Fantasy Football Hot Takes: NFL Week 12
Dan Malin recaps the weekend's action in the NFL with his fantasy football hot takes and what you need to take away from everything you saw.
I apologize if I sound a little grumpy in this week’s article. It’s been a pretty frustrating week professionally and personally. Some of the frustration stems from the way COVID protocols have been handled in the NFL. And I don’t care how it impacts my fantasy team, it’s just a bad look when Schefter’s tweeting out that the NFL had zero positive tests on Sunday morning (so all games are a go) and then Monday morning they get positive tests. It seems reckless and lacks transparency. The Steelers went from prepping on a short week for a Thanksgiving game to now playing the following Tuesday night and then have to play less than 120 hours later on Sunday afternoon for Week 13. This whole thing is a mess and it’s impressive the Steelers are still undefeated. I’m pulling for them to run up the score on the rest of their opponents and lock in a first-round bye because they deserve a week off. Anyway, here are this week’s takes.
Avoid Starting The Cincinnati Bengals
So a week ago the general belief was that Ryan Finley would be the starting quarterback for the Bengals. However, early last week the Bengals named Brandon Allen their starting quarterback and I didn’t really change my stance on them. I was okay with Giovani Bernard and Tyler Boyd . I wasn’t high on Tee Higgins the rest of the way. And wouldn’t you know it, Gio and Boyd went out and were busts while Tee Higgins caught all five targets and a touchdown. I’m deeply concerned about the Bengals going forward. Gio has lost his flare, Boyd was a massive letdown, and Tee Higgins still has risk. Not to mention, there’s no incentive for the Bengals to bring back Joe Mixon at this point. They are easily a team we can stream defenses against down the stretch. The Bengals were dominated in time of possession 37:26-to-22:34 and Cincinnati ran just 46 plays for 155 yards of offense. That’s terrifying and against the Dolphins next week they’re an easy fade.
Wayne Gallman Is A RB1 Rest Of Season
A lot of dominos had to fall Gallman’s way, but we made it to this point regardless. Saquon Barkley was lost for the year, Devonta Freeman got hurt, numerous other running backs from other teams were hurt or are in situations that we just don’t like. If we’re looking for a beacon of consistency over the last month or so, no one shines brighter than Wayne Gallman . He has six touchdowns in his last five games and he gets fed plenty of volume. The workload has gradually increased over New York’s last five games and it culminated in Gallman getting 25 touches on Sunday. Daniel Jones did hurt his hamstring, and that could negatively impact Gallman’s upside, but he’s churning out production when this team gets it close to the goal line so he can’t be benched. For the next three weeks the schedule shapes up nicely for the G-Men. Gallman has the makings of a 2015 Tim Hightower -esque finish where he catapults owners to a fantasy title. At least with Gallman we have enough proof to “set it and forget it” regarding his status in our lineups.
You Should’ve Dropped Le’Veon Bell Two Weeks Ago
Le’Veon Bell is owned in 67% of ESPN leagues. Why? What is the point? He looked bad with the Jets and he hasn’t had any opportunity with the Chiefs aside from a touchdown he scored last week against Las Vegas. Don’t preach “well he still has upside” when we haven’t seen any explosive upside from him since his time with Pittsburgh three years ago. Even last year with the Jets, his season was salvaged by 66 receptions. Even if Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is also an unfortunate bust this year, were to get hurt, I’d have minimal interest in Bell. That patience and vision we saw with Pittsburgh is gone. He gambled on himself and sat out the 2018 season. He got paid by the Jets and now he’s just trying to get a ring. Could he turn it around and next year and be relevant again? Possibly because he’s still under 30 years old and may have a good season or two left in him if somebody takes a chance on him in a more featured role or in an evenly split committee. But he just wreaks of a guy whose gotten fat & happy, but without the obesity trait. He’s made about $45 million in his career and has produced very little especially this season. Cam Akers would be a far better stash than Bell at this point.
