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Play Em’ or Bench Em’: Week 12

Hello,
Welcome to the second to last week of the fantasy regular season. All bye weeks are over and we are in the final stretch of the fantasy regular season. You pretty much know you’re fate at this point of the season so let’s just jump into the player you should play this week. We’ll keep the passionate speech for next week. Here are your play em’ players for week 12!

Play Em’

Quarterback

-Phillip Rivers at Dallas Cowboys (Thanksgiving)

  • The Chargers are rolling right now. They have a slight glimmer of hope for a playoff push and it all starts with Phillip Rivers. The Cowboys have been lost offensively without Tyron Smith and Zeke Elliott and it’s starting to put a strain on the defense. Rivers is a capable veteran that can take advantage of the mismatches given to him on Thanksgiving. The last two weeks Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz have 20+ point fantasy games. No reason to believe Rivers cannot do the same.

-Marcus Mariota at Indianapolis Colts

  • Yes, everyone will remember the Thursday night performance against the Steelers while transitioning into this week, but the good thing is the Colts are the Steelers. Mariota has been very disappointing as a fantasy quarterback this year. This week he should rebound against a poor Colts defense where he scored 16 points in the first match up. I know it’s been difficult to trust Mariota this season and with playoffs potentially on the line for your team it’s even more worrisome. However, this could be one of Mariota’s final good performances of the season and if you spent a high draft pick on him you should get the most out of it while you can. Those 16 points should be the floor for Mariota this week.

-Matt Ryan v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Falcons are suddenly becoming a team to mess with. Matt Ryan and the offense don’t look as lost as they have earlier in the season. Ryan and company went into Seattle last Monday night and pulled off an upset. Sure the Seahawks are missing a good chunk of players in the secondary, but still it’s impressive nonetheless. This week Ryan will have a juicy match up against the Tampa Buccaneers who still allow a good amount of points to opposing offensive players. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons are gaining good momentum as the playoffs loom.

-Cam Newton at New York Jets

  • The Panthers are getting tight end Greg Olsen back from injured reserve this week. That should help the offense tremendously, or rather Cam Newton. Newton and the Panthers are starting to click on both sides of the ball and with the NFC playoff picture coming together and still plenty of hopeful teams looking from the outside in, the Panthers getting an all-pro tight end back in week 12 is a huge boost for the offense. With Kelvin Benjamin now in Buffalo and rookie Curtis Samuel out for the season, Greg Olsen will step in and fill a much needed play-making role that the Panthers have missed all season. The Jets are a young ascending team, but Cam Newton is playing like his 2015 MVP form and should take advantage of the week 11 bye. Newton can be Superman this Sunday and you should start him.

Running Back

-LeSean McCoy at Kansas City Chiefs

  • In the words of Eminem “Shady’s back, tell a friend”. So, here I am telling a friend; all of you! No matter who the starting quarterback is (I’m expecting Tyrod Taylor) LeSean McCoy should be the person the Bills run the offense through. McCoy had 14 touches last game and still had over 100 yards for the day with two scores. I know the Bills are probably trying to keep him healthy for a potential playoff run, but fact is if the Bills want to put points on the board they need to feed their workhorse back. The Chiefs defense has been digressing since their undefeated start and has been very kind to opposing running backs. McCoy will want to put on a show for one of his former coaches in Andy Reid and try to elevate his team back into the playoff picture.

-CJ Anderson at Oakland Raiders

  • The Broncos offense has been very lackluster this season. The running backs have been even more inconsistent. Making things worse is the Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Monday. So, why is CJ Anderson a play em’? Well, Anderson did score a touchdown last week and when he was the workhorse back earlier in the season the offense was actually a decent threat. If the Broncos get back to running the football with their best back it has good starting appeal. Add in that they face a Raiders defense that averages 20 points to opposing running backs. I like Anderson this week and you should too.

-DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry at Indianapolis Colts

  • I hate merging players together, but these two are one of the few running back duos that can be a weekly starter and will get you points. The Titans want to win with their running game and they did just that in their first matchup earlier in the year. During the last game both Murray and Henry had 18+ points and completely took over the game. This time around I don’t think the Colts can make the adjustments needed to stop them. With extra days rest for this game both the hard-hitting physical backs should be able to find success once again against one of the worst defenses in the league.

-Jerrick McKinnon at Detroit Lions (Thanksgiving)

  • Latavius Murray could be another good pick as he’s really been hot lately for the Vikings offense, but I went with McKinnon because the Lions have allowed a lot of points to receiving backs this year. Seeing as how McKinnon has been dynamic catching the ball out of the backfield for the Vikings this season it should be no surprise that he’s featured here. The winner of this game will probably be the winner of the NFC North division so it’ll be a hard fought game between both teams. Matthew Stafford and the Lions have the ability to make it a high scoring game and if that’s the case McKinnon will see extra work catching the ball.

