Week 12 Loves and Hates: Thanksgiving Feast or Famine
Closing time — open all the doors into the fantasy football playoffs? In Week 12, maybe be the last regular season week for your 2020 fantasy football season, it’s decision time for your lineups or maybe you need a much-needed win and need some advice on a trade? Welcome to this week’s loves and hate. I will review my picks for Week 11 then give you the rundown of the best and worst value players across each skill position in the Week 12 scheme.
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Week 11 Review
My Week 11 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for me in parentheses.
Quarterback (A very sad A; get well soon, Joe.)
My, my, how the turntables. With Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston both as options for Sean Payton to turn to after 11 fractures to future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees, I thought that the Saints would keep the legend of Hill as the Swiss Army knife of the team and start 30/30, Jameis Winston, at quarterback.
Instead, Payton left fantasy owners and Saints fans dangling until close to Sunday and eventually ended up starting Taysom Hill. My love pick of Jameis Winston took 0 snaps and didn’t get a chance to show off what he could do against the soft Atlanta secondary.
Notably, Taysom Hill did have himself a solid day at quarterback and if you play on a platform that has either tight end or wide receiver as an eligible position for Hill in Week 11, you feasted. We won’t be counting the love pick as part of the grade.
Thanks for all the love. Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year✊
— Joey Burrow (@JoeyB) November 22, 2020
My hate pick of Joe Burrow is one that breaks my heart to mention, so we’ll give you the news and move on with a solemn undertone. Coming into the matchup, I mentioned that as a team, Washington had sacked the quarterback a top 5 number of times on the season and the infamous Cincinnati offensive line had allowed the second-most.
Indeed, the Football Team’s defense was all over Joe Burrow early. The #1 overall pick in the 2020 draft threw for 203 yards and a touchdown and carried the ball twice for 12 yards, but was sacked 4 times and fumbled the ball before he was rocked in the third quarter with what turned out to be a season-ending injury. Brandon Allen will take over under center for the Bengals in Week 12. The fantasy lesson here is to stop sleeping on the pressure stats of Washington’s defense. Meanwhile, prayers up for a speedy recovery from Burreaux. Cincinnati, get this man an offensive line. Please.
Running Back (C+)
The Carolina Panthers didn’t know who was starting at quarterback for them until Sunday morning. Then, they announced Teddy Bridgewater as active. Then, they changed their mind in warmups and the XFL stud P.J. Walker got his first NFL start. Regardless, we placed some trust in our love pick of Mike Davis to take advantage of the Detroit Lions run defense.
Davis got a season-high in carries with 19 but wasn’t supremely efficient, rushing for a total of 64 yards and making two catches on two targets for 15 yards. Luckily, a touchdown made him a solid fantasy start and a top 10 PPR running back in Week 11. The lack of an explosion from Davis against a bad run defense is concerning if P.J. Walker gets another start, but the volume was there. Davis received 73% of the snaps in Week 11, good for fifth most amongst running backs on the week, and he was the fourth-best PFF running back of Week 11.
My running back hate of the week has been a strange experience. Given the talent of Kenyan Drake, there was no doubt he was going to be the starter for Arizona after the return to injury. While Chase Edmonds still takes up Drake’s PPR value due to his ability in the receiving game, Drake has been inconsistent with efficiency and only been among the good fantasy football plays at running back in the three games in which he scored a touchdown, coming into Week 11. However, in Week 11, despite a low snap count and low efficiency in carries, he provided some surprise value in the receiving game and used one of his carries to find the end zone, redeeming himself in the PPR scene.
Here is another look at the Cardinals backfield duo on Thursday Night Football, in numbers.
|Kenyan Drake||46%||11 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD||4 catches (5 targets), 31 yards|
|Chase Edmonds||56%||2 carries, 13 yards||4 catches (4 targets), 36 yards, 1 TD|
* personal season-highs in bold
It is noteworthy that Drake, who lost a fumble in Week 10, also almost slipped up at the goal line on his touchdown carry, but the score stood as he had crossed the chalk before the ball got loose.
