Daily fantasy picks: Who should you start in Week 12 of NFL season?

Drew Brees at home is the surest bet there is in the fantasy world. He should be at the center of your DFS lineups this week, but who else should fill your roster?
Publish date:

All 32 teams are in action this week for the first time since Week 3, and with the exception of a Week 13 bye for the Titans and Browns, we head into the final stretch of this season with our cupboards fully loaded. Even with the six Thanksgiving games already over and done, there are still plenty of great options to choose from this weekend.

Below are my ideal picks for both DraftKings and FanDuel. I will be playing lineups other than the ones here, but these are my go-to choices for both sites. Be sure to read on and check out Andrew Perloff’s plays, as well.

Fantasy football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: How to set your lineups for Week 12


Drew Brees (DK: $7,100, FD: $8,600) vs. Los Angeles

When Brees is playing in the Superdome, you don’t ask any questions. You simply plug him into your lineup and watch the points roll in. In five home games this year, Brees has averaged 366.4 yards, 8.77 yards per attempt, and three touchdowns per game, good for 29.7 DraftKings points on average, and 27.14 points per game on FanDuel. His last two home contests were against the Seahawks and Broncos. Brees put up 20.7 points against the Seahawks on both sites, while climbing to 26.02 DK points and 23.03 FD points against the Broncos. In short, it doesn’t matter who Brees plays when he’s at home. He’s going to get his, and likely a little more, too. He’s at the center of my lineups this week.

Running Backs 

Jay Ajayi (DK: $7,600, FD: $8,400) vs. San Francisco

Dollar for dollar, Ajayi is a better play than David Johnson, the highest-priced back for the rest of the week. There’s no reason to stop picking on the 49ers, a defense that has allowed 1,587 rushing yards, 43 receptions, 361 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns to running backs this year. They’ve allowed a 100-yard rusher every week other than Week 1, a streak that Ajayi is likely to push to 10 games on Sunday. Ajayi has had a couple of quiet games in a row since breaking out with 529 yards and four touchdowns across his first three games as Miami’s starter, so a date with the 49ers should be the perfect cure for what ails him. He hasn’t been terrible the last two weeks, either, running for a combined 156 yards on 35 carries. Ajayi has a 20-yard rush in all five of his games as the starter, and that home-run ability is going to be one of the many traits the 49ers have trouble with this week.

Fantasy football Week 12: Complete NFL player rankings for every position

Thomas Rawls (DK: $5,700, FD: $7,000) at Tampa Bay

All things considered, Rawls ran well last week, his first game action since Week 2. He carried the ball 14 times for 57 yards and caught three passes for 31 yards. With C.J. Prosise out because of a fractured scapula, Rawls is going to have the backfield entirely to himself when the Seahawks visit the Buccaneers on Sunday. Sure, Alex Collins could mix in a little, but Rawls should get north of 20 touches, depending on how the game script unfolds. The Buccaneers have allowed the 10th-most points per game to running backs this season, which helps make Rawls the envy of all backs in the middle tier on both sites.

Wide Receivers

Amari Cooper (DK: $7,700, FD: $7,800) vs. Carolina;

Cooper has been on a tear over the last six games, racking up at least 100 yards or scoring a touchdown in four of those contests. He’s up to 62 catches for 900 yards and three scores, putting him on pace for 99.2 receptions, 1,440 yards and 4.8 touchdowns. Given his reception, yardage and target numbers, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go on a touchdown binge over the last six weeks of the season. That could start this week against a Carolina team that has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to receivers.

Steve Smith (DK: $6,000, FD: $6,300) vs. Cincinnati: Even at 37 years old, nothing seems capable of slowing down Smith. If you eliminate the game in which he hurt his ankle, as well has his first game back from that injury, he has played six games this season. In those six games, he has 37 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns, which comes out to 10.33 standard-league points per game and translates to a 16-game pace of 98-1,173-8. The Bengals have been susceptible to the pass all season, allowing 7.36 YPA and 19 scores through the air. Smith is a great value on both sites this week.

