I didn’t know what I’d open up this column with this week, but then this happened.
Outkast is back. (Maybe.)
My friends can attest – I’m not a music know-it-all. Growing up, I listened to old school rap and hip hop, and few, unfortunately, actually shared my interest. Warren G was my main man, Run DMC was also a go-to, and, thanks to my older brother, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony showed me that something good did, in fact, come out of Cleveland (kidding, of course).
Outkast though – Outkast was one of the best. You could be amongst hundred of strangers, and if Ms. Jackson comes on, you know everyone will start screaming, “Foreva, foreva eva, foreva eva?”
Thanks to them, better times were had. And to honor them and their reuniting, I’ve dedicated Week 12’s start/sit column to one of the greatest duos of all time.
Ain’t Nobody Dope as Me: So Fresh and So Clean (Solid Starts)
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Stafford has thrown a touchdown pass in every game this season, and has three separate games with three or more throwing scores. A fantasy stud, the Lions’ passer ranks sixth among quarterbacks in Passing Net Expected Points and third in fantasy points scored.
He’ll face Tampa Bay this weekend, who rank 17th against the pass when adjusted for strength of schedule according to our analytics. The Bucs, too, have allowed two or more touchdowns in each of their last six contests.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
The sky is fallin’ ain’t no need to panic. Tom Brady is still so fresh and so clean clean.
Though the Pats lost in dramatic fashion to the Panthers on Monday night, Brady looked good against the second-best defensive unit in the NFL. Against Denver’s 22nd-ranked pass defense, expect Brady to keep pace with Peyton this weekend, potentially posting one of the best fantasy days he’s had all season long. It should be a doozy.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
I mentioned yesterday that the Bears defense has been brutal against the run due to injury, which was the main reason Ray Rice was able to go bonkers on them in Week 11. Well, Zac Stacy isn’t Ray Rice – I actually like the way he moves.
Stacy’s been a rookie running back darling this season, scoring double-digit fantasy points in each of his last five games. He also ranks 10th among 100-plus attempt running backs in Rushing NEP. Expect the success to continue against Chicago.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
It’s as if people all of a sudden don’t trust Knowshon Moreno because Montee Ball is seeing snaps close to the end zone. Folks, Knowshon is still an RB1 in the most-efficient offense in the NFL, and despite not catching a pass last week, has been very solid in PPR leagues.
To put you at ease, Moreno did play 72 percent of the Broncos offensive snaps last week, which was higher than his snap count the week before. Don’t build narratives – he’s still the back to own in Denver, even if Ball brings bench upside to your fantasy teams.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
VJax dominated the Falcons for the second time this year last week, but beating the Falcons is like winning an online Call of Duty match against a group of 11-year-old middle schoolers. Grats, VJax.
Fortunately for him, he’s got another juicy matchup against a Lions defense that was just lit up by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Though Jackson has made his fantasy living against the Falcons this year, another soft matchup against the sixth-worst pass defense should provide high upside.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Cruz is still seeing a high volume of targets, and it finally converted into some fantasy production last week. Our own Chris Raybon did a nice job looking at Cruz’s rest of season prospects here, and it should be expected that this continues against the Cowboys this week. In Week 1, keep in mind, Cruz caught three touchdowns against Dallas, totaling 32.3 half-point PPR fantasy points.
If he scores this weekend, you know he’ll be shakin’ like a Polaroid picture.
Hey Ya: What’s Cooler Than Being Cool? (Sneaky Starts)
Case Keenum, QB, Houston Texans
You think you’ve got it? Oh, you think you’ve got it? But got it just don’t get it when Gary Kubiak benches you for Matt Schaub in the second half against the Raiders.
Fortuantely for Keenum, he’s getting another chance on a hopeless Texans team, and faces the third-worst secondary in the NFL according to our metrics. Remember Carson Palmer’s numbers last week against the Jaguars? If not, I’ll remind you: He had 419 yards and two touchdowns.
