Top NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Performers: Baker Mayfield and the Browns Look Dangerous, More
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baker Mayfield
- Check out the top fantasy football performers from Week 12 of the NFL season, including four high-scoring performances.
- Browns QB Baker Mayfield lit up his division rival Bengals with four passing touchdowns
- Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster tied a career-high with 13 receptions against the Broncos.
Before moving on to Week 13, let’s break down some key fantasy football performances from this Sunday’s action.
Sunday’s slate of games featured double-digit victories for the Patriots, Ravens, Buccaneers, Browns and Chargers, game-winning field goals from the Colts, Seahawks and Eagles, as well as a literal brawl in the Jaguars-Bills matchup.
The following four players were the brightest stars at their respective positions in Week 12.
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Fantasy Quarterback of the Day: Baker Mayfield
The Browns are rolling after winning back-to-back games for the first time since 2014 and Sunday’s 35-20 victory over the Bengals featured Mayfield’s best performance yet. The Browns’ franchise quarterback completed 19-of-26 passes (73% completion rate) for 258 yards (9.9 yards per attempt) and four touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Plenty of variables go into a quarterback’s performance, but Mayfield has objectively been playing much better since Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator in Week 9.
The only negative experience in fantasy has been Mayfield’s target distribution. Jarvis Landry (17), Duke Johnson (15), Antonio Callaway (12), David Njoku (11), Breshad Perriman (nine) and Rashard Higgins (eight) have at least eight targets over the Browns’ last three games.
Njoku in particularly took a step forward this week with five catches for 63 yards, including a ludicrous touchdown that featured the second year tight end’s out-of-this-world talent.
Next week’s road trip to Houston against the Texans’ third-ranked defense in overall DVOA should give us a better idea of just how good the Browns offense really is after their last three matchups came against the Bengals (27th in DVOA), Falcons (32nd) and Chiefs (26th).
Fantasy Running Back of the Day: Christian McCaffrey
The Seahawks defeated the Panthers 30-27 thanks to some late-game magic from Russell Wilson, but it was McCaffrey who stole the show. The former No. 8 overall pick converted 17 carries into 125 yards and caught all 11 of his targets for another 112 yards through the air — including two total touchdowns.
McCaffrey became just the ninth running back in the last 25 years to gain at least 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.
Perhaps McCaffrey’s big day wasn’t a coincidence considering nominal No. 1 receiver Devin Funchess (back) was sidelined. Cam Newton would ultimately feed his running back a team-high 11 targets, while D.J. Moore (nine) and Greg Olsen (four) were the only other Panthers with over two targets.
McCaffrey and company will look to keep rolling on offense with a tasty end-of-the-season slate featuring the Buccaneers (31st in DVOA), Browns (eighth), Saints (24th), Falcons (32nd) and the Saints again.
Fantasy Wide Receiver of the Day: Juju Smith-Schuster
The Steelers’ electric 22-year old receiver supplied the afternoon’s best highlight courtesy of an absurd 97-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Juju finished Sunday’s game with 13 catches for 189 yards, but the Broncos were still able to capture a 24-17 victory. Smith-Schuster’s combination of route-running ability and after-the-catch goodness makes him an ideal slot receiver in the modern NFL, and Ben Roethlisberger has fed him accordingly with at least eight targets in all but three games this season.
The Steelers’ No. 2 wide receiver has earned WR1 treatment in fantasy until further notice. Juju will look to continue to ball out in upcoming matchups vs. the Chargers, Raiders, Patriots, Saints and Bengals to end the season.
Fantasy Tight End of the Day: Zach Ertz
Ertz burned fantasy investors in Week 11 with a season-low 15 yards on just two receptions during the Eagles’ blowout loss to the Saints. Fantasy’s No. 1 tight end turned things in a big way against the Giants, as Ertz caught seven of his targets for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Carson Wentz fed Golden Tate eight targets, while Alshon Jeffery (three targets) and Nelson Agholor (one target) will assuredly be more involved in future weeks. Still, Ertz has scored 17 touchdowns in 34 career games with Wentz under center, and only Julio Jones, Adam Thielen, Odell Bekcham Jr. and Antonio Brown have more targets this season.
Ertz is set up well about as well as possible for the fantasy playoffs stretch-run:
- Week 13 vs. Redskins : Eighth in DraftKings PPG allowed to tight ends
- Week 14 vs. Cowboys: 25th
- Week 15 vs. Rams: 23rd
- Week 16 vs. Texans: 22nd
The Patriots are Starting to Get Healthy
Death, taxes and the Patriots putting it all together before beginning another playoff run. Sunday’s 27-13 victory over the Jets was far from a flawless performance, but it did demonstrate just how dangerous this offense can be at full strength.
