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Fantasy football Week 12: Start 'em and Sit 'em

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Fantasy football Week 12: Start 'em and Sit 'em

Well once again, Tony and Scott weren't able to gain any ground on Mark, who remained our leader after Week 11. Mark sat Bowe, which gave him a five-spot. Scott's move of starting Stephens-Howling paid off and Tony's choice of sitting Andre Johnson...well we won't go there.

With bye weeks over, you now have a full array of players to use each week. As the season winds down, the waiver-wire may be the best place to find a player to stash on your bench for the stretch run.

Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:

Start 'em:
 
5 points if a player scores 25 points
4: 20-24
3: 15-19
2: 10-14
1: 5-9
0: negative-4

Sit 'em:
 
5 points if a player scores negative points to 4 points
4: 5-9
3: 10-14
2: 15-19
1: 20-24
0: 25

Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 12. Good luck!

Tony Andracki (Week 11: 9 points; Season total: 120)

Yeah...so last week didn't go well for my startsit. Bush was awful, Smith was nothing special and Freeman was good again. And then there was Andre Johnson. He must have read what I said about him or something. That was arguably the best game of his career.

With three holiday games, check out my StartSit for Week 12's action. But, given my luck the past two weeks, might want to start the guys I tell you to sit and sit the guys I tell you to start.

Start 'em

Matthew Stafford, QB -- DET (vs. HOU)

Stafford is finally on the same page with Calvin Johnson, as the duo has combined for 479 and three scores over the last three weeks. That and the fact that Chad Henne -- yes, Chad Henne -- just tore up the Texans secondary means you should have no issues in starting Stafford tonight.

Jamaal Charles, RB -- KC (vs. DEN)

The Broncos have been really good against the run this season, with the only real blemish on their resume a horrible Week 5 against the Patriots, when they allowed 253 yards and two scores on the ground. But the Chiefs have been making Charles the focal point of their sad, struggling offense of late, and he has responded with back-to-back good games. It's a gut call, but I think Charles responds again Sunday.

Wes Welker, WR -- NE (@ NYJ)

With Rob Gronkowski hurt, Wes Welker should re-emerge as the focal point of the Patriots' offense. The game's best slot receiver hasn't topped 80 yards since Week 6, but he's been solid in PPR leagues and should have a big impact this week against the Jets, especially in the redzone.

Sit 'em

Philip Rivers, QB -- SD (vs. BAL)

The Ravens have given up plenty of passing yards this season, but have only allowed eight scores through the air in 10 games. Even with a banged up unit, Baltimore has only allowed a passing TD in half its games so far, and opposing quarterbacks have put up 20 or more points just once. That all doesn't bode well for Rivers. Sit him on the bench this holiday weekend.

Alfred Morris, RB -- WAS (@ DAL)

The worry with Morris was if he would stick as the main running back in the offense of the indecisive Mike Shanahan. He's been the workhorse (at least 13 carries every week this year), but hasn't performed of late. Morris hasn't scored since Week 6 and hasn't topped 76 yards the last three weeks. He also hasn't scored more than 17 fantasy points in a game since Week 1. All that adds up to a risky play this week. But knowing my luck, he'll have a Doug Martin-esque game.

Denarius Moore, WR -- OAK (@ CIN)

The Bengals have been pretty good against opposing WRs this season, limiting them to just 16.8 points per week combined. Moore had just one catch for nine yards last week against the horrendous Saints defense, but did put up four touchdowns in the previous five weeks. He may have an impact this week, but not much of one. Go with a better option if you have one.

Mark Strotman (Week 11: 16 points; Season total: 134)

I'm starting to open up a bit of a lead on Scott and Tony, so I'm going out on a limb with my starts this week. A couple of my starts didn't hit this week (thanks a lot, Nick Foles), but I'm going right back to a youthful tandem this week. I can barely see Scott and Tony down there, and with only five weeks left in the fantasy season these picks could put me over the top. Make sure they put you over the top, too.

Start 'em

Colin Kaepernick, QB -- SF (@ NO)

Jim Harbaugh and I talked earlier this week and decided the Niners' best option for success was with Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh said he'd start him if I did, so it's only right that I hold up my end of the bargain. The second-year dual-threat QB looked calm in the pocket against a tough Chicago defense and has plenty of weapons to use, the best of which may be Frank Gore's legs. I like to ride the hot hand in Kaepernick, who should be a nice play as a back-end QB1.

Michael Crabtree, WR -- SF (@ NO)

Kapernick's arrival isn't the only reason I like Tom's long-lost brother this week. Michael has scored a touchdown in three straight games and will get plenty of targets from Kaepernick against a struggling New Orleans secondary.

