Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 12
It's time for the obligatory Thanksgiving introduction.
We get time off from work to watch football and eat food and set our lineups and ignore families and watch football. Did I mention football?
I try to keep my (unpopular) food takes to myself, but I can't help myself from drawing parallels between Thanksgiving dinner and setting lineups. When you're making a plate, it all depends on the available spread. When you're setting a lineup, it depends on your roster and the waiver wire.
The analogies could be lost here because (to me) the studs at the Thanksgiving table are stuffing, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. It's my article, so you have to deal with it.
Choosing between stuffing and sweet potatoes can be hard, but stuffing versus some weird dish you don't recognize isn't. You're not eating mystery food when there's stuffing. You're also not benching Aaron Rodgers against the Minnesota Vikings if your best alternative is Josh Rosen against the Los Angeles Chargers. But Rodgers versus Lamar Jackson (who hosts the Oakland Raiders), well, now it's a ball game.
It just always depends on what's available to you. Always.
For many reasons, I like to bucket players into groups when deciding who we should start or sit in a given week. To me, no player is ever a must-sit, but there are players you should want to sit if you have other, more viable options. That's the goal here, as well as to show why we should feel certain ways about players.
So, based on market shares, snap counts, betting lines, and defensive matchups, I'll be grouping players into three tiers to help with start-or-sit decisions: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider playing whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives.
These players are listed in order of confidence and preference (so higher on the list means more startable; these aren't rankings, but they're close), and the groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench, should I want to start this player this week? Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.
Start With Confidence
- Drew Brees vs. ATL: Brees has averaged 30.3 fantasy points in his past three games and has averaged 0.56 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back at home (league average is 0.12) and a 66.1% passing success rate (league average is 51.3%). The Falcons are 29th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, our adjusted pass defense metric here at numberFire.
- Cam Newton vs. SEA: Newton's home matchup against the Seahawks isn't stellar (Seattle is 13th in adjusted pass defense), but he's averaged 23.5 fantasy points per game and has just once dipped below 18.0.
- Andrew Luck vs. MIA: Luck has thrown for at least three touchdowns in seven straight games. Further, the Dolphins are 31st in quarterback hit rate, and the Colts have allowed the eighth-lowest quarterback hit rate in football, via FantasyData.com. He's clearly in the mix for the QB1 bid in Week 12.
- Matt Ryan at NO: Ryan put up 40.16 fantasy points on the Saints in Week 3 in Atlanta, and while they stifled Carson Wentz last week, they're still just 28th in passing success rate allowed to quarterbacks this season. The over/under (59 points) keeps Ryan in the QB1 tier.
- Russell Wilson at CAR: Wilson has to travel cross country and play at 1:00 p.m. EST against the Panthers, a bottom-10 pass defense when adjusted for opponent. Wilson has produced at least 18.1 fantasy points in six straight games, three of which were road tilts. In that split, Wilson has averaged 4.5 carries for 30.8 yards per game, as well.
- Baker Mayfield at CIN: Playing on the road is the only real negative for Mayfield in this spot, as the Bengals have ranked 27th in fantasy points per attempt allowed to passers since Week 6. Mayfield has averaged 18.5 fantasy points in his past five starts.
Consider If Needed
- Aaron Rodgers at MIN: Rodgers posted an 11.1 yards-per-attempt mark last week in Seattle and has a mini-bye before facing a tough-again Vikings pass defense, which ranks sixth in adjusted pass defense. Rodgers, though, has averaged 20.6 fantasy points over his past five games, thanks to 300.2 yards per game and an 8.6 yards per attempt. The matchup, however, keeps him out of "with confidence" range, even though you're likely not going to sit him in any matchup. In Week 2 against Minnesota, Rodgers (albeit still limited with his knee) produced 16.1 fantasy points (7.4 yards per attempt, 1 touchdown, 1 pick, and 298 passing yards).
- Tom Brady at NYJ: Brady has averaged just 13.6 fantasy points in his past three games, totaling one touchdown in that span. The Jets are a bottom-half pass defense, but Brady has averaged just 17.1 passing fantasy points this year and has just once reached 24.0 fantasy points, not enough to plug him in blindly without second thought.
- Ben Roethlisberger at DEN: Roethlisberger has been fine against top half defenses but not great. In six games against top-12 pass defenses, he's averaged 6.84 yards per attempt and is also on the road. The Denver Broncos have let up 9.08 yards per attempt over their past three games, ranking 29th in that span.
- Carson Wentz vs. NYG: Wentz had his best game to date against the New York Giants in Week 6 and had averaged 21.9 fantasy points since his second week back before a dud on the road last week. In four home games, Wentz has averaged 7.93 yards per attempt.
