrel Williams is just a bench stash.
Tom Brady’s elite trio of receivers, Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans are all Top 24 options this week, with each one getting the job done in their own way. Brown looks to be taking over as the target hog while Godwin continues to be the primary high-value slot route runner. Evans is a touchdown machine, operating as the team’s clear-cut redzone weapon.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski’s high-volume role keeps him firmly locked into the position’s top 12.
An impending shootout, Week 12 looks like a Leonard Fournette-heavy game, operating as the team’s primary pass catching back. He’s a high-end flex play. Ronald Jones, meanwhile, should see 12 or so carries as the primary rusher. He’s a low-end, touchdown-dependent flex option.
Sunday Night Football: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
Health has largely kept the Packers’ defense from achieving its potential this year, but the team as a whole has improved in that department in recent weeks and the Chicago Bears are disconcertingly forced to roll with haphazard signal caller, Mitchell Trubisky this week. Nick Foles has been unable to practice with a hip injury. Trubisky cannot be trusted to reliably provide fantasy value for anyone other than dominant wide receiver Allen Robinson, who remains a Top 15 option despite the match-up and quarterback situation.
Tight end Jimmy Graham did haul in three of his five touchdowns during Trubisky’s three-week reign as the team’s starting quarterback though. So Graham has an outside shot at returning TE1 value this week.
Running back David Montgomery, battling a concussion, managed to record full practice participation everyday this week, giving him the green light for Sunday Night Football. He should return to his snap-hogging ways, in an albeit inefficient manner. He’s a volume-driving, mid-to-low RB2.
The other Bears running backs are not fantasy-relevant this week.
Although the Bears’ secondary has played lock-down defense this year, permitting the 10th-fewest passing yards (2,250) and 2nd-fewest passing touchdowns (12), the Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams connection is forged in steel. That relationship alone keeps Rodgers on the QB1/2 borderline. Adams, meanwhile, remains a weekly contender for overall WR1 honors as the position’s highest scorer in .5PPR scoring.
Things are not looking good for downfield receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who missed Friday’s practice with an Achilles injury. No. 2 WR Allen Lazard, who just returned from a core muscle injury last week, should be in for a hefty, flex-worthy workload as a result.
Equanimeous St. Brown and Darrius Shepherd will likely fill in for MVS, in the downfield role, although nether can be depended on for reliable fantasy value.
Tight end Robert Tonyan continues to see back-end TE1 usage but the presence of JAce Sternberger and Mercedes Lewis act as a thorn in his side. The Bears have been surprisingly bad in their attempts to cover opposing tight ends this year though, allowing the 9th-most .5PPR PPG (11.6), helping Tonyan secure his TE1 status.
No. 2 RB Jamaal Williams has taken a sizeable bite out of lead back Aaron Jones’ snap-pie over the last two weeks, and Jones’ box score results have somewhat felt it. Against a Bears’ front-seven allowing the 10th-fewest .5PPR PPG to the position (18.4), Jones is likely to remain have his ceiling stunted to albeit solid, mid-tier RB1 results. Williams is just a low-end flex option.