Week 12 delivered many highs and lows for fantasy owners and our fantasy team of James Morris and Jon Cope recap the action while also taking a look at several players that might be able to help your team in Week 13.
Winners (by James Morris)
Tony Romo – QB Cowboys: STOP THE PRESSES, a Tony Romo sighting has been reported! Romo tried to lead the Cowboys in a 2nd half comeback and finished with 441 yards passing, 3 TDs and a 2-Point conversion. He finished with 31 points in NFL.com scoring, and that is good enough to rank him #3 this week at QB.
Andy Dalton – QB Bengals: Dalton is by far one of the more underrated QBs in all fantasy football. He finished this week ranked #5 at QB thanks to his 210 passing yards and 3 TDs. Every single week I have people asking if they should start Dalton and I have to ask why they would ask considering that he is doing better than the guy they are considering starting over him. Dalton is a legit QB1 in all fantasy formats.
Chad Henne – QB Jaguars: Henne finished with QB1 stats just as I said he would (261 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT), but did you listen? I’m not a fan of the Jaguars offense as a whole, but the Titans defense is extremely generous. Next week he faces a Bills defense that gives up the 7th most fantasy points to QBs at 22.2 PPG, so don’t cut him loose just yet.
Shane Vereen – RB Patriots: Vereen is proof that flashy stats don’t mean as much as NFL fans would like them to. The little owned RB (23.4 percent owned in NFL.com leagues) finished with 91yards receiving on 2 catches, 42 yards rushing and a TD, which happens to be good enough for the #2 ranking for fantasy RBs in NFL.com PPR scoring.
Reggie Bush – RB Dolphins: Bush gave fantasy owners who have stuck with him a reason to smile this week as he finished with 87 yards rushing and a TD. Bush was a hot commodity during the first half of the season, but had his owners worried with his production before this one. Hopefully this game will mark the re-emergence of Bush into the offense and he will contribute in the fantasy playoffs like we need him to.
Cecil Shorts – WR Jaguars: Shorts has been nothing short of stunning following the Jaguars week 6 bye, racking up 28 catches, 542 yards receiving and 4 TDs (including this week). This week he finished with 4 catches for 105 yards and a TD. Shorts isn’t going to get a ton of catches, but the yards and frequent TDs make him a must-own player (23.8 percent owned in NFL.com leagues) while he is hot.
Davone Bess – WR Dolphins: Bess quietly put up WR1 numbers this week in NFL.com PPR leagues with his 7 receptions for 129 yards. Bess has much more value in PPR leagues, but he has put together a string of solid games and should be looked at as a flex play going forward if the stats hold out.
Mohamed Sanu – WR Bengals: Sanu is someone that Bengals fans have been keeping an eye on since training camp, and this week may have been his coming out party. He finished with 5 catches for just 29 yards, but the 2 TDs made him a fantasy stud. He isn’t going to catch multiple TDs each week, but maybe now Dalton will look his way a few more times each game. He is someone to keep an eye on as we head into the fantasy playoffs.
Charles Clay – TE Dolphins: The Dolphins TE is virtually unowned in all fantasy formats, but he overcame that and hauled in 6 passes for 84 yards and a TD this week. Those numbers were good enough for a #1 ranking for TEs in NFL.com PPR scoring formats, if you take into account that they have him listed as a RB and not a TE.
New England Patriots defense: The Patriots put on a good old fashioned thrashing on the helpless New York Jets on Thanksgiving Day. They held them to just 17 points while racking up 4 recovered fumbles, 2 sacks, an INT and 2 defensive touchdowns. All totaled they finished with 27 points in NFL.com scoring, and the #1 ranking for fantasy defenses in week 12.
Cleveland Browns defense: The Browns were the beneficiaries to the Steelers turnover clinic that was put on for all to see. In the end the Brown amassed 5 recovered fumbles, 3 INTs and a sack while allowing just 8 points on the day. If Batch is back under center next week, I would have no problems whatsoever putting the Ravens defense as a top tier fantasy defense.
St. Louis Rams defense: This was a weekend where we saw more than one largely unowned fantasy defense step up and put up huge numbers for the few owners willing to take a chance on them. The Rams did a number on the Cardinals and their rookie QB (Ryan Lindley) as they finished with 4 INTs, 2 sacks, 2 defensive TDs and 17 points allowed. All those defensive stats were enough to give their few owners (6.1 percent owned in NFL.com leagues) 25 points for week 12.
Losers (by James Morris)
Aaron Rodgers – QB Packers: As far as superstars go in the NFL, Rodgers tops the list. That makes it all the more shocking that he was only able to put up 219 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 INT. Rodgers finished the week ranked #21 for fantasy QBs in NFL.com leagues, scoring a modest 12 points. Chalk this one up to a bad game and try to forget about this as quickly as humanly possible.
Carson Palmer – QB Raiders: Palmer was a Sit ‘em player in my article last week, and he didn’t disappoint in his return the Cincinnati. He finished the day with just 146 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT and a lost fumble. Those stats (or lack thereof) landed him roughly 7 points in NFL.com scoring, and a bottom three ranking for fantasy QBs.
Jay Cutler – QB Bears: I warned you not to play Cutler, but did you listen? Cutler managed just 188 yards passing with a TD and a INT on that day. His return from a concussion was uneventful for fantasy owners and you will want to play him when the match-up is right, not as an every week starter.
