After Monday night’s barn burner, the league’s fresh out of fantasy points for the rest of the season.
Joking here, but the Rams’ 54-51 over the Chiefs is reminder of how much fantasy managers will sorely miss all the top-echelon players from the Rams and Chiefs in a critical Week 12.
Not to worry, while this final off-week benches some of fantasy football’s top producers, it also returns some defensive patsies.
Marlon Mack, RB, Colts vs. Dolphins
Fantasy-wise, Lamar Miller and Aaron Jones had their best games against the Dolphins. Kerryon Johnson had his second-best game against them. Now it’s Mack’s turn. Miami has given up the fourth most points to the position (NFL.com format).
Nick Chubb, RB, Browns at Bengals
Didn’t the Bengals have a good defense at one point, or was that a mirage? Since Week 6, Cincy’s coughed up at least one rushing touchdown in every game — including one to Peyton Barber and someone named (checks notes) Gus Edwards. Chubb’s a must-start.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots at Jets
Rob Gronkowski may return for this one, which can only help draw coverage away from Edelman, one of Tom Brady’s most reliable receivers. The Jets are the sixth easiest in fantasy for receivers.
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts vs. Dolphins
Only three quarterbacks have topped 20 fantasy points against the Dolphins, but Luck has proved in back-to-back games against the Jaguars and Titans that he’s truly matchup proof. In fact, he hasn’t dipped below 20 points since Week 4. Luck is a backup on many teams, but this will be his best play until Week 16 against the Giants.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints vs. Falcons
Michael Thomas is a no-brainer and will draw a lot of attention, and rightfully so. The Falcons’ defense has stiffened a bit since injuries made them a sieve earlier this season, which works to Smith’s favor. Forcing Drew Brees to spread the ball will give Smith a good chance to build on his 157-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Eagles.
George Kittle, TE, 49ers at Buccaneers
The math here is simple: The fourth-most prolific tight end against the second worst defense against the position equals a must-start.
Mason Crosby, K, Packers at Vikings
This game has playoff implications, which may favor the road kicker in this case. The Vikings have allowed the third most points to the position.
Jaguars defense at Bills
You never know which Bills team you’re going to get — good Bills or bad Bills — but take your chances with a cocky Jacksonville unit versus an opponent that has allowed at least 20 fantasy points to D/STs four times, as well as 1 point shy of a fifth time.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Titans at Texans
If Marcus Mariota (stinger) can’t go, Gabbert will face a defense that held him to 8.88 fantasy points (Yahoo format) in Week 2. And if Mariota plays, you should avoid him, too.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions vs. Bears
The Bears defense passed another test by stuffing the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook, so the Lions have no chance if Kerryon Johnson can’t … go on. Over Blount’s last four games, he has averaged about three-fourths of a yard. You read that right: 0.76 yards per carry. I wouldn’t even count on him bulldozing in for a goalline score, the Bears are pretty good at stopping those, too.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins at Cowboys
Peterson’s always a threat to score from close range, but he’s very risky here. With Colt McCoy making his first start of the season, the Cowboys — the 10th hardest in fantasy for running backs — will key on the run, and the Redskins could be playing in catch-up mode most of the game.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars at Bills
Despite 14 targets over the past two games, Westbrook has totaled just 6.2 fantasy points in standard scoring. Blake Bortles shares some of the blame for that. Since Week 2, the Bills have mostly shut down all but the elite receivers.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Texans vs Titans
Deshaun Watson has been sluggish as an offensive threat more often than not this season, and Thomas hasn’t been involved much since being traded from Denver. Coach Bill O’Brien said via Chron.com, “I think he did some good things. … I think we need to work at really getting him more involved in the offense, no doubt about it.” The Titans aren’t the defense to work out issues.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals at Chargers
Some fantasy managers have been patiently waiting for Seals-Jones to make good on his potential, but it’s not likely to happen this week, either. The Chargers are No. 1 defending tight ends.
Matt Bryant, K, Falcons at Saints
One look at how the Saints dismantled the Eagles in the Superdome is enough to scare me off Bryant. New Orleans could easily run up the score and force the Falcons to go for touchdowns and 2-point conversions. New Orleans is third stingiest to kickers.
Jets defense vs. Patriots
The Jets have been a sneaky play most of the season but in the last seven games New England has blanked fantasy defenses three times and allowed more than 3 points only once.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings vs. Packers
Everyone’s ready to bury Cousins after back-to-back lackluster performances against the Lions and Bears, but Cousins still managed to produce almost 19 points (Yahoo format) in Chicago. The beleaguered Vikings quarterback will hunker down and be aggressive against a defense he torched for four touchdowns in Week 2. Side note: I like Carson Wentz against the Giants for similar reasons.
Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens vs. Raiders
Edwards made a splash with 115 yards, a touchdown and 2-point conversion and simultaneously sent Alex Collins owners into a panic. Coach John Harbaugh doesn’t sound like it’s a temporary thing either: “He gives us that back that we probably didn’t have earlier in the year.” Since their Week 7 bye, the Raiders have given up 100 total yards or a touchdown in each game.
Elijah McGuire, RB, Jets vs. Patriots
Sam Darnold’s status (foot) is iffy, but whoever throws passes in this game, he’ll likely be looking for McGuire, who has taken on the Bilal Powell role. The Jets are coming off an off-week and usually raise their play for the Patriots, who are tied for eighth in receptions to running backs per game with 6.1.
Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks have hovered around the middle in defensive efficiency against WR1s, and they rank 11th in fantasy points to wide receivers. Funchess dropped a couple passes, including what would’ve been a touchdown, in his return visit to hometown Detroit. Sometimes when a player struggles it can bring renewed focus in the next game. “I will take full responsibility of myself, most definitely,” Funchess said via the team website. “I have to do more for the team.”
Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos vs. Steelers
Pittsburgh is not the must-start opponent for wide receivers it was in the first half of the season, but they are more vulnerable to defending WR2s. Sutton has been gaining confidence since the departure of Demaryius Thomas.
Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens vs. Raiders
Let’s go really deep sleeper on this one, since this has been such a need position this season, especially in 12- and 14-team leagues. The Raiders are the worst in defensive efficiency against tight ends, and Andrews surprisingly has more yards and touchdowns (two) than any other Baltimore tight end. The rookie could be one of those random touchdown scorers that are always so hard to predict.
Aldrick Rosas, K, Giants at Eagles
Philadelphia has forked over the most points to kickers over the last four weeks. And you have to like his chances in a tight division game on the road.
49ers defense at Buccaneers
The 49ers are underrated as a defense and could take advantage of a Bucs team helmed by turnover-prone Jameis Winston and saddled with seven games where opposing defense have scored double-digit fantasy points.