Thumbs Up of the Week: Derek Carr (@ ATL)
As expected, Las Vegas opened up the passing attack last week against the Chiefs, and that should continue on Sunday against an Atlanta defense allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Especially if the Falcons are able to keep up, Carr will again be an excellent streaming option as he operates one of the league’s most efficient passing attacks.
Thumbs Up: Taysom Hill (@ DEN)
Hill is a weekly QB1 for as long as he remains the starter because of his rushing upside, so those upset about him losing eligibility at tight end should hold onto him anyway. The Broncos are a tougher matchup than they appear to be on paper (middle-of-the-road in terms of fantasy points allowed), but Hill should only be better with a full game at quarterback under his belt.
Thumbs Up: Philip Rivers (v TEN)
While he didn’t put up big-time numbers from a fantasy perspective with 16.3 points against the Titans a couple of weeks ago, Rivers threw for 308 yards and a score—with his second touchdown of the night being overturned just inches short of the goal line. Indianapolis has scored 34 points in back-to-back weeks, and Rivers should at least be a strong QB2 play if he can have more luck finding the end zone.
Thumbs Up: Alex Smith (@ DAL)
Washington was able to keep the ball on the ground last week in a 20-9 victory over Cincinnati, but the Thanksgiving matchup in Dallas could be more of a back-and-forth game, and Smith has shown a good connection with his wideouts when given time in the pocket. It’d be great to see the veteran go off on the national stage, and the Cowboys just allowed Kirk Cousins to throw for 314 yards and three scores last week.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Lamar Jackson (@ PIT)
Jackson completed just 46.4% of his passes and turned it over four times in the first meeting against Pittsburgh this year, and the passing attack hasn’t gotten much better since then with 201.7 yards per game and just three touchdowns over the past three weeks. We know the rushing upside will always be there for Jackson, but he moves just out of QB1 territory for me with no byes in Week 12.
Thumbs Down: Ryan Tannehill (@ IND)
Some plays were left on the field, but Tannehill is another quarterback that struggled in his first matchup against a division rival earlier this month—throwing for just 147 yards and one touchdown versus Indy. Now, the Titans will head to the road where they’d ideally like to keep the ball on the ground, so Tannehill may be very dependent on big plays and/or rushing production to produce. I have him outside the top 20 at quarterback.
Thumbs Down: Ben Roethlisberger (v BAL)
The first game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore was somewhat high-scoring (28-24), but I think we could see even more of a slugfest on Sunday, and Roethlisberger has averaged below 6.0 yards per attempt in each of the past three matchups with his top rival. I’d rather play someone in a better matchup (and more upside) such as Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, or even Carson Wentz.
Thumbs Down: Aaron Rodgers (v CHI)
He remains a top-ten play at quarterback, but Rodgers will face a Chicago defense on Sunday night that a) is coming off the bye, and b) limited him to 203 passing yards in both matchups last year. Through ten games, the Bears have allowed more than 18+ fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks just once; it might not be a bad idea to bench Rodgers if you have options.
Thumbs Up of the Week: D’Andre Swift (v HOU)
Assuming he clears the concussion protocol by tomorrow, Swift is a guy that fantasy owners rightfully shouldn’t waste time getting back in lineups, and I would have him as an RB1 for a tremendous matchup versus Houston. Over his past two games, Swift has rushed 29 times for 145 yards (5.0 YPC) and gone for an 8/101/1 receiving line on ten targets.
Thumbs Up: Ronald Jones II (v KC)
Although the Tampa Bay backfield continues to frustrate, I am optimistic that the talent of Jones II will help him re-emerge, and the Bucs can’t waste any time making that happen with a 7-4 record heading into a huge game against Kansas City. Overall, the Chiefs have played well on defense for the most part, but they are ceding the seventh-most rushing yards per game (133.4) and the eighth-most yards per carry (4.6) in football.