Wide Receiver (A-)
Our wide receiver love pick of Antonio Brown has been, almost silently, heating up. A look at his targets with Tom Brady at quarterback influenced the pick and on Monday Night Football, the duo put that connection on display. Brown led the team on the week in targets, receptions, and receiving yards and has upped the target and catch numbers in each of his weeks on the Bucs offense so far. The one issue — Brown has still not scored a touchdown. Instead, Brady threw a touchdown to Chris Godwin and a pass to the 7-yard-line to Mike Evans that resulted in a grown man touchdown.
Brown’s true breakout might be coming very soon when he finds the end zone but in Week 11, it was all about the short passes with heavy usage, making him close to irrelevant in standard scoring but an excellent FLEX or WR3 play in PPR scoring.
On the other hand, our love pick of Jerry Jeudy surprisingly got Drew Lock to throw to him despite the injury concerns that caused Brett Rypien to prepare as the starter. Yet, Xavien Howard matchup-targeting worked yet again. Despite getting 8 targets (tied for the team lead with Tim Patrick), fairly consistent with his recent usage, Jeudy was only able to haul in 3 catches for a total of 37 receiving yards, his second-lowest in a game in his rookie season. He did not find the end zone and was thus one of the worst plays across all formats at the wide receiver position.
Tight End (B+)
Despite correctly picking him as a hate in Week 10, we showed Dallas Goedert his respect as a tight end in the Philadelphia offense. Indeed, Carson Wentz had another rough day but still allowed his tight ends to produce a bit, throwing a touchdown to Richard Rodgers and a touchdown to Dallas Goedert. While owners of Goedert definitely felt some pain with Rodgers getting an end zone appearance instead of their Philly tight end, Goedert’s final line was still solid and he was the best value pickup in dailies at his position Week 11. He finished the rainy day in Cleveland with 5 catches on 6 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown and was the PPR TE4 of the week (behind Kelce, Waller, and Andrews). Geodert remains to be a tight end you want to own with his high target share, especially if Zach Ertz is still not healthy enough to play.
On the other hand, our hate pick of Hunter Henry also put up decent numbers and made exactly four catches for the fourth straight game. Against the New York Jets, his four catches on seven targets totaled 48 yards, all numbers that have been fairly stable for him throughout 2020. He also managed to score a touchdown for the third time this season, putting him in the top 10 at the position in Week 11. Hating Henry was a miss.
Week 12 Loves & Hates
We’ve had a couple of fails and some really impressive weeks, but most importantly we’re learning lessons headed to the final stretch. Let’s clutch up for your most important weeks of the season, shall we?
Week 12 Quarterbacks
Love: Derek Carr (NO)
The hype around Derek Carr from his supporters since he entered the league has been so obnoxious that his production has turned into a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” situation. It is 2020 and Derek Carr has been so solid that at this point, he is underrated. He has the fifth-best passer rating, second-best interception rate (only Mahomes better), fifth-best completion rate, and fourth-best adjusted net yards per pass attempt among qualified quarterbacks on the season.
And now we get to pick on the Atlanta Falcons defense one more time. The worst quarterback fantasy defense in the NFL in 2020 won’t have much to say about Darren Waller and the receiving crew. Nelson Agholor is tied with Tyreek Hill for most touchdowns on deep passes (5) and Henry Ruggs III, as a rookie, has the third-highest average depth of target against all wide receivers in 2020 with at least 10 receptions.
Hate: Carson Wentz (PHI)
On paper, the Seattle Seahawks and their embarrassing secondary may seem like the perfect opportunity to unleash the talent of Carson Wentz and let him have a solid game for once. In a week with no byes, I am claiming there are several safer and higher-upside bets.
