1:00 PM ET Games
Oakland @ Baltimore
Team Totals: Ravens 26.5, Raiders 16
Lamar Jackson’s first NFL start was a success based on outcome and game-plan execution. In Baltimore’s critical AFC North win, John Harbaugh’s team opened with 13 straight run plays and went on to impose its will, shredding Cincinnati for 265 rushing yards on a 54-to-19 run-to-pass ratio with Jackson as the 27-carry focal point. Robert Griffin III played one snap. Jackson’s lone mistake came on a third-quarter scramble where he threw late into traffic after juking Carlos Dunlap, and got picked off. Not only is Oakland coming cross country for this 1pm ET game, but DC Paul Guenther coordinates the NFL’s slowest defense, which permits a league-high 6.6 yards per play and the NFL’s third-most points per game (29.3). Jackson’s high-volume rushing usage and dynamic playmaking ability lock him in as a high-floor, high-ceiling play in this best-case-scenario matchup. Anything in the air is a cherry on top. … With Alex Collins demoted for Week 11 ineffectiveness and ongoing foot problems, the Ravens turned to UDFA rookie Gus Edwards in the Alfred Morris grinder role to Jackson’s RG3. At 6’1/229, Edwards used his big body and sneaky speed (4.52) to torment Cincinnati’s front for a breakout 17/115/1 rushing line and tacked on a two-point conversion following his 11-yard second-half TD. Javorius Allen played a season-low six snaps. Ty Montgomery didn’t even touch the ball on offense. Despite this plus draw, Collins would be a leap-of-faith flex play with touchdown dependency. Albeit not quite trustworthy based on his limited resume, Edwards looks like the clear-cut favorite for Week 12 touches in Baltimore. The Raiders’ swiss-cheese run defense got drilled for 30/154/0 (5.13 YPC) rushing by Cardinals backs last week, even as David Johnson’s 57-yard fourth-quarter touchdown was negated by holding.
Jackson’s Week 11 target distribution: Willie Snead 8; Nick Boyle 4; Michael Crabtree 3; John Brown, Mark Andrews, and Chris Moore 1. … Baltimore’s run-dominated offense with Jackson under center lowers the floor and ceiling of all pass catchers. … Snead led the Ravens in Week 11 targets, catches (5), and receiving yards (51), but he hasn’t scored a touchdown or topped 60 yards since Week 1. Snead does catch a plus Week 12 draw against an Oakland defense that has given up at- or above-expectation stat lines to fellow slot WRs Emmanuel Sanders (4/96/0), Doug Baldwin (6/91/0), Keenan Allen (8/90/0, 6/57/1), Albert Wilson (2/74/1), Richie James/Kendrick Bourne (4/66/1), Cooper Kupp (5/59/1), Jarvis Landry (4/34/1), and Larry Fitzgerald (2/23/2). For what it’s worth, Snead was spotted in the second half of last week’s win screaming at OC Marty Mornhinweg on the sideline. … Crabtree has fewer than 70 yards in 16 of his last 17 games. … As the Ravens don’t yet trust Jackson to engineer a vertical passing attack, just two of the rookie’s 31 throws have traveled 20-plus yards downfield this season. On top of Baltimore’s pass-volume reduction, less aggressiveness bodes poorly for Brown due to his team-high 17.3-yard Average Depth of Target. Brown will be a low-floor, shot-play-dependent WR4 until/unless Joe Flacco (hip) returns. … The Ravens’ three-man tight end rotation remains a situation to avoid. Boyle led the unit in Week 11 targets but ran only 11 routes, one more than Andrews. Hayden Hurst is the No. 3.
This is a major letdown spot for Oakland following last week’s unwanted win at Arizona facing a Ravens team with still-existent playoff aspirations in a 1pm ET east-coast game. Baltimore is the best D/ST play on the Week 12 board; Derek Carr has taken three-plus sacks in seven of his last eight starts, including 15 over the past three weeks. As Carr’s efficiency drops sharply with bodies around him, it’s notable that Baltimore ranks No. 9 in tackle-for-loss percentage (24.8%) and top ten in sack rate (7.5%), showing a persistent ability to penetrate backfields. … After Jon Gruden initially informed CBS’ broadcast crew Doug Martin was benched because he “wanted to see the younger guys,” Gruden revealed in his post-game presser that Martin’s ankle “had to be shot up” at halftime of last week’s win over Arizona. Martin is cleared to play this week, however, turning the Raiders' backfield into a three-way RBBC with Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington rotating in. This is a near-worst-case-scenario matchup. Stymieing enemy backs for 3.47 yards per carry and just six all-purpose touchdowns in ten games, Baltimore also allows an NFL-low 28.3 receiving yards per game to running backs. Compared by Gruden to Charlie Garner, Richard is the lone playable Raiders back with flex viability in PPR leagues.
Carr’s target distribution since Oakland’s Week 7 bye: Richard and Jared Cook 22; Brandon LaFell and Seth Roberts 16; Martin and Jordy Nelson 8; Marcell Ateman, Martavis Bryant, and Derek Carrier 5. … Cook whipped Cardinals CB Jamar Taylor for a 23-yard TD on last week’s first drive, then gained eight yards the rest of the game on his lowest playing-time clip all year (57%). As the Raiders are making personnel decisions designed to decrease their win probability, Cook’s snaps have fallen in five straight weeks. The good news is that wideout injuries have left Cook with minimal target competition, and he catches a favorable matchup in Week 12. Attacking Baltimore with tight ends has been highly profitable; in Weeks 4-10, enemy tight ends caught 39-of-52 targets (75%) for 502 yards (9.7 YPA) against the Ravens. … With LaFell (Achilles’), Bryant (PCL), and Dwayne Harris (chest) sidelined, and Nelson (knee, quad) banged up, Oakland’s three-receiver set will be made up of some combination of Jordy, slot man Roberts, UDFA rookie Ateman, and preseason star Keon Hatcher. The Ravens allow the NFL’s second-fewest yards per game to wideout units (137.4).
Score Prediction: Ravens 24, Raiders 3
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Cleveland @ Cincinnati
Team Totals: Bengals 25.5, Browns 22.5
Upgraded from doubtful last week to questionable this week, A.J. Green’s (toe) possible return would give Andy Dalton a puncher’s chance at Week 12 fantasy viability after Dalton scraped by with 153- and 211-yard performances in Green’s two-game absence, struggling to move an offense painfully short on playmakers. The Browns’ defense sprung leaks before its Week 11 bye, yielding top-12 scores to three of its previous four quarterbacks faced while dealing with myriad back-seven injuries. Dalton lacks QB1 and DFS-caliber upside, but he will be a two-quarterback-league starter if Green plays. If not, Cleveland’s D/ST will be one of fantasy’s most-underrated plays on the Week 12 board. … Victimized by Week 10’s blowout loss to New Orleans and last week’s brutal matchup in Baltimore, Joe Mixon’s Week 12 outlook is brighter as a home-favorite lead runner facing a Browns Defense that has yielded 4.62 yards per carry and 13 TDs in ten games to running backs. Only six teams give up more receiving yards per game (53.8) to Mixon’s position. One concern for Mixon’s ceiling is Giovani Bernard’s increased usage, last week siphoning six touches to Mixon’s 15 and playing 47% of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps. Mixon’s 62% playing-time clip was his smallest all year excluding Week 2, which Mixon left early with a knee injury. Mixon is a strong RB2 play, but Gio could prevent him from re-ascending to RB1 heights.
