Thanksgiving is the hump week in fantasy football. After this week, many league managers know they'll at least clinch a playoff spot and look for a higher seeding if possible.
There is some advantage for being in a position where no matter the outcome in a particular week, your seeding cannot move in either direction. It takes some pressure off the immediate need for a win, and you can put your focus on the week which follows.
No one talks about fantasy playoff strategy very much. You simply feel great you made it and hope for the best when you meet your first opponent.
Part of the reason is that there's simply no way to draft a team to coordinate a best matchup for the end of the season. What looked good in August often looks awkward, or even bad, by December. So much happens week to week as we all know.
Basic Fantasy Playoff Prep
That said, there are things you can do. It is common for fantasy managers to prepare by examining DST matchups or other streamable positions a week or two ahead. Stashing them if available. For those with experience, you probably do this routinely every season.
Do not cross purposes with your streaming DST and players on your team. Streaming a defense which happens to oppose your players makes no sense. It relates to the same fantasy rule of thumb for avoiding ownership of more than two fantasy skill players from the same NFL team on your roster.
So, look ahead. Here we go.
The 2021 Fantasy Football Week 12 Blurbview is next.
2021 Fantasy Football Week 12 Blurbview
Latest update: November 27, 2022 @ 03:32:09 ET - Recent: Seahawks, Titans, Jets and weather.
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Byes: Cardinals, Chiefs
The Games this Week
A brief rundown of the games this weekend. Time to set those lineups and watch 'em play.
Early Sunday: Buccaneers (7-3) at Colts (6-5) +2.5 51.0
A quote from the October 31 2021 Derrick Henry blurb from NBC SportsEdge: "With Christian McCaffrey on the shelf, only Dalvin Cook can compete with The Big Dog for No. 1 overall status."
Following Week 8, Derrick Henry, the most electrifying back of 2021 to that point exited the stage. In fainess to the NBC blurbists, no one could see how that power vacuum would fill. Instead of Cook, Jonathan Taylor emerged as the rest of season top running back.
The Buffalo defense, no slouches in defensive game prep, had no answers to bestow upon the rest of the league on how to handle this 22-year-old marvel. Like Henry before him, the Bills literally took a relentless pounding of multiple scores. Versus Buffalo, Taylor scored five times in Week 11; compared with three from Derrick Henry in Week 6.
Knowing what is in front of them, the Buccaneers will simply apply their own offense to face the challenge of Jonathan Taylor and the Colts. If the Buccaneers can turn the script into a passing affair, they can make the game a Brady versus Wentz battle. We saw how effective Tampa Bay were in applying it against the Giants. Daniel Jones could simply not keep up, and Saquon Barkley became a non-factor.
Tom Brady allows little opportunity for his depth chart downlisters. Therefore, chancing a spot start with Breshad Perriman et al, isn't something worth risking. So the sleeper ideas you might have are better coming from the Colts. Suggestion below.
All your regulars start of course. Carson Wentz is the only fantasy oddball of the bunch. Yes, he is a safe-side startable option, but more as a compulsive than proactive choice.
Fun Fact: Carson Wentz has just three interceptions in 2021. He is second only to Kirk Cousins, with two, among quarterbacks with full starts this season.
Sleeper: Zach Pascal, WR, Colts
Pick Poll: Buccaneers 70%
Other Early Sunday Games in Brief...
Steelers (5-4-1) at Bengals (6-4) -3.5 45.5
If the never-say-die Steelers can match the Chargers in an offensive clash, why not the Bengals too? However, the Vegas O/U suggests a tighter game script and I agree. Divisional games in the AFC North often trend that way. This is a better matchup for Joe Mixon than it is for Najee Harris, but Najee seems to respond well versus rush stingy defenses. Expect pressure up front on both QBs all day, so Joe Burrow gets the edge on pocket mobility. Diontae Johnson and Ja'Marr Chase are the only downfield safe starts apart from Pat Freiermuth - a solid start. Special teams will have a lot to say where this game ends up.
Pick Poll: Bengals 76%
Weather: 39° Partly Cloudy
Panthers (5-6) at Dolphins (4-7) +1.0 42.0
The Panthers game last week had the look of the losers beating the winners. Cam Newton clearly wins as the "real" football quarterback waiver grab of 2021. Fantasy as well. Cam ranked 5th among QBs in Week 11 with 26.2 FPs. As mentioned before, Christian McCaffrey loses touchdown upside with Newton inclined to call his own number. Tough matchup for your downfield Dolphins as the Panthers rank strong in defending air yards and yards after catch. Therefore, fantasy shade on Jaylen Waddle this week. Quite the opposite for D.J. Moore - the Dolphins allow the 2nd most FPs to WRs.
