This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst fantasy football matchups for Week 12 of the 2014 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.
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 Peyton Manning, Jimmy Graham, or LeSean McCoy. 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 - Jay Cutler (CHI, QB)
If we take away his epic meltdown in Green Bay, Cutler has been a Top 10 fantasy QB this year. He'll be a Top 10 QB this week against a Bucs defense that gives up the 7th-most fantasy points. Everyone, with the exception of RGIII, has thrown multiple scores against Tampa Bay. Cutler will find the endzone.
Start 'em - Tony Romo (DAL, QB)
Fresh off his bye week, we're expecting Tony Romo to be ready to go Sunday night. The Giants give up the 9th-most fantasy points to QB's this year, and if Romo can look anything like he did in Week 7 when he last faced them (3 TD's), he's in for a solid day.
Start 'em - C.J. Anderson (DEN, RB)
With Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman out, the backfield in Denver belongs to CJ Anderson. The matchup is actually pretty tough with Miami giving up the 9th-fewest fantasy points (ppr), but there's no doubt that Anderson will get the volume that could turn into a solid fantasy day.
Start 'em - Denard Robinson (JAC, RB)
Did you see how well the Colts were able to stop Jonas Gray last week? Yeah, that's what Denard Robinson gets to go up against on Sunday. Indy gives up the 2nd-most fantasy points to RB's (ppr) and Robinson is the hot hand right now.
Start 'em - Josh Gordon (CLE, WR)
Obviously, a guy selling cars for the last several months is not the kind of guy you think about putting into your fantasy lineup, but Josh Gordon is not your average car salesman. All reports indicate that he is in great shape, and let's be honest, he's ready and itching to get out on that field. If you held onto Josh Gordon or recently picked him up, you should be plugging him into your lineup as a WR2 with very high upside.
Start 'em - Mike Evans (TB, WR)
Vincent who? The #1 receiver in Tampa Bay is clearly rookie Mike Evans, and he'll face a Bears secondary this week that gives up double digit points to #1 receivers. Evans has been a fantasy WR1 pouring it on in the last 3 weeks with 124, 125, and 209 yards and a combined 5 TD's. We expect him to stay hot.
Start 'em - Coby Fleener (IND, TE)
Without Dwayne Allen, it's all the Coby Fleener show in Indy. Since Allen's injury, Fleener has turned in a 7 reception/144 yard performance and a 70 yards/TD day. Jacksonville gives up the 11th-most fantasy points to TE's making this a must-start matchup.
Start 'em - Jason Witten (DAL, TE)
It's been a while since we've seen Jason Witten on the Start list, but the Cowboys' TE has been playing much better as of late. He's fresh off a bye and should see double digits (ppr) against a Giants middle that can be exploited.
Start 'em - Adam Vinatieri (IND, K)
How can you not like Adam Vinatieri in this matchup? The last time he faced the Jaguars, he put up 14 fantasy points against them. There's no reason to think that he won't be able to do that again.
Start 'em - Green Bay Packers (GB, DEF)
The Packers defense put up enough points last week to outshine most 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-round fantasy draft picks. There's no expectation that they'll repeat that kind of performance this week, but the Vikings give up the 6th-most fantasy points to DST's, so a solid fantasy day is certainly in the cards.
Sit 'em - Robert Griffin III (WAS, QB)
No big surprise here. After disappointing fantasy owners last week, RGIII has an uphill battle to become fantasy relevant again. His off-field comments bring his leadership capabilities into question and the fact that the 49ers give up the 4th-fewest fantasy points brings has fantasy relevance into question.
Sit 'em - Philip Rivers (SD, QB)
He's not going to go negative points again, but Philip Rivers will likely have some difficulty putting up much positive points either. After bringing Peyton Manning back down to Earth, a matchup with a resurgent St Louis defense makes this matchup difficult for Rivers.
Sit 'em - Jonas Gray (NE, RB)
If you picked up the waiver wire darling this week, think before you rush to plug him into your lineup. Unlike the Colts, the Lions interior is brutal to running backs so any expectation of Gray being able to run all over them should leave your head immediately. There's ample evidence to suggest that Vereen will have a better fantasy day. We're not ready to play Gray just yet.
Sit 'em - Fred Jackson (BUF, RB)
With Spiller out, FJax was supposed to be a reliable fantasy RB. That hasn't happened and it likely won't be that case this week against a Jets defense that ranks 5th in yards allowed and 6th in rushing scores allowed. Combine a tough matchup with a nagging groin injury and FJax should sit this one out.
Sit 'em - Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, WR)
With a sprained MCL, Larry Fitzgerald has something else to deal with in addition to the Seahawks secondary. He hasn't gotten on the same page with Drew Stanton yet and Seattle gives up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to opposing WR's. Both of those factors play into the recommendation to sit him this week.
Sit 'em - Andre Johnson (HOU, WR)
You might be surprised to learn that Andre Johnson only has 1 touchdown this year (Week 6 @ IND). No team gives up fewer fantasy points to opposing WR's than Cincy, and with DeAndre Hopkins taking a more active role in the Houston passing game, Johnson's ability to contribute diminishes greatly this week.
Sit 'em - Kyle Rudolph (MIN, TE)
With visions of past performance dancing in our heads, we were part of the crowd last week that was excited to start Kyle Rudolph. What a disappointment... Rudolph saw only 14 snaps and wasn't even targeted. Rudolph should perhaps introduce himself to Teddy Bridgewater and get to know him. Until he becomes a part of that offense again, he's nothing more than a desperation play.
Sit 'em - Vernon Davis (SF, TE)
It's time to give up on Vernon Davis. You likely drafted him as your TE1, but after 11 weeks, he's the 31st-ranked TE in all of fantasy. He hasn't seen the endzone since Week 1, and even though he's facing a weak Redskins' defense, he's too inconsistent to trust at this stage in the year.
Sit 'em - Mike Nugent (CIN, K)
When Mike Nugent and the Bengals face the Houston Texans, they'll be facing a defense that has given up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to kickers this year. If you only have 1 kicker (which should be 99% of you) and it's Nugent, drop him and pick up someone else.
Sit 'em - Detroit Lions (DET, DEF)
The Lions have had one of the best defenses in both actual games as well as fantasy production this year. Normally, they are a solid start, but a matchup with the Patriots is not conducive to fantasy production. New England gives up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to DST's.
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