All stats/point values are based on ESPN scoring. Individual production or points will vary based on the scoring system being used.
Well, after a 10-week hiatus, "Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em" is back. The last time I had enough time to bang out one of these, things were pretty accurate. Of course, these were the days when Ray Rice was still relatively unknown to fantasy owner (except this guy), and Brandon Jacobs was still expected to be a fantasy powerhouse.
My how the times have changed.
Regardless, for some leagues Week 12 is the last week of the regular season. And while it may seem that this season has flown by, there are still quality games left to play.
This week sports the all-important Thanksgiving games, alongside a dish of exciting Sunday melees. All while the question remains: Who to start? Who to sit?
Fantasy Football Week 12 101 begins now.
Oh, how forgiving the NFC North is. One week there is a battle of defensive titans, the next week reimbursement with a 32-ounce steak. I sure hope Aaron Rodgers likes lion.
The Packers take on the Lions at Ford Field in a Turkey Day matchup, and feast they shall. Rodgers has not fallen below 18 points since Week One, so do not expect this to change, even on short rest. He has roasted some of the best defenses in the league (Minnesota twice), and shows absolutely no signs of stopping.
His receivers are finally beginning to step-up, as demonstrated by the sudden awakening of Greg Jennings against the 49ers. Oh, and did I mention that he’s playing the Lions, a team that allowed 37 points to a stagnant Cleveland offense last week?
In sports, the coach will always tell you to trust your instincts. Apparently, Jay Cutler never played Pop Warner as a child. Cutler has been incredibly indecisive thus far, sporting 18 interceptions to back this claim. That is three more than he has touchdowns.
Fantasy owners took a gigantic gamble when drafting Cutler this year (myself included). His natural abilities are fantastic, but he does not have nearly as much talent around him as he did in Denver.
He's also playing in the ever-fluctuating NFC North. This week he goes against the Minnesota Vikings, who bring a superior pass rush to the table. Though their secondary is less than impressive, Cutler will need to think on his feet, and it just does not seem possible after his outings during the past few weeks.
This is arguably one of the toughest choices for Week 12, as Big Ben is coming off a concussion-like injury in a devastating overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. He is up against division-rival Baltimore, and his only healthy backup has just one completion in his career.
Here is the bottom line: Ben has two championships under his belt, he has failed to achieve double-digit fantasy points only once this year, and he is one of the most clutch quarterbacks in football.
He enjoys playing under pressure, and under Sunday night lights, this will not be a problem. The Ravens defense has not been what many expected them to become, but they are coming off a rather impressive performance against MVP-candidate Peyton Manning.
Thankfully for Roethlisberger, he has tons of help on offense around him, and they should be able to bail him out of trouble if need be. Start him at your own will though, as this is not a “gimme” by any means.
Matthew Stafford-Sit ‘Em
Eli Manning-Start ‘Em
Alex Smith-Start ‘Em
Matt Cassel-Sit ‘Em
Joe Flacco-Sit ‘Em
Matt Hasselback-Start ‘Em
Matt Schaub vs. Indianapolis
You want to talk about a fall from grace, here it is. While his season has not been as miserable as had been anticipated by his earlier games, Forte has not quite gotten off the gun for 2009. He has benefited from the pressure being brought to Cutler, collecting several dump passes over the season, but is most certainly not the 2008 version he had hoped to be.
Again, he is playing the Vikings. They have a surreal front line, headed by some guy named Jared Allen. He should get a fair amount of looks against the team, but the lack of certainty in this offense scares any Bears fan.
If he’s your best option, obviously start him, but if you have some other mild name backs, give them a try in Week 12.
Marion Barber III
Let us be real, MBIII has had a horrific season for his standards. The guy was supposed to come in and revitalize the Cowboys, but much like the entire NFC East, it all has been a gigantic disappointment.
Need proof? They beat the Redskins 7-6. Dallas plays Oakland on Thanksgiving, playing Marion on short rest.
While it is short rest for a man who’s health has been in question, it would be very unlikely for Oakland to pull off two upsets in a row. Their two upset wins have come at home, and they have to go into the palace that is Cowboys Stadium for this matchup.
Perhaps Barber won’t put up incredible numbers, but he is undoubtedly a very solid play for Week 12.
Is it too early to say I told you so? Nah. There is a reason I drafted Ray Rice in all eight of my fantasy leagues this year, and all you need to do to see it is watch a Ravens game.
The team has plummeted from early season glory, losing five of their last seven games. Yet through it all, Ray seems to be the holy grail for the team, consistently sporting double-digit points for fantasy owners.
As mentioned earlier, the Ravens square off against the Steelers in a prime-time grudge match. The Steelers are battered and bruised, and have been faltering defensively of late.
