November 27, 2009

The RotoExperts Staff looks ahead to Week 12, with lineup recommendations in every game capsule.

Barring a setback, it appears Kurt Warner will start. The Titans pass defense has improved (10 sacks and four INTs in last three games), but they are still vulnerable and Warner should produce. Larry Fitzgerald will be shadowed by physical Titans CB Cortland Finnegan, but now is not the time to sit a weapon like Fitzgerald. However, it wouldn't be surprising if Anquan Boldin ended up being the more productive Arizona WR. Boldin looks healthy, is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, and will be covered by the beatable Nick Harper. Chris Wells and Tim Hightower have been an effective tandem for Arizona. Both RBs have touched the ball 47 times in the last three games. At the moment, Wells has slightly more value since he has three TDs in the last two games, but both RBs are worth using as flex options. Chris Johnson faces a Cardinals defense that has been gashed by the run lately, (287 rushing yards allowed in last two games). Vince Young has revived the Titans offense, but is an undesirable fantasy play. The Titans are content to lean on the run with Young simply managing the game. He's topped 200 passing yards once in four starts and has not had a multi-TD passing effort. As a result, fantasy owners have to be pretty desperate to consider starting any of Tennessee's WRs. -- Chris Carbonell

Standout Starts: Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Chris Johnson

Banish to the Bench: Vince Young, all Titans WRs

Despite Mark Sanchez's inclination toward throwing picks, head coach Rex Ryan claims he'll remain the starting QB. In leagues that don't penalize turnovers, he's actually not a terrible start this week at home versus the Panthers. They will have problems defending the run, which will force them to play up on the Jets. This could lead to more red zone opportunities for Sanchez, who's proven to be accurate in that range. Look for at least two receiving TDs spread among Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller. Thomas Jones is a must-start at this point, but rookie Shonn Greene makes an interesting deep sleeper play. With the playoffs likely out of reach, expect the Jest to give Greene more touches despite his fumble last week. For the Panthers, the fantasy formula remains simple: Jake Delhomme should never see the light of day in 12-team, one-QB formats, but Steve Smith is a solid WR2. Since Smith has a tough matchup with Darrelle Revis on him, he's more like a WR3. When healthy, both DeAngelo Williams (a must play at RB1) and Jonathan Stewart are explosive, TD-hungry backs with major upside. Keep an eye on Stewart's progress, but give him a go if he practices Friday and Saturday. -- Antonio D'Arcangelis

Standout Starts: Jerricho Cotchery, Thomas Jones, DeAngelo Williams

Banish to the Bench: Jake Delhomme

Jay Cutler is an INT machine, so in leagues that count turnovers, he shouldn't be started, even if he does rack up yardage. We found out last week the Vikings won't surrender scores easily, but Devin Hester is a must-start unless you have much better options. Matt Forte, facing the bulky, capable Minnesota defensive line, is a question mark, even as a RB2. While Greg Olsen is a clear TE1 from week to week, don't expect another multi-TD game. One score and you'll be on your way. For the Vikes, it's open season. Don't start capable backup Chester Taylor, but Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, third-year WR Sidney Rice and ubiquitous rookie return man Percy Harvin are nearly unbenchable. Visanthe Shiancoe is a TD specialist who's a good TE1, but playing the once-revered Bernard Berrian is now a crap shoot. -- A.D.

