Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 12: Last-Minute Advice for Fantasy Owners
For most fantasy football leagues, there are two weeks left in the regular season.
You know what you need to secure a playoff berth or first-round bye. While it's easier to know exactly who the studs are now, matchups continue to change in quality, and injuries bring more players into the mix every week.
With three high-scoring games in the books, many teams are in the hole. Some owners know that they need to maximize upside to have a chance to win this week.
What follows is some last-minute advice on who to start and who to sit.
START: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Eli Manning hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since Week 7, and he has thrown four interceptions in the three games he has played since. His highest yardage total in the last three games is 215, making him one of the most disappointing fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL.
All of that should turn around this week.
The Giants face a Packers pass defense that has given up over 250 yards through the air in each of the last four games, including 300-plus-yard games to the likes of John Skelton and Blaine Gabbert.
With a healthy Hakeem Nicks and well-rested team around him, Manning should flourish this week.
SIT: Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville
Chad Henne surprised everyone with his 354-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Houston Texans last week. He still only completed less than 50 percent of his passes and should have thrown at least two picks that the Texans dropped.
Henne benefited from some very poor tackling in the Texans secondary and a wide-open game that threw fundamental defense out the window.
This isn't the first time Henne has been on the losing end of a game where his opponent threw for over 500 yards. Tom Brady did it against him last year in Week 1, and Henne was replaced by Week 4.
Don't trust him to carry over last week's productivity into this week.
START: Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco
Even though head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn't officially named Colin Kaepernick the starter, you can trust the report of Jim Trotter from Sports Illustrated that the second-year quarterback will get the nod over Alex Smith this week.
Kaepernick took apart the fearsome Bears defense last game, so moving the ball against a Saints defense which has only held three quarterbacks under 300 yards or two passing touchdowns should be child's play.
Kaepernick is a terrific dual threat to produce as a runner and a passer. That is always a combustible combination for fantasy football.
SIT: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
Russell Wilson has thrown for seven touchdowns in the last three games, but two of those were at home, where he has excelled this season.
Wilson has only thrown four touchdowns on the road all year, against eight interceptions, which stands in stark contrast to his 11-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio at home.
The Dolphins are 27th in the NFL at limiting the opposition's passing yardage, but they are in the top 10 at limiting passing the scores. If the Seahawks can control this game, they should lean on the run, and if they can't, it probably means that it is a low-scoring game.
Stay away from Wilson this week in your quarterback committee.
START: Marcel Reece, RB, Oakland
All Marcel Reece has done since taking over the Raiders backfield is put up back-to-back games with at least 100 total yards and four receptions. He is a must-start in PPR leagues and maybe in non-PPR leagues too.
Reece has the bust-proof profile of a running back who will play a big role as a ball-carrier as long as the game is close.
He could also play a big role as a receiver who lines up at tight end and H-back if the Raiders play most of the game from behind.
SIT: Reggie Bush, RB, Miami
Reggie Bush looked like the best running back in the league in Week 2; he might not even be one of the 32 best in the NFL as we enter Week 12.
Bush only has 148 yards rushing in the last five games, and he hasn't caught more than two passes in any of the last four games.
The Dolphins might be starting to look to a future that will probably not include Bush, who will be a free agent next year. He was benched for fumbling two weeks ago, and Bush also faces one of the better run defenses in the league against Seattle this week.
He's only a flex play, and a weak one at that.
START: Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans
Darren Sproles is returning from a broken hand, but there's no reason to be nervous about his effectiveness.
He was very close to returning last week, and he is listed as probable for the game against the San Francisco 49ers this week.
He had 15 receptions against them when the teams faced off in the playoffs last season, and the 49ers' top-10 run defense will probably dictate a large helping of targets for Sproles to augment a stifled running game this week.
Sproles is an easy play in leagues that award a point for every reception.
SIT: Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona
Beanie Wells has been out of action since Week 3 with a toe injury, and you won't want to count on him upon his return to the lineup this week against the Rams.
The Cardinals offensive line is in shambles, and they are down to a third-string quarterback, rookie Ryan Lindley, as their starter.
