August 21, 2014

Fantasy Football: Week 12 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

We’ve already been served a healthy portion of football with three fantasy-friendly helpings of offense (with a side of defense and special teams). With those three games, you may have a good idea of what you need for the rest of the week. Maybe you are down and need to take some upside risks. Or you have a comfortable lead and need players that have a high floor for their production this week. Let’s talk about who you can use this week to make your continued push to the playoffs.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. The Survivor pool is quite shallow this week. Be careful and only dive in the deep end.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: None

Quarterback      

Up: Jay Cutler comes back from his concussion to face the Vikings. The Vikings have given up 3 TDs to QBs in three straight weeks. Should the pattern continue, Cutler would enter the top 12 fantasy QBs for the week.

Chad Henne. Why? Why not? The Jags have dynamic WRs and face a Titans team has “improved” against QBs because they faced Ryan Tannehill and Jay Cutler their last two games. I like Henne as a top 12 performer this week and would start him over our next contestant.

Cam Newton is in the top 12, but I’d like to see him in the top 5. The Eagles are reeling and have mailed it in at this point. They will be without Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy this week. They were torched by a similarly styled QB in Robert Griffin III last week. The torching continues this week as the Eagles continue to fade into meaninglessness.

Down: Colin Kaepernick is assumed to be the starter, but coach Harbaugh has decided that disclosing the starting QB for an NFL game is similar to revealing the nuclear codes. Harbaugh is of course a moron for thinking this, but he’s spent his whole life in football so what else does he know? Yes, Kaepernick made the Bears defense look foolish at home on Monday night. Yes, he’s got talent, but the Saints will be ready for him this week. HE goes on the road into the dome and I think he’ll struggle.

Joe Flacco on the road is not someone I’d think of starting. Moreover, the Ravens schedule the rest of the way is not conducive to success with the exception of Week 14 at Washington. If you are in need of depth at other positions, I’d probably put Flacco on the waiver wire. He’s not worth owning in standard leagues.

Running back

Up: Jalen Parmele wasn’t on anyone’s radar (let alone roster) until the waiver period this week. Now, he’s a high end RB2 for me this week. The matchup is great and he does not have a threat to take carries away from him in the backfield. Is he dynamic? No. Will he get volume? Yes. Style points don’t matter. Chalk him up for 100 yards and a TD this week.

Let’s continue to pick on the awful Eagles team and suggest Jonathan Stewart as a must start midrange RB2 this week. Their rush defense hasn’t been awful (most likely because QBs can throw all day on their DBs), but I think the Panthers will make an effort to get Stewart his carries to take some pressure of Cam Newton.

Vick Ballard scores a TD this week. The Bills have not given up at least one rushing TD to a RB in only three weeks this season.

In deep PPR leagues, I like the tandem of Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman for the Bengals. They face a Raiders defense giving up more than seven catches per game to RBs. And BJGE is not exactly Roger Craig. All three have a good shot to move up a bit in the rankings in PPR leagues.

Down: C.J. Spiller is rated as the third overall RB this week. However, his backfield mate Fred Jackson is back to take carries and touches away from him. Spiller is a must start in all leagues, but I think he’ll be on the outside of RB1 scoring this week with Jackson harshing his buzz.

Steven Jackson faced the Arizona Cardinals earlier this season. He put up 76 rushing yards. That’s it. I don’t see Jackson having much more success this week and see him as only a flex play in Week 12.

Ronnie Hillman is being touted this week as a solid play, but I’d like to wait a week to see how the carries break down. Hillman is part of a three-head monster in Denver’s backfield and he hasn’t shown the consistency necessary for me to start him expecting big things. Can he pass block? It remains to be seen and Peyton Manning wants RBs who block well.

Chris Wells is back this week, but I wouldn’t start him unless you are desperate. He could have some value down the stretch, but this is not the week to experiment.

Wide Receiver

Up: Steve Johnson at number 28 seems far too low given the matchup this week with the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts let nearly any WR waltz through the secondary and their pass rush is hit or miss. I can see Johnson putting up high end WR2 numbers this week and should be started in all leagues.

Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts won’t set records this week, but ride them until there is something that shows you the Jags won’t throw the ball all over the park. They don’t have Laurent Robinson around to take snaps away anymore and they face the Titans who enjoy letting WRs score TDs and pick up yards at will. They are both must starts in all leagues.

