Heroes and Zeroes - Week 12 Fantasy Football Picks

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Happy Thanksgiving! Before you dive head-first into that pile of stuffing, let's fill up on some fruitful fantasy advice. The three-game slate on Turkey Day is just the beginning of a full week of NFL action. With byes out of the way, there are more opportunities than ever to find that player who could fill a flex spot and lead you to victory.

Make sure to set those lineups early, check the injury report and especially the weather conditions this time of year. Most importantly, enjoy football with the people who mean the most to you - your buddies who will text and tweet you in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner to talk sh*t about your fantasy team. That's what it's all about.

Now, let's get to my fantasy "heroes" and "zeroes" at each position for Week 12 of the NFL season. For a full set of rankings, look no further than our very own RotoBaller consensus weekly rankings.

Editor's note: Our friends at DraftEasy are giving you a FREE shot to win $50. Just pick four correct NFL player matchups and win! Try It Now!

 

Week 12 Lineup Heroes

QUARTERBACK

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals - It's been a minute since Dalton made it onto this list, but it's time to give him his due. Actually, it's just because he's playing Cleveland this week. Dalton tossed a season-high four TD in Week 4 whilst in the Dawg Pound. While Cleveland is undeniably the worst team/franchise in the NFL, their defense isn't lowest-ranked in any category and they have yet to allow a 300-yard passer. They have allowed the fourth-most touchdown passes, however, and shouldn't hold Dalton back from low-end QB1 value.

Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts - Let me start by saying this game has the makings of a shootout. Two division rivals playing in a dome, protected from the weather, with two subpar defenses. The Titans defense isn't always as bad as it looked last week against Pittsburgh, but it certainly can be. They actually have given up more touchdown passes than the Browns this season. Brissett is better served as a value play in DFS than a starter in redraft, but one that could produce better numbers than some much bigger names this week (see Carr, Derek below).

 

RUNNING BACKS

Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings - Could McKinnon's ascension to the RB1 ranks be threatened by an emerging Latavius Murray? On the one hand, McKinnon has combined for 18 PPR points the last two weeks after living well above the 20s in three of the previous four weeks, whereas Murray has three TD the last two weeks and has outcarried McKinnon nearly every week. On the other hand, McKinnon is still the better player and could benefit from game flow this week. The Vikings have won six in a row, but let's face it--they've had it fairly easy. The Rams were a tough test last week, but they've benefited from playing Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland, and an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers team. The Lions will test their defense and could force them into more passing situations, where McKinnon would thrive. Detroit also has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to RB this season. His ROS outlook may not be as peachy as it was a couple weeks ago, but don't swap him out just yet.

Dion Lewis, New England Patriots - We could finally be onto something here. Despite the recent love everyone's giving Rex Burkhead, it was Lewis who led the team in carries last week, doubling Burkhead and James White. He also saw four targets compared to one for White and has scored in consecutive weeks. The Dolphins enter this weekend as the biggest underdog on the slate at -17, so I don't need to tell you that circumstances should favor the running backs here. We know White will be the go-to RB come playoff time, but as far as fantasy playoffs it could be Lewis that pays dividends.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams - An obvious case where injury benefits the next man up. Robert Woods was finally making a name for himself when an unfortunate shoulder injury took him out for the next couple of weeks. Kupp is already fifth in the entire league in red zone targets, so there is a big, glaring opportunity for more scoring chances here. The Saints have surprised with an effective defense this year, but injuries are starting to mount. If Marshon Lattimore doesn't suit up, it actually helps Sammy Watkins more but let's not be too hasty yet. Kupp is a must-start this week in both PPR and standard leagues.

Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens - Before you roll your eyes and think this is about chasing last week's points (and highlight TD catch), look at the matchup. Houston has transformed from an elite defense to a cupcake in the matter of weeks. Missing your two best defensive players and franchise QB will do that. Houston has passed New England to become the most generous to opposing QBs and third-most to WRs. They've allowed an average just over 320 passing yards per game since their Week 7 bye. Wallace is re-emerging as a threat, with four receptions and a touchdown in each of the last two games. Given the dearth of reliable WR3 options in fantasy this year, go with one that has big-play upside.

 

TIGHT END

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers - Welcome back, Greg! We missed you, although I'm guessing there's a certain misogynistic, dabbing, yogurt-eating QB that missed you even more. Olsen should immediate step in to become the top target on a team without a clear WR1. Let's face it, Devin Funchess is an undersized tight end who is benefiting from target volume alone. According to reports, Olsen won't be restricted to a certain snap count and faces a Jets team that ranks seventh in fantasy points against the TE. Start with confidence and try to clear Ed Dickson from your short-term memory banks.

 

Week 12 Lineup Zeroes

QUARTERBACKS

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders - By now we've accepted that Carr is not a regular QB1 in any format. His three-game stretch between Weeks 7-9 gave us hope, but last week he failed to capitalize on a cake matchup with the Patriots, even when game script favored the passing game from the beginning. Carr's statline isn't going to get any healthier against the Broncos, despite the home cooking. Carr threw for just 143 yards and one TD against them earlier this year and averages 177 yards and 1.2 TD in his career when facing Denver. This may be a chance for Oakland to catch another break in the schedule and put up a W, but it won't help fantasy owners in what should be a low-scoring contest.

 

RUNNING BACKS

Lamar Miller, Houston Texans - Now that D'onta Foreman is out, somehow Lamar Miller is being lumped in with the RB1 tier. Foreman was seeing double-digit carries every other week, but Miller was still getting a 56% share of carries and ran the ball 15 or more times on seven occasions. It's not as if Miller will suddenly get a huge boost in usage and he isn't going to magically be more effective. Baltimore has held its last three opponents under 75 rush yards and suddenly look like they have a playoff-caliber defense. There aren't enough other running backs out there to make Miller bench material, but if you expect him to start surging then you're barking up the wrong tree.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The more things change, the more they stay the same. Last year, Martin disappointed fantasy owners with eight games missed, a 2.9 Y/A rushing average, and three touchdowns. This year, Martin has missed three games, owns a 3.1 Y/A rushing average and two touchdowns. He couldn't muster even three yards per carry against the Dolphins or Jets, so it's doubtful he'll be of much use against the Falcons. Even with his heavy usage, it's hard to recommend putting him in your lineup at all.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars - Now that Dede Westbrook is around to put up 200-yard games, Lee just won't be a factor any more... Sarcasm aside, Lee has seen his targets and receptions go down the last two weeks and had his little scoring streak snapped at two. He's more of a safe floor play in PPR leagues than anything, but that floor doesn't come with enough upside to excite me in any way. Getting shadowed by Patrick Peterson is enough reason to consider switching him out altogether if you have a better option.

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers - Here are some scary numbers if you are a Nelson owner: 13, 35, 20, 24. Those represent the receiving yardage Nelson has put up in the last four weeks. It's not his fault that he has a quarterback who specializes in getting sacked on third down, but it does put a huge dent in a former fantasy star. Nelson hasn't sniffed the end zone since Week 5 either, which is not coincidentally the last week before Aaron Rodgers was injured. You wouldn't be wrong for sitting Nelson this week with Pittsburgh on the schedule.

 

TIGHT END

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons - It may be a good matchup for his QB, but Hooper won't join the party. Tampa Bay, for all its problems, allows the seventh-fewest points to tight ends. For his part, Hooper pulled the rug from under trusting fantasy owners again last week with his fourth game under 10 receiving yards this season. His boom-bust nature is understandable, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a favorable spot to try him out again. For some of us, it's way too late anyway. We've been hurt one time too many and just can't keep doing this, Austin!

 

More Week 12 Lineup Prep