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Week 12 NFL Matchups Analysis (Part 1): Start/Sit for Fantasy Football

Zach Wilkens breaks down the first half of the Week 12 matchups for the 2015 NFL football season. Be sure to also check out part two of this week's matchups analysis for the later games.

Each week of the NFL season, we will be breaking down each of the NFL matchups and providing you with some fantasy football advice and lineup recommendations based on matchups that we love, matchups that we hate, and some high-risk/high-reward players, as well.

Below, you will find part one of our Week 12 NFL matchups & fantasy football start/sit analysis, which should help you prepare your lineups to win this week. It’s essential to analyze the weekly NFL matchups to find lineup sleepers and gems, while also avoiding those players who may turn out to be busts.


Raiders @ Titans - Sunday 11/29 @ 1 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans - The Raiders allow the fourth-most points to opposing QBs. They are one of just three teams to give up over 300 passing yards a game. Mariota has been up and down this season and that inconsistency keeps him from being a QB1, but he is definitely a quality streamer.

Delanie Walker, TE, Titans - The Raiders are one of the best opponents for a fantasy tight end. They surprisingly held Eric Ebron without a catch last week, but there is no chance the same happens to Walker. He is having a career year and should keep it up here.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders - The Titans have given up at least one passing touchdown in every game they have played this season. They should be outmatched with their CBs paired against Oaklands WRs. Carr is in my top ten this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders - The Titans are one of the stingiest run defenses in the league. They have given up just five RB scores on the season and less than 4.0 YPC. They have played particularly well over their last four games, with just one RB touchdown and no 100-yard rushers. Meanwhile Murray has been very quiet over his last two games with just 105 total yards and 3.0 YPC. He is a low-end RB2 here, and there is a good chance you have better options.

Notable Players:

Antonio Andrews, RB, Titans - David Cobb has proven to be no threat to Andrews’ touches. After an awful game against Carolina, Andrews bounced back with a nice 94-yard game against the Jags. He’ll now have extra rest coming off a Thursday game and a solid matchup. The Raiders give up a nice 4.3 YPC to RBs. He is just an alright RB2 because he is unlikely to score but a nice flex.

Kendall Wright, WR, Titans - It looks like Wright will be back this week. It’s a nice matchup for a possession receiver like Wright, but I really don’t trust him. The Raiders give up the second-most receptions to WRs and we saw that come into play with an eight-catch game for Golden Tate last week. If you’re desperate there is definitely a chance Wright delivers a similar game but I’m not banking on it.

Amari Cooper & Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders - The Titans aren’t a great matchup on paper, but I still think Cooper and Crabtree can both deliver big games. Cooper struggled last week against emerging corner Darius Slay but he should have a much easier time this week. You’ll want both of these guys in your lineups.

Clive Walford, TE, Raiders - The Titans have given up eight touchdowns to TEs this year including four in the last three games, so there is definitely some intrigue here. But with no more than two catches in any game so far, I’d have to say Walford should be avoided for now.


Bills @ Chiefs - Sunday 11/29 @ 1 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

None. This game is expected to be very low-scoring (41.5 O/U) and with good reason. The Chiefs defense has especially come on strong lately (just under 10 points a game allowed during their current four win streak). If I knew Charcandrick West was fully healthy he’d probably be here, but as it stands there is not much hope for either offense.

Matchups We Hate:

