Week 12 Starts and Sits
November 25, 2015 | Chet
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Sorry fake footballers, there is no video for the Week 12 Starts and Sits. Yes, it’s antiquated and often boring to read text on ye olde Internet, but you’ll need to make do with the silent and static form of the typed word this week. The short schedule leading up to Thanksgiving football necessitates some corners be cut, so if you need to express anger over video-free content, please focus your rage constructively — at the Washington professional football franchise whose name embodies all the negative connotations surrounding Thanksgiving’s roots. Yes, let the hate flow through you and direct all of it at Dan Snyder.
What’s that? Stick to fantasy, Greg? Okay, fine. The fake football content is on it’s way, but it wouldn’t be a celebration of Turkey Day without some unsolicited food takes. In addition to this week’s starts and sits, I’ll tell you what Thanksgiving dishes to load up on and which to avoid. Preheat the oven and sound the horn of plenty. Our Week 12 journey begins now.
- Gravy: Completely match-up proof, gravy makes plays all over the plate in every phase of the meal.
- Stuffing: Like Giovani Bernard with “Gio” and Doug Martin with “Muscle Hamster,” don’t you dare call it “dressing.” Dressing is what goes on a salad.
- Pie: Pumpkin, apple, pecan, berry, etc. — it doesn’t matter which one you start. This is the greatest dessert committee of all time.
- Vegetarian/Vegan Turkey Alternatives: Not for everyone, but it’s 2015 and the rules of the game have changed. Fake meat options have come a long way. They may not taste exactly like turkey, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious and it might be foolish to outright dismiss their upside.
- Sweet Potatoes and Co.: Getting a well-prepared root vegetable dish into your lineup is like having an elite tight end. You don’t necessarily need a tasty platter of yams or parsnips, but having them can push a meal from good to great.
***A quick aside before we get to football: I reference FootballOutsiders.com’s DVOA metrics a ton in the picks below and I want to credit them for their awesome work. Be sure to check out their site. I’m only scratching the surface of what they offer here in the starts and sits.
- Blake Bortles vs. SD: He’s looked worse in recent weeks, but I’m going to die on this hill with my man Bortles. San Diego sports a bottom-five defense by DVOA, compared to the top-ten pass defense Tennessee used to stifle Bortles & Co. in Week 11.
- Jameis Winston @ IND: I touted him through the preseason and was contemplating my bandwagon exit strategy after his first few games, but Jameis turned it on post-bye. Don’t count on another 29-point explosion, but Winston should have a productive game against Indy’s mediocre pass defense this Sunday.
- Brian Hoyer vs. NO: For reference, see Kirk Cousin’s Week 10 performance against New Orleans.
- Marcus Mariota vs. OAK: Oakland’s veneer is beginning to crack after a solid start, particularly on defense, where they’ve fallen to 27th in DVOA (23rd against the pass and 24th against the run). Mariota should be able to move the Tennessee offense fairly easily.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. MIA: A weekly 2-QB play, his hand surgery hasn’t hampered one of the safest floors among affordable fantasy quarterbacks.
- Latavius Murray @ TEN: The Raiders have mixed in other rushers more than Murray owners would like in recent weeks, but the Titans’ 23rd-ranked rush defense could be the rising tide that lifts all Oakland running backs.
- Javorius Allen @ CLE: He has the Baltimore backfield to himself and gets Cleveland’s 29th-ranked run defense. If you stashed Buck or landed him off waivers, you’re starting him this week.
- Spencer Ware vs. BUF: Another Week 12 waiver darling, Ware’s usability depends on whether Charcandrick West misses this game. If Ware starts, he’ll do so against Bills team that gives up 17 fantasy points per game to RBs and ranks 27th in rushing defense DVOA.
- Chris Johnson @ SF: Week 11 may be over, but Thomas Rawls is still gaining yards against the Niners somewhere. All systems are go for the rejuvenated CJ2K.
- Danny Woodhead @ JAC: The Jags give up the 4th-most passes to running backs in the NFL (8.4 per game) and rank 27th in DVOA to backs as receivers. Meanwhile, their overall rush defense ranks 2nd in DVOA, so the Chargers should look to use Woodhead significantly more than Melvin Gordon.
