Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em – Week 12
No More Byes!!!
Every week, there are certain fantasy studs who you simply have to start no matter what. Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and A.J. Green fall into that category, to name a few. There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well. But then, there are those players whom you have no idea whether to start or sit. Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictates one way or the other.
Tony Romo (vs. Was, Thanksgiving afternoon) – As I’ve said for ages now, Tony Romo is NOT an elite quarterback, whether it be real life or otherwise. However, he is very very good at home and has the (fantasy) numbers to back it up. In the 41 games he’s played from start to finish since he became a starter for the Cowboys in the middle of 2006, Romo has had 19 300-yard games and 27 games where he’s thrown for at least two touchdown passes. I know we’re all used to fantasy studs like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, but the numbers you just read are actually pretty rare otherwise and need to be considered when you’re talking about your starting fantasy QB down the stretch. His record on Thursday’s is 6-1 and could easily be considered his favorite day of the week to play. In fact, in seven career Thursday games (which are mostly on Thanksgiving), Romo has thrown for 18 touchdowns (2.6 TDs per game) and just five INTs, so if you were ever going to think about starting this guy, Turkey Day might be the best time for you to do it. He’s a QB1 this week for sure this week, especially against a Redskins pass D that allows the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year. FINAL STATISTICS: 37-for-62 – 441 yards – 3 TDs – 2 INTs // 3 rushes - 7 yards - 0 TDs
Andy Dalton (vs. Oak) – Dalton started the season throwing up at least one interception in his first eight games. In his last two games, however, the Cincinnati youngster hasn’t thrown a single pick while he’s quietly put up six TDs in back-to-back Bengals victories. It may be a bit hard to believe, but Dalton actually ranks eighth for quarterbacks in fantasy points per game right now and could jump up a notch or two against the lowly Raiders defense this Sunday. Each of the last three QBs to face the Raiders (Freeman, Flacco and Brees) put up over 20 fantasy points against them, so it stands to reason that Dalton will do the same with the roll he’s currently on.
Robert Griffin III (at Dal, Thanksgiving afternoon) – Though he may have looked a little prettier in previous weeks, RGIII is coming off his best game as a professional. He only threw for 200 yards, but he also tossed up four TD passes of six, 17, 49 and 61 yards while completing 14 of his 15 pass attempts in the game. The bonus that usually comes with Griffin is that he also ran for 84 yards and as has become the norm for the youngster, he did not throw an interception either. RGIII has been having a very nice rookie campaign, even though it seemed he was slowing down before his latest lights-out performance last week. From a fantasy owner's standpoint, it's nice to see Griff avoid the type of big hits he endured earlier in the season as well. Griffin will be facing the fifth-best defense against quarterbacks in Dallas who are yielding a meager 14.3 fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. DeMarcus Ware is going to be a factor that may limit the amount of running opportunities Robert will have in this game, so I wouldn't expect another big rushing day like he had last weekend. That being said, the Cowboys seem to be in disarray this season, and if they fall apart on Thanksgiving at the hands of RGIII, Jerry Jones just might have to fire himself. FINAL STATISTICS: 20-for-28 – 311 yards – 4 TDs – 1 INT // 6 rushes - 29 yards - 0 TDs
Andrew Luck (vs. Buf) – Though it certainly wasn’t his greatest performance of the year, Andrew Luck set a record against the New England Patriots last weekend by being the first rookie quarterback in history to throw for five 300-yard games during his inaugural season (Peyton Manning and Warren Moon each had four; RGIII currently has three). Just to show how dominant he’s been fantasy-wise, Luck is also just the seventh rookie QB since the NFL-AFL merger to rush for five or more TDs in a season as well. He currently ranks seventh for quarterbacks in fantasy points per game and should do well to keep that spot against a Buffalo defense that ranks eighth in the league in QB fantasy points allowed.
Others with QB1 Potential:
Cam Newton (at Phi, Monday night)
Colin Kaepernick (at NO)
Matthew Stafford (vs. Hou, Thanksgiving day) - FINAL STATISTICS: 31-for-61 – 441 yards – 2 TDs – 0 INTs // 2 rushes - 7 yards - 0 TDs
Mark Sanchez (vs. NE, Thanksgiving night) - FINAL STATISTICS: 26-for-36 – 301 yards – 1 TD – 1 INT // 2 rushes - 2 yards - 0 TDs
Sam Bradford (at Ari)
Chad Henne (vs. Ten)
Frank Gore (at NO) – Living up to his nickname, Frank the Tank has been awesome in his final season before he turns 30 years old. Normally you would expect him to slow down right about now, but the ‘Niners have kept his playing time in check enough this season so he should have enough left in his legs to finish the year off strong. This week he’ll be visiting New Orleans to take on a Saints defense that allows the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Though QB Colin Kaepernick showed strong in his first start last weekend, I expect San Fran to try and control this game on the ground in order to keep the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands. If that happens, then Gore will be looking at 20 to 25 touches and will inflict some serious fantasy damage this Sunday.
