By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It is Thanksgiving weekend. Many of you are likely finishing up work to catch a flight to meet up with family. Some of you are already home and enjoying time with friends and family. The last thing you want to read is some boring anecdote about my traditions or my experiences with family. You want to know who to start and sit this week to set your lineups in time for Thursday’s 12:30pm EST kickoff. Don’t worry folks, I got you.
This week is simple and to the point for your convenience. Below are my Confidence Plays for Week 12. To refresh what this column is, these are my confidence plays in a Start/Play/Bench format. “Start” represents your studs and numbers twos that will overachieve. Get them in your lineup, stat! “Play” represents some bench or FLEX plays that should outperform their draft position based on matchup. “Bench” presents your studs that you should temper expectations for or FLEX plays you should swap out with a bench player. And really, it’s based off my rankings. Check them out and use them as a guide!
QB Derek Carr & WR Amari Cooper (OAK) – Even against the Texans vaunted pass defense, Carr finished fifth in Skrip Club scoring amongst QBs and Cooper caught the go ahead touchdown. This week, the Raiders face the Panthers who allow the 6th most fantasy points to both QBs and WRs. ‘Tis the season for gift-giving.
RB Jay Ajayi (MIA) – Always play a running back facing the 49ers defense. Especially when they are a weekly top option. Ajayi fits both descriptions.
WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – I’m not as high on Carson Palmer this week because he just hasn’t produced this year the way many of us feel he should. But he’s at least getting Fitzgerald the ball to keep fantasy owners happy. The Cardinals get the Falcons this week and we know they give up yards to WRs — they allow the second most fantasy points to WRs. This weekend is a time to feast, and feast is what Fitz will do.
TE Greg Olsen (CAR) – Oakland has been better against tight ends this season, but really good TEs still destroy them. Hell, even mediocre ones do, as witnessed by the Texans’ C.J. Fiedorowicz going for over 14 points. Greg Olsen is the class of the TEs in fantasy and Cam Newton looks for him often. Expect high end TE1 numbers this week.
QB Marcus Mariota & WR Rishard Matthews (TEN) – Known more for their running game, the Titans have become efficient in all facets of their offensive game. Matthews has vaulted into the WR2 conversation and Mariota is consistently worth starting. The Bears defense does well against QBs but allow the most fantasy points to WRs this year. Mariota and Matthews should have solid days this week.
QB Carson Wentz & TE Zach Ertz (PHI) – The Packers defense has been decimated by injury. Ertz has started producing like we all thought he would in the preseason and Wentz is getting him the ball. Wentz is a great streaming option as the Packers have given up over 30 points to QBs in 3 of their last 4 weeks, and Ertz has scored more than 11 points three weeks in a row.
RB Thomas Rawls & WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) – Rawls took on a bigger role than expected in his first week back since Week 2, and he produced like 2015 Thomas Rawls. The Bucs defense has been worse than expected this season and with the way the Seahawks offense has played the last three weeks, I fully expect these two to have starter worthy numbers in Week 12.
RB Todd Gurley (LA) – Gurley scored a touchdown last week! That’s really the only reason he made this list. Well, that, and he plays the Saints this week. They allow the 6th most fantasy points to RBs this season, but have been very good the last 2 weeks, allowing less than 15 points. With Jared Goff taking over, Gurley needs to produce to help this offense go. I think he finds the end zone in back-to-back weeks.
QB Matt Ryan (ATL) – You’re probably not benching him, and I wouldn’t either, but I have him ranked 13th this week as he faces off against a Cardinals defense that limits fantasy QBs to the second fewest points. The only instances where they’ve allowed more than 20 points were to the 49ers in Weeks 5 and 10, where Blaine Gabbert and then Colin Kaepernick each contributed over 50 yards rushing and a touchdown, and I don’t see Matt Ryan channeling his inner Mike Vick anytime soon. Something tells me Ryan will have his hands full and it won’t be pretty for fantasy owners.
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND) – The Steelers play the pass well, 7th fewest fantasy points allowed to WRs, and QB Andrew Luck will miss this game after suffering a concussion last week. Just a recipe for disaster. Hard pass.
WR Tyrell Williams (SD) – He’s been great, stepping up in the absence of the injured Keenan Allen. But the Texans’ pass defense isn’t one to get cute against. You can likely afford to bench him and I would this week.
RB LeGarrette Blount (NE) – I’m playing with fire here, as Blount has been absolutely fantastic this season. But you beat the Jets by throwing deep and over the aging Darrelle Revis’ head. This will be a field day for the receiving corps and Tom Terrific.