- James White @ DEN: The Broncos allow the 5th-most passes to RBs per game (8.3, tied with NO), but their DVOA against backs as receivers (4th) isn’t quite as poor as Jacksonville’s. Still, Denver has shown more vulnerability to rushing attacks in recent games and White showed in Week 11 that he’s capable of pushing LeGarrette Blount for playing time in appropriate match-ups.
- Bilal Powell vs. MIA: Deep consideration only, but Powell played well in his return to action on Sunday. Chris Ivory, on the other hand, has struggled a little bit over the past few weeks. I like Ivory against the Dolphins, but Powell could be usable in a change-of-pace role for PPR owners.
- Martavis Bryant @ SEA: Seattle ranks 2nd in DVOA against #1 wide receivers, but only 18th against #2 wideouts and 31st against tight ends. Arizona showed that diverse passing attacks can move the ball against Seattle, so I like Bryant this week.
- Allen Hurns vs. SD: See Blake Bortles above.
- Vincent Jackson @ IND: See Jameis Winston above. V-Jax made a big difference for Tampa’s passing attack in his Week 11 return from injury.
- James Jones vs. CHI: Similarly, Aaron Rodgers rekindled his chemistry with James Jones in Week 11 (thanks in part to a Davante Adams ankle injury). The results were excellent and I anticipate more of the same this week against Chicago.
- Marquess Wilson @ GB: Contingent on Alshon Jeffery sitting again. If he does, Wilson will once again be the WR1 for Chicago by default.
- Devin Funchess @ DAL: In Week 11, he finished with 4 catches for 64 yards and a TD on a team-high 8 targets (tied with Ted Ginn Jr.). Thanks to his size, Funchess is the best red zone target Cam Newton has aside from Greg Olsen. Dallas is decent against the pass (18th in DVOA), but I like Funchess as a deeper play with TD upside.
- Crockett Gillmore @ CLE: The downgrade from Flacco to Schaub hurts, but Gillmore remains the Ravens’ best red zone target.
- Julius Thomas vs. SD: See Blake Bortles above. Plus, tight ends regularly roast the Chargers. San Diego allows the 9th-most fantasy points per game to TEs and they rank 29th against the position by DVOA
- Brent Celek @ DET: Celek has had minor value while playing alongside Zach Ertz. With Ertz unlikely to play on Thanksgiving, Celek will see the bulk of Philly’s tight end targets against a Lions team that allows the 8th most points to TEs.
- Heath Miller @ SEA: See Martavis Bryant above.
- Pre-meal Snacks and Appetizers: The ultimate sucker bet. Champs save room for the main dishes and dessert. I wouldn’t fault you for passing on breakfast, as well.
- Bread and Butter: Use stuffing and mashed potatoes in your roster’s carb spots and get your butter/oil points from all the other offerings on the table.
- Cranberry Sauce: Bench this scrub and fill your gelatinous/fruit flex with the upside of pie.
- Green Bean Casserole: A lot can go wrong with GBC. Don’t take the risk.
- Beer: I love a tasty brew, but this is a really difficult match-up. Thanksgiving is tough on carbonated beverages. Game flow tends to work more in favor of wine.
- Matthew Stafford vs. PHI: Despite their Week 11 implosion, the Eagles still rank 5th in passing defense DVOA. Meanwhile, Stafford has been propped up in recent weeks by his opponents’ struggling defenses. Expect some regression to his mediocre mean this week.
- Jay Cutler @ GB: With the status of both Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett in doubt, Cutler could fall victim to an inexperienced receiving corps on Thursday night.
- Tony Romo vs. CAR: If you were able to survive Romo’s injury, you should be able to find a better option this week when he faces DVOA’s #2 pass defense.
- Tyrod Taylor @ KC: The Kansas City defense is on fire right now, so avoid a dinged-up Tygod heading to Arrowhead on a short week if you can.