Coach Marvin Lewis said Friday that A.J. Green (toe) will attempt to practice on Saturday and play in Sunday’s game. His return isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Tyler Boyd, who became the focus of defensive attention with Green on the shelf, taking a major hit in efficiency and actually averaging fewer targets per game. Green will also attract impressive rookie CB Denzel Ward’s coverage. Boyd is a confident WR3 play with WR2 upside against the Browns. … If Green plays, he will be a boom-bust WR2 at less than full health facing off with Ward. … John Ross flashed the talent that made him a top-ten pick in last year’s draft on last week’s 22-yard touchdown in Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey’s coverage. Unfortunately, Ross has been a touchdown-or-bust dart throw all year with 52 yards or fewer in every game. … Tight ends have caught 36-of-47 targets (77%) for 346 yards (7.4 YPA) with three TDs against the Browns over their last four games. More worrisome than C.J. Uzomah’s matchup is his usage with just one game above five targets all season. Ultimately, Uzomah is a touchdown-or-bust streamer.
The Browns’ offense found its groove under interim OC Freddie Kitchens before last week’s bye. In two games with Kitchens calling plays, Baker Mayfield is 46-of-62 passing (74%) for 625 yards (10.1 YPA), five touchdowns, and one pick with just two sacks taken in an offense that couldn’t figure out how to pass protect under ex-OC Todd Haley. 9-of-10 quarterbacks to face Cincinnati have top-12 fantasy results, largely due to the Bengals’ inability to rush the passer, ranking bottom three in pressure rate (23.2%) and bottom eight in sacks (23). A cherry on top is Cincinnati’s allowance of a league-high 30 QB rushing yards per game and fifth most (20.3) even if you exclude Lamar Jackson’s 117 yards. … Nick Chubb’s touch counts are 20 – 23 – 23 in his last three games head of Sunday’s date with a swinging-gate Bengals Defense that has allowed 5.13 yards per carry and 15 TDs in 10 games to enemy backs. Last week, Ravens backs combined for 25/140/2 (5.60 YPC) rushing versus Cincinnati in UDFA rookie Gus Edwards’ breakout game. In Cleveland’s Week 10 win over Atlanta, Chubb broke the longest run play in Browns history on a 92-yard touchdown sprint late in the first half. He looked every bit like old Ravens RB Jamal Lewis on the run. … Duke Johnson’s touch counts are 10 – 7 on Kitchens’ watch with receiving lines of 9/78/2 – 4/31/1, pushing Johnson back into every-week PPR-flex contention. Cincinnati allows the NFL’s 11th-most catches (5.8) and eighth-most receiving yards (52.3) to running backs. Only the Chiefs (6) have yielded more receiving touchdowns (5) to Johnson’s position.
Mayfield’s target distribution with Kitchens as OC: Johnson 13; Jarvis Landry 12; Breshad Perriman 8; Antonio Callaway 7; David Njoku 6; Rashard Higgins 5. … Landry was held to 50 yards or fewer in four of the last five games, lending credence to skeptics of the Browns’ decision to pay him like a true No. 1 receiver. With target counts of 6 – 6 for box-score results of 6/50/0 - 2/22/0 in Kitchens’ two games calling plays, Landry should be viewed as more WR3 than WR2 until he picks it up. Perriman has more Air Yards (146) than Landry (134) on Kitchens’ watch. … In Cleveland’s two pre-bye games, pass routes were distributed as follows among Browns wideouts: Landry 66; Callaway 47; Higgins 36; Perriman 27; Damion Ratley 16. Against Cincinnati, I’d rank Cleveland’s receivers in that exact same order from a fantasy-playability standpoint. … Njoku combined for 43 routes in Weeks 9-10, managing stat lines of 4/53/0 and 1/18/0. The good news is the Bengals allow the NFL’s fourth-most catches (5.9) and sixth-most yards (65.8) per game to tight ends. The bad news is Njoku’s falling usage moves him onto the TE1 fringe. Njoku has still cleared 50 yards and/or scored a touchdown in five of Mayfield’s seven starts and is noticeably underpriced in DFS.
Score Prediction: Browns 27, Bengals 23
New England @ NY Jets
Team Totals: Patriots 28.5, Jets 18.5
Josh McCown will get the Week 12 quarterback nod with Sam Darnold (foot) still sidelined. McCown was awful in Gang Green’s pre-bye Week 10 loss to the Bills, throwing two picks and leading one touchdown drive as New York got stomped 41-10. Nevertheless, this matchup gives McCown two-QB-league viability with Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa on track to play coming off the open date. Five of the last six quarterbacks to face New England tallied top-12 fantasy results, and this game offers sneaky shootout potential with the Jets’ defense showing very little resistance. … The Jets’ pre-bye backfield distribution was skewed by the blowout nature of the game, but there are indications Gang Green may be moving toward a three-man RBBC of Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire, and Trenton Cannon. This week’s matchup is certainly favorable; New England allows a cool 4.27 yards per carry and the NFL’s fifth-most receiving yards per game to running backs (57.2). Unfortunately, shared usage renders Crowell a touchdown-or-bust flex option, McGuire a PPR-specific flex, and Cannon a mere Dynasty league stash.
McCown’s Week 10 target distribution: Quincy Enunwa 8; McGuire 6; Jermaine Kearse 5; Cannon and Chris Herndon 4; Crowell 2; Rishard Matthews 1. … Robby Anderson’s expected return from his high ankle sprain puts him in boom-bust WR3 contention, although he is also the likeliest Jet to be shadowed by Stephon Gilmore. Anderson’s health is hardly assured, and he has cleared 50 yards in just one game all year. … Despite leading the Jets in targets in McCown’s first start, Enunwa had 18 scoreless yards to show for it. Enunwa has moved from slot to outside receiver with Kearse taking over inside, and his skill set is a questionable fit on the perimeter, while Anderson will poach some volume. … Kearse remains scoreless on the season. … Herndon is a low-end streamer as the Jets’ lead tight end but still sharing time with Jordan Leggett and blocker Eric Tomlinson. New England does pose a favorable draw, allowing the NFL’s 11th-most yards per game (61.0) and an AFC-high seven TDs to tight ends.
His supporting cast back to full strength coming off New England’s Week 11 bye, Tom Brady should theoretically be able to drop Week 12 hammers on a weak Jets Defense that got picked apart by Matt Barkley before its own off week. But Brady is not without concerns. Gang Green blitzes at the sixth-highest frequency in the league (31%), while Brady has the NFL’s lowest passer rating versus the blitz (59.6). The Patriots have played their worst football on the road with double-digit losses to Tennessee, Detroit, and Jacksonville, and they let Buffalo hang around for three-plus quarters at New Era Field. I don’t think Brady is a bad fantasy play, but I personally am starting Lamar Jackson over him this week. … The Jets’ run defense has fallen apart, surrendering a 146/666/5 (4.56 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs in Weeks 5-11. James White is capable of exploiting New York’s blitz-heavy tendencies on screen plays, and this sets up nicely as a bounce-back game for Sony Michel, who hasn’t been a fantasy factor since reinjuring his knee in Week 6. White is an every-week RB2 with RB1 upside in PPR leagues. Michel is a boom-bust RB2/flex.
