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Tori Richman/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 12 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Joe Burrow (@ TEN)

Burrow is a total lock in all redraft lineups, but he’s worth mentioning based on the upside versus a Tennessee defense that’s allowing the third-most passing yards per game in the league (266.8) and could be without top cornerback Kristian Fulton (hamstring). Assuming the Bengals get Ja’Marr Chase (hip) back in the lineup, Burrow could have a monster day through the air and possesses overall QB1 upside in Week 12.


Thumbs Up: Tom Brady (@ CLE)

Aside from a missed read on an interception in Germany (his first since the opener), Brady has played very well in each of the past two games—as Tampa Bay’s offense seems to have found the winning formula to hopefully build on coming off the bye. Cleveland has been lost defensively in recent weeks, so this weekend sets up nicely for TB12 to completely breakout if the weather cooperates with possible rain in the forecast. We have him as a top-ten play.


Thumbs Up: Jimmy Garoppolo (v NO)

You can see the confidence growing for Garoppolo as San Francisco continues to win and play well offensively, and now Jimmy G faces a New Orleans defense that he ripped for 349 yards and four touchdowns (plus one interception) in the only career start against them in 2019. As long as the playmakers for the Niners are healthy, Garoppolo should be viewed as a borderline QB1 option.


Thumbs Up: Marcus Mariota (@ WAS)

Mariota being strongly supported by head coach Arthur Smith before Week 11 was a great sign, and the former Heisman winner made enough plays to get Atlanta to 5-6 with a win over Chicago. I’m expecting the Falcons to continue leaning on Mariota as a runner after he had a season-high 13 carries last week, and Washington—despite just dominating Davis Mills and the Texans—have allowed an 18:6 touchdown-interception to opponents this year.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Kirk Cousins (v NE)

Cousins has faced Bill Belichick and the Patriots twice in his career, and he’s struggled in both meetings—throwing for 212.0 yards per game with a 2:3 touchdown-interception ratio while losing 27-10 and 24-10. The Vikings are less dangerous with Justin Jefferson dealing with a turf toe injury (which will be the case on a short week), and Cousins isn’t a quarterback you can rely on for rushing production to help overcome a difficult matchup. I’d look elsewhere for a QB1 if possible.


Thumbs Down: Aaron Rodgers (@ PHI)

Rodgers has had 19.0+ fantasy points in back-to-back games after failing to reach even 17.0 fantasy points in any other game this season, but a matchup versus the Eagles is one to avoid on Sunday night. Aside from Philadelphia’s defense ranking second in the league against the pass (178.4 yards per game allowed), they’re the stingiest opponent in terms of touchdown-interception ratio allowed (10:13), and Rodgers himself wasn’t sharp last Thursday night. In a hostile road environment, it’s best to view Rodgers as a mid-to-low QB2.


Thumbs Down: Russell Wilson (@ CAR)

A new play-caller didn’t really make a difference for Wilson last week, and he’s now thrown for just seven touchdowns in nine games—with less than 15.0 fantasy points in all but one outing this season. The Panthers just pulled the Ravens into a slugfest last week, so I’d anticipate another low-scoring game for Denver, and Wilson doesn’t even crack the top 24 at quarterback for us in Week 12.


Thumbs Down: Ryan Tannehill (v CIN)

Tannehill played very well last Thursday night, and some fantasy owners might want to ride the momentum for a playoff rematch versus Cincinnati. The Bengals really got the better of Tannehill in January, though, limiting him to 220 yards and a touchdown on a day where he threw three interceptions in a heartbreaking 19-16 loss. You’d probably need to hope for a rushing score for Tannehill to pay dividends this weekend.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Rachaad White (@ CLE)

White drew the start for Tampa Bay in Week 10 and took full advantage of the opportunity with 22 carries for 105 yards in a 21-16 win over Seattle. Now in a cupcake matchup versus the collapsing Browns, the rookie should be started confidently as a strong RB2 option with the ability to do more damage as a pass-catcher (zero targets in Germany) to support the increased rushing production. Over the past two weeks alone, Cleveland has been shredded on the ground by Jeff Wilson Jr. (17/119/1), Raheem Mostert (8/65/1), Devin Singletary (18/86/2), and James Cook (11/86).