Chris Johnson (at Jax) – Even though he’s been consistent since Week 4 and averaging one touchdown and 140.3 rushing yards over the last four weeks, I still have my reservations about CJ2K. That’s how much his putrid 2011 season and first few weeks of 2012 have influenced the overall fantasy world. That being said, I must be getting over it now or else I wouldn’t have him up here in my top-5 RBs for the week. Jacksonville has one of those strange defenses that are hard to figure out as they’ve shut down the best in the game (Arian Foster in Week 11), but also allowed career fantasy days to players like Ben Tate and Mikel Leshoure this season. However, one consistency I noticed is that they’ve had a tough time stopping good cut-back runners with a lot of speed, so I have to believe that Johnson at least has a shot at a big game here. It may be slow for him in patches, but fantasy owners will love the couple of big runs that should come his way during the course of the game.
C.J. Spiller (at Ind) – Even though his fellow backfield mate, Fred Jackson, will be returning to action this week, coach Chan Gailey has already stated that Spiller will not only start, but also receive the majority of the snaps throughout the game. Maybe Gailey finally took a look at the fantasy stats for the year and realized that C.J. is not only averaging the sixth-most fantasy points per game, but also the most yards per carry in the entire league. Either way, Spiller is finally getting his due—and not a moment too soon with the Bills taking on a Colts defense that has allowed the second-most touchdowns to running backs and the eighth-most fantasy points per game. If Spill can somehow get 20 or more touches in this one, then this ranking will end up far too low.
Stevan Ridley (at NYJ, Thanksgiving night) – Ridley has rushed for a touchdown in three straight games now and is tied for second in the league with seven on the year. His rushing yards, attempts and fantasy points per game are all up there in the top-10 as well, though his fantasy output each week has been a bit scattered throughout the season. Back when he faced the Jets in Week 7, Ridley had just 65 yards on 17 carries and no touchdowns, numbers which would add up to his third-lowest fantasy score in 2012. However, there are a couple of bright spots for Ridley owners to look at here. First off, the Jets have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. Second, the Jets defense has allowed seven different running backs to put up double-digit fantasy points against them but most importantly, five of those came with the Jets playing at home. Lastly, three of Stevan’s four 100-yard games and four of his seven rushing TDs have come on the road. I expect him to be right on the edge of RB1 status by the end of the weekend. FINAL STATISTICS: 21 rushes - 97 yards - 1 TD // 0 catches - 0 yards - 0 TDs
Marcel Reece (at Cin) – Marcel Reece has been kind of a beast the last three weeks putting up the third-most fantasy points in non-PPR and second-most in PPR leagues. Though he did have a 100-yard game against the Saints last week, he’s not normally much of a runner as his area of expertise lies more in the passing game than on the ground. However, I don’t think it will matter much this week as the Bengals have allowed the third-most receptions to running backs this season and the ninth-most fantasy points per game. Reece will be heavily involved in the offensive game-plan once again this weekend and should be able to turn out some pretty nifty fantasy numbers with the work.
Others with RB1 Potential:
Trent Richardson (vs. Pit)
Jamaal Charles (vs. Den)
Alfred Morris (at Dal, Thanksgiving afternoon) - FINAL STATISTICS: 24 rushes - 113 yards - 1 TD // 0 catches - 0 yards - 0 TDs
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Oak)
Jalen Parmele (vs. Ten)
Vick Ballard (vs. Buf)
Steven Jackson (at Ari)
Bryce Brown (vs. Car, Monday night)
Ronnie Hillman (at KC)
Beanie Wells (vs. StL)
Andre Brown (vs. GB, Sunday night)
Shane Vereen (at NYJ, Thanksgiving night) - FINAL STATISTICS: 10 rushes - 42 yards - 0 TDs // 2 catches - 91 yards - 1 TD
Randall Cobb (at NYG, Sunday night) – After watching that touchdown catch he pulled off last week against the Lions, I really can’t say it enough—this kid is really something special. As we heard the entire offseason, Randall Cobb is a superstar in the making and I have no doubt he’ll continue his hot play this weekend against the Giants. Cobb has now put up six straight games with either 100 yards or a touchdown and it seems Aaron Rodgers has noticed as he continues to target him more and more every single game. The Giants’ pass D has allowed the most touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year and the fifth-most fantasy points per game, so look for Randall to show us something special again this Sunday night.
