By Eric Mack
November 20, 2012

The mess that was Week 11 sparked many questions, namely: "Why didn't you tell me to start Justin Blackmon or Cecil Shorts?"

In response, we quote 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who so eloquently said, "A lot of gobble, gobble turkey ... Just gobble, gobble, gobble turkey from jive-turkey gobblers, ya know?"

That quote makes as much sense as what Chad Henne did to the Texans. Put both out of your mind. We have a new set of matchups, a new set of questions and a whole new set of answers now that the bye weeks are like Week 11: in the past.

Confident that sanity will return, we break everything down matchup by matchup in the Week 12 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em:


Texans -- Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Shayne Graham, Texans D/ST: There are some obvious players to keep active even against the solid Lions defense, but one of the question marks, Daniels, faces the most favorable match-up of all. The Lions ranks sixth-worst in fantasy against tight ends. Only three teams have given up more touchdowns to that position. The Texans are coming off an awful outing against a terrible Jags offense, but they should rebound against the Lions. Despite having the No. 1-ranked passing game in the NFL, the Lions are third-worst in fantasy against opposing D/STs because of a league-worst seven return touchdowns (four via the kick).

Lions -- Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Jason Hanson: The running game may be so limited against the Texans' defense that the disappointing Stafford may emerge as a top-12 fantasy starting quarterback this week. Detroit's touchdowns are going to have to come via the pass.


Texans -- Matt Schaub, Ben Tate, Justin Forsett, Kevin Walter, Keshawn Martin, Graham Garrett: Schaub and Garrett were revelations against the Jags, but this Lions defense is considerably better. Detroit is roughly top 10 against quarterbacks and receivers and it slowed down the Packers last week. The short week should mean a run-heavy game plan for the Texans.

Lions -- Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell, Kevin Smith, Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, Lions D/ST: The Texans are the toughest team in fantasy versus running backs and haven't allowed a rushing touchdown all season, so Leshoure is a bad play. Also, you can find a better tight end now than Pettigrew in standard leagues.


Redskins -- Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris: The Cowboys' defense has played well of late, but these two rookie gems remain must-starts in all matchups.

Cowboys -- Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Dan Bailey, Cowboys D/ST: The Eagles couldn't take advantage of the Redskins' secondary, but Romo and his elite receivers are better equipped to handle this division foe, especially in their Thanksgiving Day home game comfort zone. The Redskins are fourth-worst in fantasy against quarterbacks and wide receivers, so expect steady numbers across the board, which could also make for a good day for the resurgent Bailey. The defense is a marginal option facing the second-toughest team in fantasy versus D/STs, but it is still good enough to rank among the top-12 units this week.


Redskins -- Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Josh Morgan, Logan Paulsen, Chris Cooley, Kai Forbath, Redskins D/ST: Garcon made it through his first game back from injury, but he was limited to short passes. Moss and Robinson hit the home runs, but don't count on any Redskins receiver against the Cowboys' elite corners. Dallas' defense is top 10 against quarterbacks and receivers. If you believe the Cowboys will remain turnover-prone, you might consider the Redskins' D/ST a sleeper, but the bet here is that the offensive numbers pile up in an important divisional home game. The Cowboys are alive and well in the NFC East hunt despite their mediocre play.

Cowboys -- Felix Jones, Philip Tanner, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris: Jones left Week 11 a bit banged up, and the Redskins have the eighth-best run defense in the NFL. Throw that stat out of the window if DeMarco Murray (foot) plays. He is a must-start in fantasy if he is active Thursday, though that seems unlikely at this point.


Patriots -- Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots D/ST: Rob Gronkowski's broken arm, should convince most owners to trust Hernandez, who is expected to return. The Jets rank seventh-worst in fantasy versus tight ends. New England's defense, which is coming off a productive fantasy game, gets to take aim at a weaponless Jets attack.

Jets -- None: Everything the Pats are susceptible against, the Jets struggle with. This is a bad matchup for New York, unless you're really desperate for injury fill-ins and need to consider one of their untalented receiving options against a suspect Pats secondary.


Patriots -- Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Julian Edelman, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, Visanthe Shiancoe: Save for the injured Gronk, any one of these guys could do something fantasy-worthy this week. But go ahead and try to pick which one. It's like throwing darts. The Jets are better than their sixth-worst ranking in fantasy versus running backs, but the week you trust Vereen to get action, Woodhead goes and steals the thunder. Then, you might say, Edelman is starting in two-receiver sets, so he can be a consideration. Well, the Jets are fifth-best in fantasy versus receivers, and are the Pats going to go with two-receiver sets without Gronk? Shiancoe could get more snaps in Gronk's tight end spot, but he's not yet worth owning in any fantasy leagues.