Keenum should produce solid numbers against this miserable defense in Week 12.
Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Glennon continues to be a pleasant surprise, and took advantage – again – of that horrific Falcons defense last weekend. He hasn’t put up 20 standard fantasy points in a game yet this year, but does have between 15.2 and 18.9 fantasy points in five of his seven contests.
As I said with his wide receiver, Detroit has a leaky secondary, and Glennon should be able to take advantage.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
Tate’s been fine since Arian Foster’s season-ending injury, but he hasn’t been Arian Foster. This week against Jacksonville, that could all change.
The Jags rush defense stopped the Cardinals and Titans fairly well over the last two weeks, but neither of those ground attacks are superb – especially Arizona. The fact is, Jacksonville’s defense is going to be a matchup dream for anyone through the end of the season, and Tate is fortunate enough to be that someone this week, despite playing with broken ribs.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
Pierre Thomas is the obvious start against Atlanta on Thursday Night Football, but don’t sleep on Mark Ingram. He only saw six carries last week against San Fran, but that game didn’t get out of hand – this one might.
If the Saints see a nice lead early in the game, expect Ingram to step in during garbage time, acquiring up to 10 or so touches. You could do worse if you’re in a bind.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Shorts dropped a bomb over Bag...Jacksonville this week, complaining about not seeing enough targets in the offense. He has reason to be upset, as Chad Henne’s looked his way just nine times over the last two weeks.
However, Patrick Peterson and Alterraun Verner matched up against him, and they’re two of the best corners in the game. Perhaps Henne didn’t want to throw a usual Jacksonville pick – maybe Shorts should step up his game.
Regardless, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see Cecil get his this weekend. The Texans were once decent against the pass this year, but have dropped of late, allowing six wide receiver touchdowns over their last three games. They now have the 26th-ranked pass defense in the entire league.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
OK, now ladies (yeah!). Now we gon' break this thing down in just a few seconds. But first, recognize that Dwayne Bowe is seeing more targets in the offense than he’s seen all season. In fact, Bowe’s 26 targets over the Chiefs’ last two games is only two fewer than what he had in the five games prior.
The break down: Bowe gets a Chargers defense that ranks in the bottom five against the pass according to our analytics, and are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. His targets may mostly be bad ones, but the volume should make him at least a viable WR3 this week.
Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Quick – name the top targeted tight end in the league over the last two weeks. Any guesses? That’s right, it’s Coby Fleener. He’s been targeted a total of 20 times in Weeks 10 and 11 combined.
Combine that volume with the fact that he’s facing a Cardinals defense that has struggled against tight ends all season long, and you’ve got yourself a whole lot of potential. Fleener shouldn’t really be a “sneaky start” if you’ve been paying attention to the Reggie Wayne-less Colts, but if he’s on your wire still, snatch him up.
Defense to Start: Baltimore Ravens (vs. New York Jets)
Rosa Parks: Everybody Move to the Back of the Bus (Risky Starts)
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
Rivers hasn’t topped 20 fantasy points since Week 4, and has generally produced only against porous secondaries. This week he’ll face our analytically-best defense in the league, Kansas City, it what will be a tough matchup. The Chiefs are the best team against the pass, having prevented 58.70 points from being scored compared to what a team in their situation would have this year.
Because Rivers has been so efficient, he still has an opportunity to put up some points. But to me, the matchup is a little frightening for a player that’s not producing like he did earlier in the season.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Ah ha, hush that fuss, Ray Rice is not “back”. Instead of reiterating what I’ve said multiple times this week, I’ll point you towards this article and this one. I’m not on board with him this week against the Jets, who, when adjusted for strength of schedule, rank only behind the Broncos against the run.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
Four carries. Four. That’s how many opportunities Lamar Miller had against the league’s worst rush defense a week ago. Four.
Instead, the Dolphins relied on Daniel Thomas, who had 10 carries and a touchdown.
