Not all fantasy football decisions are easy. Sure, starting Philadelphia Eagles WR A.J. Brown is something you’re doing weekly, but those decisions at the top of the board aren’t usually the difference in your tight matchups.
It’s the fantasy Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em quandaries that have you waking up in a cold sweat that ultimately make a big difference.
I know I can’t be the only person that happens to. Below are my thoughts on some players that have been oft-asked about within the PFN Fantasy Discord and on X (Formerly known as Twitter). Let’s get to it!
Fantasy Start ‘Em Picks for Week 12
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (at Texans)
Did we do it? Did we, as an industry, double, triple, and quadruple down enough on Trevor Lawrence to have him positioned to be the league winner we thought he was back in August?
I used “we” a lot right there. It was me with the preseason hype. I was the problem. Not we.
MORE: Fantasy News Tracker
Lawrence was fantasy’s top quarterback last week — his first finish better than QB8 this season. His elite performance was aided by the return of Zay Jones, and with a full complement of weapons at his disposal entering this week — Lawrence is in a spot to thrive at the right time.
Over Jacksonville’s past three wins, he has completed 73.1% of his passes. That’s a positive trend to take into this matchup as a favorite facing a Texans defense that is allowing the second-highest opponent completion percentage this season (69.9%).
Part of Lawrence’s Week 11 success was his line’s ability to keep him clean. He was sacked just one time in the convincing win, the third instance this season in which he wasn’t dragged down multiple times. One of those other games took place in Week 3, the first meeting with Houston.
Did the game come against a pass funnel in the Titans? Sure, but you don’t discredit a kid learning how to ride a bike when he/she uses training wheels, do you?
My preseason heartthrob is my QB10 this week. That means he checks in just ahead of two QBs in Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, who have been more productive than Lawrence this season.
Jerome Ford, RB, Cleveland Browns (at Broncos)
The snap count ended up being even last week. Jerome Ford led Kareem Hunt 37-33, but it very much was a drive-by-drive sort of deal. If I roster Ford, I liked what last week said about the hierarchy of this backfield despite an underwhelming snap share.
On the first two drives, Cleveland ran 15 plays, and Ford had 10 touches for 36 yards and a TD. If we are to believe that the first few series are what the team spends the week scripting to take advantage of what they do well, Ford is set to hold the lead role in this backfield for the foreseeable future.
This season, 40% of yards gained on the Broncos come on the ground, which puts Ford in a position to potentially approach 100 rushing yards for the third time this season. He’s tallied 80 rushing yards or a rushing score in six of his past nine games.
I have Ford ranked as a viable RB2 in all formats this week.
Kyren Williams, RB, Los Angeles Rams (at Cardinals)
I’m not comfortable in ranking him as an elite option in his first game back, but he is starting for me wherever I have him against a defense that allows 4.5 red-zone trips per game.
How big is that number? No other team this season allows even 4.0 red-zone trips per game. That was the case last season, as well. This defense puts opponents in a position to score fantasy points in bunches, and Williams has excelled at taking advantage of those opportunities with seven touchdowns.
Williams may not be a bell cow in his return to the lineup, but with the team waiving RB Darrell Henderson on Tuesday, they are confident in Williams’ health. Williams is my RB19 this week, ranking right next to his counterpart, James Conner.
Adam Thielen, WR, Carolina Panthers (at Titans)
Bryce Young posted a single-digit QBR last week and again looked lost. But his one-target reads were enough to get Thielen the needed numbers for PPR managers (eight catches for 74 yards, all other Panthers totaled eight catches for 49 yards).
We were spoiled by the high-floor stylings of the veteran receiver early this season. Production is certainly possible, given his role in this offense, but the limitations are going to result in just as many down weeks as productive ones.
I settled on Thielen as my WR20 this week in a plus matchup. Game flow is usually going to work in his favor, but this is likely as high as I have him ranked in any week moving forward unless we see some serious growth from Young that I’m not currently projecting.
Jonathan Mingo saw five targets on 34 routes, while DJ Chark got a nice afternoon of cardio in (zero targets on 29 routes). Mingo is the flier in very deep leagues or a DFS punt play if you want a cheap way to get access to this matchup, but he’s not worth your time in standard-sized leagues.
Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens (at Chargers)
Following Thursday night, I discussed Likely’s rest-of-season value and ranked the tight ends I’d trade for if I were an Andrews manager.
This is a good spot for the 23-year-old to come through on the promise he has shown in the past when given the opportunity, facing one of the worst per-pass defenses in the league. All the metrics like Likely for the same reasons cited in the rest-of-season article I mentioned, but there’s also a team component to consider here.
With the Ravens pushing for the top seed in the AFC and a deep playoff run, they’re very motivated to see just how much of Andrews’ role Likely can handle. You added him during waivers this week, and you should be comfortable plugging him into your starting lineup right away.
Fantasy Sit ‘Em Picks for Week 12
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Ravens)
No one could have seen Herbert rushing for 73 yards last week in Lambeau — in the first 10 weeks, he totaled just 113 rushing yards — and the threat of him doing that simply adds to an already attractive fantasy profile.
Do I have concerns about the lack of a WR2 in this offense or the fact that Herbert hasn’t completed even 60% of his passes in five of his past seven games? I do, especially in a matchup like this. The ROS outlook is an optimistic one for Herbert, but in the scope of Week 12, he’s outside of my top 10 for the first time this season.
MORE: PFN Consensus Rankings
It’s been a few minutes since you’ve had a quirky Kyle stat — time to change that!
Herbert, this season, has averaged a QB4 rating against the NFC North and a QB13 rating against the rest of the NFL. I’ve confirmed with sources that the Ravens do not play in the NFC North.
Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Bears)
At this time last week, we weren’t sure that Mattison (concussion) would play, but he cleared through all protocols and handled 19 touches in the loss against the Denver Broncos with a 48-23 snap edge over Ty Chandler and 100% of the goal-line snaps.
Last week was the third consecutive healthy game in which he cleared 15 carries, making him a safe volume play, at the very least, in an offense that we only expect to get better down the stretch. His losing a fumble last week didn’t seem to impact how he was being used, elevating my optimism that his role is here to stay.
By no means should you consider Mattison a league winner. His 148 carries this season without a 20-yarder speaks to his limited per-carry ceiling. That’s OK. Not every player has to have the ability to break your matchup open.
He’s ranked lower this week than most for me (low-end Flex play at best) due to the matchup with the best per-carry run defense in the NFL. But after Minnesota’s Week 13 bye, I’d be comfortable in considering him an RB2 for the remainder of the fantasy season.
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Colts)
In November, Godwin’s average positional finish is, per the Week 12 Cheat Sheet, WR51.
We entered this season assuming that Godwin would have a nice floor with some spike weeks. What we’ve gotten through 11 weeks is a nice floor with a ceiling that is non-existent. He has 4-6 receptions in seven of 10 games this season, with just one score to show for his efforts.
Remove the Week 4 win in New Orleans, a game in which Evans left early, and Godwin’s 17-game pace is 79 catches for 844 yards. That’s Diontae Johnson or Drake London from last season.
On a loaded fantasy team, that production is valuable, but without much upside, he’s sitting outside of my top 35 receivers this week (in the same tier of those two comparisons I just laid out).
Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!