Henry Ruggs’ Breakout Game Is Coming
It’s quite the bold claim to say a player’s breakout game is coming after his team was blown out 43-6. But we’ve seen big performances consistently from Justin Jefferson. Jerry Jeudy even had a huge game a few weeks back when the Broncos were allowed to play actual quarterbacks. CeeDee Lamb has had some solid games too. Tee Higgins was a regular starter for the Bengals prior to Joe Burrow’s injury. But we haven’t had too many reasons for optimism for the first wide receiver taken in April’s draft. The Raiders have grossly misused Ruggs throughout the year. Nelson Agholor has had a much bigger year to this point and that’s flat out embarrassing. Against the Chiefs last week, Ruggs had just one target. This past week he caught three passes on five targets and came dangerously close to finding the end zone. I like to think the Raiders are smarter than this. I see two games on this team’s schedule where Ruggs could be due for a huge day: next week in the Meadowlands against the Jets or in two-and-a-half weeks on Thursday Night Football against the Chargers. Better late than never right? This kid is due for a slate-breaking performance.
Deebo Samuel: League Winner?
We seem to forget how good Deebo Samuel really is. But that’s okay because he’s usually real quick to remind us how good he is...
Deebo Samuel is kind of the forgotten man from the 2019 receiver class but when he's on the field, dudes a BALLER!. Just stay healthy. Missed the first 3 games with a broken foot. Missed more games with a hammy issue. But when he's out there he's ballin pic.twitter.com/S95buw5VHt— Crocky (@eric_crocker) November 29, 2020
He had a BIG day on Sunday. Samuel finished with 11 receptions on 13 targets for 133 yards. His two games before he was injured? He caught all 11 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers don’t use their wide receivers in the most traditional sense. A lot of Samuel’s catches will come at the line of scrimmage but he’s so dynamic and versatile that he can easily make plays and gain yards after catch. Admittedly, He is a boom-or-bust kind of player. In 2019 he only touched the ball 71 times but turned that into 961 total yards and six touchdowns. But with so many injuries to the 49ers, they’re in need of some playmakers. Deebo’s the best weapon they have and with a pretty friendly schedule coming up, he’s emerging as a go-to option in this offense.
Let's Not Overreact, Kyler Murray Will Be Fine
I’m not panicking. Who’s panicking? No one here is panicking! The last two games have been very underwhelming. Okay fine, Week 11’s game against Seattle was underwhelming, Sunday’s game against New England was a head scratcher at best, but a nightmare at worst. The Cardinals have now lost two straight and are sitting at 6-5. Previously they felt like a lock for the playoffs. Now? Not so much. They’re clinging to the last playoff spot and this is somewhat surprising after the hot start they got off to. It’s clear the Cardinals are concerned about Murray’s shoulder injury he sustained against the Seahawks over a week ago. He’ll get another week to let it rest before a home game against the Rams next Sunday. After losing three of their last four, the Cardinals are desperately in need of a win. And honestly, if the Hail Murray against Buffalo doesn’t work out, we’re looking at a team riding a four-game losing streak. The Rams are in a spot to win their division. The Cardinals are trying to stay alive. This is obviously a must-win for Arizona and Kingsbury can’t continue to be conservative with Murray. Sunday against the Patriots it appeared as if Kingsbury was content letting Murray run backward and throw off his back foot as opposed to making a play with his feet. Perhaps we shouldn’t prop Kingsbury up on a pedestal for his coaching prowess when he really hasn’t done anything to garner that level of respect. Murray will face similar pressure against the Rams in Week 13 and if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive, they’ll need to let Murray be a playmaker, not a game manager.
Frank Gore Is (Regrettably) A Flex Play To Finish 2020
We know Adam Gase has a soft spot for Gore and with La’Mical Perine on IR Gore now has 38 touches the last two weeks and he’s returned double-digit fantasy points in PPR formats. In a year where we’ve had a large amount of injuries and even stranger circumstances with COVID-19, Frank Gore has gone nowhere. He has double-digit carries in all but two games this year. Sure, the volume didn’t necessarily translate to production before the team’s bye week. But with Perine sidelined, there is nobody else that Adam Gase would love to feed more than Frank Gore . If he’s catching two or three passes each week then he has a little more PPR appeal. But say your team is decimated with injuries and you need a pretty good floor from a player, Frank Gore ’s social security number might be in the single digits, but his touches are in the double digits.
