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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Best fantasy football plays for Week 12

/ by Ethan Cadeaux
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Whether you can believe it or not, it's official Week 12. Fantasy playoffs are just around the corner.

With just two weeks left in the fantasy football regular season, there's little room for error. With no bye weeks, fantasy owners should have plenty of options this week.

Here are the best plays this week.

Byes: None

Quarterbacks

Start ’em

  • Taysom Hill, NO (at DEN)
  • Justin Herbert, LAC (vs. BUF)
  • Alex Smith, WFT (at DAL)

In his first career NFL start at quarterback, Taysom Hill played a lot better than most people expected. After scoring over 25 fantasy points last week against Atlanta, he's a solid play against a Denver defense this week that hasn't been great at slowing opposing QBs down...Justin Herbert is already a stud, and with Joe Burrow's unfortunate injury, is likely to be the NFL's Rookie of the Year. Buffalo's defense isn't nearly as tough of a matchup as it was a season ago, either. Expect a big outing from the Chargers rookie this week...Alex Smith didn't throw for 300 yards last week like the two weeks he had prior, but the 36-year-old passer is primed for a big performance on thanksgiving against one of the league's worst passing defenses. If you don't have a strong starter at the position, Smith is as good of a play as any.

Sit ’em

  • Baker Mayfield, CLE (at JAX)
  • Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. SEA)
  • Lamar Jackson, BAL (at PIT)

Baker Mayfield's Browns are 7-3. But from a fantasy perspective, it's hard to trust Mayfield on a weekly basis. Cleveland is a run-first team, and for whatever reason, they are constantly playing in bad weather. So, even with a favorable matchup against Jacksonville, leave Mayfield on your bench...No quarterback in the NFL is more criticized right now than Carson Wentz, and even his biggest supporters are struggling to defend him. Seattle's defense has been suspect this season, but they've played a lot better over the past two weeks. Wentz, like Mayfield, simply can't be trusted right now...Lamar Jackson's encore to his MVP season has not gone how he would have liked. Now, he faces a tough Steelers defense that's already extremely livid that this game got postponed until Sunday. I wouldn't bet on Jackson or any Ravens this week.

 

Running backs

Start ’em

  • Mike Davis, CAR (at MIN)
  • Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, CLE (vs. JAX)
  • Duke Johnson, HOU (at DET)

Christian McCaffrey will once again be sidelined for the Carolina Panthers this week, meaning it'll be the Mike Davis show once again. And Carolina is facing a Minnesota defense that allowed Ezekiel Elliott to top the century mark for the first time this season just one week ago. With Teddy Bridgewater expected to be back, too, Davis is a great play this week...Nick Chubb is an obvious starter, as he's one of the league's best running backs when healthy. Kareem Hunt, though, is also a worthwhile start this week. Jacksonville has struggled against running backs this season, and Hunt already has a significant role in Cleveland's offense, anyway. Game script should benefit both rushers here...Duke Johnson will be starting once again for the Texans this week, as David Johnson remains out with injury. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than Detroit this season, meaning Duke Johnson should be due for a big Turkey Day outing.

Sit ’em

  • Melvin Gordon, DEN (vs. NO)
  • Gus Edwards, BAL (at PIT)
  • Raheem Mostert, SF (at LAR)

No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs than the New Orleans Saints, meaning Sunday will be a long afternoon for Melvin Gordon. Combine the bad matchup with the fact that Phillip Lindsay will likely be taking some of his carries (as he should be), and Gordon is set up for a rough performance this weekend...It doesn't matter that Gus Edwards is the only Ravens running back that will be suiting up against Pittsburgh because the Steelers simply don't allow many fantasy points to opposing tight ends. If the Ravens do upset Pittsburgh, it'll be because of Lamar Jackson turning it around, not Gus Edwards turning into prime Jamal Lewis...Raheem Mostert is scheduled to come off of Injured Reserve this week, much to the 49ers' delight. Don't expect the speedy back to have too big of an impact in his return, though, as the Rams defense has been stellar against opposing rushers as of late. Keep Mostert on the bench for now.

