Start and Sit
The best players to target and avoid on your fantasy rosters (with impact from venues, weather forecasts, and opponents).

Start and Sit: Week 12

Matt Ryan
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Weather has been a storyline for all of November, but that could ramp up drastically in Week 12. Four games have forecasted kickoff temperatures in the 30s. Four have forecasted temperatures in the 40s. Two more -- Cowboys-Patriots and Raiders-Jets -- have strong chances of rain. And just two -- the NFC South matchups, Panthers-Saints and Buccaneers-Falcons -- take place in a dome. Keep those conditions in mind when selecting your daily and redraft lineups, especially as you reach for some normal bench options with four excellent offenses on bye this week.

The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven) -- home and road and dome and outside -- the forecasted weather (Wea), and the defensive tendencies of the opponent (Def). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.


Quarterbacks

Best Week 12 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
M.Ryan ATL 1 TB Rk 6 2 2 1  
Pts   +2.2 0.0 +3.8 +6.0
D.Brees NO 1 CAR Rk 16 6 5 5  
Pts   +4.5 0.0 -0.6 +3.9
D.Haskins WAS 1 DET Rk 26 25 25 18  
Pts   +2.0 -0.6 +1.8 +3.2
B.Mayfield CLE 1 MIA Rk 19 14 14 9  
Pts   +2.5 -0.6 +1.0 +2.9
S.Darnold NYJ 1 OAK Rk 25 24 24 20  
Pts   +1.6 -0.4 +1.3 +2.5

Matt Ryan nearly doubles up his competitors at the position, adding 6.0 fantasy points from a home matchup against the Buccaneers this week. Ryan does not have the massive home/road splits you would expect from a quarterback who plays his home games in a dome, but he still performs better in Atlanta. And the Buccaneers are dramatically better at defending the run (No. 1 DVOA) than the pass (No. 30). The Buccaneers increase pass plays by 18% and passing touchdowns per attempt by 47%, both the most in football. With four strong passing offenses on bye, including the Chiefs, Ryan vaults to my No. 1 quarterback in fantasy this week.

Unlike his division rival, Drew Brees draws a suboptimal defensive opponent in the Panthers. They have the No. 7 pass defense and decrease passing touchdowns by 27% per attempt. The Saints will likely look to rely more heavily on their running game than usual to try to take advantage of the Panthers' relative weakness (No. 32 DVOA) against the run. That said, I'm still bullish on Brees because of his often-cited home/road splits. Brees has averaged 4.1 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road since 2017 and plays this game at home in New Orleans.

Baker Mayfield has mostly lived in QB3 territory for me this season. But his last two games against the Bills and Steelers were his first two all season with two passing touchdowns. That offers some optimism, and that optimism turns to excitement as the Browns welcome the Dolphins to Cleveland. The Dolphins have the No. 32 DVOA pass defense and increase passing touchdowns per attempt by 43%, second-most in football. That plus-plus draw vaults Mayfield from his true-talent ranking of 19th at the position inside of my top 10 at ninth this week.

Worst Week 12 Matchups - Quarterbacks
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
D.Prescott DAL 0 NE Rk 8 13 13 25  
Pts   +0.3 -0.5 -3.9 -4.1
A.Rodgers GB 0 SF Rk 4 7 6 14  
Pts   0.0 0.0 -3.7 -3.7
D.Jones NYG 0 CHI Rk 11 16 16 22  
Pts   +0.1 -0.7 -1.8 -2.4
B.Allen DEN 0 BUF Rk 18 22 22 27  
Pts   -0.2 -0.4 -1.7 -2.3
L.Jackson BAL 0 LAR Rk 1 3 3 7  
Pts   -0.5 0.0 -1.8 -2.3

Dak Prescott has averaged an astonishing 366 passing yards and 3.0 passing touchdowns over his last three games and has entered the mix of the MVP discussion. He's a definite true-talent QB1, but this week, he falls all the way to 25th at the position for me playing on the road against the Patriots. The Patriots have the well-documented No. 1 DVOA pass defense. They decrease passing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 24% and 62%, both the most in football. And this game has a 76% chance of rain, an element that can dramatically shift a team's offensive approach from the pass to the run. Definitely avoid his $6,000 DraftKings price tag, and even in typical redraft leagues, you should be able to find better Week 12 options on the wire.

Aaron Rodgers has been more obviously susceptible to his defensive matchups in 2019, and that makes it clear that you should avoid him in smaller leagues on the road against the 49ers. They have the No. 2 DVOA pass defense, and while their cuts to passing yards and touchdowns per attempt of 15% and 26% aren't on par with the Patriots, they also decrease pass plays by 20%. That's the most in football.