- Jameis Winston vs. SF: Winston is a home favorite with a total near 30 points. The San Francisco 49ers are 23rd in adjusted pass defense and 26th in adjusted yards per attempt. Winston has averaged 27.5 fantasy points in two full games.
- Philip Rivers vs. ARI: Rivers has been a high floor play, averaging 20.4 fantasy points and never dipping below 15.2 because he's had multiple passing touchdowns in every game. The Cardinals are 10th in adjusted pass defense and have let up just one top-12 passer all season (weirdly C.J. Beathard in Week 4).
- Kirk Cousins vs. GB: The Packers are 20th in adjusted pass defense and have been about a league-average pass defense in four post-bye games. Cousins has averaged just 16.4 fantasy points in his past six games, but he's been above league average (0.18 Passing NEP per drop back) against bottom-half defenses (five games).
- Deshaun Watson vs. TEN: Watson lost even more offensive linemen in Week 11, but the situation is so bad already that it's barely a negative. Watson has posted at least 8.7 yards per attempt in three straight games and put up 310 yards (9.7 yards per attempt) against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2.
- Lamar Jackson vs. OAK: Jackson ran 27 times for 117 yards as a quarterback, which means the Konami Code is activated. Against the Oakland Raiders' 32nd-ranked pass defense, some passing efficiency could follow, too. We just aren't sure if he's starting yet.
Bench If Possible
- Eli Manning at PHI: For all their issues, the Philadelphia Eagles are 16th in adjusted pass defense and are 16th in yards per attempt allowed since Week 6 but have been destroyed with injuries, when Manning averaged 6.53 yards per attempt on 43 tosses (281 yards and no touchdowns) to produce 10.24 fantasy points. He's averaged 18.0 fantasy points since then but is more of a 14-team streamer play than a solid 12-team start.
- Mitchell Trubisky at DET: Trubisky hits the road, where his efficiency has dipped (6.96 yards per attempt on the road versus 8.14 at home), but the Lions are a bottom-three adjusted pass defense. Trubisky threw for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns against Detroit in Week 10. Despite it all, he's a priority bench given his injury status.
- Matthew Stafford vs. CHI: vs. CHI: Stafford has fallen shy of 18 fantasy points in five straight games but did get to 17.9 against the Chicago Bears in Week 10. He's averaged 6.82 yards per attempt at home this year, and the Bears are 12th in adjusted pass defense.
- Dak Prescott vs. WSH: Prescott has had a fine floor, with at least 14.8 fantasy points in five straight games, yet he has been boosted by four rushing touchdowns in that span. Washington hasn't been a pass defense to avoid but are third in adjusted pass defense. With just two quarterbacks on bye, Dak isn't necessarily a top-tier streaming option as a heavy home favorite.
- Andy Dalton vs. CLE: Dalton has been just league-average this year (0.13 Passing NEP per drop back and a 48.9% success rate) and now faces the league's top adjusted pass defense, the Browns, off a bye. Not getting A.J. Green back dings him, and it's not an enviable spot for Dalton either way.
- Nick Mullens at TB: The Buccaneers' pass defense ranks 30th in adjusted pass defense, and Mullens has been efficient to start his career, generating 0.42 Passing NEP per drop back, well above league average of 0.12. You could do worse than Mullens in Week 12.
- Marcus Mariota at HOU: Mariota is off the injury report and expected to start, but he's not someone we should trust when 30 teams are in action and his implied total is 18 points.
- Case Keenum vs. PIT: Keenum hasn't hit 16.5 fantasy points in four straight games and has capped out at two touchdowns since Week 2. The Pittsburgh Steelers' top-five adjusted pass defense isn't a spot to deploy Keenum unless you have to.
- Colt McCoy at DAL: McCoy has averaged an above-average 8.2 yards per attempt on 151 attempts with Washington in his career, but the full body of work is iffy (6.6 yards per attempt). The Dallas Cowboys are just 21st in adjusted pass defense but have limited opposing passers to just 14.9 passing fantasy points per game this season.
- Blake Bortles at BUF: Bortles had been the QB10 and QB13 in two games prior to netting just 3.86 fantasy points in Week 11, a game during which he threw just 18 times for 5.8 yards per attempt (104 yards). The Bills are second in adjusted pass defense, keeping Bortles well off the streaming radar in Week 12.
- Josh Allen vs. JAC: Allen had averaged fewer than 5.0 yards per attempt in three straight games and in four of six to start his career and now hosts the Jaguars' seventh-ranked adjusted pass defense.
- Derek Carr at BAL: An 11-point underdog with a 15.75-point implied total against a top-five pass defense, Carr is simply off the radar.
