After three straight weeks of multiple teams being unavailable due to byes, fantasy football managers will have all 32 teams in play this week. Let’s take an early look at some of the best start/sit options for your fantasy team heading into Week 12.
Start ‘Em Picks for Week 12
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings QB Joshua Dobbs may have had his worst performance with his new team, but he still managed to produce 18+ fantasy points for a third straight game. Dobbs did fumble three times and threw an interception against an improved Denver defense that gave both Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen problems in their previous two wins.
This week, Dobbs and the Vikings will return home to take on the Chicago Bears and could even get All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson back into the fold. Dobbs has proven to have a reliable fantasy floor with an enticing ceiling as the leading man of the Vikings. Expect another productive outing in Week 12.
Gardner Minshew, QB, Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts’ passing game has cooled off a bit over the last three games after back-to-back 300+ yard performances. What cures an ailing passing game in 2023? Well, playing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary that is giving up an average of 270 passing yards per game.
Expect both Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Downs to give the Buccaneers’ banged-up secondary — which may be without starting cornerback Jamel Dean, who picked up a foot/ankle injury — that has given up over 300 yards through the air to three of their last four opponents. Minshew is a fringe top-15 play in Week 12.
Jaylen Warren, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Jaylen Warren has been on an absolute tear over the last three games, with a minimum of 88 yards rushing — which includes two straight 100-yard rushing performances — and has two rushing scores in consecutive games.
The Cincinnati Bengals offense may struggle to sustain drives with the loss of QB Joe Burrow under center, which could open the door for a favorable game script for the red-hot Warren in Week 12.
Jerome Ford, RB, Cleveland Browns
It wasn’t pretty for Jerome Ford or the Cleveland Browns offense on Sunday against the Steelers, but he did manage to find pay dirt for the first time since Week 7 to save his fantasy day in a winning effort.
MORE: Buy Low, Sell High Week 12
Ford has seen 10+ carries in all but two games this entire season and continues to be a focal point of the Browns’ offensive game plan on a weekly basis. While the Broncos’ defense has certainly been much better over the last three weeks, they’ve still given up over 170 rushing yards in two consecutive games, which means Ford is still a quality RB2 option for Week 12.
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens RB Gus Edwards is quickly becoming the RB version of Hall of Fame WR Cris Carter, which means I’m referencing the fact that all he does… is score touchdowns.
Edwards’ nine rushing scores in the last five games have made him one of the best bets at the RB position to find pay dirt on a weekly basis. Sure, his yardage totals haven’t exactly been outstanding, but his consistent production has made him a reliable RB2 option. Edwards has certainly entered top-15 consideration on a weekly basis in this potent rushing attack.
Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers
After a pair of lackluster fantasy outings, Carolina Panthers WR Adam Thielen got back on track against the Dallas Cowboys with eight receptions for 74 yards on 11 targets to produce his seventh 15+ fantasy performance in PPR formats this season.
The veteran WR may not be able to separate like his glory days in Minnesota, but the savvy wideout still has enough tricks in the bag to take advantage of a Tennessee Titans secondary that just got torched by the Jacksonville Jaguars’ struggling passing game.
Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams
One big development worth keeping an eye on this week is the health of Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp, who exited the game in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks with an ankle injury and did not return.
If Kupp is to miss any time in the coming weeks, rookie WR Puka Nacua is a must-start for your fantasy team. His four games of production to start the season without Kupp in the lineup were quite literally historic. Through those games, Nacua led the league in both targets (52) and receptions (39) and trailed only Justin Jefferson in receiving yards prior to Kupp’s return.
If Kupp is unavailable, Nacua is a top-10 play in Week 12.
Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens
If you listen closely, you can still hear the echo from the fantasy managers of Ravens WR Zay Flowers after a phantom holding call eliminated a gorgeous 68-yard catch and run for a score, which drastically changed Flowers’ fantasy outing against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football.
