Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 12

The start/sit question is one that many a fantasy football analyst dreads. And yet, it's often the most important one.

As fantasy football enthusiasts, we spend the offseason poring over stats, news, projections, rankings -- whatever we can get our hands on -- all in anticipation of dominating our leagues on draft night.

But while we might agonize over whether Player A will have a better season than Player B as the clock ticks down on our eighth pick, the truth is that once the dust settles and the games actually begin, a good chunk of our roster will be cycling in and out of our lineups all season. At the end of the day, it won't matter that you picked the right guy if you started him in all the wrong weeks.

Of course, leagues come in all shapes and sizes, so it's near impossible to tackle every start-or-sit scenario. A must-start for one team could be a bench option in another.

With all that being said, we're here to help at numberFire! This column will try to highlight some of those tough lineup decisions you have to make every week and will hopefully be able to sway you in one direction or another. And away we go!


Start Jameis Winston (at Atlanta): We had about the most Jameis Winston of Jameis Winston performances in Week 11, as he coughed up 4 interceptions to the Saints but still threw for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns on a whopping 51 pass attempts. Yes, it was mostly ugly as usual, but Winston still didn't kill you in most fantasy formats, and he's now put up at least 300 yards in seven of his last eight games. He's also thrown for multiple scores six times over that span.

Winston now gets a Falcons defense that's been a gorgeous matchup for much of the season, but after back-to-back strong outings against the Saints and Panthers, this may no longer be the cupcake matchup it was before.

Still, we shouldn't prop them up as the New England Patriots just yet, and a 51.0 over/under suggests another potential shootout for the Buccaneers. We shouldn't be surprised if Winston adds to his league-leading 18 picks, but barring a turnover-fest like last week, his usual volume should lead to a solid fantasy day. numberFire's projections rank him as the QB9 this week.

Start Baker Mayfield (vs. Miami): It hasn't been the season many hoped for out of Baker Mayfield, but over the last three weeks, he's posted 17-plus fantasy points against the Steelers, Bills, and Broncos -- defenses that rank 10th, 3rd, and 4th, respectively, in fantasy points allowed per game to quarterbacks this season. Although Mayfield was helped by a rare one-yard rushing score against the Steelers, it's still been promising stretch, and he now gets a far, far easier opponent in the Dolphins.

Miami ranks 32nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play and has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers.

Sit Carson Wentz (vs. Seattle): I've been on the fence about Carson Wentz this week, who ranks as a top-10 quarterback in numberFire's projections and has a potential bounce-back spot against Seattle. After all, Philadelphia is expected to put up points (24.50 implied total), and the Seahawks are a middle-of-the-road pass defense that ranks 17th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and 29th in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate.

Still, Carson Wentz is only averaging 6.6 yards per attempt this season, which ranks amongst the worst in the league, and he's only managed a paltry 204 passing yards per game average over his last four. Some of that can be explained by recent tough matchups against teams like New England and Chicago, but none of that inspires much confidence, and it doesn't help that this offense is beset with injuries, as Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, and Jordan Howard are all banged up and offensive lineman Lane Johnson is likely out with a concussion.

It's also probably telling that bettors aren't too keen on siding with the Eagles, either, as an overwhelming majority of bets and money are on the Seahawks, per oddsFire.

Between four teams on bye and generally lackluster streaming options, Wentz is still a reasonable start in deep leagues given the matchup, but it's difficult to get excited about his ceiling this week.

Sit Jared Goff (vs. Baltimore): Not to rag on Jared Goff, who makes another appearance in the "sit" section, but he's still rostered in the majority of fantasy leagues and draws yet another tough matchup this week against a rising Baltimore defense. Goff failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in back-to-back weeks against the Bears and Steelers, and the Ravens could pull off a similar feat, moving up to sixth in numberFire's schedule-adjusted pass defense rankings after a dominant performance against Deshaun Watson in Week 11.

Goff should have Brandin Cooks (concussion) and Robert Woods (personal) back, but he's pretty much struggled against every good defense he's faced this year, so it's hard to have much faith in a bounce-back performance. If you've held onto him this long, a much more promising matchup against Arizona awaits in Week 13.

Other quarterbacks to start: Derek Carr (at New York Jets), Sam Darnold (vs. Oakland; deep formats), Jeff Driskel (at Washington; deep formats)

Running Back

Start David Montgomery (vs. New York Giants): David Montgomery is coming off two straight quiet fantasy performances, but the usage has still been there: 17 opportunities in both weeks.

While the Bears have been a pretty sorry offense this season, they check in as 6.5-point home favorites over the Giants, so game script should favor Montgomery. The Giants are actually decent against the run, ranking 12th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play, but as you might expect from a team that often finds itself trailing, that hasn't prevented opposing teams from running on them, as they've allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to running backs.

Montgomery is projected as a top-15 back in all formats.