The situation is messier than a Primanti Brothers’ sandwich – stay away, especially against a Carolina defense that is one of the best in the game.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
Though Steve Smith was valuable last week in leagues that award points to players for fighting on the field, he’s not the fantasy option he once was. Smiff hasn’t scored since Week 7, and has yet to hit more than 69 yards in a game this season.
The Dolphins secondary is very solid, and it’s led by Brent Grimes, who could cover Smith often. I wouldn’t consider Smith as anything better than a flex, though our algorithms think he can be a low-end WR2.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton should see enough targets to be relevant this week, but in shallower leagues, you may have a better option. The Cardinals pass defense is solid, and T.Y. should see Patrick Peterson. Arizona’s given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and rank 10th against the pass according to our Adj. Def PNEP metric.
I’m fine with Hilton as a low-end WR2, but don’t have the highest expectations in the world entering Week 12.
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
Like Hilton, Allen could still survive as a startable receiver this week due to volume. However, nobody should be in love with his matchup against the league’s best pass defense.
To make matters worse, Allen’s been dealing with a knee injury suffered in last week’s game against the Dolphins. While this shouldn’t sideline him, there’s a chance it’s a hindrance. Against easy defenses, Keenan Allen is a low-end WR1. In this matchup, he’s more like a bottom WR2.
Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears
While the Rams’ secondary, Bennett’s Week 12 opponent, is nothing to get excited about, they do defend tight ends pretty well. Consider this: the Rams have allowed just 22 receptions to tight ends since the end of Week 3, and haven’t given up a single tight end score since Week 4. Overall, only the Chiefs have defended fantasy tight ends better than St. Louis this year.
Roses Really Smell Like Poo-ooo-ooo: Stinky (Bad Starts)
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill is a waiver wire quarterback. He shouldn’t necessarily be rostered in standard 10- or 12-team leagues, but is serviceable when a nice matchup arises.
But this week? This week he really smells like poo-ooo-ooo. The Panthers, his opponent, are the second-best defense in the league and have allowed the fewest number of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. Don’t start Tannehill.
Matt McGloin, QB, Oakland Raiders
Buying into the McGloin hype? Is that a thing?
Don’t. Keith Black outlined why this isn’t a good idea, as McGloin is nothing better than an average quarterback. Defenses will figure him out, too, making his ceiling pretty low. Factor in his Week 12 opponent, the Titans, and you see a big risk in starting the inexperienced passer.
Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
I’m sorry Ms. Jackson, your son is terrible at football.
The Saints are much better against the pass (3rd-best in the NFL) compared to the run (26th-best), but that doesn’t matter - Jackson has been miserable. His Rushing NEP sits at -10.66 on 58 rushes, and on a per rush basis, Jackson is losing more points for his team than all but three 50-plus attempt running backs.
If you’re in a desperate situation, I understand why you’d want to start Jackson this week. It’s Thursday night and the Saints can be run on. But if it’s me, I’d have a hard time starting Jackson.
Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders
The Titans and Alterraun Verner have been great against opposing receivers this year, allowing the fewest points to the position in the entire league. Moore’s quarterback, Matt McGloin, is inexperienced. You do the math.
Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins
Mike Wallace admitted this week that his season could be going a lot better.
You don’t say?
The Dolphins’ wideout, who faces the Carolina defense this week, has just 54 yards over his last two games, and is currently fantasy football’s number 46 half-point PPR receiver. No thanks.
Tim Wright, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wright’s season has crashed, crashed, crashed…into a ditch.
He’s seen just three targets over his last two games – two Buccaneers’ wins – and is now an afterthought in Tampa Bay’s offense. There’s no reason for him to be rostered unless you’re in the deepest of leagues.
Defense to Sit: New England Patriots (vs. Denver Broncos)
For any other start or sit questions, visit numberFire’s Questions section and take a look at our weekly rankings.