Start With Confidence
- Ezekiel Elliott vs. WSH: Elliott's workhorse role has evolved, and he owns a 21.1% target share in three games since Amari Cooper's arrival, a span in which he has averaged 3.0 red zone opportunities per game. Washington is a below-average rush defense by rushing success rate allowed to backs, too.
- Saquon Barkley at PHI: Barkley has been the RB21 or better in every game and has played an average snap rate of 92.4% over his past four games, making him matchup proof. Against Philly in Week 6, he was the RB3 and had 12 targets.
- Alvin Kamara vs. ATL: Kamara faces the league's 30th-ranked adjusted rush defense, which ranks 28th in target success rate allowed to backs. He's averaged 22.1 fantasy points in five post-bye games, paired with an average 58.5% snap rate.
- Christian McCaffrey vs. SEA: McCaffrey leads the Panthers in target share (21.6%) without Torrey Smith over the past four games and has scored at least 10.1 fantasy points in every game, thanks primarily to playing virtually every snap.
- David Johnson at LAC: Johnson has averaged 26.0 opportunities in three games under Byron Leftwich and faces a bottom-five rush defense by rushing success rate allowed to backs. The main issue is that he's a massive underdog, though 12 targets the past two games help keep him in the RB1 tier.
- James Conner at DEN: A road favorite, Conner should keep an elevated floor. He's been the RB32 or better in every game and played 89.2% of snaps in Week 11 after a limited Week 10. Denver is 22nd in running back success rate allowed.
- Aaron Jones at MIN: Jones played 89.8% of snaps last week and has 15 targets over his past three games. He's locked into a bell cow role, and that makes him a no-brainer start each and every week. The Vikings are a middling 16th in rushing success rate allowed to backs to help out with any concerns.
- Leonard Fournette at BUF: Fournette has been the RB7 and RB6 the past two games while playing only 52.0% and 50.0% of snaps. He's averaged 29.5 opportunities in those, which would rank him first among backs on the full season.
- Nick Chubb at CIN: In four games since the Carlos Hyde trade, Chubb has played 66.2%, 48.4%, 49.3%, and 79.2% of snaps, averaging 21.8 opportunities, and he now plays the 31st-ranked adjusted rush defense this week. He also ran more routes than Duke Johnson in Week 10.
- Marlon Mack vs. MIA: Mack is a double-digit home favorite and has averaged a solid 60.1% snap rate in his past four games, finishing as the RB2, RB3, RB38, and RB17 in those contests.
Consider If Needed
- Joe Mixon vs. CLE: Mixon has seen 13 or fewer carries in three of his past four games but does have 14 targets in that span. He's played just 67.4% and 61.8% of snaps the past two games, pushing him out of the no-brainer tier.
- Sony Michel at NYJ: Michel returned to play 17 snaps in Week 10 and net 11 carries (a carry on 64.7% of snaps; he's carried the ball on at least 60.0% of snaps in every game this year). His elite usage rate (72.6%, first among all qualified backs) helps overcome a minority snap count, giving him one of the best guaranteed workloads of all backs.
- James White at NYJ: White played two thirds of snaps in Week 10 and finished outside the top 24 for the first time all season (RB41 with 5.1 fantasy points). He had just a single carry but eight targets, giving him at least seven targets in nine of 10 games on the season. The Jets are just 22nd in target success rate allowed to backs.
- Mark Ingram vs. ATL: Ingram has averaged 14.6 opportunities in five post-bye games and a 45.0% snap rate, yet to crack 50.0% in any game since the bye. As a 13-point home favorite with a 36.25-point total, he's a solid RB2.
- Melvin Gordon vs. ARI: Gordon is a double-digit home favorite and has averaged 22.3 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game, a top-five rate among all backs. Gordon has been a top-14 back in every week but is a game-time decision in an afternoon game. He's not unplayable, but he's not a player we can trust.
- Dalvin Cook vs. GB: Cook is a home favorite against a bottom-six adjusted rush defense and just played 88.1% of snaps in Week 11. Problematically, he saw just nine carries and three targets on those snaps but few backs can push for 90.0% of snaps in a game with a solid 48-point total.
- Phillip Lindsay vs. PIT: Lindsay has played at least 56.2% of snaps in four straight games (but never hit 60.0% yet). Still, he played a majority of snaps with Royce Freeman back in the fold and has been a top-30 back in every game he's finished this season.
- Matt Breida at TB: Breida has averaged a 52.1% snap rate in his past three games, generating opportunity counts of 16, 13, and 21 in those. In the most recent game (without Raheem Mostert) he played 60.3% of snaps and is in a juicy spot to cash in on a majority snap count, as the Bucs have let up nine top-24 outings to backs, ninth-most in the league.
- Chris Carson at CAR: Carson played just 41.4% of snaps in Week 11 but out-touched his backfield mates 17 to 14. He was out-touched three to two in the red zone, however. In his healthy games while being featured, he's averaged just a 56.2% snap rate, keeping him firmly out of the trust tier but above the priority bench options in a loaded Week 12.
