Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely have exposure to on Sunday. As always, the Thursday games are ignored in this piece due to short shelf life.
Start of the Week: Carson Palmer at Falcons: There’s no denying Palmer has been mostly a train wreck this season. Even dating back to last year. At 37 (next month), he simply seems to be running out of gas. Palmer has thrown five picks over his past three games and taken 18 sacks in his past four. The silver lining, however, is the he’s thrown for at least 342 yards in 3-of-4 games. Missing LT Jared Veldheer (triceps, I.R.) and RG Evan Mathis (ankle, I.R.) has caused serious problems for Palmer’s protection. On the other side, the Falcons are second behind only the Dolphins in QB hurries with 82, even though Atlanta is a middling 15th in sacks. Hurries lead to turnovers. This part of the equation certainly favors the Falcons. But Atlanta has faced the most pass attempts, allowed the fourth-most pass yards, second-most passing touchdowns, and second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Falcons are 22nd in pass-defense DVOA. The Cardinals and Falcons are both top-seven in offensive pace when the score is within six points, and this game has the highest total of Week 12 among the Sunday-Monday games at 51.5 points with a 4.5-point spread. We’re going to want pieces of this game on the fast Georgia Dome turf. Palmer is a good bet to throw for 300-plus yards. As long as he’s able to mix in multiple touchdowns, we can live with a turnover or two. It’s also worth noting that Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant is still battling a shoulder injury that caused him to miss Week 10 ahead of last week’s bye. He was limited in Wednesday’s practice. Trufant likely will play, but before getting hurt, he was Pro Football Focus’ No. 96 cover corner out of 104 qualifiers over the last month. You can do a lot worse than Palmer for a Week 12 streaming option. Plus, he’s only $7,100 on FanDuel, priced as the QB15 there. I have no issue running him out there in cash games.
Eli Manning at Browns: The Giants are white-hot, winners of five straight. Four of those games have been at home and against a really weak schedule (vs. BAL, at LA, vs. PHI, vs. CIN, vs. CHI). That easy schedule continues for Week 12, even if it’s on the road in the Dawg Pound. The Browns are 0-10 with little hope at winning a game in 2016. Over his last three games, Manning has tossed nine touchdowns to four picks, while taking just two sacks. The yards haven’t been there, as Manning has topped 261 yards just once since Week 3. But this spot has all the makings for a big day. Both the Giants and Browns are top-five in offensive pace, and Cleveland is dead-last in plays against. The Browns are also 31st in pass-defense DVOA and 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’ve surrendered the most passing touchdowns and second-most yards, while checking in at 26th in adjusted sack rate. The only real concern here is blowout factor. Countering that, the Giants are 27th in run-play percentage. This is a pass-heavy offense. Manning drops back to pass an average of 40.1 times per game. He’s an elite QB1 streaming option.
Joe Flacco vs. Bengals: Recommending Flacco sends shivers through my body. He’s thrown 10 touchdown passes all season, even with the Ravens being one of the pass-happiest teams in the league. Flacco drops back to pass an average of 44 times per game. That’s a ton of empty volume. He’s thrown one or zero touchdowns in 8-of-10 games, with both of his multi-TD games coming against the rec-league Browns. Flacco has let us down in a couple of plus spots against the Jets (248 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) and Raiders (298 yards, 1 TD). This is another solid on-paper spot against a Bengals team that basically had its season ripped apart last week, losing A.J. Green (hamstring) and Giovani Bernard (torn ACL). Those two obviously don’t play defense, but Cincinnati may struggle to get up for this one. The Bengals could be missing two defensive backfield starters. Both LCB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and SS Shawn Williams (hamstring) didn’t practice Wednesday. Cincinnati is 26th in fantasy points yielded to quarterbacks and 20th in pass-defense DVOA. Like the two quarterbacks mentioned above, Flacco also figures to be involved in a fast-paced game. Baltimore (8th) and Cincinnati (9th) are top-nine in offensive pace. Flacco’s supporting cast is as healthy as it has been all year, with only LG Alex Lewis (ankle) in doubt for Week 12.