I can't in good conscience tell you to bench Lamar Jackson, the likely MVP. Frankly, I'm not totally convinced a good team can effectively defense him. The Patriots surely couldn't. But the Rams, while worse in DVOA (17th) against the pass than the Patriots, do seem well-equipped to match up with the Ravens biggest strengths. The Rams have the No. 11 DVOA defense against tight ends (subscription required) and No. 3 DVOA run defense. They added cornerback Jalen Ramsey to shadow big-play threat Marquise Brown on the outside. And they generally cut passing touchdowns by 19% per attempt. That all works against Jackson and drops him from first in true talent to seventh in my weekly rankings. Don't bench him in typical formats, but maybe look elsewhere in DFS, where his $7,400 price tag is by far the highest at the position.


Running Backs

Best Week 12 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
A.Kamara NO 1 CAR Rk 2 2 2 1  
Pts   +3.9 0.0 +3.9 +7.8
J.Conner PIT 0 CIN Rk 9 6 6 3  
Pts   +2.7 -0.2 +2.2 +4.7
D.Montgomery CHI 1 NYG Rk 15 16 16 8  
Pts   +1.6 -0.1 +1.5 +3.0
N.Chubb CLE 1 MIA Rk 13 13 13 6  
Pts   +1.5 +0.1 +1.3 +2.9
L.Murray NO 1 CAR Rk 35 37 37 29  
Pts   +1.0 0.0 +1.9 +2.9
D.Henry TEN 1 JAX Rk 12 12 12 7  
Pts   +1.6 +0.1 +0.6 +2.3

As mentioned in my Brees talk, the Panthers have the No. 32 DVOA run defense. But the really striking number is their increase of rushing touchdowns per attempt by 158%, far and away the most in football. It will likely be a good day for all of the major Saints fantasy options, but it could be particularly so for Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. I have the former as the No. 1 option at the position this week, and I think Murray is a flex consideration at RB No. 29.

James Conner is a major question mark to play this week after re-aggravating his shoulder injury last Thursday. But if he is able to play in Cincinnati this weekend, don't hesitate to put him in your lineup. The Bengals have the No. 24 DVOA run defense. They increase run plays by 20%, rushing yards per attempt by 14%, and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 31%. Meanwhile, this game is forecasted to have a kickoff temperature in the 30s Fahrenheit, extra incentive for the Steelers to rely on a run-focused game plan. Conner is a top-five option for me if he plays. And if not, Jaylen Samuels shouldn't be too far behind in my consideration.

The Giants are a better pass defense (No. 28 DVOA) than run defense (No. 14), but I still see the Bears' David Montgomery as a top-10 option this week. The Giants may not boost their opponents' rushing yards per attempt, but they boost their run plays by 16% and rushing touchdowns per attempt by 15%. Meanwhile, Nick Chubb's opposing Dolphins are bad against the run (No. 29 DVOA) and increase run plays by 18%, this most in football. Kareem Hunt has seen about 80% of the team's running back targets since his return two weeks ago, but Chubb can still see 25 carries this week if the Browns take a lead and use Chubb to kill clock. They may be inclined to play that way start to finish given the forecast of sub-40-degree temperatures and 13- to 15-mph winds.

Derrick Henry falls into that Chubb category of a back who does most of his work on the ground rather than with his hands, but whose rushing workload is so big that you have to start him every week regardless. Fortunately for his owners, he draws a plus matchup this week at home against the Jaguars. Since he entered the league in 2016, Henry has averaged 1.5 more carries for 17 more yards and 0.2 more touchdowns per game at home than on the road.

Derrick Henry's Home/Road Splits 2016-19
Stat Home Road
Games 29 27
Att Per Gm 13.0 11.5
RuYards Per Gm 64 47
RuTD Per Gm 0.6 0.4
FanPts Per Gm 12.2 9.5

Meanwhile, the Jaguars defense -- even without Ramsey -- is stronger against the pass (No. 11 DVOA) than the run (No. 30). They increase rushing yards and touchdowns per attempt by 11% and 14%, respectively. Henry is in my top 10 at the position this week.

