Which players will provide fantasy feasts and which will play the role of turkeys this weekend?
Thanksgiving Day was just the appetizer for Week 12 NFL and fantasy action. For the first time since Week 3 all 32 teams are in action, which means we still have 13 games to go between Sunday and Monday.
Fantasy-wise, it also means that you should have a full roster of players at your disposal. This also can lead to some very tough decisions to make regarding your starting lineup.
Fortunate for you, you have come to the right place. This will be an abbreviated start and sit article this week because believe it or not, I’ve got lots more eating and shopping to do.
Start These Guys
Brian Hoyer, HOU (vs. NO)
Hoyer didn’t play last week in the Texans’ surprising win over the New York Jets as T.J. Yates was under center for that one, but according to head coach Bill O’Brien, Hoyer will be starting this week when Houston hosts New Orleans. Now the Saints were on a bye last week, so you might have forgotten that the Saints have one of the worst defenses in football history. The Saints’ defense has already been gutted by Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins and Eli Manning for a combined 14:0 TD-to-INT ratio over the last three games. The Saints’ D should be better coming off the bye, but you should still expect Hoyer to throw for more than 300 yards with at least three touchdowns. Heck, DeAndre Hopkins might finish the game with 300 yards and three touchdowns all by himself.
Derek Carr, OAK (at TEN)
It would be easy to sit Carr this week since he is coming off his worst game of the season where he scored only 7.56 fantasy points against Detroit, throwing for only 169 yards and zero touchdowns. But keep in mind that prior to last week, Carr had been on a tear, scoring 20 or more fantasy points in his previous four games. Look for Carr to bounce back this week as once again the Raiders play far away from home, this time in Tennessee against a Titans defense that is currently giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season. Carr should get back to throwing for close to 300 yards with at least two touchdowns this week.
T.J. Yeldon, JAC (vs. SD)
So far this season Yeldon has been average at best, but hopefully you’re not depending on him to carry your fantasy team. However, this week you need to dust him off and get him into your starting lineup. Only for the fact that the Jaguars are hosting the San Diego Chargers, who are doing their best to rival the New Orleans Saints as the worst defense in all of football. The Chargers have easily given up the most fantasy points to running backs this season, so look for Yeldon to have the best game of his young career so far with well over 100 yards rushing and at least one touchdown.
Javorius Allen, BAL (vs. CLE, Mon.)
Justin Forsett had struggled for most of the year and now that he’s out for the rest of the year, the Ravens will finally get to take a look and see what they have in rookie Allen or Buck Allen as he likes to be called. Subbing for an injured Forsett last week, Allen had 22 carries for 67 yards and caught 4-of-5 targets for 48 yards. That’s better production already than Forsett. This week the Ravens travel to Cleveland to take on a Browns defense that is currently giving up the fifth-most points to running backs and with Matt Schaub starting in place of an injured Joe Flacco (out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL), you know the Ravens are going to lean heavily on Allen. It can be risky to start a rookie running back making his first career start, but Allen should get close to 30 touches and will make the most of his opportunity.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (at SF)
There might not be a better QB to WR combo in the NFL right now than Carson Palmer throwing to Fitzgerald. They just click and Palmer will throw to Fitzgerald all over the field, no matter what the game flow says. Because of this Fitzgerald is experiencing a career renaissance and is on pace for another 100-catch, 1,400-yard season. That’s great news for anyone who took a chance on Fitzgerald in their fantasy draft after watching his production decline the past few seasons. Of course Fitzgerald is a must-start this week against the 49ers this week. The 49ers have struggled all year to contain wideouts and Fitzgerald has owned them for much of his career. He had 134 yards and two touchdowns against them in Week 3 and he should come close to duplicating those numbers again Sunday.
Eric Decker, NYJ (vs. MIA)
Fantasy-wise has there been anyone as consistent as Decker this entire season? Touchdowns are fluky and you can never count on any player scoring a touchdown every week, but Decker is becoming an exception to that rule. Decker has scored a touchdown in seven of his nine games this season and is averaging over 10 fantasy points per game in standard leagues (well over that in PPR). This week Decker gets to go up against a Miami Dolphins secondary that has yielded 19 TD passes so far this season, which is 23rd in the league. Looks like Decker should be in line for another touchdown this week.
Gary Barnidge, CLE (vs. BAL, Mon.)
Barnidge got great news when the Browns announced that Josh McCown would be starting this week against the Ravens. Barnidge has averaged 85.3 yards and one touchdown per game while playing with McCown. This week he also has a good matchup against a Baltimore Ravens defense that is 24th in the NFL with 257 passing yards and tied for 23rd with 19 TD passes allowed.
Delanie Walker, TEN (vs. OAK)
Walker is very quietly establishing himself as a top-5 fantasy tight end. On the year he has 53 receptions for 617 yards and three touchdowns, those are great numbers for a tight end that likely went undrafted in a number of fantasy drafts. This week Walker gets a dream matchup against the Oakland Raiders and their 30th-ranked passing defense that is currently allowing 290.5 yards per game along with the third-most fantasy points to TEs. Look for Walker to once again score well over 10 fantasy points this week.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS (DST)
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. BUF)
Believe it or not, the Chiefs have the hottest defense in fantasy football right now. In fact, this unit has seen a four-game increase in points, culminating in a 20-point effort against the Chargers. Next up is a home date with the Bills, who have been quite kind to opposing defenses over the last four weeks.
