Nick Mensio

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

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Week 12 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely have exposure to on Sunday. As always, the Thursday games are ignored in this piece due to short shelf life.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Carson Palmer at Falcons: There’s no denying Palmer has been mostly a train wreck this season. Even dating back to last year. At 37 (next month), he simply seems to be running out of gas. Palmer has thrown five picks over his past three games and taken 18 sacks in his past four. The silver lining, however, is the he’s thrown for at least 342 yards in 3-of-4 games. Missing LT Jared Veldheer (triceps, I.R.) and RG Evan Mathis (ankle, I.R.) has caused serious problems for Palmer’s protection. On the other side, the Falcons are second behind only the Dolphins in QB hurries with 82, even though Atlanta is a middling 15th in sacks. Hurries lead to turnovers. This part of the equation certainly favors the Falcons. But Atlanta has faced the most pass attempts, allowed the fourth-most pass yards, second-most passing touchdowns, and second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Falcons are 22nd in pass-defense DVOA. The Cardinals and Falcons are both top-seven in offensive pace when the score is within six points, and this game has the highest total of Week 12 among the Sunday-Monday games at 51.5 points with a 4.5-point spread. We’re going to want pieces of this game on the fast Georgia Dome turf. Palmer is a good bet to throw for 300-plus yards. As long as he’s able to mix in multiple touchdowns, we can live with a turnover or two. It’s also worth noting that Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant is still battling a shoulder injury that caused him to miss Week 10 ahead of last week’s bye. He was limited in Wednesday’s practice. Trufant likely will play, but before getting hurt, he was Pro Football Focus’ No. 96 cover corner out of 104 qualifiers over the last month. You can do a lot worse than Palmer for a Week 12 streaming option. Plus, he’s only $7,100 on FanDuel, priced as the QB15 there. I have no issue running him out there in cash games.



Starts

Eli Manning at Browns: The Giants are white-hot, winners of five straight. Four of those games have been at home and against a really weak schedule (vs. BAL, at LA, vs. PHI, vs. CIN, vs. CHI). That easy schedule continues for Week 12, even if it’s on the road in the Dawg Pound. The Browns are 0-10 with little hope at winning a game in 2016. Over his last three games, Manning has tossed nine touchdowns to four picks, while taking just two sacks. The yards haven’t been there, as Manning has topped 261 yards just once since Week 3. But this spot has all the makings for a big day. Both the Giants and Browns are top-five in offensive pace, and Cleveland is dead-last in plays against. The Browns are also 31st in pass-defense DVOA and 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. They’ve surrendered the most passing touchdowns and second-most yards, while checking in at 26th in adjusted sack rate. The only real concern here is blowout factor. Countering that, the Giants are 27th in run-play percentage. This is a pass-heavy offense. Manning drops back to pass an average of 40.1 times per game. He’s an elite QB1 streaming option.

Joe Flacco vs. Bengals: Recommending Flacco sends shivers through my body. He’s thrown 10 touchdown passes all season, even with the Ravens being one of the pass-happiest teams in the league. Flacco drops back to pass an average of 44 times per game. That’s a ton of empty volume. He’s thrown one or zero touchdowns in 8-of-10 games, with both of his multi-TD games coming against the rec-league Browns. Flacco has let us down in a couple of plus spots against the Jets (248 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) and Raiders (298 yards, 1 TD). This is another solid on-paper spot against a Bengals team that basically had its season ripped apart last week, losing A.J. Green (hamstring) and Giovani Bernard (torn ACL). Those two obviously don’t play defense, but Cincinnati may struggle to get up for this one. The Bengals could be missing two defensive backfield starters. Both LCB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and SS Shawn Williams (hamstring) didn’t practice Wednesday. Cincinnati is 26th in fantasy points yielded to quarterbacks and 20th in pass-defense DVOA. Like the two quarterbacks mentioned above, Flacco also figures to be involved in a fast-paced game. Baltimore (8th) and Cincinnati (9th) are top-nine in offensive pace. Flacco’s supporting cast is as healthy as it has been all year, with only LG Alex Lewis (ankle) in doubt for Week 12.

