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NFL Fantasy Football: Start 'Em/Sit 'Em - Week 12

Week 12 NFL match-ups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a depressing week in Redskins world.  In last week's column, I told you to start a bunch of Redskins in fantasy football and I was banking on the offense putting it together and crushing a bad Bucs team coming out of our bye.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  The 'Skins lost miserably, RGIII was terrible, and the media circus has reached critical mass.  It's annoying and frustrating and sometimes as a fan of this team you just feel you need to get away and distance yourself and your emotions.  Fantasy football can be very good for that, especially if you're still in the playoff hunt at this late juncture in the season.  Luckily for me, I am.

Though the 'Skins were terrible this past week, I was not, having gone 3-0 for the second straight week in my three leagues.  I'm currently sitting at 8-3, 7-4, and 8-3 (23-10 combined).  My standings are: 2/10, 4/12, and *2/14 (* = clinched playoff spot).  Clinching the playoff spot in my third league is awesome, especially because my game was in doubt this week.  In that particular league, six of the 14 teams make the playoffs and the top two have a first-round bye.  That's great for me because I'm currently holding on to one of those top two spots.

In my first league, I crushed.  I had the high total for the week and played against the team that was (and still is) 10th out of the 10 teams in the league.  I was very confident I'd win before the week even started and my team simply proved to be too much for her's.  I had dominant performances from Mike Evans (unfortunately) and Le'Veon Bell.  I nearly doubled her up and had the largest margin of victory for the week.  I'm playing the first place team this week... huge.

I had it easy in our Hogs Haven league, too.  The person I played has given up on the season (currently 3-8) and didn't even bother with his lineup or worrying about bye weeks.  I knew I'd crush him too, and I did.  Again, I nearly doubled his score primarily thanks to Le'Veon Bell.  He started two players on their bye weeks (Harvin and the Raven D) and one guy who is hurt and didn't even play (Bernard).  Easy win.

The game in my third league was a nail-biter.  I was down pretty big coming into Monday night and kind of thought I'd lose.  There was about a 20 point cushion between us (PPR league) and he had Sankey while I had Wright and Bell.  I knew it would be close, but thanks to Bell having one of the best games of the season, I was able to come out on top, clinch a playoff berth, hang on to a bye by way of having a top two position, and basically knock the other guy out of playoff contention.  It was invigorating, especially compared to my other two match-ups.  It also didn't hurt that I had the man Aaron Rodgers at the helm, either.

Let's review/critique my advice (glad Cooley doesn't critique me...):

  • All Redskin players.  Sorry I recommended them.  I was obviously horribly wrong on RGIII and not much better on Morris, Jackson, and/or Reed.  Figured I'd just get that out of the way first.
  • I said don't start McCown I was wrong.  Who knew we'd completely self-destruct after our bye week and get blown out of the house by a journeyman back-up QB and a rookie WR? 
  • At least my recommendation on Sproles was accurate.  I definitely thought the Packers would beat the Eagles... but not like that.  I was correct in that they'd have to try to keep up with the Packers and that meant less carries for Sproles.  My yardage prediction was spot on.
  • Hopefully you listened to me and didn't start Alex Smith.  Even though they found a way to win, that team is built to run and Smith and their WR's are just secondary.
  • I was wrong on starting Boldin and sitting Marshall.  I meant it the other way around...
  • Not starting Fitzgerald was the right choice, though.  He'll be hard to trust the rest of the year with no Carson Palmer at the helm.  Even though they won, you just knew that was going to be a low-scoring, defensive affair.
  • I said to start Gates, but he's really TD dependent.  No TD for this week...
  • Pretty much just don't ever start Eli Manning.

On to week 12!


Start 'Em

Jay Cutler, CHI (vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - Don't let last week fool you, the Bucs are still really bad.  They just made the Redskins look worse.  The Bears offense is too talented and has stunk for too many weeks in a row for this to not change against such a weak opponent while playing at home in frozen Chicago.  Cutler, Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, Bennett...  How could they continue to be so inept?  No way.  300 yards, 2+ TD's, 1 INT, and 10-20 rushing yards.

