Week 12 Rankings & Game Flowbotics A-to-Z
Thanksgiving does a great job of disrupting the world of fantasy football content. Facing three games on Thursday plus obligations with friends and family over the long weekend, I’ve decided to combine my weekly rankings and Game Flowbotics A-to-Z pieces into a single turducken-esque monstrosity.
If all you want are the Week 12 rankings, jump to the end of the article. It’s not like I can stop you from skipping the main course and going straight to pie. But if you want be a polite guest at the TwoQBs table, please enjoy at least some of the dishes leading up to the rankings. Most important is the centerpiece for our Turkey Day slate, the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet:
If you need a primer on the Flowbotics spreadsheet, check out last week’s rankings article. Enough setting the table, though. Let the alphabetical feast of food takes and fantasy observations for Week 12 begin!
A is for Avoid Appetizers.
Leave the cheese, crackers, and crudites to amateur gluttons while you save room for the actual meal and dessert. While you’re at it, take a similar approach with your fantasy rosters. Now that byes are finished, you should have your weekly lineups planned out for the rest of the season based on your best players’ schedules. Appetizer-type players who don’t project for startable weeks are cut candidates, especially if you can pick up players who figure to start for you in an upcoming week (including team defenses).
B is for Beneficial Blocking.
Good blocking makes quarterbacks better, and Case Keenum is reaping the rewards of Minnsota’s second-ranked offensive line in Adjusted Sack Rate. In Week 11, the Vikings were able to subdue Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams’ pass rush, so they shouldn’t have much trouble handling Detroit’s 15th-ranked defensive line on Thursday morning. Keenum remains startable in two-quarterback formats.
C is for Cheating and Combining.
A short week calls for shortcuts. Deal with it.
D-E is for Dead End.
That’s what the Eagles have been for opposing running backs this season. Philadelphia ranks fifth in rushing defense DVOA, first in defensive Adjusted Line Yards, and eighth against running backs as receivers. Their prolific offense doesn’t do opposing running backs any favors with game script , either. All in all, this feels like a very risky week for Jordan Howard, especially with his usage dipping to only 15 carries in each of his past two games while Mitchell Trubisky’s passing responsibilities have increased.
F is for Field Roast.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian/vegan meat substitute for your Thanksgiving feast, I recommend the Field Roast brand. This is not a paid advertisement, and I’m not trying to stir up some sort of anti-meat agenda. The spirit of Thanksgiving is bringing people together, and I’m simply stumping for the meatless entrees I enjoy most just in case some reader out there is struggling to find tasty options for the herbivores at his or her table.
G is for Gravy.
Stuffing is my favorite Thanksgiving dish (more on that later), but gravy is the meal’s magic potion. Thanksgiving dinner without gravy is like the Jacksonville Jaguars, loaded with potential, but missing that one key ingredient — a competent quarterback — to bind everything together.
H is for Healthy Hogs.
Washington’s offensive line is healthy again, and it should come as no surprise to see their offense back on track. As 7.5-point favorites against the Giants on Thursday, we should expect a comfortable victory for Washington, and that bodes well for Samaje Perine. New York ranks 25th in run defense DVOA, and Perine finally looked comfortable in Week 11, rushing 23 times for 117 yards and a touchdown. If he can add some receiving work to his repertoire, look out.
I is for Inman.
Dontrelle Inman figures to stay busy this week as the Bears try to keep pace with the Eagles. Philadelphia ranks seventh in DVOA against number one wide receivers, but they still give up a lot of volume to the position (10.4 passes per game compared to a league average of 7.9). Considering his low cost of $3500 in DraftKings’ PPR format, Inman is a nice floor option to open up more salary for studs.
J is for Just Throw It To Larry.
That strategy won’t continue to work against Jacksonville this weekend. If Blaine Gabbert and the Cardinals’ offense is going to have any success, they’ll need to get weapons other than Larry Fitzgerald involved. The Jags rank first in DVOA against top receivers, allowing 23.4 yards per game less than average on 0.4 targets per game above average. Holy inefficiency! The best ways to attack Jacksonville have been on the ground and with tight ends. I don’t want to use any part of the Cardinals offense in this matchup, but Adrian Peterson, Jermaine Gresham, and the out-of-nowhere Ricky Seals-Jones project for the least defensive resistance versus the Jaguars.
K is for Kenny Stills.
Not only does Stills’ target volume tend to go up when Matt Moore plays, the Patriots tend to create more work for number three wide receivers on their own. They allow two extra targets per game above the NFL average to third options, so look for Stills to stay involved in a big way. With that said, look also for Bill Belichick to take away the deep pass against Miami because big plays are the easiest ways for lesser teams like the Dolphins to hang around against the Patriots’ top-notch offense.
L is for Lynch vs. Lynch.
