Fantasy Football Week 12: Start Em', Sit Em'
Week 12 is one of the most crucial points in the fantasy football realm. With only two weeks left in the fantasy season, the teams that are still relevant are jockeying for playoff spots or positioning.
Already we have seen some huge performances from Tom Brady and the New England receivers, the New York Jets defense and special teams and Maurice Morris.
So in order to make or break your season, here are some selections to start this week and some players you should bench.
Quarterback Start Em'
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The Denver quarterback is quietly having a career season and has actually been the sixth-best fantasy quarterback to date. This week Orton goes up against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams are ranked 19th against the pass.
Last week, Matt Ryan torched the St. Louis defense and threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns. In Orton's last performance against an NFC West opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, he threw for 370 yards.
Manning will be without receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks. So what makes him such a great start this week? The Giants play the Jacksonville Jaguars who have a leaky secondary which has given up 264.6 passing yards per game for 28th in the NFL.
Manning seemed to work out some of the initial kinks with new starter Derek Hagan by the end of the game last week and that combination should be good to go. Look for the Giants to put the ball in the air a little more as Ahmad Bradshaw will be the back up this week to Brandon Jacobs due to fumbling problems.
Quarterback Sit Em'
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The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Buffalo Bills this week. The Bills do not do much well with the exception of pass defense. Buffalo is ninth in the NFL allowing just 208.9 passing yards per game. On the other hand the Bills have the 32nd-ranked rush defense, allowing 163.5 rushing yards per game.
The Steelers will look to use Rashard Mendenhall and simply tire out the Bills. Likely, the Steelers will get out to a big lead and turn to the running game in the second half to use up clock. Another factor could be the weather. While it is not predicted to snow, freezing temperatures could lead to more emphasis on the ground game.
Freeman goes up against a tough matchup this week in the Ravens defense. The Ravens have the 10th overall pass defense in yards allowed but that does not tell the whole story. The Ravens are averaging almost two sacks, a fumble, and an interception per game.
An inexperienced quarterback like Freeman will likely have trouble handling the variety of blitz packages thrown at him. In the four games that Ed Reed has returned from injury he has four interceptions and a forced fumble. Freeman will likely have a difficult matchup and the Buccaneers will turn to LeGarrette Blount to try to shorten the game through the run.
Running Back Start Em'
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Since the Browns bye week Hillis has been an absolute must start. After a monster performance against New England when he accumulated 220 total yards and two touchdowns, Hillis continued his strong streak against the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.
This week Hillis will get matched up against the Carolina Panthers, who are 23rd against the run. More importantly, with Colt McCoy sidelined the Browns may turn more to the run and to passes in the backfield rather than down field. Carolina has allowed a rushing touchdown to a running back in three straight games. That streak will likely continue against Hillis and the Browns.
Brown has been a general disappointment this season to fantasy owners and Dolphins fans alike. He is on pace for a season with less than 750 rushing yards and just five touchdowns. This week, however, Brown may be able to improve on some of his low outputs after two consecutive weeks with 11 or less rushing yards.
The Dolphins travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders, who have been absolutely horrible against the run giving up 128.5 rushing yards per game. With Brandon Marshall out and Miami still relying on Tyler Thigpen since Chad Henne is questionable, Miami will depend heavily on the ground game.
Running Back Sit Em'
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The Eagles travel to Chicago to take on the Bears this week, which is not a good sign for McCoy. The Bears are second in the NFL against the run allowing just 78 rushing yards per game to opponents. Last week the Bears held Ronnie Brown to just 10 rushing yards. Two weeks ago, Chicago stifled Adrian Peterson holding him to just 51 yards and three yards per carry.
Additionally, McCoy's numbers have been inflated by big runs recently. Against the Giants last week, 90 of McCoy's 111 yards came on two rushing plays. Three weeks ago, McCoy's 95 yard performance was inflated by a 62 yard run. Against a tough Bears defense, an inconsistent McCoy is not a great option.
Over the last two weeks, Fred Jackson has been a savior at the running back position amassing 299 total yards and four touchdowns. The problem is those games have come against the Lions and the Bengals, two teams that have struggled defensively with running backs.
This week, Jackson's match up comes against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have the best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just 63 total rushing yards per game on the season. Last week, the second ranked Oakland rushing attack which had been averaging over 150 rushing yards per game managed just 61 rushing yards against the Steelers. Look for the Steelers to stack the box and make Ryan Fitzpatrick beat them through the air.
Wide Receiver Start Em'
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Due to injuries to both Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham is now the de facto No.1 wide receiver for the Giants. When he receives enough targets, Manningham can be a big threat, especially downfield, for the Giants. Manningham started the season with three consecutive games of 75 yards or more.
