This year’s Thanksgiving is going to look and feel very different. Allow me to take a different tactic from prior weeks here and stress being healthy and safe this holiday season. This isn’t how any of us would like to spend the holidays, but we are playing the cards that are dealt to us at the end of 2020. So do your local nurses, doctors, and hospitals a favor and skip the big traditional get-togethers. Besides, it frees you up to watch all of the Thanksgiving Day football slate relatively distraction-free and follow your fantasy football team’s fate in realtime! So let’s get an early start looking at the week ahead using our Fantasy Football Consistency Score (CS) and Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score (D-PAC) to highlight the best and worst matchups of Week 12 and to let you know whether the likes of Terry McLaurin and Gus Edwards are Start ’em or Sit ’em options.
If you would like more detailed information on how the CS and D-PAC works, please refer to the Introduction to the Fantasy Football Consistency Score, but the basic premise is, the higher the CS, the more consistent a player is scoring high-level fantasy points. In the case of D-PAC, the higher the number, the more consistently that team allows high-level fantasy points to the position.
PSA: I don’t feel the need to tell you, the savvy fantasy G.M., to start a player like Patrick Mahomes every week. I abide by the golden rule: start your studs. However, if there is glaring evidence to sit a bona fide starter, we will discuss that as needed.
Start ’em – Derek Carr
Derek Carr has not seemed like an exciting option for fantasy managers to plug into their rosters. Carr is 16th among quarterbacks in total fantasy points on the season and has lived in the QB2 range in 70% of games played, and he is QB19 in Fantasy Point Differential (FPD).
However, he’s never tanked your team completely either, with zero percent of games played outside of the QB2 range. He’s also QB13 in CS with a score of 7.76. Against Kansas City this past week, Carr put up an impressive performance racking up 275 yards passing and three touchdowns for 21.6 fantasy points, making him the seventh-best quarterback in fantasy ahead of Monday Night Football’s kickoff. Overall, he’s been a really good option week to week in the right matchups.
And the Week 12 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons is why I can lead off with Derek Carr at the top of this week’s Start ’em Sit ’em column. The Falcons are a mess this season. The worst part is they flirt with looking functional just long enough to suck us all back in right before imploding back into ineptitude week to week. Hell, they’ve gone through that transformation all within a single game, multiple times this season. One thing that has been constant is their willingness to buoy fantasy quarterbacks’ stats all season long.
They are the proud papas of both the highest D-PAC score to the QB position (13.31) and the highest average points allowed to the position (25.86). This past week, Atlanta surrendered 233 passing yards to Taysom Hill who also tacked on another 51 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground, giving him 24.42 fantasy points for the week. While it’s unlikely Carr puts up the same rushing line as Hill, he will have no problem carving up this secondary all the same. Rostered in only 60% of FleaFlicker leagues, it’s likely you can grab him and stream him in Week 12.
Sit ’em – Ryan Tannehill
Week 12 is the second time in three weeks I have suggested sitting Ryan Tannehill in this weekly Start ’em/Sit ’em column. This is also the second time in three weeks the Tennessee Titans have played the Indianapolis Colts. Coincidence? Nope!
Not a lot has changed for Tannehill. He is still the QB4 in FPD with a scary low xFP, he’s slipped from 10th to 12th in CS rankings, and he is still a QB2 more often than not. By no means has Tannehill been a “bad choice” for fantasy managers, but there is often at least 12 better options.
The problem is still the low expected fantasy points (xFP). He just simply has no room for error and a capped ceiling. The engine of that offense is the run game and Derrick Henry. Tannehill is a great cog in that machine, but he is not the foundational piece, and his fantasy production is more volatile because of it. When he played the Colts just two weeks ago, Tannehill had his worst fantasy performance on the season. He threw for only 147 yards, a season-low, and one touchdown, resulting in just 10.78 fantasy points.