Wide Receiver

-Doug Baldwin at San Francisco 49ers

  • The Seahawks top receiver had a quiet game on Monday night against the Falcons. His fantasy performance was saved by a late game touchdown, but he still only had 2 receptions for 40 yards for the night. Moving forward the Seahawks are becoming more of a passing team for a number of reasons. 1) The defense has significant injuries and is having issues containing offenses for the whole game. So, the Seahawks have to play catch up sometimes. 2) The lack of a running game is still a problem. If none of the running backs can take advantage of their opportunities and limits the offense, Russell Wilson is forced to pass more. Despite Baldwin not being the target hog he usually is last week, he should see plenty of work moving forward as Wilson’s favorite target. Don’t fret, Wilson and Baldwin will figure it out before playoffs.

-TY Hilton v. Tennessee Titans

  • The Brissett-Hilton connection has been a lot better in recent weeks. They’re hooking up for big plays more often and Brissett is realizing that in order to win he has to get the ball into his best play-maker’s hands. Hilton should continue is late season surge this week as the Titans give up the most amounts of points to opposing #1 receivers. Did you see what Antonio Brown did to the Titans last week? Yeah, Hilton should have at least 20 points this week.

-Jarvis Landry at New England Patriots

  • Jay Cutler is currently in concussion protocol, but if it’s him or Matt Moore with the start Jarvis Landry should see his average target share in the contest. The Patriots defense has been much improved over the second half of the season. However, they still have trouble defending slot receivers and with Landry excelling from the slot he’ll be able to take advantage. Landry is third in receptions and for the first time in his career is actually accumulating touchdowns. His weekly floor is high enough to warrant starting status in every league this year. Again, regardless of the quarterback Landry should get a healthy amount of targets once again this week.

-Keenan Allen at Dallas Cowboys (Thanksgiving)

  • The Chargers top receiver found the end-zone for the first time since week one. Not only did he score, he did it twice. It was a nice little reward for owners that stuck with him all this time. This week he’ll get another favorable match up against a Cowboys team spiraling downward. Allen hasn’t been himself this year, but this could be a game where he stacks up receptions and gets into the end-zone again. Look alive Allen owners, if you held onto this player you’re about to get rewarding in the coming weeks.

Tight End

-Jordan Reed/Vernon Davis v. New York Giants (Thanksgiving)

  • A tight end has scored in all but one game against the New York Giants this season. Seeing as the Redskins are utilizing their strong tight end group in recent weeks, there should be no question that at least one of these two players should find the end-zone. Of course they’re both listed because as always the health concern of Jordan Reed is an issue. The Redskins are a better team than what their record indicates they just can’t finish games. No matter, the Redskins tight ends should continue the trend of the Giants unable to defend the position.

-Greg Olsen at New York Jets

  • Cam Newton is getting his absolute favorite target back and it’ll boost the Carolina Panthers offense. Greg Olsen has been out with a foot injury since week 2 and he’s itching to get back onto the football field. With the Panthers down two receivers since the beginning of the season in Kelvin Benjamin (traded to the Bills) and Curtis Samuel (injured reserve), the Panthers needed a play-maker. Olsen should see plenty of work in his first game back in action and will be vacuuming a lot of targets as well.

-Delanie Walker at Indianapolis Colts

  • The Titans top pass-catcher has yet to find the end-zone this year from a receiving standpoint. It’s bound to happen eventually right? The Colts shut down Walker pretty well in the first match up, but this time around I believe he’ll get his first receiving touchdown of the season. Marcus Mariota is seemingly trying to get him the ball near the end-zone. Walker is still the most consistent pass-catcher for the Titans and should take advantage of a weak Colts secondary.

Defense

-Baltimore Ravens v. Houston Texans (Monday Night)

  • The Ravens have improved on both sides of the ball in the past couple of weeks. Last week they shut out the Green Bay Packers and this week they’ll feed on another sub-par offensive unit. The Texans haven’t been the same team after the injury to Deshaun Watson and it won’t get any better for the remainder of the season. The Ravens have lifted themselves back into the #2 spot on defense for fantasy and they’ll look to continue dominating for their owners.

-Pittsburgh Steelers v. Green Bay Packers (Sunday Night)

  • Last week the Green Bay Packers got shut out by the Baltimore Ravens and this week they’ll face another tough defensive unit. The Packers are losing running backs left and right and Brett Hundley is struggling to make plays for his team. The Steelers should get up big early on in this game and then their third ranked pass defense will take over and fest on the young passer. Could be another ugly outing for the Packers.

-Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals

  • The Jaguars have the best fantasy defense in league. They’re clearly carrying the team to a playoff berth and they are more than likely helping you clinch a playoff spot too if you have them on your team. This week they’ll get to have fun with their previous quarterback Blaine Gabbert, along with a running game that can’t seem to get going. The match ups favor the Jaguars this week and they could have another high scoring fantasy day once again.

-Philadelphia Eagles v. Chicago Bears

  • The Eagles defense has been terrorizing offenses all year long and this week they’ll get to harass a rookie quarterback. The Bears offense has been a strong running game, but the Eagles have the best rush defense in the league. If game flow goes according to plan the Eagles will stop the run get up early and force the Bears to pass the ball. Either way, it doesn’t appear to be a good day for the Bears.

Bench Em’

Quarterback

-Matthew Stafford v. Minnesota Vikings (Thanksgiving)

  • The Lions are home this week in what could be the game to decide the NFC North when it’s all said and done. However, the Vikings usually keep Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense in check from a fantasy standpoint. Stafford is better at home and has had great success on Thanksgiving Day, but this Vikings defense is another animal and will limit Stafford. I’d bench the signal caller this week.

-Derek Carr v. Denver Broncos

  • The Raiders have been struggling as an offensive as of late and this week won’t get any better. Sure the Denver Broncos defense isn’t as dominate as years past, but they’re still a defense you should worry about. Carr and the offense only scored 8 points as a team on a defense that gives up the second most points to quarterbacks. Again, the Broncos are struggling too, but they have the talent to still wreak havoc. Carr and the Raiders offense should have a hard time scoring over 20 once again this week.

-Dak Prescott v. Los Angeles Chargers (Thanksgiving)

  • The Dallas Cowboys are showing they cannot be competitive without Zeke Elliott nor Tyron Smith. Now Smith is expected to be back this game, but still want to see how Dak Prescott reacts as he’s facing arguably the best pass rushing duo in the league. If the Cowboys offensive line struggles continue, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are going to have a field day and build off their dominating performance against the Bills. Prescott could be in for another long afternoon and that doesn’t bode well for your fantasy team.

-Eli Manning at Washington Redskins (Thanksgiving)

  • The Giants upset the Kansas City Chiefs last week, but Eli Manning didn’t have to score a touchdown! It was field goal city in that game from both teams. This week he’ll face a division rival irking to get a win as they’ve come up just short the last few weeks against legit Super Bowl contenders. The Redskins should fest on the lowly Giants. Sir Eli Manning as the offense just can’t muster enough offensive production. At this point you’re starting Blake Bortles over him. Waiver wire he should be.

Running Back

-Adrian Peterson v. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • It would be great if Peterson played the 49ers every week, but he doesn’t. The Jaguars have the best defense in the league and they’ll surely stop the run game and make Blaine Gabbert beat them through the air. If you’re an Adrian Peterson owner you should try to trade him for something you can actually start for the fantasy playoffs instead of hoping for a miracle from the Cardinals runner.

-Jordan Howard at Philadelphia Eagles

  • The Eagles have the best rush defense in the league. That should be enough to warrant a bench, but people like details and explanation. The Eagles will score early and often like they have much of the year and force the Bears to abandon the running game and force Mitchell Trubisky to throw. Howard loses most of the passing downs to Tarik Cohen so owners can’t even hope for some receiving yards from their starting running back. If you have to start Howard, just limit your expectations this week.

-Carlos Hyde v. Seattle Seahawks

  • The Seahawks are hurting bad in the secondary after a plethora of injuries. Their rush defense has improved since the beginning of the year. Hyde shredded the Seahawks defense in the first meeting, but both of the respective teams are totally different. The 49ers could go for a more air raid type of attack opposed from a run heavy scheme. Carlos Hyde might not get the opportunities to help your team. With this team pretty much in “try-out” mode for next season, the 49ers could be obligated to try out other running backs or pass more to see if CJ Beathard or Jimmy Garoppolo is the answer moving forward. I just don’t see a big day for Hyde this week.

-Marshawn Lynch v. Denver Broncos

  • The Broncos have the fifth best run defense in the league. The Raiders offense is struggling to move the ball down the field and Lynch is suffering from it. If the Raiders are constantly playing from behind Lynch will lose out his touches to the receiving running backs. In the first meeting Lynch was held to 12 yards for the day and I can see a similar outing with how the Raiders use him. Trade him to the loyal Raider fan in your league, if you don’t have one you should drop him and get someone else.

Wide Receiver

-DeAndre Hopkins at Baltimore Ravens (Monday Night)

  • The Ravens have been playing lights out defense here recently. Even during their struggling times the Ravens have been rough on opposing #1 receivers on the season. DeAndre Hopkins is clearly the best play-maker on the Texans and the way to easily beat the Texans is eliminate him. The Ravens have the talent and depth to do just that and I fully anticipate them shutting him down to a very minimal day.