Ryan Tannehill vs. 49ers: Tannehill is a play based on pace and being a home favorite. The 49ers continue to be the fastest-paced offense in the league, which has translated to their defense facing the second-most plays ahead of only the Browns mentioned above. Since Jay Ajayi’s big breakout in Week 6, Tannehill is averaging only 28.6 passing attempts per game. San Francisco is dead-last in fantasy points allowed to running backs and overall run defense. Ajayi is a top-tier RB1 play. But there’s enough here for Tannehill to get “his” on Sunday. The 49ers are 21st in pass-defense DVOA and 27th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Since Week 6, they’ve allowed 4-of-5 quarterbacks to finish in the top-12 in scoring. The only exception was Carson Palmer in Week 10, but he still managed to throw for 376 yards and one touchdown. 49ers top CB Jimmie Ward also suffered a concussion last week, leaving him questionable, on the verge of doubtful, for Sunday. Ward covers the slot for San Francisco, and Tannehill has long favored throwing in the middle of the field. Miami is implied to score 26 points, the sixth-highest team total of Sunday-Monday games.

 

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Sits

Blake Bortles at Bills: Three games into OC Nathaniel Hackett’s tenure directing the offense, the Jaguars have tried to become more balanced. Chris Ivory’s two-highest carry totals of the season have come in Weeks 9 and 11. Bortles has just one top-12 finish in those three games, and it was heavily aided by garbage-time stats. Bortles also suffered a right (throwing) shoulder injury early in last week’s loss at Detroit. He played through it, but the Jaguars squatted on the ball thereafter, mostly limiting Bortles to check-downs and hand-offs. Bortles is practicing in full for Week 12, but already arguably one of the league’s three-worst quarterbacks, it’s more reason not to use him on the road against a streaking Bills team. Buffalo is a middling 15th in pass-defense DVOA and 21st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but it has allowed the fifth-fewest passing touchdowns on the season. Only Tom Brady and Russell Wilson have had multi-touchdown games against the Bills. Jacksonville’s implied team total of 18.75 points is the fifth-lowest of the week.

Jameis Winston vs. Seahawks: Winston showed up big on the road against the Chiefs last week, throwing for 331 yards and one touchdown, leading the Bucs to a tough win. But Kansas City was without top CB Marcus Peters in that one, and Alex Smith was unable to sustain drives on the opposite side. Winston gets to come home against a Seahawks defense traveling cross-country and possibly without FS Earl Thomas and RCB DeShawn Shead, who both have hamstring injuries that forced them to miss practice Wednesday. LCB Richard Sherman (ankle) also didn’t practice Wednesday, but coach Pete Carroll only expressed concern about Thomas and Shead. Missing two defensive backfield starters in addition to top defensive lineman Michael Bennett (knee) would be a big boost ton Winston, but Seattle still has Sherman to shadow Mike Evans. Evans is the Bucs’ only legitimate source of offense through the air. If he’s taken away, Winston doesn’t have much else with to work. Seattle is No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Only the Cardinals have surrendered fewer touchdown passes.

Philip Rivers at Texans: Rivers has thrown multiple touchdowns in three-straight games, totaling seven in that span, but he also had a meltdown at the end of the Week 10 loss to the Dolphins, tossing a whopping four interceptions in the fourth quarter. He had the Week 11 bye to chew on it. San Diego is well rested, while the Texans are playing on a short week after losing to the Raiders in Mexico City on Monday night, getting gassed out in the process while playing at the high altitude. That’s pretty much the only thing working in Rivers’ favor. Houston allowed Derek Carr to throw for 295 yards and three touchdowns on Monday, but 202 of those yards and two touchdowns went to running backs. That’s not to say Rivers can’t strike up the same scenario with Melvin Gordon, but odds are against it. Houston is fourth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 11th in pass-defense DVOA. Rising star CB A.J. Bouye is playing at a high level, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 cover corner out of 119 qualifiers. Rivers has thrown eight interceptions over his past four games. While this spot doesn’t look like one to stream him, Rivers’ fantasy playoffs schedule is super juicy. Weeks 13-16, he gets vs. TB, at CAR, vs. OAK, and at CLE. All four are bottom-10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. If Rivers is available in your league, add him.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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