Redemption for Elijah Moore and the Jets

New York Jets WR Elijah Moore
New York Jets WR Elijah Moore
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 12 - For the first time since Week 5, all 32 teams were in action, and there is plenty to dig into. Some teams are starting to fade away from relevancy and certain rookies are starting to establish their roles. Without further ado, let's take a stroll around the league.

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray looked at his magical best for much of Sunday's game against the Chargers, showing no signs of any lingering issues from the hamstring injury that had caused him to miss the last two games. Since Week 6, Murray has averaged 56.4 rushing yards per game, which trails only Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields. This was the first game that both DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown played together, and Brown saw the majority of snaps from the slot. It's unlikely that either player has the ceiling that they displayed early in the season when one of them was missing at various times, but both are fine starts going forwards. After their Week 13 bye they have a matchup with the Patriots, who struggled to contain the Vikings passing game, before taking on a Broncos side that has thrown in the towel.

Atlanta Falcons

There isn't much left to say at this point when it comes to the Falcons. In real terms, they continue to do well enough that it might impact their ability to draft a top quarterback in 2023, and in fantasy football, they continue to do nothing helpful. The Falcons really decided that drafting a player of Drake London's skill set with the eighth overall pick to then target Olamide Zaccheaus more often would be a good idea. Over the last three weeks London has averaged a 21% target share and 7.6 PPR points per game; even without Kyle Pitts he's almost a non-factor. Nobody on this team is fantasy-relevant, and in a game that is intended to be fun, you don't need Falcons-related headaches each week. Barring perfect matchups, save yourself the trouble.

Baltimore Ravens

When the Ravens play without left tackle Ronnie Stanley, the offense struggles. Excluding Lamar Jackson, the rushing output drops from 5.13 yards per carry to 3.65, and total rushing yardage drops from 118 to 65. When Stanley is out of the lineup, the simple plays seem to be a struggle, and with no Rashod Bateman in the passing game, Jackson seems to not have receivers open enough for him to throw to. The Ravens had three trips to the red zone in the first half against Jacksonville and all three ended in field goals. Perhaps the Ravens are missing Marquise Brown, whom Jackson often relied upon in such situations. Either way, they have to improve and improve fast. Devin Duvernay's seven touches were his most since Week 5, and he can be considered a deep-league flex consideration going forward, while DeSean Jackson's impressive 62-yard catch is unlikely to be something we can count on week to week, but gives hope for daily fantasy contests. Gus Edwards was heavily favored over Kenyan Drake, out-touching him 16 to two. In Week 13, the Ravens face the Broncos, who rank last in pass defense DVOA over the last two weeks.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills escaped Thanksgiving in Detroit with a win despite Josh Allen still not looking like the MVP candidate he was early on in the season and throwing yet another red zone interception. Allen is now tied for most interceptions with Davis Mills (11), but he did manage to get the Bills moving when it mattered most. Stefon Diggs has now had three completions on five targets in the first halves of his last two games, and whilst this has been scary for fantasy managers, Diggs has still been able to keep his points totals afloat thanks to touchdowns and work in the second half of games. Devin Singletary continued to be the favored running back with James Cook regressing back to a more typical four touches, compared to his 11 touches in Week 11.

Carolina Panthers

Sam Darnold was unspectacular in his return to the Carolina offense, throwing 19 times for 11 completions and 164 yards against a Denver passing defense that was one of the league's best to start the year but now ranks 31st over the past four weeks. Darnold made sure to target DJ Moore on 35% of his plays, and Moore turned that into his second-best performance of the season. The Panthers head into their bye week before a trip to the Seahawks and then games against the Steelers and Lions, where Moore should be started if required.

Chicago Bears

David Montgomery tried his best on a day when the Jets defense knew the Bears would rely on him, and his 5.64 yards per carry represent his second-best figure of the season, and if there had been a more effective quarterback under center it could have been an even bigger day for Montgomery. With Khalil Herbert still on IR, Darrynton Evans was the RB2 and had nine rushes for 34 yards. In deep leagues or dynasty formats, Evans can be picked up in case anything happens to Montgomery. Darnell Mooney suffered a season-ending ankle injury and Chase Claypool is likely the best player to roster in his place.

Cincinnati Bengals

Samaje Perine came out on top in a tough matchup against a Titans defense that had allowed just three running back touchdowns all season, picking up 19.3 PPR points and filling in well for Joe Mixon, who will likely return for Week 13 against the Chiefs. Ja'Marr Chase's return will impact this offense, but it's unlikely to harm everyone overly, and with a shootout with the Chiefs in the cards, most of the offense is startable. Hayden Hurst's 60 targets are the seventh-most amongst tight ends, and he is the PPR TE8 on the season. Tyler Boyd's 35.0 yards per game over the last five weeks ranks 69th amongst wide receivers, and he's probably the only candidate to drop from a Bengals team that is picking up steam and ranks first in offense DVOA over the last four weeks.

