NFL Fantasy Football Reactions: Week 12

NFL Fantasy Football Reactions: Week 12

This article is part of our NFL Reactions series.

Every Sunday, I watch all of the games on the NFL Game Mix. So usually, there are seven or eight games in the early window and about four in the second window. Over the years, the last 15 minutes or so of each window frequently has a lot of drama. Unfortunately, I haven't felt those wonderful stress levels very often this year. Today was very different. There were four nail-biters in the early games and two more after that. Those are always the best Sundays for me. Let's take a look at some of the highlights of today's action. 

I'll always try to give actionable advice at the end of each reaction. In addition to the fantasy takes, hopefully, some of these observations can also give you some ideas if you're thinking about placing some Week 13 NFL bets https://www.rotowire.com/betting/nfl/odds/week-13 . Let's take a look at the Sunday afternoon action. 

Sunday Takeaways

  • One of the most enjoyable parts of the day was watching Trevor Lawrence lead a two-minute drive to beat the Ravens. He actually led an earlier fourth-quarter drive to give Jacksonville a temporary lead that Baltimore was able to overcome. The beauty of watching Lawrence was that he did it with his usual limited weapons. And there was a time when the Jaguars had the ball in the red zone that reminded us of two back-breaking interceptions he threw earlier in the year. Instead of making the ill-advised throw this time, he simply threw the ball away. That

Every Sunday, I watch all of the games on the NFL Game Mix. So usually, there are seven or eight games in the early window and about four in the second window. Over the years, the last 15 minutes or so of each window frequently has a lot of drama. Unfortunately, I haven't felt those wonderful stress levels very often this year. Today was very different. There were four nail-biters in the early games and two more after that. Those are always the best Sundays for me. Let's take a look at some of the highlights of today's action. 

I'll always try to give actionable advice at the end of each reaction. In addition to the fantasy takes, hopefully, some of these observations can also give you some ideas if you're thinking about placing some Week 13 NFL bets https://www.rotowire.com/betting/nfl/odds/week-13 . Let's take a look at the Sunday afternoon action. 