Julio Jones (at TB) – I know Julio Jones is listed as “questionable” this week and probably bummed some fantasy owners out last weekend by not being able to last the whole game, but he practiced more this week than he did last week and should be ready to go on Sunday. If he is, he’s an absolute MUST start as a WR1 due to his indescribable fantasy prowess away from home. In 12 career regular season games on the road, the absolute WORST Julio has done was catch four balls for 68 yards at Houston in Week 13 last season. Check to make sure he’s active first, but considering the Buccaneers have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing WRs this season, you have to get him in your lineup if he is.
Andre Johnson (at Det, Thanksgiving day) – Johnson is coming off a career day (yeah, you could call it that) in which he had 14 catches for 273 yards and a game-winning 48-yard TD catch to top it off. The performance not only gave Andre his third 100-yard game of the season, but also just his third TD on the year. The good news is that Johnson has seen at least 10 targets a game over the Texans' last five games, so there's always the potential for something like what happened last weekend. 'Dre showed that he still has that game-breaking ability he displayed early on in his career and with the targets he's getting, you could expect better numbers going forward. Johnson will definitely see a lot of attention in this match-up after his performance last week. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of coverage rolled over to his side of the field as the Lions try to take away the big play. Johnson has disappointed in his two previous games following a 100-yard performance, putting up three catches for 21 yards and four catches for 35 yards in those games. Either way, even if the Lions try to bracket him with their safeties, he should still be able to sneak out low-end WR1 numbers, though you won't see a repeat performance of last week. FINAL STATISTICS: 9 catches - 188 yards - 0 TDs
Dez Bryant (vs. Was, Thanksgiving afternoon) – Did Dez Bryant just make himself the most sought-after wide receiver in the league with his performance against Cleveland last week? Nah, but the kid is definitely better than he had been playing over the first half of the season. Grabbing 12 balls on 15 targets is nothing to sneeze at, but with Joe Haden sitting on the sidelines for the Browns during that game, be wary of what just happened. He’s a dominant force when he wants to be, but the question is—when can fantasy owners count on him to be that guy? This week might be a good one going up against a Redskins defense that allows the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, but then again, Dez hasn’t shown up on Thanksgiving for a couple of years now, so which way do you go? I think he’s a must-start this week, especially with Washington’s defense being hit by the injury bug lately (and all year for that matter). FINAL STATISTICS: 8 catches - 145 yards - 2 TDs // 1 rush - 6 yards - 0 TDs
Others with WR1 Potential:
Victor Cruz (vs. GB, Sunday night)
Eric Decker (at KC)
Wes Welker (at NYJ, Thanksgiving night) - FINAL STATISTICS: 7 catches - 71 yards - 1 TD
Vincent Jackson (vs. Atl)
Michael Crabtree (at NO)
Denarius Moore (at Cin)
Hakeem Nicks (vs. GB, Sunday night)
Danario Alexander (vs. Bal)
Cecil Shorts (vs. Ten)
T.Y. Hilton (vs. Buf)
Ryan Broyles (vs. Hou, Thanksgiving day) - FINAL STATISTICS: 6 catches - 126 yards - 0 TDs
Darrius Heyward-Bey (at Cin)
Julian Edelman (at NYJ, Thanksgiving night) - FINAL STATISTICS: 2 catches - 64 yards - 1 TD // 1 rush - 3 yards - 0 TDs
Jeremy Kerley (vs. NE, Thanksgiving night) - FINAL STATISTICS: 7 catches - 86 yards - 0 TDs
Sidney Rice (at Mia)
Brandon Gibson (at Ari)
Mohamed Sanu (vs. Oak)
Jason Witten (vs. Was, Thanksgiving afternoon) – Despite his early-season spleen situation, Jason Witten currently leads all tight ends with 96 targets and 73 receptions. His 636 yards on the year isn’t what makes him tenth on the fantasy points per game list, though—it’s the lack of touchdowns, a problem he’s had throughout his entire career. Lucky for Witten owners, the Redskins have allowed the second-most TDs to tight ends this season as well as the second-most fantasy points per games, so there’s no reason to think Witten won’t dominate the field this week. He seems to be very fond of the Thanksgiving Thursday game anyway, so make sure you have him inserted as your TE1 this week. FINAL STATISTICS: 9 catches - 74 yards - 0 TDs
Vernon Davis (at NO) – Vernon might have been held in check during the middle portion of the season, but after a bit of complaining a couple of weeks ago, the 49ers got him back involved in the offense to which Davis responded with maybe his finest game of the season. I don’t know if you saw his last outing against the Bears on Monday night, but holy cow did he look good! This week the ‘Niners will be going up against a Saints team that Davis absolutely scorched in the playoffs last season to the tune of seven catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. A performance like that won’t happen again, but I definitely see good things coming his way on Sunday.