Mini-Percy, Jarius Wright, looks to reprise his role as the replacement for Harvin in the Viking offense. They face the Bears who will be hungry to show last week was a fluke. But, in PPR leagues I like Wright to have 15 points making him a solid WR2.

In deeper PPR leagues, I like Riley Cooper to pick up double digit points again this week. Nick Foles looked awful last week (sorry about that everyone), but Cooper should see enough targets to make him viable.

Finally, in a preview for next week, Pierre Garcon looks to be back in full swing. He’s not 100%, but a 75% Garcon should be owned in most leagues.

Down:  Demaryius Thomas as the number three rated WR is a little rich for my blood. Yes, the Chiefs are awful, but they haven’t been too bad against WRs (and almost league average against WR1s according to Football Outsiders). Thomas is a must start, but I see him as a high end WR2 this week.

Torrey Smith shows up here again this week. I’m sitting him this week in most leagues in which I have him because (a) Joe Flacco on the road is bad and (b) the Chargers can control the passing game to some degree. You likely have better options on your bench.

Can you start Larry Fitzgerald with whoever the Cardinals are starting at QB? It’s tough to keep trotting him out each week hoping that one of the dying quails tossed up by below replacement-level QBs falls into his hands. I’d sit him again this week.

Antonio Brown expects to start this week for the Steelers, though other reports say he has little chance to do so. Avoid him this week until he is fully healthy.

Julio Jones burned me in a number of leagues last week and I’m probably going to leave him on the bench in favor of Jarius Wright (in a PPR league) and Danario Alexander (in a non-PPR). I can’t risk another goose egg from him. The “pace of the game” could be a factor in whether he plays or not. I’m not sure I want to leave a spot on my roster for a guy who reinjured himself last week.

Tight End

Up: Kyle Rudolph is a TE1 this week with the absence of Percy Harvin for the Vikings. Rudolph had seven catches for 64 yards and a TD in week 10 when Harvin was also absent. I even like his matchup with the Bears who showed last week that a TE could certainly beat them up.

Vernon Davis was left for dead prior to last week. Now, if Colin Kaepernick continues to QB, Davis looks like he’s going to be back to his consistent TE1 production. He’s a must start this week and should be owned in all leagues.

Marcedes Lewis is another option this week as the Jags look like the New Orleans Saints East. Lewis had a solid game last week and you all remember our former feature “Which TE is playing the Tennessee Titans?” from earlier in the season, correct. Get him in there for TE1 production this week.

Want to make a desperation play? Tony Moeaki has a great matchup and has at least six targets in the last three games he’s played. He could be useful in PPR leagues this week.

Dwayne Allen continues to be the main TE for the Colt this week as Coby Fleener sits out again.

The Panthers like to give up TDs to above average TEs. Take the risk on Brent Celek picking up at TE for the Eagles this week.

Down: Antonio Gates is no longer an option for me in standard leagues. He still has some value in PPR leagues, but he looks to be on his last legs and was even cut in one of my leagues this week. I don’t see him as a TE1 this week.

Anthony Fasano was added to the injury report during the week and looks like he will miss this week’s game (in case you had him in your lineup).

Oh, cut Jermichael Finley. Just another reminder. Greg Jennings is coming back soon and Randall Cobb is Aaron Rodgers’ new best friend.

Defense

Up: Looking deeper, you could take a chance on the Miami Dolphins against the Seahawks. The Seahawks are a below average team on the road and have given up points to fantasy defenses when on the road. They average only 15 points per game on the road and should give up two to three sacks and a couple of turnovers as well. I can see the Dolphins as top 12 material this week.

Down: The San Francisco 49ers will likely finish outside the top 12 this week. Yes, I know they have tons of defensive talent, but the New Orleans Saints of 2012 look like the New Orleans Saints of old. It may be tough to sit them, but I’d look for another option on the waiver wire if you can afford to drop someone from your squad.

I know the Chargers have a revolving door at left tackle now with Jared Gaither on season-ending IR. But, I’m concerned with the Baltimore Ravens going out west to face the Chargers. Philip Rivers has been a turnover machine as well, but I have a feeling that the Chargers will turn it around a bit this week and could cause some problems for a Ravens defense that cannot stop the run.

Survivor

Bye weeks are over and I’m coming off a week where all seven of my choices won. There are three games on Thanksgiving. I generally stay away from these games as the short week is tough on all the players (especially with the holiday).

It’s Week 12. The pickings are getting slim. Where can you go to be safe this week?

