What a week for injuries, eh? Devonta Freeman and Charcandrick West going down with concussions/injuries hurt two of my fantasy teams, but I ended up winning both of those anyway (thank goodness for DeAndre Hopkins). It got so funny because I was following the Kansas City game through FantasyCast and after West got hurt it kept saying “Kansas City rushes for 15 yards.” And I was thinking, “Uh, what happened to West?” After a little consternation, and “Kansas City” racking up the rushing yards, I went out to Twitter and discovered my runner was out and he wasn’t returning.
So I picked up Thomas Rawls and I’m starting him this week against the Steelers defense. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that I would not only be picking up Buck Allen and Thomas Rawls, but that I would also be starting them with confidence this week? That’s the essence of the game, and the impact of injuries. I just hope that these guys stay healthy throughout the game, because there’s not much worse than a guy getting hurt on the game’s very first play and leaving you with a big fat ZERO for the week.
Here’s the Week 12 edition of Setting Your Lineup:
QBs to PLAY
BRIAN HOYER vs. New Orleans – Yes, I’m a believer in Hoyer this week, fresh off of injury and ready to pick up where he left off, and against that Saints defense (which I don’t see being any better, not right away anyway, with the firing of Rob Ryan), there is absolutely no reason to expect less than stellar numbers from him.
DEREK CARR @ Tennessee – Carr has had two disappointing fantasy days in a row, but I think he shows up here against a beatable Tennessee secondary. He’s too talented not to expose them, and have a bounceback game. This also means I’m all in on MICHAEL CRABTREE and AMARI COOPER as must-start receivers as well.
BLAKE BORTLES vs. San Diego – Just like Carr, Bortles has been unimpressive of late, but just like Carr, this second-year QB has a good matchup to exploit this week, and just like Carr he will deliver. And also, just like Carr, I’m all in on Bortles’ receivers, ALLEN HURNS and ALLEN ROBINSON, to perform well.
QB to AVOID
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER @ Atlanta – On the flip side of that coin, Bridgewater is facing a team that hasn’t been bad against the pass, and is poor against the run. That means this should be an Adrian Peterson game, and limit the upside for Bridgewater.
RBs to PLAY
THOMAS RAWLS vs. Pittsburgh – If you were lucky enough to pick up Rawls off the waiver wire, then you’ve got yourself an RB1 for this matchup against a porous Steelers run defense. Start him with confidence. I’m playing him over Eddie Lacy and Darren McFadden.
JAVORIUS “BUCK” ALLEN @ Cleveland- He’s playing against Cleveland this week, and who is that Baltimore quarterback again? Some guy named Schaub? I think this team is going to run early and often in this one, and Buck Allen is now the lead back for the Ravens. Check, and check.
MATT JONES vs. NY Giants – None of these Washington running backs has exactly set the world on fire, but in a divisional matchup against the Giants Jones will be needed to keep the Giants honest, and to set up Kirk Cousins for a big day. Count on him for at the least 60 yards and a score.
RB to AVOID
LAMAR MILLER @ NY Jets – Miller has been hit or miss this season, and facing a Jets defense that can get after the run this will be a “miss” week. You probably can’t afford to sit him, but temper your expectations if you feel you have to roll with him anyway.
WRs to PLAY
ERIC DECKER vs. Miami – I like Decker most weeks because of his size and physicality, especially the weeks when Brandon Marshall plays, because that guy is even bigger and even more physical. Decker is great being a WR2, and he will thrive in that matchup against a Miami team that doesn’t do well against WR2s.
VINCENT JACKSON @ Indianapolis – The way Jameis Winston has looked lately it’s easy to trust in his receivers, and this matchup is almost as good as the one they had last week against the Eagles. The Colts are giving up chunks of yardage to receivers, and Jackson will lead the Bucs in receptions this week.
DeSEAN JACKSON vs. NY Giants – Jackson traditionally plays well against the Giants, and he’s back up to full strength, as is evidenced by his 56-yard catch and run against the Panthers last week. That Giants secondary can be exposed, and Cousins will find his #1 receiver for big yardage and at least one score.
WR to AVOID
DOUG BALDWIN vs. Pittsburgh – Yes, you can run on the Steelers, so why throw the ball more than you need to if you’re the Seahawks? Besides, who wants to place bets right now on who Russell Wilson would even lean on in the passing game? Baldwin would be a dart throw to produce big fantasy points. Leave him on your bench.
TEs to PLAY
ZACH MILLER @ Green Bay – Jay Cutler has to lean on someone in the passing game, and with Bennett out and Jeffery questionable for the contest, the “guy” will be Miller, who has been hot of late. He will continue his play, and his connection with Cutler, here against a Green Bay team that hasn’t been great defending the position.
GARY BARNIDGE vs. Baltimore – There was a time during this season when I wouldn’t even have to mention Barnidge in this column because he was on fire, and that time coincided with Josh McCown starting. Guess who’s starting this week, and for the foreseeable future? That’s right. Start Barnidge with confidence.
JULIUS THOMAS vs. San Diego – The man formerly known as Orange Julius has been a disappointment for the most part this season, but I cannot overstate how bad this San Diego pass defense has been. I love the Allens, but at a thin position I also like Thomas to do well in this one, particularly in the red zone.
TE to AVOID
OWEN DANIELS vs. New England – He did a fine job last week, but so did Vernon Davis, and now that the former 49er is in town that will limit the upside for both tight ends. From week to week it’s going to be difficult to tell which one (if either) will perform well, especially with Osweiler under center.
FLEX to PLAY
JEREMY LANGFORD @ Green Bay – The conventional wisdom is that Matt Forte will be back for this one, but I doubt it. Regardless, even if he does return he’s obviously not up to 100% and Langford will spell him even more than he did before. He’s a solid FLEX this week.
MARTAVIS BRYANT @ Seattle – Wow, I can’t believe I’m liking this Pittsburgh team in Seattle, that I’m liking anyone against Seattle at home, but they’ve been beatable this season, and Roethlisberger looked pretty good last week. Bryant will have a huge day.
AHMAD BRADSHAW vs. Tampa Bay – Matt Hasselbeck has shown he can check the ball down with the best of them, and the checkdown king for the Colts has been Ahmad Bradshaw, when he was with them last season, and since he’s been back this season. He’s also stealing touches from a less than 100% Frank Gore too. Get him active this week, especially in PPR leagues.
*ACE EXTRA – I really like BRANDIN COOKS against that Houston defense that has been pretty great lately, but the Jets burned them for a couple of long plays last week, and Cooks can run with the best of them. Look for Brees to find him a couple of times for long plays, and at least one touchdown.
FLEX to AVOID
EDDIE LACY vs. Chicago – Odds are you’re playing Lacy after his performance last week, but that would be chasing points and you know how I feel about chasing points. Lacy has not been trustworthy this season, and one performance doesn’t suddenly make him the fantasy darling you wished he was all season. You have been warned.
K to PLAY
CAIRO SANTOS vs. Buffalo
NICK NOVAK vs. New Orleans
JOSH BROWN @ Washington
K to AVOID
GREG ZUERLEIN @ Cincinnati
D/ST to PLAY
BENGALS vs. Rams
CHIEFS vs. Buffalo
JAGUARS vs. Chargers
D/ST to AVOID
COWBOYS vs. Panthers