Sunday Takeaways

  • One of the most enjoyable parts of the day was watching Trevor Lawrence lead a two-minute drive to beat the Ravens. He actually led an earlier fourth-quarter drive to give Jacksonville a temporary lead that Baltimore was able to overcome. The beauty of watching Lawrence was that he did it with his usual limited weapons. And there was a time when the Jaguars had the ball in the red zone that reminded us of two back-breaking interceptions he threw earlier in the year. Instead of making the ill-advised throw this time, he simply threw the ball away. That was also a big win for the young QB.  Lawrence threw for over 300 yards and three TDs. It was even more impressive that he did it against a very well-coached defense. I expect him to still be a marginal fantasy starter the rest of this year. But with another offseason of growth and hopefully another weapon or two, he may finally realize the potential that many expected to see from him sooner. 
  • Last week, Dameon Pierce rushed 10 times for eight yards and caught two passes for nine yards against the Commanders. He actually had less yardage against Miami. Terrible game script led to him carrying the ball just five times, resulting in eight yards. And although he was targeted six times, he caught just three of those for an additional eight yards. After a stretch of six games over a seven-week stretch in which he had posted at least 100 scrimmage yards, things have soured. Based on these last two performances, fantasy managers are likely very concerned about him as they plan for the fantasy playoffs. Some people are claiming that he's hit the rookie wall. Personally, I believe that defense's don't respect the Texans' passing attack. As a result, they're making Pierce the focus of the defense. And he doesn't have a strong enough team around him to help him overcome negative situations. After a favorable on-paper matchup against the Browns next week, his remaining schedule is oppressive. Between having opponents that can force negative game script and others that can stop the run, he may find little opportunity to return to his former levels of performance. Unfortunately, I consider him a flex option at this point. 
  • For the first time this season, Tom Brady threw multiple touchdown passes in consecutive games. However, he's also been held to fewer than 260 yards in each of those contests. Without the numbers at my disposal, he probably sent Mike Evans over 200 air yards in the game against the Browns.  Many of those  passes were against a backup corner, yet Brady was unable to capitalize. Overall, Brady has a fairly difficult schedule coming up over the next few weeks. To project him for more than a touchdown per game will be difficult to do. Right now, he's probably best considered a matchup-based option in 12-team leagues. However, the one player on the Buccaneers we can count on is Chris Godwin. Even though he doesn't appear to have the explosiveness that he possessed before his knee injury, he's been heavily targeted and productive for the last month. In PPR leagues, he'l remain a top-20 WR option.
  • Amari Cooper has at least 94 yards in three of his last four games. On the season, he has at least 74 yards in six of his last nine contests. And now he'll go from Jacoby Brissett to Deshaun Watson at quarterback the rest of the way. Although it's possible that Watson is rusty after having been away from game action for a long time, if Watson's anywhere near the peak of his powers, Cooper could have amazing upside the rest of the way. If nothing else, the occasional games in which he disappeared with Brissett may not continue going forward. It's defensible to consider Cooper a top-12 receiver going forward. 
  • Josh Jacobs is having an incredible season. He certainly got fantasy managers nervous when he popped up on the injury report with a calf injury. And then the potential forecast for rain in Seattle made everyone even more nervous. But Jacobs was at full health against the Seahawks. Surprisingly, he had his best game of the season when he scored a walk-off 86-yard TD in OT. He's now posted at least 81 scrimmage yards in 10 of his last 11 games. He's also been carrying the ball at least 20 times in the majority of games since Week 4. He's become one of the highest-floor running backs in the league this year, and we've seen four games with massive ceiling. Even though he has a couple of difficult remaining matchups on the schedule, I'm going to struggle to place him outside of the top-8 running backs in any week going forward. 
  • One of the things that makes Derrick Henry special is that he has so many ways to pile up the fantasy points. From an NFL standpoint, he's been mostly shut down the last three weeks. During those games, he has 64  rushing attempts for 178 yards, which is obviously less than three yards per carry. But last week, in addition to rushing for a score, he threw for one as well. And then against the Bengals, he took a screen pass 70 yards. Unfortunately on the long catch, he fumbled on his way into the end zone, keeping him from an even bigger fantasy day. Although he doesn't have a difficult remaining schedule, we're seeing that defenses are more than willing to let Ryan Tannehill try to beat them. And they are unwilling to let Henry dominate the games. Even though he hasn't had any of his massive performances the last three weeks, I won't be the person to say that will continue. He could very easily go on a tear down the stretch, regardless of schedule. I'll find it hard to rank him outside the top-five running backs in any given week. 
  • It's difficult to know what to take away from Garrett Wilson's performance against the Bears. Chicago was down a starting cornerback and a safety and their secondary wasn't very good to start. They also have one of the worst pressure rates in the league, so Mike White was always going to have time to throw the ball. However, this is the third time in four games that Wilson's had at least 92 yards. He's clearly a superstar-level player. And as long as Zach Wilson isn't under center, it seems fair to view Garrett Wilson as a top-30 receiver with upside going forward. 