I’ve also got a quick preview of the three games on Thursday below.

Bye week: None

Survivor Pool – Week 12 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and Yahoo! as of late Saturday night:

Office Football Pool

Yahoo! Survival Football

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Denver Broncos

40.90%

1

Denver Broncos

51.95%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

37.50%

2

Cincinnati Bengals

27.82%

3

Indianapolis Colts

6.80%

3

Indianapolis Colts

6.39%

4

New England Patriots (W)

4.70%

4

New England Patriots (W)

4.85%

5

Chicago Bears

2.20%

5

Seattle Seahawks

1.52%

6

Seattle Seahawks

1.70%

6

Tennessee Titans

1.41%

7

Tennessee Titans

1.40%

7

Baltimore Ravens

0.93%

8

Dallas Cowboys (L)

1.30%

8

Houston Texans (W)

0.75%

9

Arizona Cardinals

0.70%

9

Dallas Cowboys (L)

0.73%

10

Houston Texans (W)

0.50%

10

Chicago Bears

0.65%

It’s the Broncos and the Bengals and then….who? If you don’t have Denver or Cincinnati available, where should you go? There are a lot of tight matchups this week. It’s probably time to be safe (or as safe as you can be).

My early picks for this week are below (my final column will be up Sunday):

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are at home against an Oakland team that has been housed the last two weeks. The Bengals are relatively healthy on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton has a stud WR in A.J. Green and a serviceable backfield. The Raiders have Carson Palmer’s arm and that’s about it. The Bengals can beat Palmer’s arm. I give the Bengals a 75% chance of winning.
  2. Denver Broncos – The big difference for me between the Bengals and Broncos is that the Broncos are on the road. The Broncos will also be assimilating Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno into the backfield with the season-ending injury to Willis McGahee. The Chiefs are a mess on all levels. Brady Quinn is back at QB. They are awful. And they have injuries on the interior of their offensive line such that three starters may miss the game. I give the Broncos a 74% chance of winning.
  3. Chicago Bears – With the news that Percy Harvin is out of the Vikings and Jay Cutler is in for the Bears, I’ll now add the Bears to the list. The Bears defense was embarrassed on Monday night by a rookie QB. I believe they will be out for revenge and Christian Ponder should oblige. The Vikings will have the best player on the field in Adrian Peterson, but without Harvin as a safety blanket, I believe the Vikings should lose on the road. I give the Bears a 69% chance of winning.
  4. New England Patriots – I assume no one has New England left and even if you did, I’d rather use Denver or the Bengals. The Pats are without Rob Gronkowski so their offense will look a bit different. Aaron Hernandez is supposed to be back, but could be limited. The Jets showed they still have an above average defense and at home they have a chance against the Pats in a short week. I give the Patriots 68% chance of winning.
  5. Indianapolis Colts – Now we get down to the nitty gritty. Where can we go when we don’t have the top three options? I’m going to latch my wagon to the Colts and Andrew Luck. Even if Donnie Avery is out, Luck has shown he can win at home against most comers. The Bills struggle on the road and get Fred Jackson back which muddles the RB picture. I give the Colts a 65% chance to win
  6. Arizona Cardinals – Wow, it gets thin early at the bottom of the barrel here. The Cardinals had a guy play QB last week who I had never heard of. There is a good chance he’s going to start this week. They get Beanie Wells back on offense. They also get Calais Campbell back on defense. The Rams are winless on the road this season and can’t seem to get things going when they are outside of the dome. I give the Cardinals a 61% chance to win.

Other teams I like: Cleveland Browns

As for the avoid list, I would stay away from the Houston Texans on the road and the Seattle Seahawks on the road for different reasons.  The Texans struggled mightily against the Jaguars last week in quite a surprise. I’m sure they will be prepared to play this week, but the Lions looked solid last week against the Packers. On the short week, I’d rather not gamble on the Texans against the potent Lions offense.

The Seahawks are just a bad team on the road. I think Miami can defend well enough to keep the Seahawks off the score board. The big question is can the Dolphins score at all. There should be better choices for you than Seattle.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d think about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Falcons. No, I do not believe Matt Ryan throws another five interceptions this week. But, the Bucs have an offense that is firing on all cylinders (and may have a turbo boost hanging out somewhere). The Falcons are coming dangerously close to being a one-dimensional offense and Julio Jones is still fighting a nagging ankle injury.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

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