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Fantasy Football: Start/Sit Options for week 12

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ONE TO START, ONE TO SIT
One to start, One to sit is a weekly column where each NFL game will be evaluated and the best/worst fantasy match-ups will be listed.

Sunday’s Match-ups

Bears @ Rams

Best Option
CHI- Alshon Jeffery
STL- Rams Defense/Special Teams

4 straight weeks of 9 fantasy points or more. Jeffery continues to be almost nearly as dominant as teammate Brandon Marshall. 60 of McCown’s 92 passing attempts have gone to either Marshall or Jeffery. The Rams have allowed 11 TD’s to opposing WR’s this year, and even though they have looked a lot better recently, it appears as if you can always count on Marshall and Jeffery to produce with McCown under center.
For the Rams defense, see Josh McCown.

Worst Option
CHI- Josh McCown
STL- Kellen Clemens

It’s very strange, in 5 home games this season, the Rams have allowed just one QB to throw for over 200 yards (Carson Palmer in week 1), since then, all opposing QB’s have either thrown for two TD’s, two INT’s, or a combination of the two (Gabbert and Henne). What does this mean for this game? Over the past 4 weeks, the Rams defense has held opposing QB’s to 11.25 fantasy points a game. This span includes 14 sacks, 7 interceptions, and 3 fumbles. While the Bears offense looks to have missed nothing with McCown under center, the Rams defense seems to have hit their stride at this point in the season.
Don’t get cute, two straight weeks of double digit fantasy performances, and the fact that all Rams WR’s are clearly just not that good has placed Clemens here (you can start Tavon Austin in this one if you want, just don’t expect those numbers from the game vs Indy, one game does not make a player a fantasy superstar for the rest of the season.). At best, Clemens is a boarderline QB #2 in any 2 QB league. The Rams remain a run first team around Zac Stacy and look to stay that way this season (knock on wood).

Cowboys @ Giants

Best Option
DAL- Miles Austin
NYG- Reuben Randle

Stone Cold Miles Austin returns after missing the past 7 games with a hamstring injury. While there have been few reports of him being on a snap count, one should assume he should resume his role as the Cowboys #2 WR. Over the past 5 games vs NYG, Austin has scored 7 or more fantasy points 4 times (3 times he’s scored 10 or more). While he does remain a risky play with his injury history, Austin always seems to play a heavy factor in Dallas’ offense when playing the Giants.
With Hakeem Nicks questionable (groin), look for Rueben Randle to once again fulfill the role opposite of Victor Cruz. Even if Nicks plays, Randle is still a valuable red zone threat for the Giants, leading all Giants WR’s in TD’s. Randle also has a TD in two straight games, and managed a 5 catch, 101 yard outing against the Cowboys in their last meeting.

Worst Option
DAL- Jason Witten
NYG- Giants Defense

While he did tear up the Giants in week 1 (8 catches, 70 yards, 2 TDs), Witten has struggled since then, only having 2 double digit fantasy performances since then. The Giants defense hasn’t allowed a TE to score a TD since week 5, and Witten seems to have trouble producing on the road (averages 12.2 fantasy points at home, 2.4 on the road).
The Giants defensive/special teams unit has produced 4 straight games of double digit fantasy performances. However, during that span they’ve faced the likes of Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor, and Scott Tolzien. With the exception of Pryor, none of those QB’s are going to strike terror in the hearts of any secondary. The last time Dallas faced this squad, they put up 36 points and turned the ball over just once. Even with the Giants recent success on defense/special teams recently, I don’t recommend them in this game, however, if they can hold Dallas and manage a decent amount of points, look for the Giants down the road as a viable fantasy defense.

Steelers @ Browns

Best Option
PIT- Emmanuel Sanders/ Jerricho Cotchery
CLE- Chris Ogbonnaya

Over the past 5 games, the Browns secondary has given up 14 passing TD’s with just 4 interceptions. While the running game hasn’t been much of a factor for opposing offenses, and the Browns do have Joe Haden as a shut down cornerback, look for Cotchery and Sanders to be forced to step up for Big Ben in order to move the chains.
Last week, the Browns stated they were going to try and get Ogbonnaya the ball more. By the looks of things, Ogbonnaya may be the RB to grab out of the Cleveland backfield. Setting career bests in snaps (48), touches (14) and total yards (99), Ogbonnaya managed to rack up an amazing 8.6 yards a carry against the Bengals. The Steelers have surrendered at least 16 fantasy points to opposing RB’s in the past 7 games and rank 26th against the run overall. Expect the Browns to lean on the run in this game.