Jets -- Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, Dustin Keller, Nick Folk, Jets D/ST: The Pats rank No. 1 in fantasy against opposing D/STs, so avoid the Jets' unit along with Greene and Powell against a Pats run defense that is top 10 in the NFL to date. The opportunities for fantasy owners against the Pats lie with quarterbacks (second-worst) and receivers (seventh-worst), but no one can trust Sanchez and company now that we're past the byes.


Bills -- C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson: Jackson (concussion) may return and should be active for fantasy owners if he does, along with Spiller and Johnson. The Colts are eighth-worst against running backs and sixth-worst versus receivers.

Colts -- Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen, Adam Vinatieri: Luck plays much better at home, so expect him to rebound, especially against a Bills defense that is in the bottom half versus quarterbacks and wide receivers. If you want to try to take advantage of the Bills' No. 32 ranking against running backs, go with Vick Ballard over a still-healing Donald Brown and touchdown vulture Delone Carter. Allen has emerged as a starter-quality fantasy option of late and the Bills are 11th-worst in fantasy defending tight ends.


Bills -- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Donald Jones, Scott Chandler, Rian Lindell, Bills D/ST: Save for Chandler versus the third-best team in fantasy against tight ends, there is no good reason to avoid these options because of a matchup in Indy. There are just better ones available to you with all 32 teams active again.

Colts -- T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery, Coby Fleener, Colts D/ST: Hilton is the one many are going to fawn over, but it should be noted that it was Avery who was the better fantasy producer just a week prior. It is a crapshoot between them week to week. Fleener and the Colts' D/ST are no longer worth owning, much less starting now.


Steelers --- Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers D/ST: Going to the third quarterback puts a larger onus on the running game to carry the day, so consider Mendenhall the back to use and backup Jonathan Dwyer a sleeper as a flex option against fantasy's 12th-worst team versus running backs. As for the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh sports the NFL's No. 1 overall defense. And though many may not have a better option, if you don't have to play Heath Miller, don't. The Browns are the best team in fantasy defending tight ends.

Browns -- Trent Richardson, Browns D/ST: Expect this game to be played as conservatively as any this season, so consider the underrated Browns defense against a third-stringer. And while the Steelers rank fifth-best in fantasy versus running backs, Richardson gets too many touches to slot him outside of the top 24 starting options at the position.


Steelers -- Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Ben Roethlisberger, Isaac Redman, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, Shaun Suisham: Having to go to Batch as the starting quarterback due to rib issues for Leftwich and Big Ben is a problem for the entire cast of Steelers fantasy options. Redman's concussion clouds his status, too. You can even cut him in standard leagues.

Browns -- Brandon Weeden, Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Ben Watson, Phil Dawson: Don't mess with the Steelers' defense right now. It is No. 1 in the NFL and No. 1 in fantasy versus quarterbacks and receivers and fourth against tight ends.


Raiders -- Marcel Reece, Brandon Myers, Sebastian Janikowski: The Raiders hope that Darren McFadden can return from his high-ankle sprain this week, but the reality is he won't be 100 percent. Consider Reece as a viable starter regardless of McFadden because of his involvement in the passing game and the fact that the Bengals rank ninth-worst in fantasy against running backs. Myers has emerged as a must-start as well and faces the eighth-worst team in fantasy versus tight ends.

Bengals -- Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Bengals D/ST: Dalton is on a roll and the Raiders are, well, rolling downhill fast. Oakland is fifth-worst in fantasy versus quarterbacks and running backs, so keep the rejuvenated BGE active, too. The Raiders rank ninth-worst against receivers and tight ends and are in the bottom half against D/STs.


RodStreater, Juron Criner, Derek Hagan, Raiders D/ST: Carson Palmer is making his return to Cincy, but he was so mediocre against the suspect Saints that it's tough to trust him against a Bengals secondary that is top 10 against quarterbacks (10th) and wide receivers (sixth). Moore would have been considered a regular fantasy starter by now, but he blew it last week. Ignore all of these Raiders options this week.

