Week 12 Fantasy Football Projections: Predicting Top Performers at Each Position

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2013

Nov 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson (80) is pursued by Oakland Raiders cornerback Mike Jenkins (21) at Reliant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Texans 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who has played fantasy football long enough knows that one star performer can save your week. That one guy who posts 30 points can bail out several players who decided to not show up and can thus be the difference between a close win and a blowout loss. 

Here, I've attempted to locate the players at every position I think are most likely to post huge numbers this week. Plus, I've honed in on one intriguing player at each position that some folks might question this week. 

To the projections!

 

Quarterbacks

Week 12 Quarterback Projections
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons30
2Matt StaffordDetroit LionsTampa Bay Buccaneers26
3Tony RomoDallas CowboysNew York Giants25
4Peyton ManningDenver BroncosNew England Patriots24
5Tom BradyNew England PatriotsDenver Broncos20

 

Breaking Down Tom Brady

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots calls out from under center in the first half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Street
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

You might be jumping back off the Tom Brady bandwagon after he managed just 13 fantasy points on Monday night, but taken in context, it was actually an impressive performance. Brady threw for 296 yards and a touchdown (also an interception) against the Carolina Panthers, one of the best defenses in all of football. 

This week, he faces off against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a game that seems destined to be a shootout. The Broncos have given up 18 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks six times this season and are allowing 279 passing yards per game, 28th in the NFL.

With his weapons healthy—Shane Vereen was the latest to return, and his eight receptions for 65 yards highlight just how important he is in this offense—Brady should continue to be a consistent fantasy producer. 

Don't read too much into Monday night's modest performance—big things are on the horizon for Brady. 

 

Running Backs

Week 12 Running Back Projections
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Matt ForteChicago BearsSt. Louis Rams25
2Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ersWashington24
3Adrian PetersonMinnesota VikingsGreen Bay Packers21
4Chris JohnsonTeneessee TitansOakland Raiders20
5Zac StacySt. Louis RamsChicago Bears20

 

Breaking Down Zac Stacy

Nov 10, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy (30) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

In Finding Forrester, William Forrester tells Jamal Wallace, "The key to a woman's heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time."

Well, the key to a fantasy football player's heart is an unexpected performer at an unexpected time during the season. And since he was named the starter for St. Louis in Week 5, Zac Stacy has been that unexpected performer. 

The Rams runner has posted six straight games with seven or more fantasy points, four straight games with double-digit points and has rushed for 75 yards or more four times. Even better, he faces a Chicago Bears defense that has given up 20 or more fantasy points to opposing running backs in six of the past seven weeks. 

With Kellen Clemens under center, the Rams would be wise to keep feeding Stacy the rock. That's great news for fantasy owners who had the foresight to add him on waivers earlier in the season. Stacy's ascension to fantasy relevance was unexpected, but this week you can expect him to post 20 points against the Chicago Bears.

 

Wide Receivers

Week 12 Wide Receiver Projections
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Calvin JohnsonDetroit LionsTampa Bay Buccaneers27
2Andre JohnsonHouston TexansJacksonville Jaguars22
3Josh GordonCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers20
4Dez BryantDallas CowboysNew York Giants19
5Demaryius ThomasDenver BroncosNew England Patriots18

 

Breaking Down Andre Johnson

The biggest fear for Andre Johnson owners wasn't his recent production—he has 66 fantasy points in three games since the Houston Texans' Week 8 bye—but rather the possibility that Matt Schaub could return as the starter after replacing Case Keenum in the second half of Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

But never fear, fantasy owners, for Keenum has been named the starter next week. From the team's Twitter account:

That's great news for fantasy owners. With Schaub starting the first seven weeks, Johnson averaged 7.7 fantasy points per week. With Keenum starting, Johnson has put up an impressive 22 fantasy points per contest (though that number is somewhat inflated based on his 40 points in Week 9).

Johnson had double-digit fantasy points just twice in seven weeks with Schaub. He's registered double-digit points every week with Keenum under center.

With Keenum getting the nod, Johnson is assured of remaining an elite option at the position. It's a happy day for his owners. 

 

Tight Ends

Week 12 Tight End Projections
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Vernon DavisSan Francisco 49ersWashington18
2Rob GronkowskiNew England PatriotsDenver Broncos17
3Julius ThomasDenver BroncosNew England Patriots15
4Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons13
5 (tie)Jason WittenDallas CowboysNew York Giants12
5 (tie)Tony GonzalezAtlanta FalconsNew Orleans Saints12

 

Breaking Down Jimmy Graham

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 17:  Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled at the five yard line by Carlos Rogers #22 of the San Francisco 49ers at  Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 17, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated th
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The concerns with Jimmy Graham are obvious—he's clearly not at 100 percent health, and he doesn't have a touchdown reception in the past two weeks after notching 10 in his first eight games. He's gone from being one of the most valuable players in all of fantasy football to a player that may no longer be the top option for owners at his position.

That being said, it isn't time to do anything crazy like trading him. This past week, he still managed six receptions for 41 yards (on 11 targets, a team high) against a tough San Francisco defense. It doesn't look like he's so banged up that he'll only be played in limited snaps inside of the red zone, a good sign.

Plus, the Atlanta Falcons have been dreadful on defense this season and are giving up 249.2 passing yards per game (22nd in the NFL) and have allowed 21 passing touchdowns, 30th in the league. This is a juicy matchup for Graham, and one he will exploit in a big way.

 

Defense/Special Teams

Week 12 Defense/Special Team Projections
RankTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Carolina PanthersMiami Dolphins18
2San Francisco 49ersWashington17
3Tennessee TitansOakland Raiders17
4Kansas City ChiefsSan Diego Chargers15
5Baltimore RavensNew York Jets14

 

Breaking Down the Baltimore Ravens

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 17:  Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears is hit by (L-R) James Ihedigbo #32, Daryl Smith #51 and Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field on November 17, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Ravcens 23-2
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Ravens are a pretty inconsistent fantasy defense, with seven or more fantasy points in six weeks and four or less points in their remaining games, but they have an excellent matchup against the New York Jets—at home, mind you—on tap. 

Geno Smith is fresh off of a horrid, four-turnover performance against the Buffalo Bills, hasn't thrown a touchdown in three games (he has five interceptions in that time), has a dreadful 56.3 completion percentage and lacks weapons in the passing game. 

The Jets are an odd team—they have alternated wins and losses every week since the start of the season—so Smith could surprise us all and post huge numbers, but more than likely the Ravens will have a field day against the rookie quarterback and his poor offense.

 

Kickers

Week 12 Kicker Projections
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Matt PraterDenver BroncosNew England Patriots15
2Stephen GostkowskiNew England PatriotsDenver Broncos14
3Mason CrosbyGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings12
4Garrett HartleyNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons12
5Dan BaileyDallas CowboysNew York Giants11

 

Breaking Down Mason Crosby

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 13: Place kicker Mason Crosby #2 of the Green Bay Packers kicks a field goal against the Baltimore Ravens in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

You would think that the loss of Aaron Rodgers to injury would hurt Mason Crosby, as the Green Bay Packers have really struggled to move the ball without their superstar under center. 

Not so. 

In the past three games, Crosby is averaging a solid 7.3 fantasy points and should see ever more opportunities for field goals and extra points against a Minnesota Vikings defense so bad even Scott Tolzien should be able to carve them up. 

Don't be afraid to stick with the Packers' kicker this week.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, tweet random fantasy musings and lament Ray Rice producing after I finally benched him this week. Bah humbug. 

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