Sidelined since Week 8, Rob Gronkowski (back) is tentatively set for Week 12 return against a Jets Defense that has faced minimal tight end talent on the year. Scoreless since Week 1, Gronkowski is still a top-five tight end play whenever he dresses. … Gang Green always poses a plus draw for wide receivers, having allowed the NFL’s second-most catches (15.0) and third-most yards per game (185.9) to wideout groups. Averaging 8.6 targets over his last five games, Josh Gordon is a locked-in WR2 play with WR1 upside. … The Jets have been especially vulnerable to slot receivers, where Dede Westbrook (9/130/0), Adam Thielen (9/110/1), Jarvis Landry (8/103/0), Zay Jones (8/93/1), Golden Tate (7/79/1), Emmanuel Sanders (9/72/0), Chester Rogers (4/55/1), and Anthony Miller (3/37/1) have all beaten expectations against Gang Green. This game sets up beautifully for Julian Edelman, who runs 70% of his routes inside. … Chris Hogan hasn’t caught a pass since Week 8.
Score Prediction: Patriots 28, Jets 23
NY Giants @ Philadelphia
Team Totals: Eagles 26.5, Giants 20.5
Past the point of reeling amid legitimate coaching concerns, the Eagles can silence some noise with a win over their longtime NFC East rivals. Even if it seems like forever ago, Philadelphia tore the G-Men to pieces 34-13 at MetLife Stadium in Week 6. Logically speaking, Sunday’s rematch should be a relative breeze. Yet Philly lost three of its last four games and looked like a sincerely bad team in the process, particularly in Week 11’s 48-7 Superdome spanking. The seven points were fewest of the Doug Pederson era. Carson Wentz must put this team on his back. He is a narrative-driven, fade-recency-bias DFS-tournament play. This same Giants Defense yielded 58 combined points in Weeks 10-11 to Nick Mullens and a Bucs team that benched its quarterback during the game. … It isn’t hyperbole to say Philadelphia’s lone Week 11 source of offense was Josh Adams, who broke a first-quarter 28-yard TD sprint and finished with career highs in routes (16), targets (6), and snaps (55%) while Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood remained black holes. Secure as the Eagles’ lead back, Adams should push for 15-plus touches as a home favorite versus a Giants Defense that has allowed 100-plus rushing yards in 8-of-10 weeks and 14 running back TDs in its last nine games. I feel like I’ve been saying this for weeks, but there are reasons to believe Week 12 can be a turnaround game for Philly. The Eagles’ Weeks 12-17 schedule is among the softest in football, and division-leading Washington just lost its starting quarterback to I.R.
Wentz’s Weeks 10-11 target distribution: Zach Ertz 19; Alshon Jeffery 13; Golden Tate 12; Nelson Agholor 9; Adams and Jordan Matthews 6; Clement 4; Smallwood 2; Dallas Goedert 1. … Shut down by a combination of New Orleans’ stingy tight end coverage and sheer Week 11 offensive ineptitude, Ertz enters prime bounce-back position versus the G-Men, against whom tight ends have caught 48-of-63 targets (76.2%) for 581 yards (9.2 YPA) over their last eight games. Ertz’s three targets were an obvious outlier; his 10.3 targets per game still lead all Bears tight ends. … The Saints used Marshon Lattimore in full-time shadow coverage for the first time since trading for Eli Apple in last week’s win over the Eagles, and Lattimore kept Alshon Jeffery quiet (4/33/0). Jeffery gets a much softer Week 12 draw in Janoris Jenkins, whom PFF has charged with the NFL’s third-most yards (626) and a league-high seven TD passes allowed. Jenkins couldn’t hang with Mike Evans (6/120/1) last week. … Tate took over as the Eagles’ Week 11 slot receiver with Agholor moving outside and finishing catch-less on two targets against the Saints. A misfit on the boundary, Agholor is difficult to trust as anything more than a WR4. Tate is a playable WR3 coming off team highs in targets (8) and receiving (5/48/0). Tate went from playing just 29% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps in his Week 10 debut to 71% last week. … Goedert, sadly, has been the odd man out of Philly’s passing game since the Tate trade with one target in the last two weeks.
Eli Manning catches his third straight plum draw in Sunday’s date with the Eagles, whose secondary lost the battle of attrition weeks ago and continued to suffer cornerback injuries throughout last week’s loss to the Saints. Four straight quarterbacks to face Philadelphia have logged top-12 fantasy results – Blake Bortles and Dak Prescott included – while Eli’s shown he has just enough left in the tank to sporadically deliver the ball to his wealth of playmakers with top-14 fantasy scores in three of Manning’s last four starts. Manning is a low-floor, low-ceiling play but offers some desperate streamer appeal and should be locked into two-quarterback-league lineups. … The Eagles have sprung leaks everywhere, including in run defense with DC Jim Schwartz forced to compensate for backend injuries by pulling defenders out of the box. Albeit against Dallas and New Orleans’ elite ground games, Philly hemorrhaged a combined 61/330/3 (5.41 YPC) rushing line in Weeks 10-11. The Giants’ run blocking is far inferior, of course, and NT Timmy Jernigan’s (back) return will help the Eagles’ up-front stoutness. Saquon Barkley remains an elite RB1 play regardless of opponents with 22-plus touches in five straight games. The Eagles could not tackle Barkley when these teams met in Week 6. He tallied 229 yards from scrimmage with a 50-yard score. Last week, Barkley would have scored four touchdowns had Manning not thrown behind him on a late-second-quarter pass with Barkley wide open and no defenders between him and the end zone.
Eli’s Weeks 7-11 target distribution: Odell Beckham 37; Barkley 28; Sterling Shepard 21; Evan Engram 20; Bennie Fowler 10; Rhett Ellison 5. … Beckham should have no trouble eating against an Eagles secondary that’s been dusted by Julio Jones (10/169/0), Corey Davis (9/161/1), Tre’Quan Smith (10/157/1), DeSean Jackson (4/129/1), Adam Thielen (7/116/1), Michael Thomas (4/92/1), Stefon Diggs (10/91/0), Mike Evans (10/83/1), Taywan Taylor (7/77/0), Devin Funchess (6/62/1), Chris Godwin (5/56/1), and Ryan Grant (3/35/1). … Shepard was a major Week 11 dud, although losing a 23-yard gain to replay in the second quarter didn’t help. Nevertheless, this is a bounce-back spot against the Eagles, who are dealing with injuries to first- and second-team slot CBs Sidney Jones (hamstring) and Avonte Maddox (knee) while permitting the NFL’s second-most yards per game to wide receivers (205.9). … Engram’s blocking deficiency is costing him playing time. Fantasy owners who started Engram last week were lucky he caught a 54-yard seam ball in the fourth quarter, because Engram ran a season-low eight pass routes on just 32% of the snaps. Engram has five targets or fewer in 3-of-4 games since returning from his MCL sprain. Philadelphia yields the NFL’s third-fewest receiving yards per game to tight ends (34.5).