Now that he is back as a centerpiece in the Giants offense, his targets will likely increase and so will his receptions and yards. The Giants play Jacksonville, a team that has given up a 100 yards to a receiver in two of the last three games.
Owners who have been waiting patiently for Jackson to return finally have a chance to reap their reward. Jackson, who was a top five fantasy receiver last year, will rejoin the best passing offense in the league this year and the dynamic Philip Rivers.
The Chargers face Indianapolis in a game featuring two of the best passing offenses in the NFL in what will likely become a high-scoring affair. Jackson adds the talent that the Chargers haven't had with Malcolm Floyd or Legedu Naanee. With Antonio Gates questionable as well, Jackson's targets will be high despite the fact that it is his first game back.
Wide Receiver Sit Em'
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Garcon will see more field action with Austin Collie sidelined due to concussion. However, does not seem to have the same rapport he established with Peyton Manning last year. Garcon has just one touchdown on the season and only two games over 75 yards receiving.
With Blair White receiving much of Peyton Manning's attention in the absence of Collie, Garcon may not be the one to pick up the slack. The Colts play the San Diego Chargers this week. The Chargers boast the best pass defense in the NFL this season further decreasing Garcon's prospects this week.
Mason goes up this week against the sixth ranked Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing defense. Tampa Bay has allowed just one 100 yard receiving performance over the last five games.
Additionally, the Buccaneers run defense has struggled mightily this season. Consequently, the Ravens will likely focus on getting Ray Rice involved early and often. Mason has not had over four receptions or 50 yards in any game over the last four games. He likely won't break that stretch this week against the Bucs.
Tight End Start Em'
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A theme throughout this week's fantasy picks has been to start anyone in the Giants passing offense. Kevin Boss is no exception. For one, as aforementioned the Giants are playing a Jaguars pass defense that has been absolutely horrendous.
Secondly, with two starting wide receivers out and Ahmad Bradshaw playing back up running back, Eli Manning will have to turn to his tight end in the red zone and on third downs of three or more yards. Boss's targets will likely go up as a result.
Additionally, since Hakeem Nicks is out the Giants will likely have smaller big plays and longer drives with more plays. Boss should be a big target for Manning once the Giants are in the red zone.
Tight End Sit Em'
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Miller, the Raiders leading receiver this season, has truly struggled over the last three weeks. After seven straight weeks of 40 yards or more to start the season, Miller has just 17 yards and zero touchdowns over the last three weeks.
Against the Dolphins this week Miller has a tough match-up. The Dolphins have the fourth ranked pass defense in the NFL and have allowed more than 40 yards to a tight end just once in the last seven games. Miller, who was limited in practice this week due to a foot injury, is not the best option this week despite being one of the top fantasy tight ends this season.
Defense And Kicker Start Em'
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As a general rule, it usually common sense to stay away from the Cleveland defense.
However, starting anyone against the Carolina Panthers offense is generally a good idea. Carolina has the worst passing game in the NFL and the rushing game no longer features DeAngelo Williams.
Carolina has failed to score 20 points in any game this season except their lone win in which they scored 23 points. Over their last four games, Carolina is averaging just over 10 points per game.
Cleveland on the other hand, has put together a nice defensive streak. The Browns allowed just 17 points to the New Orleans Saints and 14 points to the New England Patriots. Cleveland should be able to dominate this match up and add a few sacks, interceptions, and forced fumbles as well.
The Eagles have been relying heavily on the foot of Akers over the last four weeks. Over the last four games Akers is 13 of 14 in field goal attempts and has added twelve extra points for the dynamic Eagles offense. Against a tough Bears defense this week, the Eagles will likely be forced to attempt several long field goals. If Akers can hit some of these, he can really rack up some points for your fantasy team.
Defense and Kicker Sit Em'
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Atlanta's defense has not been their strongest asset this season in the first place, but this week the Falcons play Aaron Rodgers and the high-flying Green Bay Packers offense. Atlanta has struggled to stop teams this year, particularly through the air, and have given up more than 30 points in a game twice already this season.
The Green Bay Packers have been dominant offensively over the last two games averaging 38 points. The game will likely be high-scoring, a disadvantage to either team's fantasy defense.
Barth has really struggled to put up points for fantasy teams over the last month. Barth has just four field goal attempts in the last four weeks and has hit only two of them. Barth is three for seven on the season from greater than 40 yards. This bodes poorly for the Buccaneers kicker who will likely have to hit from long distances against a tough Ravens defense.