This fantasy football season has been so full of injuries and weird, up-and-down performances (aside from a surprising few), that there are no doubt many losing teams out there, still knocking on the door of the playoffs. It's Week 12, meaning for most leagues there are two games left, plenty of time for a team to sneak into the playoffs.
But to do that or to just solidify your current seeding, you need to make sure you put together the lineup that gives you the best chance to win. Every decision counts from here on, as every single play matters. That could especially be the case depending on how many players you had go on Thanksgiving, and how they did.
So with that in mind, here are the players in the Sunday (and Monday) slate that you should start and here are some you should consider giving the week off. It is a holiday after all.
Teams on bye: Kansas City, Los Angeles Rams
Start These Guys
Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. NYG)
Don't be discouraged by Wentz's poor effort in the loss at the Saints. With the Eagles ranked 25th in rushing and their chances of defending their Super Bowl crown beginning to slip away, expect Wentz to throw at will against a Giants defense that he lit up for three touchdowns in Week 6. There's little chance of Zach Ertz catching just two passes or Golden Tate being a nonfactor in consecutive weeks, so bank on Wentz rebounding.
Eli Manning, NYG (at PHI)
The Eagles' secondary is in worse shape than when Manning put up 281 yards in their first meeting. With Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. putting up solid numbers of late, Manning should have a field day against a defense that has allowed four straight QBs (Cam Newton, Blake Bortles, Dak Prescott, Drew Brees) to put up at least 20 fantasy points against it.
Gus Edwards, BAL (vs. OAK)
Before last week, Edwards was a UDFA with 16 touches and 71 yards across four games after averaging 3.3 yards per carry during the preseason (53 attempts). So naturally, Edwards breaks out last week 115 yards and his first career NFL TD on 17 carries. Say what you will about the Bengals’ defense, and then sprinkle some more laughs on it for the upcoming Raiders “defense.” Yes, Alex Collins still looms but Edwards is the hot hand right now and Oakland just gave up 154 rushing yards to David Johnson and Chase Edmonds.
Sony Michel, NE (at NYJ)
Michel should be ready to pick up where he left off prior to hurting his knee in Week 7 at Chicago. He returned in Week 10 at Tennessee, but he struggled against the Titans with just 11 carries for 31 yards. Hopefully, he's healthy coming off the bye, and this should be a solid performance against the Jets, who have allowed a running back to score in three of the past four games. Before hurting his knee against the Bears, Michel had three games in a row with more than 100 total yards and a touchdown. I'm expecting him to get back to that level of production again this week.
Tyler Lockett, SEA (at CAR)
Lockett has been pretty steady this season, racking up 38 catches on 48 targets for 554 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He has given his owners at least 12 points in PPR leagues in seven games this season, providing a floor that makes him an easy start almost every week. The Panthers’ defense isn’t what it used to be through the air, and it ranks better in PPR leagues than it does in standard formats. In other words, touchdown-dependent receivers do better against the Panthers than those who rely on receptions. That bodes well for Lockett.
Julian Edelman, NE (at NYJ)
Edelman broke the 100-yard barrier against the Titans in one of the lone bright spots of the Patriots' embarrassing loss prior to their bye. New England should be rested and ready to show that Week 10 was a fluke. The Jets have struggled mightily to cover underneath receivers, a role Edelman relishes. This is one of the reasons why New York has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Jeff Heuerman, DEN (vs. PIT)
The Steelers have vastly improved in pass coverage over the last five games. They haven't allowed a quarterback to throw for 250 yards since Matt Ryan did in Week 5. However, Pittsburgh still has been pretty generous to tight ends and over the last three games, Heuerman leads the Broncos in targets (21). Clearly, quarterback Case Keenum has built a solid rapport with his TE as this season has progressed. Keenum may need to throw 35-40 times to keep pace with the Steelers, which bodes well for Heuerman's numbers.
