1:00PM ET Games
New Orleans @ Houston
The Saints return from their bye as three-point dogs at Houston's domed NRG Stadium. In a game with a 47.5-point total, New Orleans' team total is just above 22. ... Drew Brees has performed better indoors than outdoors throughout his career, averaging 7.96 yards per pass attempt with a 6.0% touchdown rate (TDs/attempts) across 96 domed games. He's averaged 7.13 YPA with a 4.7% TD rate in 108 outdoor affairs. Although the Texans' defense has made major strides recently -- holding the opposition to three touchdowns over its last 14 quarters -- that statistical improvement has come against Zach Mettenberger, Andy Dalton in primetime, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brees entered the Saints' open date with a 12:5 TD-to-INT ratio and 73.5% completion rate over his previous three games. In a matchup pitting against each other teams that each rank top three in the NFL in offensive plays, this projects as a fast-paced potential shootout wherein Brees offers a safe floor and sky-high ceiling. ... Tim Hightower finished the Saints' Week 10 loss to Washington with 11 carries, but eight of them came on the final two drives of New Orleans' 47-14 defeat. The Saints' backfield belongs to Mark Ingram, who is averaging 4.56 YPC on the season and on pace for a career-high 64 receptions. Ingram is a mid-range RB1 play versus a below-average Texans run defense that yields 4.30 yards per carry to running backs and ranks 19th in Football Outsiders' DVOA. ... Despite a significant deficit against the Redskins, theoretical passing-game specialist C.J. Spiller managed a 33% snap rate and 34 total yards on ten touches. Perhaps Spiller's usage will increase coming off the bye, but that's optimistic thinking. Spiller has yet to top ten touches through nine games as a Saint.
Brees' target distribution over his last seven games: Brandin Cooks 57; Willie Snead 48; Ben Watson 45; Marques Colston 30; Ingram 29; Spiller 28; Josh Hill 13; Brandon Coleman 9. ... Now showing a high floor in addition to big upside, Cooks has exceeded 70 receiving yards in five of his last six games with six touchdowns during that span. Cooks' matchup is not quite ideal against stout Texans perimeter corners Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph, but Cooks is beginning to show matchup-proof, WR1-caliber qualities. He's an exciting start in this up-tempo game. ... Snead goose egged in Week 10, but was battling a knee injury at the time and will be all systems go coming off New Orleans' bye. Before the zero, Snead averaged 8.2 targets over his previous five games. He's a respectable WR3 play, preferably in PPR leagues. ... Watson has drawn more than five targets in just 2-of-10 games, while the Texans are 22nd in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Fantasy owners looking to stream Watson will have to hope the likely fast pace of Saints-Texans compensates for his concerning usage and Week 12 matchup.
Getting back Brian Hoyer from a concussion, the Texans host the Saints as three-point favorites with a team total above 25. I like the chances of this game going over the Vegas total, and see Hoyer as this week's top QB1 streamer. ... Perhaps the coordinator change from Rob Ryan to Dennis Allen will make a difference. Ultimately, the Saints' biggest defensive flaw is personnel, beginning with an inability to rush the quarterback. Ranked 21st in sacks (22) and dead last in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA, New Orleans has permitted a league-worst 28:4 TD-to-INT ratio while getting flamed by Eli Manning, Marcus Mariota, and Kirk Cousins for a combined 78-of-105 passing (74.3%), 1,045 yards (9.95 YPA), 14 touchdowns, and zero picks in Weeks 8-10. The Saints have allowed 320-plus passing yards and three-plus TD passes in three straight games, and multiple touchdown passes in eight of their ten games this season. ... The biggest risk in teeing up Hoyer is the possibility of the Texans turning this game into a ground-and-pound affair. New Orleans is certainly vulnerable in run defense, giving up 4.98 yards per carry and the fourth most fantasy points in the league to running backs. Alfred Blue logged 54% of Houston's Week 11 snaps and a team-high 24 touches, and he makes sense as a boom-bust RB2/flex play this week. Should the Saints turn this one into a shootout and force Houston into pass-first comeback mode, passing-game specialist Jonathan Grimes would get more run.
Even at his lofty price tag, DeAndre Hopkins will be the highest-owned wide receiver on DFS sites this week. It's a deserved distinction after "Nuk" burned up Darrelle Revis (5-118-2) last week. Hopkins' Week 12 matchup shouldn't be overlooked, however, especially for DFS players courageous enough to fade the chalk. Dennis Allen may look to make something of a statement in his first game as New Orleans' defensive coordinator, while Saints shadow CB Delvin Breaux possesses the size (6'1/193) and athleticism to give Hopkins a run for his money. Breaux is the No. 7 overall cover corner at Pro Football Focus. Breaux, however, lost his last two shadow matchups with big-time No. 1 receivers (T.Y. Hilton, 4-150-2; Odell Beckham, 8-130-3). ... On the off chance Breaux's coverage does prevent Hopkins from getting open on more routes than usual, Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington become attractive dart-throw WR3s matching up with every-week burn victim RCB Brandon Browner and retread slot corner Kyle Wilson. If deciding between the two, note that Washington is a full-time player while Shorts only enters in sub-packages. Washington logged six targets and an 84% snap rate in last week's win over the Jets compared to Shorts' five targets and 62% playing-time clip. The Texans did give Shorts four carries in the Wildcat formation, enhancing his fantasy stats in Houston's Week 11 victory.
Score Prediction: Texans 27, Saints 23
St. Louis @ Cincinnati
The Vegas total on Rams-Bengals is 42 -- tied for second lowest of Week 12 -- with Cincinnati favored by nine. The Bengals' team total is 25.5 points. ... Returning home for a non-primetime game after playing three straight beneath the bright lights, Andy Dalton will face a Rams team that ranks third in pass-defense DVOA and has allowed the second fewest passing touchdowns (9) in the league. The metrics on St. Louis' defense look imposing, but DC Gregg Williams' injury-decimated pass rush has managed four sacks over its last three games. Dalton played well in his primetime stretch, compiling a 5:1 TD-to-INT ratio and passable 7.17 yards-per-attempt average against the Cardinals, Texans, and Browns. The Bengals' full-on embrace of a pass-first offense has raised Dalton's floor, while playmaking weaponry keeps his ceiling intact. Even in a sub-par matchup, I'd view Dalton as a relatively safe play in season-long leagues. ... Although he lost two short touchdowns to Jeremy Hill last Sunday and will continue to be a poor bet to hit pay dirt on a weekly basis, Giovani Bernard has indeed taken over as Cincinnati's primary back the past two games. More-effective Gio's snap rates were 70% and 69% in Weeks 10-11, logging touch totals of 13 and 14. Hill's playing time was 31% and 31% on workloads of 10 and 13. A superior fit for OC Hue Jackson's shotgun-oriented, three-wide offense, Bernard is an every-week RB2 play in PPR leagues now taking on a Rams defense coughing up the seventh most receptions to running backs. ... Despite the two-score day, nothing changed for Hill in last Sunday night's loss to Arizona. He remains a TD-dependent RB2/flex in non-PPR with very little value in PPR.