Cleveland Browns

Jacoby Brissett signed off his time as the starter of the Browns with an overtime win against the Buccaneers in front of the Browns fans. Brissett ranks seventh in both DYAR and QBR, and if it wasn't for an underperforming Cleveland defense, then this team might still be in contention for the playoffs. Instead, the team will now look to get Deshaun Watson integrated into the offense and prepare for a deeper run in 2023. Watson hasn't played a game for almost 700 days, and the glimpse we saw of him in the offseason wasn't pretty. We saw quarterbacks struggle early in the season after not playing in the preseason, so it seems fair to expect he could be rusty in his return. Luckily for Watson, he faces a Texans defense that ranks 27th against the pass over the last four weeks and likely won't offer much resistance.

Dallas Cowboys

Perhaps Ezekiel Elliott's obituaries were written a little too soon by those who are invested in Tony Pollard's success. Elliott rushed 16 times for 92 yards in his best performance since Week 5 of the 2021 season, when he rushed for 110 yards against the Giants. Elliott and Pollard both cap each other's ceiling, but with Elliott getting steady work and goal-line carries while Pollard sees around 20 touches, we can at least know how to approach them going forward. Both players can be considered flex plays and tournament plays for DFS.

Denver Broncos

We're getting to the time of year when teams fade away from relevance, and the likelihood is that the next thing the Broncos do of note will be to fire head coach Nathaniel Hackett after one disastrous year. The blame isn't solely on Hackett, who has shown he's willing to do what he can, but even after turning over the play calling to Klint Kubiak the offense is still a disaster. The Broncos are stuck with Russell Wilson's enormous contract for a while now and will have to try and make things work somehow, but fantasy managers shouldn't be afraid to ignore the Broncos when possible. Latavius Murray is a solid buy-low candidate for dynasty-contending teams looking to add depth, with his value less than a third-round pick.

Detroit Lions

The Lions continue to take steps forward as a team, and it doesn't feel outlandish to say they're a good quarterback and a slice of luck away from being in playoff contention. Jamaal Williams ranks sixth in success rate and now has more rushing touchdowns than 27 teams have managed, and one less touchdown than the Broncos have managed all season on offense. D'Andre Swift doesn't have the role we hoped he would, but he does have a consistent role in the passing game with 25 targets in his last five games, and if it wasn't for a touchdown being called back he would have four touchdowns in his last five games. At cost, Swift has been a bust, but he's a flex-worthy play going forward with games against Jacksonville and Minnesota coming up.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is getting more and more banged up, and it seems likely that the Packers may opt to shut him down for the year and get a good look at Jordan Love for a prolonged period of time. If Rodgers is shut down, it would likely result in an uptick in the number of touches Aaron Jones gets and possibly even a bigger workload for AJ Dillon, who has looked pedestrian at times, but improved in recent weeks and had his best fantasy performance since Week 1 against the Eagles. The Packers head to Chicago in Week 13 and both Jones and Dillon are startable against a Bears defense that ranks 31st in rushing defense over the last two weeks.

Houston Texans

The Texans benched Davis Mills hoping Kyle Allen could bring a spark to their offense, but instead they floundered greatly against a Dolphins defense that was pleased to take the layup. If Allen should start against the Browns, it's possibly noteworthy that Nico Collins led the team with nine targets whilst no other receiver had more than five. Dameon Pierce might be hitting the rookie wall, rushing 15 times for 16 yards in his last two outings, and it is unlikely the 32nd-ranked offense in DVOA over the last four weeks can give him too many scoring opportunities going forward.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have nobody to blame but themselves for their loss to the Steelers. No team in the league seems as likely as the Colts to throw short of the sticks on every third or fourth down and Matt Ryan's average depth of target is second lowest amongst 40 quarterbacks to have thrown at least 50 passes. Jonathan Taylor looked as good as can be expected when the defense is expecting a large number of running attempts and it was thanks to him the Colts picked up their first first down of the game halfway through the second quarter. Taylor seems to have regained the full three-down workload we would want for him and had all but one running back touch of the ball. Michael Pittman was kept quiet until his touchdown but finished the game as the WR14 on the week, his highest performance since Week 5. Jelani Woods had eight catches for 98 yards and, which was six catches and 65 yards more than his previous best in the NFL, so whilst it was a positive sign, it's best not to get too carried away, particularly with a tough matchup against the Cowboys in Week 13.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Zay Jones has been a WR3 or better in four of his last five games and capped that recent form with 11 catches for 145 yards against the Ravens. This was only the second time since Week 3 that the Ravens allowed a wide receiver to go over 80 receiving yards, and Jones deserves all the plaudits he gets. Jones is an every-week starter in deep leagues and a solid dynasty buy available as cheap as a 2024 third-round pick according to KeepTradeCut.com. Evan Engram has averaged 8.6 yards over the last three games, and it should be a priority to find someone more reliable if you've been rostering him so far.

