Every week you have to figure out which guys to start and sit in fantasy football. Terrence Kirker spends some time each week to give you five of his favorite non-elite players, as well as five guys you may want to consider benching. That doesn’t always cover the specific player vs. player dilemmas you may encounter, and while neither does our Fantasy Versus column, it at least starts to chip that away.
Let’s break down some of the toughest player vs. player situations for fantasy football in week 12, and whether or not you have this exact problem, hopefully it will at least shed some light on where you should stand with all of the fantasy options involved. As always, if you have specific fantasy lineup concerns, feel free to ask in the comments or hit us up on Twitter:
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns
Big Ben can be a total stud and we’ve seen before he also can be matchup proof. He also can tank, much like he did at home against the Bengals three weeks ago and this week he’s in Seattle against a still pretty good Seahawks defense. Sure, they got carved up by Carson Palmer, but that could be more of a fluke than a trend. On the flip side you have Josh McCown, who had regressed a bit and lost his starting job to Johnny Manziel. He’s back in the driver’s seat this week and he draws a lifeless Ravens defense that has gotten torched through the air with regularity. Normally this is an easy call and you ride Big Ben without thinking, but this week I think McCown might have the floor and also probably has the upside. He’s the easy call in DFS leagues, but even in standard leagues I’m rolling him out there over Roethlisberger.
Brian Hoyer, QB, Houston Texans vs. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
I don’t know if I’m more excited about an oddly solid Hoyer against an atrocious Saints secondary, or if I’m more alarmed over Ryan being a bit of a sack for the better part of the past five weeks. He’s certainly shown us he can still ball (two of past three games over 20 fantasy points), but I tend to fear his matchup against an angry Vikings defense this week. Ryan probably has the floor in this showdown, but given the matchup Hoyer easily has the floor. I’d consider Ryan in season long leagues, but Hoyer is the easy pick in DFS formats and I’m probably rolling with his upside everywhere else, too.
Alfred Blue, RB, Houston Texans vs. Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos
While the Saints have been horrid against the pass, they’ve also been a bottom-5 unit against running backs on the year. New England, meanwhile, has surprisingly been a top-5 unit against running backs. Both of these guys split touches with their backfield mates, but I think Blue is the pick. He ran hard in a tough matchup against the Jets last week and even scored while touching the ball a whopping 24 times. If he has that role again this week, you have to start him.
Javorious Allen, RB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
Buck Allen is going to be a trendy pick in DFS leagues so I might actually be off of him a bit. However, he’s grabby going up against a bad Browns defense, while Miller gets a brutal matchup with the Jets. Which to start, though, right? Well, I think we need to put his in perspective, as Cleveland has shown improvement against the run lately (6th best run defense vs. running backs over past four games), while the Jets have been just middle of the pack during that time. That’s pushing me off of an unproven talent in Allen and confiding in Miller this week.
Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets vs. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Man, did Amari Cooper leave us hanging last week. The stud rookie got completely stifled last week and caught just one pass for 11 yards. Yikes. Meanwhile, the solid but never elite Decker continued his killer run of “just decent” production. He didn’t score, but still hauled in four of 11 targets for 81 yards. Decker is without a doubt the safer, more reliable option right now, while Cooper probably has the tougher matchup but offers the upside. I think he’s hit a minor wall right now and am a little off of him this week. Obviously if you need points and want the upside, go with Cooper. But if you’re looking for guaranteed production, Decker is about as can’t miss as it gets. Decker is the guy I’ll be using in week 12.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Brandon LaFell, WR, New England Patriots
Hurns was a touchdown machine all year but last week we finally saw he’s not super human. He laid a major egg and now he’s not that must-start guy we thought he was. He’s been banged up, which explains most of his fall, but he also isn’t always insanely targeted – at least not as much as we’d like. His ultra efficient 2015 probably wasn’t ever going to be sustainable for the entire season, so his drop down actually should have been expected. Against a pretty stingy Chargers pass defense, I’m not sure we can bank on him suddenly lighting it up again. LaFell may be the pick just by default. With Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson all hurt, he’s going to see the ball come his way a ton. I still like Hurns enough, but LaFell would be my pick of the two this week.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers vs. Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
Gates came back with a burning fire in his belly and it looked like he was ready to crush for 12 games after missing the first four due to a suspension. The problem is, he’s old and got nicked up right away and since getting slowed by injuries he simply hasn’t been the same. Defenses are keying in on him now that he’s one of the Charger’s few remaining threats in the passing game, too, so he’s not nearly as reliable as he was once. The same can’t be said for Walker, who has turned into a total monster, cathing 6 or more balls in six of his last seven games. Oakland has gotten better at defending the tight end, but on the year they’ve still allowed 10 touchdowns to the position. I wouldn’t be shocked if Walker caught 5 balls and scored this week, making him the obvious pick here.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins vs. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks
I’m going to get a little cute here, as Jimmy Graham is not the star he was with the Saints and we all need to come to terms with it. He obviously still has the talent to go nuts in any game, but in fantasy football it’s often best to play the odds. Reed is the pick if we do that, since he has put up less than 10 fantasy points just twice ALL YEAR and one of the times he did it, he exited with an injury. He’s dealing with a mild knee sprain so we need to be sure he’s a full go, but otherwise his role is better than Graham’s and his matchup (Giants ranks 2nd to last against TEs on the year) is also superior. Graham doesn’t have a bad matchup at home, but he’s been pretty spare for four weeks now and hasn’t scored since week three. Yeah, I’m going with Reed.