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2020 Fantasy Football: Week 12 Wrapup

If I gave you a list of Week 12 lineups across redraft leagues and daily lineups way back in Week 1 and told you that those were the winning plays, you’d probably stare me down like Nick Young in that meme we all know and love. Yet, here we are—players are hurt, players are sick, games still happen, and some unlikely names are having an impact in shaping up your fantasy football playoffs.

Welcome to the Week 12 fantasy football wrapup, where quarterback-wide receiver stacks dominated, surprise tight ends twisted some matchups, and running back extremes decided fates. Any rankings mentioned will, as usual, not take into account matchups after Sunday night; i.e. prior to Monday Night Football (Seahawks-Eagles) and the currently-scheduled Tuesday Night Football (Ravens-Steelers). 

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Week 12 Fantasy Football Wrap-Up

Scorching Quarterback-Wide Receiver Connections

Some mid-tier quarterbacks have heated up near the end of the season to wake up for their fantasy owners and in some cases, played favorites with their pass-catching crew to skew the fantasy football rankings. Who put on a show in Week 12 to take over the headlines? 

Deshaun Watson & Will Fuller V (HOU)

On Thanksgiving afternoon, despite the Texans still missing out on starting running back David Johnson, some sloppy play from the Detroit Lions aided Houston in the possession battle and Deshaun Watson took advantage. Watson has been one of the best quarterbacks in football lately and his matchup against the soft Detroit defense was no different. 

Watson’s 25 pass attempts were a season-low but he was effective at converting the completions into big gains. He finished the day throwing 17/25 on passes for 317 yards and a season-time 4 touchdowns and a two-point conversion. 

His last two touchdowns were bombs to Will Fuller V for 40 yards and 34 yards. He also carried the ball 8 times for 24 yards and yet again, he did not turn the ball over. The Texans pass game’s next three matchups pose serious challenges as he is set to face the Colts, the Bears, and the Colts again. However, over the last 6 games, Watson has been nearly immaculate and he finished as the QB1 of Week 12

The late-game explosion made Will Fuller V the biggest beneficiary of the Texans’ slaughter. He finished the day catching 6 of his 7 targets for 171 yards and it was his first multi-touchdown game of the season. Fuller finished as the PPR WR2 of Week 12

Baker Mayfield & Jarvis Landry (CLE)

Since the injury of Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 7, Jarvis Landry has taken over the role as the #1 receiving option on the Cleveland Browns but his targets have been inconsistent and in a run-first offense, his numbers haven’t proved that he is the go-to guy in Cleveland. In Week 12 against the incompetent pass defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars, however, the Browns needed someone to step up in the pass game to move to 8-3 on the season and Landry was that dude, finally scoring his first touchdown of the season. He hauled in a season-high 8 catches for a season-high 143 yards on 11 targets (tied for a season-high). Landry finished as the PPR WR3 of Week 12

Landry’s performance carried the fantasy relevance of Baker Mayfield, who last threw a touchdown pass in Week 7 when he found the end zone 5 times. Mayfield ended Week 12 going 19/29 on passes for 258 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. He finished as the QB8 of Week 12

Mitchell Trubisky & Allen Robinson (CHI)

On Sunday Night Football, a hip injury to Nick Foles meant that the Chicago Bears turned to their young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky

Trubisky had a solid fantasy performance in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, throwing for 3 touchdowns and not turning the ball over. However, in Weeks 2 and 3, he turned the ball over 3 times and was subsequently benched. In his return under center as the starter, he again faced turnover issues against the well-respected defense of the Green Bay Packers, throwing 2 interceptions and committing 1 fumble.

However, with the Packers offense having no issues at home behind the continued dominance of Aaron Rodgers, the Bears entered garbage time quickly and Trubisky got the job done for fantasy owners late in the game. He finished the night going 26/46 on passes for 242 yards with 3 touchdowns and was the QB6 of Week 12, as I correctly called on one of my pre-Sunday bold takes (tweet below after the running back segment). 

The biggest pass-catching beneficiary turned out to be the top-tier talent of Allen Robinson, who scored multiple touchdowns for the first time this season. He caught 8 of his 13 targets for 74 yards and his two scores made him the PPR WR4 of Week 12.

In Week 13, the Bears will face the team that allowed Trubisky’s top-tier fantasy performance on Opening Week — the Detroit Lions.

