Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Early Fantasy Lineup Advice for Matchups of Week 12
Another week of 2021 NFL action is on the proverbial doorstep, and fans will be treated to a three-game slate on Thanksgiving. The action will kick off with the Chicago Bears taking on the Detroit Lions. The Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys will face off late Thursday afternoon, while the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints will do battle in the nightcap.
Fantasy managers should remember to set their lineups Thursday morning.
How should those lineups look in Week 12? We're going to dive into some of the best and worst matchups of the week.
To avoid obvious sits, we'll be looking specifically at players rostered in at least 50 percent of Yahoo and/or ESPN leagues, according to FantasyPros. All picks are based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.
As another reminder, the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs are on bye this week.
Week 12 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Melvin Gordon III, RB, Denver Broncos
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
D'Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills
Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Start 'Em: Cam Newton at Miami Dolphins
Quarterback Cam Newton made his return to the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago, scoring rushing and passing touchdowns while playing a mere nine offensive snaps. He got his first start of the season in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team and former head coach Ron Rivera.
While Newton didn't get the win, he provided fantasy managers with plenty of juice. He finished with 189 passing yards, two touchdowns, 10 rushing yards and a rushing score.
"He played the best that he could," Panthers wideout D.J. Moore said, per Jonathan M. Alexander of the Charlotte Observer. "He always gives us an opportunity to win. We had an opportunity to go down and win, we just came up short."
Newton will likely remain Carolina's starter for the foreseeable future, and he has an inviting matchup this week against the Miami Dolphins. While the Dolphins defense has played well in recent weeks, it hasn't exactly hut down opposing quarterbacks.
Miami allowed New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco to throw for 291 yards and two touchdowns last week. For the season, the Dolphins have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Sit 'Em: Ryan Tannehill at New England Patriots
When Derrick Henry landed on injured reserve with a foot injury, it was fair to assume that Ryan Tannehill's role in the offense would grow. Henry had long carried the Tennessee Titans offense, and now it was time for the quarterback to do the same.
Things haven't exactly played out that way, though. The Titans kept getting wins, but Tannehill wasn't going off. In victories over the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, he combined for 356 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
In last week's upset loss to the Houston Texans, Tannehill threw for 323 yards and a touchdown but also tossed four picks.
The New England Patriots defense, meanwhile, has been rolling. It has allowed 13 combined points and 405 combined passing yards over the last three games—while notching eight takeaways. On the season, the Patriots have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Managers seem to remain high on Tannehill, who is rostered in 89 percent of Yahoo Leagues and 81 percent of ESPN leagues. However, this is not the week to trust a struggling signal-caller in a terrible matchup.
Start 'Em: Brandon Aiyuk vs. Minnesota Vikings
San Francisco 49ers wideout Brandon Aiyuk has seen a bit of a surge in recent weeks. He had a ho-hum, three-catch, 26-yards performance in Week 10 but had at least six catches, 85 yards and a touchdown in Weeks 9 and 11.
Aiyuk should be in store for another strong outing in Week 12, in part because No. 1 wideout Deebo Samuel is seeing an increased role in the ground game.
Samuel repeatedly lined up in the backfield last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars and finished with 79 yards and a touchdown. However, he was targeted only once and finished with one catch for 15 yards. Aiyuk, meanwhile, was targeted seven times and had seven receptions.
Managers should expect a similar target share this week against the Minnesota Vikings. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is finding confidence in the second-year receiver.
"Yeah. I think B.A. has been playing at a real high level here these last few weeks in all aspects of the game," Shanahan said, per Rohan Chakravarthi of 49ers Webzone.
Minnesota has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.
Sit 'Em: D'Ernest Johnson at Baltimore Ravens
It's time to return Cleveland Browns backup running back D'Ernest Johnson to the bench. His matchup with the Baltimore Ravens isn't especially daunting—the Ravens have allowed the 14th-fewest fantasy points to the position—but his workload will likely be minimal.
Nick Chubb returned to the Browns lineup last week following a stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Against the Detroit Lions, Johnson had just 26 rushing yards on five carries. This week, Johnson will likely be behind both Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
On Wednesday, the Browns designated both Hunt and right tackle Jack Conklin for return from the injured reserve list. There's no guarantee that Hunt will see game action, but he'll be eligible and is looking to get on the field.
"We'll see how practice goes, and I'll make sure I'm feeling great and be able to go out there and give it my all," Hunt said, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
Managers shouldn't be quick to send Johnson to the waiver wire, as both Chubb and Hunt have missed time this season. If Hunt is able to play Sunday night, though, there's no reason to have Johnson in the starting lineup.