Analysis Paralysis: Week 12 Start & Sit
It's almost fantasy playoff time, which means it's time to stop being nostalgic. It doesn't matter if you drafted a guy in the first round, it doesn't matter if he's a perennial Pro Bowler, it doesn't matter if he plays for your favorite team, it doesn't matter if that player is you (for all the NFL players out there who read this column). If a player isn't producing, it's time to bench him or even *gasp* cut him. The only objective here is to win your league, and owners who get all sentimental and don't pay attention to matchups or recent trends don't win their leagues.
So make sure you're paying attention to how your players are actually performing and not if they're a brand-name player. Pay attention to who they're playing and not what round you drafted them in. You're down six with two minutes left and the ball at your own 20. In the immortal words of the great Joe Kane, "Let's put the women and children to bed and go lookin' for dinner!"
Mike Glennon vs. Lions: Over their past four games, the Lions defense has allowed an average of 23.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (and their "low" was 18). Over his past six games, Mike Glennon has posted an average of 14.8 fantasy points per game. The melding of those two stats should lead to a great Week 12 for Glennon, and it gets even better when you think that the Buccaneers will likely fall behind on the road and be forced to pass. A lot. I'm a little higher on him than Jake Ciely is in his rankings, but I have Glennon as a Top 10 QB this week.
Case Keenum vs. Jaguars: I know, I know. How can I recommend a guy who got benched last week? Keenum actually didn't play all that bad last week and gets to face a Jaguars defense who hasn't allowed less than 20 fantasy points to an opposing quarterback in any of their last three games (and that was Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Colin Kaepernick). I can't guarantee he won't get benched again, but I have enough faith in Keenum's matchup against the Jaguars to believe he'll play well enough to avoid Gary Kubiak's quick hook and produce a QB1-worthy performance.
Rashad Jennings vs. Titans: Jennings is running into a tremendous matchup this week and may even be running Darren McFadden out of a job. He's scored 21-plus fantasy points in two of his past three games and is averaging over 6.3 yards per carry during that span. Things get even better when you look at his opponent and see that the Titans have given up two rushing touchdowns in five straight games and have allowed 20-plus fantasy points to opposing running backs in each of those games. If you're thinking about benching Jennings this week, it should be for someone really good - like, Top 10 good.
Andre Brown vs. Cowboys: It's weird to be talking about Rashad Jennings and Andre Brown as must-starts, but Brown is another player who should be a must-start this week. Brown's been getting lots of carries (an average of 19 per game in his two starts) and will get plenty of work in what should be a close game. It's also worth mentioning that Brown has the best matchup that a running back can have this weekend, as he faces a Cowboys defense that has allowed six rushing touchdowns in their last three games.
DeAngelo Williams vs. Dolphins: The Dolphins run defense is really bad, as in, fourth-worst in the league fantasy-wise. They've been allowing an average of 19.2 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, and while I can't guarantee Williams will win the Panthers game of pin-the-tail-on-the-running-back over Mike Tolbert or Jonathan Stewart, Williams will most likely see the most touches of the three. I wouldn't be excited about having to start Williams this weekend, but I'd feel pretty good about him as a bye week fill-in for someone like Marshawn Lynch or Fred Jackson.
Dwayne Bowe vs. Chargers: I had Bowe here last week and he rewarded me with 57 yards and a touchdown, so I'll go to the well again this week. The Chargers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season, and Bowe has actually seen a pretty large uptick in targets over his past two games. He's always a risky proposition, but I like Bowe again this week.
Jerricho Cotchery vs. Browns: Cotchery is fantasy's sixth-best wide receiver over the past three weeks and has caught five touchdowns during that span. While Joe Haden is one of the best corners in the league, he'll be matched up against Antonio Brown, which leaves Cotchery to face the rest of a Browns secondary that has allowed at least one touchdown in each of its last four games. He's not the most exciting start, but you can do a lot worse than Jerricho.
Aldrick Robinson vs. 49ers: We're digging REALLY deep here, but with Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon questionable, Leonard Hankerson out for the year, and Santana Moss doing his best to burn bridges, Robert Griffin III may not have anyone besides Robinson to throw the ball to. He's only seen four targets over the last three weeks, but three of them were last week and one of those went for a 41-yard touchdown. He's the definition of boom-or-bust, but Robinson could make for a sneaky deep-league play this weekend.