Dalton's target distribution since the Bengals' Week 7 bye: A.J. Green 42; Marvin Jones 29; Tyler Eifert 24; Gio 22; Mohamed Sanu 11; Hill 4. ... Green gets another tough draw against red-hot Rams contract-year RCB Janoris Jenkins, who boasts PFF's No. 5 cornerback grade among 110 qualifiers. In their 2011 college meeting, Georgia's Green caught four passes for 42 scoreless yards against Jenkins' Gators, managing one catch for 15 yards in the man coverage of Jenkins, who finished with two pass breakups and a route-jumping interception. Jenkins is ordinarily a stationary right cornerback, however, and Green moves around the formation frequently. He remains a confident WR1/2 play in season-long leagues. ... Jones has drawn eight or more targets in four of his last six games, but he has just one touchdown and 58.3-yard average to show for it. Jones should've shredded Cardinals No. 2 CB Jerraud Powers in Week 11, but he dropped a pass for a would-be long gain and was later missed by Dalton. Jones is a frustrating, boom-bust WR3 who has rarely boomed lately. St. Louis is allowing the second fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. ... My favorite Week 12 fantasy play in Cincinnati's pass-catcher corps is Eifert versus a Rams defense that's collapsed in second-level coverage since losing WLB Alec Ogletree (leg). St. Louis gave up 8-111 to Browns TEs in Week 7, seven catches to 49ers TEs in Week 8, 8-125-2 to Bears TEs in Week 10, and 8-121 to Ravens TEs last week.
Road underdogs by nine points, St. Louis heads to Cincinnati with an ugly team total of 16.5 points. ... The Rams have the most dysfunctional passing game in football, leaving Todd Gurley as their only true means of generating offense. Coming off his worst game of the season (2.64 YPC, lost fumble), Gurley will face a Bengals run defense that's come on fast since SLB Vontaze Burfict returned from reserve/PUP four games ago. Cincinnati has not allowed a single rushing touchdown during that stretch, and over its last three games has held Cardinals, Texans, and Browns running backs to 181 scoreless yards on 57 carries (3.18 YPC). The good news for season-long fantasy owners is that you can hang your hat on Gurley's workloads; he has at least 15 touches in seven straight games, and has been fed even in weeks where the Rams have gotten blown out. With his ownership percentage sure to be at a season low this week, I think Gurley is an intriguing DFS tournament play on the principle of paying up to be contrarian.
Score Prediction: Bengals 24, Rams 20
Minnesota @ Atlanta
One-point home favorites in a game with a 46-point total, the Falcons' team total is 23.5 versus Minnesota. It's a seemingly optimistic approximation for a sputtering offense against a Vikings defense that's allowed 23 points or fewer in 9-of-10 games. ... As Atlanta has begun to lean more on the pass -- the Falcons have 38-plus pass attempts in six straight weeks -- Matt Ryan's season-long fantasy ranking has improved to the overall QB14 with multiple touchdown passes in three of his last five games. Ryan is best viewed as a fringe fantasy starter versus a Vikings pass defense that ranks No. 15 in Football Outsiders' DVOA with the sixth fewest passing touchdowns (13) allowed in the league. Ryan does benefit from playing indoors in a late-November game, while Atlanta's dependency on Ryan to generate offense could rise if Devonta Freeman (concussion) can't play. ... Tevin Coleman was dreadful off the bench in last week's loss to Indianapolis, generating no power in his lower half due to a stiff, upright running style, getting stuffed repeatedly on goal-to-go runs, and losing his second fumble of the year. He averaged 2.82 yards per carry against a Colts defense that entered giving up 4.63 YPC to running backs in its previous four games. With all of that said, Coleman would be a high-upside plug-and-play RB2 if he got the start against a beatable Vikings defensive front. On the season, Minnesota ranks 28th in run-defense DVOA and resurrected Eddie Lacy (22-100) last week. After Freeman missed Wednesday and Thursday's practices, coach Dan Quinn indicated the Falcons don't expect him to play this week.
Ryan's target distribution coming off Atlanta's Week 10 bye: Julio Jones 15; Roddy White 9; Leonard Hankerson 7; Patrick DiMarco and Terron Ward 4; Jacob Tamme 3; Coleman and Justin Hardy 2. ... On or near a league-record-setting pace for single-season catches and receiving yards, Julio will run most of his Week 12 pass routes at disappointing Vikings RCB Xavier Rhodes, who has PFF's No. 104 coverage grade among 110 qualified cornerbacks. Minnesota's other corners are 37-year-old LCB Terence Newman and slot CB Captain Munnerlyn, who stands 5'8/182 to Julio's 6'3/220. ... With Hankerson's hamstring acting up again, Tamme is back in contention as a TE1 streamer. Whereas Tamme has logged stat lines of 6-61, 10-103-1, 8-94-1, and 3-36 when Hankerson has either been inactive or missed much of the game, Tamme's production dips to 3-19, 4-77, 1-8, 3-32, and 1-6 with Hankerson as a full-time player. On the off chance Mike Zimmer's defense sells out to slow Julio, Tamme shouldn't struggle to eat. ... White's nine targets in last week's loss to Indy are a mirage. Forcing the ball to White didn't pay off for OC Kyle Shanahan, resulting in 24 scoreless yards. Leave Roddy on the wire.
One-point dogs at the Georgia Dome, the Vikings' Week 12 team total is 22.5 points. ... After logging a two-month-low 13 carries in last Sunday's loss to Green Bay, 30-year-old Adrian Peterson should be sporting "fresh legs" against an Atlanta defense permitting the sixth most fantasy points to running backs on the strength of a league-high 13 all-purpose touchdowns allowed. As Minnesota has committed to being a run-foundation team, it's conceivable OC Norv Turner chalks up Peterson's diminished Week 11 usage as a mistake and compensates by feeding him relentlessly on Sunday. Peterson's volume shouldn't be a concern, but the Falcons' defense isn't quite as leaky as its fantasy points allowed suggest. Atlanta has held opposing RBs to 3.49 yards per carry and quietly ranks a respectable 14th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. ... This year's no. 24 overall fantasy quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater has just one multi-passing-touchdown performance on the season and has cleared 250 passing yards three times in ten games. Even in the most favorable matchups, Bridgewater is always a low-upside streamer option or two-quarterback-league play. I am still intrigued slightly by his Week 12 outlook beneath a dome and in a matchup with Atlanta's No. 19 pass defense per DVOA.
Bridgewater's target distribution since the Vikings' Week 5 bye: Stefon Diggs 46; Mike Wallace 28: Kyle Rudolph 24; Jarius Wright 21; Peterson 13; Rhett Ellison 10; MyCole Pruitt 9; Jerick McKinnon 8. ... As Diggs runs most of his pass patterns against right cornerbacks, he will avoid stationary Falcons LCB Desmond Trufant's coverage for most of this game. Facing rookie RCB Jalen Collins instead, this is a plum matchup for Diggs coming off a nine-target Week 11. ... Wallace has 26 yards on 14 targets over his last four games with three drops and two weekly goose eggs. Expect Wallace to remain a non-factor versus Trufant. ... Last week marked Rudolph's first game above five targets since Week 2. Torturing a Packers defense that's been shredded by tight ends for two months, Rudolph (6-106-1) went on to finish as fantasy's overall TE1 for Week 11 after failing to exceed 30 yards in eight straight games. While there is almost every reason to believe last week was an outlier, Rudolph gets another favorable matchup Sunday versus a Falcons defense yielding the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Vikings 23, Falcons 21
NY Giants @ Washington
Giants-Redskins has a 46.5-point total with the visiting G-Men favored by 2.5. New York's team total is 24.5 points in D.C. ... Dealing with ineffectiveness and injuries on the offensive line as well as a rag-tag rushing attack, look for the Giants to emerge from their Week 11 bye attacking the Redskins with a quick-hitting passing game. Ranked No. 26 in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA, Washington has been flamed for 106-of-156 passing (67.9%), 1,304 yards (8.36 YPA), and a 13:3 TD-to-INT ratio over its last five games. The Redskins rank 27th in the league in sacks (17). Eli Manning has thrown nine touchdown passes and just one interception across his last three dates with Washington. Fantasy football's No. 6 quarterback scorer since Week 1, Manning is a mid-range to high-end QB1 play this week. ... The Giants entered their open date using a four-way backfield committee with Rashad Jennings as the lead runner and Shane Vereen spelling him on situational passing downs. Orleans Darkwa and Andre Williams mixed in for some early-down carries. The Redskins' run defense has been bad this season, but no Giants running back has established any semblance of fantasy start-ability.