- Tevin Coleman at NO: Coleman's elevated target rate of late (12.3%, 5.0 per game) over his past three keeps him in the startable tier, as the Falcons are a 13-point underdogs on the road in a game with a 59-point total.
- Jordan Howard at DET: Howard is a road favorite against a bottom-eight adjusted rush defense and has averaged an okay 15.4 carries per game over his past five (and 10.6 fantasy points). It's the quintessential Howard game, making him a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3 type of play.
- Lamar Miller vs. TEN: Miller has played at least 53.5% of snaps in every game and just played 80.7% last week. He's been a top-40 back every week, keeping him an unsexy low-end RB2 or high-end flex option as a home favorite in Week 12.
- Dion Lewis at HOU: Lewis is a steady underdog against the Texans, who are third in adjusted rushing defense and sixth in target success rate allowed to backs. He's averaged a 76.5% snap rate in three post-bye games and is the best bet in this backfield to produce.
- Adrian Peterson at DAL: Washington will want to ride Peterson all day (ha) but are 7.5-point underdogs with a lowly 16.5-point implied total. Peterson gets phased out in negative scripts and has averaged just 7.6 fantasy points when he hasn't scored. That's usually a RB36-level score, so he's not a priority bench, but expectations should be low.
- LeSean McCoy vs. JAC: McCoy was boosted in Week 10 by the absence of Chris Ivory, who should be back to face a top-12 adjusted rush defense. McCoy had been a top-24 back in four of his six games entering the bye, and he remains a low-end flex with his volume, despite a low implied total.
- Gus Edwards vs. OAK: Edwards profiles as a strong play as an 11-point favorite after playing 66.7% of snaps and seeing 17 carries. Alex Collins has been ruled out, making Edwards a viable flex or low-end RB2.
- Duke Johnson at CIN: Johnson has a 21.0% target share in two games since becoming more involved, scoring 25.1 and 12.6 fantasy points. He has played just 46.7% and 32.1% of snaps in two weeks, and in a neutral script, his snaps could be limited again. Helping out, the Bengals are 27th in target success rate allowed to backs.
- Theo Riddick vs. CHI: Riddick has had 22 targets in his past three games while playing 55.7%, 59.0%, and 41.5% of snaps. He had a carry and three targets after Kerryon Johnson's Week 11 injury late in the third quarter.
- Peyton Barber vs. SF: Barber is a home favorite who has averaged 16.2 opportunities per game in six post-bye contests. San Francisco is fourth in rushing success rate allowed, but the Bucs' total is 29.25 points, keeping Barber a flex option.
- Tarik Cohen at DET: Cohen's production has dipped of late, and he's had 15, 44, and 50 yards in his past three games. As a road favorite, he profiles to take a backseat again, though he did see seven targets for 29 yards and scored against the Lions in Week 10.
Bench If Possible
- Kenyan Drake at IND: Drake should play half the snaps at least in a negative script, but he's totaled 19 opportunities in his past two games and has broken 10 fantasy points just three times in his past eight games.
- Josh Adams vs. NYG: Adams is fine as a home favorite, and he played 54.9% of snaps last week but did get just 13 touches in that, giving him an average of 10.0 per game over his past three. He's becoming more involved but isn't yet a weekly start in smaller leagues with that opportunity rate, but his six targets suggest he's a game-script-agnostic option.
- Elijah McGuire vs. NE: McGuire played 54.5% and 57.1% of snaps in his two games and also ran a route on a majority of drop backs in both of those outings. As an underdog (9.5 points), he's the best bet to push for elevated snaps and receiving work out of the backfield.
- Derrick Henry at HOU: Henry has averaged 9.3 opportunities and a 26.0% snap rate over his past three games, a profile that keeps him out of the conversation as an underdog.
- LeGarrette Blount vs. CHI: Blount is a home underdog against the league's toughest rush defense by rushing success rate allowed to backs. Blount himself has a 30.8% rushing success rate, compared to 42.7% for Kerryon Johnson.
- Isaiah Crowell vs. NE: Crowell has been the RB45 or better in nine of 10 games and in six straight. He's played below 35.0% of snaps in two straight, however, and a lack of receiving work (1.8 targets per game) makes him a priority bench option.
- Ito Smith at NO: Smith gets work near the goal line and had both red zone carries last week. In a shootout, he's not the worst play, but he's maxed out at 5.9 fantasy points in games without a score and 12.9 with a touchdown.
- Giovani Bernard vs. CLE: Bernard has totaled 11 looks in two games since returning and isn't necessarily the pass-game back any longer for the Bengals with Mixon's extended workload as a pass-catcher.