Patrick Mahomes & Tyreek Hill (KC)

In the most anticipated matchup of the Sunday slate in Week 12, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs got off to about as fast of a start as they could imagine against Tom Brady and the highly touted Buccaneers defense. The biggest star of the show? The historic explosion of Tyreek Hill, who put up one the greatest performances in a game ever — in the first quarter. 

In the first half, Hill was challenging some all-time records in a game for a wide receiver and he finished the day with 13 catches on 15 targets for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. His reception total and yardage were both season-highs and it should be no surprise that he was the WR1 of Week 12 in all formats. The Buccaneers came out with a straight-forward plan on defense—”let Tyreek Hill beat us one-on-one.” Mahomes and Hill obliged and did just, connecting through deep passes on go routes as they often do. 

Notably, the Buccaneers were able to force Patrick Mahomes to do something he rarely does—fumble the ball. Despite committing his first fumble (and only his third turnover) this season, Mahomes threw for 462 yards with three TDs on 37/49 passing and 28 rushing yards to make him the QB2 of Week 12.

Extreme Running Backs

Week 12 was a plateful of extremes for running backs, from explosions to acts of disappearance. But which of these headline running backs should you be most concerned with for fantasy purposes? Here are the highlights at the running back position. 

Adrian Peterson & Kerryon Johnson (DET)

With rookie running back D’Andre Swift out for a second straight game due to a concussion, the already-messy fantasy situation of the Detroit backfield became an eye-roller on Thanksgiving afternoon. Adrian Peterson got the start and in the first half, he pulled his inner Jordan Howard by carrying the ball 8 times for only 6 rushing yards.

The catch? He scored twice in the first half alone, making him one of the smartest deep RB plays of the week. Here is how the backfield duo shaped out to end the matchup against the weak Texans run defense. 

Snap share Rushing Receiving
Adrian Peterson 27% 15 carries, 55 yards, 2 TD 0 catches (0 targets)
Kerryon Johnson 48% 11 attempts, 46 yards, 1 fumble 4 catches (4 targets), 52 yards

* personal season-highs in bold

Neither member of the Swift backup club is poised to be an attractive start going forward, even if Swift’s health remains to be in question. The Lions face the elite Chicago Bears run defense in Week 13. 

Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)

It is no longer well-concealed that Ezekiel Elliott has had a rough season and has cost the Cowboys significant momentum swings and eventually games. For an elite-level talent, his performance has been disappointing regardless of the Cowboys’ situation at quarterback. To add to the gory scene, an already-beaten up offensive line saw two added early injuries in the first quarter, putting the Washington front 7 in positions to succeed, led by their first-round pick Chase Young

After a solid overall game in Week 10, Elliott was back to his lousy self and continued his fantasy uselessness since the Dak Prescott injury. He finished the game with 10 carries for 32 yards, 1 catch on 3 targets for 7 yards, and a brutal unforced fumble. In what ended up being a runaway second half in favor of the Washington Football Team, Elliott yielded some of his workload to Tony Pollard, who ended up taking part in a season-high 37% of the snap share

Elliott now leads the NFL in fumbles lost by a running back and half of his career’s fumbles lost have come in 2020. Set to face four straight above average rushing defenses in the NFL, the rest-of-season outlook for Elliott looks bleak with the situation surrounding him showing no signs of improvement in the near future. 

Antonio Gibson (WSH)

On the other sideline in Dallas, the Washington 2020 draftee Antonio Gibson feasted at the expense of the Cowboys’ porous rushing defense. 

Washington came in with the plan of running the football down the Cowboys’ throats; especially with Terry McLaurin coming into the game a little banged up, the first-half game plan was clearly centered around their rookie Gibson and it worked to perfection. Here is how the Washington tripod backfield ended the Thanksgiving afternoon game. 

Snap share Rushing Receiving
Antonio Gibson 65% 20 carries, 115 yards, 3 TD 5 catches (7 targets), 21 yards
J.D. McKissic 39% 1 carry, 6 yards 2 catches (2 targets), 21 yards
Peyton Barber 25% 11 carries, 57 yards 0 catches (0 targets)

* personal season-highs in bold

Gibson finished as the PPR RB2 of Week 12. The Cowboys face the intriguing run situation of the Baltimore Ravens, who might still be without Lamar Jackson in Week 13. 