Ryan Tannehill, MIA (@ Denver Broncos) - Tannehill has been flying under the radar and is in fact just a pretty good fantasy QB.  For whatever reason, his stats are better than his reputation.  You know Denver is going to put up points and the Dolphins will be slinging it trying to keep up.  The Dolphins are much better this year than in the recent past and a lot of people aren't noticing.  Don't forget that garbage stats still count in fantasy...  325 passing yards, 2 TD's, and 10-20 rushing yards.

Sit 'Em

Mike Vick, NYJ (@ Buffalo Bills) - Weather is obviously a factor here with 70"+ of snow on the ground.  Another factor is the Bills stout defense and the Jets inept offense.  We also don't know exactly when this game will happen.  If they have to postpone it a day or two, you may run out of other options to consider.  I wouldn't risk it.  You should be able to do better.  200 passing yards, 0-1 TD's, 1 INT, and 30-40 rushing yards.

Philip Rivers, SD (vs St. Louis Rams) - I don't know what's happened to him lately.  He was so good at the start of the season and has kind of fallen off here the past few weeks.  He's had back-to-back bad performances and appears to be getting blitzed much more often of late.  Their OL isn't great and everyone knows the Rams have a pretty good DL and get good pressure.  And did y'all see what the Rams did to Peyton last week...?  Again, you can do better this week.  200-225 passing yards, 1-2 TD's, and 1 INT.

Running Backs

Start 'Em

Justin Forsett, BAL (@ New Orleans Saints) - He's been incredible this year and is now a must-start.  I'm so glad I picked him up when I did.  You basically couldn't have added anyone better during this season.  He consistently produces and has been great in all but about three games so far this year.  I love consistent players in fantasy and you know he's going to produce.  The Saints defense against the run is average at best and the Ravens are focused on getting Forsett the ball.  80-90 rushing yards, 20-30 receiving yards, and 1 TD.

LeSean McCoy, PHI (vs Tennessee Titans) - I know, I know.  He's been a huge letdown this year.  But he's been chirping a little more lately and I'm thinking they'll get him the ball a little bit more to keep the peace.  He's not what we expected coming into the season (I spent the #2 overall pick on him in one league), but he's still a great RB going against a bad team at home.  I've seen too much good to just think he consistently won't produce now.  They have a newish QB starting and Sproles has dropped off a bit.  It makes too much sense.  120 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 10-20 receiving yards.

Mark Ingram, NO (vs Baltimore Ravens) - Why wouldn't you?  He's been stellar this year.  The Ravens defense is tough, especially against RB's, but the Saints just keep giving this guy the ball and he has been a true workhorse.  I started him over Lynch last week and it worked out.  He's legit.  Trust me.  They're going to run him into the ground, especially with no Cooks.  90-100 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 20-30 receiving yards.

Sit 'Em

Ben Tate, MIN (vs Green Bay Packers) - Yes, the Browns cut Tate this week to make room for Crowell and West in their crowded backfield.  Yes, the Vikings picked him up after the news of no more Peterson for the year.  Don't get too excited all at once.  I highly doubt he comes in and just takes all of McKinnon's and Asiata's carries.  They'll likely work him in slowly and I'm not convinced he'll end up beating out McKinnon, anyway.  He'll get a chance, but he's too new and not that big of an improvement to start in your fantasy leagues one week after joining a new team mid-season.  They're also going to have to throw to keep up with Rodgers.  20 total yards.

Jonas Gray, NE (vs Detroit Lions) - Gray scored 4 TD's last week.  The rest of the entire NFL combined for 4 TD's last week.  Isn't that just crazy!  There are a lot of RB-starving fantasy owners who claimed Gray this week and are very excited.  I'm here to tell you to calm down.  Nobody just becomes a bell cow for Belicheck.  He's like Shanahan.  You can't predict his RB situation and rarely does one guy get almost all the work.  Also, as they proved again last week, the Lions defense is great.  Their DL is great and their secondary is playing big this year.  We need to see more from Gray before we start him in a match-up like this.  50 yards.