Rishard Matthews (DK: $5,800, FD: $6,200) at Chicago: Right there with Smith in terms of value is Matthews, who continues to languish in the high-$5,000s and low-$6,000s despite his consistent production. He has had at least 80 yards or a touchdown in seven of his last eight games, totaling 35 catches, 507 yards and six scores in that timeframe. Matthews’s role in the Tennessee passing attack continues to grow, with the fifth-year receiver out of Nevada getting double-digit targets in two of the team’s last three games. The Bears, meanwhile, are an absolute mess, and have allowed the third-most points per game to receivers this season. Marcus Mariota should have his way with this defense, especially after it lost Jerrell Freeman to a PED suspension. If Mariota plays as well as expected, Matthews is going to have another big game.

NFL Week 12 picks: Will the competitive AFC West remain tightly bunched?

Tyler Boyd (DK: $4,000, FD: $5,600) at Baltimore

Boyd and Brandon LaFell take over as the Nos. 1 and 1a receivers in Cincinnati with A.J. Green on the shelf due to a hamstring injury. Boyd had his best game of the season last week after Green left, catching six of eight targets for 54 yards and a touchdown. The rookie out of Pittsburgh created some sleeper buzz this summer, but he hasn’t had enough of an opportunity, in the way of targets, to turn that into meaningful fantasy production. His chance to turn that around starts this week. Green was responsible for more than 30% of the Bengals’ targets before his injury. The ceiling of the offense may be down, but those targets have to go somewhere. While the Ravens have a strong real-life defense, they’ve allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to receivers.

Tight End

Coby Fleener (DK: $3,100, FD: $5,700) vs. Los Angeles

Remember those home stats for Drew Brees from earlier in the column? Fleener, too, has done his best work in the Superdome this season. He has delivered a couple of duds at home, but Fleener is not to tight ends what Brees is to quarterbacks. We’ll give him a pass for coming up short against the Seahawks and Broncos. He racked up seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons in New Orleans, and scored twice—including once on the ground—while catching six balls for 74 yards against the Panthers at home. Players like Brees, Ajayi and Cooper necessitated saving some money at tight end, especially on DraftKings, and Fleener is a great value option this week, giving us a stack with our quarterback.


Nick Novak (FD: $4,700) vs. San Diego

Novak has been one of the league’s most active kickers this season, attempting the third-most field goals (26) while connecting on 21, which has him ranked sixth in the league. The game total for San Diego and Houston is just 46 points, which does work against Novak, but his price and success rate this season makes him a worthy choice.

Defense/Special Teams

Tennessee Titans (DK: $2,800, FD: $4,500) at Chicago

Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Miller and Kyle Long will all be out this Sunday. Chicago’s starting right tackle, Bobby Massie, and starting left guard, Josh Sitton, could also miss the game due to injury. The Bears have been playing without second-year receiver Kevin White for most of the season, as well. That means they could be missing seven of their first-team starters, including their quarterback, two receivers and tight end. Matt Barkley will be under center for the Bears on Sunday. This one could get ugly and stay ugly. The Titans are one of the best defensive plays of the week, regardless of price.

NFL playoffs: Who's in, who's out? Latest standings and seedings

DraftKings lineup:

QB: Drew Brees

RB1: Jay Ajayi

RB2: Thomas Rawls

WR1: Amari Cooper

WR2: Steve Smtih

WR3: Rishard Matthews

TE: Coby Fleener

FLEX: Tyler Boyd

DST: Tennessee Titans

FanDuel lineup:

QB: Drew Brees

RB1: Jay Ajayi

RB2: Thomas Rawls

WR1: Amari Cooper

WR2: Steve Smtih

WR3: Rishard Matthews

TE: Coby Fleener

K: Nick Novak

DST: Tennessee Titans

Andrew Perloff

DFS is a Perloff Thanksgiving tradition right up their with turkey and my father complaining about the Eagles. He listed Carson Wentz as the third thing he was thankful for this year. I’m grateful I squeezed Jordan Reed and Antonio Brown into my lineup and am eager to invest holiday earnings into this Sunday’s action—which is kind of bizarre with so many big names already done for the week.


