Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 12: Advice for Unfavorable Fantasy Football Matchups

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2018

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Detroit. The Lions won the game 20-19. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

The holiday schedule in the NFL's Week 12 offering makes life a little tougher on fantasy owners. 

With any luck, those owners got out to a good head start by riding major names such as Amari Cooper and Julio Jones to predictable big outbursts. Those who gambled and won on Chase Daniel, congratulations. 

The hard part is out of the way, with prepping for three Thursday games during the run-up to the holiday quite the challenge. Now the schedule gets back to a normal Sunday affair, though, like the leftovers everywhere, the pickings are slim on the reduced slate. 

Here's a look at matchup-value comparisons and start-sit debates.  



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Tom Brady (at NYJ) vs. Jameis Winston (vs. SF)Tom Brady
Andrew Luck (vs. MIA) vs. Russell Wilson (at CAR)Russell Wilson
Lamar Jackson (vs. OAK) vs. Cam Newton (vs. SEA)Cam Newton
Kirk Cousins (vs. GB) vs. Baker Mayfield (at CIN)Kirk Cousins
Ben Roethlisberger (at DEN) vs. Eli Manning (at PHI)Ben Roethlisberger
Author's opinion

Start: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (at DEN) 

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the road against a Von Miller-led defense sounds scary. 

And indeed, those Denver Broncos only permit the 14th-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks on average this year. Big Ben has struggled in tough matchups this year at times, scoring fewer than 20 against the Cleveland Browns twice and against the Baltimore Ravens. 

But Big Ben shouldn't have too many problems against Denver given his hot streak of 23.66 or more points in three straight games, which came against quality units from Baltimore, the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

To throw things further into the favorable column, the Broncos have allowed north of 20 points to quarterbacks in three straight, no longer inflating their numbers against guys like Josh Rosen. 


Sit: Carson Wentz, PHI (NYG) 

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Those still riding last year's trends and ideas will see Carson Wentz against the New York Giants and pull the trigger. 

But it's a scattershot value at this point as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback comes out of a game in which he posted just 3.84 points despite what looked like a superb game-flow opportunity against the New Orleans Saints. 

While Wentz did put up 24.52 points against these Giants in Week 6, they only allow the 17th-most points to quarterbacks and have only allowed north of 20 points to passers twice this season. 

Erratic at best, Wentz isn't a good option against a divisional foe that knows him all too well, especially with his last performance against them coming under the "anomaly" tag. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Melvin Gordon (vs. ARI) vs. Joe Mixon (vs. CLE)Melvin Gordon
Lamar Miller (vs. TEN) vs. James Conner (at DEN) James Conner
Saquon Barkley (at PHI) vs. Christian McCaffrey (vs. SEA)Saquon Barkley
Nick Chubb (at CIN) vs. David Johnson (at LAC)David Johnson
Dalvin Cook (vs. GB) vs. Matt Breida (at TB)Dalvin Cook
Author's opinion

Start: Christian McCaffrey, CAR (vs. SEA) 

A date against the Seattle Seahawks sounds like a tough time for a running back. 

And normally it is, with the Seahawks only allowing the 13th-fewest points to the position. But as always, versatility is the name of the game, and few offer more than Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. 

McCaffrey enters Week 12 off a "down" game in which he scored 14, as his two prior performances had seen him hit 30.2 or more.

He's sitting on double-digit carry counts and about five catches per game for three games in a row, and the trend doesn't figure to stop as the games get colder and skill players are leaned on more. 

Keep in mind the Seahawks have allowed 23.5 or more points to versatile backs like Todd Gurley and Aaron Jones in recent weeks, so it's all-systems-go on the McCaffrey front despite appearances. 


Sit: Aaron Jones, GB (at MIN) 

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As fun as the Jones breakout has been (and a shame it took this long thanks to a conservative coaching staff), owners will have to lean into depth to find better options this week. 

Jones has 24.8 or more points in two consecutive games, but it is the byproduct of scoring at least one rushing score in three of his last four. 

That isn't sustainable, especially as defenses will start to adapt to what the Green Bay Packers want to do. No team should know this better than a Minnesota Vikings defense only allowing the sixth-fewest points to backs this year. 

Only two backs (Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara) have climbed above the 20-point mark against the Vikings this year, and 12 notables, including two backs apiece from the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears in recent weeks, haven't even reached double digits. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Odell Beckham Jr. (at PHI) vs. Julian Edelman (at NYJ)Odell Beckham Jr.
A.J. Green (vs. CLE) vs. DeAndre Hopkins (vs. TEN)A.J. Green
Tyler Lockett (at CAR) vs. Mike Evans (vs. SF)Mike Evans
Tyler Boyd (vs. CLE) vs. Stefon Diggs (vs. GB)Tyler Boyd
Josh Gordon (at NYJ) vs. T.Y. Hilton (vs. MIA)T.Y. Hilton
Author's opinion

Start: T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. MIA) 

T.Y. Hilton goes as Andrew Luck goes, which means it is nothing but a green light for the star wideout in Week 12. 

The outlook seems dire against a Miami Dolphins defense allowing the 10th-fewest points to wideouts. But Hilton enters the affair coming off a 32-point outing, his fifth-double digit outing this year over eight tries. 

Call it the culmination of Luck getting back to form and the playbook expanding vertically to match his arm. And while the Dolphins have a notable ranking here, keep in mind the number is inflated thanks to encounters with shaky passing attacks belonging to the New York Jets twice, the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia and Detroit. 

Hilton is guaranteed to get his big-play looks, and it isn't something the Dolphins have had to account for often.


Sit: Golden Tate, PHI (vs. NYG)

Not to pile on the Eagles, but the Golden Tate addition hasn't worked out as planned. 

Tate has 12 targets over his two games with the team so far but no more than 6.5 points in a game to show for it.

Now, this candid comment from a coach is making the rounds: 

That's a fantasy red flag, folks. 

The Giants permit the 11th-fewest points to wideouts this year, so banking on a Tate breakout in his new offense is asking for a hole in what could be a winning lineup otherwise. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
George Kittle (at TB) vs. Nick Vannett (at CAR)George Kittle
Zach Ertz (vs. NYG) vs. Rob Gronkowski (at NYJ)Zach Ertz
Cameron Brate (vs. SF) vs. Jared Cook (at BAL)Jared Cook
Jonnu Smith (at HOU) vs. Vance McDonald (at DEN)Jonnu Smith
Greg Olsen (vs. SEA) vs. Eric Ebron (vs. MIA)Eric Ebron
Author's opinion

Start: Jared Cook, OAK (at BAL) 

Oakland Raiders tight end Jared Cook is back on the menu. 

Cook disappeared for a big stretch this season, peppering in two performances of 22.5 or more points over a six-game stretch with four single-digit performances. 

Cook got back to double digits again last time out and has six or more targets in two consecutive games, so it's clear Oakland is going back to him down the stretch, especially after the Cooper trade. 

While a date against the Baltimore Ravens sounds bad, and those Ravens do rank right in the middle of the pack against tight ends, Cook figures to be a major safety valve again and should score well. 


Sit: Cameron Brate, TB (vs. SF)

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Trusting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is hard enough as it is.

Trusting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to properly feed Cameron Brate after losing O.J. Howard for the season is asking for trouble.

On paper, Brate should step in and benefit with Howard out, seeing an uptick from his no more than four targets in a game this season, a mark he last saw in Week 7. But he's also dealing with a San Francisco 49ers defense surrendering the 11th-fewest points to the position this year.

Brate might break out, but pinning hopes on it isn't the way to go at a position easy enough to project. 


All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.


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