Week 12 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Advice on Fantasy Football Stars to Play or Bench
Fantasy football has always been a game of decisions. From selecting players in drafts to making in-season roster moves, the best fantasy managers are generally the ones who make the best choices along the way.
Of course, some players don't really require tough decisions. If Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is on your roster, you leave him in the lineup every week he's healthy and not on bye. Ditto for Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins or New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara.
These are not the players we're going to examine here, though. We're instead going to focus on players who will require some decision-making in Week 12.
We'll specifically be looking at fringe starters outside the top 10 at their respective positions—top 25 for wide receivers—as ranked by FantasyPros. We'll sort through the options and the matchups and determine which players are strong starts and which belong on the bench this week. We'll also dig a bit deeper into some of the top matchup plays of the week.
All picks are based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.
Week 12 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Philip Rivers, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Houston Texans
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Nelson Agholor, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Dalton Shultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Melvin Gordon III, RB, Denver Broncos
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
Tyler Eifert, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Start 'Em: Philip Rivers vs. Tennessee Titans
Philip Rivers hasn't been a consistent fantasy option so far this season, and with no bye weeks, he shouldn't have to be a fill-in option. However, for managers streaming at the quarterback position, he should be a fine play against the rival Tennessee Titans.
The Titans rank just 27th against the pass and have logged a mere 12 sacks on the season. Rivers, who has been sacked just nine times this year, should have a clean pocket from which to operate. As we've seen, Rivers can be dangerous when given time to throw.
The last time he faced the Titans—all of two weeks ago—Rivers threw for 308 yards and a touchdown. Last week against the Green Bay Packers, he threw for 288 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Expect Rivers' Week 12 production to fall somewhere between those two performances, with 290-plus yards and multiple touchdowns on the day.
Start 'Em: Ezekiel Elliott vs. Washington Football Team
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott hasn't been the must-start fantasy star that he has been in years past. While the Cowboys are looking to get fellow back Tony Pollard more involved, they're still sticking by Elliott.
"But I do think Zeke still has it, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s going to reel off some big ones, as well," Cowboys VP Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan (h/t Dallas Morning News). "He’s been real close a couple of times, and I do think it’s just a matter of time before he puts up some big runs."
As long as the Cowboys stick by Elliott against the Washington Football Team this week, Elliott should reward fantasy managers.
While Washington ranks a respectable 18th against the run, it also has the league's top pass defense in yards allowed. It makes sense for the Cowboys to lean on the ground game, so Elliott could amass strong numbers based on volume alone.
Last week, Elliott carried the ball 21 times for 103 yards. He also caught two passes for 11 yards and a score. He should see a similar workload against Washington.
Start 'Em: Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Tennessee Titans
As we've already noted, Philip Rivers had a strong outing the last time he faced the Titans. The presence of rookie wideout Michael Pittman Jr. was a big part of the equation. Pittman should be a significant piece of the game plan in the rematch and again should be a high-end fantasy play.
The last time Pittman faced Tennessee, he caught seven passes for 101 yards. He also carried the ball once for 21 yards. While this represented his rookie breakout performance, it wasn't a fluke.
Over his last three games, Pittman has caught 14 passes for 223 yards and a score. He has been targeted 18 times in that span and caught three of three targets for 66 yards and a touchdown against the Packers in Week 11.
The Colts are eager to get Pittman involved early, and they're likely to do so in this game. While Pittman might not top 100 yards this time around, he should have a half-dozen touches or more and plenty of scoring upside.
Start 'Em: Austin Hooper at Jacksonville Jaguars
With no byes in Week 12, managers may not need a third-tier tight end like Austin Hooper of the Cleveland Browns. However, those streaming at the position could get a solid stat line out of him. Hooper has caught at least three passes in five of his last six games and has been targeted at least five times in four of his last five.
If Hooper's target share continues, he could have a big day against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense ranked 29th against the pass and 30th in points allowed.
Jacksonville has surrendered at least 250 passing yards in each of their past four games and has allowed nine passing touchdowns in that span. The Jaguars have surrendered at least two touchdowns passes in each of those contests.
While Hooper has just one touchdown reception on the season, he should be one of Baker Mayfield's top targets in the red zone. There's a good chance he picks up his second score of the season here, but his floor should be around five receptions and 50-plus yards.