Thumbs Up: Damien Harris (@ MIN)

Rhamondre Stevenson again led the New England backfield in Week 11, but he was contained as a runner (15 carries for 26 scoreless yards), and it was Harris that drew the start and rushed eight times for 65 yards. With zero touchdowns since Week 4 after ranking second in the NFL in rushing scores last season (15), Harris feels “due” to find the end zone and might carve out more touches after his showing versus the Jets. I like him as an undervalued FLEX option.


Thumbs Up: Kyren Williams (@ KC)

The Rams had already given Williams more work last week with 55% of the team’s offensive snaps played, and Darrell Henderson being waived opens the door for the rookie to emerge down the stretch. Kansas City being likely to play from ahead should have game flow in Williams’ favor as the preferred pass-catching back for Los Angeles, and he’s worth starting as a borderline top-30 option at running back.


Thumbs Up: Jeff Wilson Jr. (v HOU)

Wilson comes off the bye week with a dream matchup versus the league-worst Houston run defense (178.9 yards per game allowed), and he’s at least a high-end RB2 with a case to be ranked as an RB1 option for Week 12. In two games with the Dolphins, the veteran has rushed 26 times for 170 yards (6.6 YPC) and a touchdown while also adding five receptions for 45 yards and another score. Wilson should have the edge over Raheem Mostert the rest of the way.


Thumbs Down of the Week: D’Andre Swift (v BUF)

The Lions continued to give Swift a limited role as he deals with various injury issues, and he’s seen touch totals of ten, five, seven, and eight in four games since returning. On a short week versus a Buffalo defense that just swarmed to slow down Nick Chubb on the ground, Swift is a low-floor option that might be held back some on limited rest with the remainder of the season in mind for the playoff-hopeful Lions. Swift is our RB32 for this week.


Thumbs Down: D’Onta Foreman (v DEN)

Foreman has now alternated monster games with disappointing showings in four weeks as the starter, but a matchup versus Denver’s stout run defense could make it two quiet games in a row. On the bright side, game flow being in Carolina’s favor might lead to more carries for Foreman to get into a rhythm if Broncos-Panthers is a slugfest; I’d just rather rely on another option with all 32 teams in action this week.


Thumbs Down: AJ Dillon (@ PHI)

The Packers have simply been too inconsistent to count on Dillon as a solid FLEX option, as he saw just seven touches last Thursday night after it looked like Green Bay found the ideal formula with 13 carries for him in the win over Dallas. The Eagles finding defensive reinforcements in the form of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh makes them a tougher matchup for opposing runners, so Dillon should stay out of lineups on Sunday night.


Thumbs Down: David Montgomery (@ NYJ)

As stated, New York showed some holes against the run versus Damien Harris last week, but they held Rhamondre Stevenson in check, and I’m guessing the defense will be all in on stopping Montgomery—especially with Justin Fields (shoulder) out or at less than 100%. Also, the switch from Zach Wilson to Mike White under center is something that might fire up the entire locker room, so Montgomery is more of a FLEX than RB2 option for me.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (@ CLE)

Targets haven’t been an issue for Godwin with 70 of them in seven healthy appearances this season, and he’s also shown a very stable floor with six receptions in all seven of those outings. I’m optimistic about the 6/71/1 line in Germany being the start of a huge second half for Godwin, and he’s set up for another WR1 day after the struggling Browns allowed Dawson Knox to catch seven passes last week while working the short/intermediate areas of the field.


Thumbs Up: Darius Slayton (@ DAL)

Slayton has become the no-doubt No. 1 wideout for New York based on his recent play and their injuries, so he should be leaned on by Daniel Jones as the Giants try to upset the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Over the past four games, Slayton has gone for lines of 3/58/1, 5/66, 3/95/1, and 5/86—giving him a solid floor in addition to the big-play potential that’s been on display throughout his career. He can be started as an upside FLEX.


Thumbs Up: Allen Robinson II (@ KC)

Robinson only seeing five targets in the first game without Cooper Kupp (ankle) was disappointing, but he made the most of them with a 4/47/1 line and should see expanded opportunities on Sunday versus the high-flying Chiefs. Even if Matthew Stafford (concussion) doesn’t suit up, Robinson is worth starting against a defense that’s allowed 41.0+ fantasy points to opposing wideouts in four of the past seven games—and that includes a week where all Tennessee wide receivers were held without a catch with Malik Willis under center.


