Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving! This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 12 of the 2016 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
Please Note: This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Derek Carr (OAK, QB)
It wasn't that long ago that the Carolina defense was scary for quarterbacks and a boon for fantasy owners. That's not the case in 2016 and it's not looking good for a Panthers team missing Luke Keuchly. Derek Carr is ranked 8th this week making him a QB1 against the 27th-ranked Carolina defense.
Start 'em Ben Roethlisberger (PIT, QB)
Big Ben was a big disappointment for fantasy owners last week, but don't let that sour you on his potential for Thursday night against Indy's defense - the worst secondary in the NFL giving up a league-leading 284.5 yards per game through the air. Only one QB failed to up double digit points against them. Start all your Steelers.
Start 'em Jay Ajayi (MIA, RB)
One of the biggest surprises of the 2016 fantasy season has been Jay Ajayi. You'll find him ranked 3rd this week (his highest ranking ever on FFN) facing the league's worst rush defense in San Francisco giving up a whopping 24.6 fantasy points since Week 4 -- and that's just standard scoring! Ajayi remains a must start.
Start 'em Thomas Rawls (SEA, RB)
My how the times have changed in the Seattle backfield. With CJ Prosise out for the season, the Seahawks won't have the luxury of easing Thomas Rawls back into action, and frankly, they don't really need to. He looked energized and emotional last week in his return. Pair that with a Tampa Bay defense that gives up the 7th-most rushing yards per game and Rawls becomes an automatic RB1.
Start 'em Stefon Diggs (MIN, WR)UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Stefon Diggs is unlikely to play this week.
Even though he has missed practice yesterday, you'll find Stefon Diggs ranked inside our Top 10 this week for the early Thanksgiving Day game against Detroit. When he faced the Lions in Week 9, he hauled in 13 receptions for 80 yards and tacked on 1 rush for 12 yards. Assuming he plays, he should be a good way to get your Thanksgiving holiday off to a solid start - especially in PPR formats.
Start 'em Jordan Matthews (PHI, WR)
The Packers secondary leaves a lot to be desired, unless you're facing them in which case the 13 average fantasy points (13 std / 16 ppr) that they give up to the top 2 wide receivers from each team is a welcome sign. Expect double digit fantasy production from Jordan Matthews on Monday night.
Start 'em C.J. Fiedorowicz (HOU, TE)
One of the more unsung fantasy heroes this year has been C.J. Fiedorowicz. He led the Texans in receiving last week hauling in 6 catches for 82 yards on 10 targets. He has become the Brocketship's safety blanket getting at least 6 targets in five of the past six games. Keep him in your lineup against San Diego and their 28th-ranked pass defense.
Start 'em Zach Ertz (PHI, TE)
Over the past three games, opposing TEs have averaged 11 fantasy points (std - 17 PPR) against the Packers. Zach Ertz should see plenty of opportunities as he has quickly become the favorite target of Carson Wentz hauling in 6 of his 11 targets last week. This is a plum matchup for Ertz on Monday Night.
Start 'em Buffalo Bills (BUF, DEF)
The Bills should be able to put up a nice stat line against Jacksonville this week. In fact, given their #1 ranking on FFN this week, they should be a lock to at least finish in the Top 5. They are a great streaming option if you need to plug a DST into your lineup.
Start 'em Dan Carpenter (BUF, K)
Ranked 3rd this week among kickers is Dan Carpenter facing a Jaguars defense that has given up an average of 10.3 fantasy points to kickers this year. Carpenter should be able to deliver double-digit fantasy production for you on Sunday.
Sit 'em Andy Dalton (CIN, QB)
What are the odds that Andy Dalton can pull out a miracle day when he's facing the 7th-ranked Baltimore defense without the services of his elite wide receiver AJ Green? We've lowered our expectations which is likely why you'll find Mr. Dalton ranked 23rd this week on FFN.
Sit 'em Blake Bortles (JAC, QB)
Blake Bortles has been a bit of a mess lately and a matchup with the Bills isn't likely to reverse that course. He's ranked 18th with a shoulder facing a Buffalo secondary that gives up the 11th-fewest yards through the air.
Sit 'em James Starks (GB, RB)
James Starks looked good in his return last week, but facing a Philly defense that has kept all but three opposing rushers to under 10 fantasy points isn't an ideal situation. There's always the chance that the Eagles focus on shutting down the passing game and leave Starks with some opportunity, but a 31st-ranking on FFN doesn't make that situation seem likely.
Sit 'em Dion Lewis (NE, RB)
The darling of PPR leagues, Dion Lewis is back and ready for action; however, a matchup with the 4th-ranked rush defense of the Jets isn't pretty. Whether it's Legarrette Blount, James White, or Dion Lewis, the Pats' backfield should struggle a bit on Sunday night. Just one third of opposing rushers have seen double digit fantasy production against New York.
Sit 'em Marvin Jones (DET, WR)
We're at the point where we are going to start writing a script for a blockbuster movie: The Curious Case of Marvin Jones. Jones started the year on fire, but has been quietly relegated to just 1 catch the last two games and hasn't had more than 33 receiving yards in the last three games. He's a risky play against the 3rd-ranked Minnesota secondary.
Sit 'em Randall Cobb (GB, WR)
The return of Jordy Nelson was supposed to return Randall Cobb to fantasy glory; however, we haven't seen that materialize. Over the last five games, Philly has kept opposing WR2's (Kearse, Sanu, Cruz, Williams, Diggs, and Garcon) to just 4 fantasy points. An argument could be made that Cobb isn't even Green Bay's #2 WR surrendering that spot to Davante Adams making Cobb a risky play.
Sit 'em Chicago Bears (CHI, DEF)
In addition to Jordan Howard, the defense for the Bears has been one of the few fantasy bright spots in the Windy City this year. That'll change when the Titans come to town with the 1-2 punch of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry along with the efficient passing of Marcus Mariota. The Bears are ranked 24th this week and shouldn't be in your lineup.
Sit 'em Connor Barth (CHI, K)
Only two kickers have achieved double digit fantasy points against Tennessee this year and both were on more potent offenses than the struggling Chicago Bears. Lower your expectations for Connor Barth this week.