Not a lot has changed for the Colts defense either. They have the second-lowest D-PAC score for QBs and the third-fewest average fantasy points allowed to the position. While they did allow 300+ yards and three touchdowns this past week, that was against Aaron Rodgers whose having a league MVP type of a season. On the season, they have still allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards, tied for the fifth-fewest passing touchdowns, and are tied for the second-most interceptions on the season. This is a matchup worth avoiding in fantasy, and as per usual, there are at least 12 better options than Tannehill this week.
Start ’em – Giovani Bernard
The Cincinnati Bengals offense, like 2020 as a whole, has had few bright spots of note. With the season-ending ACL injury to Joe Burrow, there are even fewer things for Bengals fans to cheer about. But with the current pivot to Ryan Finley under center and Joe Mixon already hanging out on the IR, Giovani Bernard can be a strong play in Week 12 against the New York Giants.
Over the past four weeks, since Mixon’s injury, Bernard has averaged 16.5 opportunities per game. Over that time, Bernard has been a bit of a mixed bag, starting off hot but disappointing over the past two weeks. Needless to say, whether you should start or sit Gio has been a hot top in fantasy football for the past few weeks.
Overall though, Bernard has not been a horrible option. Since taking on the mantle of starter, he has averaged 13.4 points per game and has a CS of 3.86 over that time, which would rank 19th among running backs and 1.17 points higher than his season-long CS. With the change at quarterback and a prime matchup versus the Giants in Week 12, it’s believable that Bernard is going to see an increase in workload and be highly efficient.
The Giants are averaging the eighth-most points per game allowed to running backs and have the sixth-highest D-PAC score to the position. They are consistently a top matchup to target running backs against. Antonio Gibson, Boston Scott, and Miles Sanders have all had double-digit performances against the Giants in recent weeks. Only the split Tampa Bay Buccaneers workload of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II in Week 8 were unable to produce a viable fantasy running back, but that was more about Tampa Bay, not so much the Giants’ defense.
Sit ’em – Gus Edwards
I normally love starting players on Thanksgiving Day. It’s just an extra rooting interest for me, a man without a team, to get excited about in an island game. But unless your team is in dire straits, Gus Edwards is a Thanksgiving trap!
In Week 12 last year, I would have been laughed out of the fantasy football realm of existence for listing a Baltimore Ravens running back who is guaranteed the bulk of the workload, as a “sit” in my Start ’em Sit ’em column. But despite the fact that fellow Ravens J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram tested positive, clearing the path for Edwards, he faces one of the worst matchups for running backs by traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.
Edwards hasn’t done terribly considering his chaotic usage in 2020. Edwards has a positive 9% FPD, which ranks 25th among all running backs. But with an average of less than 10 total opportunities (9.2) per game, it’s hard to decipher too much more from his numbers for the season. However, it’s not hard to see that the Steelers are suffocating running backs week in and week out.
Pittsburgh boasts the seventh-fewest rushing yards allowed, tied for the fewest rushing touchdowns, 20th ranked D-PAC score (9.60), and are allowing the second-fewest average points to the RB position. Many fantasy football rosters might be forced into making Gus Edwards a start this Thanksgiving, but if at all possible, sit the Ravens running back and enjoy the turkey.
Start ’em – Terry McLaurin
Terry McLaurin has been having a sneaky good fantasy season. McLaurin is 10th in total fantasy points on the season while hosting a 5.24 CS which ranks seventh. And the arrow is only pointing up with Alex Smith calling plays. Since Smith took over, McLaurin is averaging 98 yards per game compared to the 82.4 yards he had prior and 2.05 more yards per reception (15.47 compared to 13.42). The cherry on top in Week 12 though is the matchup versus the Dallas Cowboys defense.
The Cowboys 20.69 D-PAC versus receivers ranks fourth, while their average points allowed of 44.22 to the position ranks second-highest. Dallas’ secondary has been merrily giving away fantasy points to receivers like it’s a liquidation sale. As a team, they are tied for the fourth-highest yards per reception allowed and are in sole possession of the most receiving touchdowns allowed with 24.