Another reason to like Eli this week and moving forward is the return to health of New York's wideout corps. Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle both nursed troublesome hamstring strains in the first half of the season. They should be at full strength for the stretch run. ... Beckham's last two stat lines against the Redskins are 12-143-3 and 7-79-1. After Skins RCB Chris Culliver tore his ACL and MCL in Thursday's practice, look for Beckham to run most of his routes at washed-up 32-year-old DeAngelo Hall, whom the Redskins previously hoped to convert to safety. If Breeland does stick to Beckham, note that OBJ roasted him on Thursday Night Football in Week 3, tallying four of his seven catches and 60 of his 79 yards against Breeland, including a 30-yard touchdown. ... If Breeland slides to right cornerback as expected, he'll line up against Randle for most of Week 12. Randle did go 7-116-1 in the aforementioned Week 3 Redskins-Giants game and has some lower-end WR3 appeal this week. ... With Larry Donnell (neck) perhaps done for the season, Will Tye will continue on as the Giants' primary tight end. An undrafted rookie out of Stony Brook, Tye is scoreless on the season with one game above 50 yards and four below 20.
As 2.5-point home dogs versus the G-Men, the Redskins' team total is 22. ... The matchup for Washington's offense is more difficult than meets the eye versus a New York defense that returns RCB Prince Amukamara (pectoral) at full strength, and already has RE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) back playing at a high level. Amukamara and JPP are arguably the Giants' two highest-impact pass defenders. Critical SLB Devon Kennard (hamstring) and underrated LE Robert Ayers (hamstring) are also recovered from early-season injuries. The Giants' year-long defensive metrics look gross, but they did hold Tampa's offense to one touchdown in Week 9, played New England's offense competitively in Week 10, and had the Week 11 bye to recuperate. When the Giants and Skins faced off in Week 3, Kirk Cousins threw two picks and finished as the fantasy QB20. He's a low-end two-quarterback-league play this week. ... The Giants' run defense began to play better before its bye, containing Doug Martin (11-31-0) in Week 9 and LeGarrette Blount (19-66-1) in Week 10. As Alfred Morris battles a rib injury and rookie Matt Jones a persistent fumbling problem, the Redskins' backfield can be safely avoided in fantasy lineup decisions.
Cousins' target distribution since DeSean Jackson returned from his early-season hamstring tear: Jackson and Jordan Reed 19; Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder 14; Chris Thompson 9; Jones 8; Derek Carrier 6; Morris 3. ... Jackson's Week 12 matchup with talented Giants LCB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie looks tough on paper, but the Redskins are moving D-Jax around frequently and getting him plus looks. He scored last week's 56-yard touchdown on a slot route, beating Panthers fill-in slot CB Colin Jones. Back to playing 88% of Washington's offensive snaps, Jackson is in the fantasy WR2 hunt. ... Reed tweaked his MCL in last week's loss to Carolina, but returned in the fourth quarter and was back on the practice field Wednesday. Slow footed at linebacker and weak at safety, the Giants are allowing the most receptions and yards in the league to tight ends. Strikes against Reed consist of his health and failure to clear 50 yards in all three games since Jackson came back. ... Garcon's stat lines are 4-70-0, 2-10-0, and 3-43-0 since D-Jax returned. Set to run most of his routes at steady Amukamara, Garcon is a low-ceiling fantasy option with a low floor, too. ... Crowder entered Week 11 leading the Redskins in targets since their Week 8 bye. He emerged with a 90% snap rate, but saw just one target.
Score Prediction: Giants 27, Redskins 21
Tampa Bay @ Indianapolis
Bucs-Colts has a game total of 46.5 with host Indy favored by three. Indianapolis' team total is surprisingly aggressive at nearly 25 points. ... Although Matt Hasselbeck has engineered wins in each of his three spot starts, he's emerged from those games as the weekly QB20, QB16, and QB17 in fantasy. He'll play this one without LT Anthony Castonzo (MCL) and against a Bucs pass defense that's begun to come around, limiting Eli Manning, Matt Cassel, and Mark Sanchez to a combined 71-of-110 passing for 660 yards (6.00 YPA), and a 4:6 TD-to-INT ratio in Weeks 9-11. That isn't the stiffest competition, of course, but neither is Hasselbeck without his stud left tackle. ... Apparently dealing with a combination of injuries to his knee, ankle, and/or quad, Frank Gore limped badly on the sideline late in last week's win over Atlanta. Ahmad Bradshaw closed out the game as Indy's feature back. Gore plans to play, but his matchup is forbidding against a shutdown Bucs run defense that ranks No. 5 in Football Outsiders' DVOA and has held enemy running backs to 410 yards and zero touchdowns on 117 carries (3.50 YPC) since its Week 6 bye. ... As has been mentioned repeatedly in this space in prior Matchups columns, Bradshaw should be owned in all season-long leagues. The Colts' 32-year-old starter is now dealing with injuries, and Bradshaw has looked explosive in his limited opportunities. Although it was in large part due to Gore's late-game inactivity, Bradshaw set season highs in touches (14) and snap rate (51%) in last Sunday's win over the Falcons, hitting pay dirt twice on checkdown receptions. Bradshaw will be a high-end RB2 play if Gore does miss any time.
Hasselbeck's target distribution this season: T.Y. Hilton 26; Coby Fleener and Donte Moncrief 20; Gore 12; Andre Johnson 11; Bradshaw and Griff Whalen 4; Dwayne Allen 2. ... For much of Week 11, Hilton got stuck on Desmond Trufant Island and managed 21 yards on four targets. Although Hilton's ceiling is capped by Hasselbeck's 40-year-old noodle arm, I like T.Y.'s chances of bouncing back solidly against Bucs journeyman LCB Sterling Moore. ... Moncrief led the Colts in Week 11 targets (8), but his receiving lines in Hasselbeck's starts are 6-75, 1-3, and 5-41. At this point, Moncrief can only be approached as a low-end WR3 option. ... Johnson has cleared 50 yards in 2-of-10 games this season, goose egging in three. He's long been droppable in 14-team leagues. ... Whenever Fleener and Allen are both active for games together, neither is worth streamer consideration. The Bucs are 17th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
Fresh off a Week 11 shellacking of the Eagles, the Bucs travel to Indy as three-point dogs with a team total below 22 points. ... Expect another run-heavy game plan from Tampa Bay, which finished off Philadelphia with 42 rushing attempts compared to 29 passes. The Colts have given up 514 yards and five touchdowns on 113 carries (4.55 YPC) to enemy running backs over their last five games. Doug Martin is averaging 22.9 touches the past seven weeks. He's a locked-and-loaded RB1 in this favorable draw. ... Charles Sims is a low-end, low-ceiling flex option in PPR leagues with an established role. His touch totals since the Bucs' Week 6 bye are 12, 9, 9, 7, and 13. This projects as a close game wherein Martin should have a major edge in workload. As a passing-game aficionado, Sims will be a better bet in games where Tampa Bay falls behind. ... Jameis Winston is a legitimate candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and deserves all the credit he's gotten. His Week 11 job was relatively easy, with Martin's runs consistently vaulting the Bucs into scoring position and Winston finishing drives with red-zone touchdown throws. Winston wound up with five TDs against a non-competitive Eagles defense and was last week's overall QB2 in fantasy. Winston has still failed to clear 300 passing yards in all of his ten games. He's a point-chasing streamer for Week 12 with several better options on the board.