Marshawn Lynch faces a Denver defense best attacked by quickness from the running back position. If the Raiders are honest with themselves, they’ll disregard their depth chart in this game and use Jalen Richard and/or DeAndre Washington more than Lynch. On the other side of the ball, Paxton Lynch faces the league’s worst pass defense according to DVOA. Oakland has only allowed the 12th-most fantasy point to opposing quarterbacks, but passers have topped 24 fantasy points against them in three of their past four games. Yes, that list includes Tom Brady, but it also includes Alex Smith and Jay Cutler. Believe it or not, Paxton Lynch is a valid streaming candidate in this matchup.
M is for Move in on Morris.
As Ben Gretch discussed on this week’s 2QB Experience podcast, Alfred Morris has been extremely efficient since taking over for the suspended Ezekiel Elliott. This week’s matchup against the Chargers really lines up well for Morris. The Bolts are good against the pass (7th in pass defense DVOA, 7th in defensive adjusted sack rate), but poor against the run (27th in run defense DVOA, 26th in defensive adjusted line yards). For the Cowboys to take advantage running the ball, they’ll need a decent game script, which isn’t guaranteed against L.A.’s sixth-ranked passing offense. One area of the matchup the Cowboys can leverage to help their game flow is special teams. They rank sixth in special teams DVOA and the Chargers rank dead last. If Dallas can win the field position battle and keep the game close, Morris should have a big day.
N is for Nathan Peterman.
He’s back to the sidelines for Week 12 in favor of Tyrod Taylor, at least to start the game. Thanks for coming to your senses, Sean McDermott, even if only temporarily.
O is for Overrated.
In no particular order: parades, Derek Carr, green bean casserole, A Christmas Story, the Broncos’ pass defense, Black Friday, cranberry sauce.
P is for Pie Power Rankings.
Let’s be real, all pie is amazing, but specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday, my list looks like this:
- Apple – Versatility to be served warm or cold edges it past pumpkin. Bonus points for crumb topping.
- Pumpkin – Traditional and delicious. Try it with a gingersnap crust.
- Pecan – Higher variance with this pie than others, like a boom/bust wideout.
- Blackberry/Olallieberry/Boysenberry – Underrated, no matter what you call it.
- Cherry – Tasty, but doesn’t evoke the same autumnal nostalgia for me as the classics above.
Q-R is for Quit Running.
When the Dolphins are inevitably forced to abandon the run as they try to keep up with New England’s offense, I’m curious to see which Miami running back benefits most. Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake have been used pretty evenly. Drake has a slight advantage in snap share over the past few weeks, but Williams has more touches and more fantasy production. Against a good team like the Patriots, I put more stock into Williams because he seems more trusted by his team, but let’s not lose sight of this blurb’s lede. The Dolphins probably won’t have much opportunity to run the ball in this game, so I’d stay away from both Miami rushers unless you’re okay chasing a garbage time PPR floor.
S is for Stuffing.
You know stuffing is the best of Thanksgiving’s classic offerings because it doesn’t require gravy to be good. Mashed potatoes without gravy? More like meh-shed potatoes. Turkey without gravy? Extremely boring at best, inedible at worst. Stuffing without gravy? Still fantastic, sign me up!
T is for Thank You.
I’m thankful for a lot, including each and every one of you reading this. Fantasy is ultimately a silly endeavor, which makes your support for TwoQBs all the more appreciated. You choose to spend your precious time with us when you don’t necessarily have to, and that means a lot. In return, it’s our pleasure to serve you with the best quarterback-centric fantasy analysis possible each and every week.
U is for Underrated.
In no particular order: Seth DeValve, sweet potato pie (and sweet potato dishes in general), Minnesota’s offensive line, Thanksgiving weekend movie marathons on cable, cornbread.
V-W is for Very Wide.
Like the range of outcomes for Russell Shepard. Curtis Samuel is out for the year, leaving Shepard and Kaelin Clay to jockey for WR2 and WR3 positioning in Carolina. Clay joined the Panthers midseason, so I’m banking on Shepard’s continuity in the offense to lead to more targets. Within his range out outcomes, I fall on the optimistic side of things this week. The Jets allow 1.2 catches and 11.6 yards per game above NFL averages to number two wideouts. Devin Funchess, Christian McCaffrey, and (eventually) Greg Olsen should be the pillars of Cam Newton’s target distribution, but I like Shepard as a cheap option in deeper leagues and DFS.
X-Y-Z is for Close Your Zipper.
Not on Thanksgiving, though. Unbutton, unzip, and give your overstuffed stomach some room to roam. Happy Turkey Day, turkeys.
Editor’s Note: DVOA, Adjusted Line Yards, Adjusted Sack Rate, and Versus-Receiver statistics from FootballOutsiders.com. Fantasy Scoring and Red Zone statistics from FantasyData.com. Snap data from airyards.com.
Week 12 Rankings
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