The 2013 fantasy football regular season is quickly reaching its conclusion, which means that Week 12 will unquestionably be huge for owners across the world. Unfortunately for them, the lineup decisions that could make or break their teams aren't getting any easier.
Rather than bringing clarity, the progression of the season only seems to create more questions. New fantasy options emerge on a weekly basis, and it's nearly impossible to know whether struggling stars will break out of their slumber or continue to play poorly.
Here is an in-depth look at some of the toughest roster decisions that will play a big role in your Week 12 fantasy matchup.
Start: Case Keenum (HOU)
Since taking over for Matt Schaub as the Texans' starting quarterback a few weeks ago, Keenum has been a pleasant surprise. Despite playing a decent game against the Oakland Raiders last week, he was inexplicably pulled by head coach Gary Kubiak. Despite that curious decision, Kubiak announced that Keenum will be the starter in Week 12 when Houston faces the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
It's tough to trust Keenum when Kubiak has such a quick hook, but prior to last week's game, Keenum had thrown three touchdowns in consecutive contests. He has a dream matchup in Week 12 against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that has allowed 20 passing touchdowns on the year and accrued just four interceptions, so he should have no trouble getting back on track.
Week 12 Fantasy Projection: 286 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception
Sit: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Although Roethlisberger wasn't having a dominant season heading into last week's game against the Detroit Lions by any means, he was enjoying steady production. Big Ben had thrown for at least one touchdown in every game, and he looked like a reliable fantasy backup if nothing else. Roethlisberger is suddenly on the radar as a starter, however, after gashing the Detroit defense.
Big Ben threw for 367 yards and registered his second four-touchdown game in three weeks. The Pittsburgh offense is finally hitting its stride, and Roethlisberger is a big reason for that. It won't be nearly as easy to move the ball through in air in Week 12, though, against the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland allows just 208 passing yards per game and shutdown corner Joe Haden should be able to handle wide receiver Antonio Brown, which severely limits Big Ben's potential.
Week 12 Fantasy Projection: 229 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception
Start: Andre Brown (NYG)
An easy schedule has helped the Giants come back from an 0-6 start, but the return of Brown shouldn't be discounted either. He has given the G-Men an actual running game in the two weeks since his return, and that has allowed everything else to fall into place. With 48 carries over his first two contests of the season, there is no question that head coach Tom Coughlin intends to ride Brown the rest of the way.
Brown racked up 115 yards and a touchdown in his first game back, and while he only ended up with 66 yards last week, he's really the only game in town at this point. New York also happens to be playing one of the league's worst run defenses in the form of the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is surrendering nearly 127 rushing yards per game, which should lead to Brown's best performance of 2013.
Week 12 Fantasy Projection: 122 rushing yards, two receptions for 15 yards and one touchdown
Sit: Chris Ivory (NYJ)
Another running back has emerged in the Meadowlands as of late in the form of the Jets' Chris Ivory. While Ivory was supposed to be the team's bell-cow back early in the season, he was quickly usurped by Bilal Powell. The tables have turned over the past few weeks, however, with Ivory becoming one of the AFC's most productive running backs, according to Jayson Braddock of 790 AM in Houston.
Ivory has rushed for 98 or more yards in three of his past four games, and he has scored a touchdown in two straight as well. With quarterback Geno Smith struggling mightily, there is no question that the running game is now the key to the Jets' offensive success. Even so, they are facing a Baltimore Ravens defense that has given up one rushing score all year long, so this won't be Ivory's week.
Week 12 Fantasy Projection: 62 rushing yards
Start: Jarrett Boykin (GB)
Most figured that Boykin would be little more than a fantasy bench player when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down due to injury, but that simply hasn't been the case. Backup Scott Tolzien and Boykin appear to have a nice rapport, and it has led to Boykin putting up numbers that are very much reminiscent of what Randall Cobb was doing prior to getting injured in his own right, according to Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports.
Boykin has had at least five catches for 89 yards in four of his past five games, and there is no reason why he shouldn't do something similar in Week 12. The Packers are facing a Minnesota Vikings team that really struggles against the pass. Minnesota gives up 280 passing yards per game and has surrendered a league-high 23 touchdown passes, which makes Boykin an ideal start this week.
Week 12 Fantasy Projection: Six receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown
Sit: Keenan Allen (SD)
Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen has been a revelation for the Chargers this season, and he is a big reason behind their surprising success. From Week 5 through Week 9, Allen eclipsed 100 yards on three occasions and scored three touchdowns as well. Over his past two contests, however, he has been far closer to ordinary. Allen is coming off two showings with fewer than 50 receiving yards and a third in a row is on the horizon.
The Kansas City Chiefs are giving up less than 220 passing yards per game, and they have allowed just 10 passing touchdowns on the year. Brandon Flowers figures to be covering Allen as well, and that won't be an easy assignment for the rookie. Since this game figures to be fairly close, look for San Diego to lean on the running game, which won't help Allen put up big numbers.
Week 12 Fantasy Projection: Three receptions for 38 yards
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