Bengals -- Cedric Peerman, Andrew Hawkins, Mohamed Sanu, Mike Nugent: These guys have fantasy value and just might make an impact against the woeful Raiders, but with no players on bye, there are far better starting options available.


Vikings -- Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph: The Bears' defense is third-best against running backs and top 10 against tight ends, but A.P. and Rudolph have earned must-start status, especially since Percy Harvin is dealing with an ankle sprain that will limit him -- if he even plays.

Bears -- Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Robbie Gould, Bears D/ST: The Bears are on a short week and in a tough division game with the status of their quarterback questionable. Consider only these steady performers this week.


Vikings -- Christian Ponder, Jerome Simpson, Michael Jenkins, Jarius Wright, Blair Walsh, Vikings D/ST: The Bears' defense went into Monday night's game third-best against quarterbacks and running backs and top 10 against receivers, tight ends and kickers. Consider the Vikings defense a viable option only if Jay Cutler (concussion) cannot go.

Bears -- Jason Campbell, Jay Cutler, Michael Bush, Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Kellen Davis: Only the Bucs, Bears, 49ers and Texans have allowed fewer rushing yards to running backs than the Vikings, so don't consider Bush to be viable. This is a good Vikings defensive front. The shaky status of Cutler also makes starting any of these other guys an extreme risk.


Titans -- Chris Johnson: CJ2K is hot and should be productive against the fourth-worst team in fantasy versus running backs. Also, the Jags are eighth-worst against quarterbacks and receivers, so consider Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington (in that order) as potential fill-ins in deeper three-receiver formats. For those desperate for a running back off waivers who can reach the end zone, goal-line back Jamie Harper is an option.

Jaguars -- Jalen Parmele: He took over for the struggling Rashad Jennings, and Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) isn't ready to return. The Titans happen to be the second-worst team in fantasy against running backs. Parmele is a solid start, but only consider Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts if you are desperate at receiver.


Titans -- Jake Locker, Jared Cook, Rob Bironas, Titans D/ST: You might see this as a game that can get loose and bust the over because of suspect defenses, but the quarterbacks could prove suspect and make it a 10-7 fantasy dud. Avoid Cook against a Jags team that was No. 1 in fantasy versus tight ends before being abused by a backup tight end last week. Cook is not a top-15 option this week.

Jaguars -- Chad Henne, Rashad Jennings, Laurent Robinson, Marcedes Lewis, Josh Scobee, Jaguars D/ST: Here's how much we think of Henne's breakthrough against the Texans: You should sit him even in a favorable matchup against a bottom-10 team in fantasy versus quarterbacks. Also, ignore Lewis against the fourth-worst team versus tight ends. That was an impressive Week 11 performance, but even a suspect Titans defense can deal the Jags a reality check in Week 12.


Falcons -- Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Bryant: The Bucs are third-worst in fantasy versus quarterbacks and second-worst versus receivers, so expect the Falcons to be throwing the ball all over the place in this one. The question mark is Julio Jones (ankle), who is probably going to be limited if he is even active. If Jones doesn't play, you can consider Harry Douglas in deeper leagues.

Buccaneers -- Josh Freeman, Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Connor Barth: The Falcons are not necessarily a team to take advantage of in any facet, but these options all have earned must-start status with their play in recent months. Keep them active at home in a crucial division matchup.


Falcons -- Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons D/ST: The Bucs have the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL this season, and Turner has averaged around 2.0 yards per carry the past two weeks. The Bucs' offense is hot and a large reason why Tampa Bay is the sixth-toughest team in fantasy versus D/STs.

Buccaneers -- LeGarrette Blount, Mike Williams, Dallas Clark, Buccaneers D/ST: Williams has tailed off in recent weeks, and the Falcons are the fourth-best team in fantasy versus receivers. The only other consideration here is the resurgent Clark, but only consider him if you're desperate for a tight end. The targets need to prove consistent over a longer time for him to be worth starting in post-bye weeks.


Seahawks -- Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks D/ST: Seattle is much less impressive on the road, and the Dolphins do a solid job against running backs (seventh-best), but you have to keep Lynch and the defense active, wherever they are playing.

Dolphins -- None: The Seahawks are second-best against quarterbacks and receivers and sixth-best against running backs. Oh, and the Dolphins just happen to have posted stinkers back-to-back against two of the most forgiving defenses in fantasy. Thankfully, you won't have to start any Dolphins with the byes done.