Charles Clay, TE, Bills - The Chiefs are currently allowing the fewest points to opposing tight ends. They have only given up two touchdowns all season, and Tyler Eifert’s 69 yards in Week 4 was the highest total they have given up. Avoid Clay this week.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills - The Chiefs are very good against running backs, even in the passing game as we saw Danny Woodhead shut down last week. They have given up five rushing scores this season but four of those came in one game against the Bengals, with one lone RB rushing touchdown in the nine other games. McCoy is still startable here but it is a very tough matchup.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills - Tyrod seemed rather off last week with a season low 55.6% completion rate. He has also run far less over his last two games with just 13 rushing yards on 10 carries. I think there is a good chance that continues this week as the Chiefs are one of just a handful of teams to not give up a QB rushing touchdown this season. To be fair, they haven’t really faced a mobile QB, but I’m still shying away from Tyrod--especially after seeing this defense hold the Chargers to just three points last week.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs -  The Bills have only given up more than 50 yards to a tight end once this year--Gronk in Week 2. When they faced Gronk a second time, they held him to his lowest yardage total of the season. While considered a disappointment, Kelce has been a consistent source of points this season. I could still see starting him here because of that, but if you have a decent alternative you may want to strongly consider it.

Notable Players:

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs - Smith keeps doing his thing - avoiding costly turnovers and getting 20-30 rushing yards a game. These two traits have allowed him to sit at QB13 this season. Smith has now gone seven straight games without a pick. That could certainly a change against a Bills defense with 11 interceptions. I’d like to point out that Smith actually had over 10 yards per attempt last week. That was just the sixth time in 115 career starts that he had done that. Expect Smith to be his usual self here.

Charcandrick West & Spencer Ware, RBs, Chiefs - It is very unclear as to whether West will play or not this week. Spencer Ware mostly picked up where West left off with a big 52-yard run and two goal line scores. If West is active I still expect him to get the majority of touches. Whoever starts will be a solid RB2.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs - After a really promising three-game stretch of games where Maclin had at least eight catches and 85 yards, he has now been held to three catches and under 50 yards in his last four games. The Bills are not an easy matchup either. Maclin can still be flexed but I’d prefer to avoid him this week.


Buccaneers @ Colts - Sunday 11/29 @ 1 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Jameis Winston, QB, Bucs - Winston is coming off an incredible game, especially for a rookie. He should follow it up nicely as the Colts are a good matchup for quarterbacks. The Colts have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in seven of their ten games this season. While I’m certainly not expecting five touchdowns again, Winston is a good play here.

Matchups We Hate:

Frank Gore, RB, Colts - The Bucs struggled against the run early in the season but they haven’t allowed an RB rushing touchdown or a 100-yard rusher since week one. Definitely avoid Frank Gore if you have any other options this week.

Notable Players:

T.Y. Hilton & Donte Moncrief, WRs, Colts - Both had pretty poor showings last week with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm. I still trust T.Y. to an extent - he had some solid games with Hasselbeck earlier in the season. The Falcons are very good against WRs too. The Bucs are a solid defense but not great. I’m still playing Hilton but shying away from Moncrief.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts - Last week was a great matchup for Bradshaw and he delivered. This week is not nearly as nice a matchup so I don’t see him as a good start. I’ll be looking to see if his involvement continues to increase. If it does he will be a nice play going forward.

Mike Evans, WR, Bucs - After a slow start to the season, Evans has produced four very good games in his last five. As we just saw last week, Colts CB Vontae Davis isn’t what he was last year. Start Mike Evans.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Bucs - Jackson came back from multiple weeks out with an injury and delivered a solid game. With Evans the clear #1 I don’t exactly trust VJax but he is definitely a flex consideration. This is a really nice matchup. The Colts give up the sixth most fantasy points to WRs.

Doug Martin, RB, Bucs - Martin is coming off a giant game where he rushed for 235 yards. Somehow, he didn’t score but I don’t think his owners will hold it against him. The Colts are far more prone to touchdowns than the Eagles are. I think even though Martin will see his yardage cut in half or more, he has a better chance to score this week. Keep him in your lineups.


Giants @ Redskins - Sunday 11/29 @ 1 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Eli Manning, QB, Giants - Manning should have no problem hitting his receivers for big gains in this game. The Redskins have given up multiple touchdown passes in five straight games, culminating in Cam’s five-score performance last week. Manning is in my top ten this week.

Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Giants - Beckham was already a must-start but this week should be really good. Expect big numbers!

Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants - This is a very mild love but if there was ever a game to start Jennings, this is it. The Redskins have allowed over 100 rushing yards in six straight games. The Giants running situation is a mess but Jennings is still the best bet. That makes him a solid flex this week.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins - This isn’t going to be like the Saints matchup where it was super obvious that Cousins should be in your lineup, but it is a good matchup all the same. The Giants have given up the most passing yards of any team. That has led to the Giants giving up the fifth-most points to QBs this season. That makes Cousins a very good stream this week.

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins - I’m a little worried because of the MCL sprain but it looks like Reed will be a full go. It’s a good thing too, as this is a great matchup. The Giants give up the second-most points to tight ends. Unless we hear more negative news late in the week, expect big things from Reed.

Matchups We Hate:

None. These two teams might play bad football which will lead to some disappointments, but it won’t be because either of these defenses are exceptional.

Notable Players:

Rueben Randle & Dwayne Harris, WRs, Giants - These two are fringe fantasy players that are a little intriguing this week. The Redskins give up the fifth-most points to WRs. Rueben Randle has been surprisingly consistent - in a bad way. He has been between 40 and 70 yards in each of the past six games. Meanwhile Dwayne Harris has had a two-touchdown game and put up a 6-82-1 line in Week 10 before the bye. I don’t trust either, but Harris looks like the one with more upside.

Desean Jackson, WR, Redskins - DJax finally delivered a vintage performance with a 56-yard touchdown. He ended with a 5-87-1 line, and it’s nice to see that he still has it. I think it can continue but Jackson’s big-play ability has always meant inconsistency even at his best. He is a good flex here.

Matt Jones & Alfred Morris, RBs, Redskins - Just one week after they both had big games, the pair combined for nine touches and 12 yards. This is a solid matchup but this situation is too frustrating to gamble on. I highly suggest avoiding it entirely.


Saints @ Texans - Sunday 11/29 @ 1 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Brian Hoyer, QB, Texans - What do you get when you pair an amazing matchup, a bad QB and an awesome WR? We’ll find out Sunday. For the record I don’t think Hoyer is as good as Kirk Cousins so I don’t think this is quite the lock as that matchup was. Still, Hoyer has proven himself capable of putting up fantasy numbers and this matchup is too good to pass up. Unless you have a great starter, Hoyer will give you what you need.

Deandre Hopkins, WR, Texans - Yeahhhhhhh, the Saints aren’t stopping Hopkins. Not a chance.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans - The fact that the Saints are so bad against the pass makes me sometimes forget just how bad they are against the run too. I am not a Blue fan in any way but even I think he is a good flex this week.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints - The Texans have played excellent defense since getting destroyed by the Dolphins in the first half of that game. I’m not shying away from Cooks though. He is the clear top target for this team and should continue to put up good numbers.

Matchups We Hate:

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints - A very mild hate. I think he’ll be fine here and he should be in your lineups. Outside of getting destroyed by Lamar Miller, the Texans have stopped Giovani Bernard, T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory in recent weeks. Ingram is better than those guys, hence the start recommendation, but I’m definitely a little worried.

Notable Players:

Drew Brees, QB, Saints - I’m not too worried about Brees here coming off the bye. The Texans look good but Brees is still in my top ten this week.

Willie Snead, WR, Saints - I will stay away from Willie Snead this week. He is supposedly back to full health but I have a hard time seeing two Saints WRs have good games here. Given that I like Cooks I prefer to play wait-and-see with Snead.

Ben Watson, TE, Saints - Watson fell back to previous fantasy numbers in the Saints last game before the bye. He had a good five game run where he averaged 86 yards with three total touchdowns. I’m not sure if it will continue. The matchup isn’t great. I have him outside my top ten.