Brandon Myers (at Cin) – Myers is certainly one of the biggest surprises at the tight end position this season, especially when you consider the fact that he was always a blocking tight and had caught just 32 balls in three years prior to this 50-catch (so far) campaign. However, he seems to be a natural pass-catcher as he’s converted 50 of his 67 targets including the first three TDs of his career. Cincinnati has been less than average against TEs this season allowing them the eighth-most fantasy points per game, so there’s definitely reason to be stoked here. When you add in that the Raiders have become a big-time passing team with McFadden and Goodson going down and that Myers has seen 30 targets over the last three weeks, there should be no question about getting him in there as a TE1 this weekend.
Dustin Keller (vs. NE, Thanksgiving night) – Dustin Keller has all the talent in the world, but can’t seem to get out of his own way to use it on a consistent basis. As has been the case throughout his career, Keller is nursing an up-and-down 2012 campaign with most of it being on the down side due to his early-season injury woes. His finest game, however, came against the Patriots back in Week 7 when he caught all seven of his targets for 93 yards and a touchdown. If there’s one game to get his guy in for the rest of the season, it’s probably this one. The Patriots have allowed the most receiving yards, second-most receptions and third-most fantasy points per game to TEs this year, so if the trends continue; Keller should be able to put up TE1 fantasy stats this Thanksgiving. FINAL STATISTICS: 5 catches - 64 yards - 1 TD
Jermaine Gresham (vs. Oak) – The former first-round monster out of Oklahoma has been steadily climbing the fantasy totem pole all season and currently resides as the tenth-ranked tight end in the league. Jermaine has at least three receptions in all ten of his games this season and is in the midst of a career-best three-game stretch in terms of catches with 15 in the last three weeks. He also just put up his first 100-yard game as a pro three weeks ago, so obviously the big man is hitting his stride. With Oakland allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to TEs this season, you might want to ride Gresham’s hot streak this weekend.
Others with TE1 Potential:
Jermichael Finley (at NYG, Sunday night)
Kyle Rudolph (at Chi)
Dallas Clark (vs. Atl)
Dwayne Allen (vs. Buf)
Marcedes Lewis (vs. Ten)
Tony Moeaki (vs. Den)
Kellen Davis (vs. Min)
Philip Rivers (vs. Bal)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (at Ind)
Matt Schaub (at Det, Thanksgiving day) - FINAL STATISTICS: 29-for-48 – 315 yards – 1 TD – 1 INT // 2 rushes - -1 yards - 0 TDs
Rashard Mendenhall (at Cle)
Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. GB, Sunday night)
Shonn Greene (vs. NE, Thanksgiving night) - FINAL STATISTICS: 14 rushes - 71 yards - 0 TDs // 1 catch -9 yards - 0 TDs
Felix Jones (vs. Was, Thanksgiving afternoon) - FINAL STATISTICS: 6 rushes - 14 yards - 0 TDs // 3 catches - 47 yards - 1 TD
Michael Turner (at TB)
Reggie Bush (vs. Sea)
Mike Wallace (at Cle)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. StL)
Brandon Lloyd (at NYJ, Thanksgiving night) - FINAL STATISTICS: 3 catches - 26 yards - 0 TDs
Dwayne Bowe (vs. Den)
Pierre Garcon (at Dal, Thanksgiving afternoon) - FINAL STATISTICS: 5 catches - 93 yards - 1 TD
Brent Celek (vs. Car, Monday night)
Martellus Bennett (vs. GB, Sunday night)
Heath Miller (at Cle)
Jared Cook (at Jax)
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