Thumbs Up: Nyheim Hines (v TEN)
It was great to see Indy finally feature Jonathan Taylor last week, but the game plan in the previous win over Tennessee was using a lot of shotgun runs—which clearly favors Hines. Both the rookie starter and dynamic backup can be low-end RB2/FLEX options with Jordan Wilkins (11% snaps played last week) falling more and more out of the rotation in recent games.
Thumbs Up: Gus Edwards (@ PIT)
Again, Ravens-Steelers could be more of a slugfest than the previous game, and that would be right in Edwards’ wheelhouse as a north-south runner that can produce in difficult matchups with enough volume. Back in Week 8, Edwards rushed 16 times for 87 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh, and I feel good about him as an RB2 play with J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram both out.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (@ TB)
Edwards-Helaire climbing back into the 15-touch range after the bye is very encouraging for his rest-of-season outlook, but for this week, I’d temper expectations some against the Bucs. Despite having the receiving ability to be a difference-maker out of the backfield, Kansas City simply hasn’t allowed CEH to show it, and Tampa Bay has the NFL’s best run defense in terms of both yards per game (73.0) and yards per carry (3.2) allowed.
Thumbs Down: Melvin Gordon (v NO)
The second best run defense in the league belongs to New Orleans (74.0 yards per game allowed), so Gordon—despite 84 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in Week 11—gets a significant downgrade due to the matchup. Furthermore, it was actually Phillip Lindsay (16 carries for 82 yards) that led the backfield in touches against Miami, and I doubt Denver is able to play from ahead again with the Saints coming to town.
Thumbs Down: Darrell Henderson (v SF)
Henderson remains the starter in Los Angeles, but he turned ten touches into just nine scoreless yards on Monday night, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if rookie Cam Akers eventually gets the nod after scoring his first career touchdown. In general, the Rams project to remain a fast-paced, pass-heavy offense, so you’ll probably need a score out of Henderson for him to return RB2 value.
Thumbs Down: 49ers RBs (@ LAR)
It’s unclear who might be healthy out of Raheem Mostert (ankle), Tevin Coleman (knee), Jerick McKinnon (stinger), and Jeff Wilson (ankle) at this point in the week, but the matchup isn’t great against a fired-up LA defense, and I wouldn’t feel overly confident about any of them. The overall shape of San Francisco’s offense/team could lead to them falling behind on the road and being unable to establish much on the ground.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Will Fuller (@ DET)
Fuller gets some difficult matchups down the stretch, but first will be a home-run spot against Detroit, who has allowed big games to speedsters Terry McLaurin (7/95) and D.J. Moore (7/127) over the past two weeks. With Randall Cobb (toe) and Kenny Stills (quad) both out, Fuller should be fed targets on Thanksgiving, and I have him as a top-eight play with major upside.
Thumbs Up: Allen Robinson (@ GB)
Receivers facing Jaire Alexander often make an appearance in the “Thumbs Down” section, but the bye week will hopefully make Robinson a priority for Chicago—particularly in scoring territory where he should be the clear No. 1 option. Last year, Robinson saw 13.5 targets per game against Green Bay and went over 100 yards in both meetings. I have him as a low-end WR1 with talent/opportunity outweighing the matchup.
Thumbs Up: Nelson Agholor (@ ATL)
Agholor has alternated big games and quiet games over the past month, but the playing time has been stable, and a matchup against the Falcons should allow him to break the trend. Even with no bye weeks and some players getting healthy around the league, I have Agholor as a top-35 option, and he brings plenty of upside for a potential shootout.
Thumbs Up: Antonio Brown (v KC)
While we haven’t seen a monster game out of Brown since making his Tampa Bay debut, he has been a significant factor (26 targets through three weeks), and Tom Brady clearly wants to keep him happy. In a game with the highest over/under of the week (56), AB could have a throwback performance against a familiar AFC opponent with the Bucs trying to get back on track offensively.