Pick Poll: Panthers 73%
Weather: 76° Partly Cloudy
Titans (8-3) at Patriots (7-4) -6.5 44.5
A game with "playoff atmosphere" and an importance factor of 128. A.J. Brown is out - another kind of importance factor. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine will have to do. The Titans come into this game with NWI, Chester Rogers and Dez Fitzpatrick as downfield offensive crutches. However, the Pats defense currently ranks high across the board versus all skill positions. The Titans have their own defense to inflict wounds - as seen in Week 9 versus the Rams. So yes, this is a game with a very negative fantasy game script as you can see. Only Mac Jones sees a positive script in the shallow metrics, so place little weight on that.
Pick Poll: Patriots 70%
Weather: 37° Mostly Cloudy
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Eagles (5-6) at Giants (3-7) +3.5 46.0
Trusting your fantasy Giants is at near zero. Kardarius Toney is out this week. For this game, Evan Engram has a green light - the Eagles allow the most FPs to TEs. For Saquon Barkley, I have him in the RB2/3 area. I'd even prefer not starting him if possible. All this stuff about his "feet not catching up with his head" reads simply as a nonsensical excuse for an injury riddled wash. I'm sorry he couldn't emerge ahead of it all, but the arrows point down until some sign of an "if and when" breakout happens. Happily start your fantasy-mode Eagles.
Pick Poll: Eagles 88%
Weather: 40° Mostly Cloudy
Falcons (4-6) at Jaguars (2-8) +1.0 46.5
The Falcons, coming off being shutout, should have Cordarrelle Patterson back for this game. The Jaguars continue to have surges of competitiveness, but overall this team operates in disjointed blocks. This matchup should allow for one of Jacksonville's better outings and we may finally see a breakout from Laviska Shenault. Reasonable, if not generous, fantasy returns are in store for the regular starters on both teams. The only reservations are with the quarterbacks. Matt Ryan is trending toward his 11th straight 4000+ passing season, but he might need the extra game on the schedule to make it.
Pick Poll: Falcons 71%
Weather: 54° Mostly Cloudy
Jets (2-8) at Texans (2-8) -3.0 45.0
Fantasy football deserves credit for keeping games like this from total disinterest. Considering how bad the defenses are, it actually could result in good fantasy production. Normally, you'd sit the players on these teams. The biggest uncertainty is between Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman. Johnson must surely have the upper stake and is the safer play. Elijah Moore is green for go. Corey Davis - out. Brandin Cooks, the only fantasy automatic on the Texans, starts as normal. The running backs of the Texans remain too volatile. And that's it. Hidden spot starters may lurk, like Nico Collins, but squeezing the lemon that much for fantasy gambles in this game is asking for trouble and going a bit too far.
Pick Poll: Texans 75%
Weather: 56° Mostly Cloudy
Late Sunday: Rams (7-3) at Packers (8-3) -1.0 48.0
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A rematch of NFC divisional round playoff opponents. This includes the Davante Adams versus Jalen Ramsey battle. That game within the game is worth the ticket alone. Perfect.
The Rams entered their bye week coming off a second straight loss. A bad loss too. The Packers took a bad beat as well by leaving enough time on the clock for the Vikings to win in Week 11. One of those "last possession wins" type of things.
The Packers have the advantage of familiarity with Matthew Stafford. On top of that, the Packers allow the 4th fewest FPs to QBs. In fact, Green Bay are more or less solid against all the skill positions fantasy-wise. When you factor in that the Rams are on the road, facing a loud and maniacal crowd in near freezing temperatures, yeah... not great.
Some Rams are good starts and others not so much. You can reasonably say that "high, medium, low" is fantasy applicable to Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham in that order. Darrell Henderson starts as normal with upside.
The Back Pack Attack
Aaron Jones practiced well enough this week, so we should see him out there on Sunday. Green Bay do have the luxury of resting Jones through the bye week. However, because of the importance of this game, the Packers will want their running back dynamic duo fully operational. A.J. Dillon may have less fantasy thrust with Jones around, but a Flex spot for Dillon will do fine.
As you well know, the the receiving Packers outside of Davante Adams are dart throws. Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown and Randall Cobb are fantasy nuggets if you pick the right one. MVS really feels like you are just "chasing yesterday" after he out-targeted Adams in Week 11. So you can scale back expectations for MVS with that in mind.
If your H2H looks out of reach, it often pays to take risks in these situations. Safe choices, when you are up against it, just won't do. So take a chance on an upside outsider. What have you got to lose? Plenty of choices to pick through in this game.
Fun Fact: The Packers will honor Charles Woodson at halftime with the presentation of his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence. This is always a huge event in Green Bay and doesn't come along very often.
Sleeper: Odell Beckham, WR, Rams
Pick Poll: Packers 62%
Weather: 35° Mostly Cloudy
Other Late Sunday Games in Brief...