Austin Ekeler (LAC)

After missing over 6 weeks with a hamstring injury, Austin Ekeler came back to the Los Angeles Chargers to lead their backfield. With Kalen Ballage out due to an ankle/calf issue, Ekeler was set to have a majority of the touches; the only question would be whether Anthony Lynn would consider easing his star back into a full workload.

Indeed, pulling his inner Christian McCaffrey in the receiving game, Ekeler was immediately a fantasy stud, especially in PPR formats. Here is how the two-headed monster of the Chargers backfield fared in Ekeler’s return. 

Snap share Rushing Receiving
Austin Ekeler 73% 14 carries, 44 yards 11 catches (16 targets), 85 yards
Joshua Kelley 24% 7 carries, 35 yards, 1 TD 0 catches (0 targets)

* personal season-highs in bold

Ekeler finished as the PPR RB8 of Week 12, despite not finding the end zone.

James White & Damien Harris (NE)

With Rex Burkhead set to miss the remainder of the season for the confusing conundrum called the New England Patriots, I named James White as my love pick at running back this week. I called out the role that the veteran can play in the Patriots’ offense that lacks in the run game and pass game. Indeed, White did not disappoint and took up all the fantasy-relevant action in the backfield of the New England Patriots, who took down the favored Arizona Cardinals. Here is how their duo shaped out in the Week 12 nail-biter. 

Snap share Rushing Receiving
James White 37% 5 carries, 18 yards, 2 TD 1 catch (1 target), -1 yards
Damien Harris 65% 14 carries, 47 yards 0 catches (0 targets)

* personal season-highs in bold

Sony Michel was also active and checked into the game for some snaps but did not get a touch. White’s two touchdowns were his first two scores of the season. The Patriots are set to face an exploitable Los Angeles Chargers run defense in Week 13 but James White’s role shouldn’t dissipate immediately as the Patriots still need help in the short receiving game. 

Derrick Henry (TEN)

If you haven’t already gotten the memo, Derrick Henry is dangerous. For a fourth straight week and the seventh time on the season, he broke triple digits on yardage. In the absence of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner for the Indianapolis Colts, Henry ran wild, tallying 185 scrimmage yards on 29 touches and scoring 3 touchdowns, on his way to becoming the PPR RB1 of Week 12. Henry and Trubisky teamed up to make me look like a prophet on one of my hot takes of the week. 

Surprise Tight Ends

Which sneaky tight ends names surprised some fantasy owners across leagues and headlined their position? Here are the guys who deserved a special mention for their performance on Week 12 Sunday. 

Robert Tonyan (GB)

With Tyreek Hill taking over the fantasy football headlines by joining the history books, he did just enough for Travis Kelce to not be the best fantasy tight end of the week. Instead, it was the legend of Robert Tonyan that was the PPR TE1 of Week 12. Tonyan caught all 5 of his targets for 67 yards and scored a touchdown. It was his seventh touchdown of the season and he has now found the end zone in back-to-back games. 

Tonyan’s targets have been fairly steady and he remains mostly touchdown-dependent to be a great fantasy play at tight end but in Week 13, he faces a Philadelphia Eagles tight end defense that tends to keep that door wide open.

Mike Gesicki (MIA)

While Gesicki, who has faded over the course of the Tua Tagovailoa era, hasn’t been one of the most sought-after tight end plays in fantasy football recently, he was good enough to be the PPR TE10 of the week, close to our bold prediction of top 5. 

What’s of note is that his connection with Ryan Fitzpatrick has produced all 3 of his touchdowns of 2020. He finished the game with exactly 5 targets for the third straight game and he caught 2 of them for 35 yards, one of which was in the end zone. Gesicki is now averaging 45.1 yards in games started by Fitzpatrick this season and if Tagovailoa is not ready in Week 13, Gesicki remains a viable option against the lackluster defense of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Trey Burton (IND)

Indianapolis Colts tight ends have had a habit of visiting the fantasy headlines in 2020, and in Week 12 Trey Burton was the man again. While Burton doesn’t get the snap count exposure of the star pass-catching tight ends of our game, he still drew 6 targets (tied for a season-high) and made 3 catches for a total of 42 yards, and scored his third receiving (and fifth total) touchdown of the season. He was the PPR TE9 of Week 12 and cannot be ignored as a starting option in fantasy lineups against the incapable passing defense of the Houston Texans in Week 13. 

We are officially entering elimination mode in most leagues, whether or not the official playoffs are underway. Who will be the biggest impact player in the final stretch of 2020?

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