Others: Michael Pittman Jr. (v TEN), Olamide Zaccheaus (v LV)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Tyler Lockett (@ PHI)
Benching Lockett probably isn’t something you’d be able to consider, but he’s been very quiet against the Eagles throughout his career (39.0 yards per game and one touchdown in four matchups, including playoffs)—which could mean the up-and-down fantasy production will lean towards the floor on Monday night. For me, Lockett is more of a volatile WR2.
Thumbs Down: Cooper Kupp (v SF)
Kupp has similarly struggled against this week’s opponent, as San Francisco has limited him to 13 receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown in four career meetings (including three receptions for 11 scoreless yards back in Week 6). There is a chance the quick-strike approach for Sean McVay’s offense will lead to more success, but Kupp needs to be downgraded in a crucial week for many trying to make a playoff push.
Thumbs Down: Travis Fulgham (v SEA)
After a season-long pace of 93/1,392/13 in five games to start his Philly career, Fulgham has completely crashed back to Earth over the past two weeks—catching two-of-12 targets for 16 scoreless yards. Seattle being the NFL’s worst pass defense suddenly doesn’t look as promising after they limited DeAndre Hopkins last week, and they might get top corner Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) back on Monday night. Fulgham is nothing more than a flier in Week 12.
Thumbs Down: Mike Williams (@ BUF)
Williams’ production remains a challenge to predict, but he could see a lot of Tre’Davious White on the outside this week, and in general, Buffalo’s pass defense could have some things figured out coming off the bye. In two career matchups against Sean McDermott’s defense, Williams has averaged 32.5 yards per game.
Others: Christian Kirk (@ NE), Marquise Brown (@ PIT)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jordan Akins (@ DET)
Keke Coutee will see an expanded role with the injuries for Houston knocking out their No. 3 and No. 4 receivers, but Akins should as well, and he is coming off a game in which he caught five-of-six targets for 83 yards. The third-year tight end—who opened the year in the starting lineup before missing multiple games with a concussion—is a player that could become more and more of a factor down the stretch.
Thumbs Up: Will Dissly (@ PHI)
Dissly only has one touchdown in ten games this year after starting his career with six scores over his first ten games, but the opportunity is now there in Seattle with Greg Olsen (foot) out. It’s worth noting that Dissly is averaging a very healthy 9.6 yards per target in 2020, and the Eagles have had all kinds of issues in coverage for him to possibly get free for an easy trip to the end zone.
Thumbs Up: Jack Doyle (v TEN)
Although a couple of quiet games have been sprinkled in, Doyle has lately exceeded expectations in matchups with Tennessee—catching at least six passes in five of their past seven meetings (with three touchdowns over that span). Full PPR leagues in particular can look to Doyle as a decent flier after he played 54% of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 11.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jonnu Smith (@ IND)
Smith was saved by a short rushing touchdown in the first game versus Indy, but he caught just two passes for 14 yards, and the CBS broadcast last week suggested the team wants to continue having a role for Anthony Firkser (five targets) at tight end. Despite some issues in recent weeks, the Colts are still allowing just 7.3 fantasy points per game to the position.
Thumbs Down: Jared Cook (@ DEN)
A stretch of four touchdowns in five games had Cook back on the TE1 map, but he’s been targeted just six times with 36 scoreless yards over the past three weeks, and New Orleans hasn’t needed to get him involved in “easy” wins during that stretch. More of the same could be true this Sunday in Denver, and most targets will likely be funneled to Michael Thomas for a new-look offense.
Thumbs Down: Irv Smith Jr. (v CAR)
Smith Jr. had a two-score game in Week 9, but he then missed Week 10 with a groin injury and returned to see just two targets last week in a 31-28 loss to Dallas. Assuming the Vikings will have Adam Thielen (reserve/COVID-19 list) cleared to suit up, the offense should continue running through him, Dalvin Cook, and Justin Jefferson.