Chargers (6-4) at Broncos (5-5) +2.5 48.0
Every time the fantasy knives come out for Justin Herbert, he torpedoes the critics with a massive performance. The Chargers have the ability to force defensive teams, like the Broncos, to go outside their comfort zone and open up offensively. Good teams set the tone like this and the Chargers are doing it well lately. Works for fantasy as we saw against Pittsburgh. Can Teddy Bridgewater use his field stretchers the way he should for a change? I expect nothing less for this game. Therefore, a Courtland Sutton fantasy sighting is on the menu. If he's a good start, then it follows that all the fantasy delegates in this game are. Bonus sleeper? Try Jared Cook!
Pick Poll: Chargers 86%
Weather: 66° Clear
Vikings (5-5) at Forty-Niners (5-5) -3.0 48.5
The third potential fantasy powderkeg in the late window. Scott Hanson on Red Zone certainly has business to attend to. The Vikings are on the ascent as the playoff temperature heats up. The 49ers are reaching toward a peak as well. I must admit a major fantasy preference for Deebo Samuel and his multi-talented usage. Who doesn't? Needless to say, your fantasy headliners on both sides all have upside; including the QBs. If Elijah Mitchell puts the pads on, he's in the RB1 conversation. Failing that, the weaker committee of Jeff Wilson and Trey Sermon elevate into RB2/Flex and sleeper status in that order.
Pick Poll: 49ers 56%
Weather: 70° Clear
Sunday Night: Browns (6-5) at Ravens (7-3) -3.5 45.5
Baker Mayfield continues to insist on playing through pain. While we appreciate this battler attitude, the Cleveland receivers lose all their upside in the process. Especially in a run-orientated offense to begin with.
The idea of a strong running attack which the Browns have, should ultimately invite deep shots and medium range play action. Adding to the issues of Baker's shoulder strains, we need to include the nagging injuries of Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jarvis Landry. If they play, they will be well-below 100% health.
The only downfield fantasy hopes remaining is Rashard Higgins and the tight ends. Pretty tough to start Higgins, but Austin Hooper is a "definite maybe" for fantasy guessers to decide.
I took some criticism for my RoS ranking of Rashod Bateman who I had at WR70 last week. Perhaps a bit low, but Bateman isn't exactly a "ravenesque" player in this offense. There's barely room for him with Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins and Mark Andrews vacuuming up the good targets from Lamar Jackson.
Bateman competes with Devin Duvernay for the leftover scraps.
As for this game, the script leans defensive and your best fantasy starters outside the shade remain with the running backs on both teams. Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews are script-friendly enough, but the latter has better upside.
Fun Fact: The Browns average just 0.8 fewer points per game (22.2) than the Ravens allow (23.0)
Sleeper: David Njoku, TE, Browns
Pick Poll: Ravens 86%
Weather: 42° Mostly Cloudy
Monday Night: Seahawks (3-7) at Wahington (4-6) -1.5 46.5
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Getting very tough to trust the Seahawks in fantasy right now. The arrow is trending down for almost everybody.
First of all, we have this backfield committee involving up to four players making it difficult for their fantasy usage in any format. Alex Collins appears as the lead, but the rest make appearances with no rhythm to the offense. This week, Travis Homer and Rashaad Penny are out, but the trust factor remains low. DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins remain playable, but only a little less risky than before.
Then there's Russell Wilson. His rhythm is way off and the three-and-outs seem chronic. Your fantasy downfielders, Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, spend more time watching their defense on the field. The Seahawks average the lowest time of possession per drive in the league.
Game manager quarterbacks don't get much recognition unless they start losing. Heineke has just one 300+ passing game in 2021 and has all traits of a young Joe Flacco. Heineke has the knack of being a winner in the face of bad odds. He is a trusty enough own in two QB leagues and Superflex. However, a better aspect Heineke provides is that Terry McLaurin is fantasy-stable in the WR1/2 range.
For this game, it should come as no surprise to see a slow developing affair with a boring first half. Although your fantasy regulars are startable, you will angonizingly wait and wait for one or two of the receivers on either side to get their first target and reception. Yeah, it's one of those unfortunately.
Fun Fact: This is the second Monday nighter between these teams. The first was in Week 5 of 2014. The Seahawks won 27-17. Would you believe Russell Wilson rushed for 122 yards with a touchdown in that game? Yeah, Russ doesn't do Lamar Jackson stuff anymore.
Pick Poll: Washington 51%
Weather: 37° Clear
In the Booth on Sunday
Titans at Patriots: Ian Eagle, Charles Davis
Steelers at Bengals: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green
Jets at Texans: Spero Dedes, Jay Feely
Buccaneers at Colts: Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen
Eagles at Giants: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth
Panthers at Dolphins: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Falcons at Jaguars: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez
Chargers at Broncos: Greg Gumbel, Adam Archuleta
Rams at Packers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Vikings at 49ers: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma
Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.