Winston's target distribution in Vincent Jackson's (knee) Week 11 return: Mike Evans 7; Jackson 6; Adam Humphries 5; Sims and Cameron Brate 4; Martin and Russell Shepard 1. ... Evans has averaged nearly 14 targets per game when Jackson misses, but only eight targets per game when V-Jax plays. Evans now looks overpriced in DFS and is much more of a WR2 in season-long leagues than the WR1 he produced as during Jackson's absence. With all of that said, Evans' Week 12 matchup will get a boost if RCB Vontae Davis (hamstring) is at all limited. Davis didn't return after leaving last week's win over Atlanta, but his full practice on Thursday does indicate he's a safe bet to be active Sunday. The Colts are also in danger of missing FS Mike Adams (ankle) for another game. ... Jackson returned to score a touchdown against the Eagles and should be valued as a mid-range to low-end WR3 option moving forward. Through seven appearances this season, V-Jax has cleared 60 yards once.
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 23, Colts 20
DFS Players: Buccaneers at Colts is the RotoGrinders Matchup of the Week. Some of RotoGrinders' top NFL minds break down this game from every angle and help prepare you to set winning lineups this weekend in daily fantasy football.
Buffalo @ Kansas City
The game total on Bills-Chiefs is 42 points -- tied for second lowest of Week 12 -- with Kansas City favored by 6.5. Buffalo's team total is under 18 points. ... The Chiefs' D/ST should be the chalk play on DFS sites this week taking on struggling and banged-up Tyrod Taylor, who's managed weekly fantasy finishes of QB19, QB22, and QB25 since returning from a sprained MCL three games ago. An increasingly scattershot Taylor turned in his worst performance of the season in last Monday night's loss to New England and suffered a painful shoulder/collarbone injury late in the game. On the road and on a short week, Taylor will now take on a Chiefs defense that's held opposing quarterbacks to 94-of-172 passing (54.7%) for 1,044 yards (6.07 YPA) and a 4:12 TD-to-INT ratio with 18 sacks over its last five games. Kansas City is playing league-best defense, permitting an average of 12.2 points over the past six weeks. ... The Chiefs are similarly stout in run defense, holding enemy backs to 3.79 yards per carry and the second fewest RB receptions in the league. LeSean McCoy remains a solid bet for 17-25 touches, but a truly big box score seems unlikely. McCoy's recent uptick in passing-game involvement does raise his floor. Whereas Shady managed 11 receptions in his first five Bills appearances, he has 13 catches in three games since Buffalo's Week 8 bye. ... Karlos Williams' always-unsustainable touchdown streak finally ended against the Patriots. Fantasy owners who flexed him were left with 11 empty rushing yards. Averaging just 7.8 touches per game when both he and McCoy are active, Williams won't be a legitimate fantasy option barring a stretch-run injury to Shady.
Taylor's target distribution since the Bills' bye: Sammy Watkins 21; McCoy and Robert Woods 17; Charles Clay 10; Chris Hogan 7. ... Watkins hasn't been a "sqeaky wheel," per se, but he does seem poised for grease after Rex Ryan was adamant publicly this week that the Bills need to "force the issue" and feed their best pass catcher. That's about all that's working in Watkins' favor. Watkins has 53 scoreless yards over his last two games and will run most of his Week 12 routes at Chiefs top CB Sean Smith, who has PFF's No. 1 coverage grade among 104 qualified cornerbacks over the last five weeks. Watkins has been a boom-bust WR3 fantasy option all season. ... Held under 30 yards in three of his last four games, Clay will do battle Sunday with a Kansas City defense yielding the fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends. The Chiefs held Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green to a combined 2-17-0 receiving line in Week 11. ... Woods might be a useful fantasy option were he playing on a team that threw the ball often and took advantage of his crisp route running as a high-volume extension of its running game. Instead, Woods is a low-volume possession target who's cleared 50 yards in 2-of-10 games.
Favored by 6.5 at Arrowhead, the Chiefs' team total is above 24 points against a Buffalo team playing on the road and on a short week. ... Alex Smith enters Week 12 with one multi-TD game since Opening Day and a No. 17 fantasy ranking among quarterbacks. Now facing the Bills' No. 13 pass defense by DVOA with the sixth-stingiest passer rating allowed (81.4), Smith is a low-ceiling two-QB-league option only. Since the Bills' Week 9 bye, these are the passers to have faced Rex Ryan's defense with their weekly fantasy finish in parentheses: Ryan Tannehill (QB24), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB15), Tom Brady (QB19). ... Buffalo is leakier on the ground, ranking 27th in run-defense DVOA and yielding a combined 110-497-5 (4.52 YPC) rushing line to running backs over its last five games. The Bills were already without DT Kyle Williams (PCL) and ruled out LE Mario Williams (foot) on Friday. Whether it be Charcandrick West (hamstring) or Spencer Ware, the Chiefs' back who gets the Week 12 nod will have a good matchup as a home favorite by nearly a touchdown against a leaky run defense on short rest following Monday night's loss. No slouch as a runner, Ware is a compactly built (5'10/228), downhill power back with violence to his game. He was virtually unstoppable as a goal-line runner at LSU and last week (11-96-2). I like the idea of pairing the Chiefs' running back with their D/ST as a DFS correlation this week. Here is a link to a fabulous piece on Ware's skill set via Rookie Scouting Portfolio's Matt Waldman.
Smith's target distribution since Kansas City's Week 9 bye: Travis Kelce 16; Jeremy Maclin 12; Albert Wilson 8; West 7; De'Anthony Thomas 5. ... The good news is Kelce has led the Chiefs in targets (9, 7) in each of the two games since Kansas City's open date. The bad news is Kelce hasn't capitalized (5-36, 5-46) while playing legitimately poorly on the field. He's dropped a pass in three straight games and left a ton of yards on the field in last Sunday's win over San Diego. Kelce is a mid-range to low-end TE1 play in season-long leagues against a Bills defense that just got done holding Rob Gronkowski to his least productive (2-37-0) game of the year. ... The worst preseason fears on Maclin have been realized. He's become just another guy in a spread-the-wealth, arch-conservative passing offense that doesn't feature an individual player. Andy Reid's scheme is much different from e.g. Kyle Shanahan's, which force feeds Julio Jones. Reid's offense emphasizes passing-game balance. Maclin hasn't topped six targets since Week 5 and has a tough Week 12 draw with Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby. He's just a WR3 option.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 20, Bills 17
Oakland @ Tennessee
The Raiders trek to Nashville as two-point favorites in a game with a 44-point total. Oakland's team total is 23. ... Returning from a ten-day layoff after its Thursday night loss to Jacksonville, Tennessee has seemingly shored up its run defense, limiting Saints, Panthers, and Jaguars backs to 239 yards and one touchdown on 70 carries (3.41 YPC) in Weeks 9-11. Latavius Murray does possess the requisite big-play ability to buck that trend, and on the season the Titans still rank 23rd in run-defense DVOA. This should be viewed as an average to above-average matchup for Latavius, whose ceiling has become capped by usage restrictions. Losing situational work to Jamize Olawale and Marcel Reece, Murray has failed to hit 20 touches in 4-of-5 games since Oakland's Week 6 bye. Murray's snap rates over his last three games are 48%, 59%, and 53%. Murray has a legit three-down skill set, but the Raiders are not using him as a true bellcow. ... Oakland averaged 62.9 offensive plays in its initial nine games. The Raiders finished their Week 11 loss to Detroit with just 47 plays while getting dominated in time of possession (36:24), and therefore turned in fantasy clunkers across the board. Time of possession should be less of a Week 12 issue for Derek Carr, but his matchup is a concern. The Titans have played legitimately stout pass defense this season, ranking No. 8 in DVOA and third in the league in sacks (31). In what's likely to be a relatively low-scoring game, Carr is a lower-end fantasy QB1 this week.
