My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
Here are my top three starters by offensive position for week 12:
1) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore @ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are on a significant decline as an entire team and Jackson has hit his stride. If the Steelers and Bears had offenses the Rams would’ve lost each of their last two games. While Jackson’s stats this season are bolstered thanks to playing the Bengals twice and Dolphins once, his run-game strengths are on showcase. He’s starting to find that he can use his arm too. He should have no problem carving up a defense that will likely be on the field way longer than it can handle with the decline of its offensive line, run game and Jared Goff.
2) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland vs Miami
Miami is PLAGUED with injuries on both sides of the ball and all of Mayfield’s weapons will line up next to each other. There should be confidence in starting Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and if they’re producing, only one person they’re producing because of. The Dolphins pass defense is actually the middle of the pack (20th), but its rush defense struggles so much that the spurts of Chubb (and maybe Hunt) will open the pass game up a lot.
3) Daniel Jones, New York Giants @ Chicago
This pick will either make or break my article in my opinion. I’m taking a huge flyer on making Jones a must-start, but I just have a feeling. Chicago’s defense isn’t a top-three defense like projected before fantasy drafts, but it’s still in the top-10 for both rushing and passing defense. However, Jones should get back WR Sterling Shepard, and have Golden Tate and Darius Slayton available (who each got two TDs in the team’s last game). The Bears are good at locking down receivers, but haven’t had to face numerous options in the last few weeks. They really only had to worry about Cooper Kupp last week, and although successful, Tate and Slayton have the abilities to cause defensive problems. If RB Saquon Barkley can get on a roll, it’ll open the pass game, and I could see Jones toss a couple scores and be in for a surprising big day.
1) Carson Wentz, Philadelphia vs Seattle
He’s here again because it was obvious not having decent receivers did him and the Eagles in. WR Nelson Agholor busted (again) just like I said he would and Philadelphia really didn’t use Mack Hollins or J.J. Arcega-Whitside in the passing game. Jordan Matthews leap-frogged both on the depth chart, but caught just one of six targets. Alshon Jeffery barely was a limited participant in practice, doing just individual drills, and now Agholor is questionable with an undisclosed knee injury. So who’s Wentz throwing to?
2) Jared Goff, Los Angeles Chargers vs Baltimore
Not having an offensive line to create a running game is making the veteran presence in Goff disappear. Goff also has injuries and undisclosed personal matters keeping his trio of WR destroyers off the field. It was obvious that Cooper Kupp was going to get the most attention with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods out. It’s reported that Cooks is inching toward playing, but Woods’ personal matter was damaging enough to make him inactive just an hour before kickoff last week and it’s not completely resolved. Josh Reynolds and TE Gerald Everett hasn’t stepped up and Todd Gurley isn’t doing enough damage. The Ravens have 19 fantasy points or more in their last three games and just held Deshaun Watson and the Texans out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter. Sit Goff in all formats.
3) Josh Allen, Buffalo vs Denver
It helps that this matchup is at home, but Denver’s defense has been stingy to opposing QBs. It did allow Kirk Cousins and the Vikings last week to have a major comeback, but he was only the second QB (Gardner Minshew) to score an average of 12.5 points this season. Allen just had a huge fantasy day against the Dolphins, but those two team’s defenses are on very opposite sides of the spectrum.
Sleeper: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee vs Jacksonville
Tannehill has scored 25.7 fantasy points or more since taking over for Marcus Mariota as the Titans’ starter. He has multiple TDs in three of those four games, more than 300 yards in two and just lead a huge comeback against the Chiefs before the team’s week 11 bye. This is a divisional game with huge playoff implications. Tannehill could top 25.7 for the fifth straight week.
Bust Alert: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay @ San Francisco
You’d think because he’s coming off his bye week that he’d be set to play for the top seed in the NFC, especially already knowing that the 49ers have some key injuries on defense. However, he has just under 29 points in his last two games combined and hasn’t done well in recent games in week’s he’s coming off the bye. The rush defense of the 49ers also won’t allow him to continuously give the ball to RB Aaron Jones. It’ll be up to him to lead his team to a win, but he has a few key things working against him.
1) Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Samuels succeeded in the team’s first matchup with double digit fantasy points, and a trip to the end zone, even with James Conner in. Well, Conner should be out this game. Even though center Maurkice Pouncey is suspended, they’ll still be snapping the ball. With the other injuries to wide receivers, Samules’ pass-down back ability will probably see him a good share of targets, as well as rushes on the ground.
2) Phillip Lindsay, Denver @ Buffalo
When I say the Bills’ defense is declining, one of the reasons is because they’ve allowed 11 rushing TDs in 10 games. If the back hasn’t found the end zone he has at least 120 yards. Lindsay is in a committee but he’s due for a TD or a big game (or arguably both). Royce Freeman will cut into his time, but he has at least 75 yards in his last three games. He does currently carry a questionable designation for his foot (Thursday), so monitor his status. However, I like the track that he plays and will be able to work through what’s nagging him, easily.
