Fantasy Football

2018 Fantasy Football Week 12 Preview: Short Week


One of the things about the Thursday night telecasts which bothers us the most in fantasy is that injured players on the short week often sit out the game. It also makes the Thanksgiving Day games a little less special.

Mitch Trubisky missed the Thanksgiving game and possibly had a chance to play if it was on the schedule for Sunday. Although we can give this case a pass because Thanksgiving Day was always for football. But outside of the holiday, this is a common occurance for banged up players on a regular Thursday short week.

It is true that Thursday game injury problems allow plenty of time for fantasy line-up adjustments and removes any possibility of annoying game time decisions for Sunday. Just the same, we’d prefer the extra time for players to rest so our guys have a chance to see the field.

I guess if Thursday games suddenly disappeared, except for Thanksgiving, I might have that ironic sensation of longing for it. That’s very possible when you’ve grown along with it. In fairness, some games played on Thursday have been thrillers. We seem to remember the duds when it comes to criticism of Thursday nights.

2018 Fantasy Football Week 12 Preview

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Games to Watch

Byes: Chiefs and Rams *final week of byes

Sunday Early
Seahawks (5-5) at Panthers (6-4)

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This is where regular season games develop that playoff atmosphere. A win by the Seahawks puts them in great shape with the Chiefs and Rams ahead. They would likely need at least one victory from those matchups, and this one, to secure a wild-card berth.

As for the Panthers, well, Ron Rivera might have not put his team in this spot by gambling for a win against the Lions (vis-a-vis Titans Week 7 at Chargers) as per his hyperbolic nature supposes.

So here we are in the land of “needs must” for these two teams in the playoff hunt at Week 12.

Doug Baldwin might not play in this one with a groin issue, so if you need a receiver to spot start in place of your idle Chiefs or Rams, David Moore is worth picking up. That said, the Seahawks are returning to a ground game approach after giving up the idea of going for a balanced offense.

Russell Wilson, minus his Week 10 explosion of 92 yards against the Rams, is generally running far less these days (22 yards per game in 2018 vs career 33 YPG), but with the RBBC of Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis, he doesn’t have to. Cam Newton is only slightly below his norms in that department, but the Panthers are employing more gadgetry; growing in popularity with several teams in 2018.

Defending the Gadget

The Seahawks haven’t played a team who are main proponents of the gadget system, i.e. Ravens or Saints, so how their defense responds to the challenge is something to see. I expect the Seahawks to bring some tricks in keeping with the theme, but certainly not to the same extent as the Panthers.

Fuzzy logic often applies to games like this because we have an inclination to think a short game of RPO with a bomb here and there. What concerns me most is that this game could easily turn into a battle of punts if too many possession plays rule the day. The importance of the game could lean toward a cautious approach for both sides. Not good for fantasy and otherwise.

I’m rooting for both teams to let loose anyway. If I was to make this game sound like a weather forecast, I would say early cloud gives way to sunny breaks in the afternoon.

Just because Ron Rivera lost a gamble last week, doesn’t mean he’ll stop gambling.

Sleeper: Curtis Samuel, WR, Panthers

Sunday Late
Steelers (7-2-1) at Broncos (4-6)

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The Steelers are on a six-game streak of wins. Their 16 point comeback against the Jaguars shows that they have an ability to wake up in a hurry. They were first inductee of the 2018 “50 point club” before the Chiefs, Rams and Saints. That said, they can’t seem to follow their own script consistently and often find themselves solving the other team instead of the opposition trying to solve them.

As for the Broncos, the lights are dimming on another season without playoffs. They need to run the table and have a bit of help along the way. They have a good enough team to make it there and a win against the Steelers sets up interesting scenarios against the Bengals and Chargers later on.

The curious Broncos have some questionable underachievements that don’t quite fit with a 4-6 losing record. They were within one possession of beating the Rams and the Chiefs twice.

The biggest difference I can see which is key to the matchup against the Steelers boils down to 3rd down conversions. The Steelers are over 50% and the Broncos are 34% including and from Week 7. The Steelers improved that key statistic and as a result sustain more drives with more first downs.

Containing Antonio Brown and the rest of Pittsburgh’s receivers is arguably the biggest task for the Broncos. Their defense has good weeks and bad versus the run and pass in 2018. Against the Chiefs in their last meeting in Week 8, they held them to 49 yards on the ground. It seems their best strategy lately is to go toe-to-toe in the passing game. They beat the Chargers last week despite allowing 384 passing yards – the highest total given up in a game by them this year.

Lindsay a Major Factor

Phillip Lindsay is who the Steelers need to deal with. Lindsay, undrafted and un-combined, became the 2018 fantasy diamond in the rough. He rose above everyone in the Broncos backfield and remains a high RB2. His career is off to an unbelievable start with 5.5 yards per carry and has four games above 100+ yards from scrimmage. He ranks only behind Saquon Barkley among rookies for rushing.