Seahawks -- Russell Wilson, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, Steven Hauschka: Rice has been getting in the end zone pretty regularly, but Wilson has been a much better quarterback at home. There is a chance that he falters, but this is not an unfavorable matchup. Seattle's weapons just don't rate as regular starters now that the byes are over.

Dolphins -- Ryan Tannehill, Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas,BrianHartline, Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano, Dan Carpenter, Dolphins D/ST: Bush has been getting phased out of the offense of late, giving way to Thomas, but the Seahawks' run defense is not to be taken lightly. If you were disappointed by your Dolphins against the Titans and Bills defenses, you're going to be really bummed about how little they muster in this matchup. Avoid them all.


Broncos -- Peyton Manning, Ronnie Hillman, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Matt Prater, Broncos D/ST: Willis McGahee (torn MCL) gives way to the rookie Hillman, who can jump right into fantasy starting lineups against a Chiefs team that is seventh-worst in fantasy versus running backs. Lance Ball might even be a sleeper to add as a change-of-pace power back. Add the Broncos' defense to these other weekly must-starts. Denver has been playing well and faces a Chiefs team that is second-worst in fantasy against D/STs -- mostly because of awful quarterback play.

Chiefs -- Jamaal Charles: The quarterback drama makes everyone tough to trust. You probably have to use Charles due to a lack of alternatives, but consider him merely good for 90 total yards here. Sit him if that production isn't good enough. If you're looking for a tight end sleeper, Tony Moeaki might qualify. He was their leading receiver last week, and the Broncos have been the worst team in fantasy against tight ends to date.


Broncos -- Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Stokley, Joel Dreessen, Jacob Tamme: Do not trust any of these options, especially Stokley against a Chiefs defense that has allowed the fewest receptions to receivers.

Chiefs -- Brady Quinn, Matt Cassel, Peyton Hillis, Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin, Steve Breaston, Dexter McCluster, Ryan Succop, Chiefs D/ST: Bowe (neck) goes from a must-start to must-sit amid his injury woes and the quarterback struggles. The Broncos also happen to be top 10 against wide receivers. Avoid the Chiefs until they solve their issues ... say, like 2015.


Ravens -- Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Justin Tucker, Ravens D/ST: Save for being top 10 against tight ends, the Chargers' defense is merely middle of the pack. Consider all Ravens as necessary, but these four are the only ones who rate as starters in standard leagues this week.

Chargers -- Ryan Mathews, Danario Alexander, Antonio Gates, Chargers D/ST: The Ravens are in the top half of fantasy against most positions, but Mathews and Alexander get too many touches to sit in most formats. Gates, for his potential to find the end zone at home, and the Chargers' defense also rate as potential fringe starters in standard formats. These aren't great options against this defensive-minded contender, though, so consider alternatives if you have them.


Ravens -- Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson: Except for a surprising performance coming out of the bye against the Raiders, Flacco hasn't performed like a fantasy starter this season. Hopefully, most owners have better options, which also goes for Boldin and the tight ends.

Chargers -- Philip Rivers, Ronnie Brown, Malcom Floyd, Nick Novak: The Ravens are top 10 against quarterbacks and wide receivers, which should make this a tough game to trust an inconsistent Chargers offense outside of their primary targets.


49ers -- Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, 49ers D/ST: This matchup is clearly best for Gore and Crabtree, since the Saints have been the worst in fantasy against quarterbacks and wide receivers and third-worst against running backs. The 49ers are going to run often to play keep-away, so consider Kendall Hunter a potential flex option as well. The Saints are also 10th-worst against tight ends, so keep Davis active. The defense is a candidate to sit, but we still rate the 49ers defense one of the top 12 starts, even in this most unfavorable of matchups.

Saints -- Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham: Ignore the shootout that was last year's playoff game in San Francisco. This is one of the rare weeks to be wary of the Saints. Usually they are a start-all at home, but the 49ers can slow them down.


49ers -- Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, David Akers: Smith (concussion) might return, but even in this favorable matchup there are at least 15 other quarterbacks better to start in fantasy crunch time. Akers is an option, too, in a favorable matchup, but his early-season struggles likely have many trusting a more productive kicker by now.

Saints -- Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore, Garrett Harley, Saints D/ST: Sproles was supposed to play with a broken hand last week, so don't get burned again trusting him here. It is more likely he holds out to play against the Falcons the following Thursday, or is limited if he does play. The 49ers are No. 2 in fantasy versus running backs, so don't trust any of the backs in a resurgent running game. Moore is also a marginal option against a 49ers defense that is third-best in fantasy versus wide receivers.