Kansas City Chiefs

Jerick McKinnon looks to have secured the pass-catching role out of the Kansas City backfield with 23 targets in his last four games. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire on IR, McKinnon is worth rostering in PPR formats. JuJu Smith-Schuster was kept on a pitch count on his return from a concussion, which isn't something we often see when players return from concussions, and whilst it was frustrating, it's likely that Smith-Schuster returns to fantasy relevance very soon, starting with a potential shootout with the Bengals in Week 13.

Las Vegas Raiders

Josh Jacobs continues his incredible season, and at this point, there isn't much that needs saying about it, other than he has proven to be an incredible value and most likely a league-winner in 2022, ranking first in DYAR and effective yards. Looking ahead to 2023, we can start to wonder how much he gets paid, and if it is the Raiders who are paying him. If Jacobs was to stay in Las Vegas, we could expect his role to remain similar, and his current dynasty price is two second-round picks, which feels fair for a player who just had 143 more total yards than any other skill player and more scrimmage yards than 26 quarterbacks managed passing yards. Mack Hollins had his sixth double-digit PPR performance of the year and continues to be a boom-or-bust flex option.

Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert has been turned into a dink-and-dunk quarterback in 2022, with his average depth of target dropping from 7.6 yards in 2021 to 5.8 over his last seven games. At the heart of this, Austin Ekeler has seen 99 targets, which leads all running backs by 27, and whilst it is a good thing for Ekeler's fantasy value, it does feel like this offense could be more fun if Herbert had a healthy Mike Williams out there. Keenan Allen set a season-high in snap rate at 89% and ran a route on 49 of 53 dropbacks, so going forward he should be viewed as an every-down player.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams' time as fantasy-viable seems to be drawing to a close this season. Matthew Stafford may or may not return this season after suffering a neck injury and numbness in his legs. Allen Robinson is done for the year after injuring his foot at practice and Tyler Higbee is now being called upon to block more often with the Rams offensive line struggling to block for Bryce Perkins. Kyren Williams ran the second-most routes of any player (21) and put up a reasonable 9.0 PPR points, which might be enough in very deep leagues, but you don't want any part of this offense unless you're tanking in dynasty. Across the last four weeks, only the Texans have a worse offense than the Rams in DVOA.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins weren't pushed at all by the woeful Texans, and the only thing worth watching for here is the health of Jeff Wilson, who left the game after playing 35 of the 45 first-half snaps. Early reports suggest nothing serious, but if he does miss time, then Raheem Mostert will be a deep consideration in what is a revenge game for both Wilson and Mostert at the 49ers, who have the fifth-best run defense DVOA over the last four weeks.

Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins has a reputation for not being able to play in prime time, to the extent that some fantasy managers actively avoid starting him in those games, but his overall prime time record is now 14-14. Monday night games have been a problem for Cousins, who is 2-10 in those games, but elsewhere he is 12-4 and probably deserves a little more credit than he is given.

New England Patriots

There haven't been many games this year where Mac Jones has put the offense on his back and kept New England in the game, but this was one of those and you could argue it was Jones' best game of the season in many ways. Jones had his fourth game of 300 passing yards and set a career-high of 382 with a 71% completion rate. The Patriots now play the Bills, Cardinals, and Raiders who all rank bottom 13 in pass defense DVOA over the last four weeks. With that schedule, it's possible that the Patriots passing game makes an impact in fantasy over the next few weeks. Rhamondre Stevenson continues to have a breakout season and averages 7.6 targets over his last five games; with Damien Harris injured again, Stevenson could have an elite ceiling the rest of the way.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are getting healthier, but it's too little, too late and the reality is that they needed a better option at quarterback than Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton to cover up the cracks of a team that is ready for a rebuild. After a hot streak between Weeks 5 and 8, Alvin Kamara has now not finished inside the top 18 running backs for four consecutive weeks and has failed to find the end zone in all but one game this season. Jarvis Landry has played seven games for the Saints and averages 3.2 catches per game, a big enough drop from his average in Cleveland of 4.8 that he struggles for relevance and can be dropped in redraft formats.