Score Prediction: Eagles 28, Giants 21
San Francisco @ Tampa Bay
Team Totals: Buccaneers 28.5, 49ers 25.5
Back in Tampa Bay’s quarterback saddle after leading four straight touchdown drives in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick in last week’s 38-35 near-comeback versus the Giants, Jameis Winston is a monster-upside Week 12 play against the 49ers, who have allowed multiple touchdown passes in 8-of-10 games. 7-of-10 quarterbacks to face San Francisco have posted top-14 fantasy scores, including otherwise-ineffective Eli Manning, Josh Rosen, and Matthew Stafford. Winston and Fitzpatrick’s 271.5 cumulative fantasy points rank just ahead of overall QB1 Patrick Mahomes’ scoring (270.8) through their respective first ten starts. … Peyton Barber reclaimed Tampa’s lead-back job with 20 touches for 110 yards and a touchdown on 68% of the Bucs’ Week 11 offensive snaps, while Week 10 100-yard receiving tease Jacquizz Rodgers touched the ball three times. Now favored at home in a non-imposing matchup, Barber is a volume-based RB2 play against the Niners. San Francisco has shown its most running back vulnerability in the passing game, however, conceding 6.1 catches per game but holding Barber’s position to 3.94 yards per carry. Ultimately, Barber is almost always a fantasy disappointment when he doesn’t reach pay dirt.
Jameis’ 2018 target distribution: Mike Evans 30; Adam Humphries 27; DeSean Jackson 22; Chris Godwin 21; O.J. Howard 16; Cameron Brate 10; Barber 7. … Positive-touchdown regression hit Evans hard in Week 11, first scoring on a fortuitous end-zone fumble recovery followed by a 41-yard TD bomb from Winston where Evans handily beat Giants “top” CB Janoris Jenkins. Richard Sherman has played at a high level, but he never moves off left cornerback. Evans runs 64% of his routes elsewhere on the field. … Humphries has had his best moments with Winston under center and caught last week’s eight-yard score on a second-half slant route from Jameis. Notable fellow slot WRs to face San Francisco include Golden Tate (7/109/0), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3/103/0), Larry Fitzgerald (8/102/1), Adam Thielen (6/102/0), Robert Woods (5/78/0), Keenan Allen (7/63/0), and Sterling Shepard (2/9/1). … Jackson has remained volatile regardless of quarterbacks. Winston hit Jackson for a 60-yard touchdown bomb in his Week 8 start, then got benched the next week. D-Jax is always a high-variance WR3. … Godwin has topped 60 yards in 2-of-10 games, continuing to solidify himself as a touchdown-or-bust WR3 option with a slightly lower floor but definitively lower ceiling than Jackson. … Howard’s (ankle) absence locks in Brate as Tampa’s main tight end, but that hasn’t necessarily translated to fantasy results. Brate’s 2017 box scores in Howard’s three missed games were 2/24/0 – 3/13/0 – 3/37/0 on target counts of 3 – 4 – 5.
Week 9 Thursday night prodigy Nick Mullens took a step back in his second NFL start, throwing a pair of picks and showing happier feet with less decisiveness in the pocket on Week 10 Monday Night Football against the Giants. Undrafted out of Southern Miss in 2017, this will be Mullens’ first non-primetime start. It’s also an overwhelmingly favorable one; Tampa Bay has permitted top-12 fantasy scores to 8-of-10 signal callers faced with the sole exceptions of Nick Foles and Alex Smith. Mullens’ happy feet should be partly alleviated by a Bucs defense that ranks 30th in pressure rate (23.6%). Mullens is a two-QB-league starter with desperate streamer appeal. … Matt Breida torched the Giants for 132 yards and two scores on 20 touches in San Francisco’s Week 10 win, then used the Week 11 bye to overcome any lingering effects from his early-season high ankle sprain. At or near full strength, Breida is going to be a handful for the Bucs, who got lit on fire for 83/428/4 (5.16 YPC) rushing by enemy backs in Weeks 9-11 and allow the NFL’s tenth-most receiving yards per game (51.1) to Breida’s position. No. 2 back Alfred Morris hasn’t reached double-digit touches since Week 5. Breida is a confident RB2 with RB1 upside.
Mullens’ 2018 target distribution: George Kittle 14; Marquise Goodwin 9; Kendrick Bourne 8; Dante Pettis 6; Breida and Pierre Garcon 5; Kyle Juszczyk 4; Richie James 3; Trent Taylor 1. … Mullens is 13-of-14 (93%) for 191 yards (13.6 YPA) and a touchdown when targeting Kittle, while Tampa Bay is allowing an NFC-high 77.9 yards per game to tight ends. … Goodwin hasn’t topped five targets in a game all year, but he also hasn’t had a better matchup with Tampa Bay allowing the NFL’s sixth-most catches per game to wide receiver groups (14.2). Fellow perimeter WRs Julio Jones (10/144/0), Taylor Gabriel (7/104/2), A.J. Green (5/76/1), Odell Beckham (4/74/1), Ted Ginn (5/68/1), Antonio Brown (6/50/1), and Josh Doctson (4/46/1) have all met or exceeded expectations against Tampa Bay. … With Garcon (knee) sidelined for another game, the 49ers will trot out some combination of Bourne, Pettis, Taylor, and James as complementary wide receivers.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 27, 49ers 24
Seattle @ Carolina
Team Totals: Panthers 25, Seahawks 22
Despite suffering what was believed to be a high left ankle sprain and sprained MCL in last week’s loss to Detroit, Cam Newton hung tough for Week 11’s fantasy QB4 finish on a season-high 357 passing yards with three scores, including Newton’s 12-yard TD to Curtis Samuel mere minutes after the injury. The concern is Cam’s dual threat could be compromised, so it’s comforting to know he’s thrown multiple touchdown passes in nine straight games. As Seattle is likely to have offensive success against Carolina’s disappointing defense, this game’s high-scoring potential enhances Newton’s outlook as an upside QB1 who’s demonstrated a safe floor with top-16 scores in 9-of-10 starts. … Seattle’s run defense has put up minimal resistance lately, surrendering a 47/299/3 (6.36 YPC) combined rushing line to enemy backs in Weeks 9-11. If Newton’s mobility is indeed limited, OC Norv Turner could opt for more quick passes and run plays to Christian McCaffrey, who has totaled 100-plus yards and/or reached pay dirt in four straight games.
Newton’s Weeks 6-11 target distribution: Devin Funchess 32; McCaffrey 31; D.J. Moore 26; Greg Olsen 24; Curtis Samuel 19; Jarius Wright 12; Torrey Smith 6. … Although Smith (knee) is on track to return, Funchess (back) was listed as doubtful, locking in Moore as the Panthers’ No. 1 wideout against Seattle. Moore’s short-area quickness, straight-line speed, and run-after-catch ability make him a mismatch for Seahawks plus-sized outside CBs Tre Flowers and Shaq Griffin. Moore is a DFS cash-game play. … Samuel set a season high with seven targets in last week’s loss to Detroit, operating more like a true wideout than gadget guy. Samuel is a DFS-tournament play for many of the same reasons Moore’s outlook is strong. … Olsen has scored a touchdown in four of the Panthers’ last five games. Over the last two weeks, Rams and Packers tight ends combined to catch 9-of-9 targets for 119 yards and a touchdown against Seattle.