3) Nick Chubb, Cleveland vs Miami
The Dolphins allow a large yards-per-carry and it doesn’t help that Chubb doesn’t have less than 20 carries since week five. I could realistically see him with around 150 yards on the ground alone and find the end zone. Cleveland should win big in this game, and even if he yields scores to his RB counter part Kareem Hunt, or air scores for Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, his volume of carries will still be prominent.
1) Carlos Hyde, Houston vs Indianapolis
In week seven Hyde had just 35 yards on 12 carries against the Colts. Indianapolis as a whole has yielded just five rushing scores this season and only one RB has 60 yards against them (Trey Edmunds of all guys). Hyde has done better at home than away this season, but with the way the Colts are playing, he makes me really nervous.
2) Kalen Ballage, Miami @ Cleveland
Ballage had a three-yard rushing score last week at home against the Bills. With the score, it brought his rushing total for the day to six carries for zero yards. Yes, you read that correctly. He finished the day with nine rushes for nine yards. 9 YARDS. Yes, Miami’s offensive line is in the bottom tier in the NFL, but Ballage is the only RB on the roster who can’t find the gaps. Hopefully the Dolphins turn to rookies like Patrick Laird or Myles Gaskin, but if they do, Ballage will probably finish with negative yards instead of zero. Not even worth rostering.
3) Sony Michel, New England vs Dallas
Rex Burkhead coming back and James White taking over the passing-back duties has left Michel stranded from the end zone since week eight. Subsequently, he hasn’t had more than 10 carries since then either. He has 7.4 points combined in standard leagues in his last two games and Dallas’ rush defense isn’t horrible. Even with allowing two rushing scores in the last two games, the Cowboys will likely give one up to a red zone carry with Burkhead than to Michel as he keeps seeing his carries dwindle and dwindle.
Sleeper: Derrius Guice, Washington vs Detroit
It looks like Guice will still split time with Adrian Peterson who’s on pace to play despite a toe injury. However, the Lions have given up 17 total TDs to backs this season and have a few issues of their own on offense. Although Washington scored two late-game TDs last week, it looked like it had a small amount of rhythm blossom that it desperately needs. He’s a sleeper because of the defensive woes, the likelihood that Peterson will be limited in some fashion and the struggles QB Dwayne Haskins has through the air.
Bust Alert: Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Jones struggled last week with just four carries. Again, game script was a big reason why, but that script could resurface this week too. The Buccaneers will likely find themselves in a back-and-forth battle again, or chasing points. They’ll turn to the air with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and probably Cameron Brate with the decline (again) of O.J. Howard. Jones’ role in the pass game has picked up a little in recent weeks, but that’s because of the team chasing points. There’s upside to that this week, but not enough, in my opinion, to outweigh the negatives of the potential volume on the ground.
1) Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland vs Miami
Instead of having both of these guys in the sit category this week, I have confidence in both with the struggles of the Dolphins on both sides of the football. Landry has been the best WR for the team as of late and has found the end zone in three straight games. He’s also playing his former team, which is bound to put some pep in his step. Miami will struggle with two new safeties with Reshad Jones and Bobby McCain going on IR on Thursday. Chubb and Hunt will help open the outsides making way for Beckham to step into his elevated roll as well. I think Beckham also gets on the score sheet in a one-sided game.
2) Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Both are the leaders in targets and receiving for Jameis Winston. Although it’s frustrating when one has a huge day and the other doesn’t, usually based on coverage, but both get enough targets/catches and TD/red zone looks that they’re both worth starting. The Buccaneers also abandoned the run game last week when down to the Saints and they’ll likely face a similar scenario this week. With the uncertainty at the TE position also, both of these guys should be heavily involved.
3) Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Atlanta vs Tampa Bay
Shocker, we have a duo opposite Evans and Godwin that should be fully trusted too. I don’t like Jones’ TD drought, but I’m hoping that ends this week. Just like the previous two guys, they’re the team’s leading options and should see more work with TE Austin Hooper still out. Jones has taken a backseat to Ridley in the last two weeks, especially last week, but the game script dictated that too. No reason to sit them in what should be a back and forth matchup. This is important too, with there being no TE presence for the team unless it’s for blocking AND the run game is non-existent right now for the Falcons regardless of game scenario.
1) Marquise Brown, Baltimore @ Los Angeles Rams
I think Baltimore wins handily, but again the game script points to Jackson and Ingram running the ball with Andrews being the top target. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey should be on Brown as well and limit his production. Additionally, with a similar game script over the past few weeks, Brown has had just four targets in each of the last three games and not eclipsed 50 yards in any contest.
