Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 12: Start Joshua Palmer, Rachaad White; Sit Aaron Rodgers, Darnell Mooney
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images. Pictured: Joshua Palmer.
A number of shocking things have happened over the first 11 weeks of the season, and setting fantasy lineups might be a serious chore with the sheer number of injuries and befuddling situations.
Whether you're 11-0 and cruising toward the playoffs or 0-11 and playing to avoid a last-place punishment, stay diligent on the waiver wire, send trade offers and make savvy start/sit decisions. There's way too much football left to get complacent or give up.
As a gentle reminder, there are no teams on bye this week.
Below are some players at each position you should start in Week 12, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Week 12 Start 'Em
Quarterback to Start
Geno Smith, Seahawks (vs. Raiders)
Smith was solid the last time we saw him (Week 10 against Tampa Bay). He completed 23-of-33 attempts for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and rushed four times for 22 yards (QB11).
It was Smith's third game in a row finishing as a top-13 quarterback, and sixth time this year. He will be fresh coming off bye to face the Raiders, whose defense ranks last (by a significant margin) in pass DVOA. Las Vegas has allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks and has been torched by pretty much everyone, except for Russell Wilson last week. Smith is a locked-in QB1 in this dreamy matchup.
Wide Receivers to Start
Joshua Palmer, Chargers (at Cardinals)
Palmer has been the beneficiary of the constant absences of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. He shined in Week 11 against the Chiefs — with Williams exiting the game early — and caught 8-of-10 targets for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He finished as the WR3 in half-PPR scoring in what was by far his best game of the year.
Palmer has been serviceable as a WR3 or better in five of nine games, and with Williams ruled out for Sunday's game, it looks like he will be the WR1 or 2 alongside Allen against the Cardinals.
Arizona's defense is below average and ranks 22nd in pass DVOA, making Palmer a fringe WR2 with upside.
Garrett Wilson, Jets (vs. Bears)
Garrett Wilson was a dud in Week 11 in Foxboro, primarily because of Zach Wilson. He hauled in two of Zach Wilson's nine completions for a grand total of 12 yards and finished as the WR81 in half-PPR scoring.
The good news? The Jets made a change at quarterback, naming Mike White the starter against the Bears. The matchup is also fantastic, as Chicago has been highly exploitable (30th in pass defense DVOA). Wilson should be considered a WR3/flex with upside.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals (at Titans)
Even with Ja'Marr Chase sidelined, Boyd was relatively quiet in the Bengals' Week 11 shootout against the Steelers. He caught 2-of-7 targets for 42 yards and finished as the WR53 in half PPR.
Tee Higgins stole the show with nine catches on 13 targets for 148 yards, while Samaje Perine had a monster day himself with three touchdowns.
In spite of this, I like Boyd's chances of bouncing back in Tennessee. Chase is still sidelined, and the Titans have allowed the third most fantasy points to wide receivers and the third most passing yards. The opportunity and matchup should boost Boyd into the WR3/flex tier.
Running Backs to Start
Miles Sanders, Eagles (vs. Packers)
Sanders had a hot start to the year and was the RB15 in half PPR on a per-game basis through the first nine weeks. He has since cooled off — as has the entire Eagles offense — with RB39 and RB38 in back-to-back weeks, respectively.
I love Sanders' odds to explode against the Packers, whose defense ranks 29th in rush DVOA and has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to running backs. Sanders is a locked-in RB2 with sky-high upside in this favorable contest.
Rachaad White, Buccaneers (at Browns)
White was phenomenal in Week 10 against the Seahawks. He rushed 22 times for 105 yards and finished as the RB20, while Leonard Fournette was held to 14 carries for 57 yards. White also out-snapped Fournette 48 to 22, due partially to the fact Fournette was banged up with a hip injury.
The Buccaneers have listed Fournette as doubtful, which makes White a locked-in RB2 with RB1 upside. If both miraculously play, White would still be a RB3 in a juicy matchup against the Browns, who rank second-to-last in fantasy points allowed to running backs and last in rush DVOA.
Samaje Perine, Bengals (at Titans)
Perine had by far his best game of the year in Pittsburgh. He rushed 11 times for 30 yards and caught four passes for 52 yards and three touchdowns, finishing as the RB2 in half-PPR scoring.
Perine's usage was higher than usual with Joe Mixon going down with a concussion. Mixon has already been ruled out for Week 12, which elevates Perine into a workhorse role.
The matchup is not ideal against the Titans as they rank first in rush DVOA, but the volume and opportunity vaults Perine into RB3/flex consideration.
Tight Ends to Start
Foster Moreau, Raiders (at Seahawks)
Moreau was predictably a dud against Denver's fourth-ranked pass defense (per DVOA). He caught 1-of-3 targets for 33 yards and finished as the TE20 in half-PPR scoring.
In the week prior, however, Moreau caught 3-of-4 targets for 43 yards and a touchdown and was the TE5. With Darren Waller still out, he is the TE1 against the Seahawks, whose defense has been particularly terrible against tight ends — they are last in fantasy points allowed to the position this year. Moreau should be regarded as a top-12 play in Week 12.
Defense to Start
Colts D/ST (vs. Steelers)
The Colts defense has been middle-of-the-road this season for fantasy. Their unit is the DST19 on a per-game basis, but has had its moments of fantasy relevance. They recorded two fumble recoveries, three sacks and held the Eagles to 17 points in Week 11 to finish as the DST11.
