Big Ben undervalued, Matthew Stafford and Leonard Fournette overvalued
Thanksgiving is over, which means Thanksgiving football is over. And that means only one thing: Sunday football is around the corner. Who are our favorite Sunday Week 12 starts and sits?
NFL Start ‘Em for Week 12
Which low-ranked players are most likely to outperform fantasy expectations on Sunday? We’ve run through likely game scripts and production projections to arrive at these recommendations.
Start ‘Em | Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Expert Consensus Week 12 Ranking: QB23
“Is Big Ben back?” That’s the question I proposed to my analysts on this week’s fantasy podcast.
After scuffling with injuries and (very likely) diminished abilities throughout his age-39 season, Roethlisberger dug deep while facing a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter, nearly leading Pittsburgh to victory. His three passing TDs were a season high.
Is it replicable? I’m trusting Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth will help carry him to 250+ yards and 2+ scores against the Bengals.
Start ‘Em | Ty Johnson, RB, New York Jets
Expert Consensus Week 12 Ranking: RB29
With Michael Carter on the shelf, most fantasy eyes are on the 28-year-old Tevin Coleman. Look, I was a big fantasy fan of Coleman’s in the old days, back when at least 4.0 yards per carry and a couple of receptions were the norm. Yes, he’s the only Jets RB with true bell-cow experience. But that doesn’t mean he’ll lead this backfield in fantasy points.
Ty Johnson’s versatility in the passing game should be key for rookie Zach Wilson, who’s making his first start in more than a month. I’m banking on 9+ points for Johnson, making him a top-24 RB.
Start ‘Em | Laviska Shenault, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Expert Consensus Week 12 Ranking: WR46
I like betting on underutilized talent when their teams are struggling. Because more often than not, talent wins in the end. With Jamal Agnew injured, Shenault and Marvin Jones should be featured more prominently than they have been.
Trevor Lawrence hasn’t thrown a TD pass in any of his last three games. The Jaguars are facing an anemic Falcons pass defense yielding an average 106.2 QB rating. Shenault’s ranking assumes 7-8 fantasy points. I believe he’ll get more attention and crack the top 30 WRs.
NFL Sit ‘Em for Week 12
None of these players are obvious sits in most leagues. But too often, managers feel pressure to start players who are supposed to do well, even if the circumstances are more challenging than they seem.
Here are three under-the-radar Week 12 busts.
Sit ‘Em | Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Expert Consensus Week 12 Ranking: QB8
Readers of the PFN Facebook page know my shifting views on Stafford, who has transitioned from a must-start QB1 to a sell-high QB1 nearly overnight. The signing of Odell Beckham, Jr. likely won’t compensate for the loss of Robert Woods. 76% of Woods’ catches went for first downs. He served a role that cannot be easily replaced.
Back to Stafford, who in early November was dealing with back soreness. Subsequently, he rolled his ankle the following week. In-season injuries have become commonplace for this former NFL iron man who hadn’t missed a game from 2011 to 2018. I don’t trust him in Green Bay in Week 12 against a stout Packers pass defense. Stafford’s QB8 consensus ranking seems misguided.
Sit ‘Em | Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Expert Consensus Week 12 Ranking: RB16
It’s tough to bet against Fournette, who’s revived his career as Tampa Bay’s unquestioned lead back. His RB12 fantasy production is due, in part, to an impressive 44 receptions. The problem? He’s facing a Colts defense that’s leading the league in opposing rushing scores (only 4). And Fournette has not done much on the ground recently, never topping 47 rushing yards in his last three contests.
It all comes down to receptions (an incredible 14 in his last two games). If you believe he’ll sustain that, start him. I’m concerned that even a modest drop-off in targets would make him unstartable Sunday.
Sit ‘Em | Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos
Expert Consensus Week 12 Ranking: TE12
There are so many “what ifs” to consider at the TE position, particularly when we move beyond the elite and near-elite tiers, where targets grow more scarce.
The Broncos are relatively loaded on offense with two high-performing running backs, three high-functioning wideouts, and two highly capable tight ends. Oh, and one QB2 who’s not expected (or not able) to consistently feed most of his weapons. The ascending Albert Okwuegbunam (10 targets in his last three games) is one of many factors capping Noah Fant’s ceiling. He’s a long shot to produce TE1 numbers.