On extra rest following last Thursday night’s win over Green Bay, the Seahawks visit Carolina having scored 27-plus points in five of their last six games. The Panthers’ pass-rush deficiencies showed up prominently in last week’s loss to the Lions, who entered Week 11 with massive pass-protection leaks. Yet Carolina hit Matthew Stafford just once on 38 dropbacks, falling to 24th in the NFL in sack rate (6.0%) and 25th in QB hit rate (13.2%). Panthers DC Eric Washington has resorted to blitzing at the NFL’s fifth-highest clip (33%), playing perfectly into Russell Wilson’s Week 12 hands as the league’s highest-rated passer when blitzed (129.4). Wilson is a DFS-tournament play in stacks with Doug Baldwin and/or David Moore. … Beat writers believe the Seahawks have settled on a backfield pecking order. Deservedly, Chris Carson is the lead runner coming off a rock-solid 17/83/1 (4.9 YPC) rushing line in last week’s win over Green Bay. Rashaad Penny is the changeup, flashing big-play chops with 30-plus-yard runs in back-to-back games. Mike Davis is the passing-game specialist with 28 targets on the year, 16 more than Penny and 17 more than Carson. Seattle’s three-man RBBC is probably here to stay, but at least there are loosely defined roles. Carson is a low-floor RB2 with almost no passing involvement. Penny projects for 6-10 touches per game as a dart-throw flex. Davis is a low-upside flex option specific to PPR leagues.
Wilson’s Weeks 4-11 target distribution: Doug Baldwin 37; Tyler Lockett 32; David Moore 31; Davis 26; Nick Vannett 21; Penny and Ed Dickson 5; Carson 3. … After battling early-season injuries to both knees, Baldwin declared himself 100% entering last week’s win over Green Bay. He looked the part for season highs in targets (10) and catches (7), hitting pay dirt for the first time all year. Unfortunately, Baldwin didn’t practice all week with a groin injury. If he can’t play, Lockett will take over at slot receiver with Moore and Jaron Brown outside. Tyler Boyd (6/132/1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (3/90/1), Adam Humphries (8/82/2), Sterling Shepard (4/75/0), Cole Beasley (7/73/0), and Bruce Ellington (6/52/0) are among the slot receivers to have met or exceeded expectations versus Carolina. … Lockett is easily playing at the highest level of his career, but he is a low-volume commodity with big-play dependency on target counts of 6 – 5 – 4 – 2 – 4 – 6 – 5 since Baldwin came back. … Very quietly, Moore leads Seattle in raw targets (19) and Air Yards (279) over the last three weeks, giving him DFS-tournament appeal in stacks with Wilson. Moore’s 134 Air Yards in Week 11 easily led the team, yet he dropped his first pass all season and simply didn’t connect with Wilson. Moore did peel off 57 yards, more than Baldwin. Seattle’s biggest-bodied wideout is a prime positive-regression candidate. … Vannett and Dickson are rotating snaps, rendering each other low-floor, touchdown-or-bust tight ends.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 28, Panthers 27
Jacksonville @ Buffalo
Team Totals: Jaguars 20, Bills 17
Jags-Bills sets up as a gruesome fantasy affair with by-far Week 12’s lowest total (37) pitting against each other run-first, defense-focused teams outdoors in chilly Buffalo. Although the Jaguars play stout run defense, one positive Week 12 data point for LeSean McCoy is Jacksonville’s tendency to get obliterated in road games, where they are 1-4 with a -53 point differential. Regardless of venue, the Jaguars have to be on the verge of checking out amid six straight losses. Not a single member of the 53 wants to go play a game just shy of Canada with nothing on the line. I think the Bills win this game and McCoy gets fed as a volatile if sneaky-upside RB2. McCoy turned in his season-best game before Buffalo’s Week 11 bye, trouncing the sad-sack Jets for 118 yards and two scores. McCoy plus Buffalo's D/ST is among my favorite low-owned DFS correlation plays in Week 12. … Due back from his arm injury, Josh Allen is an underrated two-QB-league play against a Jaguars team that has yielded top-seven fantasy scores to four of its last five signal callers faced. Allen provides virtually no passing-game value – and all of his pass catchers are obvious fades – but Allen’s dual threat gives him upside against a Jaguars team allowing the NFL’s fourth-most QB rushing yards per game (20.6). Allen averages 25.6 rushing yards per appearance, and he has scored three rushing touchdowns despite having played only four games from start to finish.
A top-12 fantasy quarterback in 5-of-10 starts with finishes of QB20 or worse in all remaining five, it is at least satisfying to know Blake Bortles’ erratic on-field play translates seamlessly to the box score. Visiting Buffalo in late November, this is a bad matchup for Florida-born, UCF-product Bortles. Ranked top ten in QB hit rate (16.2%) and an above-par 14th in sack rate (7.0%), the Bills have ample pass-rush guns to exploit a Jags offensive line that lost its top-two left tackles and starting center to injured reserve before RG A.J. Cann’s hamstring setback. Seven of the last eight quarterbacks to face Buffalo have finished Q19 or worse. … Leonard Fournette’s touch counts in two games since returning from his own hamstring woes are 29 – 30, quickly reasserting himself as one of the NFL’s highest-volume bellcows. The Bills have permitted a crisp 4.20 yards per carry and 13 TDs in 10 games to enemy backs. Sean McDermott’s club has coughed up at least one rushing score in four straight games. Fournette remains a confident RB1 play. … Dede Westbrook’s stat lines since Fournette came back are 5/30/0 and 2/19/0, while Buffalo has surrendered an NFL-low 128.4 yards per game to wide receivers. … Donte Moncrief’s Weeks 10-11 stat lines were 3/98/1 and 1/11/0. 80 of his yards and the touchdown came on one play against the Colts. Moncrief is the Jags’ likeliest wideout to draw Bills top CB Tre’Davious White’s coverage. … D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, and James O’Shaughnessy lack fantasy appeal as complementary members of a dysfunctional passing game on a run-first team. Chark was ruled out on Friday with a strained quad.
Score Prediction: Bills 17, Jaguars 16
4:05 PM ET Game
Arizona @ LA Chargers
Team Totals: Chargers 28.5, Cardinals 15.5
In a matchup between teams that severely undershot Week 11 expectations, this is a get-right spot for the Chargers and specifically Melvin Gordon, who has 20-plus touches in five of his last six games and faces an Arizona defense permitting 170.6 all-purpose yards per game to running backs, including 190 to the lowly Raiders backs last week. Favored at home by nearly two touchdowns, Gordon is a layup Week 12 correlation play with the Chargers’ D/ST. From a DFS standpoint, Gordon has 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in 15 straight games, yet finished scoreless in Week 11 because he was tackled inside the five-yard line following a 32-yard catch and run. Keenan Allen sealed the deal plays later on a four-yard score. … Gordon was downgraded to questionable with a hamstring injury, and coach Anthony Lynn was noncommittal on his Week 12 availability when quizzed by reporters on Friday. Austin Ekeler has single-digit touches in six of Gordon’s last seven appearances, but he dominated the backfield when Gordon missed Week 7, playing 42-of-44 offensive snaps (95%). Were Gordon to miss Week 12, Ekeler would immediately ascend to high-end RB2 usability with RB1 upside. … Of all teams, Denver strangely coerced Philip Rivers into his second-most attempts (49) and yards (401) on the season in Week 11. The fallout was Rivers logging just his second top-ten fantasy result all year. Arizona seems unlikely to repeat the feat; opponents average 32.0 pass attempts per game against the Cardinals, third fewest in the league. This sets up as another Gordon-friendly affair with Rivers hovering in fringe QB1 discussion.
