Fantasy Football Week 12: Biggest Takeaways from Sunday
Week 12 of the fantasy football season is coming to a close, and it’s time to take a look back at some of the key takeaways from Sunday’s action. We have just one full week of “regular season” fantasy play left, and we were fortunate to escape Week 12 without major injuries.
That’s not to say everyone exited Sunday unscathed. Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Allen Hurns suffered a concussion, as did Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. We’ll go over the fantasy implications of those injuries inside.
We’ll also discuss the fantasy value of Roethlisberger’s teammate—running back DeAngelo Williams. The overlooked fantasy asset put up another RB1 performance on Sunday. It came against the Seattle Seahawks defense, no less.
We’ll also tell you why New York Giants star wideout Odell Beckham Jr.’s incredible run may hit some speed bumps in the coming weeks, and why you should check the waiver wire to see if a certain wideout from Tampa Bay is available.
We’ll go over all of these takeaways and more inside, starting with the news out of Jacksonville.
Blake Bortles Remains a QB1; Hurns’ Injury Bumps Robinson
From a real football perspective, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had an awful day. He had trouble remembering where the line of scrimmage was throughout the game—Quarterbacking 101—and he threw a low pass over the middle intended for Allen Hurns, a wideout who has had a breakout season.
While attempting to make the catch, Hurns injured himself and ended up being put on a stretcher. He had four receptions for 42 yards before the injury. He was taken to a hospital, but the Jacksonville Jaguars Twitter account later noted that he has been released.
Hurns suffered a concussion, and while it appears he avoided an injury that definitely will keep him off the field for the rest of the season, there’s no guarantee he returns from this injury. This is obviously a situation that needs to be monitored in the coming weeks.
Assuming he does miss at least some time, look for teammate Allen Robinson to become a more reliable WR1 as he absorbs some additional targets. If and when Hurns does return, there’s no reason to think he won’t be a decent WR2 again, however.
For his part, despite the terrible day from a real football perspective, Bortles was solid once again in the fantasy department. As of this writing, Bortles has scored the eighth-most fantasy points among all quarterbacks this week.
Bortles has now thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but three games this season, and his upcoming schedule is juicy: at Tennessee, vs. Indianapolis, vs. Atlanta and at New Orleans. Bortles is a tail-end QB1 for the rest of the season, with or without Hurns.
Pittsburgh: Williams a Borderline RB1; WRs Get Downgraded
Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams has had an interesting season. When tasked with leading the backfield, Williams has put up RB1 numbers. But a lackluster game in Week 10, followed by a bye in Week 11 and a tough matchup in Week 12 against the Seahawks, had some fantasy owners sweating.
Williams did, however, manage to find the end zone in Week 12, and as of this writing, he was among the top 10 running backs in terms of fantasy points scored this week. He’s the lead back in an explosive offense, which means he should be started every week regardless of matchup.
“Great offenses create scoring opportunities. Which is why it's unwise to bench a RB like DeAngelo Williams even in bad matchups,” tweeted NFL.com’s Matt Harmon during Sunday’s action.
Williams did not put up massive numbers on the ground this week, although he is capable of monster games—see Weeks 1, 2 and 9 for examples. Williams is the perfect example of a high-floor running back who can be leaned on each week, especially because he is used in the Steelers passing game.
He’s in an ideal offensive situation and should be started each week from here on out, including in Week 14 and Week 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos, respectively.
However, Williams—and the rest of the Pittsburgh offense, including wideouts Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant—will be downgraded a bit if quarterback Ben Roethlisberger misses any time as a result of the concussion he suffered Sunday, per NFL.com. They should all still be started, but a few points will be shaved from their projections should Roethlisberger fail to suit up.
We went over what happens if Roethlisberger misses time in more detail just a few weeks ago, and what was said then still rings true today.
OBJ Back to Dominating the League, but Tough Matchups Loom
If you own OBJ, you obviously started him, but it’s worth pointing out that he has been—somewhat quietly—back to his dominant ways in recent weeks. He now has at least 100 receiving yards in four straight games, and he has at least eight receptions in three of those four games. He also has five touchdowns in that span.
In fact, the New York Giants star wideout has failed to record a touchdown in just four games this season.
That’s a long way of saying, “OBJ is no longer a diamond in the rough, but this second-year superstar is living up to expectations, and then some.” He also won’t be “somewhat quiet” any more—not after making another spectacular one-handed catch (video via the NFL’s Twitter account).