Even if the Ravens lose 41-7, that seven will come from Ray Rice. The team will continue to ride his back, and he will continue to produce.
Ricky Williams-Start ‘Em
Michael Turner-Sit ‘Em
Pierre Thomas-Sit ‘Em
Ahmad Bradshaw-Sit ‘Em
Thomas Jones-Start ‘Em
Fred Jackson-Start ‘Em
Steve Slaton vs. Indianapolis
Steve Smith, Panthers
Will all of the Steve Smith believers raise their hands? Not many.
Sure, Smith put up 15 points and 14 points respectively in the past two weeks, but he faces one of the league’s best corners in Darrelle Revis this week versus the Jets.
He entered this season as a favorite to put up spectacular numbers but has failed to do so thus far.
Yes, it is true the Jets are slumping. Nobody will deny that. But Rex Ryan is still a defensive coach, and the team is hungry for a win. Expect Jake Delhomme to get picked apart (no pun intended), in which Smith could ultimately suffer as well. Jake overthrew Smith three times in the end zone in their Week 11 loss to the Dolphins, and it would not be surprising to see more of the same in Week 12.
One of the surprising bright spots behind the Jaguars productive season, Sims-Walker has proven to be amongst the elite. He is a top-15 receiver, and has eclipsed 10 points in his last three outings. This week he is up against the San Francisco 49ers, a team that allowed Greg Jennings to simply roast them.
Sure, a majority of the offensive production for Jacksonville comes off of the rush, but Garrard and Jack Del Rio evidently have faith in this rising star. Though he’s not a guarantee to go wild, he surely has the potential, and should benefit anyone who he starts for this week.
Don't be discouraged based on his Week 11 performance fantasy owners. The Broncos were without their starting quarterback, and were facing one of the hottest teams in all of football in the Chargers. Kyle Orton should be ready to go this time around from the beginning, and the Denver offense looks for vengeance as they seek their first win in ages.
Remember when the Giants secondary was actually feared? This is no longer the case.
They dialed the Red Cross’ number multiple times last week, and with a guy like Antonio Pierce hurt, it only makes the likelihood of a strong performance for Marshall more likely. Not to mention, the Giants allowed a large collapse late in the fourth quarter against the Falcons, but luckily came away with a win off the foot of Lawrence Tynes.
Barring a horrific performance from Orton, Marshall looks like a good play.
Roddy White-Start ‘Em
Sidney Rice-Start ‘Em
Miles Austin-Start ‘Em
Roy Williams-Sit ‘Em
Derrick Mason-Start ‘Em (is he the only one getting thrown to?)
Calvin Johnson-Sit ‘Em
Nate Burleson vs. St. Louis
The Washington Redskins held two tight ends this year to incredibly low productive games: Jason Witten and Brent Celek. Both of these men struggled epically against this defense, and it would not be surprising to see the same this week.
While it is true that the Eagles offense has looked deadly over the past few weeks, for some reason the NFC East cannot handle the Redskins. Nobody knows why, nobody knows how, but it is the truth. He’ll be better off next week versus Atlanta, who just allowed Kevin Boss to go wild.
With most of the defensive mindset put on containing Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, Jeremy Shockey will find plenty of opportunities against the Patriots. Will he be able to run successful cross routes against the line-backing core though?
Why not? Shockey has been very efficient for one of the most dangerous offenses in all of football, and should fare well with a solid performance in Week 12.
Jason Witten-Sit ‘Em
Kevin Boss-Start ‘Em
Vernon Davis-Start ‘Em
Dallas Clark-Start ‘Em (you know a tight end is special when they make one-handed grabs)
John Carlson-Sit ‘Em
Kellen Winslow-Start ‘Em
Greg Olsen vs. Minnesota
Defenses/Special Teams Notables
Chargers vs. Kansas City
*This is one of those weeks where it is important to play the matchups. Even if you have a strong defense, take a look closely into who they are playing.
David Akers-Start ‘Em
Ryan Longwell-Start ‘Em
Mason Crosby-Sit ‘Em
John Carney-Start ‘Em
Robbie Gould-Start ‘Em
Orlando Mare vs. St. Louis
Week 12 will undoubtedly be a crucial week for fantasy owners. If it makes anybody any more comfortable, I have clinched a playoff spot in six of my eight leagues (one is on its way), and will only miss the playoffs in one.
My biggest piece of advice for this week is to carefully look into each matchup, as normally productive individuals may suffer strongly this week (or visa versa). Good luck in your Week 12 endeavors, and may this string of games be as enjoyable as last week’s!
This article can also be seen on SportsFullCircle.