The playoff push is upon us. Performance-driven breakouts and injuries have opened up some opportunities for players who could shine in Week 12. Here are some under-the-radar options at each position that you might want to take a look at for your starting roster.
Joe Flacco BAL vs Houston - This matchup plays right into favor for Joe Flacco. It's a Monday night matchup, which gives the offense an extra day of rest. Houston has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks since Week 8, averaging 343 yards passing and 3 touchdown passes per game in that span. That includes recent performances by Russell Wilson, Jacoby Brissett, Jared Goff and last week, Blaine Gabbert. Houston's secondary has been snake-bitten with injuries and they are struggling to remain a competitive unit. Joe Flacco, especially at home, could finish with respectable numbers with a chance to be among the Top 10.
Jacoby Brissett IND vs Tennessee - Jacoby Brissett suffered a concussion in Week 10 and luckily had a bye last week. He has not yet been cleared from concussion protocol, but the Colts are expecting him to be available for Week 12 at home against Tennessee. The fact that he has already practiced this week is a good sign for his availability this week. The Titans offer a good matchup for Brissett who has reached two touchdown passes in each of his last three games, on the road against Cincinnati and Houston and home vs. Pittsburgh. Tennessee has allowed an average of 282 yards passing and 3 touchdown passes per game in their last two games.
J.D. McKissic SEA at San Francisco - The Seahawks have dealt with injuries and low performance from the running back position this season. Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and Mike Davis have either struggled or succumbed to injuries, or in several cases, both. The only decent back still standing that has not played his way out of a role is J.D. McKissic. McKissic isn't a run between the tackles rusher, but he has shown that he can be a weapon as a change of pace rusher and receiver. This week's matchup against San Francisco is a prime rushing matchup and McKissic may be the one who thrives.
Latavius Murray MIN at Detroit - This could just as easily be Jerick McKinnon, however I like how Minnesota has used Murray recently, especially inside the five yard line. Detroit has allowed seven rushing touchdowns to running backs in the last five games which raises my eyebrows on this matchup. Conversely, Murray has scored four touchdowns in the last four games. McKinnon may have some bigger plays than Murray this week as the Vikings will look to get him the ball in space. If Minnesota gets inside the five yard line, there's a good chance that Murray will get some goal line carries.
Alfred Morris DAL vs Los Angeles Chargers - Dallas is a better team when they can run the ball and even though they don't have Ezekiel Elliott, they need to get back to controlling the game with the rushing attack. Left Tackle Tyron Smith is expected to return this week, which will help the ground game and offense in general. Alfred Morris could see some carry shares from Rod Smith, but look for Morris to be the go-to back. He had 17 carries for 91 yards against a tough Eagles defense last week and appears to be the back of choice for the Cowboys. The Chargers have allowed the second most fantasy points to running backs since Week 8, making this a better than average matchup for the Cowboys running game. This could be a good bounce back week for Dallas with Morris being the one who benefits the most.
Austin Ekeler LAC at Dallas - Since Week 7 Austin Ekeler has scored a touchdown in three of four games. He isn't the first option in the ground game - that's Melvin Gordon III, but he's been an excellent complementary back who has a nose for the goal line. Ekeler seems to be a better fantasy play when Los Angeles plays a worthy opponent who will keep the game close. He may only get 25-30 snaps, but so far he has made good on those opportunities. Dallas has allowed 120 rushing yards on average in the last three games, which bodes well for the Chargers ground game.
Mohamed Sanu, ATL vs Tampa Bay - The Buccaneers have allowed the third most fantasy points in the last three weeks, averaging 1.3 touchdowns, 195 yards and 14 receptions per game to wide receivers in that span. Julio Jones could see a good share of those numbers, but Mohamed Sanu has been a fixture in Matt Ryan's red zone offense, catching a touchdown in three of the last four games. Sanu has been clutch lately and this matchup (at home) is a favorable one for the Falcons. There's a good chance Sanu finishes with 50 yards or a touchdown and possibly both.
Kenny Stills, MIA at New England - Kenny Stills has produced big numbers lately and he has developed quite a rapport with Matt Moore when the two are paired. To make this matchup more enticing, New England has allowed at least one touchdown to a wide receiver in nine of ten games this year. Stills is on the verge of being an every week flex option, especially in favorable matchups. This is one of those weeks. He has a touchdown or 5+ catches in five of the last six games. He could finish inside the Top 10 but probably not lower than 30th. His history with Moore and his recent solid play has earned him a spot in your starting lineup.
Cooper Kupp LAR vs New Orleans - Robert Woods is out with a shoulder injury, making room for Sammy Watkins and/or Cooper Kupp to gain a piece of that target share. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore will likely be covering Watkins the majority of the time, leading me to think Kupp is the receiver to target this week. The Saints have been stingy against opposing wide receivers lately, but this game script with the Rams offense plays right into Kupp's wheelhouse, plus he has six receptions in each of the last two games. Call it a hunch, but I see Kupp with another 6+ catch game this week.
Jeremy Maclin & Mike Wallace BAL vs Houston - As indicated earlier, Houston's secondary is struggling this year and this week's opponent is Baltimore. The Ravens have had more games under 200 yards passing than above, but this matchup favors Joe Flacco and the Ravens receiving game. Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace are the two main threats as down field options for the Ravens. If you're concerned about Danny Woodhead taking away targets, his presence has been at the expense of the tight end, not the wideouts. If the trend continues where opposing quarterbacks exploit the Texans secondary, then Maclin and Wallace are the ones who will benefit most. Both could reach 5+ receptions and a possible score or two in the Monday night spotlight.
Vernon Davis WAS vs NYG - The Giants were able to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone last week, but Travis Kelce still had a strong fantasy game, catching 8 balls for 109 yards. Tight ends have feasted on the Giants defense this year scoring 10 touchdowns in ten games. Jordan Reed (hamstring) is expected to be out once again, making Vernon Davis the primary receiving threat at tight end. The injury to Chris Thompson will also open the door for more targets to be spread elsewhere, which benefits Davis. I envision a 5+ reception game from Davis with the possibility of 8+ catches depending on game script.
Jared Cook OAK vs DEN - The Broncos defense has allowed a touchdown to a tight end in five of the last six games and rank third worst in fantasy points allowed to tight ends in the last three weeks. Cook had a down week against New England (2 receptions for 36 yards), but he should be able to rebound at home against Denver. Prior to last week, Cook had 18 catches in his last three games. He has only one touchdown this year, which has kept him from being ranked inside the Top 8. He remains a common fixture in the Raiders offense, averaging 6 targets per game and his 13.0 yards per catch is 2nd best among all tight ends with at least 40 receptions. This is a good matchup for Cook that could result in a Top 5 finish with a score and strong performance.
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