7 Fantasy Stars to Watch in Week 12

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2012

7 Fantasy Stars to Watch in Week 12

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    As the playoffs rapidly approach, panic is beginning to set in for fantasy owners all over the world. You have just two goals in a game now: Beat up on your opponent so you can brag, and get out of the game healthy. 

    In a lot of ways, the goals in a fantasy game are exactly the same as a regular NFL game. The professionals might not have as much fun bragging as you do, but they are going to do everything they can to win, and keeping everyone healthy is crucial for long-term success. 

    Week 12 of this NFL season will require a lot more planning ahead, since there are three games on Thanksgiving Day, but if you have a clear head, you will be able to make the incredibly short week work in your favor. 

    As a little treat for you this holiday week, we are going to make your life a little easier. We are going to tell you which stars are going to shine brightest in Week 12. Rosters and success in fantasy football are built around stars, so it is imperative that you are starting the right ones. 

    Here are the names that we love this week in fantasy football. As always, the rules are we fill out a lineup the way you would, with a quarterback, tight end, two wide receivers, two running backs and a flex player. 

     

Quarterback: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins

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    2012 Season Stats

    186-for-277, 2,193 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT, 101.0 QB Rating; 93 carries, 613 yards, 6 TD

     

    Dallas Defense vs. Pass

    61.8 Completion Percentage, 211 yards per game, 11 Passing TD, 20 Sacks

     

    What Griffin Will Do

    Despite the successful numbers the Cowboys have had defending the pass this season, Griffin is the perfect weapon to exploit them. 

    Remember, just last week Brandon Weeden completed 20-of-35 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin's matchup looks almost too good to be true, which can often get fantasy players in trouble because they will put too much stock in one player. 

    However, we have seen Griffin handle himself like few rookie quarterbacks have before. The upside of having him serve as a quarterback and de facto running back makes him one of the best weapons in the sport. 

    Expect Griffin to throw for around 225 yards with a touchdown and run for another 65 with a score against a soft Dallas defense. 

Running Back: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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    2012 Season Stats

    170 carries, 862 yards, 4 TD; 24 receptions, 146 yards

     

    Jacksonville Defense vs. Run

    331 carries, 1,373 yards, 14 TD

     

    What Johnson Will Do

    It is strange to look at Johnson now and remember there was a time, just a few weeks ago, when he looked like he was ticketed for the waiver wire. He was one of the best running back in the sport for a three-year period from 2009-11, and here he was fighting to keep his job. 

    Hopefully you weren't one of the owners who gave up on Johnson, because he is as hot as any running back in the league right now. He has run for more than 125 yards in three of the last four games and has not had less than 91 yards since Week 5. 

    This week brings with it one of the best matchups possible for Johnson. The Jaguars rank 29th in the league with over 137 yards allowed per game on the ground. Their 14 touchdowns allowed is tied for 31st in the NFL. 

    Johnson is peaking at the perfect time for fantasy owners, so don't be shocked to see him run for 120 yards again and a couple of scores. 

Running Back: Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts

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    2012 Season Stats

    105 carries, 386 yards; 11 receptions, 112 yards, 1 TD

     

    Buffalo Defense vs. Run

    293 carries, 1,533 yards, 16 TD

     

    What Ballard Will Do

    Ballard is a name that might surprise some people, especially on a list where we are talking about stars. Sometimes a matchup is too good not to include a lesser-known player, so pay close attention. 

    The Colts are a middle-of-the-road running team in the NFL this season, but it would be a shock not to see them make a stronger commitment to the ground game against a Bills team that ranks 31st in rushing yards allowed and last in rushing touchdowns allowed. 

    Yes, Ballard is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. But he has never had a matchup this good, and he is starting to become a bigger focal point of the offense. Ballard has had at least 16 carries in three of the last five games. 

    The Bills are a lifeless team right now. The Colts have been much better than expected, last week's humbling loss at New England notwithstanding. Ballard will get loose and set a career-high in rushing yards and touchdowns this week. 

