Week 12 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 12 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, and Evan Silva breaks down every matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet last-minute thoughts at @notJDaigle.
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Raiders @ Ravens
*Jordy Nelson (knee) is questionable for the Raiders’ receiver-needy offense. Without Brandon LaFell (torn Achilles'), though, Nelson should simply slide right back in across from slot wideout Seth Roberts and 6'5" seventh-round rookie Marcell Ateman. Ateman is an enticing athletic stash for season-long, but this isn’t the matchup to test his receiving chops. With Martavis Bryant (knee) already ruled out, Dwayne Harris would be the fallback option if Nelson can't go.
*Joe Flacco (hip) was officially ruled out Friday, giving Lamar Jackson another chance to shine against Oakland’s tanking defense. Baltimore’s offense averaged a 72% run play rate — the highest mark in Week 11 by a wide margin — behind Jackson’s 27 carries (!) last week. Alex Collins (foot) is questionable, making UDFA Gus Edwards an enticing option if the former is ruled out. Even if Collins is active, you'll have to cross your fingers and hope he vultures goal-line touches away from Edwards. Another option is, you know, not starting him.
Jaguars @ Bills
*LT Josh Walker (foot/ankle) was ruled out Friday, propelling incumbent LT Ereck Flowers into the starting lineup. WR DJ Chark’s (quad, out) absence may seem insignificant, but the rookie’s actually run the third-most routes (45) for Jacksonville since Keelan Cole was benched. Cole will likely return to the starting lineup across from Donte Moncrief and slot receiver Dede Westbrook, but he’ll potentially be running a majority of his routes on the outside against premier CB Tre'Davious White.
*Barring any soreness in his elbow over the next 48 hours, rookie Josh Allen is fully expected to start against Jacksonville. He’s not a serviceable option himself, but his presence does directly affect LeSean McCoy since Allen was leading the Bills in red zone rushes (11) and carries inside the 10 (5) prior to injury. McCoy is still a salivating usage-based RB1 fresh off a season-high 26 carries in Week 10.
Seahawks @ Panthers
*Doug Baldwin (groin) didn’t practice all week but still somewhat-positively drew a questionable tag. A few in-the-know Hawks beat writers have speculated he’s closer to probable. Reportedly over the ailing knee issues that held him back earlier this season, Baldwin is a strong WR2 if active Sunday. He’ll avoid Panthers top corner James Bradberry, who’s traveled to the slot on just 24 snaps all year.
*Head coach Ron Rivera said he felt “pretty confident” Torrey Smith (knee, questionable) would return from his four-game absence Sunday. That would typically be bad news for rookie D.J. Moore, who’s buoyed his newfound opportunity into an 80% snap rate and 30 routes per game sans Smith in those four contests. Fortunately for Moore, Devin Funchess (back) is doubtful and likely out. Expect Moore and Curtis Samuel to work as Carolina’s primary wideouts, with Smith qualifying as an extremely dicey FLEX in smaller DFS slates. Both Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey should also be allotted more targets without Funchess.
Browns @ Bengals
*David Njoku (knee, questionable) has followed the same practice regimen the past few weeks — limited, questionable, active. His 10% target share since OC Freddie Kitchens started calling plays is more concerning than whether or not he’ll actually be out there Sunday.
*Bengals listed A.J. Green (toe) and LT Cordy Glenn (back) questionable for Sunday, but both notably missed Friday’s practice for more than just precautionary reasons. In turn, the line in this matchup moved off a key number (-3) to -2.5 in some spots. WR Josh Malone (hamstring) is also out again, leaving only John Ross, Alex Erickson, Cody Core, and Auden Tate to run behind Tyler Boyd.
Patriots @ Jets
*Tom Brady (knee) was limited mid-week and unavailable to practice Friday, but there’s reportedly no reason to panic. He’s expected to play, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Same goes for Rob Gronkowski, who said he’s “good to go” after sitting out the past 27 days with numerous ailments. If the Jets can muster any amount of offense, Gronk could finally produce another vintage top-five performance. He’ll be a TE1 if officially active. Sony Michel (knee, questionable) is also a viable usage-based RB2, pending health.
*Josh McCown will get another start in place of Sam Darnold (foot). There truthfully isn’t much hope for a standout performance, though, unless Robby Anderson (ankle, questionable) is cleared. New England’s No. 20 pass defense DVOA doesn’t pose as much of a threat as Buffalo’s did, but McCown will still need more than Jermaine Kearse’s and Quincy Enunwa’s 6.4 and 3.5 aDOTs to move the ball efficiently.