Rashard Mendenhall – RB Steelers: I warned people via Twitter and Facebook all week long to not play a single Steelers player, and they made me look like the smartest man on Earth this week. Can you believe that all four of the Steelers RBs fumbled, and lost them, in this one? Mendenhall did the unthinkable and finished with 6 yards rushing and 1 lost fumble, resulting in an astounding -1.40 points in NFL.com leagues. I have a feeling the Steelers would rather run Ben Roethlisberger out there in a full body cast in week 13 rather than starting Charlie Batch again!
Ronnie Hillman – RB Broncos: When it came out that he would not be the starter I told everyone to get him out and put Knowshon Moreno in. Hillman didn’t log his first tough until the second half of the game, and he finished with 9 yards rushing on the day. I personally would cut bait here and grab Moreno if you can, but if not just hold onto him and see if the Broncos get him involved more going forward.
Minnesota Vikings WR corps: Yes, ALL of them! Once Percy Harvin was declared out, I said on Twitter and Facebook that the only Viking I felt comfortable playing was Adrian Peterson (108 yards rushing, 6 catches for 30 yards). I did recommend Kyle Rudolph (5 catches for 55 yards and a TD) on Sunday to the Facebook and Twitter followers who asked. Jerome Simpson accounted for a single catch for a single yard; Michael Jenkins reeled in 2 passes for 17 yards; and the most impressive Vikings receiver was Jarius Wright, who finished with 7 catches for 49 yards.
Mike Wallace – WR Steelers: The Steelers were doomed the second it was announced that Batch would be under center for this one. Wallace was only able to haul in one pass for 9 yards, and that is not what the 98.9 percent of NFL.com fantasy players who own Wallace want to see. Even though this wasn’t Wallace’s fault, stats are stats and Wallace didn’t put up many this weekend. I wouldn’t recommend playing any Steelers play until Big Ben is back and healthy enough to play without limitations.
Randall Cobb – WR Packers: Cobb was a victim of Rodgers off night, and was only able to finish with 4 catches for 39 yards and no TDs. Those numbers were bad enough to rank him #51 among fantasy WRs in week 12, not even good enough to be a flex player. Like Rodgers, there are better days ahead for the Packers offense.
Antonio Gates – TE Chargers: Despite the Chargers and Ravens going deep into overtime, Gates was only able to get 13 yards receiving on 2 catches. Philip Rivers finished with low-end QB2 stats (228 yards passing and 1 TD) and wasn’t worth playing as I predicted, and because of that Gates was too not worth playing. TE is an all-or-nothing fantasy position and even fantasy stud TE Jimmy Graham had a nothing kind of day (4 catches for 33 yards).
Houston Texans defense: The Texans have had one of the top fantasy defenses all season long, but the Lions figured them out on Thursday and made them finish as one of the worst fantasy defenses in the NFL this week. The Texans were able to get 3 sacks and a recovered fumble, but their 31 points allowed killed any hope of fantasy value and they put up just 4 fantasy points total this week.
Week 13 Waiver Wire (by Jon Cope)
Colin Kaepernick- QB, 49ers- (Owned in 10.2% of NFL.com leagues)- Kaepernick’s solid 2 touchdown performance in San Francisco’s win over the Saints should solidify his status as the 49ers signal-caller moving forward. Kaepernick’s mobility and arm-strength allow for him to excel in a 49ers offense that does have plenty of playmakers in Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and others. If you’ve lost a QB like Roethlisberger or Vick to injury, Kaepernick makes for a good pickup and start down the stretch.
Knowshon Moreno- RB, Broncos (Owned in 3.4% of NFL.com leagues)- days after yours truly and virtually every fantasy analyst out there recommended Ronnie Hillman as the Bronco running back to succeed the injured Willis McGahee, Denver head coach John Fox threw a curveball to fantasy owners and had Moreno assume lead-back duties. Moreno had over 100 yards of total offense on Sunday, and figures to be the beneficiary of a Peyton Manning led offense and a relatively soft closing schedule for Denver.
Bryce Brown- RB, Eagles (Owned in 5.2% of NFL.com leagues)- with Eagles running back LeSean McCoy struggling to get back to 100% health after a concussion, Brown figures to be the Eagles workhorse in the backfield for the Week 13 game against the Cowboys. With the Dallas defense now without their two leading tacklers, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, Brown should have room to roam at Cowboys Stadium as both a rusher and receiver. Brown has averaged 4.4 yards a carry in 2012, and should no longer be a secret after Monday Night’s game against the Panthers.
Davone Bess- WR, Dolphins (Owned in 3.3% of NFL.com leagues)- we’ve written about T.Y. Hilton and Danario Alexander in recent weeks, but if those two receivers are already owned in your league, I’d recommend Bess as a good WR3 for Week 13. Coming off a career-high 129 receiving yards on Sunday, Bess faces a Patriots defense that is ranked 29th in pass defense. In a game where there could be plenty of points scored, I’d expect Tannehill and Bess to hook up early and often in Week 13.
Buffalo Bills Defense/Special Teams (Owned in 7.3% of NFL.com leagues)- the Bills are a sleeper defense in Week 13 when they host the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills defense has played very well in its last two games, only allowing a single TD in each of the contests. The early forecast calls for cold rain on Sunday in Buffalo, and I could see the Bills defense capitalizing on the conditions and a Jaguars offense without Maurice Jones-Drew to post a big fantasy day.
Be sure to check back here on Wednesday for a Fantasy Q & A.
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