I like their odds to finish top 12 this week against the Steelers, who are tied for the fourth most interceptions and have scored the fifth fewest points per game this year.
Week 12 Sit 'Em
Quarterback to Sit
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (at Eagles)
Rodgers has been on a fantasy upswing after a rather slow start. The four-time MVP has finished as a top-13 quarterback or better in four of the last five games; he was the QB13 last week against the Titans.
However, I am wary of starting him against the Eagles, whose defense ranks top three in pass DVOA and has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Rodgers is also playing with a broken right thumb — an injury he suffered against the Giants in Week 5, which certainly explains some of his mediocre production. He is a QB2 in this difficult matchup.
Wide Receivers to Sit
D.J. Moore, Panthers (vs. Broncos)
Moore has been wretched of late amid the Panthers' ongoing quarterback woes. He had no chemistry with Baker Mayfield and caught 3-of-5 targets for 24 yards in Baltimore, finishing as the WR62 in half PPR.
Things may improve slightly with the Panthers making the switch to Sam Darnold, though how much is to be determined. I predict Darnold and Moore will both struggle against the Broncos, whose defense has been incredibly stingy all year, allowing a NFL-low 14.7 points per game.
Denver ranks top four in pass DVOA and has allowed the second fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, which will likely render Moore unstartable in Week 12.
Darnell Mooney, Bears (at Jets)
Mooney has made quite the rebound after a very slow start to the year (as has this entire Bears passing attack). He has now finished as a WR3 or better in five of the last eight games, and was solid against the Falcons in Week 11.
Mooney and company will face an opponent on the polar-opposite end of the spectrum in Week 12 — the Jets rank fifth in pass DVOA and have allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Mooney would likely be shadowed by standout rookie cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, who ranks No. 1 at the position according to Pro Football Focus.
To make matters worse, the Bears may have to roll with backup quarterback Trevor Siemian if Justin Fields can't play due to a separated shoulder. Fields is officially listed as questionable, though even if he plays, I would be wary of trusting anyone on this Bears offense. Mooney is a risky WR3/4 with a nonexistent floor.
Diontae Johnson, Steelers (at Colts)
Johnson was a non-factor in the Steelers' loss to the Bengals. He caught 4-of-5 targets for 21 yards, while rookie George Pickens caught 4-of-6 for 83 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Pat Freiermuth also hauled in 8-of-12 targets for 79 yards.
I wish I could say that was an anomaly, but the reality is this: Johnson has not finished as a WR2 or better once all year and has not recorded double-digit fantasy points since Week 3 against the Browns.
His targets have been dropping amid Pickens' emergence, and the gap between Pickens' and Johnson's snaps is closing quickly. He edged out Pickens by a count of 70 to 63 in Week 11 and could definitely struggle against the Colts defense, which has allowed the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Johnson is nothing more than a low-upside WR4 in Week 12.
Running Backs to Sit
D'Onta Foreman, Panthers (vs. Broncos)
Foreman has been boom-or-bust since Christian McCaffrey was traded to San Francisco. Over the last five games, Foreman has finished as the RB14 or better three times in half-PPR scoring. The other two weeks, he accrued 45 total scrimmage yards and was the RB42 and RB48.
Foreman's role remains game-script dependent, and while this could be a relatively close game, I do not like any Carolina players in this tough matchup.
The Broncos have allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points to running backs and the ninth fewest rushing yards per game (102.6). Foreman is a risky RB3 in Week 12.
A.J. Dillon, Packers (at Eagles)
Dillon has been downright awful this year, save Week 1 when he found the end zone. Since then, the Packers' RB2 has failed to score a touchdown or record double-digit fantasy points.
He has not finished inside the top 24 once in the last ten weeks and is coming off his worst game of the year. Dillon rushed six times for 13 yards and caught a pass for 10 yards against the Titans' No. 1 run defense.
Even in a matchup against the Eagles' No. 26 run defense, I cannot fathom starting Dillon, who is looking like a major fantasy bust.
Kareem Hunt, Browns (vs. Buccaneers)
Hunt was actually the team's best rusher in Week 11 against the Bills' stout run defense. He recorded five carries for 32 yards, while Nick Chubb was held to 14 carries for 19 yards. He finished as the RB32 in half PPR in another lackluster fantasy performance.
Hunt's involvement in the passing game has been minimal this year. The Browns' RB2 is averaging a career-low 2.2 catches and 14.9 receiving yards per game. Things might improve once Deshaun Watson takes the field for the first time in Week 13, but I would definitely sit Hunt against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the third fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Tight End to Sit
Juwan Johnson, Saints (at 49ers)
Johnson has been shockingly good of late. Since Week 7, he is the TE3 in half-PPR scoring behind only Travis Kelce and Cole Kmet. He has scored five touchdowns in that five-game span and has finished as a top-eight tight end in all but one game.
Johnson could end up being a valuable fantasy asset this year, though I am wary of rolling him out against the 49ers. San Francisco ranks sixth-best in fantasy points allowed to tight ends and top nine in pass DVOA. I expect this to be a low-scoring affair and for Johnson to finish outside the top 12.
Defense to Sit
Buccaneers D/ST (at Browns)
Expectations were high for the Buccaneers defense after DST7 finishes in back-to-back seasons. So far, they have only finished as a top-12 unit four times and once in the last five games.
They fall squarely outside of my top 12 against the Browns, who are averaging the fourth most offensive yards per game (377.9) and are a bottom nine matchup for fantasy purposes.