- Alex Collins vs. OAK: He's a home favorite but was third on his own team in carries last week, while playing 21.5% of snaps. You can't trust Collins here, making him a priority sit.
- Austin Ekeler vs. ARI: He could see extra run in a blowout win but hasn't broken a 42.1% snap rate in a game Melvin Gordon has played, and now his receiving work belongs to Gordon.
- Frank Gore at IND: Gore's revenge game (if it still counts) pits him against the ninth-ranked defense by rushing success rate allowed to backs. He has played an average of 44.1% of snaps in five games entering the bye, maxing out at 12.4 fantasy points. He's a flex-if-needed option at best in what should be a negative game script.
- Doug Martin and Jalen Richard at BAL: Martin got limited last week with an ankle injury. It sounds like he'll be okay, but they kept him out in favor of getting DeAndre Washington some work. This three-man committee is unplayable in such a bad spot.
Start With Confidence
- Julio Jones at NO: Jones has a 24.6% target share in three games since a bye, as well as 52.0% of the team's air yards in that span. He also has a touchdown in three straight games despite having a red zone target in just one of those. Even without the scores, Jones is a stud, with at least 96 yards in all but one game.
- Odell Beckham at PHI: Beckham has been a top-15 receiver in four straight games and has had at least nine targets in every game until last week (four). He has a 29.2% target share and 44.2% of the team's air yards, a top-three rate in football, and the Eagles are decimated on defense.
- Michael Thomas vs. ATL: Thomas has a 29.2% target share in five post-bye games and 28.1% on the full season. He's scored at least 9.4 fantasy points in all but one game and has averaged 20.1 in his five games since the rest.
- Adam Thielen vs. GB: Thielen faces the league's 6th-ranked defense by target success rate (but 21st by fantasy points per target). Regardless, he has a stellar 29.6% target share and 37.5% of the team's air yards. At worst, he's been the WR25.
- DeAndre Hopkins vs. TEN: Hopkins hung 110 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets on Tennessee in Week 2, doing most of his damage against Malcolm Butler (4 catches on 7 targets for 79 yards and a score). He caught one of three targets against Adoree' Jackson for eight yards. Nuk has a 33.3% target share over his past five games plus 39.3% of the air yards.
- Davante Adams at MIN: Adams has been a stud through any matchup this year and owns 30.5% of the Packers' targets over his past five games, including a combined 41.7% red zone and deep attempt share, which would rank him top-three on the season in those high-leverage looks. In Week 2 against the Vikings, he caught 8 of 12 targets for 64 yards and a touchdown (16.4 fantasy points).
- Antonio Brown at DEN: Brown has been a top-12 receiver in five of his past six, a span during which he has had a 25.5% target share and 41.2% of the team's air yards. Denver is 20th in target success rate allowed to wideouts.
- T.Y. Hilton vs. MIA: Hilton has a 22.5% target share (6.3 targets per game) in four games since returning from injury. Miami has limited deep passes and ranks seventh in Passing NEP per attempt on deep balls, but overall, they are 22nd in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts, so it's a week to buy into Hilton as a ceiling play at home.
- Keenan Allen vs. ARI: Allen will avoid Patrick Peterson when in the slot and has had a high floor this year, producing at least 9.7 fantasy points in all but one game while boasting ceiling usage since a bye: a 31.5% target share in three post-bye games, yielding WR8, WR17, and WR12 finishes.
- Stefon Diggs vs. GB: Diggs has been the WR6 in two straight games because of 29 total targets, a sample during which he's posted an elite yards-per-route-run rate of 2.85. He was the WR1 against Green Bay in Week 2.
- Julian Edelman at NYJ: Edelman has a team-high 25.5% target share since Week 6, and he also has accounted for 41.7% of the team's red zone looks in that five-game sample. Against Buster Skrine in the slot, Edelman is a borderline WR1 this week.
- Mike Evans vs. SF: Evans has just a 20.7% target share from Winston this season but is tied to an offense with one of the highest totals of the week and faces a 49ers team that has let 15 receivers hit double-digit fantasy points, third-most in the NFL.
- Kenny Golladay vs. CHI: Golladay is just going to get fed with Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson out for Week 12. He has a 35.1% target share and 64.9% of the team's air yards the past two games and did muster 78 yards and a score on 13 targets in Week 10 against the Bears.
Consider If Needed
- Josh Gordon at NYJ: Gordon has seen his targets spike to 10 and 12 the past two games, a 31.0% target share and 64.0% of the team's air yards. That elite workload should step back a bit with Rob Gronkowski healthier and against a tough perimeter defense in Week 12. The Jets have let up just four WR12-or-better games.
