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Week 12 DFS Strategy and Picks: Million Dollar Perfect Lineup

Find out which players to use in your Week 12 DFS contests with in-depth analysis for the perfect GPP lineup.

When playing Daily Fantasy for the NFL it's crucial to use the appropriate strategy for the right contest. Cash games or 50/50s require less risk and more stable players while Guaranteed Prize Pools like the Millionaire Maker need a bit of risk worked into lineups. The following strategy is geared toward having a profitable day in GPPs.

All players listed are for the main slate of games on Sunday.

Quarterback Stacks

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Tom Brady, Tampa Buccaneers

Over his first 10 games, Brady averaged 318 yards and three touchdowns. His play has been exceptional at home (30.24 FPPG – 20 touchdowns and three interceptions). He has the second-most pass attempts (423) in the league, leading to the top quarterback ranking (275.95 fantasy points). Brady scored over 30.00 fantasy points in five matchups.

The Colts ranks 28th in quarterback defense (23.42 FPPG). Two teams passed for over 400 yards (BAL – 442/4 and NYJ – 412/4) while struggling vs. the pass in three other contests (SEA – 263/4, TEN – 253/3, and TEN – 290/3). In addition, Indy controls the damage in rushing touchdowns (4).

Brady projects to pass for 318 yards and three touchdowns. SI Sportsbook lists his matchup with the highest over/under (53.5) of the day. The Colts want to control the clock with Jonathan Taylor with the hopes of keeping Brady on the sidelines. Unfortunately, their defensive struggles may very well lead to a reverse outcome in game script.

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

After 11 weeks, Hurts is the fourth-highest scoring quarterback (277.10 fantasy points) despite passing for fewer than 200 yards in his previous four starts. His ability to run (114/618/8) sets a high floor while adding explosiveness in matchups when he succeeds in both areas of the game. Over his past six starts, Hurts averaged only 23 passes. He has three impact games (31.40, 32.05, and 32.25 fantasy points) on the year.

The Giants held quarterbacks to fewer than 20.00 fantasy points in three of their four last matchups, but they still rank 22nd in quarterback defense (22.04 FPPG). Dallas is the only offense to pass for over 300 yards (324) with three touchdowns against the Giants. New York allows 6.9 yards per pass attempt. Their only failure against a running quarterback came vs. the Saints (6/28/2).

His rising salary makes him a more challenging play in the daily games, especially when factoring in a game script with a struggling Giants offense.

Cam Newton with the Panthers.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Newton delivered the sixth-highest score (28.05 fantasy points) at quarterback in his first start for the Panthers. His opportunity as a runner remained strong (10/46/1). He completed 77.4 percent of his passes out of the gate.

Miami played better vs. the pass over the previous four games (249/2, 240/3, 238, and 291/2 – 6.05 yards per pass attempt) despite facing 168 throws. Since Week 3, eight of their nine opponents attempted a minimum of 39 passes. In addition, the Dolphins picked the pass rush over their past three contests (11 sacks), leading to fewer points allowed (9, 10, and 17). Tampa (452/5), Las Vegas (386/2), and Atlanta (336/2) had the most success via the air when facing Miami. Quarterbacks gained 182 yards with one score on the ground on 45 carries.

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Newton has the tools to push higher in the passing game while still being priced low enough to fill his salary bucket with a 25.00 fantasy point day. Miami also struggles to defender wide receivers (169/2,107/14).

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Twice over the last three weeks, Herbert posted an impact day (370/3 and 472/3). He has been more active as a runner over his past three starts (16/126/1). Herbert climbed to third in quarterback scoring (26.42 FPPG). When at his best, he posted four monster days (33.65, 46.80, 35.20, and 39.10 fantasy points). In his other six starts, Herbert scored under 20.00 fantasy points in four matchups. Against the Broncos in two games in 2020, he passed for 531 yards with four touchdowns.

Denver has yet to allow over 25.50 fantasy points to a quarterback, with five opponents scoring less than 20.00 fantasy points. They rank fourth defending quarterbacks (18.33 FPPG). Baltimore is the only offense to solve their defense (344/3).

