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Nov. 25, 2014 - Frankie Soler

Fantasy Focus: Week 12 Analysis

This article originally appeared on RotoBaller, our new partner:

With most leagues entering the final week of the regular season in Week 13, this week’s recap is going to focus largely on injuries and what to do with lineup decisions heading into the home stretch. I’ll throw in some keeper/dynasty league tidbits whenever applicable, but for the most part, it’s time to start thinking almost exclusively about your run through the fantasy playoffs.

Since the trade deadline has already passed in the majority of leagues, you should be set with a solid stud lineup if you’re still reading this after Week 12. To win in the playoffs, you should avoid any tinkering whatsoever. Don’t overthink lineup decisions– dance with who brung ya, as the adage goes.  That said, I hope you’ve managed to survive the dreaded injury bug this late into the season.

Fortunately, there weren’t any serious new injuries to report after Sunday’s Week 12 action. A pair of running backs left their respective games in Marshawn Lynch and Ryan Mathews. Both were able to return, so neither ailment is believed to be series. In the case of Lynch, it appeared as if his back was troubling him again. He’s a tough player, as evidenced by his ability to continue to play through pain. He’s a guy you always need to monitor closely, but he typically suits back up and returns to the field. As for Ryan Mathews, what can I tell you? He’s made of glass. Mathews gets hurt seemingly every year, and he never performs up to expectations anyway. He had a solid year for sure in 2013, and he actually did have a nice showing against the Rams this week, but he’s extremely difficult to trust. This is a player whom you just have to accept you might be without for a few weeks.

Week 12 grew progressively more exciting as the day went along– the early  games started out pretty slow, then the later group picked up the pace nicely, while late game was the standout of the day. Let’s take a look at when went down in the fantasy universe on Sunday.


Week 12 Game-by-Game Analysis & Fantasy Playoffs Prep

Chiefs @ Raiders

In what was one of the most comical ends to a game anyone has ever seen, the Oakland Raiders finally picked up their first victory Thursday night against the Chiefs. The Raiders came amazingly close to blowing this game on a ridiculous never-ending celebratory sack with roughly 20 seconds to go. Everyone on the planet has seen the video of this sequence a dozen times by now, so let’s just move right along to the fantasy impact of this game. How about Latavius Murray, huh?  It only took 12 weeks, but the Raiders finally found their answer on the ground… until he suffered a concussion, of course. It was a real shame to see Murray exit this game after completely tearing up the Chiefs for 112 yards on just four carries. The Chiefs hadn’t allowed a single rushing touchdown to an opposing offense prior to Thursday night, yet they allowed two to Murray. It’s amazing how teams can go so long without realizing their best player at running back has been sitting on the bench the whole time. Leave it to the Raiders. Murray is by far this week’s number one add, and he should be treated as a borderline RB2 should he suit up for next week’s game against the Rams. The Rams have improved their rushing defense, despite what you saw out of Ryan Mathews this week, so it’ll depend on your roster construction when it comes to starting Murray.

What do you want to hear about the Chiefs? You don’t need me to remind you that Jamaal Charles is a stud and that anyone not named Travis Kelce isn’t worth rostering in the passing game. Next.


Bengals @ Texans

As expected, the Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard situation was as murky as could be. Hill and Bernard ended the day with the same exact amount of touches at 19 a piece. Hill ended up with one more carry than Bernard.  Look, I know that if you drafted Bernard to be your RB2 you’re probably stuck with him unless you’ve hit the jackpot on the waiver wire, but otherwise this is already a situation to avoid, if at all possible. The two backs will continue to split time as we head into the fantasy playoffs, and you really don’t want to have to rely on a guy that is only going to get 50% of the touches.  A.J. Green had a solid game here with 12 catches for 121 yards, but the sole receiving touchdown went to Mohamed Sanu.

Arian Foster missed this game for the Texans, leaving Alfred Blue to start for the second consecutive week. I like Blue as a dynasty league stash, given his abilities and potential as a future starting running back. It wasn’t as clear as it was last week as Blue ended the day with just 66 total yards, but I still like where his career is headed. It appears that Ryan Mallett came out of this game with a pectoral injury, which will be monitored as the week progresses. I don’t think this changes anything as far as Texans wide receivers are concerned. DeAndre Hopkins has surpassed Andre Johnson at this point, and that’s all you need to worry about.