Highest rate of negatively graded plays:
▪️ Carson Wentz
▪️ Drew Lock
▪️ Ben Roethlisberger
▪️ Baker Mayfield pic.twitter.com/90pSBfGPcG
— PFF (@PFF) November 25, 2020
Through 11 weeks, Carson Wentz leads the NFL in interceptions with 14 and has fumbled the ball 4 times. Despite the breakout of Travis Fulgham catching some eyes and the possible return of Zach Ertz to the offensive mix, the floor of Wentz is rock-bottom. As I have repeatedly mentioned in this segment, Wentz loves to target tight ends; in fact, both his touchdowns in Week 11 were to two distinct tight ends. While the Seahawks secondary is purely abysmal to tolerate, they have actually held tight ends somewhat in check this season — their 31 receptions given up to tight ends is tied for the lowest by any team.
Additionally, if there’s something the Seahawks have done decently this season defensively, it is pressure the quarterback, especially with the recent addition of Carlos Dunlap. Their 25 sacks is tied for 11th in the NFL and their 106 quarterback pressures are third-most in the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles are the most sacked team in the NFL and part of Carson Wentz’s failure this season has been due to the fact that he is one of the lowest-rated starting quarterbacks in the NFL when under pressure, per PFF.
Week 12 Running Backs
Love: James White (NE)
It’s no secret that the Patriots need help on offense to make a run late in the season and try not to end their impressive streak of playoff appearances. While Jakobi Meyers has emerged as a talented receiver and Damiere Byrd had himself a nice game in Week 11, the New England Patriot I want you to focus on as an RB2 or FLEX play this week is James White.
The Patriots backfield has long been notorious to be a roller-coaster situation for fantasy owners and it hasn’t gotten all that much easier in 2020 with the amount that the Patriots run with their quarterback, Cam Newton. After Rex Burkhead’s season was deemed complete due to a torn ACL, the Week 12 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals now sets up a window of opportunity for James White to get to work, especially in PPR formats.
Despite the loss of Burkhead, the Patriots might be getting back their young backfield workhorse Sony Michel. However, with how inconsistent he has been at efficiently running the ball over the last couple of years, there is no guarantee that he will take up a significant workload in his first game back against a decent rushing defense. What the Cardinals have to mainly contend with is the explosive talent of Damien Harris and the dual threat of James White out of the backfield and as a short-field receiver.
— WEEI (@WEEI) November 23, 2020
The upside in this duo lies in the guy that has had a light workload most of the season but received a 57% snap share in Week 11, when Rex Burkhead went down. While Harris continues to be efficient running the football, the Patriots haven’t been all that comfortable giving him consistent work. After receiving a season-high 56% of the snaps and carrying the ball 22 times in Week 10, he only got half the carries in Week 11 and gave up most of the work to James White.
With the Patriots in good position to likely play from behind against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals, expect the Patriots to be more dynamic than just traditional RPOs. Cam Newton is going to have to utilize the extra man out of the backfield in the receiving game and make those checkdown passes to chip away at a possible deficit. If you are deep at running back, start Damien Harris for the upside but in a daily, go with the upside of James White, who has been one of the league’s most consistent pass-catching backs over the last few years when given snaps.
Hate: Melvin Gordon (DEN)
After not scoring in three straight weeks, Melvin Gordon went crazy in Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins, rushing at a season-high 5.6 yards per carry and finding the end zone twice. He did lose a fumble but Gordon had a nice day of fantasy work. Yet, it’s no reason to overreact. In his last three games, his snap share has gone down gradually from 59% to 56% to 50%.
Against the second best running back fantasy defense in the NFL, Melvin Gordon isn’t going to find things so easy vs. the New Orleans Saints. With Taysom Hill impressing in his starting debut and Drew Lock still playing through some nagging injuries, the Broncos should expect to play in trouble early and possibly from behind for a majority of the game.
Combine this with the emergence of Phillip Lindsay as a solid runner in Week 11 (16 carries for 82 yards) and you have yourself a chance at a rock-bottom floor for Melvin Gordon, who just isn’t going to be worth the cost in a daily lineup and will probably yield to better options in a week with no byes.
Week 12 Wide Receivers
Love: Steven Sims Jr. (WSH)
In what will prove to be a pivotal Thanksgiving matchup between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys, who will prevail? The tough defense of Washington or the now-warming-up offensive talent of the Dallas Cowboys? Luckily, what you fantasy managers have to worry about is who you might want to pick up in a last-minute Thanksgiving daily lineup tilt — here’s a sleeper if I’ve ever seen one: Steven Sims Jr.