Worst Option
PIT- Antonio Brown
CLE- Josh Gordon

Insert “WR that is playing against Joe Haden” here.
While he’s been on fire lately with two 100 plus yard and a TD games in his last 3 matchups, look for Gordon to struggle this week against a Steeler defense looking to bounce back from being burned in 2 of their last 3 games. Pittsburgh ranks 8th against the pass and tend to give opposing WR’s hard times when playing against teams with inferior QB’s. Other AFC North WR’s AJ Green and Torrey Smith both were unable to score more than 6 fantasy points against this secondary, expect Gordon to fall into the same statistic.

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Broncos @ Patriots

Best Option
DEN- VACANT
NE- VACANT

It’s Brady vs. Manning, all available starters (Brady,Vareen,Ridley,Amendola,Gronk, and Dobson) for NE and Denver (Manning, D.Thomas, Decker, Welker, J. Thomas, Moreno, and even Montee Ball (2 TD’s last week, and could have surfaced as a goal line back) should be started without fear in this game.

Worst Option
DEN- Wes Welker
NE- Stevan Ridley

I would imagine one of the biggest priorities this week on the Patriots defensive roster is not to let Wes Welker defeat them. This is more of a gut call on my part more than a statistical stance. The Pats passing defense ranks 12th in the NFL, and Welker has recorded more than 3 catches in all but 2 games this season. He will be targeted by Manning a lot, but I just think the Pats defense will be determined to shut him down moreso than the Thomas’ or Decker.
Another week, another TD for Ridley. While he’s scored in his last 5 straight games, the NE RB is still getting a mixed share of touches in the backfield. Don’t get me wrong, he is the top RB in the Pats backfield, but with Shane Vareen returning and being the passing down back, and LeGarrette Blount coming in and taking carries every so often, Ridley’s touches are limited. Also, Denver ranks 4th against the run and are coming off a game where they held Jamaal Charles under 80 yards on the ground. I say Ridley is a TD or bust candidate this week, don’t expect much in terms of yards.

Buccaneers @ Lions

Best Option
TB- Mike Glennon
DET- Nate Burleson

The Lions have given up at least 18 fantasy points to opposing QB’s in four straight games. Mike Glennon has scored 15 or more Fantasy points in 5 of his last 6 games. Which part of that doesn’t sound good?
Before injuring his arm earlier this year, Burleson had recorded 19 catches for 239 yards in just 3 games. His return this week against a vulnerable TB secondary could provide Stafford with another dangerous weapon to throw to. Revis should be on Calvin all day (whether or not that’ll be enough is yet to be seen) so Nate could be in line for some 1 on 1 matchups which I’m sure the crafty WR will be able to take advantage of.

Worst Option
TB- Bobby Rainey
DET- Reggie Bush

To those who started Rainey last week, I commend you for your “any starting RB is worth starting in fantasy football” way of thinking. Rainey exploded last week for 163 yards rushing and 3 tds (1 was receiving), but against Detroit’s top 5 running defense, which has not allowed a rushing TD since week 4, I think a different set of stats will be seen this Sunday.
TB’s rushing defense has been weird lately, allowing 4 rushing TD’s (2 to RB’s) in their past 4 games but shockingly have held opposing leading carriers to 52 rushing yards a game over that span. Last week, Bush was benched in the second half for fumbling the ball (he has 2 lost fumbles in 3 games) and Joique Bell took over. He only came back into the game when Bell went out with a knee injury (Bell is questionable), my guess would be that coach Jim Schwartz continues to use Bush and Bell in a time share system until Bush can get his ball handling under control. Expect to see more of Joique Bell (if he plays) than you’d like to see in this one Bush owners.

Titans @ Raiders

Best Option
TEN- Delanie Walker
OAK- Rashad Jennings

While Kendall Wright remains the go to option for Ryan Fitzpatrick, surprisingly Wright has not been targeted once inside the 10 yard line this season. Meanwhile, Walker has enjoyed a recent run of success, scoring a TD in 3 of his last 4 games, and putting up double digit fantasy points in the same span. Wright may be the guy between the 20’s, but look for Walker to do his damage in the red zone.
3 straight weeks of 20 plus touches, 3 straight weeks of over 100 total yards, and 2 of his last 3 games have been 20 plus fantasy performances. Now he goes up against a Titans defense that is ranked 20th against the run and have given up an NFL worst 15 rushing TD’s. Where’s the downside?

