The NFL Game Breakdown this week comes on the heels of one of the best football days of the year, Thanksgiving. Despite the trio of Thursday games in Week 12, there’s still 13 more on Sunday and Monday – let’s analyze them all in this week’s NFL Game Breakdown.
Cardinals @ 49ers
Point Total: 44.5
Spread: Cardinals -10.5
The 49ers haven’t done much on offense lately and are averaging under 10 points on offense in their last 4 games. At RB the good news for fantasy is that Shaun Draughn is getting virtually all the work and that obviously includes a lot of targets in the passing game as Draughn was able to haul in 8 receptions last weekend versus Seattle. At only $3800 Draughn would have to be considered as a pretty intriguing value play this week if Carlos Hyde is again inactive (likely) as he was the only RB to touch the ball for SF last weekend and played on over 95% of the snaps. With San Fran lacking a sustainable passing game Draughn would really be my only consideration from their team for fantasy. With such a poor offensive record lately there’s not much else to talk about here. Consider Draughn if you need a cheap RB but don’t expect too much.
As for Arizona the 49er’s defense has been incredibly giving all season for fantasy and allowed Carson Palmer to throw for 311 yards and 2 TDs against them in their week 3 romp. At $7100 Palmer is now finally being priced like an elite QB unfortunately but given the matchup he might still be worth paying up for. This game has every possibility of being a blowout and with Palmer now up to 11 TDs in his last three games I’d expect more of the same from the Zona QB here, he might just be the safest cash game play on the slate for the entire week.
Here’s how Palmer’s passing targets have been distributed over the past two games:
Both WR John Brown and Michael Floyd were out or limited in last week’s game but it looks like Floyd at least will be active in week 12 as he returned to practice Wed. With John Brown still hurting and possibly out this weekend look for Floyd to get back to starters reps versus the 49ers. At only $3800 he could be an absolute steal given the nature of the Cardinals offense. Watch the injury news but he’s definitely someone I’d target in all formats this coming Sunday… If Floyd does play that would probably make me a little less bullish on Larry Fitzgerald but he’s still someone I’d 100% consider too. At $7400 Fitz is obviously way more expensive but gets a bit of a dream matchup and one he took advantage of big time in week 3 with 9 catches and 2 TDs. SF corner Jimmie Ward, who projects to be on Fitz, has one of the lowest cover ratings on Pro Football Focus at the moment and so it’s quite plausible that Fitz pays off his larger salary and then some in this game. Play him at will in week 12.
At RB the snap count from week 11 looked like this for ARZ: Chris Johnson 34, Andre Ellington 25, David Johnson 7. While I love the matchup for CJ I don’t love the fact he’s only caught one pass in his past four games. My suggestion would be to consider Chris Johnson, who’s still seeing the bulk of the work, as a tournament play but don’t go overboard. A big play by Ellington or the rookie David Johnson could just as easily occur and sap off a lot of the fantasy potential for him. This is a high upside but risky trio to use in week 12.
Gameflow: Arizona out matches SF at almost every turn in this game and the only question really is by how much? I’m of the opinion that the Cards are the team to beat in the NFC right now so I’m guessing the spread could be big once again. I’ll take the Cardinals in a romp with lots of fantasy TDs and points for the ARZ players.
Cardinals 30 49ers 17
- Larry Fitzgerald $7400
- Michael Floyd $3800 (if healthy and no Brown)
- Carson Palmer $7100
- Shaun Draughn $3800
- Cardinals D $3900
Steelers @ Seahawks
Point Total: 44.5
Spread: Seahawks -4.5
This game has a lot more potential for fantasy purposes than some people may realize, although most of the plays in this game will be tournament targets for me personally. The Seahawks have not been great against elite teams thus far in 2015 losing games to the Cardinals (at home), Bengals and Panthers (at home). The Steelers come into this matchup off a bye and a week 10 thrashing of the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger has games of 25 and 30 fantasy points on DK since he returned from injury and should be the healthiest he’s been since the start of the season for this game. The Hawks D has allowed 300 yard/multi TD games on numerous occasions thus far in 2015, and isn’t the unit it was in 2013/14. I think using Ben with one or more of his passing targets in a roster isn’t a bad idea, although it’s definitely more of a low owned tournament play for me (rather than a 50/50 or HU idea).