Giants @ Eagles
*Kerry Wynn (concussion, out) was the only player listed on New York’s injury report Friday.
*Philly will somehow try and cover Odell Beckham without CBs Rodney McLeod (knee, IR), Ronald Darby (knee, IR), Jalen Mills (foot), Sidney Jones (hamstring), and Avonte Maddox (knee, ankle). CB Rasul Douglas (knee, ankle) is questionable but likely won’t play after sitting out from practice all week. Assuming the Giants can hold their own in the trenches, there’s arguably no better spot for both Eli Manning and Odell Beckham to bounce back.
49ers @ Buccaneers
*Pierre Garcon (knee) wasn’t able to practice ahead of Week 12 and was swiftly ruled out. It’s a shame as he led the Niners with a 23% target share in his first and only game with Nick Mullens under center. Without him in Week 10, note that Kendrick Bourne (38 routes), Marquise Goodwin (35), and Dante Pettis (26) were dispersed in three-wide sets.
*Even without Garcon, it’s still a terrific matchup on paper for Mullens as the Bucs are guaranteed to be without stud LB Lavonte David (knee), hard-hitting S Justin Evans (toe), and starting corner M.J. Stewart (foot). DeSean Jackson (thumb, questionable), Adam Humphries, and even Cameron Brate should all see an uptick in volume with Mike Evans running most of his routes opposite Richard Sherman and O.J. Howard (foot, ankle) shelved for the year. Rookie Ronald Jones (hamstring) got in a full week of practice but should only be used as a change-of-pace back behind Peyton Barber.
Cardinals @ Chargers
*Melvin Gordon (hamstring, knee) was full practice on Wednesday then limited the following two days. Here’s the exact quote from head coach Anthony Lynn on MG3: “Most starting runners this time of year are sore or something’s wrong. So we'll have to decide if it’s worth holding him back or just letting him go." We’ve already seen this situation once this season. Without Gordon in Week 7, Austin Ekeler ran 23 routes and handled 85% of backfield touches on 42 snaps (95%). Unfortunately, this game is slated for an afternoon kick-off. If you don’t have Ekeler stashed, nab another backup (Derrick Henry, perhaps) from one of the pending contests yet to start. Unless we get this news in Schefter’s late-night round of tweets, Gordon’s heading for a game-time call.
Dolphins @ Colts
*Dolphins ruled out just one player (Jakeem Grant) for Sunday, but have listed WRs Danny Amendola (hamstring) and DeVante Parker (shoulder) questionable. Both were limited for all three practice sessions this week. Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) and Kenyan Drake (shoulder) were removed from the team’s injury report and will play. Drake is an outside-the-box pivot if the aforementioned receiver duo is ruled out. Otherwise he’ll undoubtedly tote fewer carries than Frank Gore.
*Starting C Ryan Kelly (knee) is the only notable injury for the Colts. It’s probably the first time the opponent’s injury report is bigger than Indy’s.
Steelers @ Broncos
*Despite his questionable listing, CB Bradley Roby (concussion) has already cleared the league’s protocol and should be fine for Sunday.
Packers @ Vikings
*Jimmy Graham (thumb, questionable) surprisingly resumed practice on Thursday and looks on track to play Sunday despite breaking his thumb last week against the Seahawks. Randall Cobb (hamstring) is also a game-time call. Without him the past two weeks, Davante Adams has benefitted the most from a team-high 33% target share. Rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling (65) and Equanimeous St. Brown (50) have run the second- and third-most routes in that stretch, but have only seen 10 and seven targets, respectively. If Cobb’s active, he’ll render ESB useless in season-long and thin-slate DFS games rather than actually being a strong option himself.
Titans @ Texans
*Coach Mike Vrabel said he expects Marcus Mariota (neck) to start Monday night. He may even pass right through a questionable tag at this rate since he was upgraded to full participation on Friday. Tayway Taylor (foot) has been limited this week, but that’s a good sign since he wasn’t able to practice prior to Tennessee’s last two contests. Tajae Sharpe would still work as the team’s No. 2 receiver even if Taylor plays.
*DeAndre Hopkins (foot) and Keke Coutee (hamstring) have both been limited this week, but that’s been their typical routine when healthy. J.J. Watt’s (knee) participation need be monitored heading into Monday night.