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TRAPS & TRENDS: Week 12

Is it time to panic about Alvin Kamara’s reduced workloads? Is there a lead dog finally emerging in the Washington backfield? Is there a passing of the torch happening in the Los Angeles Rams backfield? FantasySharks.com senior writer Matt Wilson tackles those fantasy football questions and gives us the latest injury report in his Week 12 edition of “Traps and Trends.”

THE WEEK 12 FANTASY FOOTBALL SKINNY

  • Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill led Kansas City to a 27-24 win over Tampa Bay by playing arguably the highest-scoring game of pitch-and-catch in the history of fantasy football. Mahomes passed for 462 yards and three touchdowns while Hill amassed 13 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns. The speedster compiled seven receptions for 203 yards and two touchdown grabs in the first quarter alone in large part because Tampa Bay had to learn the hard way that you can’t use steady single coverage on Hill.
  • Derrick Henry reminded us why he’s nicknamed “King Henry.” During Tennessee’s impressive 45-26 shellacking of Indianapolis, the NFL’s leading rusher took a gigantic step toward winning a second straight rushing title by gashing a Top 5 Indianapolis run defense with 178 rushing yards and a single-game season-high three rushing touchdowns on 27 carries.
  • Even though Denver’s top-three quarterbacks – Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles – all landed on the reserve/COVID-19 List, the NFL made the team play its home contest against New Orleans with undrafted rookie free agent and practice squad wideout Kendall Hinton, a former college quarterback at Wake Forest, leading the Denver offense. I guess Denver couldn’t get John Elway to come out of retirement or get Tim Tebow to return. During Denver’s 31-3 loss to New Orleans, Hinton, put in a super-tough spot, completed one of his nine attempts for 13 scoreless yards to Noah Fant. No other Denver receiver logged a reception. Hinton also tossed two interceptions (he probably should have been picked three more times) and took one sack. Denver didn’t complete a pass in the first half. The last team to do that was Denver in 2011, with Tebow at quarterback, against Kansas City. Denver also became the first team since the 1998 San Diego Chargers to finish a contest with more interceptions than completions. By the way, New Orleans ran the ball 43 times.
  • We saw another productive game of pitch-and-catch Thanksgiving afternoon. Deshaun Watson passed for 318 yards and four touchdowns, and Will Fuller hauled in six balls for 171 yards and two scores on seven targets during Houston’s 41-25 win over Detroit that cost Matt Patricia his job.
  • During the late Thanksgiving afternoon game – Washington defeated Dallas, 41-16 – it looked like Antonio Gibson has finally taken command of Washington’s backfield. He racked up a season-high 20 carries for 115 yards and a career-best three rushing touchdowns. Out-targeting J.D. McKissic 7-2, Gibson also chipped in five receptions for 21 yards.
  • With just the Monday night and Tuesday night games left on the Week 12 schedule as I was writing this, the NFL has yet to cancel a contest this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m assuming they’ll still play the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game Tuesday night. At least 20 Baltimore players, including Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews, have landed on the reserve/COVID-19 List.

THE WEEK 12 INJURY REPORT

For the second week in a row, the preliminary list is a short one, but there are a few high-profile names on it. As usual, keep in mind that some teams withhold injury information until Monday, so a few more names could be added:

QB Daniel Jones (hamstring)

QB Teddy Bridgewater (arm)

RB Dalvin Cook (ankle; returned to his game)

RB Josh Jacobs (ankle)

RB Phillip Lindsay (knee)

WR D.J. Moore (leg)

WR Olamide Zaccheaus (toe)

TRAPS, TRENDS & TOSS-UPS

We’re just 12 weeks into the 2020 NFL fantasy football season, but …

1. So whatever happened to that New Orleans running back who used to catch lots of passes and score lots of touchdowns?

The Dude: Alvin Kamara

The Damage: The Taysom Hill experiment has been a total disaster for Kamara’s fantasy value so far. During Hill’s first fill-in start in Week 11 – New Orleans defeated Atlanta, 24-9 – Kamara toted the rock 13 times for 45 yards and one touchdown, but the pass-catcher extraordinaire logged no receptions on just one target. Fantasy managers were undoubtedly concerned about Kamara’s donut in the reception column but probably thought Hill would improve and remedy the lack of targets to Kamara in the following game. We all know that receiving production is a huge part of his fantasy value.

It didn’t happen. This past Sunday, New Orleans throttled Denver, 31-3, but Kamara was limited to one catch for -2 yards on two targets. To make matters worse, Kamara took a back seat to Latavius Murray in the early-down touches department. Murray had 19 rushes, 124 yards and two touchdowns while Kamara had 11 rushes for 54 yards. By the way, Hill vultured two rushing touchdowns for the second week in a row. With Murray running well, New Orleans opted to rest Kamara late in the game. Will he remain a non-factor as a receiver until Drew Brees (ribs, lung) returns?

The Diagnosis: TREND

I don’t see things changing for Kamara – or any of the underutilized New Orleans wideouts and tight ends – as long as Hill is under center. He has made two starts, which is a small sample size, but Hill simply doesn’t look like a capable NFL passer who is capable of going through his progressions, reading defenses and making reasonably accurate throws. In other words, Hill, despite his scrambling ability and athleticism, is a work-in-progress as a passer. I wouldn’t bench a player as good as Kamara because he still has value and won’t play second fiddle to Murray every week. Murray’s big role in the Denver game was based on a very favorable matchup and game script. Kamara will be way more involved in New Orleans’ Week 13 rematch with Atlanta.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson has played NFL fantasy football since 1994 and has been a featured columnist at FantasySharks.com since 2008. His 18 combined years of professional writing experience includes a five-year stint as a contributing writer/editor at KFFL.com. He has been a featured contributor to The Fantasy Football Guide since 2008 and has been published regularly in the award-winning USA Today Sports Fantasy Football preview. Matt is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and holds a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois.