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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 12

Welcome back to this week’s edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, which is a matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each of the NFL Week 12 game profiles below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Browns Bengals
Quarterback 11th 22nd
Running Back 24th 15th
Wide Receiver 24th 29th
Tight End 4th 20th
Defense/Special Teams 1st 7th (tied)
Vegas Line: Bengals -8
Vegas Over/Under: 38
Andy Dalton loves playing the Browns, as evidenced by by his 2.8 touchdown per game average over his last five contests against them.  A.J. Green has scored in 6 of his last 8 contests, and has averaged 6.3 catches for 120 yards and scored three times over his last three contests against Cleveland. With four more turnovers last week against Jacksonville, the Browns have now committed 28 on the season, which remains by far tops in the NFL. Fire up the Bengals D/ST.
Corey Coleman (hand) returned from a lengthy layoff to hang a 6-80 line (11 targets) on the Jaguars last week, making him just the second receiver to go over 70 yards against them all season (Antonio Brown was the other). While the Bengals are another defense that is tough on opposing wideouts, Coleman should be a serviceable option with the kind of volume he’s already seeing. Tyler Kroft faces the same Browns defense he dropped a 6-68-2 line against back in Week 4. Only the Giants have allowed more tight end scores so far this season.
Joe Mixon is averaging 2.9 yards-per-carry (YPC) on the season, and faces a Browns defense that allows just 3.2 and had not allowed any opposing rushers to top 100 yards against them until Leonard Fournette did so last week. After looking like he was on the rebound between Weeks 8 and 10, Isaiah Crowell rushed for just 18 yards on 11 carries last week, and posted a meager 7 for 20 rushing line when he last played the Bengals in Week 4. Duke Johnson found the end zone last week for the first time since Week 5. With Corey Coleman back in the fold though, it’s going to be tougher to predict what you will get from Johnson on a weekly basis.

Carolina Panthers at New York Jets

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Panthers Jets
Quarterback 28th 14th
Running Back 29th 22nd
Wide Receiver 23rd 10th
Tight End 18th (tied) 7th
Defense/Special Teams 14th (tied) 11th
Vegas Line: Panthers -5.5
Vegas Over/Under:
40
Cam Newton seemed to rediscover his mojo in Week 9 against Miami, and will most likely be getting one of his favorite receiving targets back in TE Greg Olsen.
Devin Funchess posted back-to-back games of at least 86 receiving yards after the departure of Kelvin Benjamin, but could face target competition from a now healthy Greg Olsen. Christian McCaffrey‘s 57 receptions leads all NFL running backs, and he should receive more touches than he did in Week 9 as the Panthers project to have to but forth a bit more effort than they did against the Dolphins.  Robby Anderson entered his bye week on a four game touchdown streak, and faces a Panthers defense that has only given up two wideout scores since the start of Week 6.
Greg Olsen (foot) is expected to be welcomed back into the Panthers’ starting lineup after being injured back in Week 2. I may end up looking silly for listing Olsen here given the Panthers’ dire need for pass-catchers, but I’d like to see how his foot responds after such a lengthy layoff. I’m not buying Jonathan Stewart‘s 110-yard performance in Week 10 against the Dolphins as a return to glory, as he’s still averaging just 3.3 YPC on the year. The Josh McCown renaissance over the last month has been fun, but it will most likely come to a halt this Sunday against a Panthers defense allowing the 4th-fewest passing yards to opposing QBs. With Matt Forte (knee) still sitting out, the Jets should continue utilizing their backfield committee of Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire against the second-best run defense in the NFL. You’re pretty much gambling on a receiving score with Austin Seferian-Jenkins this week, as no NFL team as allowed fewer receiving yards to TEs than the Panthers.