Carr's target distribution since the Raiders' bye: Michael Crabtree 48; Amari Cooper 41; Clive Walford 16; Mychal Rivera 15; Seth Roberts 13; Murray 10; Reece and Andre Holmes 9. ... No Oakland pass catcher stands out with an especially great Week 12 matchup. Crabtree will line up most against Titans LCB Coty Sensabaugh, who has been somewhat inconsistent but is largely having a solid season. Cooper will primarily do battle with RCB Perrish Cox, who has cooled off a bit since a fast start. Crabtree's high-volume role offers a more reliable floor, while Cooper's superior big-play ability theoretically gives the rookie a higher week-to-week ceiling. Crabtree has earned every-week WR2 treatment in season-long leagues. Cooper is a borderline WR2/3. ... Third-round rookie Walford drew only three targets in last Sunday's loss to the Lions, but his playing time spiked from 23% to 60% while Rivera's in-game participation dipped. Fantasy owners particularly desperate for a TE1 streamer might want to give Walford some consideration against a Titans defense ceding the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends.
Two-point home dogs against the Raiders, the Titans' team total is 21 points. ... Red-zone stalls and a dropped touchdown pass by Eric Ebron prevented Matthew Stafford from statistically shredding Oakland's secondary last week, but he did become the ninth passer in ten games to top 250 yards against Jack Del Rio's team. The only two quarterbacks to have faced the Raiders and not finished as a top-12 weekly fantasy scorer are Peyton Manning (Week 5) and Teddy Bridgewater (Week 10). The matchup gives Marcus Mariota a comfortable floor, while Mariota's increased rushing usage and the return of Kendall Wright (MCL) raise his ceiling. Whereas Mariota averaged 1.8 rushing attempts across his first six NFL games, he's scrambled five times in back-to-back weeks and scored the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback this season (23 yards) in last Thursday night's loss to Jacksonville. This is a nice spot to stream Mariota in season-long leagues. He's worth a look on DFS sites. ... Missing LE Justin Tuck (pectoral, I.R.), ILB Neiron Ball (knee), and OLB Aldon Smith (suspension), Oakland's once-stout run defense took a big step back in Weeks 9-11, coughing up 463 yards and three touchdowns on 80 carries (5.79 YPC) to Steelers, Vikings, and Lions running backs. Antonio Andrews' fantasy ceiling is always theoretically limited by his plodding style, but he's logged consecutive touch totals of 19, 20, 11, and 17 in the Titans' last four games and has a good-looking matchup.
Running nearly 70% of his routes at slot receiver, Wright returns for a tasty matchup against Raiders slot CB D.J. Hayden, whom Pro Football Focus has charged with the third most yards allowed in the league. Hayden has PFF's No. 109 coverage grade among 110 qualified corners. The Titans' early-season target leader, Wright immediately reenters the WR3 conversation in PPR. ... Delanie Walker is the overall TE6 in per-game PPR scoring. Although the Raiders haven't been nearly as generous to tight ends recently as they were early in the season, Walker is a rare matchup-proof TE1. ... Dorial Green-Beckham established another season high in snap rate (83%) in last week's loss to the Jaguars, but his positive on-field contributions remained few and far between. DGB has topped 50 receiving yards twice since the Titans' Week 4 bye, and has goose egged three times in that seven-game stretch. Green-Beckham's usage could take a hit with Wright reentering the lineup, and Harry Douglas perhaps seeing more action outside.
Score Prediction: Titans 24, Raiders 21
San Diego @ Jacksonville
Sunday's Chargers-Jaguars game has a 46.5-point Vegas total with Jacksonville favored by four. The Jaguars' team total is over 25 points. ... Although many will gravitate toward Blake Bortles, my favorite fantasy play on Jacksonville's side is T.J. Yeldon taking on a Chargers team traveling cross country for a 1PM ET game after getting slaughtered for an 11-96-2 rushing number by Chiefs backup RB Spencer Ware last week. On the season, the Bolts are serving up 5.05 yards per carry to running backs and rank dead last in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. Yeldon has logged touch totals of 21, 17, 23, and 17 over his last four games on snap rates of 86%, 85%, 84%, and 82%. Devonta Freeman and Jonathan Stewart are the only running backs in the NFL to have played more snaps than Yeldon this season. Particularly after Denard Robinson was stuffed repeatedly on goal-line carries last week, expect that work to go back to Yeldon. ... Bortles' five-game streak of multiple touchdown passes came to an end in Week 11 against Tennessee. He's a fair bet to get back on track versus the Bolts. Almost as bad at defending the pass as they are versus the run, the Chargers rank 28th in pass-defense DVOA, 25th in sacks (19), and 30th in passer rating allowed (103.0). This is a rock-solid matchup for Bortles.
Bortles' target distribution since the Jaguars' Week 8 bye: Allen Robinson 29; Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas 21; Bryan Walters 15; Yeldon 13; Marqise Lee 5. ... Robinson gets a difficult Week 12 matchup with Chargers RCB Jason Verrett, who held Jeremy Maclin to 29 scoreless yards on six targets last week and has a top-six coverage grade at Pro Football Focus. Robinson (6'3/220) does have a significant size advantage on Verrett (5'9/189) and has consistently delivered in previous tough on-paper draws. ... Thomas led Jacksonville in Week 11 targets (8) and caught his second touchdown pass in a Jags uniform. He also has the most favorable Week 12 matchup among Jaguars pass catchers against a Chargers defense yielding the 11th most fantasy points to tight ends. San Diego allowed a combined 7-72 line to Chiefs TEs last week, and it should've been more if not for a Travis Kelce drop that would have gone for a chunk-yardage gain. ... Battling sports hernia and foot injuries, Hurns' banged-up body should have benefited from the Jags' ten-day layoff following last Thursday's win over the Titans. Hurns will spend this game in the coverage of Chargers liability slot CB Brandon Flowers and boundary CB Patrick Robinson, who recently moved from the slot to outside. Hurns is a confident WR2 play this week.
The Chargers visit Jacksonville as four-point underdogs with a team total just barely above 21 points. ... San Diego's injury-decimated passing offense is in rough shape. Pass protection was a major issue in last week's 33-3 loss to the Chiefs, while Kansas City's back seven was able to squat on pass routes because the Chargers pose zero vertical threat. The results were about as poor as they could get against a top-three defense, but my guess is they'll be better against Jacksonville. 30th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA with a 17:5 TD-to-INT ratio allowed, the Jags generate league-average pass rush or worse and are vulnerable on the back end. Gus Bradley's unit also plays elite run defense, forcing opponents to throw to move the chains. Rivers may fade down the stretch as he's done frequently in seasons past, but I like him as a QB1 start this week and as a likely low-owned tournament play in DFS. ... Still No. 2 in run-defense DVOA, the Jaguars have limited opposing RBs to 343 yards on 110 carries (3.12 YPC) over their last five games. They have permitted the league's fourth most receptions to running backs, however. This game sets up poorly for Melvin Gordon and well for Danny Woodhead.