Worst Week 12 Matchups - Running Backs
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
E.Elliott DAL 0 NE Rk 5 5 5 8  
Pts   +1.3 -0.1 -2.0 -0.8
C.McCaffrey CAR 0 NO Rk 1 1 1 2  
Pts   +2.7 0.0 -3.5 -0.8
J.Williams IND 0 HOU Rk 6 7 6 12  
Pts   +1.4 0.0 -2.0 -0.6
C.Hyde HOU 1 IND Rk 24 26 26 29  
Pts   +0.7 0.0 -1.3 -0.6
J.Jacobs OAK 0 NYJ Rk 7 10 9 13  
Pts   +0.8 +0.1 -1.4 -0.5
J.Mixon CIN 1 PIT Rk 11 11 11 15  
Pts   +1.5 +0.1 -2.1 -0.5

The best way to attack the Patriots is likely on the ground, but that is still hardly a bargain. They have the No. 13 DVOA run defense, decrease run plays by 17%, and decrease rushing touchdowns per attempt by 39%. Ezekiel Elliott sees a volume that makes him a top 10 mainstay, but he's at the back of that for me this week as my running back No. 8.

Christian McCaffrey falls all the way to second, meanwhile. He has to travel to New Orleans to face a Saints defense that is No. 9 in DVOA against the run and that cuts run plays by 24%, the most in football. Last week, the Saints held the Buccaneers to just six running back carries, and unheard-of low total. Fortunately for McCaffrey, he catches a ton of passes. But like Lamar Jackson, he is a stay-away for me in DFS, where his $10,500 salary is $2,300 more than anyone else at the position.

I've been able to write about Josh Jacobs 7-to-0 home touchdown advantage for several weeks in a row since Jacobs has played three straight games at home. Eventually he'll score on the road, but that split has me nervous in New York facing the Jets. The Jets have the No. 2 DVOA run defense and cut rushing yards per attempt by 39%, the most in football. And while Joe Mixon scored his first rushing touchdown all year last week against Jacobs' Raiders, he likely won't have that good fortunate against the Steelers. The Steelers have the No. 8 DVOA run defense and cut rushing touchdowns by 54% per attempt.

Wide Receivers

Best Week 12 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
J.Jones ATL 1 TB Rk 7 5 5 3  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 +2.5 +3.0
C.Ridley ATL 1 TB Rk 12 11 11 5  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 +2.5 +3.0
M.Thomas NO 1 CAR Rk 1 1 1 1  
Pts   +2.0 0.0 -0.4 +1.6
M.Evans TB 0 ATL Rk 2 2 2 2  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 +1.3 +0.9
C.Godwin TB 0 ATL Rk 5 5 5 4  
Pts   -0.4 0.0 +1.1 +0.7

It's an NFC South party for the best wide receiver matchups this week. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley each draw a Buccaneers defense that is No. 23 and No. 31 in DVOA defense against No. 1 and No. 2 outside receivers. You likely remember them most recently for allowing 138 yards and three touchdowns to Christian Kirk of the Cardinals. Generally, they increase pass plays by 18% and passing touchdowns per attempt by 47%, both the most in football.

And across the field, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should have about as nice a matchup. The Falcons are No. 20 and No. 29 in DVOA against No. 1 and No. 2 outside receivers, and they increase passing touchdowns per attempt by 26%. The Saints and Panthers each struggled against the Falcons defense the last two weeks, and that causes some concern here. But Evans and Godwin are so productive that you wouldn't bench them for a bad matchup even if this definitively was one.

Michael Thomas is probably the league's most unbenchable receiver, and with a solid matchup this week, he's my No. 1 receiver option with a bullet. The Panthers have a strong pass defense, but they still allow more work to flow to No. 1 outside receivers, 9.1 targets per game. They are third in DVOA against "other" wide receivers -- not that the Saints have any of note at this point. But Thomas will likely benefit mostly here by the home/road splits that Brees drives.

Worst Week 12 Matchups - Wide Receivers
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
D.Adams GB 0 SF Rk 2 3 3 11  
Pts   -1.1 0.0 -3.0 -4.1
A.Cooper DAL 0 NE Rk 16 18 18 30  
Pts   -0.3 -0.6 -2.2 -3.1
M.Gallup DAL 0 NE Rk 34 34 33 46  
Pts   -0.3 -0.4 -1.8 -2.5
C.Sutton DEN 0 BUF Rk 14 17 17 20  
Pts   -0.7 -0.5 -1.1 -2.3
D.Slayton NYG 0 CHI Rk 19 21 23 26  
Pts   -0.5 -0.7 -0.7 -1.9

Davante Adams is typically in my No. 2 spot behind Thomas, but this week in San Francisco, he falls outside of my top 10. As mentioned, the 49ers decrease pass plays by 20%, passing yards per attempt by 15%, and passing touchdowns per attempt by 26%. And both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup could struggle on the road against the Patriots. The Pats are particularly fearsome in defending outside receivers, where they are No. 6 against No. 1 wideouts and first against No. 2s by DVOA. Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones are two of just four qualified receivers with coverage success rates of 65% or better (subscription required) and will likely trail Cooper and Gallup, possibly in the rain.