Standout Starts: Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe, Devin Hester

Banish to the Bench: Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Bernard Berrian

The Browns will likely never have another fantasy smorgasbord like Week 11 against the Lions, but the Bengals could easily feast. The chances of much-maligned Brady Quinn throwing multiple TD passes against this much-improved secondary are slim, but it might be wise to give Mohamed Massaquoi another shot at WR3 or flex in deeper formats, (he had over 100 yards against the Bengals in their first '09 meeting). Rookie Chris Jennings might get some more work this week; he's surpassed plodding Jerome Harrison, but still yields most of the carries to veteran RB Jamal Lewis. None of these guys should be starting in 12-team formats against the stout Bengals rush defense. Carson Palmer should spread the ball around to his capable receivers, and both Chad Ochocinco and Laveranues Coles should have big days. Andre Caldwell has played well sporadically, but he's too much of a risk to play confidently. It appears rookie Bernard Scott will get another crack this week with Cedric Benson likely out, but like last week, Brian Leonard will assume third-down duties. Larry Johnson will get even more work, but shouldn't be on any starting rosters. Scott should finish with over 100 total yards; Leonard and Johnson will combine for about 60-70 yards. The Browns are okay at defending the run, but there are just too many weapons for them to stop Cincy from lighting up the scoreboard. -- A.D.

Standout Starts: Bernard Scott, Laveranues Coles, Mohamed Massaquoi

Banish to the Bench: Brady Quinn, Browns RBs, Andre Caldwell

When two offensive juggernauts like these AFC south rivals get it on, there's fantasy electricity in the air. Since neither defense is particularly strong, it's best to start just about every position player who's healthy, including the triumvirate of Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and fantasy's No. 1 TE, Dallas Clark. It's not unrealistic to expect over 300 yards and three TDs from Manning, with 200 yards between Clark and Wayne. Both Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie remain excellent plays at WR2 and WR3, respectively. On the ground, the Texans will have to deal with a smattering of both Joseph Addai and rookie Donald Brown, who's healed up and ready to assume a larger role as the team nears a playoff clinch. Brown won't be the feature back anytime soon, but he's a sleeper flex play this week and could crack 50 yards and reach the end zone if the Colts run away with the game by the fourth quarter. Addai should be good for 60-70 yards, but he's still only a decent RB2. The Texans have handed starting RB duties back to Steve Slaton, but the second-year back will struggle to find room against the effective Colts defensive line. Matt Schaub should be in the zone picking on the Colts inexperienced corners, making both Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter excellent starts. -- A.D.

Standout Starts: All Colts WRs, Kevin Walter

Banish to the Bench: N/A

Production has really slowed down for Joe Flacco. It's been three weeks since he's had a touchdown pass and it will be hard to end that streak against a pressuring Pittsburgh defense. Look for something around 200 yards and an INT. Ray Rice is a strong option and a must start even though the Steelers are the league's best rushing defense by a wide margin, (69.2 rushing yards per game). If the Steelers bottle Rice up running the ball, he will still get points in the passing game. He's caught five or more passes six of the past seven weeks. Expect 120 all-purpose yards and he's the most likely Raven to score. The steady Derrick Mason had his best game of the year last week (nine catches, 142 yards), and could get another 80 yards this week. This might be the best week to play Todd Heap since the Steelers bring the heat (30 sacks, tied for league lead) and Flacco could be looking for quick outlets. The Ravens aren't special against the pass (217.9 yards allowed per game), but tread carefully with Ben Roethlisberger. He's been getting hit all year and the Steelers will likely be cautious since he's coming off a concussion last week. Expect 200 yards in a minimized role. On the flip side, Rashard Mendenhall could get a ton of work. Baltimore is fifth-best against the run, but Mendenhall should top 100 yards with a heavy workload. Hines Ward and Heath Miller are the best options since Roethlisberger could be keeping things short. Stay away from Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace this week if possible. -Adam McFadden