Start Devin Singletary (vs. Dallas): While Devin Singletary hasn't had particularly exciting fantasy results the last couple weeks, either, he's logged at least 66% of the snaps in each of his last four games, including a season-high 73.6% last week against Miami. Frank Gore's presence continues to cap his opportunities, but he's seen at least 14 in three straight games, and Buffalo is a 4.0-point home favorite over Denver. numberFire's projections rank Singletary just outside the top-20 running backs in both standard and PPR formats.

Start Kareem Hunt (vs. Miami): Kareem Hunt hasn't produced gaudy yardage totals yet, but his role has been encouraging, averaging 5.0 rushes and 8.5 targets over his first two games. That's especially useful in PPR leagues, and he now gets a fantastic matchup against Miami, which ranks 29th in Target Success Rate allowed to running backs. The Browns are double-digit home favorites with a robust 27.75 implied total, and Hunt could even see an uptick in carries if the Browns are cruising late. He projects as the RB22 in standard leagues and RB17 in PPR.

Sit Sony Michel (vs. Dallas): Sony Michel's median projection technically ranks him as a low-end RB2, but we know that doesn't tell the whole story when it comes to Michel, who's demonstrated a low floor all season and is pretty much touchdown-or-bust at this point. While the Patriots are 6.5-point home favorites over the Cowboys, which theoretically sets up as a Michel game, he's logged below a 30% snap rate in back-to-back weeks, as a now-healthy Rex Burkhead has eaten into his workload.

Furthermore, Michel simply hasn't performed very well this season -- his 33.8% Rushing Success Rate is the worst amongst Burkhead (44.4%), James White (46.0%), and even Brandon Bolden (38.5%) this season.

Other running backs to start: Jaylen Samuels (at Cincinnati; if James Conner remains out), Phillip Lindsay (at Buffalo), Miles Sanders (vs. Seattle; if Jordan Howard remains out)

Wide Receiver

Start Jamison Crowder (vs. Oakland): Since Sam Darnold returned in Week 6, Jamison Crowder has garnered a 23.1% target share, averaging a solid 7.0 targets per game over that span. Crowder's also developed into a scoring threat for the Jets, notching a touchdown in three straight games, and he now leads the team in red zone targets (eight). The Raiders aren't a bad spot to keep that touchdown streak going, ranking just 27th in schedule-adjusted pass defense while allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers.

Start DeVante Parker (at Cleveland): Since Preston Williams went down, we've now seen DeVante Parker tally 10 targets in each of the last two games, good for a 26.0% target share and 44.3% air yards share. Those numbers pretty much run laps around everyone else on the team, and it's clear he's the go-to (only?) weapon on a team thin on talent. The Browns actually make for a tougher matchup -- they're numberFire's eighth-ranked pass defense -- but volume like this is easy to get on board with. Parker ranks just outside the top-20 wide receivers in this week's projections.

Start Marvin Jones (at Washington): With Jeff Driskel at quarterback, Marvin Jones has only seen 11 targets over the last two games (16.4% share), making him more of a flex play this week, but he'll have nice upside in favorable matchup against Washington. Despite the modest volume, Jones is coming off a two-touchdown performance in Week 11, and he's been a top-notch scoring threat all year, tied with Kenny Golladay for the team lead in red zone targets (11).

Washington looks like a sinking ship after getting eviscerated by the Jets of all teams, and they now rank 30th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and 31st in Target Success Rate allowed to opposing wideouts.

Sit Marquise Brown (at Los Angeles Rams): The season started so well for Marquise Brown, but injuries have held him back, and he's now seen exactly four targets in each of the last three weeks while failing to reach a 60% snap rate in any of those games. Lamar Jackson has been incredible, but no team passes less often than the Ravens, making it difficult for Brown to have any sort of consistency on a reduced snap count. Throw in a matchup against Jalen Ramsey, and this is a spot to avoid in most formats.

Other wide receivers to start: Jarvis Landry (vs. Miami), D.K. Metcalf (at Philadelphia), Allen Robinson (vs. New York Giants), James Washington (at Cincinnati; deep formats -- JuJu Smith-Schuster is expected to be out)

Tight End

Start Noah Fant (at Buffalo): We haven't seen many tight ends emerge off the waiver wire with much staying power this year, but we might have one in Noah Fant. With Brandon Allen under center the last two games, Fant has seen a 27.3% target share, and he's exceeded an 82% snap rate over the last three. A matchup against Buffalo isn't ideal, but Fant projects as a top-four option at the always light tight end position.

Start Ryan Griffin (vs. Oakland): If we exclude the lone game Chris Herndon played in (Week 10), Ryan Griffin has a solid 18.3% target share and 3 touchdowns in the other three games over the last four weeks, garnering at least 50 receiving yards in each. Oakland ranks fourth in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends, but this is still a poor overall pass defense that's allowed seven touchdowns to the position (third-most).

Other tight ends to start: Jacob Hollister (at Philadelphia), Dallas Goedert (vs. Seattle)