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Tommy Garrett’s Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Week 12: Are Cam Newton, Tyler Lockett, and Courtland Sutton must-starts?

With the NFL in full swing and fantasy football lineups being set, who makes the list of the top start 'em and sit 'em options for Week 12?

As we move ever so closer to the end of the fantasy football regular season, making start ’em or sit ’em decisions begin to carry even more weight as teams separate themselves from the pack. With not all matchups being equal, here are our top start ’em and sit ’em plays for Week 12 of fantasy football.

NFL Start’ Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 12: Quarterbacks

While the focus in the majority of fantasy leagues falls on skill positions, quarterbacks — in most cases — consistently bring the highest weekly total. Which QBs are must-starts, and who should remain on the bench in Week 12?

Start ‘Em | Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (@ MIA)

The NFL is better with Cam Newton in it. In Week 11, Newton made his first start of the season, going 21-of-27 passing for 189 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Newton also added his trademark impact on the ground, rushing 10 times for 46 yards with another touchdown.

Sure, the Dolphins bottled up Lamar Jackson, but this defense is also No. 28 in fantasy points allowed to the position at 19.29. So which one is the truth? To me, the job they did on Jackson was more of an aberration than reality. Carolina has too many weapons on offense for the Dolphins to cover. I’m trusting Newton as a low-end QB1 in Week 12.

Sit ‘Em | Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (@ NE)

Ryan Tannehill was supposed to be the savior of the late-round QB club. Yet, he has been anything but that. He has scored 20 points just twice this season, and in a smash spot last week against the Houston Texans, Tannehill put up a season-low 9.2. He’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in only two games.

A.J. Brown (ribs) is banged up, and the Titans are taking on the No. 2-ranked defense against QBs in the New England Patriots (12.39). They’ve forced more than twice as many interceptions (15) than touchdowns allowed (7) and have no problem taking the air out of the ball to keep it out of Tannehill’s hands. He is a low-end QB2 in Week 12 who should remain on your bench.

Running Backs

While these RBs found themselves with adjusted roles following injuries to surrounding players and poor play from others, they are on opposite sides of start/sit debates for Week 12. Let’s look at the top start and sit from RB committees around the league.

Start ‘Em | Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos (vs. LAC)

I’m listing Melvin Gordon here, but I also really like Javonte Williams here too. They both have upside, but Gordon remains the back with the higher upside based on usage. Gordon is the RB19 in PPR scoring, averaging 12.7 PPR points and 13.9 opportunities per game. Over his last three games, Gordon is putting up 15.3 points, 66 yards, and has scored 4 TDs while splitting reps with a guy who we all believe is better than him. 

The Chargers will be without DT Linval Joseph (COVID-19) and have allowed seven RBs to score at least 13 PPR points against them in the past six games. They’re 24th in points allowed at 26.38 because no one wants to pass on them. Trust Gordon in this run-funnel game script as an RB2 for fantasy.

Sit ‘Em | Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (vs. CAR)

Myles Gaskin has been as frustrating as it gets. He’ll have a great matchup and put up a dud. But we’ve been ignoring the obvious signs. Never play Gaskin in an even-numbered week. Hear me out. Gaskin has failed to score more than 8.6 fantasy points in any even-numbered week. He has double-digit points in every game in every odd week, with his last four over 15 points. 

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Of his 133.2 PPR points, even weeks account for just 19.7% of his totals (26.3 points). Am I a genius? Maybe I can get one of those fake doctorates that people get at commencement speeches. I wonder if this is how Nick Cage felt when he found the map on the back of the Declaration of Independence? Anyway, sit Gaskin against the Panthers, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to RBs at 18.55.

NFL Start’ Em, Sit ‘Em for Week 12: Wide Receivers

The WR position is the deepest in fantasy football, with a plethora of quality starting options to choose from every single week. As matchups can be the final deciding factor, here are some of the start ’em or sit ’em recommendations for Week 12.

Start ‘Em | Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (@ WAS)

Anytime I begin to believe in Tyler Lockett and recommend him, I feel like I’m playing with fire. And even as someone who loves fire, I’m getting sick and tired of Lockett burning me. Lockett is either a slate-breaker, or he breaks your heart. In games where he has finished inside the top 24, he’s scored over 26 points in three of four games this season. But if he finishes outside the top 24, he does it in spectacular fashion, with five of six games outside the top 60. 

With all of this said, this might be one of those big game outings for Lockett. Washington’s defense is dreadful. They allow the fourth-most points to WRs at 40.52, surrendered 16 touchdowns to opposing receivers, and allowed 18 WRs to score at least 12 PPR points. Russell Wilson loves the bright lights, and I can see him and Lockett connecting several times come Monday night.

Sit ‘Em | Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos (vs. LAC)

We knew Courtland Sutton could have a slow start to the season as he came off an ACL tear suffered in 2020. But wow, have things taken a nosedive. While he does sit eighth in intended air yards (1,098), it certainly doesn’t seem like it. 

He’s the WR32 in PPR, but since Jerry Jeudy has returned, Sutton has seen 10.8% of the targets while averaging 4.9 points per game. That’s it. He’s seen 9 targets while catching 5 passes for 78 yards. Since Week 8, he is the WR91. Allen Robinson, who has even missed a game, is ahead of him (WR90).

Sutton can be the alpha on the field. The Broncos would not have given Sutton a four-year extension worth just under $61 million if they didn’t think so as well. But for right now, I cannot trust him, especially against the Rams, who are allowing 159 yards per game and have surrendered the second-fewest TDs (6).

Tight Ends

It’s notoriously hard for fantasy managers to find consistent production from the tight end position. In Week 12, start ’em or sit ’em decisions could mean the difference between a win or a loss as the margins are razor-thin.

Start ‘Em | Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ CIN)

Do you want to hear something fun? Since Week 8, Pat Freiermuth is the TE2 in fantasy. He is second in targets (29), fourth in receptions (19), and leads the league in touchdowns with 4. He is averaging 13.2 points per game while seeing 18.8% of the targets.

Don’t overthink this one. Freiermuth is a weekly starter and takes on the Cincinnati Bengals, who have allowed a touchdown to tight ends in each of their last three games.

Sit ‘Em | Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers (@ DEN)

Genuine question. Is Jared Cook even the best tight end on his own team? I’m not so sure that he is. He has scored 1 TD since Week 4 and has combined for just 21 PPR points in his past four games. Cook hasn’t crossed the 50-yard mark in his last six games, either.

Cook is, at best, the fourth option in this passing game. Half the time, he’s the No. 2 for his own position once they get in the red zone and the 6’8″ Donald Parham trots out. Denver is allowing just 7.91 points per game (third-fewest) and are the only team left in the NFL who has not surrendered a TD to a tight end. If they do, it won’t be to Cook. He’s a mid-to-low-end TE2 in Week 12.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.

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