As for the Steelers receiving options here’s their passing targets from the last two weeks of play:
The matchups in this game really favour going with cheaper options Heath Miller and Martavis Bryant. While it’s not a given that Richard Sherman will shut down Antonio Brown, it’s definitely true that Martavis Bryant has a much better matchup than Brown as he’ll be going up against the completely burnable Cary Williams in coverage. Williams was part of the group that allowed JJ Nelson and a banged up John Brown to find the end zone multiple times in week 10 and against the athletic freak that is Bryant I doubt he’ll be able to keep him from finding the end zone at least once. I love Bryant this week and at $5600 would consider in any lineup against the suddenly very ordinary Seattle secondary.
One player I’d definitely be OK fading this week from Pittsburgh is RB Deangelo Williams. The Seattle run defense is still elite and even though they allowed Andre Ellington to get loose against them for a long run in week 10 I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying up the $5700 for Williams on any roster in this matchup, look elsewhere week 12 RB wise.
On the Seattle side of the ball Russell Wilson had one of his better games of the season last week and gets a pretty decent matchup this weekend as well. The Steelers defense has been allowing some big games to QBs all season and just allowed Johnny Football to compile 370+ yards passing versus them last weekend. While I’m not a huge fan of Seattle’s offense I think going up against the run and gun Steelers, who have one of the fastest paces of play in the NFL, makes this a very good breakout spot for Wilson. The big run games haven’t been there for Russel this season but this game screams shootout to me and there’s a possibility a breakout game occurs here, I love Wilson as a tournament option in week 12, at $6000 he’s affordable and has plenty of upside.
The unfortunate part about using Wilson is that you’ll probably have to use him naked (aka without a receiver). Knowing where the ball is going to go in the Seattle offense is almost impossible to predict. Last week rookie Tyler Lockett caught two TD passes but has only seen 6 targets in his last two games. This seems like a perfect spot for TE Jimmy Graham to get going as Pittsburgh has been allowing big games to the TE all season but the Seahawks targets have been so spread out a big game here seems like a difficult thing to predict. Still, I think if you’re making multiple Wilson lineups in tournaments I would at least consider pairing him with Graham in one. This matchup screams big game and he’s probably going to bust out at least once more before the season ends.
I love how Thomas Rawls has looked in replacement of Marshawn Lynch but this matchup isn’t great as Pitt has been solid versus the RB all season. Still at $4500, and with the likelihood of Rawls getting all of the work, this is a case of us letting the price do our work for us. Rawls is so cheap that his workload alone should allow him to exceed x3 value and for that reason alone he’s yet another great option under 5k at RB this week for us to target. I’ll be considering him in all my lineups this week.
Gameflow: This should be an excellent game and one I’m looking forward too. The Seahawks aren’t the same team at home they have been over the last two years and have struggled mightily at times on offense and defense this season. Still, they’re a very talented squad and will pose problems for the Steelers. With Ben healthy though and the Pitt defense playing better than people realize I think this is an upset spot. I just can’t see the Seahawks stopping all of the Pitt weapons or scoring enough points on offense to keep up. Pitt wins a back and forth game late.
Steelers 27 Seahawks 24
- Martavis Bryant $5600
- Thomas Rawls $4500
- Russell Wilson $6000
- Ben Roethlisberger $6700
- Antonio Brown $8700
- Jimmy Graham $4800
Patriots @ Broncos
Point Total: 44.5
Spread: Patriots -3
The Bronco’s offense were able to squeak out a win last week with Brock Osweiler at the helm but this week they get a Patriots squad who’ve been playing great defense of late. Osweiler played well last week vs the Bears and definitely allowed some of his passing targets to get going in week 11. Still, with Pats CB Malcom Butler playing so well recently, and with DE Chandler Jones and crew likely to make things difficult for Osweiler, this isn’t a spot where I’d feel comfortable paying up $7400 for WR Demaryius Thomas. I think this game has a large chance of being somewhat of a defensive struggle and the price tag on Thomas is simply too high. Avoid him week 12… At $3000 you could consider TE Vernon Davis as a play but with Owen Daniels still seeing playing time he’s definitely only a tournament target for me. I like the fact that Osweiler used Davis a lot more last week but still view this entire Denver offense as pretty risky for fantasy and in a tough spot this week. My advice is avoid and look elsewhere for plays with more upside. The Patriots defense could be in a great spot here for fantasy and is definitely a play I’ll be considering.
As for the Patriots offense they keep having to deal with injuries and may have lost Danny Amendola for this game after he suffered a knee injury late last week. Regardless of whether Amendola plays the Pats offense is in a tough spot as the Broncos have been tough to pass against all season and have allowed the fewest points to QBs/WRs through 11 weeks of play. While I’d like to recommend Tom Brady as a tournament option he’s only averaging 18-19 points over his last three games (versus weaker opponents) and at $8000 would be hard pressed to pay off his big salary against such a tough opponent. I can’t see myself paying up for him in any scenario this week and think there’s far, far better options at QB for much cheaper prices.
