Saturday - Feb 23, 2019

Home / Commentary / START/BENCH: Week 12


It was going to be hard for Week 11 to live up to the drama and excitement that Week 10 provided. Let’s face it. It did not. I suppose if you are a Cincinnati Bengals fan then there was plenty of drama. Having lost two of their premier offensive weapons it may be time that the Bengals start planning for the 2017 season. At least the Bengals won’t have to worry about losing in the first round of the playoffs again. What can I say. I’m a glass half full sort of guy.

Speaking of being full. It’s Thanksgiving week folks so do not forget that we have three games this Thursday to set our lineups for before sitting down to eat…and then nap.

There are a few changes to the ‘stud’ lists this week as we head down the stretch and into the fantasy playoffs.

This is not the time of year to ride big names. It’s the time of year to manage the matchups. It’s also the time of year to be thankful for all the great people in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Let’s take a look at this week’s Start/Bench options and then get us some turkey!




Aaron Rodgers
Andrew Luck -may miss Week 12 with concussion-
Tom Brady
Drew Brees
Derek Carr
Matt Ryan
Philip Rivers
Marcus Mariota
Ben Roethlisberger
Dak Prescott
Russell Wilson

Moving on Up

Russell WilsonIt’s time to get a healthy Wilson back on the ‘stud’ list. Over the last four games, Wilson is putting up top-5 fantasy numbers with eight touchdowns (one of the receiving variety) and only one turnover. Wilson is once again extending plays with his legs and the Seahawks are finally utilizing TE Jimmy Graham as a big part of the offense. Wilson is clearly a weekly must-start down the stretch.

Time to Step Down

Matthew StaffordWhile he has been leading the Detroit Lions to come from behind victories Stafford has struggled to put up productive fantasy totals of late. In the last four games, he has a total of four touchdowns and is averaging only 250 passing yards per game. In fact, Stafford has thrown for one or fewer touchdowns in three of his last four outings. He has some nice matchups down the stretch but just isn’t putting up the numbers to be considered a weekly must-start.

Cam NewtonThis may seem a bit drastic but Newton just isn’t having a very good season and currently ranks outside the top-12 in fantasy scoring for quarterbacks (QB). Newton hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns in a game since week six and has posted just four scores in the last four games. It’s time to admit that there could be better starting options in a given week than the struggling Newton.



Eli Manning, NY GIANTS at Cleveland- After stumbling out of the gate in 2016, Manning has seemingly righted the ship over the last three weeks. In his past three games, Manning has thrown nine touchdown passes and is coming off of a two-touchdown, zero-interception performance. As steady as Eli has been, it’s actually the matchup we love for Manning this week. The Browns are extremely generous to QBs having allowed 25 touchdown passes in 11 games and an average of 275 passing yards per game. On the season, six different QBs have put up three touchdown passes in a game against the Browns.


Ryan Tannehill, MIAMI vs. San Francisco- Trust me, I am as surprised as you are that Tannehill is making an appearance on the start list after his bungling start to the season. Sometimes the matchup is too good to ignore and this is a great matchup for Tannehill and the entire Dolphins offense. The 49ers have allowed 11 touchdown passes in the last four games and 23 for the season. They have given up multiple touchdown passes in a game eight times in 10 games. Tannehill has been much more efficient since the Dolphins have become a run-first offense posting five touchdowns and a single interception in his last three games. He will use play-action opportunities to post big fantasy numbers this week.


Kirk Cousins, WASHINGTON at Dallas- It’s time I quit waiting for the Cousins melt down turnover game and recognize the man is playing excellent football. In his last four games, Cousins has averaged 349 passing yards while throwing for eight touchdowns and rushing for another. Those are top-10 fantasy totals. Washington has found a solid running game with Robert Kelley leading the way and Cousins has above average receiving options at every position. Including the two games last season and the earlier meeting in 2016, Cousins has averaged 261 total yards against Dallas while tossing five touchdowns. In Week 2 he posted 364 passing yards as well as 20 rushing yards against the Cowboys. I see both teams moving the ball well on Thanksgiving and Cousins putting up big numbers. Wait for it…”We like that!”


Cam Newton, CAROLINA at Oakland- While he may no longer garner ‘stud’ status, Newton is still a very nice start this week against the Raiders. It appears that Oakland has turned things around when it comes to defending against QBs as they have allowed merely six touchdowns in their last five games. Let’s dig a little deeper and see why that may have happened. The QBs they faced were Alex Smith, Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler. Not exactly a Murderer’s Row of fantasy performers there. In the the three games when Oakland has faced a top-tier QB (Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees) they’ve allowed an average of 392 passing yards per game and 11 touchdown passes. We Like Newton to have a bounce-back game out west this week.



Matthew Stafford, DETROIT vs. Minnesota- From the Penthouse to the outhouse for Stafford as he falls from ‘stud’ status all the way to a bench option. This is just going to be a tough Thanksgiving day matchup for Stafford. The Vikings defense came back to life last week sacking Carson Palmer four times while picking off a pair of passes and returning one to the house. The reemergence of the Minnesota pass rush does not bode well for Stafford as he was sacked three times by the lowly Jaguars last week. When these teams met back in Week 9, Stafford did manage to throw two touchdowns but had only 219 passing yards and an interception. Those numbers landed him well outside the top-12 QBs in fantasy scoring. There are better options this week.


Alex Smith, KANSAS CITY at Denver- Despite Smith posting top-10 fantasy QB numbers last week, the Chiefs lost a disappointing game to Tampa Bay. Do not chase those numbers as Smith scored a rushing touchdown which was only his second of the season and he can’t be relied on to do that again. This week, Smith faces a Denver defense coming off their bye week and playing at home. The Broncos remain one of the toughest defenses when it comes to allowing points to the QB position. They have allowed an average of only 227 total yards per game to QBs and 11 total touchdowns through 10 games. In the two meetings between these teams last season, Smith averaged 221 total yards while throwing a single touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Ugh.


Andy Dalton, CINCINNATI at Baltimore- This game has the makings of that classic line, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” The Bengals offense suffered two huge injuries last week with wide receiver (WR) A.J. Green suffering a partial hamstring tear and running back (RB) Giovani Bernard tearing his ACL. It’s going to be tough for Dalton to produce worthwhile numbers with a patch work offense. While the Ravens did give up three touchdown passes to Dak Prescott last week, it was the first time since Week 6 that they’ve allowed more than one touchdown pass in a game. This is not a week to consider rolling out “The Red Rifle.”


Carson Wentz, PHILADELPHIA vs. Green Bay- Yes, this looks like a sweet matchup for the rookie QB as the Packers defense has been atrocious lately. The Packers have given up 11 touchdown passes in the last four games and managed only two interceptions. So why don’t we like Wentz this week? The kid is simply trending in the wrong direction having thrown merely four touchdown passes in the last six games. Despite both Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (ribs) suffering injuries last week, both are expected to play in Week 12. Look for the Eagles to feature a run-heavy offense on Monday night limiting Wentz’s opportunity to put up big numbers.

About Wally Spurlin

Wally Spurlin is a Fantasy Football Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writer Association (FSWA). Spurlin’s work has appeared in print publications, including the FSWA award winning 2014 USA Today Fantasy Football magazine as well as the 2015 edition. Wally is also a weekly co-host on the Fantasy Football Feeding Frenzy pod cast on Fantasy Sharks Radio at Blog Talk Radio.Follow him on Twitter @WaltonSpurlin