- Jarvis Landry at CIN: Landry has a team-high 27.6% target share over his past five and also leads in deep target rate (35.9% and red zone rate (42.9%) in that split, giving him a 38.3% combined high-leverage share that would rank top five on the full season.
- Amari Cooper vs. WSH: Cooper has a 24.2% target share in his three games with Dallas, a team high. He's also had 7 of 18 red zone targets thrown his way in that span, keeping him as a viable WR3 against a team that's bottom-eight in fantasy points per target surrendered to receivers. Just be aware that Josh Norman has begun to shadow again.
- Alshon Jeffery vs. NYG: Jeffery is pretty matchup-dependent, but the good news is that he turned 12 targets into 23.4 fantasy points and a WR8 finish against the Giants in Week 6. He's had 17.6% of the targets in two games since Golden Tate's arrival.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster at DEN: JuJu, who plays primarily from the slot, gets a tough matchup against Chris Harris, who has let up the fifth-fewest yards per slot snap, via Pro Football Focus. He's still a WR2 but not a surefire play.
- Emmanuel Sanders vs. PIT: Sanders hasn't taken advantage of the Demaryius Thomas trade, turning 15 targets into 15.9 fantasy points in two games. The Steelers are ninth in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers, keeping Sanders a flex option, as he's been the WR35 and WR33 in two post-trade games.
- Larry Fitzgerald at LAC: Fitzgerald has an elite 28.6% target share in three games under Byron Leftwich (8.7 per game) and 6 of 13 red zone targets. The matchup (the Chargers are 19th in fantasy points per target allowed to receivers) and volume keep him in the WR3 tier.
- Tyler Boyd vs. CLE: Boyd has played at least 92.4% of snaps in five straight games and has a 25.9% target share without A.J. Green in two games this year but didn't have a red zone target in either game. Against the league's 11th-ranked receiver defense by target success rate, Boyd is still a viable WR3 or flex, which his how he finished in two games without Green.
- Doug Baldwin at CAR: Baldwin has said that he's past his knee injuries, but he's questionable to play this week. He played 88.6% of snaps last week and had 10 targets (a 35.7% share), rates that might not stick if he's not fully healthy. Since a Week 7 bye, Baldwin has had 21.0% of the Seahawks' targets, tied for the team lead, but his lack of downfield work and low (but improving) red zone usage keeps him in the WR3 or flex tier for Week 12.
- Allen Robinson at DET: Robinson has been a roller coaster, with 14.9, 0.9, 28.3, and 5.4 fantasy points in his past four games. The 28.3 came against Detroit in Week 10, a game Darius Slay missed. Low volume leaves him vulnerable to bust, yet he's not a priority bench even if Chase Daniel starts, as Robinson leads the team in targets per game (6.5) since Week 6.
- Anthony Miller at DET: Miller has scored in four of his past six games, a span during which he's averaged 10.7 fantasy points. He had a ceiling game in Week 10 against Detroit: 5 catches on 6 targets for 122 yards and a touchdown.
- Sterling Shepard at PHI: Shepard has been running routes and playing snaps as if he were a featured receiver. He's not, though, and has five targets over his past two games, a 10.4% share. As a road underdog against a depleted secondary, the snaps should turn to volume, enough to make him a flex option if needed.
- DeSean Jackson vs. SF: Jackson's route rates have been season-highs in each of the past two weeks, as have his snap rates. The 49ers are 23rd in Passing NEP per attempt on deep passes, keeping Jackson in the hunt for a big play.
- D.J. Moore vs. SEA: Moore owns an 18.1% target share in four games without Torrey Smith, who is set to return this week, ranking him second on the Panthers. Smith's return isn't great, but Devin Funchess is expected to miss. Seattle is 29th in target success rate allowed to wideouts, keeping Moore's big-play ability worth WR3 consideration.
Bench If Possible
- Corey Davis at HOU: With uncertainty surrounding the quarterback situation, you have to treat Davis as a priority bench. Of course, that requires some of the options above him on the list, as he plays Monday night. With word of Marcus Mariota starting, we can treat Davis as a WR3-type of play.
- Calvin Ridley at NO: It's enticing to go with Ridley in a shootout, but he hasn't had a red zone target since Week 4 and owns just a 13.2% target share since then. As usual with receivers right at the top of the bench-if-possible tier, he's not a terrible option, but the usage simply isn't there to want to play him if you don't have to.
- Mohamed Sanu at NO: Sanu has just one red zone target since his snaps started to trend back up four games ago, a span in which he's averaged just 5.3 targets per game. He's not the worst dart throw in a shootout, but he's not a primary play.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling at MIN: Valdes-Scantling led the Packers with a 98.0% snap rate last week but had just three targets (a 10% share). He owns 16.2% of the Packers' targets over his past five games, ranking him second on the team. Despite that, the Vikings have let up just four top-36 wide receiver weeks (and just eight to get to double-digit fantasy points).