Ryan Tannehill vs. 49ers: Tannehill is a play based on pace and being a home favorite. The 49ers continue to be the fastest-paced offense in the league, which has translated to their defense facing the second-most plays ahead of only the Browns mentioned above. Since Jay Ajayi’s big breakout in Week 6, Tannehill is averaging only 28.6 passing attempts per game. San Francisco is dead-last in fantasy points allowed to running backs and overall run defense. Ajayi is a top-tier RB1 play. But there’s enough here for Tannehill to get “his” on Sunday. The 49ers are 21st in pass-defense DVOA and 27th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Since Week 6, they’ve allowed 4-of-5 quarterbacks to finish in the top-12 in scoring. The only exception was Carson Palmer in Week 10, but he still managed to throw for 376 yards and one touchdown. 49ers top CB Jimmie Ward also suffered a concussion last week, leaving him questionable, on the verge of doubtful, for Sunday. Ward covers the slot for San Francisco, and Tannehill has long favored throwing in the middle of the field. Miami is implied to score 26 points, the sixth-highest team total of Sunday-Monday games.
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Blake Bortles at Bills: Three games into OC Nathaniel Hackett’s tenure directing the offense, the Jaguars have tried to become more balanced. Chris Ivory’s two-highest carry totals of the season have come in Weeks 9 and 11. Bortles has just one top-12 finish in those three games, and it was heavily aided by garbage-time stats. Bortles also suffered a right (throwing) shoulder injury early in last week’s loss at Detroit. He played through it, but the Jaguars squatted on the ball thereafter, mostly limiting Bortles to check-downs and hand-offs. Bortles is practicing in full for Week 12, but already arguably one of the league’s three-worst quarterbacks, it’s more reason not to use him on the road against a streaking Bills team. Buffalo is a middling 15th in pass-defense DVOA and 21st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but it has allowed the fifth-fewest passing touchdowns on the season. Only Tom Brady and Russell Wilson have had multi-touchdown games against the Bills. Jacksonville’s implied team total of 18.75 points is the fifth-lowest of the week.
Jameis Winston vs. Seahawks: Winston showed up big on the road against the Chiefs last week, throwing for 331 yards and one touchdown, leading the Bucs to a tough win. But Kansas City was without top CB Marcus Peters in that one, and Alex Smith was unable to sustain drives on the opposite side. Winston gets to come home against a Seahawks defense traveling cross-country and possibly without FS Earl Thomas and RCB DeShawn Shead, who both have hamstring injuries that forced them to miss practice Wednesday. LCB Richard Sherman (ankle) also didn’t practice Wednesday, but coach Pete Carroll only expressed concern about Thomas and Shead. Missing two defensive backfield starters in addition to top defensive lineman Michael Bennett (knee) would be a big boost ton Winston, but Seattle still has Sherman to shadow Mike Evans. Evans is the Bucs’ only legitimate source of offense through the air. If he’s taken away, Winston doesn’t have much else with to work. Seattle is No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Only the Cardinals have surrendered fewer touchdown passes.
Philip Rivers at Texans: Rivers has thrown multiple touchdowns in three-straight games, totaling seven in that span, but he also had a meltdown at the end of the Week 10 loss to the Dolphins, tossing a whopping four interceptions in the fourth quarter. He had the Week 11 bye to chew on it. San Diego is well rested, while the Texans are playing on a short week after losing to the Raiders in Mexico City on Monday night, getting gassed out in the process while playing at the high altitude. That’s pretty much the only thing working in Rivers’ favor. Houston allowed Derek Carr to throw for 295 yards and three touchdowns on Monday, but 202 of those yards and two touchdowns went to running backs. That’s not to say Rivers can’t strike up the same scenario with Melvin Gordon, but odds are against it. Houston is fourth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 11th in pass-defense DVOA. Rising star CB A.J. Bouye is playing at a high level, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 cover corner out of 119 qualifiers. Rivers has thrown eight interceptions over his past four games. While this spot doesn’t look like one to stream him, Rivers’ fantasy playoffs schedule is super juicy. Weeks 13-16, he gets vs. TB, at CAR, vs. OAK, and at CLE. All four are bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. If Rivers is available in your league, add him.
