Before loading up on complex carbs and sitting down for an entire Thursday of NFL action, knowing which players to start and sit can make an already enjoyable holiday week even better.
Here are our starts and sits for Week 12. Happy Thanksgiving from FullTime Fantasy.
Week 12 byes: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs
Cam Newton (QB) Carolina Panthers
Newton returned to Carolina two weeks ago and with almost no knowledge of the playbook has played very well for any fantasy owner who has taken a flier on him. Despite reports during the week of a dual quarterback situation that was not the case. Cam is the one and only quarterback for the Panthers. Moving forward, there is no reason he shouldn’t continue to grow and improve in this offense. He looks healthy and he looks good both throwing and running the ball.
This week the Panthers take on a Dolphins defense who has been much better over the past month but have been susceptible to fantasy quarterbacks. This team can also be torched by mobile quarterbacks and while they shut down Lamar Jackson a few weeks ago, Newton has Christian McCaffrey to neutralize an all-out blitz and is more experienced when it comes to reading a defense pre-snap. If you have Patrick Mahomes and need a bye week fill-in, this is who you should be plugging in.
Rex Burkhead (RB) Houston Texans
Burkhead has established himself in the Texans’ offense and has taken over the role Mark Ingram had to start the season. He saw 18 carries last week and I expect much of the same moving forward. Especially if he has a positive game script and there is a good chance he does this week against a miserable Jets team. Even worse for the Jets, they are getting Zach Wilson back who is quite possibly the worst starter in the league and has looked like the worst quarterback on their roster.
I was on the fence about whether or not Burkhead should be a sleeper or start this week, but I like him as a flex option this week. With Phillip Lindsay just cut from the team, he has a clear path to 15-20 carries and a few targets. I’ll take that volume against the Jets, who are allowing the most fantasy points per game by more than seven points per game to running backs, every time.
Ty Johnson (RB) New York Jets
On the other side of the ball in this much anticipated Texans and Jets showdown, Johnson should step in as the primary back for the Jets with Michael Carter on the shelf. While I’m less bullish about Johnson than Burkhead, he should still be a solid start. I do fear the Jets are dumb enough to give Tevin Coleman too many snaps, and not to pile on but Wilson coming back makes everyone worse. Still, the Texans are a bottom ten defense when it comes to stopping fantasy running backs and Johnson should see enough carries and targets to give him a safe floor this week. You can plug him into your flex spot.
Kendrick Bourne (WR) New England Patriots
The phrase sneaky good is overused amongst the fantasy community, however, I’m not sure anyone’s ever fit the description more than Bourne as of late. He’s been efficient, he’s targeted on all levels of the field, and has only seen less than four targets twice since Week 2. Over the past two weeks, he’s seen 12 touches, caught all eight of his targets, and posted 190 yards and a TD. You can make a strong case that he’s challenging Jakobi Meyers as the WR1 in New England, especially from a fantasy perspective. This week he gets a Titans defense who is allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. Don’t be afraid to plug him in your lineup.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR) San Francisco 49ers
The long-awaited resurgence of Aiyuk appears to be upon us. After being essentially invisible for the first two months of the season, over the past four weeks he has come to life in a big way. Over the team’s first six games, one of which he was a healthy scratch, Aiyuk totaled 8 catches on 16 targets for 96 yards and one TD. Over the past four games, he’s caught 20 of his 26 targets for 245 yards and two TDs. He is catching fire much like he did last year. Not to that extent yet but the signs are clear. With a matchup against the Vikings this week who are allowing the third-most points in the league to receivers, he should be in your lineups.
Dalton Shultz (TE) Dallas Cowboys
Shultz should see plenty of volume this week out of necessity alone. The Cowboys will be without Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb is in serious danger of sitting out Thursday and Ezekiel Elliott is banged up. Last week he led the beat-up offense in both catches and yards and if Lamb can’t go has a real shot of doing the same this week. The matchup with the Raiders also plays right into his hands as they are allowing the third-most points to fantasy tight ends but the sixth-fewest points to fantasy receivers. Expect to see a lot of Shultz this Thanksgiving.
Ryan Tannehill (QB) Tennessee Titans
The Patriots’ pass defense has been brutal for opposing quarterbacks as they’ve allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to the position. Tannehill has been mediocre this season and already without Derick Henry and Julio Jones, it looks like they will travel to New England this week without A.J. Brown and the next best receiver on the team Marcus Johnson just landed on injured reserve as well. If Brown is to miss this week’s game I’m not sure Tannehill is startable as a QB2 in Superflex leagues. Find another option.
Zack Moss (RB) Buffalo Bills
The Saints rush defense is too good to start any of the Bills’ running backs this Thursday night. Matt Breida has emerged and now for the second straight week looks like the best back of their trio. With the ball being split three ways now and Breida seeing more volume and being more productive than Moss both on the ground and through the air for two straight weeks there is no way Moss can see your lineup. The Saints defense will shut down a bad backfield of running backs and you can make a strong case Moss is the third-best option in an already bad backfield. Leave him on your bench and this trend continues he may be droppable soon.
Myles Gaskin (RB) Miami Dolphins
Gaskin may be startable in PPR leagues because he always has that upside, but he’s extremely risky. I’d be looking for a better option against a stout Panthers defense this week who is allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs. The Dolphins line struggled mightily to open holes and despite a ton of volume, Gaskin has not been able to get anything going with any consistency on the ground. If you have to start him in PPR leagues you may be able to get away with it but temper expectations.
Odell Beckham (WR) Los Angeles Rams
Don’t just go throwing Beckham in your lineup because of his name. He hasn’t been that guy for about half a decade now. His star power doesn’t match his fantasy production and it goes beyond a Baker Mayfield problem. I’m leaving him out of my lineup until I see the production because when quarterbacks throw to OBJ it tends not to go well for the team. He also has a tough matchup against a Packers’ secondary who has been shutting teams down. They have allowed the seventh-fewest points to wideouts this season and they are playing even better than those numbers show as of late.
Brandin Cooks (WR) Houston Texans
After a hot start to the season in the first three games, Cooks has cooled considerably. He has struggled particularly three of the last four games so his drop-off can’t solely be blamed on Davis Mills. You can say Tyrod Taylor is an issue, but that’s an issue that’s here to stay. He’s coming off an 18-yard game and has scored one TD since Week 2. Shockingly the Jets aren’t so horrific against fantasy wideouts either. They are still bottom half of the league but we’re grading on a curve and they embarrass themselves much more against running backs and are also worse against tight ends. Cooks isn’t a disaster start, but you likely have a better option somewhere on your roster.
Jared Cook (TE) Los Angeles Chargers
As the season has progressed Cook has lost his stranglehold on the TE1 job for the Chargers as Donald Parham has brought this to almost an even split. Parham led the room in both catches and yards last week with Cook trailing him in both categories. Nevertheless, neither of them should be started this week as they have an awful matchup against the Broncos who are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends with less than eight points per game. You need to avoid Cook this week and he may be droppable moving forward if things don’t get better for him in a hurry.
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