Cameron Brate, TB (vs. SF)
With O.J. Howard done for the season, Brate instantly becomes a midrange TE1 in a neutral matchup against the 49ers. While Peyton Barber looked good last week, the Bucs are still a pass-happy offense that will need all production they can muster to balance out their terrible defense. Brate and Jameis Winston have shown strong chemistry in the past, especially in the red zone, so fire Brate up with confidence.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS (DST)
New England Patriots (at NYJ)
The Patriots, fresh off a bye, have had extra time to prepare for Josh McCown and a Jets offense that was terrible in Week 10 leading into the bye. Opposing DSTs have averaged almost 10 fantasy points a game versus the Jets, who have committed an average of more than two turnovers per contest.
Sit These Guys
Deshaun Watson, HOU (vs. TEN, Mon.)
Take away his five-TD performance against the Dolphins in Week 8, and Watson has just six touchdown passes in his past five games. That doesn't bode well against a Titans defense that still ranks fourth in fewest fantasy points allowed per game despite being lit up by the Colts last week. Watson no longer offers the bonus of running the ball, which makes him sideline material for fantasy players this week.
Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. ARI)
Last week Rivers put up 401 yards and two touchdowns (as well as two INTs) in a last-second 23-22 loss to the Broncos at home. Despite the loss, Rivers now has at least two TDs in all 10 of his games this season. However, you should worry about his passing volume this week since the Chargers are whopping 12-point favorites at home and it’s impossible not to note Arizona yields the second-fewest fantasy points to QBs. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler may combine for 50 touches and a ton of fantasy points in this one.
Aaron Jones, GB (at MIN)
There's little debate that Jones is now Green Bay's lead back. However, he has yet to record more than 15 carries in a game this season and his matchup against the Vikings appears to be the splash of cold water that stalls him after scoring four times in the last two games. Minnesota is fourth overall against the run and has allowed only five touchdowns on the ground, meaning Jones will need to deliver as a pass catcher to justify having him in the lineup.
Lamar Miller, HOU (vs. TEN, Mon.)
Miller had a solid game last week against Washington with 20 carries for 86 yards, as well as three catches for 22 yards on five catches. It continues his up-and-down season where only once has he posted consecutive games with double-digit PPR points. The last time he faced the Titans was Week 2 when he was held to eight PPR points, and Tennessee's run defense has been tough all season. Only four running backs have scored against the Titans this year, including Patriots fullback James Develin.
Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs. PIT)
After consecutive 100-yard games in Weeks 6 and 7, Sanders has flattened to a combined 160 yards in his last three games. He has suffered without having Demaryius Thomas taking coverage away. And with rookie Courtland Sutton starting to see more targets, Sanders has fallen from a solid WR2 to a borderline flex. Although the Steelers are 28th in receiving yards allowed, Sanders' recent struggles aren't encouraging enough to take the gamble.
Golden Tate, PHI (vs. NYG)
Philadelphia offensive coordinator Mike Groh said this week that fitting Tate into the Eagles' offense has been “difficult.” It’s hard to feel great about Tate’s fantasy outlook after comments like that. Sure, his eight targets, five catches and 48 yards paced the team in Week 11, but Week 12 brings a Giants defense that has surprisingly yielded just 256 passing yards per game.
Eric Ebron, IND (vs. MIA)
Ebron’s only touch last week saw him attempt a pass to Andrew Luck on a “Philly Special,” but it was just out of the QB's grasp. Ebron’s goose egg burned many owners seeking to chase the dragon of his three-TD Week 10, but the volume simply isn’t there. He’s a fine dart throw due to his involvement in the red zone, but Mo Alie-Cox plays more than Ebron and Jack Doyle is the clear TE1.
Evan Engram, NYG (at PHI)
Engram and the Giants are running headlong into an Eagles team that was just disgraced by the Saints and will almost surely take it out on New York at home. This is an Eagles team that has surrendered an average stat line of three receptions and 37 yards to opposing tight ends and Engram has combined for just seven targets in the last two games. Being the third option in a tough matchup where Engram may be needed more in chipping edge rushers is a bad recipe.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS (DST)
Denver Broncos (vs. PIT)
The Broncos DST ranks ninth in fantasy points this season, but almost 60 percent of that production has come in two games. That's anything but consistent. Keep Denver on the bench against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, who have averaged almost 416.8 total yards and 24.4 points per game on the road this season.
— Rankings by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.