2) Terry McLaurin, Washington vs Detroit
McLaurin only had four targets last week against one of the worst pass defenses in the Jets, which has put me off a little bit. He did have a 60-plus yard catch and run negated by penalty, or his day would have looked better, but nonetheless his matchup becomes increasingly more difficult this week. Detroit CB Darius Slay will likely be on McLaurin, and although the Lions aren’t stout as a whole, Slay is stout in himself. Slay also just kept Dallas WR Amari Cooper to three catches.
3) Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh
The Steelers’ offense is what’s shaken up, not its defense. Boyd will see either Joe Haden or Minkah Fitzpatrick this week with a rookie QB. His downward spiral is continuing as well with now a five-game TD drought. He looked like Finley’s favorite receiver during his debut against Baltimore in week 10 with six catches on eight targets, but with a poor pass defense last week with the Raiders, he saw just one catch on three targets. This setup is just a recipe for disaster.
Sleeper: N’Keal Harry, New England vs Dallas
The 2019 first-round pick made his debut last Sunday and should have a prominent role in Sunday’s tilt with the Cowboys. WR Mohammed Sanu is slated to miss the contest with and ankle injury and Phillip Dorsett hasn’t been cleared by an independent neurologist and remains in concussion protocol. This bumps the Arizona State alum into the No. 2 role and with teams unfamiliar with his style of play he could showcase why he was a first round pick in what could be a Super Bowl preview. Harry is also likely available in at least 80-percent of leagues.
Bust Alert: Kendrick Bourne, San Francisco vs Green Bay
Bourne has been a bright spot for the 49ers while fellow WRs Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and TE George Kittle have been out or limited in some capacity. All three guys are expected to suit up, despite their questionable tag, and play more than they have in the last month. In what could be a highly coveted contest, Bourne will likely need a TD to have fantasy value, assuming all three injured players do suit up and are in the game. However, he does have a TD in three straight, so he could extend his streak.
1) Jonnu Smith, Tennessee vs Jacksonville
Delanie Walker is still out so he’ll get the nod. Smith has a huge opportunity to replicate Walker’s numbers (seven catches) from week three in Jacksonville with the way the Jaguars defense is playing. Without Ramsey, the field will be opened even more, and Jacksonville has allowed three TEs to score in its last three games.
2) Ryan Griffin, New York Jets vs Oakland
Chris Herndon is out and Griffin has three TDs in his last four games. Additionally, the Raiders have allowed four TDs to TE’s in their last five games and Griffin should be viewed as the second best receiving option just behind Jamison Crowder. Griffin’s stock declines just a bit if the Jets feature RB Le’Veon Bell in the passing game, but that has decline in recent weeks, which bodes well for Griffin.
3) Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia vs Seattle
WR Alshon Jeffery was limited at the Eagles’ last practice of the week last week and Nelson Agholor didn’t practice on Friday. Ertz and Goedert are the best receiving options Philadelphia has, so if both WRs miss the game or are limited the Eagles actually benefit. Either way, both should be played as the Seahawks allow the eighth most points to TEs this season. Goedert is also proving to be a red zone threat to Ertz, but Ertz finally has a few scores on the year. If Philadelphia can wake up and use them, it could actually be in this game.
1) Jimmy Graham, Green Bay @ San Francisco
Graham has been bad in fantasy as of late, so going against the team with the least amount of points allowed to TEs is a bad combo. Graham also has just three scores this year, two of them coming in the first four weeks, and has more than 60 yards just once since week four.
2) O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
I’m just confused on how Atlanta uses its TEs. One week Howard gets a TD and then is only targeted once that results in an interception. Then, Brate has 0 targets for two straight weeks and then multiplies that by 14 last week. This game could be an air show, but with the horrific inconsistency and no pattern to go off of, there’s little reason to trust either as your starting TE.
3) Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams vs Baltimore
This is really because of the matchup, but Everett’s production will also likely hurt with the return of Brandin Cooks. Furthermore, it looks as though Robert Woods’ personal reason is cleared up and he no longer carries a questionable designation. Josh Reynolds is hurt, but he hasn’t been absorbing the same amount of production he had been last season when he filled in for injured guys. I don’t like Everett in any format.
Sleeper: Jacob Hollister, Seattle @ Philadelphia
Hollister has come out of the team’s wood work in recent weeks and has three TDs and 99 yards in the last two games. WR Tyler Lockett has been cleared to play, but Seattle looks to use Hollister the same way it used Will Dissly — and it’s working. I like his target share too, as he has 16 in the same span.
Bust Alert: Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
McDonald didn’t play in the first meeting between these two teams and we saw the Steelers feature James Conner and Jaylen Samules extensively. Even with the team likely missing Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster it was obvious how visibly frustrated McDonald was with QB Mason Rudolph in the team’s last game in Cleveland. Hopefully the two have figured something out in practice, but this could be a game for backs again if Rudolph still can’t hit his receiving options.