Rivers’ post-bye target distribution: Keenan Allen 31; Gordon 16; Tyrell Williams 15; Antonio Gates and Virgil Green 10; Mike Williams 6; Ekeler and Travis Benjamin 4. … Allen’s target counts are 9 – 10 – 12 over his last three games. Allen’s above-50% slot usage will keep him away from Patrick Peterson, who has played 99% of his snaps outside this year. … Tyrell has run 44 more routes than Mike in the Bolts’ last five games and out-targeted Mike 23 to 16 in that span. Tyrell has also played considerably more slot receiver than Mike this year, giving the former a better chance to avoid Peterson’s coverage. … Gates was resuscitated in Week 11 for a 5/80/1 receiving line on seven targets, although Gates ran just 19 routes on 33% of the snaps. Even still, Gates’ sudden spike in passing-game usage suggests the Chargers view him as a plus contributor down the stretch and they’ve “saved” him accordingly.
Fading Josh Rosen has been a consistently profitable approach. Even as he threw a career-high three touchdowns in Week 11’s loss to Oakland, Rosen finished as fantasy’s QB19 with 136 yards and zero surplus rushing value. Rosen hasn’t logged top-12 quarterback results once this year. … David Johnson is the centerpiece to Arizona’s odds of staying competitive against the Bolts, who lost interior difference-makers MLB Denzel Perryman (hamstring, LCL) and DT Corey Liuget (torn quad) to I.R. in consecutive weeks. The Chargers also allow the NFL’s third-most receiving yards per game to running backs (65.9). Although Johnson totaled 154 yards in last week’s defeat, his game could have been far bigger if not for Ricky Seals-Jones’ fourth-quarter holding penalty that negated Johnson’s 57-yard touchdown run on a third-and-23 play. Nevertheless, Johnson has 100-plus total yards and 20-plus touches in all three games since Byron Leftwich replaced Mike McCoy as Arizona’s playcaller. Johnson is an every-week RB1 again.
Rosen’s 2018 target distribution: Larry Fitzgerald 52; Christian Kirk 42; Ricky Seals-Jones 36; Johnson 31; Chad Williams 23. … Fitzgerald visits the Bolts with four touchdowns over his last four appearances and a team-high 26 targets in three games since Byron Leftwich replaced Mike McCoy as Arizona’s playcaller. Fitz hit pay dirt twice last week, first blowing by overmatched Raiders rookie slot CB Nick Nelson for an 18-yard TD, then scoring from five yards out in the second half. … Fortunate to score on a 59-yard screen in last week’s loss to Oakland, Kirk is a WR4 option this week as Arizona’s likeliest wideout to draw shadow coverage from Casey Hayward, who kept Emmanuel Sanders (4/56/0), David Moore (2/16/0), Corey Davis (3/10/0), Amari Cooper (1/10/0), and Antonio Callaway (2/9/0) quiet over the last month and a half. … Perhaps with Monday’s guilty plea to assaulting a bathroom worker on his mind, Seals-Jones was a complete Week 11 dud on season lows in routes run (14) and playing time (39%).
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Cardinals 16
4:25 PM ET Games
Pittsburgh @ Denver
Team Totals: Steelers 25, Broncos 22
Turnovers and the running game were Denver’s keys to Week 11’s stunning upset of the Chargers. It’s a formula Vance Joseph’s team will struggle to replicate versus the far-superior Steelers, whose defensive strength is against the run with just 3.79 yards per carry and the NFL’s third-fewest receiving yards per game (30.2) allowed to running backs. On a brighter note, the Broncos smartly stuck with offensive MVP Phillip Lindsay as their lead runner despite Royce Freeman’s (ankle) return, pushing 15 touches Lindsay’s way for 106 yards and two Week 11 scores. Lindsay has averaged 4.50 YPC or better in 9-of-10 career games. Freeman scored a second-half touchdown from three yards out but has finished with single-digit touches in four of his last five games. Freeman has double-digit receiving yards in 1-of-8 appearances.
Keenum’s Weeks 9-11 target distribution: Jeff Heuerman and Emmanuel Sanders 15; Courtland Sutton 11; Lindsay 8; Devontae Booker and Tim Patrick 5; DaeSean Hamilton 2. … This is a revenge game for ex-Steeler Sanders, whose two career receiving lines against Pittsburgh since leaving the team are 5/85/0 (playoffs) and 10/181/1 (2015), albeit both with near-prime Peyton Manning. Nevertheless, Sanders is easily the Broncos’ best means of moving the chains via their passing game with Sutton likely to be chased by Joe Haden. Sanders has five-plus catches in 7-of-10 games. … Sutton’s arrow is pointing up, but he is a low-volume, big-play-dependent WR4 until further notice. … Although he managed a 4/20/0 receiving line on five Week 11 targets, Heuerman’s post-bye participation was as strong as ever. He ran 25 routes on 86% of Denver’s offensive snaps against the Chargers and now encounters a Pittsburgh defense surrendering the NFL’s ninth-most yards per game to tight ends (62.7). At by-far fantasy football’s weakest position, sheer usage is going to keep Heuerman on the streamer map every week. … Hamilton reinjured his knee in last week’s win, locking Patrick back in as the Broncos’ No. 3 receiver.
Winners of six straight following Week 11’s comeback thriller in Jacksonville, the Steelers trek to Denver to face a Broncos Defense that’s been burnt for top-12 fantasy results in three straight games, while Ben Roethlisberger has tallied top-six QB1 scores in three straight starts. Roethlisberger showed his uncanny resiliency in Week 11, rebounding from a 0.0 QB rating at halftime to finish with top-six fantasy score. 4pm ET and later starts historically keep Ben immune from his away-game splits, and Pittsburgh’s elite pass protection can shield Denver’s imposing pass rush. Only the Saints (8.3%) have allowed a lower QB hit rate than the Steelers (9.0%), and only New Orleans (9) and Indianapolis (10) have surrendered fewer sacks (14). … The Broncos pose an undaunting matchup for James Conner after serving up a 175/933/4 (5.33 YPC) rushing line to running backs over their last seven games. Even if Conner’s weekly rushing totals are game-script dependent, he has stayed heavily involved as a multi-phase threat with four or more receptions in 8-of-10 starts. Conner’s high-volume usage secures his every-week RB1 value.
Big Ben’s post-bye target distribution: Antonio Brown 38; JuJu Smith-Schuster 30; Conner 25; Vance McDonald 19; Ryan Switzer 10; James Washington 8; Jesse James 7; Jaylen Samuels 4. … As Brown runs 81% of his routes outside, it is notable that Broncos top CB Chris Harris stays stationed at slot corner whenever offenses run three-receiver sets. Harris also got cooked by Keenan Allen (9/89/1) last week, and gave up Mike Williams’ 27-yard gain. Brown is an enticing DFS-tournament play as the NFL’s first player since 2013 to catch a touchdown in eight straight games yet still likely to be low owned in a plus draw. … JuJu is Pittsburgh’s 75% slot receiver ticketed to face Harris the most. Whereas Smith-Schuster is a contrarian play in DFS, he should stay locked into season-long lineups as a WR2 with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 12 of his last 14 games. … Annually fileted by tight ends, the Broncos allow the NFL’s seventh-most yards per game to the position (64.0). Last week, Vance Joseph’s defense exhumed Antonio Gates for 5/80/1 receiving. McDonald continues to be one of fantasy’s most-underrated tight ends, hitting pay dirt last week on a jump ball over ultra-athletic Jaguars WLB Telvin Smith.
