Fantasy Football Week 12 Rankings: Targets for This Week's Injured Stars

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2018

Ryan Tannehill's presence in the Miami lineup should help his team against Indianapolis.
Ryan Tannehill's presence in the Miami lineup should help his team against Indianapolis.Frank Victores/Associated Press

Several big-name players have an excellent chance to return to action in NFL Week 12, and those players could provide a lift for fantasy football owners who are angling for playoff spots.

Whether you are looking to replace injured players, slumping players or you just have a feeling that players on your roster are going to have poor games, there are moves to be made that will provide upgrades.

Those moves may be even more significant going into to Sunday's action since six teams played Thanksgiving Day and you may be short-handed.

We will look at viable players who are either returning to lineups after previous injuries or who are on 50 percent or less of Yahoo rosters

In addition to excluding players from the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, who played Thursday, players from the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams are not included since both teams are on their bye weeks. 

Lamar Jackson hopes to build off of his Week 11 performance against Cincinnati.
Lamar Jackson hopes to build off of his Week 11 performance against Cincinnati.Patrick Smith/Getty Images


The most intriguing name to consider is Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins, who is likely to return to the lineup this week as the Dolphins go to Indianapolis to play the streaking Colts.

Tannehill (65.9 completion percentage, 972 passing yards, 8 TD passes) has been out since Week 5 with a shoulder injury, and his presence in the lineup should help a Miami offense that has struggled without him.

The Colts have been firing on all cylinders while Andrew Luck has appeared to get better every week, and this game could turn into to a shootout for Tannehill and the Dolphins.

It does not seem like a game that Miami would win because Luck is in top form and Tannehill is just returning to the lineup, but that does not matter to fantasy players. Tannehill could throw two or three TD passes in this game, and if the Colts build a lead early, Tannehill may have to throw the ball 35 times or more.

That scenario is advantageous to fantasy players, but for those who are not comfortable with Tannehill, the recommendation is Baltimore rookie Lamar Jackson.

Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco (hip) is likely to miss a second consecutive game, and Jackson helped John Harbaugh's team secure a win against the Bengals in Week 11.

Jackson threw for 150 yards in that game, but his big contribution came as a runner. He carried the ball 27 times for 117 yards, and he figures to run quite a bit this week against the struggling Oakland Raiders.

Running that often is not going to work out over the long haul of a quarterback's career or even for a full season, but it should be fine for an athletic rookie in his second game.

Rookie Josh Allen (elbow) is likely to return to the Buffalo Bills this week at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but this is not an ideal scenario. The belief is that Allen is quite close to full health, but the Bills' fantasy weapons are not good enough to bring about consistent production.

Sony Michel gives the Patriots a productive option at running back.
Sony Michel gives the Patriots a productive option at running back.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Running backs

The New England Patriots return from their bye week against the New York Jets, and it seems certain that the Pats will be a motivated bunch after dropping their last game against the Tennessee Titans.

Sony Michel returned from a two-game absence in that game following a knee injury but was held to 31 yards in 11 carries. He should find far more running room against the Jets.

Michel was not a full participant in practice this week, but a decent start by the Pats against a struggling New York team is likely to mean more opportunities for Michel.

The rookie from Georgia has carried the ball 106 times for 453 yards to this point in the season and has scored four rushing touchdowns. He has been targeted eight times in the passing game, but he can catch the ball and could provide some unexpected yards in the passing game.

Frank Gore of the Miami Dolphins is one of the most dependable players in the league and has been for years. However, Gore has not been a top fantasy player this year as he has not scored a touchdown to this point in the season.

Gore is Miami's leading running back with 528 yards on 117 carries, and his TD total could change against the Colts. We see this game as a shootout, and that could result in a touchdown or two from Gore. 

Gore is on just 25 percent of Yahoo rosters.

It has been slow going for Jordy Nelson with the Raiders.
It has been slow going for Jordy Nelson with the Raiders.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Wide receivers

There have not been a lot of opportunities for wide receiver Jordy Nelson to succeed this season while wearing an Oakland Raiders uniform. The former star with the Green Bay Packers used to be known for his run-after-the-catch ability, but he has rarely been able to show off that skill with the Raiders.

Nelson is coming off a bruised knee, but he should be able to produce against the Baltimore Ravens. Nelson has caught 25 passes for 353 yards and three TDs, and he can build off that total with his dependable hands and route-running skills even if he can't run away from defenders after the catch any longer.

Nelson's former team has a chance to show some improvement at the wide receiver position because veteran wideout Randall Cobb has been practicing.

Cobb has been slowed with a hamstring injury that has seen him miss five of the last seven games, but he is likely to play this week as the Packers go to Minnesota Sunday night.

Cobb has caught 26 passes for 258 yards and one touchdown, but his presence in the lineup makes Aaron Rodgers a more dangerous passer and gives the Packers a better chance of winning on the road.

The Vikings are hoping that wideout Adam Thielen is closer to 100 percent against the Packers than he has been in recent weeks. Thielen has been having issues with his lower back and his calf, and while his season-long numbers have been exceptional with 85 catches for 1,013 yards and seven touchdowns, he has not been as dangerous in his last two weeks.

Thielen was listed as limited in practice this week, but the sight of the archrival Packers should bring out his best effort.

Tight ends

The big change at the position involves the Patriots and Rob Gronkowski, who has been practicing and has an excellent chance to play against the Jets after missing the last four weeks. He has not played since Week 8, when he caught three passes for 43 yards against the Buffalo Bills.

In addition to nagging injuries, there has been talk that Gronkowski has slowed by a step or so. He has caught 29 passes for 448 yards with just one TD. Those are un-Gronklike numbers, and he is anxious to get going in the right direction.

Gronkowski practiced Friday and said, per Jim McBride of the Boston Globe: "Yeah, I feel good. I'm ready to go. Sunday afternoon in New York it's going to be a hostile environment—it always is. They're a good team. They play hard. I can't recall a game where I would say they haven't played hard in my nine years playing them. So it'll be a good one. It'll be a tough one, but it'll be a good one."

If you have a chance to insert Gronkowski in your lineup, you have to do it. If he is hungry and healthy, he is still a major factor.

In addition to Gronkowski, consider Jeff Heuerman (20 percent) of the Denver Broncos and C.J. Uzomah of the Cincinnati Bengals (25 percent) as potential tight ends on your fantasy team.