The Falcons Defense Can Be Streamed Next Week
If you consider the rest of their schedule, this certainly qualifies as a hot take. A couple weeks ago when the Falcons were coming off their bye week, Howard actually listed the Falcons in the Playbook and I somewhat scoffed at it at the time. But he wasn’t wrong in his assessment. The defense was slowly coming around. The secondary still isn’t very good, but the pass rush has been better. On Sunday against the Raiders they forced five turnovers (four of which were fumble recoveries), collected five sacks, and limited the Raiders to just six points. It was an absolute dud by Las Vegas and they didn’t do their playoff hopes any favors. Since the Falcons named Raheem Morris the head coach they’re 4-2 and the defense actually has looked better. I’m not sure why or how they’ve stepped up from the moment the defensive coordinator was named the interim head coach, but a functioning defense was on full display on Sunday. The Saints next week will be a good test. In Week 11 they rag dolled Atlanta. But let’s give Atlanta the benefit of the doubt. They have two games of tape on the Saints led by Taysom Hill and they should be better equipped in this matchup and the Saints will run it two-out-of-every-three plays as has been their M.O. the last two weeks. The real test for the Falcons will be after the Saints in Week 13. They finish the season against the Chargers, Buccaneers, Chiefs, and then the Bucs again in Week 17. By all accounts, that’s a crappy schedule for a D/ST. But I’m not opposed to possibly using them against the Chargers and Buccaneers, especially with how inconsistent the Bucs offense has looked lately.
Fantasy Football Will Survive Because No Games Will Be Cancelled
This could quickly blow up in my face Monday afternoon. And if it does? So be it. But when setting lineups, you should always operate under the assumption all games are being played for the week. It’s nice to have pivots set up in the event that things change, but as of right now I don’t see the NFL cancelling or re-scheduling games for different weeks. They just don’t have the flexibility for that anymore. We have five weeks left in the year; this league is determined for each team to play 16 games. They weren’t even willing to re-schedule or accommodate the Denver Broncos after they went into Week 12 without a quarterback. I think the NFL would go so far as to allow Ray Lewis to suit up for the Ravens on Tuesday night. So, while we may see games shifted around, I’m always setting my lineups with the best players assuming they all play. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have me a little nervous, but there won’t be a Week 18 for makeup games. They want to play these games and the Ravens will have a very depleted roster, but they’ll have to suit up and play. And on that note…
Don’t Get Cute With Your Fantasy Lineups
And now to segue into your lineups for the rest of the season, and this goes without saying. I’m surprised I am going to close the article with this topic because this is more of a general reminder than a hot take, but it really needs to be said. When it comes to studs and good players, don’t think, just start them. I understand the current state of the Saints has us all wondering what to do with Michael Thomas each week. But he had nine catches on 12 targets in Week 11 and he had nine points in PPR this past week. It’s not good, but there are a ton of question marks these days in fantasy football. In the NFL Seasonal chat, I felt like I was getting too many questions about whether to start Austin Ekeler , Raheem Mostert , Allen Robinson , A.J. Brown, etc. You drafted these players high and while we’re experiencing a very bizarre fantasy football season, you need to start your best players. And don’t get me started on James Robinson. He has touched the ball at least 16 times in every game this year. That’s a RB1. Nobody is going to have a big game every week. Even Kyler Murray is coming off a really bad game on Sunday. But if you’re telling me that a running back is touching the ball at least 16 times every week, then he needs to be in your lineup. He has eight touchdowns on the season. He’s going to pass 1,000 rushing yards. He’s involved in the passing game. He’s producing regardless who is starting at quarterback and who the opposing defense is. What more do you need to feel confident starting him? There’s no need to ask about James Robinson anymore…
And on another note, I honestly couldn’t believe how many questions we had about starting Kendall Hinton at wide receiver on Yahoo simply because he was a backup quarterback in college. Somebody actually suggested that he had a safe floor and that just about broke my brain. Now full disclosure, there were a few members of the FANation that I told to start Hinton. But that was because the other options were so disastrously horrible, I figured “what the hell, just give it a shot.” The difference between Hinton and Taysom Hill was obvious. We’ve at least seen Taysom Hill . We’ve seen him vulture touchdowns. We’ve seen him actually make plays albeit on the rarest of occasions prior to this month. Nobody had even heard of Kendall Hinton before Saturday and all of a sudden he seemed like a must start at wide receiver? He didn’t complete his first pass on Sunday until the third quarter! Stop overthinking this game. Taysom Hill was an obvious start at tight end because that was a position where we’ve failed to see consistent production and we had an actual player with quarterback experience/eligibility exposing a loophole on ESPN. Kendall Hinton was an absolute longshot to do anything productive on Sunday.
A good portion of this game is based on a player’s opportunity, their health, and luck. All those things are out of your control. Just put yourself in the best position to win with your best players and let the chips fall where they may.