New York Giants

The Giants have impressed this season, but their 7-3 record heading into Thanksgiving perhaps flattered them a little, and over the last four weeks their defense ranks 29th in DVOA as they come back down to earth somewhat. Against the Cowboys, Saquon Barkley looked like a running back who has been touching the ball 23.5 times per game and is starting to feel it, particularly with the Giants offensive line so banged up. That number is a higher amount than at any point through Barkley's career, and if the Giants aren't able to find other answers, Barkley could become less productive than he is already.

New York Jets

Mike White rolled in MetLife Stadium and let the downpour of rain wash away the bad smell that Zach Wilson had brought to the Jets quarterback position in recent weeks. In the words of Robert Saleh, White "made the easy look easy," and that's all it took for the Jets to roll over the terrible Bears passing defense. Both Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore had their best games in weeks and turned in fantasy-relevant days, and they can now be considered every-week starters until we see otherwise. The Jets made James Robinson a healthy inactive with reports that he was showing a lack of burst, which isn't overly surprising given he tore his Achilles late last year. With Michael Carter leaving the game due to an injury of his own, Zonovan Knight is worth picking up from waivers, but it's unlikely he becomes a workhorse.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles put up one of the most incredible stat lines of the season against the Packers, rushing 49 times for 363 yards and three touchdowns, to have more rushing yards than every team had passing yards, except for Mac Jones and the Patriots, who had 382. DeVonta Smith led the team with nine targets, which feels surprisingly high given that the Eagles really didn't need to do anything but run the ball against a Packers defense that has once again failed to live up to the offseason hype.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris suffered an abdominal injury that ruled him out of Monday's win over the Colts but it's worth mentioning that before Harris suffered the injury he looked ineffective and was losing work to both Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland. Should you need a running back then both of these are worth considering waiver bids, with Snell looking the most effective of the two. Next week the Steelers play the Falcons who are 25th against the run in DVOA and have allowed the fourth-most rushing touchdowns in the league (15). 

San Francisco 49ers

Deebo Samuel continues to look like a player who could do with a bye week as he struggles through injuries, but unfortunately for him the 49ers had their bye in Week 9. Samuel's struggles have opened the door for Jauan Jennings, who has 13 targets in his last three games and two performances over 40 receiving yards, along with a touchdown. The Niners have plenty of friendly passing matchups from here and Jennings can be rostered in deep leagues in case the Niners look to rest their stars ahead of a deep playoff run.

Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Lockett is having another solid season and showing that once again he was undervalued by fantasy managers, with an Underdog ADP of 9.1 in August, and has rewarded those who drafted him with nine top-30 performances and a steady 14.7 PPR points on 7.1 targets per game. Some of the sparkles have fallen off Kenneth Walker in his last two games, when he has rushed 24 times for 43 yards, but he has managed to stay fantasy-relevant in both games with pass-game involvement or touchdowns. If they disappear and he can't start running for more than 1.8 yards per carry soon, then bad fantasy days may be ahead for him.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the offseason, people often used the argument that "Tom Brady doesn't trust rookies" in order to fade Rachaad White, but in fantasy football, a more fruitful path can often be saying "this has happened in the past, but what if that's not the case this time." At no point this season have the Buccaneers or Brady shown a lack of trust in White; instead, White has come along like many rookies who aren't first-round talents and on Sunday had a huge role. White played 90% of the snaps and had 77% of the rushing attempts along with a 21% target share. Should Leonard Fournette's hip issue continue to hamper him, White could have league-winning upside over the next month. Tampa Bay's yards per completion has dropped from 10.5 in 2021 to 9.4 this year, which might go some way to explaining why Mike Evans has managed just one top-12 weekly finish in the last seven games.

Tennessee Titans

Treylon Burks looks safely over the issues that plagued his first training camp in the NFL, showing no signs of breathing difficulties as he runs deep down the field, whether it's making deep contested catches or following Derrick Henry all the way to the end zone and lucking into a touchdown when Henry fumbled. Speaking of Henry, in years gone by, he would get stronger as the season went on, often putting up some of his best performances as the weather got colder. But this year he has slowed down of late, rushing for 2.8 yards per carry over his last three games and eclipsing 55 rushing yards on one occasion. If Henry can stay involved in the passing game, it might not matter if his rushing efficiency drops off. Henry has now set career highs in receptions and receiving yardage with seven games still to play.

Washington Commanders

Brian Robinson has caught some heat in this column for his below-average performances, but against a poor Falcons run defense he capitalized on a poor opponent and scored over 20 PPR points for the first time in his career, rushing for 100 or more yards for the first time and setting a career high in targets (three). Antonio Gibson had his fewest touches since Week 6 but will likely still stay involved, and both can be considered low-end starters against a Giants defense that ranks dead last in run defense DVOA over the last two weeks.

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