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.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore vs Oakland - Lamar Jackson made an impact in his first career start last week (vs Cincinnati), but the passing game was limited with under 20 pass attempts. The Ravens evolved into a run-dominant offense overnight and that should continue once again this week against Oakland. The threat of Jackson as a runner had an immediate impact on the bigger, Gus Edwards. Expect timely, short-ranged, accurate passes with a few red-zone looks that could reach pay dirt. If Jackson can repeat his 100-yard rushing performance and knock in a few touchdown throws, he could easily finish in the Top 5 this week. Oakland has allowed at least two touchdown passes in every game since Week 2. That bodes well for Jackson's chances this week.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay vs San Francisco - Jameis Winston may be prone to committing turnovers, but he also can rack up the yards. The Buccaneers have one of the best pass offenses in the league and now that Winston will be starting, you need to take notice and consider him as a weekly start with an emphasis on certain matchups. This week's game against San Francisco is one of those matchups. The 49ers have allowed at least two touchdown passes in all but two games this year. It's not a stretch to project Winston topping 300 yards with two touchdowns. Consider him an excellent start this week.
Nick Mullens, San Francisco at Tampa Bay - Nick Mullens followed up his debut gem against Oakland with a 250-yard passing performance with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in a loss to the Giants. What can we expect in the third game at Tampa Bay? Probably somewhere in between. Tampa Bay has allowed multiple touchdown passes in six of the last seven games. A 250-270 yard game with two scores is feasible and perhaps likely.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami at Indianapolis - The Colts defense have been pretty decent against quarterbacks this year, but recently they have allowed six touchdown passes in the last three games, mostly due to establishing a heavy point margin. The Colts have won four straight games by a margin of 32, 14, 3, and 28. Tannehill is returning from a shoulder injury and may be a bit rusty in this game, but the matchup is enticing. The game script for this matchup may result in a 200+ yard effort with two scores. Not a bad stat line for a player who can make a case for your Super-flex or two-quarterback lineup this week.
Colt McCoy, Washington at Dallas - the injury to Alex Smith has opened the door for Colt McCoy to get his crack against NFL defenses. In limited action last week, McCoy was productive, especially as a rusher. Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed were his primary targets. He'll face the Cowboys in a must-win division rival game on Thanksgiving Day. The prep time for this game is shortened, so he could struggle. He's not the top option this week among lesser known plays, but his rushing ability and return to Texas may give him a spark with some welcomed fantasy production.
Chase Daniel, Chicago at Detroit - It's looking more and more like Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) will be a scratch for the early Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions. His absence would mean a spot-start for Chase Daniel, which would decrease the production for the Bears receiving corps. Daniel was with Matt Nagy in Kansas City, so he does know the offense really well, but temper your expectations on a big game. Daniel may be able to produce 200 yards and a score or two, but if you're in dire need of a quarterback, he's not a bad play. Detroit has allowed back to back games of 300+ yards and 3 touchdown passes.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore vs Oakland - There may be a new lead back in Baltimore and his name is Gus Edwards. If you're in need of a running back in your lineup, consider Edwards, not only because he's facing the Raiders at home, but because he ran with purpose and found success in the Ravens offense. To make things more appealing, Baltimore has recognized him as the back they want to lean on. It's unclear if his usage (49 snaps, 17 carries, 115 yards, 1 touchdown) was a matchup exploitation against the Bengals, but he performed well, hit the holes, created yards after contact and meshed well with Lamar Jackson. He's worthy of a start this week in a favorable matchup.
Marlon Mack, Indianapolis vs Miami - Marlon Mack is not exactly an under the radar player anymore, but the matchup against Miami is a favorable one. The Colts offense has been productive recently and the Dolphins defenses against the run is an area to exploit. Miami has allowed a 130-yard rusher in three of the last four games, including a big game from Aaron Jones last week that included 145 yards rushing with two scores. Mack has played in six games this year and has scored in three of them. Those are good odds for a productive game this week.
Matt Breida, San Francisco at Tampa Bay - The 49ers had a much-needed bye last week, which allowed their top running back to heal up for the grind of the last quarter of the season. Matt Brieda has three straight double-digit carry games, and he's coming off a 100-yard rushing game (with a score) against the Giants. He'll face Tampa Bay this week who have allowed a 100-yard rusher in two of the last four games. Both of those backs (Saquon Barkley and Joe Mixon) tagged the Bucs for two rushing touchdowns each.
Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen at Detroit - If Chase Daniel starts for Chicago while Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) gets some rest, the ground game could become a centerpiece of the Bears offensive attack against Detroit. the first matchup against Detroit was definitely more pass-oriented, but that strategy could change without Trubisky. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen could see an increase in touches as a result. The Lions have also allowed a back to reach 4 receptions or more in five of the last seven games, which is good news for Cohen.