Score Prediction: Broncos 23, Steelers 21
Miami @ Indianapolis
Team Totals: Colts 29.5, Dolphins 21.5
Andrew Luck continued to cement his matchup-proof scoring ability by averaging over ten yards per attempt and throwing three-plus touchdowns for the seventh straight game against a Titans pass defense that entered Week 11 among the stoutest in football. Luck’s number of consecutive dropbacks without taking a sack moved to 218. Miami has conceded 27-plus points in six of its last seven games and struggles where Indianapolis is strongest, ranking bottom five in both sack rate (5.0%) and QB hit rate (11.8%), foreshadowing even more squeaky-clean pockets for the NFL’s most-consistent passer. … Albeit not quite on workhorse usage, Marlon Mack maintained clear-cut lead-back duties against the Titans with 17 touches to Nyheim Hines’ 6 and Jordan Wilkins’ 4. While Hines continued to struggle with drops and ball security, it’s fair to wonder if Wilkins is making a case for at least a small bump in usage with a 19/182/1 (9.6 YPC) rushing line over his last six games, including four runs of 15-plus yards. Behind a much-improved offensive line, Wilkins is stash worthy in season-long leagues down the stretch. Mack is a high-upside RB2 play with strong DFS appeal against Miami, which got pasted for a combined 181/979/7 (5.71 YPC) rushing line by enemy backs in its last seven games. The Dolphins have allowed 160-plus rushing yards in five of their last seven and 100-plus rushing yards in seven of their last eight.
Luck’s Weeks 8-11 target distribution: T.Y. Hilton 21; Dontrelle Inman 17; Jack Doyle 14; Hines 9; Mack 8; Eric Ebron 6; Mo Alie-Cox 5; Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers 4; Zach Pascal 2. … Quiet since returning from his early-season hamstring injury, Hilton erupted on Adoree Jackson for a perfect 9/155/2 receiving line on nine targets that didn’t include a 35-yard defensive pass interference flag Hilton drew on the Titans’ top corner. Staying home on Lucas Oil Stadium’s fast track, T.Y. should beg for shadow coverage from Dolphins CB Xavien Howard, who ran 4.58 at the 2016 Combine. Hilton runs 4.34. … Inman has emerged as Indy’s No. 2 receiver, running the second-most Week 11 routes (18) among Colts wideouts behind Hilton (26) and just ahead of Grant (17). Rogers (9) and Pascal (6) moved to the backburner. Inman’s target counts are 7 – 4 – 6 in Indianapolis’ last three games, putting him in the WR4 hunt on a high-scoring team. Inman scored his first touchdown as a Colt from seven yards out in the second half of last week’s win. … Tight ends have caught 23-of-25 targets (92%) for 250 yards (10.0 YPA) and five TDs against the Dolphins over their last five games. Unfortunately, the Colts are throwing far less than they did early in the year, and their weekly deployment of three tight ends damages each individual’s box-score reliability. Ebron was Week 11’s odd man out, running his usual 13 routes but drawing no targets. He’s seen five targets or fewer in each of Doyle’s five appearances. Doyle drew four targets on 18 pass routes. Alie-Cox was targeted once on five patterns. I’d rank them Doyle > Ebron > Alie-Cox for Week 12.
Ryan Tannehill is due back from his six-week shoulder injury to resume game-manager duties after attempting just 25.8 passes per game in Weeks 1-5, exceeding 230 passing yards once. Despite his return, Tannehill has experienced ongoing pain in his throwing arm. Opponents don’t matter in situations like this. It’s a wait-and-see week for Tannehill, even in two-QB leagues. Destroyed in pass protection on a weekly basis, the Dolphins haven’t so much as scored a touchdown on offense since the third quarter of their Thursday Night Football blowout loss to the Texans on October 25. It came on a 28-yard pass from Danny Amendola to Kenyan Drake. On a one-for-one basis, I think the Colts’ D/ST is a better fantasy play than Tannehill this week. … Speaking of Drake, he practiced this week in a red no-contact jersey after suffering an AC joint sprain in his shoulder prior to Miami’s Week 11 bye. This is also a wait-and-see week for Drake, who managed ten touches or fewer in three of his previous four games while struggling mightily in pass protection. Averaging 15.2 touches across the five games leading into last week’s open date, Frank Gore has emerged as the most-valuable member of Miami’s backfield. This is a “revenge” game for ex-Colt Gore, even as he remains a low-ceiling flex option.
Tannehill’s Weeks 1-5 target distribution: Drake 25; Albert Wilson 23; Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola 20; Jakeem Grant 16; Mike Gesicki 12; AJ Derby and DeVante Parker 3; Gore 2. … Wilson and Grant are on I.R., and Drake’s role has been scaled back considerably since Tannehill was under center early in the year. Miami’s Week 12 three-receiver set is expected to be made up of Stills and Parker on the outside with Amendola in the slot. Amendola has the best matchup against a Colts Defense that has given up above-expectation production to fellow slot WRs Keke Coutee (10/109/0), Jermaine Kearse (9/94/0), Julian Edelman (7/57/0), Seth Roberts (2/42/1), and Tajae Sharpe (5/37/1). … Parker will try to gut out a shoulder sprain, and Stills hasn’t gone over 40 yards since Week 3. In a low-volume passing offense with a less-than-full-strength quarterback, neither is an attractive Week 12 fantasy play.
Score Prediction: Colts 38, Dolphins 13
Sunday Night Football
Green Bay @ Minnesota
Team Totals: Vikings 25.5, Packers 22.5
Packers-Vikings is a must-win game for both teams to avoid falling into unrecoverable NFC North holes. Coming off a predictably uneven Week 11 at Soldier Field, Kirk Cousins returns to Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium dome to face a Packers Defense yielding a 29.8-point average across five road games with a “low” of 27 allowed. Cousins torched Green Bay for 425 yards and four TDs when these teams met at Lambeau in Week 2, posting season highs in passer rating (118.8) and yards per attempt (8.9). A top-12 QB1 in 7-of-10 starts, Cousins is a high-floor, high-ceiling play in this potential shootout indoors. Matchups for everyone in the Vikings’ offense improve with difference-making Packers DT Mike Daniels (foot) on the shelf. … This is get-right spot for Dalvin Cook after last week’s ten-total-yard dud; Green Bay has been pummeled for 126/637/5 (5.06 YPC) rushing by enemy backs in its last five games. Despite his poor Week 11 bottom line, Cook dominated touches (12) and snaps (88%) over Latavius Murray (4, 9%) and is quietly locked into RB1-level usage. Cook should be started with confidence on Sunday night.
Cousins’ Week 11 target distribution: Stefon Diggs 18; Adam Thielen 12; Kyle Rudolph 5; Cook and Laquon Treadwell 3; Aldrick Robinson 2. … Diggs has drawn double-digit targets in seven of his last eight games and ransacked the Packers (9/128/2) in these clubs’ Week 2 date. … The last four slot receivers to face Green Bay all met or beat expectations, namely Doug Baldwin (7/52/1), Danny Amendola (7/72/0), Julian Edelman (6/71/0), and Robert Woods (5/70/0). This is a plus draw for Thielen, who is coming off back-to-back uncharacteristically sluggish games. Thielen shredded Green Bay (12/131/1) in Week 2. … Lightly targeted and averaging an anemic 10.1 yards per catch, Rudolph is a touchdown-or-bust tight end who hasn’t been scoring touchdowns. Rudolph has finished below 45 yards in six straight games.
