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START/BENCH: Week 12

The 2021 fantasy football season has flown by. Just a few more weeks remain in the regular season. The playoffs will be here before you know it. And that means the pressure is that much higher on fantasy managers fighting for postseason berths.

Of course, it’s also Thanksgiving Week, which means a couple things. There will be three games (Chicago at Detroit, Las Vegas at Dallas and Buffalo at New Orleans) on Thursday, so some lineup decisions will have to be made earlier than normal. It also means that fantasy managers far and wide will be gathering with family and friends to give thanks around a huge spread of food later this week.

There’s much to be thankful for in 2021.

Fantasy managers are thankful that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni gave up trying to make quarterback Jalen Hurts something he isn’t, and instead focused on building an offense around what he does best. The Eagles may not be throwing the ball much, but 11 weeks in Hurts is the No. 1 quarterback in Sharks League Scoring.

Fantasy managers are thankful that Jonathan Taylor of the Colts and Austin Ekeler of the Chargers were on their rosters in Week 11—the pair combined for nine touchdowns and over 100 fantasy points last week and now sit in the top two spots for the season among running backs.

Fantasy managers are thankful that Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is back from the bye this week and ready to continue his fantasy onslaught. Kubb has more games with 30-plus PPR points this season than contests with less than 20, and he’s out-scoring the No. 2 wide receiver (Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers) by over four points per game.

Fantasy managers are thankful that Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce keeps doing Travis Kelce things. Even in a season that almost feels slow by his standards, the veteran is 30 points clear of the next-closest player at his position.

This fantasy manager is thankful that he has Hurts, Ekeler and Kupp on his team in the Great White Shark League—my first year in the penultimate league at Fantasy Sharks. I’m not the favorite to win the championship (that would have to be Shark Attack!), but my team is second in the league in points and heading for a Wild Card spot at 7-4.

Oh, and we’re all thankful for friends and family and health and all that happy crap.

Goes without saying.

There’s one more thing for you to be thankful for this week, oh Treasured Reader. As has sometimes been this case with this and other columns of mine here at Fantasy Sharks in holiday weeks, this week’s Start/Bench will be the slimmed down, high-protein Atkins version. All the information you need to get that badly-needed win in Week 12, but without the pasta on the side.

I genuinely hope that you and yours are happy and healthy this Thanksgiving, and that the holiday brings you good times, good games and a moist and delicious bird.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (BYE)

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay (at Indianapolis)

Josh Allen, Buffalo (at New Orleans)

Kyler Murray, Arizona (BYE) [INJURED]

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (vs. Cleveland) [INJURED]

Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. Las Vegas)

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (at Denver)

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (at New York Giants)

ROLL THEM OUT

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco (vs. Minnesota): If this week’s column had a “Spot Start of the Week,” Jimmy G would likely be the guy under center. He has thrown multiple touchdown passes in each of his last three games and gets a choice fantasy matchup Sunday with the Vikings.

Mac Jones, New England (vs, Tennessee): Jones has been the best rookie quarterback of 2021, and it hasn’t been especially close. He’s got a good shot at low-end QB1 numbers Sunday against a Titans defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.

Cam Newton, Carolina (at Miami): In news that should surprise absolutely no one, Newton is doing a lot more damage with his legs than with his right arm. No team in the AFC is giving up more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season than the Dolphins.

Russell Wilson, Seattle (at Washington): Wilson is awfully hard to trust after back-to-back duds since his return to action. But if he can’t make some hay against Washington’s 28th-ranked pass defense, then there’s no hay to be made with him anymore—at least not this year.

SIT THEM DOWN

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (at Denver): Herbert had a massive outing against Pittsburgh last week and is essentially an every-week must-start. But the Broncos have been stingy to opposing signal-callers, surrendering the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position.

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (vs. Carolina): Tagovailoa has had his moments here and there, including a four-score game back in Week 7. But he has just two touchdown passes over the last three games combined ahead of a bad fantasy matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (at Green Bay): Stafford was a borderline stud over the season’s first half, but he’s a mediocre 21st in fantasy points per game over his last two starts ahead of an unfavorable matchup for quarterbacks with the Packers defense.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee (at New England): This isn’t just a matter of the career-high four interceptions that Tannehill threw last week against Houston. The Patriots are also giving up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to signal-callers in 2021.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award four times. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.