MORE: Top Fantasy TE Trade Targets After Mark Andrews’ Injury
Baltimore just lost QB Lamar Jackson’s favorite security blanket with TE Mark Andrews sustaining a significant ankle injury for potentially the rest of the 2023 season. However, that bodes very well for Flowers’ fantasy outlook moving forward.
This week, the Ravens will face a Chargers defense that gives up more yards through the air — an average of 291 yards per game, to be exact — than any other team in the league this season. Start Flowers with confidence in Week 12.
Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears
It was a weird week at the tight end position in Week 11, which certainly applied to Chicago Bears TE Cole Kmet as well. His three receptions for 20 yards were disappointing by any fantasy standard you would like to apply. But the encouraging thing we can take away from the Bears’ close loss to the Detroit Lions is that Justin Fields is back.
The Vikings give up an average of 9.2 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends and blitz more than any team in the league. That should make Kmet a consistent option underneath in this NFC North showdown.
Sit ‘Em Options
Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos
Before I tell you why you should consider sitting Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson this week, allow me to give him some well-deserved flowers for taking this 1-5 team on a four-game winning streak.
Wilson has thrown for seven touchdown passes with no interceptions over the last four games, which has resurrected the Broncos’ seemingly lost season. However, his fantasy outlook heading into a matchup against the vaunted Browns defense is one that I want to avoid at all costs.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Losing Burrow is likely to have a massive ripple effect throughout the rest of Cincinnati’s offensive unit.
MORE: Joe Burrow Injury — Fantasy Fallout for Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon, and Others
Sure, Mixon did manage to find the end zone while registering a season-high five receptions against the Ravens, but I’m not willing to bet on backup QB Jake Browning generating a ton of scoring opportunities against an aggressive Steelers defense that loves to heat up opposing quarterbacks with one of the highest blitz rates in the league.
Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears
To say fantasy managers are disappointed with Khalil Herbert’s fantasy outing in Week 11 against the Lions would likely be an understatement. D’Onta Foreman scored a rushing touchdown on the goal line, rookie Roschon Johnson finished with just five fewer rushing yards than Herbert (despite seeing 10 fewer carries), and Fields rushed 18 times for 104 yards.
It’s worth noting that this was Herbert’s first game back from injury, and the Lions’ defense has been stingy against opposing fantasy RBs this season. Still, this performance should give you some hesitation in putting him in your starting lineup in Week 12.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Fantasy managers may not need to hit the panic button on Diontae Johnson quite yet, but the red flags are certainly there in back-to-back rough outings. Johnson followed up his one-catch, 17-yard performance against the Green Bay Packers in Week 10 with two receptions for 16 yards against the Browns.
The Steelers may be playing winning football, but the concerns are certainly there with regard to the production of QB Kenny Pickett, who has failed to top 170 yards through the air in three straight games. Johnson is a fine talent, but the struggles of this passing offense have me wanting to go in a different direction in Week 12.
Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets
Garrett Wilson fantasy managers have likely been clamoring for any quarterback not named Zach Wilson to try throwing him the football this season. Well, after Zach threw for 81 yards and an interception with no scores against the Buffalo Bills, New York decided to make the move to backup QB Tim Boyle… who didn’t fair any better.
His 33 yards and an interception on 14 passing attempts tell us that Garrett Wilson’s fantasy ceiling is likely going to remain the same until Aaron Rodgers potentially gets back under center… which is far from a guarantee at this point.
Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens
I understand why many fantasy managers are optimistic about Isaiah Likely seeing an expanded role with Andrews out of the lineup for the foreseeable future. However, the sample-size production we saw from Likely with Andrews out of the lineup in the season opener and only playing 11% of the offensive snaps last week against the Bengals hasn’t been very encouraging.
In those two games, Likely has just one catch for four yards while seeing over 72% of the snaps in both contests. While I do understand the optimism around his pass-catching profile and his expanded role, I want to see Likely produce this season before deploying him into my fantasy lineup with the expectations of TE1 production.
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