Rams -- Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola: The Cardinals have shut down some of the best offenses in the NFL. The Rams don't qualify as one, but Jackson and Amendola have done damage against some good defenses. They still rate as starter options even in less-than-favorable matchups.

Cardinals -- Beanie Wells, Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals D/ST: A mediocre opponent and a return of Wells (foot) should help the Cardinals play well enough to get the ball to Fitzgerald again. The defense is also a top-five option this week against a conservative Rams offense on the road. LaRod Stephens-Howling is going back to his third-down role, but he can still be an option as a flex in deeper PPR formats.


Rams -- Sam Bradford, Daryl Richardson, Brandon Gibson, Chris Givens, Lance Kendricks, Greg Zuerlein, Rams D/ST: If these names cannot help at home against the woeful Jets, it's time to ignore them against the Cardinals on the road.

Cardinals -- John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, Kevin Kolb, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Todd Heap, Jay Feely: The quarterback situation is not going to resolve itself whoever starts, so avoid all of the passers and all of the non-Fitzgerald receivers in fantasy crunch time.


Packers -- Aaron Rodgers, James Starks, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Packers D/ST: This is a start-all game for the Packers, who are seeking revenge for last season's playoff loss to New York. Starks has taken over as the feature back and should be among the top 24 starts at running back, while all of the receivers are intriguing against a Giants secondary that is sixth-worst versus quarterbacks, third-worst versus wide receivers and in the bottom half against tight ends. The Packers' defense has also scored better of late and is a solid play against a slumping Giants offense coming off a bye.

Giants -- Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Lawrence Tynes: The struggles of New York's passing game make even these guys a risk. They still rate as starters at their positions and there should be some garbage time for them to rack up points while the Giants try to keep up with the Packers. If you're desperate for a flex, consider touchdown vulture Andre Brown.


Packers -- Alex Green, Mason Crosby: Green has lost his job to Starks and Crosby has lost his mojo, missing field goals that used to be automatic. Look elsewhere for your crunch time kicker.

Giants -- Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden, Martellus Bennett, Travis Beckum, Giants D/ST: As Manning goes, so go the Giants, and Manning has been going downhill. Avoid as many Giants as you can afford until Manning proves he can be productive again. It could happen in garbage time here, but it is too risky to expect him to come up big against a good Packers defense. Bradshaw is banged up, Bennett is in danger of losing his job, and you can be sure the Packers are going to have their pass-protections straight against the Giants'� rush.


Panthers -- Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Smith, Greg Olsen: The Eagles fired the wrong guy. Their defense has gone in the tank, so feel confident using these Panthers this week. Stewart is the surprise here, but he has earned feature-back duties and top-25 fantasy status. He should help grind out the clock after the Eagles fall behind.

Eagles -- DeSean Jackson: If LeSean McCoy (concussion) plays, he is a must-start. Bryce Brown is a solid play, too, if he starts, because the Panthers are bottom 10 in fantasy against running backs. Jackson is the one receiver to trust, regardless of who plays quarterback. Also consider Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek if Michael Vick (concussion) plays.


Panthers -- DeAngelo Williams, Brandon LaFell, Justin Medlock, Panthers D/ST: The defense might be the only consideration because the Eagles are the worst team in fantasy against opposing D/STs. The problem is the Panthers still aren't a top-12 option. Expect the Eagles to play a better, particularly if Vick returns.

Eagles -- Nick Foles, Alex Henery, Eagles D/ST: Foles should be avoided at all costs, if he even plays, after that choke job against the Redskins. Henery and the Eagles defense haven't been starter quality through the bye weeks, so there is no reason to consider them now.

If you play in those weekly salary-cap games, here are some of our recommended plays relative to their prices:

QB -- Andrew Luck, Tony Romo and Andy DaltonRB -- Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, Doug MartinRB -- Stevan Ridley, Vick Ballard, BenJarvus Green-EllisWR -- Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin and Dez BryantWR -- Stevie Johnson, Denario Alexander,TE -- Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Myers and Jermichael FinleyK -- Matt Prater, David Akers and Robbie GouldD/ST -- Seahawks, Steelers, Browns and Bengals

If you have a winning lineup, challenge me with it on Twitter @EricMackFantasy.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for Track his weekly starts and sits every Thursday, his last-minute Cheat Sheet on Sunday mornings and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).

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