  • Explaining Jeff Wilson's weak fantasy performance is difficult. Now, he did leave the game for almost a quarter due to an undisclosed injury, and that helped limit him to just 13 rushing attempts. But aside from a long gain of nine yards, he was unable to find any room to run. He was facing a horrible run defense in the Texans. And obviously, Houston's biggest concern had to be Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. But somehow, Wilson looked like he was facing the greatest run defense in the league. Coming into this game, he was averaging 6.5 yards per carry since joining Miami. It's certainly possible that the Dolphins simply looked past the Texans despite racing out to a 30-point lead. Wilson should go back to being a top-20 running back the rest of the way as long as his undisclosed injury isn't an issue. 
  • It took Khalil Herbert missing time to finally get solid results out of David Montgomery. After not posting 100 scrimmage yards since week 2, Montgomery has done so in each of the last two weeks. What's especially impressive is that he did it against an strong Jets defense this week. With New York not having to respect anything about the Chicago passing attack, they knew they'd be seeing a heavy dose of Montgomery, but the running back still got the job done. With Herbert set to miss at least two more weeks, we should be able to pencil Montgomery in as a top-18 option until he's back in a shared backfield.
  • Russell Wilson was unable to throw for even 150 yards against the Panthers. Fortunately, Courtland Sutton was still able to get it done for fantasy. Although he trailed Kendall Hinton in targets, 9-8,  Sutton's 75 yards were 40 more than any other receiver on the team. As usual, he was targeted in the red zone, but unfortunately, it didn't result in a score. Even though Jerry Jeudy will likely return at some point in the near future, Sutton should still be viewed as a top-40 receiver each week due to his role in the offense.
  • James Conner finally got an easy match up. Facing the Chargers has been a dream for opposing running backs all year. Not only did Conner go over 100 yards on the ground, but he scored for the third game in a row. With the Arizona backfield almost all to himself, usage won't be a problem going forward. Between his rushing volume and work in the receiving game, he can safely be started as a top-18 running back almost every week. 
  • DJ Moore topped 100 yards while scoring a touchdown with Sam Darnold at quarterback. It was interesting that he had a very challenging matchup against the Denver cornerbacks but came through for fantasy. On his 53-yard reception, he was in single coverage with Patrick Surtain. But Darnold threw a perfect pass that beat the coverage for the big play.  When Moore scored his TD, he simply got ahead of the defense, leaving an easy throw for his QB. It's been a very disappointing season for the star receiver. And it's also difficult to project him to have big games with such poor play at quarterback. He's one of the highest variance players in the league. As long as fantasy managers understand that he can give you as few as three points in a game, you can start him knowing he has the ability for the occasional big performance.
  • The back-and-forth of the Washington backfield continues. Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson have taken turns leading in snap share and touches over the last few weeks. This was clearly Robinson's week. Of course, it may well have been a hot-hand situation. Robinson was clearly on fire today with Gibson not being quite as effective. Robinson went over 100 yards on the ground. But his biggest accomplishment was catching a TD pass. He's rarely used as a receiver, so it was a great bonus for his fantasy managers. This backfield will be hard to project the rest of the way. Although the remaining schedule against the run is favorable, many of the opponents could choose to sell out and stop the rushing attack and force Taylor Heinicke to beat them through the air. Regardless, both of these running backs get enough usage to be top-30 options in most weeks. But good luck figuring out which one has the weekly upside. 
  • Justin Herbert is simply amazing.  He has very poor pass blocking. His weapons definitely lack a vertical element. Yet, Herbert  often finds a way to overcome difficult odds. Despite having to punt multiple times in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were able to get the ball back inside the 50-yard-line with less than two minutes left. Herbert even had to overcome a holding penalty after the team got into the red zone. But he calmly led the team to what appeared to be a game-tying score. Of course, coach Brandon Staley decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. And Herbert didn't disappoint. He calmly found Gerald Everett in the middle of the field for the game-winning score. Herbert ended up with 274 yards and three touchdowns. In a season in which we've had much mediocrity from fantasy quarterbacks, Herbert typically provides an excellent scoring floor. I just can't wait until he gets some weapons at some point in the future, and we can rank him as the overall QB2 going into a season.
  • Most of the leagues I play in don't use kickers. And although I'm very happy about that, I know many do play in leagues that include them. I just thought that Justin Tucker deserves a few lines in this article. Although he did miss the game-winning field goal against the Jaguars, it clearly had nothing to do with him. He was lined up for a 67-yard attempt. Of course the kick was perfectly straight. But unfortunately, he ended up just a little bit short. I can't say I would ever miss any kicker, but I'm pretty sure that I'll miss Tucker whenever he decides to hang his cleats up.

Injuries

  • Although he was designated as probable to return at halftime, Travis Etienne left the game in the first quarter with a foot injury and didn't return.
  • Michael Carter sprained his ankle and was unable to return to the game. 
  • Elijah Mitchell suffered a knee injury and didn't return to action.
  • Darnell Mooney injured his leg and didn't return.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Coventry
Coventry covers football for RotoWire. He started playing fantasy football in 1994 and won a national contest in 1996. He also nabbed five top-50 finishes in national contests from 2008 to 2012 before turning his attention to DFS. A published author, Coventry wrote a book about relationships, "The Secret of Life", in 2013.
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