Here’s how Brady’s receiving targets have been distributed over the past two weeks of play:
If Danny Amendola misses time I would expect to see the Patriots get RB James White even more involved as a pass catcher than he was last week. White isn’t a super talent but he’s proven himself capable as a route runner and made a nifty move/run to score from 20 yards out last week. He’s a cheap play you could consider but would be purely for tournaments… I hate the matchups for the Patriot’s WRs but I do think TE Rob Gronkowski could bounce back here too. Gronk’s price ($7900) and the matchup versus the Broncos assures him of being very low owned this weekend, and he’s proven he can overcome tough matchups to post big games before. I think the Pats are going to have to rely on him a ton in this game with their WR core being so thin and in tough spots versus the Denver corners. Don’t be shocked if Gronk has a big game, he’s pricy and hard to pay up for but you’ll be getting him at a very low ownership, making him a great tournament option for week 12.
The last play you could consider form this game is RB LeGarrette Blount. Charcandrick West and the Chiefs had their way running on the Broncos a couple games ago and it’s possible the Patriots employ a similar game plan by using Blount a ton here too. I don’t love the price ($5100) but do like the fact that Blount played on well over 50% of the snaps versus the Bills. Like most players in this game he’s only a tournament option but could be the one to break out for a big game here.
Gameflow: this game screams bad fantasy matchup for me, although there could definitely be a surprise play or two on either side. There’s little doubt that Brock Osweiler has been a nice upgrade at QB for the Broncos but this week presents a much stiffer test. The Pats have always been master game planners and I expect Osweiler to struggle big time versus the Belichick D. Denver’s own defense might keep this one close but I think ultimately the Pats break free and post another boring win.
Patriots 23 Broncos 17
- Patriots D $3500
- Vernon Davis $3000
- Rob Gronkowski $7900
Ravens @ Browns
Point Total: 41
Spread: Browns -2.5
This game will see Matt Schaub and Josh McCown at QB as Johnny Manziel (partying) and Joe Flacco (ACL) are out indefinitely. The Browns defense has been pretty awful this season but at home against the INT machine that Matt Schaub has turned into late in his career this is a spot where I’d consider rostering them. At only $2000 the Browns have a lot of value considering how little they cost and could be a great way to get exposure to this game. They’re on my radar for week 12.
While I don’t trust any Baltimore receivers in this game for fantasy I would look at their RB situation. Justin Forsett is out with a broken arm and so rookie Javorius “Buck” Allen will be handling almost all of the carries and workload for the Ravens. Against a super weak Cleveland run defense this is good spot for the rookie to have a breakout game. While Allen hasn’t been great in limited duty this year he’s a decent pass catcher and at only $4600 will be assured of a big workload. I like this spot for Allen and he’ll definitely be one of the top value plays I consider at RB this weekend.
As for the Browns offense, QB Josh McCown being under centre might actually improve the outlooks for many of the Browns players. The Ravens secondary has been awful all season and McCown tore them apart for 450+ yards and 2 TDs in week 5. I love this spot for McCown as a cheap QB play and will be heavily considering all the Browns passing targets too as they’ve seen bigger jumps with McCown at QB. Make McCown a cheap QB target if you’re thinking of spending up elsewhere this week.
Here’s the Browns target distribution from McCown’s last two games as starter:
With the Ravens secondary being so bad I think this is a great spot for WR Travis Benjamin to have a big day. Benjamin had a nice game last week with Johnny Manziel at QB and shouldn’t miss a beat with McCown whom he’s also produced with this year. Targeting the weaker corners in this game makes sense and I think using a Benjamin/McCown stack is a great option for both primetime lineups and as a tournament stack in large field tournaments for week 12… I also love this spot for TE Gary Barnidge, who really excelled with McCown as his QB earlier this season. Barnidge has been the red zone king in Cleveland with McCown at QB and with the Ravens season over and their ELITE QB out its possible the Browns get more than a few red zone opportunities in this game. I like Barnidge at $4800 in this matchup and he and Jordan Reed are definitely two of my highest rated TE’s on the slate.
Gameflow: This is one ugly primetime game and has zero meaning in the overall standings (except for draft picks). The Ravens have been terrible all year and just lost their best player. The Browns have at least played hard in all of their games this year and given their level of intensity could easily blowout the Ravens here. Don’t be shocked if you see a couple of big fantasy games and a Browns blowout.
Browns 30 Ravens 17
- Josh McCown $5000
- Gary Barnidge $4800
- Buck Allen $4600
- Travis Benjamin $5300
- Browns D $2000