Fantasy Football Week 12 Start ’Em, Sit ’Em

Helping with some of your tougher lineup decisions heading into Week 12.
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Quarterbacks

Start:

Baker Mayfield, Browns—Mayfield turned a corner in the first half of last week’s game against the Steelers. He looked composed and made some very good reads against a tough defense. However, in the second half, the Browns' offense looked muddled and could not get out of its own way. This week they play the Dolphins, who are the fifth-worst team against opposing quarterbacks. This is a very winnable game for Mayfield and the Browns, who need to basically win out if they want to have any shot at making the playoffs. Expect Mayfield to throw for at least 250 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Sam Darnold, Jets—The Raiders have done a very good job of stopping the run in recent weeks, but they have been exceptionally generous against the pass. To his credit, Darnold has looked masterful in the first quarter of the past two games. Now, he just needs to work on his consistency over four quarters. I think there is a realistic shot that this game is high scoring and there is an equally good chance that Darnold throws for over 300 yards and at least two touchdowns. 

Sit:

Daniel Jones, Giants—As with any young player, there has been a lot of good and bad with Jones’s recent play. On one hand, he has thrown for nine touchdowns in the past three games, including two outings with 300-plus passing yards. On the other hand, he has fumbled the ball 10 times in the past four games—which has really hurt the team. This week, the Giants are on the road against a Bears team that desperately needs a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Jones will have plenty of good weeks in his future, but this doesn’t seem like one of them.

Running Backs

Start:

Derrius Guice, Redskins—The only positive takeaway from Washington's matchup with the Jets was that Guice looked effective in his first game back from injury. Not only did he have a 45-yard reception for a TD, he looked impressive running the football. This week the Redskins play the Lions, who are the worst team in the NFL against opposing running backs. I know that the Redskins want to rotate Guice with Adrian Peterson, but at this point, Peterson looks shot and Guice needs to get more reps. I think he gets 15-18 touches, which should be good enough for 90-plus total yards and a TD.

Latavius Murray, Saints—Outside of last week, the Panthers' defense has been a veritable sieve against the run. This week the Panthers go on the road to New Orleans, and I can guarantee that the Saints will run the ball right down Carolina’s throat. Look for Alvin Kamara to have at least 15 carries and I think that Murray will have another 10-12 touches. The reason I put Murray here in this column is that Week 12 is brutal for bye week players. With Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, Melvin Gordon and many others off, fantasy owners will most likely need to use a bench player to make a start. Murray fits that profile perfectly. 

Sit:

Brian Hill, Falcons—On Nov. 17, 2019, Hill tweeted out the following: I should apologize to my fantasy owners but I really don’t care. Maybe Hill should have cared more in his last game and he might have run for more than 30 yards on 15 carries against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL! Hill was so bad on Sunday that the Falcons brought in rookie Qadree Ollison at the goal line to get the short-yardage TD. This week the Falcons play Tampa Bay, who is the No. 2 overall defense against opposing running backs. So I doubt Hill goes for more than 40 yards. I feel bad for all of Hill’s fantasy owners who overpaid for him on waivers last week.

Wide Receivers

Start:

Tyrell Williams, Raiders—The Jets' defense has been eerily similar to that of the Raiders this season. The Jets are solid up front at stopping the run (they are a top 10 defense against opposing running backs), but they totally struggle in pass coverage (they are the third-worst team against opposing wide receivers). If it wasn’t for a bad holding call, Terry McLaurin beat the Jets secondary cold last week. Williams might not be as fast as McLaurin, but he is the type of player who usually gives the Jets secondary trouble. He has also underperformed in recent weeks and feels due for a rebound.

D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks—With Tyler Lockett not at 100% and Josh Gordon still learning the offense, this seems to be a great week to start Metcalf. The Eagles are the fourth-worst team against opposing wide receivers, and Metcalf has turned into a nightmare one-on-one matchup due to his incredible size and speed combination. Metcalf is not only playable in PPR formats, he has become one of the better starts in standard formats, too.

Sit:

Terry McLaurin, Redskins—I am doing my best at trying to be the “McLaurin Whisperer.” Last week in this very article, I recommended starting McLaurin and it almost paid off as Haskins found the speedy rookie on a touchdown bomb that was sadly negated by a dubious holding call. This week, fantasy owners need to recognize that McLaurin has a much tougher matchup against Lions CB Darius Slay Jr. Slay is one of the top cover CBs in the league and Haskins will be hard-pressed to go to him. Slot receivers have done well against the Lions secondary, so it might be a better week to play Paul Richardson, Kelvin Harmon or even Trey Quinn instead.

Tight Ends

Start:

Ryan Griffin, Jets—Oakland has been surprisingly tough on defense this season, but its biggest weakness is covering opposing tight ends (third-worst team in the NFL). This works out perfectly for Griffin, who is slowly turning into Sam Darnold’s most trusted target. Griffin has struggled with concussion issues in the past but has always had solid skills when he’s been in the lineup. This seems like a great week to use him as he should find the end zone in what will be a higher-scoring game than most imagine.

Cameron Brate, Bucs—OJ Howard is officially in Bruce Arians’ doghouse and I would be shocked if he returned to the team in 2020. It’s a good thing that Brate is still around, as he will take over the starter’s role seamlessly. Jameis Winston has always loved to throw to Brate in the red zone, and last week he threw to him a whopping 14 times after Howard was taken out of the game. Look for Brate to continue thriving in this offense against the Falcons in Week 12.

Sit:

Jared Cook, Saints—Carolina is one of the three-worst teams when it comes to stopping the run, but it is actually the fourth-best team against opposing tight ends. Cook is far from consistent. He needs a good matchup to succeed, and sadly this is not it. Look for Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray to do most of the damage in this game, and when Brees goes to the air he will look for Michael Thomas—and not Cook.

More Advice From SI Fantasy

—Frankie Taddeo’s top streaming options for the final week of byes

—Jaime Eisner’s stock watch tells you who’s trending up and down as the playoffs approach

—Jaime Eisner’s waiver wire pickups: Randall Cobb, Jonathan Williams, Jacob Hollister and more

—Frankie Taddeo’s droppables, with some big-name players you shouldn’t feel bad about cutting

—Bill Enright’s injury report takes a look at who is out how long

—Mark Deming’s target and snap report dives into the data to make some fantasy conclusions