We’re in it now, kids.
This is it. The home stretch. The fourth quarter. The final push for the 2019 fantasy playoffs. For every team that’s sitting at 8-3 or 9-2 and angling for a first-round bye, there are two teams sitting at 6-5 or 5-6 and clinging to their playoff hopes by the slimmest of margins.
Week 12 is the week that will make or break many fantasy seasons. Every lineup decision is critical. Every fantasy point could be the difference between victory and defeat.
Every inch matters.
Like I’m making it through a season without posting that speech. Come on, man.
This is the most exciting week of the season to date. The most maddening. The most stressful. In weeks like this, lineup decisions can weigh on you like a ton of bricks.
The best advice I can give you is to make those decisions yours.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for each and every person who reads each and every article I write. Y’all make what I do possible. It’s thanks to you that I get to do this for a living. And I do my best to provide you fine folks with the best information I can every week.
But if you’re absolutely convinced that I player I recommend benching is going to go off, then start them. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t at least consider what I say. I try to base these calls off more than just my mood. But hard though it may be to believe, I’m occasionally wrong. More than occasionally, actually.
Most importantly, the only person who has to live with your lineup calls (be they right or wrong) is you. So do your homework. Examine available information about Week 12 (including this column), and then make the call.
Just don’t start any players on a bye. Arizona, Kansas City, the Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota are all sitting out the last of the byes.
No Patrick Mahomes, Dalvin Cook, Keenan Allen or Travis Kelce in this most critical of weeks.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Bye Week)
Deshaun Watson, Houston (vs. Indianapolis)
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (at Los Angeles Rams)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (at Philadelphia)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. Tampa Bay)
Dak Prescott, Dallas (at New England)
SPOT-START OF THE WEEK
Derek Carr, Oakland (at New York Jets)
Carr threw for 292 yards and a touchdown last week against Cincinnati, and while Oakland got its third straight win and fifth victory in its last seven contests Carr admitted to Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area that he wasn’t happy with how Oakland’s offense performed.
“We could have had more,” Carr said. “Honestly, that’s how I feel. I left the game and I get our stat book and I looked at it and I was like, ‘They look pretty, but I could have played better.’ I’m hard on myself. … I think that’s the standard that Coach (Jon) Gruden puts on me.”
Carr should have every opportunity to redeem himself statistically this week against the Jets in New York. The Jets are playing better, but the team still ranks 21st in the league against the pass and has given up the 12th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in Sharks League Scoring.
ROLL THEM OUT
Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis (at Houston)
Brissett threw for just 148 yards and a touchdown last week in his return to action after missing time with a knee injury. But that was in one of the least favorable fantasy matchup for quarterbacks. Thursday’s tilt with Houston is one of the five best.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (vs. Miami)
Mayfield’s play has picked up of late after a woefully slow start to the season — he has five touchdowns and no interceptions over his last three starts. Sunday’s matchup with a porous Miami defense sets up as potentially his best statistical outing of the year.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (at Atlanta)
Yes, Winston leads all quarterbacks in total turnovers by a sizable margin. But Winston’s still a Top 10 fantasy quarterback in many scoring systems and draws a favorable matchup Sunday in Atlanta. Garbage time, anyone?
SIT THEM DOWN
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (at Chicago)
The Giants are a hot mess of a football team, but since Week 4 Jones has been a Top 10 fantasy quarterback. It’s not going to be easy to pad stats Sunday in Chicago, though. The Chicago offense may suck, but the defense, um, does not.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (at New England)
Over his last two games, Prescott has more passing yards than any Dallas signal-caller has ever thrown for in such a stretch. But as hot as Prescott is, he’ll be playing outside Sunday against the AFC’s best pass defense in the worst fantasy matchup for quarterbacks in 2019.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at San Francisco)
This is not what Rodgers’ fantasy owners want to hear in the midst of a down season coming out of a bye week. But San Francisco has been a brutal matchup for quarterbacks in 2019 — no team in the NFC has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.