Wide Receivers

Start 'Em

Sammy Watkins, BUF (vs New York Jets) - I don't know when this game will be played, but I know the Jets pass defense/secondary will still suck when it is.  Watkins has been a little banged up and off the past couple weeks, but he's too talented to stay down.  Orton is still much better than Manuel and everything is easier when throwing against the Jets.  Watkins beat up on them pretty bad last time out.  80 yards and 1 TD.

Mike Evans, TB (@ Chicago Bears) - It's been three weeks in a row with this nonsense and 'Skins fans got to see it up close and personal last week.  He's really good.  In fact, he's leading the fantasy world in points over the last three weeks (amongst WR's).  The Bears are definitely beatable, too.  100 yards and 1 TD.

Josh Gordon, CLE (@ Arizona Cardinals) - Well, if nothing else he's fresh.  Gordon came out and said he was going to tear this league up (or something along those lines) the rest of this season and I don't doubt it.  He's a special talent and remember, all he got in trouble for was weed.  It's not like he's been doing something that should have significantly hurt his ability to be a great WR and little Shanny has the offense doing pretty well there.  They have a good running attack and decent QB play, Gordon is the missing piece.  He may run wild.  80 yards and 1 TD.

Mike Wallace, MIA (@ Denver Broncos) - If Tannehill's going to get points, Wallace is going to get points.  It could be a blowout and either way the Dolphins are going to throw the ball a lot this week.  Wallace has been pretty good this year and if Tannehill gets his deep ball on target, this duo will be dangerous.  The Broncos are average against opposing WR's.  80 yards and 1 TD.

Sit 'Em

Any WR Playing Thursday Night - This would be all those studs you have on the Chiefs and Raiders.  Not a lot of good WR's there and Thursday night games have been nothing but bad football all year.  I expect this to be no different.  The Raiders are led by a rookie QB and have no good WR's while going against a pretty good defense while the Chiefs are an offense that basically doesn't use WR's.  Don't bother.

Anquan Boldin, SF (vs Washington Redskins) - There's a number of reasons to sit Boldin: he's inconsistent, Crabtree has done nothing to attract attention off of him, the 49ers run a lot, the 49ers are likely to be leading and playing keep away (aka running the ball), the Redskins CB's are decent and Breeland can play physical with Boldin, etc.  40-50 yards.

Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (@ Seattle Seahawks) - Much like what all I've said the last couple weeks.  He's getting older and relying on a back-up QB.  Add onto that that he's facing the Legion of Boom in Seattle where they're pretty darn good.  I don't know who'll win this game, but I doubt there's a lot of scoring.  30-40 yards.

Tight Ends

Start 'Em

Antonio Gates, SD (vs St. Louis Rams) - TD maker.  I'm banking on him getting a TD this week.  He's too good not to.  They're at home against an NFC opponent.  Gates seems to do good in that situation.  60 yards and 1 TD.

Coby Fleener, IND (vs Jacksonville Jaguars) - Dwayne Allen went down which eliminates this TE by committee thing in Indy.  Fleerner is now the guy with Andrew Luck throwing him the ball.  Oh, and he gets to go against Jacksonville...  Expect big things.  60 yards and 1 TD.

Martellus Bennett, CHI (vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - I think the Bears offense gets going a little bit this week and that includes Bennett.  The Bucs are still bad and this offense is too talented to continue it's putrid play.  70 yards and 1 TD.

Sit 'Em

Owen Daniels, BAL (@ New Orleans Saints) - The Saints are actually really good against TE's and even better in the Metrodome.  Daniels is getting a little older and hasn't been as good the last week or two as he was earlier in the season.  30-40 yards.

Julius Thomas, DEN (vs Miami Dolphins) - I got burned the last time I did this, but Thomas isn't healthy.  I'M NOT SAYING TO DEFINITELY SIT HIM, JUST THAT HE MIGHT DO WORSE THAN HE NORMALLY DOES.  Miami's pretty good against TE's.  30-40 yards and possibly a TD.

Please leave any fantasy related questions you might have in the comments section and I'll try to answer as many and as quickly as I can.  It's fun to get everyone's perspectives on this week's matchups floating around down there and I'm always interested to see what kind of decisions different fantasy players have to make.  These are just general ideas for standard leagues, but we can all give and receive advice for unique situations as they come up.  Good luck!