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Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: 15 players to play or bench in Week 12


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The fantasy football season is entering its home stretch of games following Week 11 of the NFL season. For many teams, having the right lineup for the next three weeks will be crucial in securing a playoff spot or higher seed.

With no teams on a bye for Week 12, it might be difficult to determine which of the many available players are worth starting (or sitting) in those important matchups. With three Thursday games, a Friday game, a full slate of games on Sunday and “Monday Night Football,” it’s the perfect week to get an early start on perfecting your fantasy lineup.

Taking into account recent production, injuries and opponents, we can determine the best players to keep in the active lineup going into this week’s games.

Here’s who to start (and who to sit) for Week 12.

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Quarterbacks to start in Week 12

Josh Dobbs, Minnesota Vikings

If he hadn’t already, Dobbs is entering must-start territory as a fantasy quarterback. In his three games with the Vikings this year, he’s averaging 22.3 fantasy points thanks to his ability to create with both his arm and his legs. The “Passtronaut,” as some have taken to calling Dobbs, is already Minnesota’s rushing touchdown leader with three such scores this season.

The Vikings return home this week to take on the Bears after a tough, prime-time loss to the Broncos on “Sunday Night Football.” A home matchup with a divisional rival that owns one of the worst passing defenses in the league will be a perfect opportunity for Dobbs to continue his stellar offensive production under head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Prescott had a “down” game in fantasy against what at first glance looks like a bad team – the 1-9 Panthers – but don’t be fooled by Carolina’s record and one week of subpar production. The Panthers, despite their record, have allowed the sixth-fewest passing yards per game so far this season. In the four games prior to Week 11, Prescott’s worst performance was still worth nearly 25 fantasy points.

This week, the Cowboys get the Commanders on Thanksgiving. The same Commanders that gave up 246 yards and three touchdowns to undrafted free agent rookie (and the Giants’ third-string quarterback) Tommy DeVito. Expect a big bounce-back game from Prescott against one of the league’s worst passing defenses.

Quarterbacks to sit in Week 12

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

It may be easy to hop onto the Lawrence hype train after an excellent performance against the Titans on Sunday, but let’s not get too carried away with one week of action. Tennessee was the opponent in two of the four best games in the third-year quarterback’s career when ranked by passer rating, including the Week 11 showing.

So far this season, Lawrence has more struggles than successes as a fantasy quarterback. Before Week 11, he hadn’t recorded more than 20 points once. He’ll have a hard time keeping the good times rolling against a Texans team that held him to 279 yards, one touchdown and an interception the first time they matched up.

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

Goff has quietly entered a rough patch in fantasy football in recent weeks. Outside of a matchup with the Chargers – a team that boasts one of the league’s worst passing defenses – in Week 10, the Lions quarterback is averaging fewer than 12 fantasy points.

He and the Lions take on the Packers in Week 12, a team with a top-10 passing defense and one that held Goff to just over 11 points when they matched up in Week 4. Goff’s recent struggles could continue against a divisional rival, even if his team keeps winning games.

Running backs to start in Week 12

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

Through 11 weeks of the season, only the Dolphins’ Raheem Mostert (11) has more rushing touchdowns than Edwards’ 10. The Ravens’ lead back has an active streak of five straight games with a touchdown. In three of those five games, he scored more than one.

Even despite low rushing yards totals, that kind of streak is worth betting on until it’s over. Add in that the Chargers – the Ravens’ Week 12 opponents – have allowed the fifth-most rushing touchdowns of any NFL team this season, and it’s a good recipe for more success from Edwards in prime time this week.

Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers

On an offense that has struggled to do much so far this season, Warren, who began the season as a clear secondary back to Najee Harris in Pittsburgh, has been excellent. In Week 11 against the Browns, one of the best defenses in the NFL, the second-year running back put up his second straight 100-yard rushing performance with a touchdown.

Warren is averaging about 9.6 yards per carry in his previous two games and continues to get a share of touches comparable to Harris’ in recent weeks. When the Steelers take on the Bengals next week, they’ll face a team that has allowed the second-most rushing yards per game this year. Warren could have another nice day.

Running backs to sit in Week 12

James Cook, Buffalo Bills

In Week 11, Cook got at least 20 touches in a game for the first time since Week 2. In the six weeks prior, he had averaged fewer than 13 touches per game. That may appear to be a good sign at first glance, especially after he tallied 102 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on Sunday.