Rivers' target distribution since Keenan Allen was lost for the year: Stevie Johnson 21; Antonio Gates 17; Woodhead 13; Dontrelle Inman 11; Javontee Herndon 9; Gordon 7; Ladarius Green 3. ... Johnson has a challenging Week 12 matchup against physical Jags slot corner Aaron Colvin, but Stevie has turned in consecutive seven-catch games on target counts of 10 and 8. As Rivers' No. 1 receiver, Johnson is a high-floor PPR play. ... Playing Z receiver in place of Malcom Floyd (shoulder), Herndon will take on Jags top cover man Davon House and isn't a fantasy option this week. That's assuming Floyd is inactive again of course; he did practice Wednesday and may try to play. ... Inman has logged 98% of San Diego's snaps the last two games, drawing target totals of 5 and 5. Inman will primarily run pass patterns at RCB Dwayne Gratz, the Jags' worst-graded cornerback according to PFF. ... The good news for Gates and Green is Jacksonville has been torched by tight ends in its last two games, coughing up 11-117-2 to Ravens TEs in Week 10 and 12-139 to Titans TEs in Week 11. The bad news is banged-up Gates (hip/knee) and Green (ankle) were employed in an even timeshare during last week's loss to the Chiefs, with Gates playing 48% of the Chargers' downs and Green 45%. Both finished with one catch on three targets. Gates will be a shaky, low-floor TE1 investment until we see him restored to full-time usage.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 24, Chargers 23
Miami @ NY Jets
The Vegas total on Dolphins-Jets is a sluggish 42.5 points with host New York favored by 3.5. The Jets' team total is 23 points. ... Although Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled mightily in his last two starts, this is a potential bounce-back spot against a Miami defense that's permitted 111-of-175 passing (63.4%) for 1,429 yards (8.17 YPA) and an 11:3 TD-to-INT ratio over its last five games. The Dolphins are 25th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA. Fitzpatrick is a quality two-QB-league start and worth a look as a matchup-based streamer if he was dropped in 12- and 14-team leagues. Miami's defense couldn't stop Tony Romo after he shook off early-game rust last week. ... Averaging 5.19 yards per carry over his last two games, Chris Ivory ran roughshod (29-166-1) on the Dolphins when these teams played in London in Week 4. Six different running backs have rushed for 100-plus yards against Miami this season. With the Jets favored at home, this game's likely flow sets up for a heavy dose of Ivory, whose last-week production (nine touches, 45 yards) was limited by an early-game deficit and the Jets' loss of time of possession (33:27) in Houston. Ivory's health should be as strong as it's been all year. He's a solid RB2 play and seems likely to go especially low owned on DFS sites this week.
Fitzpatrick's target distribution since the Jets' Week 5 bye: Eric Decker 49; Brandon Marshall 46; Ivory and Jeremy Kerley 12; Bilal Powell 9; Jeff Cumberland, Devin Smith, and Kenbrell Thompkins 8; Quincy Enunwa 4. ... Although Marshall's weekly ceiling has diminished over the course of his age-31 season, he has been one of fantasy football's steadiest WR1s with 8-of-10 games above 14 PPR points. Marshall stands 6'5/229 to Dolphins top corner Brent Grimes' 5'9/177 and should be fired up with confidence in season-long leagues. ... Decker has scored a touchdown and/or topped 80 yards in all nine of his 2015 appearances. His Week 12 matchup is the best in New York's pass-catcher corps versus Dolphins slot CB Brice McCain, a sub-par cover man who has been playing through injuries. ... Back from suspension, Enunwa resumed manning the slot opposite Decker in four-wide formations in last week's loss to the Texans. Struggling rookie Smith is playing split end, deleting Kerley and Thompkins from the offense.
The reeling Dolphins trek to the Meadowlands with a team total of just 19.5 points. ... Fantasy's No. 13 quarterback over the past two weeks, Ryan Tannehill's Week 12 matchup is boosted by the absence of Darrelle Revis (concussion), leaving behind a severely downgraded secondary that has been unable to camouflage miscues due to limited pass rush. In spite of coach Todd Bowles' blitz-heavy tactics, Gang Green ranks 21st in sacks (22) and got torched for chunk-yardage pass plays by the T.J. Yates-quarterbacked Texans last week. While Miami's low team total is a definite concern, Tannehill is a passable, if low-end QB1 option for Week 12. He should be locked into two-quarterback-league lineups. ... The Jets have remained stout on the ground amid overall defensive backsliding. They're still No. 1 in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and held Texans RBs to a combined 99 scoreless yards on 29 carries (3.41 YPC) last week. Although last Sunday's seven-carry box score is not a fair representation of Lamar Miller's fantasy outlook because the Dolphins managed a season-low 41 offensive plays against the keepaway Cowboys, Miller's matchup is certainly a Week 12 concern. Fantasy owners need to hope OC Bill Lazor resumes funneling Miller passing-game targets. The Jets gave up a 6-62-1 receiving line to Houston backs last week and 6-73-1 to Bills running backs the week before.
Tannehill's targets since Miami's Week 5 bye: Jarvis Landry 49; Rishard Matthews 34; Miller 29; Jordan Cameron 24; Kenny Stills 20. ... Landry managed 4-40-0 in these teams' Week 4 London game as Revis followed Landry into the slot. Landry is the primary beneficiary with Revis out this week. Landry has shown a comfortable floor with at least 65 total yards and/or a touchdown in all ten games this season. ... Jets RCB Antonio Cromartie has dipped to Pro Football Focus' No. 103-graded cornerback among 110 qualifiers, while second-year UDFA Marcus Williams will be forced into a full-time boundary role. On paper, this is an attractive setup for Matthews and Stills. At this point, however, their box-score projections are similar. Matthews has drawn six targets or fewer in six of his last seven games. Stills always offers big-play potential, but he's goose egged twice in the last five weeks. ... Cameron's Week 11 touchdown catch was his first since Week 6 and second all season. His target totals are 2, 5, 1, 3, and 5 over his last five games. The Jets allow the fifth fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Jets 23, Dolphins 20
4:05PM ET Game
Arizona @ San Francisco
Favored by 10.5 points, the Cardinals' team total is nearly 28 at San Francisco. ... Whereas DC Eric Mangini's defense has allowed point totals of 43, 47, 30, 27, and 29 through five away games, the 49ers have held their five home opponents to 16, 20, 20, 17, and 3. The matchup isn't quite as juicy as season-long metrics suggest for Carson Palmer, but keep in mind Palmer has been even better on the road than at home this season, compiling a 15:5 TD-to-INT ratio across five away games compared to 12:4 in five home affairs. His passer rating is 110.2 on the road and 107.0 at home. Palmer is set up for his usual big game against San Francisco's No. 31 pass defense by DVOA. ... The 49ers are coughing up 4.44 yards per carry to running backs and were eviscerated by Seahawks UDFA Thomas Rawls (30-209-1) last week, losing critical run-stopping LE Glenn Dorsey (ACL) in the process. Chris Johnson isn't catching passes and his rushing efficiency has dipped sharply over his last five games (3.73 YPC), but this has the looks of a get-well matchup wherein Arizona should impose its will after Palmer builds a lead. ... I guessed before the Cardinals' Week 11 win over the Bengals that wide receiver injuries might result in more action for Andre Ellington. Instead, the Cards plugged in J.J. Nelson and went out and played ball. Ellington did log 40.3% of Arizona's offensive snaps -- his highest since Week 1 -- but he handled only three innocuous touches. Ellington isn't a trustworthy fantasy play.
With John Brown and Michael Floyd ailing, Larry Fitzgerald has amassed target totals of 11, 15, and 13 over Arizona's last three games. Fitz went 9-134-2 when these teams played in Week 3 and will run most of his Week 12 routes at struggling slot CB Jimmie Ward. PFF charged Ward with seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown allowed on seven targets in last week's loss to Seattle. ... Brown (hamstrings) didn't look fully healthy against Cincinnati last Sunday night, but he did play 87% of the Cards' snaps and parlayed five touches into 52 yards and a touchdown. This week, Brown will run most of his routes at 49ers top CB Tramaine Brock and is best viewed as a boom-bust WR3. ... 4.28 lid lifter Nelson filled in for Floyd (hamstring) against the Bengals, handling a 61% snap rate to Jaron Brown's 26%. Nelson created cavities of separation on the Cincinnati backend, turning six targets into a 4-142-1 receiving line. Should Floyd miss another game, Nelson would continue to offer big-play-driven upside but a concerning floor.