-Larry Fitzgerald v. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • The Cardinals best receiver in franchise history got a year extension last year, but that doesn’t help him for this year. The Jaguars have been the new no fly zone with Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye locking down almost every receiver they’ve played against this season. Fitzgerald is still one of the best receivers in the game, but the quarterback play limits his ceiling on a weekly basis. It’s sad to say, but you have to bench the future hall of famer this week.

-Jordy Nelson at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night)

  • Another top receiver in the game struggling due to quarterback issues. Nelson is clearly not the same type of play-maker without Aaron Rodgers. The Steelers are allowing less than 200 yards passing per game and that number could decrease after this game as Brett Hundley has yet to really break out. Any amount of points from the Packers offense would be a step up over last week, but I don’t see them scoring more than two touchdowns and that’s me being generous for the holiday season.

-Marvin Jones v. Minnesota Vikings (Thanksgiving)

  • Much like his quarterback, Marvin Jones will struggle in this game. Jones will get shadowed by Xavier Rhodes. In the first meeting Jones only amassed 42 total yards on two receptions. Marvin Jones could see an uptick in fantasy points, but not by much. This week his ceiling is very touchdown dependent and seeing as how the Vikings defense just held the #4 total offense to 7 points, it might not settle well with the Lions. Limit your expectations this week.

Tight End

-Austin Serfian-Jenkins v. Carolina Panthers

  • The Carolina Panthers linebackers are some of the best in the league. ASJ is going to have a tough time finding separation against them this week. The Jets offense was once red-hot and coming off their bye week I feel like they’ve cooled down a bit and will have trouble moving the ball as a whole on this tough re-surging defense. ASJ is touchdown machine, but I don’t see it happening this week.

-Jimmy Graham at San Francisco 49ers

  • In the first meeting between the 49ers, Graham was held to 1 catch for 1 yard. Despite the emergence of Graham and his talents in the red-zone, the 49ers are actually tough on tight ends. Also Graham doesn’t get many receiving yards and sometimes not many receptions. He can be purely dependent on touchdowns and that should be scary to owners. I wouldn’t trust him this week and I advise you find a replacement.

-Jason Witten v. Los Angeles Chargers (Thanksgiving)

  • With the Cowboys offense crumbling right before us all members of the offensive unit are affected. Tyron Smith may or may not play in this game, but regardless if he does Witten has been held to chip blocking a lot and hasn’t been a factor in the passing game. Fun fact, Written hasn’t scored a touchdown in 7 straight Thanksgiving games and the streak will continue against a Chargers defense that’s been stiff against tight ends.

Defense

-Los Angeles Rams v. New Orleans Saints

  • The Saints have been arguably the best team in the NFL since week 2. The Rams just allowed 24 points to the Vikings. The Saints have more weapons and can beat you in multiple different ways than the Vikings. If you’ve rolled with the Rams this is not the week to start them. We really saw how they compared to other NFC powerhouses and now they get another chance to duke it out.

-Kansas City Chiefs v. Buffalo Bills

  • I anticipate Tyrod Taylor starting in this game. With that said, he’ll be an angry motivated player that’ll try to get his Bills back into the playoff picture. The Chiefs are on a downward slide and failed to score a touchdown against the Giants. Tyrod Taylor has more to play for than the Chiefs do right now. I like the Bills to light up the scoreboard this week.

-Arizona Cardinals v. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • The Jaguars offense is definitely not their strong suit. However, the Cardinals once dominate force of their defense has many lived up to expectations this year. Injuries and lack of certain key areas have hurt this defense. They just let Tom Savage and the Texans put up 31 points on them. Blake Bortles is not a top quarterback, but he’s a step above Tom Savage. The Jaguars should have some success this week too.

-Detroit Lions v. Minnesota Vikings (Thanksgiving)

  • The Vikings are playing for a first round bye week while the Lions are playing for a playoff bid and the NFC North division title. However, the Vikings have proven they can compete with the big boys and Case Keemun is proving to the world he can be a starting quarterback in the league. There will be a lot on the line this Thursday between these two teams and it could go either way. Although the Vikings can put up the points if need be.
That concludes this week’s edition of Play Em’ or Bench Em’. As always, good luck in your match up(s) and I hope you win. If you ever need more help with your lineup(s) don’t hesitate to ask myself or anyone from the SFT crew. We’ll always respond to you on all of our social media pages. So, don’t forget to like and share us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, as well as connecting with us on LinkedIn. Until next time, have a great day and a Happy Holiday! Gobble Gobble.
Austin Thomas

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