Sit These Guys
Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. MIN)
What has happened to Ryan this year? He was never considered a true elite quarterback, but he has always been a good-to-great fantasy quarterback, but not this year. Through 10 games this season he has only 15 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, that’s not good enough. This week Ryan and the Falcons play host to an excellent Minnesota Vikings defense, which is going to be looking for a big win to keep pace with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. The Vikings have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season and with the way Ryan is playing right now, it’s unlikely that he will score more than 16 fantasy points this week.
Tyrod Taylor, BUF (at KC)
Has the Taylor bubble burst in Buffalo? Before he got injured in Week 5, Taylor was averaging well over 20 fantasy points per game, but since his return back in Week 9, he’s producing closer to 10 fantasy points per game. Look for that trend to continue this week as Taylor and the rest of the Bills travel to Kansas City to play one of the hottest defenses in all of football right now. The Chiefs have won five straight games mainly in part because of their defense. You can probably make that six games in a row, as Taylor will struggle mightily to get anything going on offense and probably score around another 10 fantasy points this week.
Latavius Murray, OAK (vs. TEN)
Murray seems like he’s been stuck in a rut over the past few weeks as he just hasn’t been able to get anything going. He’s averaging 7 fantasy points per game over his last three games and has actually only scored 10 or more fantasy points in four of his 10 games this season. That’s not very good. The troubling times will continue this week for Murray, as the Raiders stay on the east coast, traveling to Tennessee to take on a Titans defense that is pretty stout against the run. The Titans are currently giving up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs on the year and should have no problem stopping Murray this week.
Lamar Miller, MIA (at NYJ)
If you look at Miller’s fantasy points over the course of the season, you’ll notice that his production is all over the place. One week he’ll score 35.6 fantasy points and follow that up with only 9.4 and then score 26.1 more the following week. Miller only has 565 rushing yards on the season so a lot of fantasy points have come in the passing game where he has 35 catches. You never know what you are going to get really on a weekly basis from pass-catching running backs, but at least from a ground game stand point, this week’s matchup is a tough one against the New York Jets. The Jets are currently giving up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season and should be able to stymie Miller all game. Look for Miller to have another one of those games where he scores 10 or fewer fantasy points.
LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. KC)
McCoy has been carrying the Buffalo Bills’ offense as of late. He’s averaging 102 yards per game over his last three contests, at a rate of 5.6 yards per carry, so it seems that he is over his hamstring injury that has been hindering him since the preseason. But this week the Bills are going up against one of the hottest defenses in all of football, the Kansas City Chiefs, on the road. The Chiefs’ defense is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed this season and they don’t let running backs score either, as they have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position. The Bills’ offense is going to be in for some tough sledding this week and there’s no doubt that McCoy will see lots of volume, he just won’t be able to do much with it.
A.J. Green, CIN (vs. STL)
You have to think (or hope) that at some point Green is going to bust out and not only have one good fantasy game, but rip off two or three big games to remind everyone that he is still an elite NFL receiver. Green really needs to get going because so far he has been an absolute fantasy bust, averaging well under 10 fantasy points per game (non PPR). If you’re hoping this is the week that Green gets going, think again. The Bengals travel to St. Louis to play a Rams defense that is allowing 229.4 passing yards per game and has only allowed eight touchdowns through the air all season. That means the Rams have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to WRs. Green’s more likely to maintain his season average of around five catches for 60 yards and zero touchdowns this week.
Danny Amendola, NE (at DEN)
This is of course assuming that Amendola plays this week after suffering a knee sprain Monday night (you never know with Bill Belichick). Since Julian Edelman went down two weeks ago, Amendola has seen his production skyrocket, which isn’t really a surprise. But what is surprising is the actual amount of targets he’s seeing. In his last two games Tom Brady has targeted Amendola 23 times, with the veteran wideout cashing in on 19 of those. That is an impressive completion rate. There’s no doubt that Amendola will continue to be a target hog as long as he can stay healthy, which is a big if. But the real problem this week is that the Patriots are playing in Denver against easily the best pass defense in football. The Broncos have two shutdown corners in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris and are allowing by far the fewest fantasy points to WRs on the season. Amendola might be worth the risk in PPR leagues, but stay away from him in standard leagues this week.
Editor's note: Amendola was officially ruled out by the Patriots Saturday evening after this article was published.
Jordan Cameron, MIA (vs. NYJ)
By now you should have already cut Cameron, but just in case you are still hanging onto him, you should sit him this week against the New York Jets. Cameron has only scored two touchdowns all season and is highly unlikely to get into the end zone this week against a Jets defense that is giving up only 5.59 fantasy points to TEs.\
Ben Watson, NO (vs. HOU)
Watson has been a trendy waiver wire pickup over the last few weeks because he has had games where he’s scored 18.7 and 20.7 fantasy points. But remember that he’s also scored less than five fantasy points six times this season. This week he faces a really tough matchup against a revitalized Texans defense that has been tough to score on in recent weeks. In fact, tight ends have averaged 3.77 fantasy points against Houston’s D since Week 8, as the Texans are giving up the 10th-fewest fantasy points to the position. There are better options available this week than Watson.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS (DST)
Denver Broncos (vs. NE)
The Broncos have had the best fantasy defense for much of the 2015 campaign, but a matchup against Tom Brady and the Patriots is enough to put any DST on the sit list. Opposing DSTs have managed an average of 3.11 fantasy points per game. That's the fewest in the NFL.
— Written 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.