Aaron Rodgers has disappointed more often than not against the Vikings since Mike Zimmer became coach, logging yardage/TD/INT totals of 281/1/0 – 347/4/0 – 213/1/1 – 291/1/1 – 212/2/0 – 209/2/0 in their last six meetings. This year, five straight quarterbacks to face Minnesota have logged QB16 fantasy scores or worse. In a classic bounce-back spot for the Vikings back home following last week’s primetime road loss to Chicago, Rodgers is a high-variance fantasy play with a high ceiling but low floor. … Amid passing-game inconsistencies, Green Bay’s rushing attack has been its most reliable source of offense. That trend will be put to the test at Minnesota, which limits enemy backs to 3.63 yards per carry and has allowed just five all-purpose touchdowns to running backs in ten games. The Vikings do allow the NFL’s ninth-most receiving yards per game to Aaron Jones’ position (51.5), helpful since Jones set career highs in routes (27), catches (5), and receiving yards (63) in last week’s loss to Seattle. With touch counts of 16 – 18 – 16 in Weeks 9-11, Jones is a fade-matchup, bet-on-talent RB2 start on Sunday Night Football.
Rodgers’ Weeks 8-11 target distribution: Davante Adams 35; Marquez Valdes-Scantling 21; Jones 17; Equanimeous St. Brown 13; Jimmy Graham 12; Randall Cobb 11; Lance Kendricks 5; Jamaal Williams 3; Robert Tonyan 1. … Cobb (hamstring) resumed practicing this week and appears to be on track to play, which would move Valdes-Scantling back to outside receiver across from Adams. As Cobb hasn’t topped 40 yards or scored a touchdown since Week 1, he would be very difficult to trust in his first game back from a recurring hamstring injury in a potentially limited role. … Despite Xavier Rhodes’ coverage, Adams eked out 5/54/1 and 8/64/1 receiving lines in his last two meetings with Minnesota and remains a confident WR1 play in a game where Green Bay will likely have to lean on the pass to move the ball. … Graham will try to play through a fractured thumb, apparently donning a splint. The good news is the Vikings have struggled to contain Zach Ertz (10/110/1), Graham himself, (6/95/0), George Kittle (5/90/0), Ricky Seals-Jones (5/69/0), and Chris Herndon (4/42/1). … Valdes-Scantling was barely seen until the final few drives of Week 11 despite playing 48-of-49 snaps. It was Green Bay’s lowest play count all year, and Adams hogged 12 of Rodgers’ 30 attempts. MVS’ role still seems secure, but back-to-back games below 50 yards raise doubts about his reliability in what’s been a frustratingly uneven passing game.
Score Prediction: Vikings 28, Packers 21
Monday Night Football
Tennessee @ Houston
Team Totals: Texans 24, Titans 18
The Texans have put limitations on Deshaun Watson in an effort to keep him out of harm’s way after a hit- and sack-filled first half of the season. Watson’s rushing usage has been much less inconsistent, and he hasn’t attempted more than 25 passes in a game since Week 5. Houston may need more out of Watson on Monday Night Football, though; Tennessee’s stout run defense has limited running backs to 141/474/4 (3.36 YPC) rushing over its last six games, while the Texans may be without starting OGs Senio Kelemete (ankle) and Zach Fulton (shoulder). Despite recent box-score ups and downs, Watson’s sky-high ceiling makes him difficult to ever leave on a fantasy bench. … Although Lamar Miller’s matchup is difficult and his run blocking suspect, sheer volume keeps him RB2 playable as a home-favorite feature back coming off a 23-touch effort in last week’s win over Washington. Miller’s Week 11 playing-time clip (73%) was his highest since Week 3. Miller now has 17 or more touches in four of his last five games.
Watson’s Week 11 target distribution: Keke Coutee 9; DeAndre Hopkins 6; Miller 5; Jordan Akins 2; Jordan Thomas and Demaryius Thomas 1. … Coutee’s return turned Demaryius into a ghost against the Redskins. Since the Texans scripted three first-quarter targets for Demaryius in Week 9 – prior to their Week 10 bye – he has drawn one target in the last seven quarters and is catch-less during that span. The Texans will surely try to get Thomas re-involved, but he’s in low-floor territory as a complementary piece in a low-volume passing game. … Coutee led the Texans in Week 11 targets and receiving (5/77/0), but reliability should not be expected with the team sure to make a greater emphasis of getting Thomas the ball. Coutee’s nine targets were well above expectation in a game where Josh Norman chased Hopkins, funneling more action than usual inside. Coutee is a fringe WR3 play against Tennessee. … In T.Y. Hilton (9/155/2), Tyrell Williams (4/118/1), Michael Crabtree (6/93/1), Josh Gordon (4/81/0), and Amari Cooper (5/56/1), Tennessee has coughed up at least one fantasy-viable stat line to a perimeter wideout in five straight weeks. Hopkins runs 80% of his routes outside and is easily the best fantasy play on either side in this game. … The Texans’ three-man tight end rotation of Akins, Thomas, and Ryan Griffin is safe to avoid. The Titans are allowing the NFL’s second-fewest yards per game to tight ends (33.8).
The Titans seem confident Marcus Mariota will play despite exiting last week’s game with what the medical staff apparently diagnosed as a neck stinger, unrelated to Mariota’s previous throwing-arm nerve issues which prevented him from gripping the football firmly. It’s great news for the Titans, but starting Mariota in a fantasy league considering his ongoing and recurring health concerns would require quite a leap of faith. The Texans allow the NFL’s fourth-fewest points per game (20.5), including 16.2 PPG over their last six. Six straight quarterbacks to face Houston have finished QB18 or worse in weekly fantasy scoring. … Neither Titans running back has a plus Week 12 draw; Houston holds enemy backs to 3.51 yards per carry and the NFL’s eighth-fewest receiving yards per game (36.0). Although the blowout nature of last week’s loss to the Colts negatively skewed his usage, Dion Lewis entered Week 11 with touch counts of 19 – 23 – 22 over his previous three games and remains RB2 playable regardless of opponent. Derrick Henry is always a touchdown-dependent flex option and nearly got Mariota picked on a dropped screen pass last week. The Texans have allowed the NFL’s seventh-fewest rushing TDs to enemy backs (5).
Mariota’s Weeks 9-11 target distribution: Corey Davis 22; Jonnu Smith 9; Lewis and Cameron Batson 7; Tajae Sharpe 6; Henry and Taywan Taylor 2. … Davis busted in Week 11 along with the rest of the Titans’ offense. Although his quarterback’s health is a significant Week 12 concern, Davis is a prime bounce-back candidate with a stranglehold on No. 1 wideout targets facing a Texans Defense whose primary weakness is at outside corner. Davis remains a WR3 play only with fewer than 65 yards in 8-of-10 games. … Slot man Sharpe cleared 35 yards for just the second time all year in last week’s loss to Indianapolis, managing 5/37/1 receiving on seven targets. Stud Texans slot CB Aaron Colvin (ankle) is due back this week, damaging Sharpe’s on-paper matchup, while Taylor’s (foot) return would cut into Sharpe’s volume and send Batson back to the bench. … Coming off a career-high eight targets against the Colts, Smith also happens to catch Week 12’s best pass-catcher matchup on the Titans. Tight ends facing Houston have caught 53-of-67 targets (79%) for 600 yards (8.9 YPA) and five touchdowns, while the Texans coughed up Jeff Heuerman (10/83/1) and Jordan Reed’s (7/71/1) season-best games in back-to-back weeks.
Score Prediction: Texans 23, Titans 21