Start of the Week: Spencer Ware at Broncos: Alex Smith is completing a higher percentage of his passes this season than last, and his yards per attempt average is roughly the same. But he’s not throwing touchdowns. In fact, the 7-3 Chiefs have scored just 18 offensive touchdowns, which is only better than the Rams, Texans, Bears, and Ravens. Coach Andy Reid expressed slight concern with Smith this week but said he has confidence in the quarterback. Week 12, on the road at Denver, doesn’t present an opportunity for Smith to right his ship. But it does offer Ware one to get back to piling up stats. While most associate the Broncos’ defense and dominance together, Denver has been anything but stout against the run this season. The Broncos are one of just six teams to have already allowed over 1,000 rushing yards to running backs. They’re the definition of a reverse-funnel defense, checking in at No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA but 25th against the run. Running backs are averaging 4.3 yards per carry against Denver. And over the past five weeks, that number swells to a robust 5.03 mark and 29th in fantasy points allowed to the position. Reid knows the strength of his offense is Ware. While Ware hasn’t scored since Week 7, he’s still averaged 17.5 touches per game over the last two with a 4.33 YPC average. And with Charcandrick West in the concussion protocol and likely to sit this one out, Ware should handle all he can both as a runner and pass-catcher out of the backfield. He’s a legitimate RB1 play and worth firing up both in DFS cash and tourneys.
Jonathan Stewart at Raiders: Since returning from injury in Week 6, Stewart has averaged 18 carries per game with five touchdowns in five contests. He’s had three tough matchups mixed in there, facing the Cardinals, Rams, and Chiefs back-to-back-to-back in Weeks 8-10. Things lighten up a bit this week against an Oakland team 27th in run-defense DVOA and 24th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Carolina is also on 10 days rest, with the Raiders on six after a hard-fought road win in Mexico City in the high altitude this past Monday night. The Raiders’ defense was absolutely gassed by the fourth quarter, and Lamar Miller was able to pile up 104 yards and one touchdown as a runner. He was a half-yard shy of another rushing score. At 8-2, on a short week, coming off a big road win on national television, this has the makings of a potential letdown spot for the Raiders. Take Stewart’s secure volume in a plus matchup and run with him as an RB2.
Jordan Howard vs. Titans: Where else do the Bears have to go on offense? Out are Jay Cutler (shoulder), Brian Hoyer (arm), Alshon Jeffery (suspension), and Zach Miller (foot). Hoyer and Miller are done for the season. Coach John Fox denies Cutler’s season is in jeopardy, but he’s fully expected to miss this game. Matt Barkley is likely to get the start at quarterback. Howard is all the Bears have. Not counting a mysterious Week 7 benching in Green Bay, Howard has averaged 18.6 carries per game in his other six starts. He has four 100-yard games and is No. 1 in Pro Football Focus’ elusive rating, which factors in broken tackles and yards after contact. The Titans will surely key in on stopping Howard, but the Bears have no choice but to feed him as long and often as possible. Barkley has no shot at sustained success. The matchup against Tennessee isn’t great on paper, as the Titans check in at 15th in run-defense DVOA and eighth in fantasy points allowed to running backs. But the volume potential is too good to bench. On top of the 18.6 carries per game, Howard led the Bears with eight targets last week and is a candidate to do so again Sunday.
