In seasonal fantasy football, matchups often boil down to which owner makes the right start/sit decisions. You can’t hold allegiances to projections or name recognition, you simply have to play the guys you think will wind up with the most fantasy points.
Here are the fringe options that might should be in your fantasy lineup in Week 12.
QB Jameis Winston vs. SF
The Bucs coaching staff is unlikely to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick again no matter how poorly Jameis Winston plays this Sunday. But that shouldn’t matter, because Winston is in line for a solid game at home against a 49ers team that ranks 21st in DVOA pass defense this year. Richard Sherman is the only plus-rated member of that secondary and SS Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) has been out or hampered for weeks. Even with O.J. Howard (ankle) inactive, the Bucs have ample weapons in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries and backup TE Cameron Brate. The face that SF is strong against the run should also force more onto Winston’s plate.
RB Chris Carson @ CAR
It says a lot when a coach sticks with a RB after a bad first-quarter fumble in today’s NFL, especially when there are two other options to replace that back. Yet Pete Carroll let Chris Carson spin last Thursday night and Carson turned a team-high 17 touches into 83 yards and a TD. Rashad Penny and Mike Davis combined for just 14 touches, so Carson will remain the lead back in a matchup against backsliding Carolina. The Panthers yield an above-average 4.3 YPC mark and are surprisingly giving up 25.2 PPG this season. Seattle runs more often than any team in the NFL.
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RB Gus Edwards vs. OAK
His production in Week 11 was no fluke. Gus Edwards is a great fit for the Ravens offense and the job of lead RB has been open for multiple seasons with Alex Collins doing nothing to cement his status. Javorius Allen will mix in on passing downs, but the Ravens (-10.5) will have little incentive to throw the ball at all against a horrendous Raiders run defense. Lamar Jackson should start with Joe Flacco (hip) sidelined and Edwards pairs well with Jackson as the back in a read-option scheme.
WR Marquise Goodwin @ TB
The Bucs have coughed up the most receiving TDs (16) to opposing WRs along with the third-most pass plays (42) of 20-plus yards. It took some time for Marquise Goodwin to gain chemistry with new 49ers QB Nick Mullens, but the pair hooked up on 4-of-5 targets for 69 yards in a Week 10 loss to the Giants. With an extra week to work on their timing, expect Mullens and Goodwin to take a few shots down the field in sunny Tampa against arguably the league’s worst secondary. Pierre Garcon (knee) is legitimately questionable for this contest and the Niners have no other experienced receivers with Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, and Richie James rotating in their first or second NFL seasons.
WR John Ross vs. CLE
Many owners may be too scared to start John Ross if A.J. Green (toe) is active on Sunday. Yet Green’s return should help both Ross and Tyler Boyd get open against secondary and tertiary cornerbacks, while Browns top CB Denzel Ward shadows Green. Cleveland lost No. 2 CB E.J. Gaines for the season and are struggling at the back end while coughing up the third-most passing YPG (287.6) this season. Only six teams have allowed more pass plays (7) of 40-plus yards than the Browns and Ross is a burner with the potential to hit on a big play, or win on a jump ball to the end zone like he did in last week’s loss to the Ravens. He’s worth using in deep leagues for owners in a pinch.
TE Chris Herndon vs. NE
This is only a suggestion for owners in deep leagues with few options at TE, but Chris Herndon could be the free agent you need to fill out a strong lineup. The Jets are going to be throwing early and often against the high-scoring Patriots and NE is most vulnerable over the middle. With DC Matt Patricia gone, the Pats are giving up the eight-most receiving YPG (64.4) and the second-most receiving scores (7) to opposing TEs this season. Herndon caught TDs in three straight weeks earlier this year and his role is likely to grow coming out of the bye with the Jets season circling the drain.
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