The Broncos problems must stem from mediocre playcalling and I suspect John Elway would like to get this team on a better track considering the young talent beginning to emerge. If they don’t make the playoffs, the odds are on Vance Joseph clearing out his desk.

Expect a rough and tumble affair in Denver with moderate scoring. This is the kind of game where the best field goal kicker wins the game. I can see Denver holding a slim advantage going into the fourth quarter, but if the Steelers wear out the Denver defense by then, look out. I can see the Steelers mounting a late rally, but I cannot say the same for the Broncos if they need one.

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Sleeper: Jeff Heuermann, TE, Broncos

Sunday Night
Packers (4-5-1) at Vikings (5-4-1)

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The loser of this game gets a big nail for their playoff hopes coffin. Because these teams played to an overtime draw in their first meeting, the winner has an immediate tie-breaker advantage.

The Packers have found a running game by allowing Aaron Jones to carry the rock uninhibited with rhythm. At last Mike McCarthy gets it – we think. Aaron Rodgers knows the clock is ticking and Super Bowls get harder and harder to play in.

Last week, Rodgers forgot about Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown and put all of his eggs in the Davante Adams basket. I think that changes for this game with Rodgers spraying it around. Jimmy Graham (thumb) hopes to play with a cast. This makes Graham an obvious decoy with normal blocking assignments. If he plays, I would avoid the risk of starting him.

Vikings Second Sunday

As for the Vikings, they are coming off a loss to the Bears and play once again on Sunday night. Expect plenty of play-action by both sides and Aaron Rodgers with his customary roll-outs and naked bootlegs. We could be in for fireworks in this game and a self-contained type of aerial attack in miniature of what we saw last Monday night.

The key for the Vikings is confusing the safeties of Packers between Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. The Packers cannot afford full-blitz packages with one guy running posts and the other guy running corner routes. Very dangerous.

Same for the Packers almost. This is why other wide receivers should see more involvement for the Pack in this one. Without Jimmy Graham at 100%, they won’t fool anyone in the seam and so the Packers could sure use Randall Cobb – currently questionable for this game.

This leaves Lance Kendricks or more likely…

Sleeper: Robert Tonyan Jr., TE, Packers

Monday Night
Titans (5-5) at Texans (7-4)

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A major game in the context of the AFC playoff picture. Why? Well, if the Titans win this game, they will have beaten the Texans twice and remain only one game behind. It also puts pressure on at least four other teams to keep up while dragging the Texans into the murk. We like the murk. A Texans win puts them in a strong position to take the AFC South and stay well ahead of the surging Colts of whom they’ve beaten twice. I’d prefer the Titans winning so a wacky finish to the season remains alive.

The Titans defense is strong, but their offense cannot compliment it. This is clearly not a team with outstanding captains on the field. We talk about the Titans coaching weaknesses, but I’m beginning to suspect that this team suffers from “over-coaching.”  What do I mean by that? It seems like a “system first” team. Marcus Mariota had a great day against the Patriots and looked loose. More importantly, he looked like a good quarterback.

Then, against the Colts last week, that tightness and insecurity crept back like we’ve seen so often from Mariota. His pass protection looked suspect again too.

Titans Conundrum

It’s hard to determine where exactly the Titans are going wrong. They need to get this straightened out on Sunday because the Texans are even less forgiving than the Colts on defense. If the Texans front stop the run, then they’ll blitz on the weak side and Mariota might as well make his bed on the turf.

As for what Titans face on the other side, the Texans have a much more standard theme that works. Lamar Miller is playing great, which really helps Deshaun Watson gain those extra seconds to roll out and fire the ball to DeAndre Hopkins.

Can I just say one thing about Hopkins? I have watched football for decades. This guy is far and away the most unusually talented player I’ve ever seen play in the NFL. Some of the catches this guy makes simply defy your senses. The uncatchable becomes catchable. It’s a strange instinct this guy for catching tricky passes and always beating his coverage. Take in every snap Hopkins plays in his career, you’re watching something very special.

Sleeper: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Texans

Players to Watch

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Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens (vs Raiders)

Gus is a perfect name for a running back, don’t you think? We’re looking for a repeat performance after his 100+ boom last week. Sometimes we get these players who flare up in their first ever start only to drop off the next game. The Ravens will roll with him and the arrow points up against the hapless Raiders.

In the Booth on Sunday

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James Lofton (left) with Troy Vincent

CBS Early

Patriots at Jets: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Browns at Bengals: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Jaguars at Bills: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Raiders at Ravens: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton

CBS Late

Steelers at Broncos: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Dolphins at Colts: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Bruce Arians

Fox Early

Seahawks at Panthers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Giants at Eagles: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
49ers at Buccaneers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber

Fox Late

Cardinals at Chargers: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston

Check out the rest of our 2018 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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