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Jason Katz’s NFL Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Week 12: Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams to ball, Ryan Tannehill to come up small

With the fantasy football playoffs inching closer, who makes the list of the top start 'em and sit 'em options for Week 12?

We’re entering the home stretch of the 2021 fantasy football regular season. With just three weeks remaining, making correct lineup decisions is more crucial than ever. Let’s take a look at the top start ’em and sit ’em plays for Week 12.

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

We are nearing the end of bye weeks, and most starting quarterbacks have returned to action. Which quarterbacks are starts and sits in Week 12?

Start ‘Em | Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (vs. MIN)

We know Trey Lance is the quarterback of the future in San Francisco. Right now, though, it’s Jimmy Garoppolo’s job, and he’s not giving it up.

Jimmy G has quietly been quite reliable over the past month. He has reached at least 15 fantasy points in four straight games. The Vikings allow the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. This game has sneaky shootout potential, and Garoppolo is a strong streamer this week.

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

It shouldn’t be shocking to see Ryan Tannehill’s name in this section. Tannehill has had a solid floor this season, scoring at least 13 fantasy points in every game. The problem is that’s all he is. Tannehill has scored 15 or fewer fantasy points in six out of his 11 starts. He’s hit 20 fantasy points just three times.

The Patriots have given up the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, but it’s more than that. Bill Belichick’s defense is a real-life version of what happens when you hit three consecutive shots in NBA Jam — on fire. The Patriots’ defense has scored double-digits in five consecutive games, and they’re fresh off a 25-0 shutout of the Falcons.

Continuing with the NBA analogies, Tannehill has looked like Shaq at the free-throw line. He threw 4 interceptions last week and has thrown at least 1 pick in five of his last six games.

As if that’s not bad enough, Tannehill will be without his top three receivers (A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, Marcus Johnson) this week. The Titans are already struggling to get anything going on the ground without Derrick Henry, and things are not about to get better. They desperately need to get to the bye week, and the Patriots will happily expedite the process. Sit Tannehill.

Running Backs

The running back position can be very matchup-dependent. Which running backs should fantasy managers start, and who is better left on the bench this week?

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

I’ve got a real good feeling about the Broncos this week. They’re coming off a bye where they’ve had two weeks to think about their home blowout loss to the Eagles. On the flip side, the Chargers are riding high off a thrilling win over the Steelers. This is a classic letdown spot for the Chargers and a bounce-back one for the Broncos.

This season, the Chargers have been vulnerable on the ground. They allow the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs.

Melvin Gordon has scored a touchdown in four straight games while Javonte Williams is just two games removed from the first 100-yard rushing game of his career.

The Chargers are small road favorites, but I don’t expect a negative game script for the Broncos (who I think win this game). That will keep running the ball in play and allow for both Gordon and Williams to produce. It’s certainly possible one ends up being a much better start than the other. All this is to say I like the Denver running game this week.

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

Fantasy managers often struggle with which player to insert into that final WR3 or flex spot. Hopefully, these start ’em and sit ’em plays will help.

Start ‘Em | Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (vs. NYJ)

Since Tyrod Taylor’s return, it has been tough times for Brandin Cooks. In Week 9, he caught just 6 of 14 targets for 56 yards. Last week, he caught 2 of 3 targets for 18 yards.

The Jets allow the 13th-most fantasy points to wide receivers, but they’re not a good pass defense. For the most part, Cooks has been a target monster. He has four games of 11 or more targets. Cooks seldom has two down games in a row. Expect him to bounce back big time this week.

Sit ‘Em | Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (@ DEN)

I had Mike Williams as a sit last week, and it was a great call for about 58 minutes. Anyone who took my advice was probably kicking themselves after Williams’ 53-yard touchdown. You shouldn’t feel bad, though. I certainly didn’t. The process was sound. Williams caught 4 of 5 targets for 44 yards up until that point. He was trending toward another typical WR5 week.

Williams is here again to caution against point chasing. The Broncos are a middle-of-the-pack pass defense. But once again, this isn’t about the opponent. It’s about the Chargers’ offense. Justin Herbert’s primary target is Keenan Allen. Next up is Austin Ekeler. Williams is a distant third.

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Allen has seen at least 11 targets in four straight games. Ekeler is averaging 6.5 targets per game over his last four games. Williams, meanwhile, is averaging 5.5 targets over that span. He’s seen just 5 more targets than Jared Cook over the past month.

Whatever version of Williams we got over the first month of the season — he’s gone and isn’t coming back. He’ll pop up now and then like he did last week, but Williams remains a WR4/5 entirely reliant upon a big play or a touchdown to return starter-worthy fantasy production. Try and avoid Williams if you can.

Tight Ends

The tight end position is a disaster in fantasy football. With seldom few reliable options, can we find start ’em-worthy TEs?

Start ‘Em | Noah Fant, Denver Broncos (vs. LAC)

I know. Way too heavy on the Broncos, but it’s just how the chips fell this week. Noah Fant just fits the process. The Chargers have been dreadful at defending the tight end. They allow the second-most fantasy points to the position.

Given the state of the tight end position, that’s about the best we can ask for. Fant is set up for success this week, and fantasy managers should confidently insert him into lineups.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.

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