Garrett Graham vs. Jaguars: We've been waiting for Graham's breakout game ever since Owen Daniels broke his leg six weeks ago, and it finally came last week. He saw 12 total targets (nine of them from Keenum before he was benched) and rewarded patient owners with 136 yards and a touchdown. He'll have a great opportunity to continue his momentum this week against a Jaguars defense that has allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end in six of its last eight games and should finish as a Top 10 TE this week.
Coby Fleener vs. Cardinals: It's basically a given that I'll put any second-tier tight end who is facing the Cardinals on this list, and Fleener is just the next in line. The Cardinals are just atrocious against tight ends and allowed Danny Noble (who?!) of all people to find the end zone last week. Fleener is coming off his best game of the season and should make for a great start this week against the best team a fantasy tight end can possibly face.
Houston Texans D/ST vs. Jaguars: I'm going to use the same two words I use here every week that have led to an average of 12.4 fantasy points per week this season: Jacksonville Jaguars.
Baltimore Ravens D/ST vs. Jets: This isn't your uncle's Ravens defense, but they also have a home game against the third-best opposing offense a fantasy defense can go up against. Geno Smith leads every quarterback not named Eli Manning in interceptions thrown (16) and has added four lost fumbles for good measure. This is technically Geno's "good" week in his weird every-other week pattern, but I think the Ravens defense has a good chance to break that pattern this week.
Ryan Tannehill vs. Panthers: I'd hope most people aren't thinking about starting Tannehill, but just in case you are, here's something to think about. The Panthers have held opposing quarterbacks to an average of single-digit fantasy points each week (one of two teams to do so) and have allowed a league-low eight passing touchdowns. In the past three weeks, the Panthers have held Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick, and Tom Brady to six, two, and 13 fantasy points, respectively. Why should Ryan Tannehill fare any better?
Trent Richardson vs. Cardinals: Outside of the fact that he's facing the toughest defense for fantasy running backs, you just can't start T-Rich anymore. His carries and yardage highs over the past three weeks are eight and 22 (that's not good on either account) and seems to have been usurped by Donald Brown. The Colts have him listed as questionable with a calf injury (more like questionable with ineffectiveness), so this all might be moot, but do yourself a favor and avoid the temptation to start Richardson based on his name and draft position.
Stevan Ridley vs. Broncos: A large part of me think that Ridley will have a good day against a so-so Broncos run defense as the Patriots rely on him to control the clock. However, the cautious part of me worries that he's going to be in Bill Belichick's doghouse after yet another fumble, and I'm just not sure I want to take that risk now that Shane Vereen is back. I'm not sure I'm saying to sit Ridley, per say, but I'd think long and hard about it if you have another decent option like Bobby Rainey, Maurice Jones-Drew, and even Shane Vereen.
Mike Wallace vs. Panthers: I know the answer is "for his big play potential, Nick", but tell me again why we're still starting Mike Wallace? He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 2, he's only topped 100 yards twice all season and he's only scored more than 10 fantasy points once. Combine all that with the fact that he's facing a Panthers defense that is the second-best in the league in terms of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, and you won't be hard-pressed to find a better option than Wallace this week.
Antonio Gates vs. Chiefs: Three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. That's the absolute best-case scenario for a tight end against the Chiefs this season, and it took the high-powered Broncos offense to get those whopping 10 fantasy points for Julius Thomas. I wouldn't say Gates is a must-sit, but I'd want more than 10 points of upside from anyone I'm starting and I'd much rather roll the dice on the aforementioned Graham or Fleener.
New England Patriots D/ST vs. Broncos: Consider this your weekly reminder to sit any defense who is playing the Broncos. Even the best defense in fantasy (the Chiefs) couldn't even manage positive points against the Broncos as they finished in the red with negative one last week. Look elsewhere than the Flying Elvii.
That's it for this week, but leave any start/sit questions you have in the comments section below and I'll make sure to get back to you before Sunday. Good luck!