But be warned: Beckham Jr. has some tough matchups coming up. And they come at a bad time from a fantasy perspective.
The toughest matchup comes in Week 15, when the Giants host the Carolina Panthers. Beckham Jr. will likely draw star cornerback Josh Norman, who has given up just 31 receptions on 65 targets for 266 yards and one touchdown this season.
Pass-catchers are averaging only 8.6 yards per reception against Norman this year—second-lowest in the league—and quarterbacks have an NFL QB rating of only 38.4 when throwing Norman’s way—lowest in the league. Those stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
OBJ could also draw New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis next week, if Revis is healthy after he missed Week 12. Revis has given up the sixth-lowest QB rating against at 58.7, and he has also ceded only one touchdown to pass-catchers so far this season.
That gives OBJ the potential of facing two of the best cornerbacks in the league within three weeks. To be clear, OBJ should not ride the fantasy bench these weeks, but there’s no denying he has his work cut out for him.
If fantasy owners have been riding OBJ into the playoffs this season—not unlike last year—they better have enough pieces around him to pick up the slack when these tough matchups roll around.
Travis Kelce Should Not Be Benched
This seems like obvious advice, but Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce—the sixth-highest scoring tight end in fantasy football entering Week 12—should not be on fantasy benches. He is owned in over 96 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, but he was started only 64.4 percent of the time.
The indecision was not entirely unfounded. Heading into Week 12, Kelce had just one touchdown in his previous nine games combined, and he still hasn’t topped 90 yards in a game since Week 1.
With that said, Kelce has one of the safest floors among all tight ends, especially in PPR leagues. He has at least four receptions in all but one game this season, and he has reached that mark in six straight games. He’s good for 40-70 yards on any given week, and at least recently, he’s been more of a threat to score.
Kelce found the end zone in Week 12, and he also scored in Week 8. That gives him two scores in his past four outings—which is about as good of a ratio as you can hope for. Additionally, Kelce had a touchdown called back in Week 11 because of a penalty.
The takeaway: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is looking Kelce’s way the same amount—which gives him a safe floor— but now he’s also looking his way in the end zone even more—which raises his ceiling.
Don’t put Kelce on your bench again.
Sammy Watkins a Must-Start WR2 for Rest of Season
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins has had an up-and-down season, and Week 12 definitely counts as one of his “ups.” He caught six passes for 158 yards and scored twice—doing all of that damage in the first half. As of this writing, Watkins is tied with Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions for most points among all wideouts this week.
The big game was welcomed from a fantasy perspective, as Watkins had just six receptions for 53 yards and no scores in the previous two games combined.
He does, however, have two games with six-plus receptions, 150-plus yards and at least one score over the past four weeks. With games against the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys coming up, there’s no reason Watkins should be on fantasy benches with that kind of upside.
In truth, Watkins remains an enigma. There is no guarantee that he will put up solid—let alone massive—numbers in any given week. But his ceiling is so high that he can single-handedly help you win a fantasy game. You don’t want him on your bench when that happens, and he's been hitting that ceiling with more regularity in recent weeks, so you don't have to be quite as scared plugging him in anymore.
Vincent Jackson Worth Keeping an Eye on Down the Stretch
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is currently owned in just under 70 percent of ESPN.com leagues—up 12.1 percent from last week—and that number will likely rise again this week.
This means that for about one-in-four of you, Jackson is on your waiver wire. If you are among that nearly 30 percent, you should roster Jackson, who can be viewed as a solid flex option from here on out.
In Week 12, Jackson saw the same number of targets—10—as the No. 1 option in Tampa Bay—second-year pro Mike Evans. He caught four of those targets for 76 yards.
In Week 11, Jackson saw six targets, just one fewer than Evans. He caught four of those passes for 56 yards and scored.
In other words, Jackson has been producing at the same level as Evans ever since returning from injury in Week 11. He may not keep pace with Evans for the rest of the season, but if Jackson’s floor is four receptions for 50 yards, that's a solid base to work from.
To be fair, the hesitation with Jackson makes sense. Prior to Week 11, he barely played this season, and when he did play, he was ineffective. Save for a Week 4 outburst in which he caught 10 passes for 147 yards and a score, Jackson had amassed just 11 receptions in his other five games combined.
But if the last two weeks are any indication, Jackson’s early-season struggles are now behind him. You should scoop him up if he’s available. At best, he is decent flex option. At worst, he is a solid bench player who gives you the depth needed for a playoff run.