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Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles

Week 12 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Josh Allen (v DEN)

Allen is coming off one of the best games of his career, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to take him out of lineups because of what appears to be a difficult matchup. While Denver is allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, they’ve ceded more passing yards per game on the road (245.2) than at home (201.2), and the thing that makes Allen a difference-maker is his rushing production (four touchdowns over the past three weeks). Plus, the changes Buffalo made last week—going with more no huddle and having offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in the booth—should allow Allen to build on an outing at earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week.


Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (@ NYJ)

There was certainly some passing production left on the field for Carr and the Raiders in Week 11, but he still completed 25-of-29 passes for 292 yards, one touchdown, and one interception to extend Oakland’s winning streak to three games. New York is under new leadership, but Carr has a 9:0 touchdown-interception ratio against them in three career meetings, and the coverage has only gotten worse for the Jets in recent weeks (3.0 touchdowns per game allowed to Gardner Minshew, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Daniel Jones, and Dwayne Haskins over the past four games). Carr remains a low-end QB1.


Thumbs Up: Carson Wentz (v SEA)

Wentz and the Philadelphia passing attack has been one of the most disappointing aspects of the 2019 season, as the former No. 2 overall pick has just one multi-score game since September, and his 227.4 passing yards per game would be the lowest mark through four seasons. That said, the Seahawks are not an overly imposing matchup, and the Eagles decided to air it out 40 times last week without Jordan Howard (stinger) in the lineup. He can’t be ranked as a QB1 right now, but Wentz’s upside is worth taking a shot on, especially if Alshon Jeffery (ankle) ends up playing.


Thumbs Up: Jacoby Brissett (@ HOU)

Including a 30-23 victory last month, Brissett is 4-0 in his career against Houston, and he’s averaging 18.1 fantasy points per game in this AFC South rivalry. T.Y. Hilton (calf) possibly missing another game would limit Brissett’s upside, but with Marlon Mack (hand) already ruled out, we could see Frank Reich go with a pass-heavy game plan. For what it’s worth, Brissett has averaged 317.0 yards per game and possesses a 6:0 touchdown-interception in two starts against the Texans in which he’s thrown more than 25 times. He’s a clear top-15 play.


Others: Baker Mayfield (v MIA), Sam Darnold (v OAK)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Dak Prescott (@ NE)

Prescott will be difficult to take out of lineups as the overall QB3 on the season following last week’s 31.6-point performance against Detroit, but if you really need a win or have been carrying multiple quarterbacks, it might be wise to think about rolling with someone else. The Patriots have allowed 7.9 fantasy points per game to opposing passers, and on the year, they’ve surrendered just four touchdowns through the air. Prescott’s play combined with his ability as a runner keeps him on the QB1 radar, but it’s the low-end variety.


Thumbs Down: Jared Goff (v BAL)

The Rams threw it just 18 times in their win over the Bears, and the run-first formula should continue on Monday night against a Baltimore defense that came alive for six sacks of Deshaun Watson last week. Even if he has his full arsenal of weapons on the field, Goff won’t be asked to throw much behind a remade offensive line, and the Ravens haven’t allowed a quarterback to throw for multiple scores in a game since Patrick Mahomes did it in Week 3. Goff is barely a top-20 option, and he may be moved down even more.


Thumbs Down: Daniel Jones (@ CHI)

Jones is a prime target for those looking ahead to the fantasy playoffs, but before the soft schedule kicks in, he gets one more difficult matchup against the desperate Bears in Chicago. Evan Engram (foot) isn’t expected to play, so Jones—with limited weapons—may be a low-volume passer similar to the aforementioned Goff to avoid mistakes and keep his confidence high. If forced to choose a quarterback in this game, I’d rather play whoever starts for the Bears out of Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel.


Thumbs Down: Ryan Tannehill (v JAX)

The pass protection has been much better for Tannehill than it was for Marcus Mariota, but Tennessee didn’t block a soul when these AFC South foes met earlier this season (the Jaguars recorded nine sacks), so I’m concerned about a repeat with Calais Campbell, Josh Allen, and company knowing they need to dominate on Sunday. It should be noted that Tannehill threw just 19 times in the win over Kansas City before the bye, but he was still sacked four times; look for the Titans to keep the ball on the ground with Derrick Henry.


