Fantasy Football

2017 Fantasy Football Week 12 Preview: Pass The Gravy

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The strongest NFL contenders generally have the elite fantasy players. We often gravitate toward the players on those teams. Yet, the winless Browns, such as they are, remain stocked enough with choices and perhaps with a weekly sleeper or two. How much better is the team at the opposite end?

The Eagles (9-1) are a bit of an anomaly when it comes to power rank versus fantasy ratio. If you look straight down the names in their lineup, you can tell without even looking at the stats how they seem like B students for fantasy. Here’s where each of the first players of their positions rank in total fantasy points this season: QB (2); RB (37); WR (10); TE (3); DST (6); K (9) – I don’t count Jay Ajayi (28), but that’s still high.

The Eagles do not have a single player I would consider drafting in the first round today. Even though Carson Wentz holds the second most fantasy points among quarterbacks, he still isn’t at a high draftable premium. Yet it’s normal that few quarterbacks have a high enough level of inherent worth for an early round draft pick anyway. Aaron Rodgers was about the only one in 2017 who held that sort of ADP.

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Apart from Wentz, there really aren’t great elite fantasy studs on this team. Okay, Zach Ertz is a weekly start, but even he produces like tight ends often do – in streaks.

The bottom line is that fluidity in power rankings and fantasy don’t always march to the same beat.

2017 Fantasy Football Week 12 Preview

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are enjoying all the football. Plenty of important games in the pros and college to watch over this weekend.

Games to Watch

Feature Game: Saints (8-2) at Rams (7-3)

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The Rams once again feature in the big game of the week. In Minnesota, their high powered offense came to sudden halt as they could only manage a single first quarter touchdown. After that, the Vikings defense effectively shut them down.

The next contender they face are the wily Saints, who themselves are just as dynamic, but with more advanced weaponry than the Vikings.

These teams matchup well for fantasy because the tendency of each is to ride the curl of game flow via the offense first, then defense. Whereas with the Vikings, the Rams could not successfully pull them into that kind of script.

The Rams are without Robert Woods, a major rediscovery of talent in 2017. Look for heavy involvement of Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins this time. Pharoh Cooper, the main kick returner, should have a bigger role in the absence of Woods, but is just too risky for league play and better suited as a DFS budget coupon.

The Saints, are coming off an incredible rally win against the Redskins and face a real test of their own against these Rams. They have a transformative offense whereby Brees is no longer always the focal point. The running game is so strong via Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, that Michael Thomas seems at times like an extra scatback himself.

Sleeper: Tavon Austin, WR, Rams

High OU Game: Dolphins (4-6) at Patriots (8-2)

The Patriots, even when they go through those struggling patches, seem to always steer their way into winning football games. They are quickly solving the problems on defense and look again as the formidable beast that eats every knight in the kingdom who come near the cave.

The two losses of the Pats were at home – an odd anomaly in their canon of 2017. Over the weeks, it is clear that Brandin Cooks is now the pivotal danger of teams that face them, with Rob Gronkowski batting in the clean up. The running game remains purposely mysterious for some reason, but I think they’ll go back to Rex Burkhead after minor case of fumbling last week.

The Dolphins are actually lucky in some sense because both their running backs play well and are just as interchangeable for whatever needs arise. Unfortunately, the quarterback malaise gives the running game little compliment. Kenny Stills is the hot receiver of the team right now, but Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker are crushing enough oranges for plenty of fantasy juice.

The gameplan for the Patriots is simple enough. Attack the weak point at quarterback instead of a pure shut down on the elite playmaker. The Dolphins are too diversified for that.

The Dolphins, sadly, will likely have to play into whatever situation they face, as the Patriots should control this game to the flow they desire. Despite giving quarterbacks the 2nd most fantasy points as a total all season, the Patriots have made a turnaround the last four weeks as the 4th strongest against.

Sleeper: Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots

Sunday Night Football: Packers (5-5) at Steelers (8-2)

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The buzzsaw for the Packers continues. After a heavy dose of a nasty Ravens defense last week, the depleted Packers now go on the road and face an uglier matchup with a Steelers team looking to better what their arch-rivals did to this down-trodden Packers offensive unit.

Yet, this game could turn out to be harder fought than expectations would suggest. It’s one of those games the Steelers could easily fall into the trap of looking past. After all, that Week 15 matchup with the Patriots almost shouts from the calendar. That alone makes this game a perfect storm for the Steelers to let up on and allow the Packers loose points on offense.

Do the Packers have enough offense left to pull off at least a fright on the Steelers? Probably not. But you still have to consider that both these teams are at the top of the list of most traveled fans. That makes this game a unique rivalry every four years.