Worst Option
TEN- Chris Johnson
OAK- Rob Streater

CJ appears to be back better than ever, scoring an absurd 54 fantasy points over the past 3 games. This week he faces the 6th ranked Raider rushing defense (too many R’s in that last sentence). So all may seem gloom and doom for CJ right? Not so, over his monster run, Johnson has proved to be a factor in the passing game as well, tallying up 152 receiving yards and a rec TD over the past 5 games. If he can once again play a factor in the passing game, look for him to be a monster, otherwise, I don’t see the rushing yards being there for his owners in this game.
With Denarius Moore out for this game and Streater’s team leading production last week against the Texans (6 catches, 84 yards, and a TD) you would think he would be in line for a big day right? That I may have to disagree with. Since their bye week, the Titans secondary has not allowed an opposing WR to gain more than 55 yards. While the targets may be there for Streater, he’s going to see tougher coverage against a vicious secondary.

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Colts @ Cardinals

Best Option
INDY- Colby Fleener
ZONA- Carson Palmer

He’s facing the Cardinals who allow the most fantasy points to opposing TE’s. He’s coming off two straight games where he’s gotten 10 targets. He’s also coming off his best game of the season last week (a 107 yard outing against the Titans). I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again, what’s not to like?
Since coming back from the bye, Indy has been torched by opposing WRs, allowing 5 TD’s and 631 yards over the past 3 games. Zona holds one of the stronger 1-2-3 punches at WR with Larry Fitz, Michael Floyd, and Andre Roberts as well as Rob Housler who is starting to produce. Palmer is coming off of a season high 419 yards and 2 TD’s last week against Jacksonville, as well as not turning the ball over for the first time this season. Against a Colts team who you need to score a high amount of points to beat due to their impressive offense. Look for Palmer to have another high scoring day.

Worst Option
INDY- TY Hilton
ZONA- Andre Ellington/Rashad Mendenhall

Insert “Opposing WR facing Patrick Peterson (has held opposing team’s top WR/TE to under 40 yards in the past 3 games) here. Although Andre Johnson managed to burn him for 2 TD’s two weeks ago, TY Hilton is no Andre Johnson.
Ellington’s timeshare with Rashard Mendenhall seems to have taken a hit to both of their fantasy values. You can’t trust Ellington because Mendenhall takes away half of his touches, as well as the goal line carries, and you can’t trust Mendenhall because he hasn’t rushed for more than 66 yards this season and is a complete TD or bust player. Even with a great matchup against the Colts 28th ranked rushing defense, it’s very difficult to start either one of these guys with any confidence.

Chargers @ Chiefs

Best Option
SD- Ryan Mathews
KC- Dwayne Bowe

Every week I preach his name, and every week he continues to astound me with double digit fantasy performances. Mathews has scored double digit fantasy points in 4 of his last 5 matchups, and now faces a KC defense that has allowed 19 or more fantasy points in the last 3 games to opposing RB’s. Danny Woodhead is becoming more of a passing down back and Ronnie Brown’s role seems to be diminishing which gives Mathews owners more of an incentive to start him.
Dwayne Bowe (aka the Marques Colston of the AFC) has had a resurgence as of late, getting 26 targets over the past two weeks, and still turning that into just 17 fantasy points. He did however, manage his first TD reception since week 4 so congrats to him on that. So why is he here? The Chargers allow the 5th most fantasy points to opposing WR’s and I’d like to think Bowe can go two games straight in scoring a TD. While he may be considered a bust in the majority of his fantasy owners, he makes for a worthwhile play this week.

Worst Option
SD- Phillip Rivers
KC- VACANT

Struggling to produce fantasy numbers over the past 2 weeks (25 pts), check. Facing a p/o KC defense that gives the 7th fewest fantasy points to opposing QB’s, check. Rivers is still a viable option at QB as opposed to most candidates, however, against the Chiefs defense, you may have to limit expectations for the Chargers quarterback.
Not much to say here, the Chargers have struggled against the run and pass all year. You’d be crazy to bench Jamaal Charles or not start Alex Smith (in 2 QB leagues, or if you have him on your bench and your QB is on a bye).

Panthers @ Dolphins

Best Option
CAR- Panthers Defense
MIA- Charles Clay

This is the last time I promise, Ryan Tannehill is the most sacked QB in the NFL, Carolina ranks 9th in the league in sacks. Miami lacks a running game, Carolina eats running games for breakfast. Tannehill has 11 interceptions on the year (7th), Carolina is tied for 3rd with 14 picks on the season… Ya see where I’m going with this, What’s not to like?!
Miami is going to throw the ball, Clay appears to be the #2 option in the red zone (behind Rishard Mathews), Carolina has given up 5 TD’s to opposing TE’s over the past 7 games. Take your pick, all of these seem like logical choices to start Clay.