As 10.5-point home underdogs against Arizona, the 49ers' Week 12 team total is barely above 17 points. ... In the aforementioned Week 3 Niners-Cards game, Patrick Peterson eliminated Torrey Smith (0-0) while Tyrann Mathieu held Anquan Boldin to 16 yards on four targets. 35-year-old Boldin did show signs of life last week (5-93), and Peterson's Week 12 availability is in question due to an ankle injury. Still, 49ers receivers have been wildly unreliable all year. ... The strongest fantasy option in San Francisco's offense is new feature back Shaun Draughn, whose snap rate leaped from 67% to 91% in last Sunday's loss to Seattle. Draughn's touch totals through two spot starts are 20 and 20, while his 16 targets the past two weeks lead the 49ers with Blaine Gabbert under center. Now facing a Cardinals defensive line missing LE Frostee Rucker (ankle) and situational RE Cory Redding (ankle), Draughn has an underrated matchup and is seeing legitimate workhorse usage. ... Stone-handed Vance McDonald has taken over as the Niners' every-down tight end, turning in receiving lines of 2-19-0 and 4-65-1 in his last two games. Arizona is allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Cardinals 27, 49ers 17
4:25PM ET Game
Pittsburgh @ Seattle
The Seahawks host the Steelers as four-point favorites in a game with a 46-point total. Seattle's team total is 25 in a potential under-the-radar shootout. ... This week's chalkiest play on DFS sites will be Thomas Rawls, who's logged touch totals of 16, 18, 23, and 33 across four spot starts, averaging 144 total yards per game with three all-purpose touchdowns. Even if you leave out last week's disembowelment of San Francisco, Rawls is averaged 5.56 yards per carry in his rookie season. He's an immediate RB1 in season-long leagues. Fading Rawls in daily fantasy tournaments is worth serious consideration, however, against a Steelers run defense that ranks No. 6 in Football Outsiders' DVOA and is at full strength coming off a bye. Pittsburgh has permitted a league-low two TDs to running backs while holding them to 3.87 yards per carry. ... Albeit far from a pushover, the Steelers are more vulnerable in the back half. Their pass-defense DVOA ranking is 16th with a 17:9 TD-to-INT ratio allowed. In two games before Pittsburgh's bye, DC Keith Butler's unit gave up 301 yards and four touchdown passes to Derek Carr in Week 9, then single-game career highs in passing yards (372) and yards per attempt (8.2) with a 73.3% completion rate to Johnny Manziel in Week 10. Although not quite optimal, a Russell Wilson-Jimmy Graham DFS stack would be one way to fade and perhaps benefit from Rawls' extremely high ownership. The high percentage of people who use Rawls are sure to ignore Wilson.
Wilson's target distribution since Seattle's Week 9 bye: Doug Baldwin 16; Graham 11; Jermaine Kearse 7; Tyler Lockett 6; Rawls and Luke Willson 3; Fred Jackson 2. ... Pittsburgh is yielding the fifth most fantasy points to tight ends and coughed up 6-65-1 to Gary Barnidge in its last game. This is a potential bounce-back spot for Graham, who hasn't hit pay dirt since Week 3 while clearing 50 yards just twice during his seven-game scoreless stretch. ... Lockett caught a pair of touchdown passes in last Sunday's rout of San Francisco, but was held to five targets or fewer for the tenth time in ten games. On such minimal usage, Lockett is a dangerously low-floor fantasy option. Lockett's receiving lines since the bye week are 1-7-0 and 4-48-2. Lockett does have a plus Week 12 draw against oft-burned Steelers LCB Antwon Blake, who has Pro Football Focus' No. 108 cornerback grade among 110 qualifiers. ... Although Baldwin lacks the big-play ability of his rookie teammate, Baldwin has been more consistent with stat lines of 7-134-1 and 6-60-0 since the open date. Running over 80% of his routes at slot receiver, expect Baldwin to primarily take on Steelers slot CB William Gay, who also has negative PFF coverage grades.
As four-point road dogs, the Steelers' team total is 21 points at CenturyLink Field. ... The best way to attack Pete Carroll's defense is with a quick-hitting attack that minimizes the impact of Seattle's pass rush by promptly getting the ball out of the quarterback's hands. The Seahawks' cornerback shuffling has increased their pass-defense vulnerability; Carroll benched RCB Cary Williams for ineffectiveness last week, while slot corner Jeremy Lane (ACL) will make his 2015 debut versus Pittsburgh and figures to be rusty. More than capable of executing a successful quick-hit passing game, Ben Roethlisberger should be confidently fired up as a fantasy starter. The Seahawks have given up some big weeks to quarterbacks, surrendering the overall fantasy QB4 finish to Andy Dalton in Week 5, the QB9 finish to Cam Newton in Week 6, and the QB5 finish to Carson Palmer in Week 10. Even Blaine Gabbert moved the ball fairly consistently on Carroll's defense at CenturyLink last Sunday, throwing for 264 yards and finishing as the overall fantasy QB14 in Week 11. Another way to fade Rawls' high DFS ownership would be to invest in the Steelers' passing game. ... DeAngelo Williams' outlook is more grim against a Seahawks defense that's held opposing RBs to 3.61 yards per carry and just three all-purpose touchdowns through ten games. Seattle is allowing the fewest fantasy points in the league to running backs. The good news is Williams' volume is bankable; he's logged touch totals of 22, 24, 29, and 18 in five starts. The bad news is Williams' box-score upside may be compromised this week.
Big Ben's target distribution over his last three games: Antonio Brown 44; Martavis Bryant 24; Heath Miller 22; Williams 9; Markus Wheaton 8; Darrius Heyward-Bey 4. ... Richard Sherman has been utilized in shadow coverage of No. 1 receivers in four of Seattle's last six games, limiting A.J. Green to 6-78-0, Torrey Smith (twice) to 0-0 and 1-16, and Dez Bryant to 2-12-0. Still, Brown's blinding short-area quickness and versatile, creative usage will give bigger-bodied Sherman his toughest challenge yet. It won't be a surprise if Brown has a big game and all we hear about next week is how "overrated" Sherman is. This simply isn't a good matchup for Sherm. ... The Steelers pass catcher with the best matchup is Bryant, who will run perimeter patterns at some combination of Williams and Deshawn Shead, who both have bottom-20 coverage grades among 110 qualified cornerbacks according to PFF. Martavis has scored five touchdowns through five appearances this season and will offer a ton of upside if Sherman indeed follows Brown. ... Miller is typically a low-ceiling TE1 play, but he makes a lot of sense as a streamer in Seattle. The Seahawks are allowing the third most fantasy points to tight ends, including 49ers TEs Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek's combined 6-100-1 line last week.
Score Prediction: Steelers 27, Seahawks 24
Sunday Night Football
New England @ Denver
The game total on Patriots-Broncos is 43.5 with visiting New England favored by three. Denver's team total is a hair above 20 points. ... Complemented by a two-tight end offense in a high-percentage, run-committed attack, Brock Osweiler played efficient, decisive football in his first NFL start last Sunday at Soldier Field. He also got plenty of assistance from a smart Broncos game plan and Chicago's sub-par defense. Osweiler's 48-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas came on a blown coverage by the Bears, while his 31-yard connection with Owen Daniels occurred off play action. Only three of Osweiler's attempts went beyond ten yards and outside the numbers, and he failed to complete all three. Expect another controlled, managed approach from Denver as Osweiler faces a Patriots pass defense that ranks 12th in Football Outsiders' DVOA, second in sacks (32), and ninth in quarterback rating allowed (83.9). In a likely low-scoring game on Denver's side, Osweiler is a mid-range to lower-end QB2 this week. ... The Broncos continued to employ Ronnie Hillman as their 1A to C.J. Anderson's 1B in Chicago, feeding Hillman 22 touches on 52% of the snaps to Anderson's 14 touches and 45% playing-time clip. The Patriots, of course, pose a much tougher challenge than the Bears did, ranking No. 8 in run-defense DVOA and holding enemy backs to 3.70 yards per carry. Hillman has settled in as a low-end RB2/flex play every week. Anderson is a mediocre flex option.