Duke Johnson Jr, Cleveland at Cincinnati - Nick Chubb is the obvious winner in this matchup against the Bengals, but don't shy away from Duke Johnson Jr, who has at least four receptions in four of the last five games. He also has three scores in that same span. The Bengals run defense has been poor all season, but especially bad since Week 6. They have allowed backs to score at least two touchdowns in four of the last five games. Expect a heavy run-oriented attack for the Browns this week.
Keke Coutee, Houston vs Tennessee - The Titans defense struggled against the Colts last week, giving up three touchdowns to wide receivers. In the earlier matchup against division rival Houston, they gave up scores to both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V. With Fuller out of the picture and Demaryius Thomas learning the ropes, Coutee is seeing second-option targets next to Hopkins and he's coming through with flying colors. His yards after the catch ability and increased targets make him a receiver worth starting as a WR3 or flex option in all formats, but especially PPR. Coutee has been targeted at least five times in four of his five games this season.
Bruce Ellington, Detroit vs Chicago - With Golden Tate now in Philadelphia and Marvin Jones Jr nursing a knee injury, Bruce Ellington has stepped up his game with six catches on nine targets in last week's game against Carolina. He has emerged as an interesting and intriguing start this week while Marvin Jones Jr is out of action. Double-digit PPR points is a possibility in what could be a favorable matchup for Matthew Stafford against the Bears. If you're looking for a sleeper receiver this week, Ellington fits the bill. To further accentuate Ellington as a sleeper this week, the Lions will be without Kerryon Johnson and may find themselves in more of a pass-dominant offense, which of course favors Detroit receivers, including Ellington.
Danny Amendola, Miami at Indianapolis - Miami may not have scored an offensive touchdown since Week 8, but Danny Amendola has quietly been a spark on an otherwise dismal offense. Amendola has 8, 6, 5, 5, 7 receptions in the last five games or 31 receptions on 41 targets. He has one score in that span. The next closest Dolphins receiver in targets is Kenyan Drake with 24. In short, Amendola has been a key piece to the offense and this week's game at Indianapolis favors a game script that would benefit the Dolphins passing game.
Quincy Enunwa, NY Jets vs. New England - Sam Darnold (foot) may be back this week for the battle against New England. He latched onto Quincy Enunwa earlier in the year before an ankle injury caused the receiver to miss some time. This game could quickly turn into a pass-friendly game script if New England can take advantage of the Jets who were embarrassed by the Bills last week. Such a game script would favor the passing game, which would feature a heavy target share to Enunwa. Five catches and 60-70 yards is a strong possibility this week.
Josh Doctson, Washington at Dallas - Doctson was targeted five times by Colt McCoy in the third and fourth quarter after Alex Smith left the game with a broken leg last week. It's clear that McCoy's top targets were Jordan Reed as well as Doctson. He may have only caught two of the five passes thrown his way by McCoy, but it's important to know that he was a common piece to the offensive attack under McCoy. We could see similar target shares this week at Dallas.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay vs San Francisco - O.J. Howard was recently placed on injured reserve, making Cameron Brate the Buccaneers top tight-end receiving threat. Jameis Winston has targeted Brate often in his time as a starter, especially in the red zone, even with O.J. Howard in the lineup. It's not a stretch to give Brate a 50% chance or higher of having at least one touchdown this week against the 49ers.
Jordan Reed, Washington at Dallas - Jordan Reed is hardly an under the radar tight end threat, but he hasn't been a consistent threat this season with Alex Smith. There are some theories behind this, but most involve Smith's propensity to target Vernon Davis, who Smith has played with going back to his days with the 49ers. He knows Davis well and trusts him. Now that Smith is out of the picture, Reed becomes a person of interest, especially after a 7-77 performance last week with Colt McCoy picking up the slack after Smith left the game. Looking deeper, Reed leads the team in targets with 39 since Week 7 and was a key recipient of McCoy's passes catching three of his six completions in the third and fourth quarter. Look for Reed to see a bump in production for Washington. He has moved back into the conversation of being a weekly TE1 start.
Austin Hooper, Atlanta at New Orleans - Austin Hooper is second on the team in targets and receptions behind Julio Jones since Week 9. He has 19 targets in the last two games and may find himself seeing quite a few opportunities this week against the Saints. New Orleans has been particularly vulnerable against wide receivers, so don't rule out Mohamed Sanu or Calvin Ridley as the biggest beneficiaries behind Jones. Hooper quietly has 50 receptions this season with three touchdowns. If you are in need of a starting tight end this week, you could do worse than Hooper.
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