Jeremy Hill at Ravens: Hill’s matchup is not good by any means. Baltimore is No. 1 in run-defense DVOA, No. 2 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and No. 1 in rushing yards allowed. The Ravens only yield 76 yards per game on the ground, and running backs only average 3.4 yards per carry against them. However, Hill projects to see a serious volume increase the rest of the year, or for however long A.J. Green (hamstring) is out. Giovani Bernard (torn ACL) is already done for the year. On top of losing those two last week, the Bengals were also without Brandon LaFell (knee) at Wednesday’s practice. What’s left? Hill, Tyler Eifert, and rookie WR Tyler Boyd. For what it’s worth, the Bengals averaged 21 rushing attempts per game in the three games Green missed in 2014. Bernard also missed three games that season, and via Rotoworld’s Graham Barfield, Hill’s snap rates in those three games were 63, 71, and 80 percent. His career snap rate is 44 percent. Andy Dalton has already struggled this season, even with Green and Bernard, throwing multiple touchdowns in just 2-of-10 games. The expectation is the Bengals will lean heavily on their run game the rest of the way. This matchup in Baltimore is as tough as it gets, but Hill did manage 96 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries last time he faced the Ravens last Week 17. He should see 18-20 carries Sunday, and Hill always possesses massive touchdown upside. Fire him up as an RB2. If you own Hill and are headed to the fantasy playoffs, his Weeks 14-16 schedule (@ CLE, vs. PIT, @ HOU) is dreamy. All three defenses are bottom-eight in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
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Tim Hightower vs. Rams: Leave it to Jeff Fisher to continue to waste his elite defense year in and year out. Even after losing key members on every level of the defense during the offseason, the Rams are still sixth in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed. They’ve given up one or zero touchdowns in 4-of-10 games. Los Angeles is No. 7 in run-defense DVOA and 10th in fantasy points yielded to running backs. LeSean McCoy is the only running back to run for over 100 yards against the Rams. It would be different if Hightower wasn’t part of a 50-50 committee in the backfield. Mark Ingram was knocked out against the Panthers last Thursday night with a concussion, but he practiced on Wednesday and fully expects to play Sunday. If forced to choose between the two, Ingram would be the preferred play. He has more big-play upside, while Hightower is more of a grinder. After seeing 49 combined carries in Weeks 8-9, Hightower has averaged just 10 per game over his last two. That’s not nearly enough volume to get it done against this tough run defense.
Isaiah Crowell vs. Giants: I completely whiffed on Crowell last week. I bought into coach Hue Jackson’s words way too much and trusted that he’d try to get Crowell going on the ground. He ended the day with eight carries for 10 scoreless yards. Ouch. Fool me once. But I’m not going back to that well to be fooled again. The Browns are seven-point home underdogs just like last week when they were nine-point dogs at home. Even the swirling winds last Sunday didn’t force the Browns to run the ball more with Crowell. The Giants have played a Cottonelle-soft schedule for the past month-plus, but their defense has really showed up big during this five-game winning streak. New York is eighth in rushing yards allowed, 10th in run-defense DVOA, and 14th in fantasy points given up to running backs. The G-Men are yielding just 3.75 YPC to the position. Over his last three games, Crowell is averaging just 7.67 carries at a 1.61 YPC clip. That’s laughably bad. The only way the Browns are going to keep this close is if Josh McCown rips it up through the air.
James Starks at Eagles: Since returning from his four-week absence with a knee injury, Starks has averaged eight carries and five targets per game. However, he’s scored two receiving touchdowns, finishing as the RB15 and RB10 in Weeks 10 and 11. That’s a pair of lofty fantasy finishes despite little volume. Some regression to the mean is in order. The Packers are one of the pass-happiest teams in the league, but it’s really tough to keep banking on Starks scoring through the air, especially with Randall Cobb and Jared Cook back healthy. And this matchup for Starks isn’t all that great. The Eagles are 13th in run-defense DVOA, but No. 1 in overall team defense DVOA. They’ve allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to running backs and only six touchdowns to the position. Only the Ravens, Panthers, Dolphins, and Lions have given up fewer scores. With Eagles default top CB Leodis McKelvin in the concussion protocol, Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t be forced to check down to Starks in this one. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams could have big games.