This past week, the Cowboys made both Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson top-12 fantasy receivers. Heading into MNF, Thielen is the number one overall receiver on the week with 123 yards receiving and two touchdowns, while Jefferson racked up 86 yards and a touchdown to come in eleventh at the position. In an NFC Battle for the Best of the Worst, Terry McLaurin should have no problem slicing through this secondary on Thanksgiving.
Sit ’em – Mike Evans
With Tom Brady under center, it’s hard to believe that Mike Evans is a weekly consideration to my Start ’em/Sit ’em column, let alone sitting him for Week 12. But that is exactly where I find myself with Evans heading into Thanksgiving.
Evans is the 19th receiver in total fantasy points, 25th in terms of fantasy points per game, 15th in FPD, and 27th in CS. He is no longer a “set it and forget it” type WR1, but rather a matchup based WR2/FLEX option. Evans has only been a top 24 option in 40% of games played, just as often as he has been a WR4 or worse.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, one would think Evans is a good play in a game with a 51.5 over/under line. However, the Chiefs are a sneaky good secondary, shutting down receivers consistently this year. Their D-PAC score of 14.31 ranks 28th and their average points allowed to the position of 30.73 is 29th. In addition, they have given up the fifth-fewest receiving touchdowns and sixth-fewest receiving yards allowed. They’ve just been a really solid defense, especially against the pass. So despite Evans having one of the most decorated quarterbacks ever throwing him the ball, you must consider matchups with him this season. And the Chiefs are a matchup to pivot away from.
Which tight ends should you trust or be cautious of in Week 12?
Start ’em – Evan Engram
The tight end landscape has been desolate this season. So desolate that Evan Engram, who has felt perpetually disappointing, has had a surprisingly solid season for fantasy. Engram’s 67.8 fantasy points on the season ranks him 15th while his 2.44 CS ranks 13th. However, Engram’s -26% FPD shows why he has felt so disappointing to have on a roster this season. While he can still inspire awe with a miraculous catch and run, he’s been just as apt to drop a pass on the numbers or to see one just sail over his head from an erratic Daniel Jones.
However, if there was ever a week to feel confident with Engram in your starting lineup, it is Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have the 10th highest D-PAC score to TEs and are allowing the fourth-most average points allowed to the position. It may not have worked out for the GM who started Logan Thomas last week (me), but the Bengals have made Harrison Bryant and Trey Burton top plays in recent weeks. Engram is a far more talented pass catcher than any tight end since they’ve seen Mark Andrews in Week 5, who had the third-most fantasy points at tight end that week by the way.
Sit ’em – Dallas Goedert
On a per-game basis, Dallas Goedert has been a strong tight end option for fantasy managers on an otherwise barren Philadelphia Eagles offense. Goedert’s 8.3 fantasy points per game ranks 10th at the position and since their Week 9 bye, he has racked up 110 yards and a touchdown receiving. Over that same time, he has a team-leading 16% target share, becoming Carson Wentz’s “go-to” receiver.
But the honeymoon period is about to wear off after two solid weeks. First of all, Zach Ertz is likely to return from his brief injury hiatus. While Ertz hasn’t been the same PPR machine we have been used to over the years, his return to the lineup is still bound to eat into Goedert’s opportunities. On an anemic offense that is tied for the eighth-fewest passing touchdowns and the third-most giveaways on the season, every opportunity is important. Wentz isn’t playing with the same magic we’ve seen from him in seasons past, and that is hurting all pass catchers.
Despite all of that, one might still be tempted to start Goedert simply because the other options out there are so uninspiring. Until that is, you look at the numbers for the Seattle Seahawks defense. With a D-PAC score of 3.91, the Seahawks rank 21st while coming in 28th in terms of average points allowed to the position group, 9.47. On the season, the Seahawks haven’t given up a single double-digit fantasy performance to an individual tight end. Irv Smith Jr. has the highest fantasy output against the team from their Week 5 matchup with 8.4 fantasy points in half-PPR scoring formats. All the cards are stacked against Goedert continuing his strong fantasy run in Week 12.
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