Standout Starts: Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall

Banish to the Bench: Joe Flacco

Matt Cassel has been quietly effective in the past three games. He's got four TDs to one INT and passed for at least 216 yards each time out. Still, he's bench-warming material against a good Chargers pass defense. He passed for 97 yards and three INTs against San Diego in Week Seven. Jamaal Charles is a strong play. The only problem could be a big, early deficit putting the Chiefs into throwing mode. Charles found a way to score twice (kickoff return, reception) against a tough Steeler defense last week. With Dwayne Bowe out, Chris Chambers is again the top receiving option. He'll have extra motivation against his old team this week. LaDainian Tomlinson put some spring back in his step with 169 yards and three touchdowns in the past two weeks, but he's not helping in PPR leagues since he has completely disappeared from the passing game. His previous career-low for receptions is 51 and he has nine this season. Darren Sproles broke loose for a 58-yard receiving touchdown against the Chiefs in Week Seven. He should find extra carries as the Chargers get the lead. Philip Rivers torched the Chiefs for 268 yards and three TDs in Week Seven. Expect something similar this time since Kansas City is 28th against the pass, (250.9 yards allowed per game). Vincent Jackson should be started each time out, even coming off of two less-than-stellar weeks, (five catches, 66 yards combined). Expect another 100-yard game. Antonio Gates is also a strong option. Malcom Floyd is a good sleeper since Kansas City gets beat deep often. -- A.M.

Standout Starts: Jamaal Charles, Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson

Banish to the Bench: Matt Cassel

Alex Smith is a garbage-time monster. Fortunately for fantasy owners, garbage time counts the same as crunch time. Smith has nine passing TDs in the five games he's started. He gets a secondary that's 25th against the pass so he should post useful numbers. Frank Gore didn't get many chances (seven carries, 59 yards) last week as the Niners were down for much of the game. Even so, he's been fairly consistent this year and is in for a big game against the Jags. Toss aside the stinker against Chicago in Week 10 (three catches, 16 yards), and Vernon Davis is a beast with Smith at QB. Expect 80 yards or a score this week. Michael Crabtree found the end zone for the first time in his career last week and is active in the passing game. He could get another 70-90 yards in this game. David Garrard has just one passing touchdown away from home this season, but he's an average option since the 49ers are 30th against the pass, (256.1 yards allowed per game). Mike Sims-Walker just keeps trucking. He has either 80 yards or a touchdown in every game he's played but one, (two catches, nine yards in Week Eight). Look for 80 yards with a score this time. Meanwhile Marcedes Lewis has come up with some really big plays the past two weeks. He has five catches for 128 yards in that span and is an above average play here. Maurice Jones-Drew didn't run wild against Buffalo (25 carries, 66 yards), but he did score for the fifth straight week. Torry Holt hasn't been a big enough part of the offense to start. -- A.M.

Standout Starts: Mike Sims-Walker, Vernon Davis

Banish to the Bench: Torry Holt

Rock Cartwright's it in terms of fantasy players you want to start against the Eagles. He accounted for 140 of the Redskins 324 total yards against the Cowboys, and led the team in receptions. He'll flirt with 100 combined yards this week, and is the best option if Washington can get near the goal line. Along with DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek, who've already established themselves as every-week starters, Jeremy Maclin is benefiting from Donovan McNabb's outstanding season. He's posted back-to-back six catch efforts, and despite facing Washington's top-ranked pass defense, he'll find a way to post a double-digit fantasy day. Surprisingly, LeSean McCoy failed to register a catch last week, but he still contributed 99 yards on the ground and a touchdown. He's shown the ability to be effective in the passing attack in previous games, so look for him to see increased looks in that department against Washington. He's a no-brainer RB2 option. -- C.R.

Standout Starts: Rock Cartwright, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy

Banish to the Bench: Jason Campbell and all Redskins receivers

In each of the last two games, Ricky Williams has topped 20 carries and 100 yards, while scoring three touchdowns. He'll have a field day against the Bills 31st ranked rush defense. Consider 100-yards and a touchdown the floor. Other than Williams, Davonne Bess is the only other player fantasy owners should have any interest in. He has 14 catches for 191 yards in the last three contests, and though he's caught just one touchdown pass in 26 career games, he's a safe WR3 option. Terrell Owens torched a reeling Jacksonville secondary last week for nine catches and 197 yards. Don't expect anything near those monstrous numbers, but he and Ryan Fitzpatrick might have finally formed enough of a bond that a productive WR2 day could be in his future against Miami's inexperienced corners. Think somewhere around five catches for 70 yards and a score. Lee Evans has four touchdown catches in his last five games. If you're desperate for a Flex play, he's worth a flier. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson continue to split touches, rendering both of them useless until further notice. -- C.R.