- Kirk Cousins vs. NYG: The G-men have generally fared well against fantasy QBs, save for the 44-point beatdown that Drew Brees laid on them in Week 8. Simultaneously, Cousins has struggled against quality defenses, which the Giants have somewhat resembled since Jason Pierre-Paul’s return.
- Jeremy Hill vs. STL: He punched in a pair of gimme TDs against Arizona, but don’t be fooled, Giovani Bernard is the Shere Khan of Cinci’s backfield. St. Louis has the #3 rush defense by DVOA and they allow the most passes per game to opposing running backs, which bodes more favorably for Bernard than Hill.
- Matt Forte @ GB: He could be on a snap count, even if he plays. Plus, the Packers could run away with this game as 9-point favorites at home and give the Bears further incentive to keep Forte off the field for the sake of his health.
- Melvin Gordon @ JAC: See Danny Woodhead above.
- Frank Gore vs. TB: Gore is hobbled and facing Tampa Bay’s 5th-ranked run defense.
- Matt Jones vs. NYG: See Kirk Cousins above. The Giants’ rushing defense has also been a notch better since JPP reentered the mix. Jones’ fumbles have been a problem, but he’s the future at RB for Washington, so I can’t fault you for using him if you’re desperate. With that said, recent injuries across the league have fattened the waiver wire with viable fantasy backs. Couple those extra options with Week 12’s lack of teams on bye and I have a feeling most of us can do better than Jones on this week’s slate.
- James Starks vs. CHI: That sensation you feel is the pendulum swinging back toward Eddie Lacy.
- Kamar Aiken @ CLE: Forgive me for my lack of faith in Matt Schaub.
- T.Y. Hilton vs. TB: The Bucs have handled opposing #1 wideouts (19th in DVOA) much better than #2 guys (30th in DVOA), which points us towards Donte Moncrief. Furthermore, Matt Hasselbeck’s #OldManArm is better suited to Moncrief’s route tree than Hilton’s.
- Sammy Watkins @ KC: See Tyrod Taylor above.
- Rishard Matthews @ NYJ: The Jets are the best team by DVOA at defending #2 wide receivers and Matthews has only posted double-digit fantasy points in one of his past seven games.
- Marvin Jones vs. STL: Strangely similar to what I just typed for Matthews, the Rams are the 3rd-best team at defending #2 wide receivers (plus #3 against the pass overall), and Jones has only posted double-digit fantasy points in one of his past seven games.
- Terrance Williams vs. CAR: Romo’s return helps, but Williams still isn’t seeing a strong dose of weekly targets and this match-up versus the Panthers smothering defense is rough.
- Anquan Boldin vs. ARI: He only mustered 1 fantasy point against the Cards in Week 3. It’s somehow possible that Blaine Gabbert is an upgrade over Colin Kaepernick, but you still can’t use Boldin in this match-up with a full slate’s worth of other WR options.
- Eric Ebron vs. PHI: He’s lost all of his early-season mojo and the Eagles rank 5th in DVOA against tight ends.
- Jason Witten vs. CAR: See Terrance Williams above.
- Ben Watson @ HOU: I was surprised to see how well Houston has handled tight ends this season. They allow 5.9 passes and 45.4 yards per game to the position (versus the league averages of 7.7 and 55.1). Moreover, the Texans rank 7th in DVOA against tight ends and have held them to 7 fantasy points or fewer in all but two games this season.
- Charles Clay @ KC: No team, however, destroys tight ends quite like the Chiefs. Kansas City allows the fewest fantasy points per game to the position and hasn’t allowed more than 7 points to tight ends in any single game. They rank 1st in DVOA against TEs, with a miniscule 32.8 yards per game to the position on 7.4 passes per game. Again, the NFL average is 7.7 passes for 55.1 yards to TEs, so the Chiefs allow about 40% fewer yards to tight ends than the average team on only 4% fewer passes. Ridiculous.
I hope that my final thoughts on destroying tight ends has put you in the mood to destroy some Thanksgiving cuisine this weekend, as well as you fake football opponents. Have a safe, happy holiday and good luck in all your Week 12 match-ups.