The Bills defense doesn't have the cachet of the 49ers and Patriots, but it is hardly better for a top receiver. They are No. 8 in DVOA defense against No. 1 wide receivers, and Tre'Davious White has a 57% coverage success rate and allows just 6.0 yards per target. That's bad news for Courtland Sutton, who drops to 20th in my weekly rankings. His only saving grace is that the forecasted snow in Buffalo is expected to clear up by mid-morning.

Darius Slayton was last seen throttling the Jets defense for 121 yards and two touchdowns, but he likely won't share that success in Chicago, even if Sterling Shepard fails to make a return from his concussion issues. The Bears are the No. 1 DVOA defense against No. 1 wide receivers. And with sub-40 temperatures and 10- to 12-mph winds, the Giants may opt to play conservatively with shorter passes to Golden Tate and run with Saquon Barkley.


Tight Ends

Best Week 12 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
L.Stocker ATL 1 TB Rk 32 32 32 27  
Pts   +0.2 0.0 +0.6 +0.8
G.Kittle SF 1 GB Rk 1 1 1 1  
Pts   +0.5 0.0 +0.2 +0.7
R.Griffin NYJ 1 OAK Rk 10 8 9 6  
Pts   +0.4 -0.4 +0.6 +0.6
J.Cook NO 1 CAR Rk 16 12 11 12  
Pts   +0.7 0.0 -0.3 +0.4
O.Howard TB 0 ATL Rk 17 16 15 13  
Pts   -0.2 0.0 +0.5 +0.3

With the Cardinals on bye and the Buccaneers facing a Falcons team missing its exceptional tight end Austin Hooper, there isn't a great option at the position to take advantage of the two worst defenses at defending tight ends. But in a pinch, you could do worse than starting the Falcons' Luke Stocker. The Buccaneers are No. 29 in DVOA defense against the position, allowing 8.8 targets and 80 yards per game. Even with a low projected target share, Stocker jumps inside my top 30 this week.

George Kittle may join Hooper on the bench again, but if he can go, he becomes my No. 1 choice at the position this week. The Packers aren't last week's Cardinals, but they still allow 7.2 targets and 61 yards per game to tight ends. And if Kittle can't go, Ross Dwelley should again be a temporary TE1.

With no more Chris Herndon looking over his shoulder, it's time to take Ryan Griffin seriously in fantasy. Excluding Herndon's first and last start in Week 10, Griffin has averaged 75 yards and 1.0 touchdowns over his last three games. He could continue that streak playing a Raiders team that allows 8.3 targets and 64 yards per game to the position. But like in New England, watch out for possible rain here.

Worst Week 12 Matchups - Tight Ends
Player Tm Hm Def Lbl TT Ven Wea Def Tot
J.Witten DAL 0 NE Rk 13 12 14 18  
Pts   -0.2 -0.4 -1.3 -1.9
J.Graham GB 0 SF Rk 12 14 12 17  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 -1.3 -1.9
N.Fant DEN 0 BUF Rk 6 8 10 10  
Pts   -0.4 -0.5 -0.8 -1.7
M.Andrews BAL 0 LAR Rk 3 3 3 3  
Pts   -0.6 0.0 -0.4 -1.0
M.Gesicki MIA 0 CLE Rk 14 15 16 15  
Pts   -0.4 -0.4 0.0 -0.8

The Patriots pass defense is built on their exceptional cornerback play, but they are pretty strong against tight ends as well. They hold the position to just 4.9 targets and 44 yards per game, and that is bad news for Jason Witten, the same as it is for Cooper and Gallup on the outside. And fellow veteran Jimmy Graham has it no better against the 49ers and their No. 1 DVOA defense against tight ends. San Francisco limits the position to a miniscule 25 yards per game, fewest in football.

Since the Emmanuel Sanders trade, Noah Fant has seen his target share increase dramatically, pulling him into my true-talent top 10 at the position. But I have him just 10th this week against a Bills team that is No. 8 in DVOA against the position, limiting tight ends to 4.7 targets and 32 yards per game.

Finally, Mark Andrews could be the main Ravens player to fall victim to a Rams defense that seems to have the right strengths and weaknesses to match up with that scary Baltimore offense. The Rams are No. 11 in DVOA against tight ends but bottom-half against wide receivers and receiving backs. Andrews sees too much of a target share to drop him out of the top five at the position, but I would look elsewhere in DFS, where his $6,100 price tag could make him the most expensive option this week if both Kittle and Hooper are forced to sit.

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