James Starks, WR -- GB (@ NYG)

Alex Green's time in Green Bay is just about up, and that means more repetitions for James Starks, who looked fine last week against the Lions (25 carries for 74 yards). I think he could have another nice week against a good Giants defense, but one that is going to try and stop Aaron Rodgers and the Pack's wideouts. Starks is a sneaky play to find the end zone on Sunday night.

Sit 'em

Ryan Mathews, RB -- SD (vs BAL)

This fantasy experiment has to be over soon. Mathews began the year injured and, while he was a perfect buy low candidate, just hasn't gotten it done. In his last five games, Mathews has scored in between 7 and 9 points. He's consistent but you can find a better upside option to use, especially if you're desperate for a win to secure a playoff berth. I was an admitted Mathews fan in the preseason, and even after the injury thought he could turn it around, but I was wrong. Don't make the same mistake.

Danny Amendola, WR -- (@ ARI)

Amendola was great in his return two weeks ago, grabbing 11 passes for 102 yards. But last week he had just 41 yards on seven catches, and Sam Bradford will have his work cut out for him against a Cardinals' secondary that forced Matt Ryan into five interceptions. I'm looking elsewhere for a WR2 andor Flex, though Amendola is a nice stash since his targets are always high.

Shonn Greene, RB -- NYJ (vs. NE)

I've been a fan of Greene this year, who is in the midst of a nice fantasy rebound season, but Bilal Powell scored twice last week and looks to be a thorn in Greene's side. You might have to start Greene if you don't have any better options, but be very wary of Powell's ability to score around the goal line. If you have a better option, wait a week before seeing how this running back situation in New York will really pan out.

Scott Krinch (Week 11: 16 points; Season total: 129)

I had a decent week, but wasn't able to inch any closer to Mark's lead as we finished with the same total in Week 11. For an odd reason, I started Sam Bradford. Fail. I started Jordy Nelson. Another fail. My gut feeling pick of the week was LaRod Stephens-Howling and he blew up with a 19 point game in ESPN standard leagues. My sits were the area that helped me out last week. Let's see if I can find some consistency this weekend.

With three games on Thanksgiving, you can sit back enjoy your brunch and listen to my picks this week because I'm feeling a big week from my guys.

Start 'em

Andy Dalton, QB -- CIN (vs. OAK)

Dalton has got to be thrilled to have the opportunity to go up against an atrocious Raiders pass defense on Sunday. Oakland has allowed 67 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks the last three weeks. And since the bye week, the red-headed gun slinger has thrown seven touchdowns to just one pic. He's an absolute must start going forward.

Matt Forte, RB -- CHI (vs. MIN)

It's been and up and down season for the former first-round fantasy running back. With the offensive line having problems protecting the quarterback, I see the Bears feeding Forte the rock all game. No. 22 is averaging 89.3 yards per game against the Vikings in his career. If he hits that mark and finds pay dirt, I'd say that's a productive 15 point fantasy day.

Cecil Shorts, WR -- JAC (vs. TEN)

Justin Blackmon is getting all the publicity in Jacksonville this week, but people are forgetting how good Mr. Shorts has been. Double-digit fantasy points in four out of his last five games. Tennessee, more than likely, will focus on shutting Blackmon down which will help Shorts' value. Also, it seems that Henne has quite the connection with the young wide receiver. If he's available in your league, pick him up now! And insert him in your starting lineup. You'll be smiling with a win this week if you do.

Sit 'em

Eli Manning, QB -- NYG (vs. GB)

It's been over a month since Eli has thrown a touchdown. Yes that may change this week, but I don't see him having a spectacular fantasy performance against Green Bay's defense, who just shut down Matt Stafford and the Lions. You've got to have a better option on your bunch or go ahead and pickup somebody off the waiver wire this week. For example: Chad Henne.

Chris Johnson, RB --  TEN (@ JAC)

CJ2K is back and what better than a game against the lowly Jaguars. One problem. Somehow the Jaguars were able to shut down arguably the best running back in the league in Arian Foster. Who says they can't do the same against Johnson this week? I don't know why, but I just have hunch that both quarterbacks are going to air it out on Sunday, diminishing Johnson's value. For my sake, let's hope I'm right.

Reggie Wayne, WR -- IND (vs. BUF)

The elder-statesmen on the Colts' roster hasn't been as productive in fantasy terms as of late with only one touchdown in his last six games. Luck's go-to-guy lately has been rookie T.Y. Hilton. I don't know why, but I just don't see Wayne having a big game on Sunday against an improving Buffalo defense.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.