Wide Receiver: Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    2012 Season Stats

    42 receptions, 863 yards, 7 TD

     

    Atlanta's Defense vs. Pass

    197-for-319, 2,163 yards, 11 TD, 11 INT

     

    What Jackson Will Do

    Picking a receiver for fantasy football can be the most difficult task you are faced with all week. Unless you have one of the elite names (Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Roddy White), you are basically at the mercy of the receiver's quarterback to help your player get points. 

    Fortunately for owners of Jackson, Josh Freeman is on fire right now. The Buccaneers have won their last four games. Freeman has thrown 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions. 

    Jackson is Freeman's favorite target, and he has become one of the best big-play receivers in the NFL. His 20.5 yards per reception leads the NFL. 

    The Falcons are the least impressive 9-1 team in recent memory. They needed a miracle to get by the Cardinals last week thanks to Matt Ryan, who I think just turned the ball over again. 

    This is a huge game for both teams. Jackson has really stepped up his performance this season for a surprising Bucs team that is in the playoff hunt. Look for him to exploit the Falcons defense in this game. 

Wide Receiver: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

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    2012 Season Stats

    62 receptions, 946 yards, 4 TD

     

    Tampa Bay Defense vs. Pass

    258-for-386, 3,126 yards allowed, 17 TD, 15 INT

     

    What White Will Do

    Yes, I am aware that I just got done bashing the Falcons on the previous page. However, just because the team as a whole leaves me feeling numb doesn't mean I can single out individual players when it is warranted. 

    For Roddy White, the stars have aligned for him to be one of the best fantasy players, forget receivers, this weekend. 

    The Buccaneers are last in the NFL in pass yards allowed per game and 26th in opponents' completion percentage. They have been strong up front against the run, but their pass rush leaves a lot to be desired. 

    If Matt Ryan has time in the pocket, White should go off. White has been red hot lately, with at least seven catches and 355 total receiving yards the last three weeks. Interestingly, he doesn't have any touchdown catches during this streak, though that will be remedied this week. 

Tight End: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

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    2012 Season Stats

    35 receptions, 487 yards, 5 TD

     

    New Orleans Defense vs. Pass

    241-for-378, 3,050 yards, 21 TD, 7 INT

     

    What Davis Will Do

    I would say that it depends on who the 49ers starting quarterback will be for this game before starting Davis, but considering how Davis torched the Saints in the playoffs last year with Alex Smith starting, it doesn't really matter. 

    For all the talk about the Saints' resurgence after that 0-4 start, it is important to remember that they have beaten teams like San Diego, Philadelphia and Oakland during this run of five wins in six games. 

    Plus, the Saints have allowed over 400 yards of total offense to each team during their comeback, so it's not like they found some magic elixir. They need to get by with Drew Brees throwing for 350-400 yards, but against the 49ers defense, does anyone expect him to just have his way?

    Davis is still the best receiving option the 49ers have. Jim Harbaugh understands how to exploit a weakness for a team better than anyone in the NFL right now. Davis will keep his momentum going with at least 80 yards and a touchdown this week. 

Flex Player: Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos

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    2012 Season Stats

    49 carries, 188 yards 1 TD; 10 receptions, 62 yards

     

    Kansas City Defense vs. Run

    287 carries, 1,292 yards, 7 TD

     

    What Hillman Will Do

    Willis McGahee's misfortune will be Hillman's gain, as the rookie running back has shown some flashes in limited action this season and will now get to carry the bulk of the load for the Broncos. 

    Hillman's best game came in Week 8 against New Orleans, which isn't a shock considering how bad the Saints are on defense. He had 86 yards on 14 carries in that game. After taking over for McGahee last week, he had 43 yards on 12 carries.

    So what's to like about Hillman this week?

    Considering the way that Peyton Manning runs an offense, with a strong ratio of run-to-pass plays, we know that Hillman will have plenty of opportunities to make things happen with his legs. 

    If that isn't enough, Manning demands that his running backs be able to catch passes out of the backfield, so don't be shocked to see Hillman get a handful of receptions in this game either. 

    The Chiefs are completely lost right now. They have no direction on offense, which puts more pressure on the defense than it is capable of handling. The Broncos look like one of the top teams in the AFC. 

    Hillman may not be a starter every week, but this matchup is too good to pass up. Realistic expectations should have him getting around 75-80 yards on the ground and another 40 through the air.