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Titans Colts
Quarterback 12th 8th
Running Back 25th 5th
Wide Receiver 5th 7th
Tight End 25th 10th
Defense/Special Teams 14th (tied) 2nd
Vegas Line: Titans -3
Vegas Over/Under:
 46
Marcus Mariota went over the 300 passing yard threshold for the second time this season against Pittsburgh last Thursday, and faces a Colts defense that allows the second-most passing yards per game.
Corey Davis continues to see heavy usage in the pass game with 22 targets in three games since his return from a hamstring injury, but it hasn’t turned into significant production as Davis has just 103 receiving yards over that span. Derrick Henry continues to out-produce DeMarco Murray from an efficiency standpoint, yet the Titans still seem reluctant to give the second-year man out of Alabama a bigger share of the backfield load. Murray has not averaged more than 4.0 YPC in a game since Week 5, but is seeing more consistent work in the passing game than Henry. Despite the hype surrounding teammate Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews remains the most consistent and productive of the Tennessee wiedeouts, averaging 77.7 receiving yards and scoring twice over his past three games. Delanie Walker is still looking for his first receiving score of the season, but sits right behind Rishard Matthews in terms of receiving yards gained since the Titans’ bye week. T.Y. Hilton comes out of his own bye week to face a Titans defense tied with Kansas City for most receiving touchdowns allowed to opposing WRs so far this season, though Hilton was unable to take advantage the last time these two teams met, posting a line of just 1-19-0. Jack Doyle went 7-50-1 in the aforementioned prior Colts/Titans matchup, and is in line to post a similar line this week as the Colts’ clear second read in the pass game. Complicating matters for the Colts’ pass-catchers, however, is that QB Jacoby Brissett remains in the concussion protocol. Both Hilton and Doyle would be red light options should Brissett be unable to play Sunday. A potential Brissett absence would also put the Titans’ D/ST in play as a streaming option.
With Corey Davis‘ elevated usage, Eric Decker has fallen to no better than the no. 3 wideout in the Titans offense with just 7 catches for 77 yards over his last three games. Frank Gore has rushed for more than 60 yards in a game just once this season. Marlon Mack has clearly looked like the most explosive option in the Colts’ backfield, though he’s only getting about half the number of touches as Gore on a per-game basis.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Buccaneers Falcons
Quarterback 10th 15th
Running Back 13th 23rd
Wide Receiver 2nd 27th
Tight End 28th 23rd
Defense/Special Teams 20th 24th
Vegas Line: Falcons -10
Vegas Over/Under:
 49
Julio Jones‘ 78.6 receiving yards per game this season would be a solid number for almost anyone else, though he still sits on just one touchdown. The Buccaneers present about as much of a get right matchup as there is, as they’ve allowed the most receiving yards (1,952) and third most receiving touchdowns (12) to opposing wideouts this season.
Matt Ryan now has four two-touchdown performances in a row after throwing just one touchdown per game in Weeks 4 through 7. Ryan has yet to have a three-touchdown performance this season though, and has crossed the 300-yard threshold just twice. Mike Evans is still looking for his first 100-yard receiving game, and has not caught a touchdown pass in three straight contests. The Atlanta D/ST is worth streaming consideration, as they’ve racked up 11 sacks the past two weeks and are playing against a Tampa Bay offense that produced more than 20 points just once over their past four contests. Devonta Freeman remains in the concussion protocol, and would resume lead tailback duties should he be cleared in time for Sunday. Freeman had been averaging just 56.8 rushing yards per game and had been held out of the endzone over his past four contests prior to getting injured. Mohamed Sanu has touchdown catches in three of his past four games, though has not cleared 4o receiving yards in any of his past three.
Since being benched  in Week 9, Doug Martin has responded with just 89 yards on 39 rushes (2.3 YPC). DeSean Jackson has been held to no more than 38 receiving yards in four of his last six games. Cameron Brate has now caught just one pass in each of his last three games, while O.J Howard has been just as inconsistent (over his last five contests, Howard has two games with at least a touchdown, and three where he combined for just 3-22-0). Austin Hooper has no games with more than 50 receiving yards since Week 1, and posted a season-low -1 receiving yards (yes, you read that right) last Monday night against Seattle. With Devonta Freeman‘s looming return, Tevin Coleman should resume change-of-pace duties in Atlanta’s backfield after performing admirably in his teammate’s absence (40 rushes for 126 yards and two scores). Coleman would be a high-end yellow-light option if Freeman cannot clear the concussion protocol in time for Sunday though.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.