- Tom Brady completed 20-of-31 (65% completion rate) passes for 283 yards (9.1 yards per attempt) and 2 TDs with 0 INTs
- Sony Michel converted 23 touches into 145 yards and a touchdown
- James White converted 10 touches into 78-scoreless yards
- Julian Edelman caught 4-of-5 targets for 84 yards and a TD
- Josh Gordon caught 5-of-5 targets for 70-scoreless yards
- Rob Gronkowski caught 3-of-7 targets for 56 yards and a Gronk smash
The Patriots have scored at least 25 points in seven of their past eight games. Even backups like Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and Rex Burkhead (neck, questionable for Week 13) offer playmaking ability that can potentially swing the outcome of a game in any given week.
The only thing working against the Patriots offense is Brady’s historical tendency to decline in December (per our NFL Trends tool):
The Ravens New Offense: Lamar Jackson and Gus “The Bus” Edwards
The Ravens are 2-0 in the Lamar Jackson era, although victories over the injury-riddled Bengals and tanking Raiders aren’t exactly ringing endorsements. Still, the defenses don’t exactly get much tougher moving forward with dates against the Falcons, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Chargers and Browns remaining.
Jackson has thrown 25 or fewer passes in each of his two starts, while Joe Flacco didn’t throw fewer than 34 passes in any of his nine starts to start the season.
This run-first approach has led to Jackson rushing 37 times for 190 yards and a score over the past two weeks, while new No. 1 back Gus “The Bus” Edwards has converted 40 rush attempts into 233 yards and a score.
The Ravens’ pass offense is still a work in progress with Jackson under center, but the team has managed to score 24-plus points in consecutive weeks after failing to do so even once in Weeks 5-9. Defending a dual-threat quarterback with the Jackson’s game-changing speed is far easier said than done.
Mike Evans Continues to Ball Out
The Buccaneers have had an up-and-down season consisting of multiple quarterback changes, but their No. 1 receiver has continued to make plays. Evans caught six of his eight targets for 116-scoreless yards during the Bucs’ 27-9 win over the 49ers, including a 42-yard reception at the hands of Richard Sherman.
Evans joins Randy Moss and A.J. Green as the only receivers in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first five seasons. James Winston’s favorite target has taken his game to another level in 2018, as Evans has already racked up 100-plus yards in a career-high six games.
6-foot-5 and 231-pound athletes with elite ball skills simply don’t fall off trees, and Evans has accordingly emerged as one of the league’s most-matchup proof receivers. He’ll have a chance to earn redemption against James Bradberry and the Panthers in Week 13 before facing Marshon Lattimore and the Saints at home in Week 14.
The Seahawks Keep Hanging Around
The Seahawks’ aforementioned last-second comeback victory was made possible by an incredibly clutch 43-yard connection from Wilson to Lockett with just 1:07 remaining in the game:
Lockett ultimately finished the day with five receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown. He’s continued to efficiently make the most out of his limited targets in the Seahawks’ run-first offense, as Wilson has largely kept each of his top three receivers heavily involved since Doug Baldwin returned to the field in Week 4.
- Baldwin: 35 receptions-366 yards-1 TD (45 targets)
- Tyler Lockett: 31-465-5 (37)
- David Moore: 22-413-5 (36)
Wilson has thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but one game this season. Consistency could continue to be hard to come by for his group of receivers, although Lockett has managed to score seven touchdowns in nine games this season.
The entire Seahawks passing game has an exploitable fantasy-playoffs schedule with two matchups against the 49ers in the next three weeks followed by a Week 16 home date against the Chiefs’ porous secondary.
Take a Bow, Philip Rivers
There was a point in the Chargers’ 45-10 victory over the Cardinals where it seemed like Rivers might never throw an incompletion again. When the dust settled, his 25-consecutive completions tied an NFL record.
Rivers wound up completing 28-of-29 passes (97% completion rate) for 259 yards (8.9 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns against a Cardinals defense that ranked fifth in pass DVOA entering the week.
Rivers was able to get all of his weapons involved Sunday, feeding Austin Ekeler (11 targets), Keenan Allen (seven), Mike Williams (four), Travis Benjamin (three) and Melvin Gordon (two) multiple opportunities in the passing game. Tyrell Williams (quad) was a game-time decision and didn’t appear to be apart of the game plan.
Rivers is the only quarterback this season with multiple touchdown passes in every game, but he’ll be tested in Week 13 in the Chargers’ road date against the Steelers.
Hurt in Battle and Returning Soldiers
There were plenty of key injuries on both sides of the ball this week. We won’t know more about Week 13 availability until later in the week, but the following skill-position players will certainly be worth monitoring:
- Jeff Heuerman, TE, Broncos (back)
- Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins (shoulder)
- Marlon Mack, RB, Colts (concussion)
- Vance McDonald, TE, Steelers (hip)
- Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers (knee)
- Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (thumb)
- Evan Engram, TE, Giants (hamstring)
- Danny Amendola, WR, Dolphins (knee)