The defense won't respect the pass, and even if they do, Josh Weinfuss of the team's official website reports that head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he doesn't "think (Wells is) going to get an overload of work.”
Wells is worth a pickup to see if he can get on track for the fantasy playoffs, but this week is purely a wait-and-see exercise for his owners.
START: Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego
It doesn't take much deep analysis to know that Danario Alexander should stay in your lineup until he lets you down.
The street free agent has 12 receptions for 230 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games, becoming Philip Rivers' No. 1 target in the process.
The Ravens are without two of their top three corners, including shutdown stud Lardarius Webb, who is out for the season.
Alexander is too explosive and hot to bench right now in a matchup that the Chargers can't afford to lose if they want to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.
SIT: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona
There's nothing wrong with Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals offensive line and quarterback, on the other hand, might be the worst in the league right now.
The coaches were so unhappy with John Skelton that they are starting fifth-round rookie Ryan Lindley, who only completed 9-of-20 passes last week for 64 yards.
Fitzgerald caught one of them for 11 yards. He has only pulled in 16 receptions for 166 yards and a score in the last four games.
Defenses are going to take away Fitzgerald until the Cardinals find another way to move the ball. Until they prove they can, Fitzgerald belongs on your bench.
START: Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco
Michael Crabtree is the closest thing the 49ers have to a No. 1 receiver, and that means that you'll want to play him this week vs. New Orleans.
New starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick can threaten the defense downfield in a way that Alex Smith can't. That should mean good things against a Saints defense that has allowed a 100-yard receiver in five of the last six games.
Wide receivers have caught 13 touchdowns in the last seven games against New Orleans, so Crabtree, who has scored four touchdowns in the last three games, also has a good chance of finding paydirt this week.
SIT: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City
Bowe didn't crack 100 yards in any of the six games that Cassel didn't start last year, and he had only one score in those games.
He is merely a flex play without Cassel, and one without much demonstrated upside. Next year, when Bowe is playing somewhere else, he could be an every-week start. This year, his talent is being wasted in this abysmal offense.
START: Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee
Kenny Britt hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 6, and he doesn't have a 100-yard game all year, but both of those trends could reverse this week against the Jaguars.
Britt is as healthy as he has been all season coming out of the Titans' bye, and he faces a Jaguars defense that just gave up over 500 yards passing last week, including 273 yards to Andre Johnson. The Jags have also allowed at least 78 yards to a receiver in eight of 10 games this season.
Jake Locker should be back in synch with his targets, and you don't want to have Britt on your bench if they get a good thing going this week.
SIT: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia
Jeremy Maclin is unlikely to put up back-to-back goose eggs, but you'll want to see him prove that he can produce with Nick Foles at quarterback on plays that don't involve busted coverage before you trust him in your lineup.
Maclin's 44-yard touchdown against the Cowboys in Week 10 was due to a complete defensive breakdown more than any excellence from Foles or Maclin.
No. 3 receiver Riley Cooper was more involved last week, and it's possible that Foles is most comfortable throwing to Cooper because of the practice reps they have gotten together.
Make Maclin burn you for benching him before you count on him in a crucial week.
START: Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco
According to Mike Sando of ESPN.com, Vernon Davis said that he felt like the handcuffs had been taken off of him after his six-catch, 83-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Bears last week.
He had six catches for 64 yards in the previous three games combined, but it is clear now that the 49ers pass offense is much more vibrant with Colin Kaepernick than it was with Alex Smith.
Against a Saints defense that has surrendered three touchdowns to tight ends in the last two games, Davis is a good bet to get in the end zone and be one of the best fantasy plays of the week at his position.
SIT: Ben Watson, TE, Cleveland
Ben Watson was one of the best tight end plays in the league last week, but he doubled his touchdown total on the season and was only one catch short of tying his season high in a four-catch game against the Cowboys.
He goes against a Steelers defense that hasn't given up a tight end score in the last six games this week.
If you're a Rob Gronkowski owner looking for help from the waiver wire, Jacksonville's Marcedes Lewis or Tampa Bay's Dallas Clark are better bets to lead you to the promised land.