Vikings @ Falcons - Sunday 11/29 @ 1 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings - The Falcons run defense has definitely turned it around lately. They haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher or an RB rushing score in their last four games. Peterson is just too hot and I don’t see the Falcons stopping him. Peterson has averaged 128 yards from scrimmage over his last five games with three touchdowns.

Matchups We Hate:

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons - It’s a small sample size but Matt Ryan has a whopping eight interceptions in five home games with just two ints while on the road. Against a very good Vikings defense I am definitely shying away from this matchup.

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Falcons - It was nice to see Hankerson come back last week with a touchdown. However this is a much tougher matchup and there is a good chance the entire Falcons offense struggles. I will definitely look to avoid starting Hankerson here.

Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings - The Falcons have been excellent against WRs this season, allowing just three touchdowns. Diggs has been a consistent player and he is still worthy of consideration to be in your lineup, but this is a really tough matchup. I lean towards avoiding him.

Notable Players:

Devonta Freeman & Tevin Coleman, RBs, Falcons - If it was Freeman playing, he'd be a must-start. Since it's going to be Coleman, things get more interesting. You have to think he would get almost all of the RB snaps and at least 16-18 touches. It’s a tough matchup but with that number of touches I am willing to consider him a low-end RB2.

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons - It’s not a good matchup, but Julio’s talent keeps him as a must-start top five WR.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Falcons  - Tamme has been pretty inconsistent this season. He has five games with 40 or fewer yards and three more at 75+. I tend to prefer more consistent players. Fortunately, Leonard Hankerson is going to be out for this game, meaning Tamme is the second option behind Jones. He becomes a high-end TE2 in this scenario.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings - The Falcons have given up a decent six touchdowns to tight ends this season. Rudolph is coming off a season best 6-106-1 game. On the other hand that brought his yards per game up to 28.8, a number that is still far too low for me to trust him. I like him more than Tamme this week but that isn’t much. He is definitely outside my top ten.


Rams @ Bengals - Sunday 11/29 @ 1 PM EST

Matchups We Love:

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams - Gurley’s production has slowed down a bit but he is still averaging 88 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown over his last three games. The rookie phenom remains a must-start.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals - The Rams are very good against the run but they actually give up the fourth-most receving yards to RBs. Heading into last week, Gio hadn’t really been the receiving back that I expected. He had more than 30 receiving yards just twice in the first nine games. That changed last week when he exploded for eight catches and 128 yards. It may very well keep up this week and don’t let the Rams defense scare you off.

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals - The Rams have given up over 100 yards to tight ends in each of the past two games. They have been beat by good tight ends this season (Jordan Reed six catches for 82 yards and Gary Barnidge six for 101). Eifert is in the midst of an amazing year and I don’t see it slowing down here.

Matchups We Hate:

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals - The Rams allow just 3.7 YPC to running backs. While their vulnerability to passing backs helps Gio, it certainly doesn’t help Hill who has just 8 catches for 40 yards this season. He will certainly have a chance to score but he is likely to finish with something like 10 carries for 35 yards. I’d avoid.

AJ Green & Marvin Jones, WRs, Bengals - The Rams allow the second fewest points to opposing wide receivers. Green has disappointed most of the year. He can still hit a respectable yardage total and that keeps him startable but he is nowhere near the top ten WR he has been in years past. Meanwhile Marvin Jones has been up and down but in this matchup we should definitely expect a down week.

Notable Players:

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams -  You would think Tavon Austin’s playstyle would be immune to a QB change but it didn’t seem that way last week. His 21 yards from scrimmage was his lowest since Week 1, and he at least scored that week. I’ve been intrigued by Austin’s dual-threat ability but I’m avoiding until we see that he can produce with Case Keenum.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals - On paper this is a very bad matchup for Dalton. Yet outside of the Texans game, Dalton has seriously impressed me all season. That includes matchups against the Seahawks and Cardinals. The Rams are a little different of a defense than those two but I am a big believer in Dalton at this point and I’m not letting this matchup scare me away. He is in my top ten.


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