The last time the Packers played the Steelers on the road, not counting Super Bowl XLV, was in 2009. In that last clash at Heinz Field in Week 15, the Steelers won in a shootout contest 37-36. Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger were there and the usual suspects of the day had big fantasy points. I might look it up one of these days and watch it again. One of those games just filled to the brim with big fantasy performances on both sides. With the clarity of modern digital media, it would look like yesterday.

Anyway, that was then, this is now. The Packers will somehow try and establish the ground game with Jamaal Williams, because Brett Hundley cannot operate outside the pocket at all. He’ll seek some kind of play action, but the Steelers should sniff anything out.

For the Steelers, Roethlisberger can basically fire at will and if he’s on his game this week, then look out. However, I sense that the backfield with Le’Veon Bell should hold more sway because the Packers, for all their weaknesses, do maintain a fairly solid pass rush. It’s about the best thing they have going right now.

JuJu Smith-Schuster is out, so that means…

Sleeper: Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers

Monday Night Football: Texans (4-6) at Ravens (5-5)

Isn’t it strange how you sometimes get teams who draw a matchup against each other who are both at the cusp of such differing fates?

For the Texans, their playoff picture is up against the wall every week. They can afford perhaps one more loss, but essentially every game is a must game. The Ravens are scraping along well with their defense, having pitched three shutouts with six games remaining.

The Ravens defense is one of the best owns in fantasy. At 35, Terrell Suggs is playing total smashmouth and has taken up the torch well as the veteran leader. In the secondary, veteran Lardarius Webb is in command of that group and also playing at a league leading level. If you include Eric Weddle and Brandon Carr, the lieutenants, both playing at a high level too, this team will always maintain that traditional command structure.

In this game we should see a battle of wills play out. Tom Savage actually had a passer rating over 95 last week – against the Cardinals no less. He looked far more accurate than the previous two games. If he’s “gotten over the hump” and plays like a decent backup, the Ravens will suddenly find a major challenge on their hands.

The crazy athleticism of DeAndre Hopkins make him one of the most difficult receivers to cover in the NFL. If the Texans line can hold in pass protection with Savage on an upsurge, who knows where this game can go. As for the Ravens, their idea would be to ground and pound to keep that awful possibility on the sidelines as long as they can. So look for plenty of Alex Collins and Danny Woodhead in this game.

Sleeper: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Texans

Players to Watch

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Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers (at Jets)

Suiting up for his first action since a foot fracture in Week 2. Olsen comes back to an offense not much different than when he left, apart for the trade of Kelvin Benjamin. He remains a favorite target of Cam Newton, so I expect a welcome back touchdown.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs (vs Bills)

I sense a “where have you been” performance is on the way here. Hunt hasn’t found the end zone since Week 3 and the Bills are by far the best team for starving fantasy running backs to play against.

Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts (vs Titans)

Expected to clear the concussion protocol and start. In a season of so many backups around the league thrust into the starting job, he energizes his team better than most. On balance at least, the fantasy players he throws to are scoring well. In what could turn into a college game shootout, I think Brissett is a dark horse for amassing the most fantasy points of all quarterbacks this week with Marcus Mariota not far behind.

Paxton Lynch, QB, Broncos (at Raiders)

Lynch has the go-ahead from the coach to win with his arms, legs or whatever. I don’t think we’ll see another deer in the headlights like Nathan Peterman last week. What the Broncos are looking from Lynch is something they can build upon and coach up. In his last start in Week 13 of 2016, he led the Broncos over the Jaguars 20-10.

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars (at Cardinals)

A presence on the field oftentimes tells you more about a player than the stats do. Some guys just have it and Westbrook is one of them. The conditions were not the greatest in Cleveland and Westbrook fumbled. Yet, the presence was there. In Arizona we shall see how hot Westbrook really is and whether or not his presence can meet with performance.

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers (at Falcons)

First the good news. The Buccaneers and Dirk Koetter are working on the offensive line intensely this week to get better run blocking for Doug Martin. Now the bad news. The Falcons have risen near the top in the past four weeks against fantasy running backs. Sigh, I guess we bet the under on Doug Martin again.

In the Booth on Sunday

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Mike Tirico

CBS Early

Dolphins at Patriots: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Bills at Chiefs: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Browns at Bengals: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton

CBS Late

Saints at Rams: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Broncos at Raiders: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Jaguars at Cardinals: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta

Fox Early

Bears at Eagles: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Panthers at Jets: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Buccaneers at Falcons: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth
Titans at Colts: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston

Fox Late

Seahawks at 49ers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber


Check out the rest of our 2017 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.

About Richard Savill

Richard is an NFL Fantasy Football Writer and Editor of Fantasy Six Pack. Host of The Fantasy Edge Podcast. FantasyPros Contributor. Member of the FSWA. Richard is known for his "outside the box" insight into NFL fantasy football. Winner of the 16-Team 2015 FSWA challenge.

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