However, it’s still too early to buy back in on the Cook hype. The running back could return to a less prominent role this week against the Eagles, a team that’s allowing the fewest rushing yards per game of any team. Hold out on starting Cook until he proves he’s a consistent producer.

Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

Mostert got his highest workload of the season on Sunday after rookie De’Von Achane went down with an injury in the first quarter. On 22 carries, he generated 86 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and zero touchdowns.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said Achane likely will be back in action in Week 12 after a precautionary removal, meaning Mostert would return to a more limited workload against the Jets. Given Mostert’s lackluster performance as the true lead back for Miami in Week 11, there’s no reason to expect better performance when he’s splitting carries with the dynamic Achane.

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Wide receivers to start in Week 12

Tank Dell, Houston Texans

Dell has been on a tear for the Texans all year – he’s second on the team in receiving yards and receptions by a hair and first in touchdowns – and recent weeks have been no exception. Against the Cardinals in Week 11, the rookie receiver put up 149 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.

Expect the University of Houston product to stay hot against the Jaguars in Week 12. Last time they matched up, Dell tallied 145 yards and a score on five receptions. Jacksonville is near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed as well.

Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams

Another rookie, Nacua hasn’t been quite as productive since the return of fellow Rams receiver Cooper Kupp this season. When Kupp left Los Angeles’ Week 11 game with an injury, it was clear Nacua was who quarterback Matt Stafford liked as his new number one target. The BYU product finished the game with 70 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.

Kupp is reportedly dealing with a low-ankle sprain and will be evaluated ahead of the Rams’ Week 12 game. If he isn’t present, or even just slowed, Nacua could have another big performance as Stafford’s top target.

Wide receivers to sit in Week 12

Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders

It’s hard to trust a wide receiver in fantasy football when there is so much uncertainty about the quarterback throwing them the ball. Commanders quarterback Sam Howell’s intended air yards per pass attempt have dropped significantly in the past couple of weeks, leaving a dynamic threat like McLaurin without much to go on.

McLaurin’s longest catch in Week 11 against a lackluster Giants passing defense went for 11 yards. A week prior, it was 13 yards. With a tough matchup against a strong Cowboys defense coming up on Thursday, it’s hard to envision significantly more production from the Howell-McLaurin connection.

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

There is simply too much uncertainty with Lockett’s circumstances to make him a safe start in fantasy football this week. For one, the veteran receiver has been battling a hamstring injury for weeks. It kept him limited in practice on Monday, and he only played a season-low 57% of Seattle’s offensive snaps on Sunday.

Adding on that Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith had to leave the team’s Week 11 game with an injury only adds uncertainty. With both the quarterback and receiver dealing with injuries that could hold them back, even if they both play, makes Lockett a risky play on Thursday night.

Tight ends to start in Week 12

Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills

With fellow Bills tight end Dawson Knox set to miss another week with a wrist injury, it’s easy to keep betting on the rookie Kincaid’s production, especially in PPR leagues. He’s been quarterback Josh Allen’s leading pass-catcher in receptions over the Bills’ last three games. In his last five games, Kincaid has tallied 318 yards and two touchdowns on 34 catches.

The Bills are set to meet the Eagles in Week 12, a team that has allowed its fair share of production to opponents’ tight ends. A tight end has scored a touchdown against Philadelphia in six of the team’s ten games.

Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

Since quarterback Kyler Murray’s return in Week 10, McBride has been one of his favorite targets. The second-year tight end recorded 131 yards on eight catches against the Falcons in Week 10. He was second on the team with five catches and seven targets against the Texans in Week 11.

The Cardinals’ Week 12 opponents, the Rams, have allowed a tight end to score in two of their last three games. Expect McBride to continue pulling a heavy target share in the Arizona passing offense and have a nice day against Los Angeles.

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Tight end to sit in Week 12

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

Kmet has been one of the most volatile fantasy football performers this season, a fact that has not been helped by unsteady quarterback play in Chicago. The young tight end had built a solid connection with backup Tyson Bagent during the latter’s four-game run as a starter, but he had some trouble getting back on track with Justin Fields on Sunday.

Next, Kmet gets a trip to Minnesota to face a Vikings team that’s allowed just four catches for 50 yards to tight ends over its previous two contests. Until Kmet proves a reestablished connection with Fields, he’s a risky play in fantasy football.

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