Russell Wilson ($7,500 FanDuel, $6,700 DraftKings)

The Seahawks QB is healthy and coming off of three straight 25-plus-point fantasy performances. He seems to be repeating last year’s second-half MVP-like run and he faces Tampa’s 25th-ranked pass defenses. Hm, he should be priced a bit higher, no? What am I missing?

Alternates: Oakland is coming off its Mexico City win on Monday night and its defense might be gassed, providing an opportunity for Cam Newton. But Raiders QB Derek Carr is also interesting against a shaky Panthers secondary. Eli Manning’s got the Browns. And Carson Palmer is an affordable way to buy into Atlanta-Arizona.

Running Back

Jay Ajayi ($8,400 FanDuel, $7,600 DraftKings)

The Dolphins RB is in a slump compared to his back-to-back 200-yard rushing games, of course, but I’d bet on pretty much any No. 1 back against the Niners’ defense. Hopefully the hefty price tag will keep players off Ajayi just a bit despite the matchup.

Thomas Rawls ($7,000 FanDuel, $5,700 DraftKings)

I’m not a fan of a QB-RB stack, so I’ll likely play Rawls in my Cam Newton/Eli Manning lineups. But I have to include Rawls in this best lineup column because I can’t get his 209-yard performance against the Niners from last season out of my head. With C.J. Prosise out with a fractured scapula, I’m hoping Rawls can recapture that magic. He’ll get a lot of work against a shaky Bucs run defense.

Alternate: As I mentioned, I want in on Cardinals-Falcons, but with David Johnson at a high price, I will turn to Devonta Freeman in a couple of lineups. I’ll also definitely pick up Giants RB Rashad Jennings against the Browns’ 31st-ranked run D. And even though he’s not good, Cincy’s Jeremy Hill will get extra work against the Ravens’ tough defensive front and is a decent cheap option.

Wide Receivers

Steve Smith Sr. ($6,300 FanDuel, $6,000 DraftKings)

Remember when Smith was mic’ed up and heavily insulted every member of the Bengals’ secondary? That was when Cincy’s defense was good. Smith is coming off a strong week against Dallas and is clearly Joe Flacco’s best target.

Amari Cooper (7,800 FanDuel, $7,700 DraftKings)

Raiders are going to have to go to the air against the Panthers and this feels like a big Cooper week. Maybe I’m being over-influenced by that ridiculous after-the-catch move Cooper made against the Texans last week, but I can’t deny this fantasy crush at this price in a good matchup.

Odell Beckham Jr. ($9,000 FanDuel, $8,800 DraftKings)

This is my big splurge in this lineup, and it just kind of fell that way. Hopefully Beckham is contrarian because of the price tag and the presence of Browns CB Joe Haden. Beckham has been hot and cold, but he’s going to demand to get into the action this week.

Alternate: I’m definitely mixing in some Larry Fitzgerald against the Falcons and Julian Edelman against the Jets. The Jags’ Allen Robinson is back to last season’s form. And this could be the time for the Dolphins’ Devanta Parker, who is on an uptick, to break out against the Niners.

Tight End

Gary Barnidge ($4,800 FanDuel, $3,600 DraftKings)

I’ve overplayed the Browns TE all season, but now that Josh McCown is back at QB I’m back on the Barnidge bandwagon. No mystery last week…McCown came in for an injured Cody Kessler and hit Barnidge in the end zone. The Giants’ LBs aren’t great in coverage and this game could be close, since N.Y. traditionally plays down to bad opponents.

Alternate: I’m also playing a lot of the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert, the only reliable target left for Andy Dalton in Cincy. And if you have extra cash, Delanie Walker is coming off a slow game, but has been solid over the last five weeks.


Nick Novak ($4,700 FanDuel)

Going with indoor kickers for the rest of the season and the Texans should get on the board against the Chargers.


Baltimore Ravens ($4,500 FanDuel, $3,100 DraftKings)

With A.J. Green and Gio Bernard out, Bengals QB Andy Dalton will find himself in a lot of third-and-long situations and have to force the action—hopefully leading to turnovers.

Alternate: The Saints are super-cheap against the Rams and the Titans could feast on the shaky QB situation with the Bears