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Wide receivers

Start ’em

  • Travis Fulgham, PHI (vs. SEA)
  • DeVante Parker, MIA (at NYJ)
  • Justin Jefferson, MIN (at CAR)

From Week 4 through Week 9, Travis Fulgham was a top-five wide receiver in fantasy football. But over his last two games, he's combined for just two receptions for 16 yards. While it may be easy for fantasy owners to start losing faith in Fulgham, this is the week to believe in him again -- Seattle has given up the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts this season. If he doesn't bounce back now, then when?...DeVante Parker is also the beneficiary of an excellent matchup this week, as the Dolphins play the lowly Jets on Sunday. Miami had issues this past week in Denver, and ultimately made a QB change, but expect Tua Tagovialoa to bounce back against the lowly Jets, with Parker being a major reason why...With Adam Thielen's status for this Sunday up in the air, Justin Jefferson goes into the must-start category. He's already been the league's best rookie wideout, and if Thielen is not in the picture, he's a legit WR1 this week.

Sit ’em

  • Tyler Boyd, CIN (vs. NYG)
  • Antonio Brown, TB (vs. KC)
  • Chase Claypool, PIT (vs. BAL)

Tyler Boyd has had a fantastic season thus far, but much of it has to do with his strong connection with Joe Burrow. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, Burrow is out for the rest of the season, and his replacement has not looked good at all. Shy away from all Bengals pass-catchers until proven otherwise...Antonio Brown had a decent outing this past week against the Rams, but something about the Tampa Bay offense isn't clicking right now. The Chiefs have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts this season, and Brown shares the field with Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. This might not be AB's week to return to his All-Pro form...Chase Claypool was among the many Steelers upset their game got moved off the Thanksgiving evening primetime slot, but the rookie wide receiver might be happy fewer eyes will be on him this week. For as much as Baltimore's been criticized this season, their secondary remains one of the league's best. This matchup could be a tough one for the rookie.

Tight ends

Start ’em

  • Darren Waller, LVR (at ATL)
  • Hunter Henry, LAC (at BUF)

Darren Waller had his best game of the season this past week against the Chiefs. Now, he can parlay that outing into another great performance this week against the Falcons, who have allowed the most points to tight ends in fantasy football this season. Besides Travis Kelce, there are no better options at tight end this week than Waller...Hunter Henry has found the end zone in two consecutive games, as he and Justin Herbert are finally starting to establish a solid connection. This week could easily be the third straight that Henry scores a touchdown, as the Bills have given up the second-most fantasy points to tight ends in 2020.

Sit ’em

  • Mike Gesicki, MIA (at NYJ)
  • Tyler Higbee, LAR (vs. SF)

Mike Gesicki has a favorable matchup against the New York Jets this week, a team that allowed Hunter Henry to have his way against them just last week. But, in their Week 6 matchup, Gesicki was held without a catch against the Jets. That's alarming, and a major reason why it's understandable for fantasy owners to start a different tight end this week...Tyler Higbee's strong finish to the 2019 season had many hopeful he'd be a solid fantasy option in 2020. That just hasn't been the case this season, especially with him splitting snaps with Gerald Everett. The 49ers have been solid stopping tight ends this season, too, meaning it's best to look in a different direction here.

 

Defense/special teams

Start ’em

  • Giants D/ST (at CIN)
  • Dolphins D/ST (at NYJ)

The Giants' defense has been low-key very solid this season, and they've been playing very well as of late. This week they get to face Ryan Finley, who's making his first start of the season in place of Joe Burrow. Expect the Giants defense to tee off...Miami's defense has also been playing solid as of late, and their matchup against the Jets this week is as good as any. An easy start for any fantasy owner.

Sit ’em

  • Patriots D/ST (vs. ARI)
  • Ravens D/ST (at PIT)

It's impossible to get a read on the Patriots' defense. One week, they'll look like the 2019 dominant defense, and other weeks, they'll look lost. Stay away from them this week, though, as Kyler Murray and co. will be looking to bounce back following a rough outing in Seattle...Baltimore's defense has been the third-best unit in fantasy, but keep them on the bench this week against Pittsburgh. In the first matchup of these two teams, the Ravens defense forced just one turnover and had two sacks. Stay away from them as well.