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!
|Week 12 Quarterback Projections|
|1||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||30|
|2||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||26|
|3||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||25|
|4||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||24|
|5||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||Denver Broncos||20|
Breaking Down Tom Brady
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.
|Week 12 Running Back Projections|
|1||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||St. Louis Rams||25|
|2||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers||Washington||24|
|3||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers||21|
|4||Chris Johnson||Teneessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||20|
|5||Zac Stacy||St. Louis Rams||Chicago Bears||20|
Breaking Down Zac Stacy
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.
|Week 12 Wide Receiver Projections|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||27|
|2||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||22|
|3||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||20|
|4||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||19|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||18|
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.
|Week 12 Tight End Projections|
|1||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||Washington||18|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||Denver Broncos||17|
|3||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||15|
|4||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||13|
|5 (tie)||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||12|
|5 (tie)||Tony Gonzalez||Atlanta Falcons||New Orleans Saints||12|
Breaking Down Jimmy Graham
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.
|Week 12 Defense/Special Team Projections|
|1||Carolina Panthers||Miami Dolphins||18|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Washington||17|
|3||Tennessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||17|
|4||Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||15|
|5||Baltimore Ravens||New York Jets||14|
Breaking Down the Baltimore Ravens
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.
|Week 12 Kicker Projections|
|1||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||15|
|2||Stephen Gostkowski||New England Patriots||Denver Broncos||14|
|3||Mason Crosby||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings||12|
|4||Garrett Hartley||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||12|
|5||Dan Bailey||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||11|
Breaking Down Mason Crosby
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.
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.