Here we are in week 12. Some of our leagues have this week and next week before the playoffs. Some of us might get a bonus week of the regular season. Either way, week 12 is already underway! If you are a faithful and friendly reader,
I sincerely hope you are either facing the Kamara owner OR are lucky enough to have Zeke OR brave enough to have started Dak, Amari Cooper seems to be making quite the impact.
Let’s move on to why you’re here!
Running Back: Start ’em
MATT BREIDA (SAN FRANCISCO 49ers)
Matt Breida put our fears to rest in week 10 when he rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown and also added 4 catches for 31 yards and another touchdown through the air. In half point leagues, that amounted to almost 28 points. Week 11 was a bye week for the 49ers. Even if that week 10 performance didn’t completely calm your worries, the week of rest will.
The 49ers return from their bye week to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are the 6th worst defense against the run. They have allowed 17 total touchdowns to the Running Back position. That’s the most in the NFL. They have allowed 1286 rushing yards. That’s the most in the NFL. Running Backs succeed when they face Tampa Bay.
You might be concerned that the matchup is an “away” game for the 49ers or that the team just isn’t that good due to the injury plague which is attacking their team. Please do not be concerned. The Bucs defense couldn’t stop a 2 year old in a power wheels car. Even if the 49ers lose the game Breida will score a touchdown.
MARLON MACK (INDIANAPOLIS COLTS)
Mark this day in history. I’ve never suggested a Colts Running Back in this section until today. This was a matchup that I simply couldn’t pass up.
Marlon Mack impressed in week 11 with 17 touches for 69 yards and a touchdown. It might not have lit the world on fire, but it was a sturdy RB2 week for the young Running Back. He is the lead back in Indianapolis gathering 61% of the offensive snaps in week 11. Jordan Wilkins has largely been relegated to Special Teams while Nyheim Hines still has his passing down niche.
As if the position clarity wasn’t enough, the Colts are at home against the Miami Dolphins. Much like the Bucs above, the Dolphins can’t stop the run. They have allowed the most rushing yards per game and are 4th worst against the position. When you combine Mack’s lead role with the opposing defense, you have a recipe for success.
Running Back: Sit ’em
LAMAR MILLER (HOUSTON TEXANS)
I made this decision before hearing the sad news about the passing of the beloved Texans owner, Robert McNair. Teams do strange things after terrible events like that. If you are going to go for the glory play by starting Lamar Miller, proceed with caution.
I know what you’re thinking and can hear the questioning of this decision: “Why is Lamar Miller here in the “sit ’em” list? He is the clear lead back on a winning team! They’re playing at home in week 12. The offense is still clicking even with the loss of the touchdown king, Will Fuller.” Lamar Miller is in this list because they are playing the Tennessee Titans. Sure, the Titans are nothing special as a whole. But their defense is still the 3rd best against Running Backs. Only the Baltimore Ravens have allowed less points to opposing teams over the entire season. Finally, Las Vegas has the over/under for this game at a paltry 41.5. There is only 1 game on the schedule with a lower over/under (I’m looking at you, snoozer Jags vs Bills game). There will not be a cornucopia of points in this game.
Since Miller is the clear lead back and they’re playing at home, we could see a touchdown from him and my sit recommendation is lost. Keep in mind that this is still a divisional matchup and the Titans are easily in the mix for a playoff spot in the relatively weak AFC. At the very least, you’ll need to temper your expectations for Lamar Miller.
RAIDERS BACKFIELD (OAKLAND RAIDERS)
Is Doug Martin healthy? Can Derek Carr back up his claim that he wants to ruin the Oakland Raiders draft position? In week 12, you don’t even have to think about it because………
The Raiders travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens. That alone should scare you away. Why are you still curious? Fine, I’ll explain.
The Ravens have the best defense against the Running Back position. Only the Saints have allowed fewer yards to the position and it’s not by much. To make up for their lack of effort (that’s sarcasm, folks), the Ravens have allowed 2 less touchdowns over the season compared to the Saints. These stats include passing down work, so you can forget about Jalen Richard having a decent week, too.
This game is going to be a massacre of epic proportions. The Raiders don’t stand a chance. If they rush for more than 50 yards, I’ll eat a Brussel sprout, I won’t fry it either.
Tight End: Start ’em
VANCE MCDONALD (PITTSBURGH STEELERS)
Vance McDonald is a clear red zone threat, lately. And he’s a clutch player; He has caught 75% of his targets in the red zone. He has scored a touchdown in each of his last two games. Meanwhile, the Steelers travel to Denver to play the Broncos. These are the same Broncos that let Antonio Gates be the overall TE1 in week 11. Antonio Gates, readers. Look at your calendars, it’s not 2014 or before. Start Vance McDonald with confidence.
DAVID NJOKU (CLEVELAND BROWNS)
Yes, he’s questionable with a knee injury. If he doesn’t play, I would not recommend starting him in your fantasy league.
But, if he plays, he gets a juicy matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals who have been particularly giving on defense, lately. In particular, they enjoy allowing Tight Ends to get touchdowns from red zone targets (Mark Andrews, Logan Paulsen, Demetrius Harris). It’s easy to forget because the Browns have been somewhat forgettable this season, but David Njoku is 6’4″ tall. His height alone screams “THROW ME THE BALL AND THROW IT HIGH!”
Tight End: Sit ’em
ANTONIO GATES (LOS ANGELES CHARGERS)
(I still almost typed San Diego up there. Habits, am I right?)
Don’t chase the week 11 performance. This game will be the Melvin Gordon/Austin Ekeler show. The Chargers travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals who actually aren’t that bad against the pass. It’s possible that they appear good against the pass because their opponents don’t have to try to pass the ball. They can just plow through the Cardinals using the running game. When you have one of the best Running Backs in the league (Melvin Gordon), you use him.
EVAN ENGRAM (NEW YORK GIANTS)
Against my better judgement, I am including a second “sit” recommendation. This one leaped out at me, though. The Giants travel to Philly. The Eagles are pretty darn good against the Tight End position, allowing only 2 touchdowns to the Tight End position over the ENTIRE season.
In addition, Engram has been largely disappointing this season. The Giants need blockers up front and Engram doesn’t do that. I hope you have another option.
Good luck to each of you in week 12! Unless you’re facing me. In that case, I hope you are still suffering from Turkey and festivity hangover and your lineup still has the Rams and Chiefs players from last week!