Terry McLaurin is listed as questionable but the expectation is that he’ll play Thursday. Also, no guarantee that Deshazor Everett, already ruled out Thursday, returns next week. But there’s clearly time.
— John Keim (@john_keim) November 26, 2020
With the Washington offense set to be revolved around the backfield due of bell cow Antonio Gibson and dual threat J.D. McKissic, who will take part in the receiving game the most? Of course, Terry McLaurin’s talent must be the #1 priority for a Cowboys defense that started the season at a historically poor rate but has started making some more timely plays recently. But with McLaurin listed on the injury report as questionable, the situation starts becoming a tad spicy and it starts with the heavily-targeted tight end Logan Thomas. But whether or not McLaurin is still able to start on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys have allowed the second-most PPR fantasy points to wide receivers and the immediate beneficiaries turn out to be Steven Sims Jr. and Cam Sims. Between the two, I’ll take Steven Sims Jr. for the floor of opportunity, especially in PPR leagues.
In the last two games, Steven Sims Jr. has made 8 receptions on 9 targets and scored a touchdown. Cam Sims has also had a knack for the big play this season but in less bulk, so if McLaurin ends up banged up (with or without the start), go ahead and snag the cheap Sims Jr. with upside.
Hate: Christian Kirk (ARI)
Perhaps the most entertaining cornerback-wide receiver matchup in line for our Thanksgiving week slate is in this game — DeAndre Hopkins vs. Stephon Gilmore. While the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year remains one of the game’s best over the last few years in terms of catch rate and depth of targets, Hopkins is a legend who has proven he can overcome a matchup or two.
The X-factor for the New England defense despite their team struggles? It’s been J.C. Jackson, who is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with 6. Perhaps the best team CB2 in the NFL, Jackson has flustered opponents even in games where Gilmore was out and he had to take the lead role.
The impending matchup since Gilmore gets to have some fun shadowing Hopkins for a full game? Jackson gets a shot at Hopkins’ supporting crew, led by Christian Kirk. While Kirk has amended his fantasy performance on the year by connecting with Kyler Murray more on the deep ball, it is noteworthy that Murray is still not completely out of the woods with his shoulder concern. Letting Kirk flourish in this tough matchup will be no easy task and if the Cardinals go up early as mentioned above, Kirk might be completely taken out of the fantasy picture.
Week 12 Tight Ends
Love: Hunter Henry (LAC)
The Buffalo Bills have given up more receptions and receiving yards to tight ends than anybody in football. Coming off a bye week, expect the offense to be fresh and taking advantage of a tiresome defense, forcing Justin Herbert to play from behind early on. Henry’s targets haven’t suffered in such games, despite the presence of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams so all he needs is a touchdown to be one of the top fantasy plays of the week. The Bills seem like a good chance to make it happen and Henry will cost you barely more than most of the mid-tier low-floor options in a daily lineup.
Hate: Jonnu Smith (TEN)
On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Colts placed former Pro Bowler defensive tackle DeForest Buckner on the COVID-19 list, a huge blow in a possible playoff preview against the Tennessee Titans. If unable to play on Sunday, the Titans have opened up more doors for Derrick Henry to run wild. Tack on a Phillip Rivers toe injury that kept him out of practice and the Titans could be up early in the game, making the need for Jonnu Smith slim.
Smith has been a top 5 PPR tight end this season but not because of insane volume — he is outside the top 10 in targets to a tight end and has been touchdown-dependent for fantasy production. The Colts have allowed only 1 touchdown to a tight end this season and are the third-best fantasy defense against tight ends in 2020. No need to be content with starting Jonnu Smith in Week 12.
‘Tis officially the best time of the year to find some steals on the waiver wire, pick up some cheapies in dailies, and cash out in this holiday week. Good luck and stay safe celebrating those fantasy dubs!
If you like Ahaan’s Week 12 Loves and Hates, you’ll definitely want to check out the rest of our Week 12 Fantasy Football analysis.
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