Thumbs Up: Nelson Agholor (@ MIN)

Agholor carries risk with New England having five wide receivers that will see meaningful action on Thanksgiving Night, but he was up to 59% of the snaps played coming off the bye week—and I love the matchup versus Minnesota. Basically, it’d be a mistake if the Patriots didn’t try to get rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. matched up on Agholor for at least a couple of downfield targets, so the veteran should be strongly considered for DFS lineups.


Others: Julio Jones (@ CLE), Jahan Dotson (v ATL)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Christian Watson (@ PHI)

Fantasy owners might want to ride the hot hand with Watson having five touchdowns over the past two weeks, but you want to play guys for what they will do—not what’s already happened. Green Bay’s impressive rookie has the size/speed to break free against any coverage, but the Eagles have been excellent defending big plays against the pass as the only team in the NFL to not allow a reception of more than 45 yards this season. Based on the matchup, Watson could cool off quickly.


Thumbs Down: Darnell Mooney (@ NYJ)

The perimeter coverage of Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed is a challenge even for high-powered attacks, so Mooney—on a run-heavy offense with Justin Fields possibly out—will be difficult to trust as a usual low-end WR2/FLEX option this weekend. Despite the uptick in production, Mooney has seen five or fewer targets in three of the past four games, and that volume doesn’t inspire confidence about his Week 12 outlook.


Thumbs Down: Diontae Johnson (@ IND)

Johnson has yet to find the end zone this season, and he’s clearly not been on the same page with Kenny Pickett—averaging just 37.1 receiving yards per game since the rookie took over for Mitchell Trubisky. Indianapolis having the seventh-best pass defense in the NFL and Steelers-Colts setting up as a low-scoring game makes Johnson a backend WR3 option that could be completely overtaken by George Pickens (if he hasn’t been already).


Thumbs Down: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (v LAR)

Injuries to JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion), Mecole Hardman (abdomen), and Kadarius Toney (hamstring) wasn’t enough to get Valdes-Scantling going last week with one reception for 18 yards—and he’s now been held below 20 yards in three of the past five games. Based on how soft the Rams have played in coverage this season, I don’t see the downfield ability of MVS being highlighted by Kansas City on Sunday.


Others: Courtland Sutton (@ CAR), Brandin Cooks (@ MIA)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: David Njoku (v TB)

Njoku didn’t have his usual role in his return from a high-ankle sprain with 37% of the team’s offensive snaps played, but the good news was he looked healthy and escaped any sort of setback. I’m banking on him becoming more of a factor this week against a Tampa Bay defense allowing 11.3 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, and Njoku should be viewed as a top-eight option at the position.


Thumbs Up: Gerald Everett (@ ARI)

The Cardinals have been so bad at defending tight ends—including two touchdowns allowed to George Kittle on Monday night—that you probably don’t even have to look into it to know they’re allowing the most fantasy points per game to the position (16.6). Only the tight ends of the Panthers have failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in this matchup, so Everett is a top-ten option if he’s recovered from the groin injury that kept him out in Week 11.


Thumbs Up: Mike Gesicki (v HOU)

Gesicki caught four passes for 54 yards last season against the Texans, and I’m hopeful about his outlook as a target over the middle and down the seams for Tua Tagovailoa. Miami having Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle clearing out zones with their speed should open up space for Gesicki to make plays, and he’s a borderline TE1 if you can live with the low floor.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Juwan Johnson (@ SF)

The strides made by Johnson this season—as a former college wide receiver—have gone completely overlooked, but he’s the overall TE8 on the year with five touchdowns over his past five games. Unfortunately, the 49ers are a matchup to avoid for those hoping to start Johnson this week, and fantasy owners are better off stashing him for a matchup with the Bucs in Week 13.


Thumbs Down: Trey McBride (v LAC)

Although McBride played 76% of the team’s offensive snaps on Monday night, he was limited to checkdown duty with four receptions for 14 scoreless yards—and that was with Rondale Moore (groin) leaving after two plays. Assuming the Cardinals at least get Marquise Brown (foot) back in the lineup, I’d avoid McBride on a wideout-slanted passing attack.


Thumbs Down: Cade Otton (@ CLE)

Otton looked to be on his way to being a possible fantasy starter down the stretch with 60+ yards in two of three games before the trip to Germany, but Cameron Brate returned to carve out a chunk of playing time—most notably in passing situations. Considering all the options available with 16 games this week, Otton should stay on the bench or waiver wire with the Bucs playing through Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Julio Jones through the air.