Start of the Week: Rishard Matthews at Bears: After playing 53 percent of the snaps in Weeks 1-7, Matthews has been in on 87.9 percent of the plays Weeks 8-11. In the first seven games, Matthews averaged just over three catches and 45 yards on 4.9 targets per contest. Over his last four, those numbers have jumped to 5.5 catches for 71.5 yards and four total touchdowns on eight targets. In chronological order, Matthews has been the WR26, WR4, WR19, and WR12 in his last four. Maybe the Titans should have been using their big free-agent addition all along instead of giving snaps to washed-up Andre Johnson before he was forced into retirement ahead of Week 8. We’ll have to keep an eye out for potential windy conditions in the Windy City this weekend, but this matchup couldn’t get much better for Matthews. As the Titans’ clear No. 1 receiver, he gets a Bears pass defense that has allowed the most catches, third-most yards, and third-most fantasy points to receivers. Over the last five weeks, only the 49ers have allowed more fantasy points to the position. Matchup and recent success should have Matthews locked into fantasy lineups. And on FanDuel, where Matthews is just $6,200 as WR26, he makes for a strong play there as well.
Mike Wallace/Steve Smith Sr. vs. Bengals: Both Wallace and Smith are starting options. As mentioned previously, the Bengals have been shredded through the air this season and look like they’ll be without their best cover corner in Dre Kirkpatrick, who missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury. Joe Flacco averages 44 drop-backs per game, and Dennis Pitta has been utterly worthless all season. His targets have taken a hit since the bye, averaging just 4.6 per game over his last three. Prior to the Week 8 bye, Pitta had been seeing 7.7 targets per game. Since the bye, Wallace has seen 21 targets, while Smith has drawn 23. Smith and Wallace are also 1-2 in red-zone targets since the open date, with Smith seeing three and Wallace one. The Bengals may be down two starters on the back end in Kirkpatrick and SS Shawn Williams (hamstring), and their season was pretty much ended last week when A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard went down. Cincinnati may find it tough getting up for this road game after all of the heartbreak last week brought them.
Sterling Shepard at Browns: Since the Week 8 bye and the calendar switched to November, Shepard has been a touchdown machine. Over the past three games, Shepard has averaged 4.3 catches for 47.3 yards on 7.6 targets and scored a touchdown in each contest. The floor is low if Shepard is held out of the end zone, but only three teams have allowed more touchdown to opposing receivers than the Browns. Cleveland is 31st in pass-defense DVOA and 24th in fantasy points allowed to the receiver position. The Giants are a three-wide offense, and Shepard runs over 90 percent of his routes out of the slot. Browns slot CB Tramon Williams is Pro Football Focus’ No. 110 cover corner out of 119 qualifiers this season and allows a 115.2 passer rating in his coverage. The Giants should have their way with this Cleveland defense. With Odell Beckham likely to draw the toughest (even though it’s not that tough) draw against Joe Haden, it could open more looks for the Giants’ other pass catchers like Shepard and Will Tye down the middle of the field.