Herbert tends to play better at home, and his matchup looks to have a lower ceiling. However, his receiving talent gives him a chance in Week 11 if forced to chase on the scoreboard.

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Burrow derailed fantasy teams over the previous three weeks due to two dull outings (282/0 and /148/1) and a bye week. Yet, despite his regression, he still completed 69.6 percent of his passes over this span. Burrow played well in his first three home games (261/2, 348/2, and 2821/2) while failing to post an impact day in the fantasy space. In his first game vs. the Steelers in Week 3, he attempted only 18 passes, leading to 172 yards and three touchdowns.

Pittsburgh had no answers for Justin Herbert in Week 11 (472/3), coming after four successful games (209/1, 225/0, 291/1, and 114/0) against the pass. The Steelers fell to 13th in quarterback defense (21.04 FPPG) while showing more risk defending the run (4.8 yards per rush).

Burrow has a contrarian feel while owning the receiving talent to post an impact game if asked to throw the ball over 40 times. His salary remains favorable. It’s all about the CHASE on the scoreboard in Week 11.

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

After a four-game losing streak, the 49ers won three games over the past four weeks while scoring over 30 points in each win. Garoppolo threw the ball consistently over his previous four games (1,006/6) despite averaging only 27.25 passes. His completion rate (69.7) and yards per pass attempt (9.2) have been exceptional over this span. In addition, Brandon Aiyuk showed growth over his last three starts (16/200/2), and his top wide receiver (Deebo Samuel) has been a beast all season (55/994/5 plus 19 rushes for 137 yards and three scores). Garoppolo ranks 20th in quarterback scoring (169.60 fantasy points), with only one playable game (30.50 fantasy points).

Minnesota fell to 26th in quarterback defense (23.02 FPPG) after struggling vs. quarterbacks in two of their past three games (BAL – 386/3 and GB – 405/4). Their defense will pressure the quarterback (31 sacks), but wide receivers destroyed their secondary in three games (ARI – 17/277/3, DAL – 18/325/2, and GB – 15/304/3).

San Francisco has three excellent options in the passing game, giving Garoppolo a high ceiling if game flow leads to a high-scoring affair. Fantasy owners will be drawn to this game in the daily contests, but I would also make sure I have some tickets on the 49ers run game. I see a three-player 49ers game stack with Garoppolo and two of his receivers.

Foundation Players

The top players at running back and wide receiver are priced extremely high this week, making it challenging to roster two options in your daily lineup.

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RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Taylor was easy to overlook in Week 11 due to his matchup against the Bills but he ended up scoring 53.40 fantasy points, thanks to 204 combined yards with five touchdowns and three catches, leading to any team without Taylor having a minimal chance of cashing a winning ticket. He finished with a career-high 35 touches while being on the field for 83 percent of the Colts’ plays. Taylor gained over 100 combined yards in each of his last eight starts.

Tampa Bay slipped to 10th in running back fantasy defense (22.38 FPPG) after allowing over 30.00 fantasy points in two of their past three matchups. The Bucs also struggled to defend backs in two other contests (37.50 and 36.00 fantasy points). They allow 4.0 yards per rush, with running backs scoring six touchdowns.

Taylor has a better matchup than expected given the Bucs recent run defense troubles, even if NT Vita Vea returns from his knee injury.

RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

The difference between McCaffrey and Jonathan Taylor last week was 28.40 fantasy points, and the Panthers rusher was the third-highest scoring running backs (24.90 fantasy points). Over the past two games, McCaffrey gained 270 combined yards with one score and 17 catches. The Panthers had him on the field for a season-high 90 percent of their plays.

In their last six matchups, Miami held running backs to less than 20.00 fantasy points, lifting them to 11th in running back defense (22.63 FPPG). Their season started with much more risk over the first five weeks (26.40, 33.50, 39.00, 25.80, and 37.10 fantasy points). The Dolphins haven’t faced a top-tier running back since Week 4. They’ve held only one offense to fewer than 4.0 yards per rush.

RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

Harris has the best matchup (CIN) of the top-tier backs based on defensive running back rankings (27.03 FPPG – 27th. Running backs have 76 catches for 583 yards and two touchdowns while scoring 10 overall touchdowns. Most of the damage to backs came in four contests (PIT – 145 combined yards with 15 catches, GB – 193 combined yards with one touchdown and nine catches, NYJ – 262 combined yards with two touchdowns and 14 catches, and CLE – 201 combined yards with two touchdowns, and three catches).

The production of Harris has been lower over his last three starts (16.80, 17.30, and 16.90 fantasy points), which comes after five straight games over 20.00 fantasy points. From Week 3 to Week 10, over seven contests, he averaged 26.9 touches. Based on opportunity, Harris ranks at the top of the league after the injury to Derrick Henry. In the mix at top-end at running back, but he needs to score more than 30.00 fantasy points to be worth his salary investment.

Nov 15, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) interacts with fans during a timeout against the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 15, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) interacts with fans during a timeout against the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers upped Samuel’s chances in the run game over the past two weeks (5/36/1 and 8/79/1), creating a higher level to his fantasy value. He ranks second in wide receiver scoring (21.41 FPPG). Despite receiving only seven combined targets over the past two matchups, Samuel still scored 46.30 fantasy points. He gained over 100 yards in six contests while delivering three impact games (32.90, 35.70, and 30.30 fantasy points).

Minnesota sits 30th in wide receiver defense (42.44 FPPG) while getting dusted in three matchups (62.70, 64.25, and 62.70 fantasy points). Wideouts have 140 catches for 1,958 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Vikings allow 14.0 yards per catch.

Samuel offers some salary-cap relief at the end high end of wide receiver. He looks poised to shine while stealing some rushing stats.

WR Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor stole the offensive show for the Colts over the last two weeks, leading to Pittman seeing only 10 combined targets with seven catches for 94 yards. His best output came in four matchups (8/123, 6/89/1, 4/105/1, and 10/86/2). He ranks 19th in wide receiver scoring (163.00 fantasy points) despite averaging only 7.4 targets.

Tampa struggled vs. wideouts over the first three weeks (27/303/3, 17/277/3, and 19/291/3). Over the next seven games, they allowed only two touchdowns to wide receivers with 73 catches and 736 yards. Their success came from a favorable pass schedule (NE, MIA, PHI, CHI, NO, WAS, and NYG).

Tom Brady will produce touchdowns, leading to Indy needing to throw to win the game. Pittman has multi-touchdowns upside with a reasonable chance to gain over 100 yards.

TE Evan Engram, New York Giants

Over the past couple of weeks at tight end, the theme has been to pick on the Eagles’ defense. Philly ranks last in the league vs. tight ends (81/811/9), with their last seven opponents scoring over 17.00 fantasy points. The Cowboys (8/94/2) and Chargers (11/126/2) have had the most success.

Engram brings an underperforming resume (28/236/2 on 41 targets) over eight games. He failed to gain over 55 yards in each matchup while averaging 5.1 targets. Engram scored in Week 8 (3/15/1) and Week 9 (3/38/1), putting his production in a range with his current salary. The Giants’ passing offense has been a mess for five weeks, but a fired offensive coordinator may breathe some life into Daniel Jones in this matchup. If I use Engram this week, it would be important for Kyle Rudolph to be inactive.

Value Plays

For anyone looking for value at the backend of their roster, I would pay attention to the Texans’ backfield. David Johnson and Rex Burkhead struggled to gain yards in the run game (3.0 yards per rush), and Houston’s running backs only have one touchdown over their last eight games.

The Jets have the worst defense by a wide margin against running backs (37.69 FPPG). Backs have 23 touchdowns with plenty of success in the passing game (72/655/4).

Last week, Houston had Johnson on the field for 55 percent of their snaps while Burkhead worked as the RB2 (42 percent of the playing time).

Here’s my Week 12 Perfect Lineup:

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The structure of this lineup also allows the flexibility to roster Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen by swapping out Christian McCaffrey and Michael Pittman, but a move at flex from David Johnson to Rex Burkhead would be required.