Worst Option
CAR- Steve Smith
MIA- Lamar Miller

Since their bye week, the Dolphins have allowed just one receiver to reach over 100 yards (AJ Green) and are surprisingly the worst possible matchup for opposing WR (fantasy wise). Brent Grimes has shut down capabilities, and Steve Smith, while one of the NFL’s best WR’s and is steadily having a so-so season is going to be in line opposed to Grimes. Smith hasn’t scored a TD since week 12 and has produced single fantasy numbers in all but 2 games.
What a bust Miller turned out to be this season. Funny thing is, it’s hardly his fault. Miller is averaging 4.5 yards a carry, and yet has averaged an astonishing 10 carries a game. He isn’t used in the goal line situations, and with Miami’s poor offensive line, 4.5 yards a carry sounds like a godsend rather than a bust. Against Carolina’s defense I would expect more of the same that you’ve seen from Miller all season, limited touches, limited yards, no TD’s.

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Vikings @ Packers

Best Option
MIN- Christian Ponder
GB- Scott Tolzien

Both of these secondaries rank near the bottom of the NFL, Minnesota is ranked 29th and can’t stop any QB from airing it out against them, and Green Bay has allowed 20 or more fantasy points to the opposing QB in two of their last three games. Neither Ponder or Tolzien may not scare any other secondary, but in this game, both defenses may just be bad enough for both of these guys to put up good numbers.

Worst Option
MIN- Greg Jennings
GB- Packers defense

The awfulness continues, while he is questionable, Jennings is in no way a fantasy option even against the poor Packers secondary. Jennings hasn’t gelled with Christian Ponder all season (had his best game with Matt Cassel under center) and while his targets have been there, his production has not. He caught 1 pass for 9 yards against the Pack last time they faced, I wouldn’t be surprised if a repeat performance was in place.
The Vikings have scored at least 23 points in the last 4 games (including putting up 31 points against this defense 4 weeks ago). The Packers are still riddled by injury and even with Christian Ponder under center you should avoid this matchup at all costs.

Jets @ Ravens

Best Option
NYJ- Geno Smith
BAL- Ravens Defense

I’m going back to the whole good one week / bad another when it comes to Geno. Besides any production this week has to be better than the negative 4 outing he had the week prior.
Even though I have Geno up here, the temptation of starting the Ravens defense is just too great. The Jets have been the 3rd best team for any fantasy defense to go up against and have allowed 20 or more fantasy points to opposing defenses in 2 of their last 3 games. Geno could have a good game, but against this Ravens defense that thrives against the run, I would expect a double digit performance from this squad.

Worst Option
NYJ- Christopher Ivory
BAL- Ray Rice

The Jets rank 1st against the run allowing only 73 yards on the ground per game. The Ravens have allowed just 1 rushing TD all season. I don’t see much of a reason to go any further on either one of these players because of this.

Jaguars @ Texans

Best Option
JAX- Maurice Jones Drew
HOU- Ben Tate

The Texans have allowed double digit fantasy points in three of their last 6 games. They seem to be able to handle teams with weak running games (Arizona and Indy) but against teams with lone rushers, the Texans struggle. While his former backup Rashad Jennings tore up the Texans for 150 yards last week, look for MJD to land around his normal 11-13 point range that he’s been hitting over the past few weeks.
I’ve said it every week, the Jags stink against the run. They rank dead last in the league and have a tied for worst 15 rushing TD’s given up so far this season. Look for Ben Tate to have a huge fantasy outing against the shotty Jaguars defense.

Worst Option
JAX- Cecil Shorts
HOU- VACANT

The Jags really don’t have many fantasy considerations other than MJD and Cecil Shorts. So I guess Shorts has to go here. Just having scored 21 fantasy points his last 5 games, Shorts goes up against Houston’s defense which ranks first in yards allowed through the air (167.5).
It’s Jacksonville, if you have any Houston offensive player (Andre, Keenum, Hopkins, Graham) you should start him with no fear.

49ers @ Redskins

Best Option
SF- VACANT
WASH- Roy Helu

See Worst option for San Fran for my reasoning.
The recent injuries the passing game has received could open up the door a bit more for Helu. He has 3 catches in his last 2 games and has a reception in every game this season. I would look for him to be on the field more if Washington falls behind and needs to use their passing game to catch up. He could provide a spark as a checkdown option for RG3

Worst Option
SF- VACANT
WASH- Pierre Garcon

Washington stinks against the run, they are worse against the pass, and even with their high scoring offense, their recent run of injuries provides a good opportunity for the 49ers defense to take advantage.
With Jordan Reed doubtful, and Leonard Hankerson out for the season. The only remaining credible WR’s Washington has left is Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss. San Fran boasts a top 10 passing defense that will look to take advantage of this situation. Look for Washington to find ways to get Garcon the ball, but don’t expect the productivity from him in this game.

 

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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