Tuesday - Dec 11, 2018

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START/BENCH: Week 12

Thanksgiving came a few days early for some fantasy owners in 2018.

If you rolled out one of the skill-position players in Monday’s score-fest between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, Odds are you won the week. Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff had monster games in the highest-scoring affair in Monday Night Football history and third-highest scoring game ever. So did Tyreek Hill. Kareem Hunt. Travis Kelce. Even Josh Reynolds, Chris Conley and Gerald Everett.

In fact, about the only guy who didn’t have an above-average night was Rams tailback Todd Gurley, which was rather ironic given how robotically productive he’s been all season long.

However, heading into an all-important Week 12 that will decide playoff spots in many fantasy leagues the Chiefs and Rams are on a bye. Players who have been the foundation of many a successful fantasy squad are unavailable this week.

Of course, if you have Mahomes and Gurley—or Goff and Hill—or just about any combination of two players from those offensive juggernauts, odds are pretty good that you can afford to take a loss in Week 12. Many other teams simply can’t. For them the playoffs have already essentially begun—take a loss in Week 12 and it’s all over but the crying. Next week will be just a depressing formality.

I have so many of those I’m thinking of renting a tux.

Those raised stakes (and three games on Thursday this week—happy Turkey Day!) have ramped up the pressure on fantasy pundits (like me) to come up with recommendations this week that are sager than the stuffing up a bird’s butt.

OK, that was forced—and maybe a little gross.

Here’s hoping I don’t burn the pie.

Oh yeah. You know the food metaphors are coming in this one.

QUARTERBACKS

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Baker Mayfield, CLE (at CIN)

Per Josh Edwards of 247 Sports, Mayfield has an admirer in Peyton Manning. “I love his energy. I love the way he competes. I think those types of things are contagious where that spreads to the rest of the team. It reminds me a lot of Brett Favre and his enthusiasm and his love for the game. I think that’s a great way to play. I think he has the right stuff inside of him and the real want to and his competitive nature, I think, is going to take him in the right direction,” Manning said.

Mayfield’s been a fixture in this article over the past month, and with good reason—he has consistently posted top-12 fantasy numbers in a string of favorable matchups. That string keeps right on rolling in Week 12—the Cincinnati Bengals have allowed 500-plus yards of offense in three of their last four games and are giving up the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year.

ROLL THEM OUT

Lamar Jackson, BAL (vs. OAK)

Jackson’s still very much a work in progress throwing the football, and if he keeps running the ball 27 times a game, he’s probably going to get his blocked knocked off. But it’s hard not to get a little excited about a player who looked a bit like a right-handed Mike Vick against the Bengals last week.

Eli Manning, NYG (at PHI)

Manning’s played much better during New York’s modest two-game winning streak, throwing for 419 yards and five touchdowns heading into an NFC East matchup with an Eagles team giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Russell Wilson, SEA (at CAR)

Wilson’s passing stats aren’t going to blow anyone away, but he does have five touchdowns and no picks over his last two games. Throw in the yards he can pick up with his legs, and Wilson’s a solid start in a favorable fantasy matchup with the Panthers.

SIT THEM DOWN

Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. AZ)

Most of the “sit” recommendations in Week 12 are more warnings. Take Philip Rivers for instance. At first glance, the Cardinals might appear a good matchup given that they, you know, suck. But no team in the NFC allows fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Redbirds in 2018.

Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. CHI)

Don’t let yourself get suckered into starting Stafford this week because of some misplaced sense of holiday tradition. The Detroit offense is a mess right now, and with Kerryon Johnson looking likely to sit things will probably get worse before they get better.

Deshaun Watson, HOU (vs. TEN)

It’s possible that Watson’s ability to run the ball will be enough to overcome a bad matchup in Week 12. And the Titans looked like poo in Week 11 against the Colts. But this is the same Tennessee team that put the clamps on Tom Brady, and the Titans are 28th in FPPG surrendered to quarterbacks.

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 a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. 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.