Others: Kyle Allen (@ NO), Brandon Allen (@ BUF)


Running Back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Jordan Howard (v SEA)

This is obviously assuming Howard (stinger) is cleared to play this weekend, but if he is, the Eagles can’t waste any time getting back to a ground-and-pound attack that they’ve had success with in 2019. While the Seahawks have shown improved play on the defensive line, they’re allowing a healthy 4.5 yards per carry and 12 rushing touchdowns (third most in the league), and lesser backfield committees for Philadelphia have averaged 128.5 total yards per game in two matchups versus Seattle in the Doug Pederson era. If active, Howard should be in lineups as a solid RB2.


Thumbs Up: David Montgomery (v NYG)

Since seeing just two carries in a Week 7 loss, Montgomery has handled 20.0 touches per game over the past four weeks, and that volume alone is enough to warrant a spot in fantasy lineups. I expect the Giants to play better run defense down the stretch, but Montgomery will do serious damage if the changes on the offensive line can open holes for him to reach the linebackers. And no matter who is under center for Chicago, the running game should be leaned on.


Thumbs Up: Jaylen Samuels (@ CIN)

I would be surprised if James Conner (shoulder) suited up in Week 12, so Samuels is once again set up for a starting role in Pittsburgh’s backfield. The team’s main receiving back disappointed against the Rams two weeks ago, but including that performance, he’s averaged 13.7 fantasy points per game in seven career appearances with double-digit touches, and the Bengals are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing runners. An important piece on an offense lacking healthy weapons, Samuels is a high-floor RB2.


Thumbs Up: Latavius Murray (v CAR)

The hopes of New Orleans continuing to feature Murray out of the bye two weeks ago didn’t come to fruition as he was given just five carries in a shocking loss to Atlanta, but the workload last week (12 touches) should be encouraging despite limited production, and now the Saints will face a floundering Carolina team. Through ten games, the Panthers have allowed an NFL-high 18 rushing touchdowns, and no one else is close, so Latavius has a great shot to capitalize on the touches/matchup. Double-digit carries should make Murray a low-end RB2/FLEX.


Others: Kareem Hunt (v MIA), Miles Sanders (v SEA)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Devin Singletary (v DEN)

Singletary is coming off a career-high in playing time (74%) and led the backfield in snaps for the fourth week in a row, but Sunday could be a disappointment for fantasy owners hoping he will have a big performance. First of all, Denver just proved they remain stout against the run by containing Dalvin Cook in Week 11, so the rookie will be challenged if Vic Fangio’s defense sells out to stop Buffalo on the ground. Plus, Singletary just fumbled twice, and while that’s not expected to impact his playing time, it’s another reason Frank Gore will remain the team’s trusted runner for goal-line touches. He remains a top-24 play, but I’d temper expectations.


Thumbs Down: Bo Scarbrough (@ WAS)

An NFL debut that saw him rush 14 times for 55 yards and a touchdown has Scarbrough firmly on the fantasy radar, but it might be optimistic to suddenly consider him a confident start for fantasy owners. While the Redskins are a great matchup, they just limited Le’Veon Bell to 59 rushing yards (3.3 YPC), and they should come out ready to play for perhaps their best chance at a victory the rest of the way with the sliding Lions coming to town. Also, someone else taking the backfield lead in Detroit (again) wouldn’t be a surprise.


Thumbs Down: Brian Hill (v TB)

Touches haven’t been an issue for Hill over the past two weeks, but efficiency certainly has been, as he’s rushed 35 times for just 91 yards (2.6 YPC) and zero touchdowns, including just 30 yards on 15 attempts last week against the (then) league-worst Carolina rush defense. For as bad as they’ve been in coverage, Tampa Bay continues to play stout run defense this season, and Hill may find himself back in more of a committee role if Qadree Ollison gets early-down work with Kenjon Barner mixing in on passing downs. I barely have Hill as a top-35 option for Week 12.


Thumbs Down: Colts RBs (@ HOU)

Marlon Mack was held to 7.1 fantasy points earlier this season against Houston, and I wouldn’t want to gamble on a backup having significant success in a rematch—as all three of Jonathan Williams, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins will be involved in a game that will likely be won through the air rather than on the ground. If for whatever reason you want to get an Indy back on Thursday night, I’d say Williams is the best bet, but it’s a situation to avoid.


Others: James White (v DAL), Adrian Peterson (v DET)


Wide Receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Allen Robinson (v NYG)

This feels like a week where multiple top receivers around the league will explode—Chris Godwin, Davante Adams, and Odell Beckham Jr. being the others I have in mind—and based on talent, Robinson is at least close to belonging in that group. The Penn State product has put up numbers with both Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel over the past two seasons, and the Giants have been destroyed by big-bodied perimeter targets Mike Evans (8/190/3) and Kenny Golladay (6/123/1) already this season. Despite recent struggles, Robinson is a clear WR1 for me this week.


Thumbs Up: Calvin Ridley (v TB)

Don’t be fooled by Ridley combining for “only” eight receptions, 79 yards, and one touchdown in two shootout wins over the Buccaneers last season, as he was a part-time player that caught all eight of his targets on just 53 offensive snaps. Now a featured weapon on an offense that’s finding its stride, Ridley should provide plenty of fireworks against a defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers, including multiple touchdowns in each of the past four weeks.


Thumbs Up: Tyrell Williams (@ NYJ)

As previously stated, the Jets have been shredded by less-than-elite quarterbacks over the past four weeks, and much of the damage has been done by attacking on the outside. Prior to last week’s win over the Redskins, New York allowed opposing wideouts to combine for lines of 13/202/3 (JAX), 15/181/3 (MIA), and 16/232/4 (NYG), so Williams is set up nicely for a big game and perhaps his first trip to the end zone in nearly a month after starting his Oakland career with a touchdown in five straight games. I have the veteran as a top-15 option.


Thumbs Up: James Washington (@ CIN)

Washington has begun to emerge this month by catching 13-of-16 targets for 208 yards and one touchdown over the past three games, and Sunday will present a good opportunity for him to have a career day with JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion, knee) expected to be sidelined. The Bengals are allowing a whopping 9.1 yards per attempt through the air (worst in the league), and Washington is bound to connect with college teammate Mason Rudolph on a deep ball at some point.


Others: DeVante Parker (@ CLE), D.K. Metcalf (@ PHI)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Amari Cooper (@ NE)

Cooper was limited to three receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown (which came down 30-0 in the fourth quarter) in his lone career matchup against the Patriots two seasons ago, and things might not get much easier at less than 100% for a road trip to face an even stingier defense/secondary. I expect Cooper will either get shadowed by Stephon Gilmore or double covered—and neither option is a very encouraging for his weekly outlook. If there was a time to bench him, this is it.


Thumbs Down: Courtland Sutton (@ BUF)

Per usual, the cornerback facing Tre’Davious White makes the “Thumbs Down” section at receiver, and despite DeVante Parker having some success against him last week, I don’t feel as confident about Sutton with a quarterback that’s less likely to test elite defenders compared to the gunslinging Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sutton gets a cupcake schedule in the fantasy playoffs, but this is a week where he should be ranked as a FLEX rather than WR2.


Thumbs Down: Terry McLaurin (v DET)

McLaurin has unfortunately been unable to get going with Dwayne Haskins under center—which is a surprise after the two connected for 11 touchdowns and 20.0 yards per reception at Ohio State last year—and the pairing could struggle again with Darius Slay patrolling at cornerback for the Lions. Even if McLaurin doesn’t face pure shadow coverage from Slay, he might get the same treatment Amari Cooper did last week if Matt Patricia decides the defense won’t let the rookie beat them.


Thumbs Down: Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods (v BAL)

For the same reasons Goff is a “Thumbs Down” at quarterback, fantasy owners should avoid Cooks and Woods despite both being set to return to the lineup on Monday night. The Ravens are absolutely loaded in the secondary, and Sean McVay will probably dial up another low-volume passing attack in which you probably need a big play and/or touchdown to feel good about having started either guy. I have both Cooks and Woods outside the top 30.


Others: Michael Gallup (@ NE), Will Fuller (v IND)


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