- Tyler Lockett at CAR: Lockett has scored in seven of 10 games to boost his floor, but he's maxed out at seven targets (back in Week 2) and owns just a 16.2% target share and a 4.8% red zone share in four post-bye games.
- Willie Snead vs. OAK: Playing Snead wouldn't just be chasing his eight-target game from Week 11 but rather buying into the larger trend: he's got a team-high 25.6% target share over the past five games. Oakland is 32nd in adjusted pass defense, too, making Snead the best bet in Baltimore to cash in on the matchup. Still, he's not a priority play, as he has maxed out at 60 yards.
- Golden Tate vs. NYG: Tate's snap rate shot up from 29.0% to 70.6%, and he had 8 targets in Week 11, giving him a respectable 16.2% target share in two games with the Eagles. He's still a priority bench as he gets acclimated to the offense.
- Courtland Sutton vs. PIT: Sutton has been a top-40 receiver in five of the past six weeks but has yet to finish with even 9.5 fantasy points. Pittsburgh is a top-five defense against deep passes, too.
- Keke Coutee vs. TEN: Coutee returned to get 9 targets on 42 snaps (73.7%) in Week 11, a similar snap rate to what he had early on in the year. The Titans are 27th in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts, but Coutee isn't a top-36-ish option, making him a priority bench given our standards for this article.
- Marquise Goodwin at TB: Goodwin has just nine targets from Nick Mullens in two games but faces a bottom-five defense against deep passes. He's a bench-first option but not the worst stab if you're desperate. However, Goodwin is listed as doubtful due to a personal matter.
- Adam Humphries vs. SF: Humphries has 19.5% of Winston's throws this year, just two fewer than Mike Evans. Humphries has averaged a 72.9% snap rate and 11.9 fantasy points in his past six games.
- Michael Crabtree vs. OAK: It's a great (revenge) matchup, but Crabtree had just three targets in a low-volume pass attack last week, and he was an afterthought behind Snead.
- John Brown vs. OAK: Brown had just one target in Lamar Jackson's debut, and he's actually down to a 14.0% target share of his past five games, third on the Ravens.
- Tyrell Williams vs. ARI: Williams has seen six targets in two straight games, season-highs, and in those, he's totaled 9.8 fantasy points. The Cards are 22nd in Passing NEP per attempt on deep balls if you need a reason to play him, but he's questionable to play.
- Donte Moncrief at BUF: Moncrief has a middling 16.1% target share over his past five games. The Jags don't want to throw. The Bills are fifth in fantasy points per target allowed to wideouts.
- Dede Westbrook at BUF: Westbrook has a 17.4% target share over the past five games and has averaged 7.1 fantasy points in those. Against the Bills, he's off the table unless you're desperate.
- Christian Kirk at LAC: Kirk has averaged 5.7 targets per game since Leftwich's takeover but has maxed out at 90 yards and relied on a 59-yard score last week to keep him from another dud game. He's not a 12-team start in a full week.
- Danny Amendola at IND: Amendola has a 25.5% target share over his past five games with Brock Osweiler under center, but it's looking like Ryan Tannehill will return, muddying up usage and keeping Amendola a bench option in a full week.
- Josh Doctson at DAL: Doctson always leads Washington in route rate and had all four of Colt McCoy's deep throws last week, so he's the flier you want in this offense, but Dallas has let just seven receivers post double-digit fantasy points, the lowest total in the NFL.
- Bruce Ellington vs. CHI: Ellington played 50.8% of snaps (33 total) but saw 9 targets, a 25.7% share. He's a name to remember for the three-game Thanksgiving slate in DFS but not for our 12- or even 14-team leagues.
- Zay Jones vs. JAC: Jones has averaged a 90.0% snap rate in his past five games and a 22.1% target share in those, as well as 53.3% of the red zone looks (team highs). But against the Jags, he's not a viable 12-team start with just two teams on bye.
- Quincy Enunwa vs. NE: Enunwa played 96.4% of snaps and ran a route on 37 of 38 drop backs in Week 10, but the Jets' lowly passing attack has generated just five top-40 receiver weeks all season.
- Nelson Agholor vs. NYG: Agholor ran a season-low route rate and played a season-low snap rate in Week 11 while seeing just two targets. You can't be optimistic about him entering Week 12.
- Mike Williams vs. ARI: Williams' snap rate has climbed back up a bit from 29.4%, 46.4%, and 58.4% of snaps in three post-bye games, but that's still a lower rate than he had for most of the year, and he's had 3, 0, and 3 targets in those recent games.
- Trey Quinn at DAL: Quinn ran a route on 72.0% of drop backs last week and saw a target from McCoy (out of 12), but he's a desperation play against Dallas' mid-level receiver defense.
