Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 12
Week 11 brought some major shakeups to the fantasy landscape and, more importantly, another win for the column. Derrius Guice finished as the week's RB16 with 13.4 fantasy points, mostly on the back of his huge 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Our other predictions didn't quite hit the mark. We predicted Drew Brees would land outside of the top 12 quarterbacks on the week -- he finished as the QB10. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense was a pretty rough call, finishing with just one fantasy point. Miles Sanders ended up with only 9 receiving yards, but his 24 air yards were the fourth-most at the position in the league -- evidently, the Philadelphia Eagles forgot some key ingredients in their recipe for success over the New England Patriots just two seasons ago. And lastly, the Carolina Panthers shockingly only scored three points over the Atlanta Falcons. D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey still feasted for fantasy, but Curtis Samuel was hung out to dry.
Four of the NFL's most high-profile teams are headed into their bye in Week 12, including the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, and Los Angeles Chargers. That's probably going to hurt a number of your fantasy lineups with players like Patrick Mahomes and Dalvin Cook sitting out. Still, it also leaves the door open for some lesser-known names to make appearances at the top of the fantasy leaderboards. And to me, that sounds like a perfect chance to make some bold predictions -- so here are five of them for Week 12.
Christian McCaffrey will not be an RB1
We'll get to some lesser-known names in a minute, but let's get this one out of the way first -- Christian McCaffrey will not finish as an RB1 in Week 12.
This is a pretty bold one, made bolder yet by the bye-week and injury situations in Week 12. The four bye-week teams each have productive backfields in fantasy football, and this week's hottest waiver wire pickups are players like Bo Scarbrough and Jonathan Williams. McCaffrey seems like shoo-in to finish in the top 12 -- like he has done in 9 of his 10 games in 2019.
But standing in McCaffrey's way is the New Orleans Saints defense, who have shut down opposing running backs all year. Opposing backfields are averaging just 11.7 total fantasy points per game against the Saints this year, the third-lowest mark in the league. And while they've shut opposing backs down on the ground -- allowing the fewest total rushing yards to opposing backfields in the league with 616 -- they've also been mighty impressive against running backs in the passing game. Despite frequently leading in their games, the Saints have allowed just 311 receiving yards to opposing backs, the fourth-fewest in the NFL.
Essentially, they might be McCaffrey's worst nightmare. He is having an all-time great season, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shut him down back in Week 2 with a similarly-talented run defense. CMC scored just 6.30 fantasy points that week, his fewest by more than 10 in 2019. He's in danger of suffering that same fate in Week 12 against the Saints shut-down running back defense -- especially with opposing defenses stifling quarterback Kyle Allen down over the past four weeks. Fantasy football's most reliable player in 2019 is going to be it's biggest disappointment in Week 12.
Nick Chubb will Score Over 30 Fantasy Points
I don't think I really need to say much to you about the Miami Dolphins, so I'll keep this short and sweet -- they aren't good.
It's entirely possible the Cleveland Browns could beat the 'Phins without attempting a pass on the back of how well Nick Chubb has played this year. Only Cook (1,017) and McCaffrey (1,059) have more rushing yards than Chubb (1,011) through Week 11, and those backs have had the benefit of playing for relatively functional offenses. The Browns offense hasn't lived up to the offseason hype, but Chubb has certainly outperformed our highest expectations.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins have allowed a very-bad 44.57% Rushing Success Rate to opposing running back -- meaning that opposing backs are able to add value to their team's expected points total on almost half of their attempts -- even though they've faced the second-most attempts in the league with 275. So they know the runs are coming, and they just can't stop them.
Chubb is going to run all over the Dolphins defense in what should be a get-right, feel-good moment for the entire Browns team. He's put the offense on his shoulders all year, and in Week 12 he -- and those of us who drafted him in fantasy football -- will get one of his best games of the season. He'll score over 30 fantasy points for the second time in 2019 and take over as the league's leading rusher in the process.
Vance McDonald will Finally Happen
Pretty much all hope for Vance McDonald's breakout season went down the drain when Ben Roethlisberger suffered his season-ending elbow injury back in Week 2. He still managed to crush it in Week 2 after Ben left, but since then, it's been super tough sledding for the pass-catching tight end -- he's had just one game since with more than five fantasy points.
That's about as bad as it can get for a player many had ranked pretty highly coming into the season. His disappointing season left many fantasy rosters with a gaping hole at the tight end position due to those completely unforeseen circumstances. However, in Week 12, McDonald will at least get a taste of the success we all hoped he'd have.
And that's because the Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals this week. Like the Dolphins, the Bengals are a really, really bad football team. But unlike the Dolphins, they weren't trying to be a bad football team. Just about everything that could go wrong for the Bengals has done so, starting all the way back in the offseason when their first-round draft pick suffered a season-ending injury in a routine workout.
The Bengals pass defense clocks in at fifth-worst in the league according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted Power Rankings. Unfortunately, McDonald missed the last time these two teams met back in Week 4. But, it's McDonald's turn to dunk on the Bengals now -- he's pretty much the only receiver left standing on the Steelers offense after their brutal match against the Browns last week. With Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster in the league's concussion protocol and in danger of missing the game, McDonald will finally have his big performance -- he'll finish as a top-three tight end in Week 12.
Bo Scarbrough will be an RB1
If you don't recognize the name Bo Scarbrough, don't worry -- you're probably not the only one. But then start to worry a little bit, because he could be your waiver-wire darling in Week 12.
The Detroit Lions backfield has been one of the most frustrating groups to predict in fantasy football in 2019, even when Kerryon Johnson was healthy. The team has cycled through a number of backs already this season, but it looks like they might have found their new favorite in Scarbrough. Scarbrough entered the league in 2018 as a seventh-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys. He didn't last long there and spent most of 2019 on the Lions' practice squad, but last week he got his revenge against the team that let him go so quickly -- he handled 14 carries in the loss, taking them for 55 yards and a touchdown while nearly punching another one in.
Scarbrough is big and fast, boasting a 91st-percentile size-adjusted speed score on PlayerProfiler.com. Those are two highly-desirable qualities for a waiver wire running back, and he showcased both in Week 11 -- he ripped off an impressive, tackle-breaking 23-yard run in the second quarter. The Lions must have liked what they saw, too, as they let Bo handle 14 of the team's 19 carries fresh off the practice squad.
This week the Lions will travel to Washington to take on arguably the worst team in the league. Washington is allowing 21.3 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields and has only beaten Miami in 2019. The Lions should be able to get ahead early in this one and grind out the clock with Scarbrough's bruising running style. It might not be pretty, but Bo Scarbrough will reward those that picked him up this week with a top-12 finish at the running back position.
Anthony Miller will be a Top-18 Wideout
It's been a pretty quiet year for Anthony Miller, one of the offseason's most popular breakout candidates. A second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Miller has just 272 scoreless yards in 2019 after catching 7 touchdown passes in his debut season. It just hasn't been happening for the former Memphis Tiger this year, and I think we can all guess why.
The good news is that the Chicago Bears will face one of the league's worst passing defenses in Week 12 -- the New York Giants. The Giants have allowed opposing wideouts to score an average of 34.28 fantasy points per game this year, the fourth-most in the league. Mike Evans scored over 40 fantasy points against this team alone -- that's what kind of defense they bring to the table.
Regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Chicago Bears, they'll have no problem shredding this Giants defense. Trubisky finally looked Miller's way in Week 11, targeting him 11 times over the course of the game. He only reeled in 6 of those targets for 54 yards, but it was a step in the right direction. Miller will get back on the right track in Week 12 and finish as a top-18 wide receiver in fantasy.