Osweiler's targets since he replaced Peyton Manning: Demaryius Thomas 15; Vernon Davis 9; Owen Daniels 8; Cody Latimer 6; Andre Caldwell and Bennie Fowler 3; Hillman and Anderson 2. ... Demaryius led Broncos pass catchers in targets (7) when Osweiler played in garbage time of Week 10, and again led the team in targets (8) in Osweiler's start. Whether he sees Malcolm Butler one on one or Logan Ryan with safety help over the top, matchup will not be working in Thomas' favor. He remains a volume-driven WR1 play. Thomas' last three stat lines against New England are 7-127, 7-134-1, and 4-41-1. ... Dealing with finger and ankle injuries, Emmanuel Sanders missed last week's win over the Bears after enduring an apparent setback in pre-game warmups. Sanders hasn't caught a pass since Week 9. Until he puts something on the stat sheet with Osweiler at quarterback, Sanders should be downgraded to a boom-bust WR3 option. Latimer started in place of Sanders in Chicago, but only played 51% of the snaps and drew three targets. ... Both Davis (6-68) and Daniels (4-69) made an impact against the Bears. New England, however, is permitting the seventh fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Davis' superior big-play ability makes him a better fantasy dart throw than Daniels if you're deciding between the two. Davis' playing-time clips have jumped from 17% to 48% to 70% over the past three weeks.
The injury-riddled Patriots head to Denver as three-point favorites and with a team total just above 23 points. ... Losing Dion Lewis (ACL), Julian Edelman (foot), multiple offensive linemen, and perhaps Danny Amendola (knee), Tom Brady has cooled off considerably over his last three games, posting weekly fantasy finishes of QB13 (Redskins), QB9 (Giants), and QB19 (Bills). Now matching up with a Denver pass defense that ranks No. 1 by Football Outsiders' DVOA and first in the league in sacks (34), Brady can only be viewed as a fringe QB1 for Week 12. The Broncos have yielded the fewest touchdown passes (8) in football, and multiple TD passes in just 2-of-10 games. ... Although the Broncos have given up a handful of big weeks to running backs this season (e.g. Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Charcandrick West), most of them have come against elite talents or skilled pass catchers. LeGarrette Blount fits neither description as a hard-charging, two-down banger who needs running room to operate. All in all, Denver doesn't allow much running room, holding enemy RBs to a minuscule 3.19 yards per carry and ranking No. 9 in run-defense DVOA. Especially for pass-protection purposes against Von Miller & Co., expect this to be more of a James White-Brandon Bolden game. White essentially lucked into two touchdowns in last Monday night's win over Buffalo, finishing with four touches and playing just 29% of the Patriots' snaps. He's a low-floor, low-upside flex option versus Denver.
Brady's targets since Edelman went down: Amendola 19; Brandon LaFell and Rob Gronkowski 14; Aaron Dobson 6; White 4; Blount and Scott Chandler 3; Bolden 2. ... A target vacuum in the absence of Edelman, Amendola sprained his knee late in the third quarter of Week 11 and is questionable at best on a short week. If Amendola is active, there's a fair chance he'll be erased by Broncos shutdown slot CB Chris Harris anyway. Fantasy owners of Amendola should make other plans. ... Keshawn Martin has played nearly 30% of his snaps in the slot and would figure to be next in line if Amendola can't go, but Martin hasn't even been active since Week 6. He missed Week 11 with a hamstring injury. ... The Broncos have allowed exactly one touchdown pass to a wide receiver in ten games. No Patriots wideout has a favorable Week 12 matchup. LaFell will run the boundary against RCB Bradley Roby and LCB Aqib Talib, who rank 15th and 32nd, respectively, in pass coverage among 110 qualified cornerbacks at PFF. Usage keeps LaFell in the WR3 hunt; he drew eight targets against the Bills and topped 60 yards in the similarly stingy coverage of Stephon Gilmore. ... To Gronk or to not Gronk, that is the question in DFS. While Gronkowski is an obvious every-week starter in season-long leagues, his daily fantasy price tag is perhaps overly exorbitant for an increasingly boom-bust player who's failed to clear 50 yards in two of his last three games. The Broncos have allowed catch totals of 5, 6, and 6 to tight ends the past three weeks, but overall have not given up big games to the position. Still sure to go lower owned than usual, Gronk makes for an enticing tournament play in an offense that will struggle to move the ball otherwise due to so many personnel losses.
Score Prediction: Patriots 21, Broncos 20
Monday Night Football
Baltimore @ Cleveland
Ravens-Browns has a 41-point game total -- lowest of Week 12 -- with host Cleveland favored by three. The Browns' team total is 22 points. ... Off-the-field transgressions cost Johnny Manziel Cleveland's starting job, thrusting Josh McCown back into first-string duties against the Ravens. With the obvious disclaimer that it's come against Blake Bortles and Case Keenum, Baltimore's pass defense has stiffened since its Week 9 bye, holding the Jaguars and Rams to a combined 34-of-71 passing (47.9%), 324 yards (4.56 YPA), and a 3:1 TD-to-INT ratio in Weeks 11-12. The sample on Baltimore's improvement is still far too small to disqualify McCown as a QB1 streamer, but it's worth noting for the stretch run. McCown finished as the overall QB1 when he faced the Ravens in Week 5. Baltimore has yielded multiple touchdown passes in 7-of-10 games this year. ... The matchup is much tougher for Cleveland's tailbacks against a Ravens defense holding opposing RBs to 3.61 yards per carry with just four rushing scores allowed in ten games. Baltimore has held Jaguars and Rams backs to 128 yards and one touchdown on 45 carries (2.84 YPC) since the open date. Isaiah Crowell isn't on the Week 12 fantasy radar. Duke Johnson's touch totals before the Browns' Week 11 bye were 3, 5, 8.
McCown's target distribution this season: Travis Benjamin 56; Gary Barnidge 54; Johnson 34; Taylor Gabriel 28; Andrew Hawkins 25; Brian Hartline 22; Crowell 9. ... Barnidge's fantasy floor is raised considerably with a more stable pocket passer under center. Barnidge dropped an 8-139-1 stat line on the Ravens in Week 5 and is a top-five fantasy tight end play this week. Not including the Week 5 game, Barnidge's receiving lines in McCown's last five starts are 6-105-1, 6-75-1, 3-39-2, 6-101, and 7-53-1. ... Benjamin (6-83) also had a productive Week 5 against Baltimore, and should be plugged into season-long fantasy lineups as a WR2 with low-end WR1 upside. Even amid musical chairs at quarterback, Benjamin is the overall WR18 in PPR points.
With Joe Flacco (ACL/MCL) and Justin Forsett (arm) out for the season, we can make quick work of the Ravens' offense, which has a Week 12 team total of just 19 points. Washed-up pick-six machine Matt Schaub's under-center presence creates a dangerously low floor for all of Baltimore's pass catchers and puts Cleveland's defense squarely in play as a D/ST streamer. ... The lone fantasy play of serious intrigue on Baltimore's end is Buck Allen, who took over as the Ravens' workhorse when Forsett exited last week's win over the Rams. Allen wound up logging 27 touches on nearly 70% of the offensive snaps, totaling 115 yards in a tough matchup with St. Louis. On Monday night, Allen projects as a true workhorse against a Browns team that ranks 29th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA while surrendering 4.82 yards per carry to running backs. So long as Allen holds off Terrance West and Raheem Mostert in Baltimore's backfield, he will be a plug-and-play fantasy RB2 with a low-RB1 ceiling in PPR leagues.
Score Prediction: Browns 24, Ravens 17