Personally, this is one of my favorite weeks of the season for Fantasy Football. For seasonal leagues, it is getting down to the final couple of weeks before the regular season ends, and the playoffs begin. For DFS, we’re getting three football games on Thursday, plus a boatload of food, friends and family. It doesn’t get any better than Week 12 in the NFL!
We’re guaranteed to get quite a few new faces who will shine in Week 12, too. The injuries came fast and furious last weekend, as several big-name Fantasy Football options left the field with assistance, leading to others stepping into the limelight and shining for the first time. DFS staples such as Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) and Kansas City Chiefs RB Charcandrick West (hamstring) were forced out of games, and are question marks for the upcoming week and beyond. Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (sports hernia) will be sidelined at least a month with his injury after being a bit of a surprise inactive in Week 11. And the Baltimore Ravens took a one-two punch by losing QB Joe Flacco (knee) and RB Justin Forsett (arm) to season-ending injuries, opening up new roles for backups.
There are plenty of values on the board with several huge injuries around the league. Take advantage and be thankful for the lower salaries at key positions.
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Odell Beckham Jr., WR, N.Y. Giants ($6,200 at WAS): Beckham had seven grabs for 79 yards and a score in his first game against the Redskins in late September. He also enters this game playing his best football of the season, rolling up 21 grabs for 339 yards and four scores over the past three games, eclipsing the century mark in yardage in each game. He is also coming off a bye, so expect a fresh Beckham with his hamstring injury in the rear-view mirror.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston ($6,500 vs. NO): Fantasy owners are going to like what they see from Nuke this weekend. He’ll be working against a Saints pass defense that has been shredded for 293.1 yards per game, second-worst in the NFL, and one that has given up 28 passing touchdowns, worst in the NFL by seven. The Saints have also allowed 44 pass plays of 20 or more yards, and 13 pass plays of 40 or more yards, worst in the league. Nuke has QB Brian Hoyer (concussion) back under center, and he is primed for a giant stat line.
Eli Manning, QB, N.Y. Giants ($6,500 at WAS): Manning threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns while posting a respectable 21.95 Fantasy points in the first meeting with the Redskins Sept. 24. You can expect another big performance, especially with the team rested and coming out of a bye.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay ($4,800 vs. CHI – Thu.): Lacy has been nursing an ankle injury for most of the season; slowly but surely he appears to be shaking it off and getting stronger. He posted his first 100-yard game of the season in Minnesota last week, and you can expect the Packers to keep feeding him as long as he can hang onto the ball. Fumbling has been an issue lately, as he has coughed it up three times in the past four games. The Chicago Bears rank 25th in the NFL against the run, so Lacy could hit the century mark again on Thursday night.
Brandon Marshall, WR, N.Y. Jets ($5,250 vs. MIA): Marshall (toe) is a player to watch, as he is dealing with a toe injury. If he is ready to go Sunday he will be a great addition to most DFS lineups at a mid-tier price. He posted seven receptions for 128 yards and 16.3 Fantasy points in London on Oct. 4 against the Dolphins, and he has been targeted 10 or more times on six different occasions this season. The Jets try very hard to get him the ball, and he will do big things against a leaky Dolphins pass defense if the quarterback is on the money.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina ($5,100 at DAL – Thu.): Stewart will be busy in the mid-afternoon Thanksgiving Day game against a Dallas Cowboys rush defense that has been middle of the road this season, allowing 104.7 yards per game. The Cowboys have given up 10 rushing scores, however, one of just four teams to allow as many. Look for the Panthers to use Stewart as the goal line hammer, perhaps churning out two scores on the holiday.
BARGAIN BIN VALUES AND CONTRARIAN PLAYS
Javorius Allen, RB, Baltimore ($4,750 at CLE – Mon.): With Forsett done for the year, it’s young Buck Allen who steps into the starting tailback role in Charm City. As luck has it, the rookie will face the league’s worst rush defense on Monday Night Football. The Cleveland Browns yield 138.8 yards per game with 11 runs of 20 or more yards allowed this season, second-worst in the NFL. The Ravens are going to need a big effort from Allen, too, as they’re down to QB Matt Schaub ($5,650) under center.
Cleveland Browns Defense/Special Teams ($2,500 vs. BAL – Mon.): The Browns are a sleeper defense this week facing Schaub in his first start of the season. Mistakes could be plentiful, as he has an inexperienced wide receivers corps, a rookie running back and plenty of rust after being nailed to the pine all season.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta ($4,650 vs. MIN): Coleman is likely to see his first meaningful action in a while. He started the season in a battle for carries with Freeman. A rib injury forced Coleman out, and allowed Freeman to be the bell cow and he took off running and never looked back. Now, a fresh Coleman has the chance to carry the mail all by his lonesome if Freeman is not cleared by an independent neurologist after suffering a concussion last week against Indianapolis. The Vikings allow 110.1 yards per game on the ground, and it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect 75-80 rushing yards and a score from Coleman.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington ($6,000 vs. NYG): Cousins is the 15th-most expensive quarterback on the board, making him a nice value. The New York Giants have been brutal against the pass this season, giving up a league-high 309.9 yards per game with 19 touchdowns and 39 pass plays of 20 or more yards. They have allowed 16.8 more yards per game through the air than any other team. Cousins threw for 316 yards and a score in the earlier matchup Sept. 24 in New Jersey, and he’ll eclipse the 300-yard mark again this week.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense/Special Teams ($2,650 at DET – Thu.): The Eagles DST is the most attractive for games on the Thursday slate, as they’re facing a Detroit Lions team that is still very mistake-prone. The Eagles have allowed 8.8 Fantasy Points Per Game, second-best among all six available defensive units on Thanksgiving.
Crockett Gillmore, TE, Baltimore ($4,400 at CLE – Mon.): Gillmore is a player to watch Monday night. You can expect Schaub to limit the downfield stuff, and use more dinks and dunks to try and move the chains. Gillmore should be the biggest beneficiary of the shrinking pass radius from the Baltimore quarterback, seeing upwards of 10 targets and plenty of action if the Ravens are able to pierce the red zone.
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee ($4,600 vs. OAK): Walker might be the most sure receiver rookie QB Marcus Mariota ($6,200) has right now. He went for eight receptions and a season-high 109 yards in last Thursday’s game at Jacksonville, and he’ll shine again in Week 12. The Oakland Raiders have allowed a league-high 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends, so expect Walker to get into the end zone for the first time since Nov. 8 while also posting a healthy yardage total.
Eddie Lacy Photo Credit: Kyle Engman