DeVante Parker vs. 49ers: The light bulb appears to have flipped back on for Parker the past two weeks. In that span, the second-year wideout has seen 18 targets and turned them into a 13-182-1 receiving line. He had a 103-yard game against the Chargers in Week 10 before dominating the final possession against the Rams last week, making a shoestring catch with the Dolphins trailing 10-7 before capping the drive off with a game-winning nine-yard touchdown as he fell to the ground in the corner of the end zone. He beat top Rams CB Trumaine Johnson for the score. It’s probably no coincidence that all this production has come since coach Adam Gase declared Parker healthy after the sophomore battled a hamstring issue through Week 9. Since the Week 9 bye, Parker has paced the Dolphins in targets with 22 compared to just 17 for Jarvis Landry. It looks like the Dolphins have become a run-and-shoot type offense, leaning on Jay Ajayi and the run game before taking outside shots to Parker and Kenny Stills (12 targets over the past two weeks). This entire Miami offense is in play Sunday, but Parker presents the greatest upside of all the pass catchers. The 49ers have allowed the most touchdowns and most fantasy points to opposing receivers. With the 49ers being the fastest-paced offense in the league, their defense has faced the second-most plays against. Ryan Tannehill should have no problem throwing the ball 30 times, and Parker is his new No. 1 target.
Cameron Meredith vs. Titans: Meredith continues to be worth hanging onto in most leagues simply due to the Bears’ offense being stripped of their top-end playmakers in recent weeks. Alshon Jeffery has three games left on his suspension and Zach Miller (foot) was just placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday. Meredith, Eddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson make up the receiving corps. But since his big Weeks 5 and 6, Meredith has seen a total of nine targets in four games. He’s turned them into seven catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was a 50-yard Hail Mary at halftime in Week 10. Pure luck. Meredith takes over as the nominal No. 1 receiver in Chicago, but Jay Cutler (shoulder) and Brian Hoyer (arm) are hurt, leaving Matt Barkley as the overwhelming favorite to start against the Titans. Barkley completed 6-of-15 passes for 81 yards and two interceptions in Week 7 spot duty against the Packers. Since that game, the Packers have allowed 153 points in four games. If Barkley couldn’t do it against them, he can’t get it done against anybody. The Titans’ defense will be locking its chops any time Barkley drops back to pass.
Kenny Britt at Saints: Britt’s aDOT (Average Depth of Target) for the season is 12.1 yards. In Jared Goff’s first start last week against the Dolphins, Britt’s aDOT was 11.0. It’s not a major difference, but it’s a downgrade nonetheless, and it was buoyed by a trio of Hail Mary heaves on the Rams’ final possession. Goff attempted just five passes that traveled 10-plus yards through the air against Miami, completing none of them. It’s not the rookie’s fault, but coach Jeff Fisher has zero offensive creativity and hired OC Rob Boras just so he had someone who he could boss around on that side of the ball. The Rams aren’t willing to push the ball downfield, leaving us wanting zero part of the outside receivers. While this is a great on-paper spot for Britt in the Superdome turf, he’s impossible to trust with Goff under center. The Saints have also been playing stouter pass defense of late, holding Cam Newton to 199 passing yards on the road last week and confusing the hell out of Trevor Siemian the week before. For the season, New Orleans is 14th in fantasy points allowed to receivers. Todd Gurley and Lance Kendricks might be the only start-able Rams in this one.
Travis Benjamin at Texans: Benjamin has been battling a sprained PCL since Week 7. He played through it that week but had to bow out early in Week 8 and played just 7-of-80 snaps in Week 9. Benjamin was inactive Week 10 ahead of last week’s bye. He’s practicing in full out of the open date, which obviously puts him on track to return against the Texans. However, it’s always important to use extreme caution when considering starting players coming off lengthy absences. Not only is Benjamin coming off one, he’s also in a brutal matchup on the road. The Texans have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers and are 11th in pass-defense DVOA. They’re coming off a Monday night game in which they held Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to a combined six catches for 29 yards before Cooper took a fourth-quarter screen 35 yards to the house. Crabtree was limited to three catches for a measly seven yards. With Tyrell Williams dominating of late, Benjamin will probably take a back seat behind he and Antonio Gates in the pecking order.