Titans @ Eagles

Just when it looked as if LeSean McCoy was ready for his big breakout game of the season, the Eagles went right back to Darren Sproles for the touchdown. Granted, McCoy did still end the day with 130 yards and a TD of his own, but his numbers could have actually been even better had the Eagles not force-fed Sproles again. I really don’t understand the logic behind Chip Kelly’s run game, but they’re winning games, so what do I know? McCoy is still poised to finish the year strong even with the slow start, so I’d happily ride it out with McCoy heading into the playoffs. I’d actually even cut ties with Sproles unless I owned McCoy. Barring a McCoy injury, there’s virtually no reason to own or start Sproles in a playoff matchup, so why bother? I’d much rather have my OWN handcuff if I own, say, DeMarco Murray or Jamaal Charles. Even if you’re thinking about starting Sproles at FLEX, there are plenty of wide receivers I’d prefer.

As far as the Titans are concerned, Delanie Walker is back to being a top 10 tight end after returning from his concussion. Walker amassed 155 yards, which is a boatload for a tight end who has Zach Mettenberger throwing to him. Remember when people thought Bishop Sankey could be a usable RB2? Ha!


Jaguars @ Colts

This game was actually closer than the final score indicated, with the Jaguars hanging with the Colts for the majority of the first half. It took a huge 73-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton to solidify the lead in the third quarter for Indianapolis. Hilton has emerged as the clear number one receiver in Indy, much to the chagrin of those who believed in a bounceback year for Reggie Wayne, myself included. Wayne is droppable at this point, if he wasn’t already. If you’ve managed to scrape by starting Reggie Wayne, then your team must be loaded or you’re performing well beyond your means. Before getting to the Jags, can we take a moment to pour some out for the Trent Richardson Experiment? I know he got the touchdown in this game, but the man we will now refer to as Dan “Boom” Herron out-gained him in his first game as a starter. That’s sad for Richardson, a guy who couldn’t even outrun old and beat-upAhmad Bradshaw. It’s game over for Richardson; I just don’t see any way he’ll ever be the player he was his rookie season.

Denard Robinson finally had himself a bad game after several in a row as the Jacksonville offense struggled mightily all day. There was even a Toby Gerhart sighting in the hopes that a different look would ignite the offense, but no such luck. Blake Bortles looked rough out there, and he was beaten up by Indy’s pass rush all game. I had mentioned that I liked both Cecil Shorts and Allen Hurns in this game, but that was contingent upon Bortles actually being able to get them the ball. Silly me for making such an assumption.


Packers @ Vikings

The Vikings came to play here in a contest many expected the Packers to run away with easily. This ended up being a three-point game that saw Eddie Lacy rack up 125 yards on the ground.  Congratulations to you if you hung tough with Lacy. These types of games are definitely within his skillset, and being on a potent offense like that of the Packers certainly helps. The touchdown drought finally struck both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb in the same week, but what are you gonna do? Bench ‘em? Of course not.

2014’s version of Lamar Miller (Cordarrelle Patterson) left this game with what was described as both a knee and an ankle injury. I call him 2014’s Lamar Miller because of all the unmaterialized hype that surrounded him heading into this season. If he’s anything like Miller, he’ll have a solid year in 2015 as soon as everyone’s forgotten about him. In all seriousness though, it’s unclear how severe Patterson’s injuries are, but I can’t imagine you’re even still holding on to him at this point.


Lions @ Patriots

So last week we were treated Jonas Gray’s coming-out party, which I happily declared would be a one-week occurrence. Coincidentally, the Steelers released LeGarrette Blount, who then returned to the Patriots and put up 78 yards and two touchdowns against Detroit. You can’t make this stuff up folks. The Patriots hate committing to one running back. It certainly helps that Jonas Gray was late to a team meeting and got sent home, but that doesn’t really change anything for me. The Pats always switch up their ground game, which is why I never bought into Gray in the first place. I’m not starting any Patriots running back in a playoff matchup if I can help it, and neither should you.

If I own Calvin Johnson I am officially nervous heading into the playoffs. I know most leagues trade deadlines have passed by now, but if yours hasn’t, trade Megatron for as much as you can get. It’s not his fault at all, as he’s been fully healthy for two weeks now; I just don’t trust Matthew Staffordanymore. Stafford has regressed so far in his sixth year as a starter that he’s running on fourth and ten and sliding a yard-and-a-half short of the first down marker. Not good, not good at all. I think he’s regressed all the way to the middle of the pack as far as starting QBs are concerned. If you’ve gotten this far with Stafford, I’d be looking elsewhere for a starter come playoff time. Weighing the matchups between guys like Ryan TannehillMark Sanchez and even Zach Mettenberger might be worth it.

Buccaneers @ Bears

The Chicago offense continues to frustrate...

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