Start With Confidence
- Zach Ertz vs. NYG: Ertz finally busted in Week 11 but still owns a 25.7% target share since Golden Tate arrived in Philly. Perhaps the three targets are a sign of things to come, but his snap and route rate were in line with the marks that had gotten him nine straight TE10-or-better games.
- George Kittle at TB: Kittle has been a top-four tight end in three of his past four weeks and in seven of 10 weeks this season. He has 24.8% of Mullens' targets in two games.
- Rob Gronkowski at NYJ: For all we can say about Gronk's bad start, he's played at least 89.5% of snaps in six of seven games and has averaged 6.0 targets per contest. The Jets are top-10 in both target success rate and fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends, but if Gronk starts, he's as good a bet as anyone to finish as a TE1 with his workload.
- Greg Olsen vs. SEA: Olsen has a 16.4% target share in four games without Torrey Smith and plays elevated snaps every game, keeping him a trustworthy TE1. Seattle ranks 26th in fantasy points per target allowed to tight ends.
- Jack Doyle vs. MIA: Doyle has played at least 73.1% of snaps in every game and at least 82.3% in his past two, including a target from inside the 10 in two straight. His snap count and team total keeps him as an optimistic start, though he's had just three and four targets in two post-bye games.
- Austin Hooper at NO: Hooper has an 18.1% target share over his past five games, second-best on his own team, and his seven red zone targets lead the Falcons in that sample. With a high total and heavy snaps for Hooper, we can look to him in Week 12 as a low-end TE1.
Consider If Needed
- Trey Burton at DET: Burton has had more than 5 targets just once since Week 2 (11 in Week 7). He did catch all 4 for 40 yards against the Lions in Week 10, but he has just 3.0 targets per game over his past four. Detroit is dead last in target success rate allowed to tight ends.
- Jordan Reed at DAL: Not much changed with Reed's usage last week (66.7% of snaps after an average of 66.1% in six post-bye games leading in and 78.0% of routes after an average of 72.4% in the six leading in), so he's not magically fixed, and he's now a heavy road underdog with an implied total south of 17 points.
- Vance McDonald at DEN: McDonald's snap rate got up to a season-high 80.0% last week, and he now faces the 21st-ranked defense by fantasy points per target. Denver has let up four 15-point fantasy point games to tight ends, most in the NFL.
- Jared Cook at BAL: Touchdown equity is really low for Cook in this game, but he's averaged 9.1 fantasy points while playing about two thirds of the snaps the past four weeks, keeping him just above priority bench status.
Bench If Possible
- Cameron Brate vs. SF: Brate is a home favorite but has played below 30% of snaps in two straight games. There's no guarantee his role spikes without O.J. Howard.
- David Njoku at CIN: Njoku's workload has plummeted, and he has seen just six targets in his past two games, five of which came in a single contest. He's also had his route rate fall to 60.0% and 60.9% in the past two, giving us real cause for concern. But he's had a bye to rest up, at least.
- Evan Engram at PHI: at PHI: The Eagles are the league's top tight end defense by target success rate and are fifth in fantasy points per target allowed to the position. Engram has played 61.0% and 32.1% of snaps in two post-bye games, seeing seven total targets in those.
- C.J. Uzomah vs. CLE: Uzomah has played at least 91.7% of snaps in six straight, and that rate has climbed up to 100% in Week 11. He's averaged just 3.8 targets per game in his past four and 4.5 without Green in the past two. The fact that he's on the field for nearly every snap makes him a viable low-end streamer against a Browns team that has let up some production to the position.
- Eric Ebron vs. MIA: vs. MIA: Ebron is back to a part-time player, having played just 38.2% and 40.3% of snaps the past two games, totaling three targets in that span.
- Kyle Rudolph vs. GB: Rudolph is a home favorite, a good spot for a tight end, but he has been the TE14 or worse in every game since Week 4, maxing out at 8.2 fantasy points in those and averaging 4.9 fantasy points on 4.7 targets per game.
- Jeff Heuerman vs. PIT: Heuerman actually leads the Broncos with a 23.2% target share (8.0 per game) since the Demaryius Thomas deal. He's not a 12-team start unless you're in a bind, but he's noteworthy enough to be considered as a bench option.
- Ricky Seals-Jones at LAC: RSJ has averaged 5.3 targets per game under a new coordinator but runs into a top-six tight end defense and already did nothing with his targets, averaging just 22.7 yards per game in those three.
- Antonio Gates vs. ARI: Gates has averaged 3.0 targets per game on the year. He did see seven last week but played just 35.1% of snaps and ran a route on 37.0% of drop backs, marks in line with his usual averages. We shouldn't chase his big game.