Start of the Week: Will Tye at Browns: Since taking over as the clear No. 1 tight end out of the Week 8 bye, Tye has played 76.2 percent of the snaps and drawn 6.3 targets per game. Earlier this week, Eli Manning called Tye a “strong weapon” and admitted “we’ve got to find ways to keep getting him the ball.” Tye has only managed 98 yards and one touchdown in his three games as the starter, but a big opportunity presents itself Sunday. The Browns are 32nd in catches, yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points allowed to tight ends. As mentioned previously, literally every Giants skill player is worth firing up as a fantasy starter this week. Tye is only $4,600 on FanDuel.
Lance Kendricks at Saints: Over the past month, Kendricks is tied for 10th among all tight ends, averaging seven targets per game. That’s good volume at such a shallow position. And in Jared Goff’s first start last week, Kendricks saw exactly seven targets to lead the team. The Rams are squatting on Goff and forcing him to be a check-down artist in this unimaginative offense. That’ll lead to plenty of looks for Kendricks and Todd Gurley/Benny Cunningham out of the backfield. Los Angeles didn’t visit the red zone last week, but Kendricks has led the team in targets inside the 20-yard line with three over the past three weeks. He’s probably the Rams’ best bet for a receiving score. The Superdome is the Coors Field of the NFL, so don’t expect the Rams to be held scoreless.
Gary Barnidge vs. Giants: Josh McCown is back under center for the Browns. And with that brings a rise to Barnidge’s fantasy value. He caught his first touchdown of the season last week from McCown and has caught seven of his 10 touchdowns over the past two years from McCown. Barnidge’s overall target share has dipped this season with the arrivals of Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman, but he lands in a good Week 12 spot. Over their past four games, the Giants have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Only the Bengals have surrendered more yards to the position in that span. Tyler Eifert went 3-96 against the Giants in Week 10, and Zach Miller posted 3-61-1 last week before leaving early after suffering a season-ending broken foot.
Cameron Brate vs. Seahawks: On paper, this isn’t an all that tremendous spot for Brate. But if we take into account that Brate is probably the Bucs’ No. 2 option in the pass game behind Mike Evans, and Evans will likely be shadowed by Richard Sherman, that should lead to a couple more looks for Brate. And the weakness of Seattle’s pass defense is against tight ends. The Seahawks are 21st in DVOA versus the position, and FS Earl Thomas (hamstring) is questionable-borderline-doubtful to suit up Sunday. Brate has scored a touchdown in three of his past four games.
Austin Hooper vs. Cardinals: Coming out of the bye, Hooper is a recommended waiver add for the stretch run with Jacob Tamme (shoulder) done for the season. Since Tamme went down in Week 8, Hooper has played 73.7 percent of the snaps and averaged four targets per game. The volume isn’t all that great, but Hooper is playing in one of the league’s top offenses that plays its home games in a dome. However, this week isn’t shaping up as one that will allow Hooper to break out. The Cardinals are the only team that has yet to allow a touchdown to a tight end. They’ve also allowed the fewest catches for the fewest yards and fewest fantasy points to the position.
Dennis Pitta vs. Bengals: As mentioned previously, Pitta’s targets have been WAY down since the Week 8 bye. Prior to the open date, Pitta was averaging 7.7 targets per game. Since then, he’s seen an average of 4.3 per contest. As of Sunday, Pitta hasn’t scored a touchdown in 1,085 days. We’ve had a Winter and Summer Olympics since Pitta last scored a touchdown. On paper, the matchup is phenomenal for Pitta. The Bengals have allowed the second-most yards and fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. But Pitta has already been a letdown in numerous plus spots this season. He doesn’t get red-zone targets nor score, making him an undesirable fantasy streamer.
Julius Thomas at Bills: Thomas was just a major bust in one of the best spots imaginable last week against the Lions. He caught 3-of-5 targets for 12 scoreless yards. Thomas hasn’t topped 28 yards receiving since Week 2. He shouldn’t be owned in 10- or 12-team leagues any longer and isn’t worth streaming consideration against a Bills defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest catches to tight ends. The Jaguars have one of the lowest implied team totals of the week at 18.75 points.
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