Standout Start: Davonne Bess, Terrell Owens

Banish to the Bench: Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson

If Julius Jones returns from a bruised lung, Jim Mora's stated he'll be the team's starter, with Justin Forsett resuming his third-down back duties. In that instance, look for both to have some RB3 value, but nothing more. If Forsett is the main guy, he could have RB1 capabilities against a Rams defense allowing 385.1 yards a game. 100 total yards to go along with six-plus catches would be a reasonable estimate. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns in the season opening meeting with St. Louis, and he's averaging 281 passing yards over the last four games. He's a Top 10 QB play this week. Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh have proven to be good Flex wide receivers, but their inconsistencies in the scoring department prevent them from being relied upon as anything else. At this point in the season, we know what we're getting from Steven Jackson. He'll carry the ball 20-plus times, rush for over 100 yards, chip in a few receptions, and likely score. Donnie Avery's shown a little life over the last two weeks, catching eight passes for 132 yards and two scores, but with Kyle Boller replacing Marc Bulger at quarterback, he's not someone you want to count on. In three games with Boller as his QB earlier this season, Avery had eight catches for 96 yards and no scores. -- C.R.

Standout Starts: Justin Forsett (if Julius Jones doesn't play), Matt Hasselbeck Banish to the Bench: Donnie Avery

Josh Freeman's thrown five touchdown passes in three games this year, and he's averaging nearly 30 rushing yards a contest. Against the Falcons 29th ranked pass defense, he could be a sneaky good play if you need help at the quarterback position. His favorite target has been Kellen Winslow, and the intense tight end is a good bet to put up at least five catches and 50-plus yards. None of the other receiver targets warrant a start. At running back, Cadillac Williams has seen the most consistent touches, but with Earnest Graham and Derrick Ward both back in the fold, he's no better than a mediocre RB3 play. Matt Ryan finally broke out of his slump by throwing for 268 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants last week, and he'll continue that strong play against a Buccaneers defense giving up nearly 30 points a game. Look for him to make Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White top-tier options at their position. Even if Michael Turner is cleared to return to game action, Jason Snelling figures to see a heavy workload. Expect no less than 60 yards and a touchdown from the no-nonsense running back. -- C.R.

Standout Start: Josh Freeman, Kellen Winslow, Jason Snelling, Matt Ryan

Banish to the Bench: Cadillac Williams, Michael Turner

Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker start no matter what. The Saints' defense allows yards (214.9 passing yards per game), but also leads the league with 20 interceptions. Look for a big passing day since this game could turn into a shootout. Laurence Maroney has at least one TD in five straight. He should be good for 80 yards with a solid chance for a touchdown, though the return of defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis could help the Saints suppress Maroney on the ground. Other than the big three of the passing game, Benjamin Watson is a risky play since he's only caught more than three passes twice this season. Drew Brees obviously gets a start every time out, even against a good Patriots pass defense, (187.3 yards allowed per game). Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell are tricky for fantasy owners. Thomas was dynamic last week (11 carries, 92 yards), but it was Bell who got the two TDs. Thomas is still the slightly better play since he's active in the passing game too. Expect 80-100 all-purpose yards from him. The Saints' receivers seem to go in and out of hot streaks. First it was Marques Colston getting all the TDs, now it's Robert Meachem. Both are starters, with Meachem being the riskier play. His value is almost completely tied into touchdowns since he has four TDs on just eight catches the past three games. In this offense, Devery Henderson is always a good flier, though he could get shutout against the stingy New England secondary. The same goes for Jeremy Shockey ... he doesn't look like a great play, but few tight ends have as much upside. -- A.M.

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