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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

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Week 12 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Jameis Winston vs. 49ers: The Bucs flip-flop on the quarterback spot more than any team in the league; neither Winston nor Ryan Fitzpatrick can seem to last more than 3-4 weeks under center before coach Dirk Koetter grows tired of the turnovers and poor play and makes a switch. The question some ask is, “Why are we using a quarterback who turns the ball over so much in fantasy?” The reality is turnovers are easy to make up in fantasy box scores, as an interception is only docking 1-2 points in most leagues. That’s 25-50 passing yards to make those points back, and these guys throw so many touchdowns that it’s relatively simple to jump right back ahead. The Bucs also throw the ball over 64% of the time, good for the seventh-highest clip in the league. There is just so much opportunity for fantasy production in this offense. Winston and Fitzpatrick’s 410 combined pass attempts is second in the to only Ben Roethlisberger’s 416. Winston and Fitzpatrick have totaled 247.7 fantasy points, which would be the overall QB3 behind only Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff. Winston steps back in and gets a home date against a Niners team traveling across the country for a 1 PM ET start. San Francisco has two interceptions on the season; only the Bucs have fewer with one. Only five teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than the 49ers’ 21. San Fran is No. 21 in pass-defense DVOA. Both the Bucs and Niners are top-10 in offensive pace, and this game’s 55-point total is the second-highest on the board behind the Falcons and Saints (60.5) on Thanksgiving night. Niners-Bucs should be the weekend shootout. Even if it is unlikely to be pretty on either side, we should see plenty of points. Winston is a top-five QB1. In his three starts, he’s averaged 34 rushing yards with one touchdown on the ground. Winston also had a rushing score in relief last week. That rushing output solidifies his floor.

Starts

Andy Dalton vs. Browns: This mostly hinges on A.J. Green (toe) returning from his two-game absence, which sounds like a better than 50/50 proposition after ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported on Sunday there was a “good chance” Green would be back for Week 12. Dalton was horrific in Week 10 against the Saints without Green but did answer the bell last Sunday on the road in Baltimore for 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the overall QB9. That’s barely a top-15 week most weeks, but with multiple teams on bye, Dalton squeaked into the top 12 with ease. The Browns are No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA and coming off a bye. However, Cleveland has faced the second-most pass attempts behind only the Chiefs and checks in at No. 23 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The Browns have also intercepted the third-most passes. That likely has a lot to do with more opportunities. Cleveland plays three of its next four and four of its final six games on the road. Derek Carr (QB5) and Jameis Winston (QB9) both have top-10 finishes in home games against the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger was the QB16 in his blowout home win in Week 8, and way back in Week 2 was Drew Brees’ outlier performance of the season as the QB14. As long as Green is back in the lineup, Dalton should have a relatively easy path to a top-15 day and makes for a reasonable streamer for Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff managers looking for a bye-week filler. Prior to Green’s injury, the Bengals were one of the six fastest-paced offenses in the league, but have since ran 43 and 55 plays in back-to-back games, their two lowest play counts of the season. If Green is out, Dalton is knocked down a tier or two and is then only a two-quarterback league option for the most part. The 47.5-point total for Browns-Bengals is currently the fourth-highest of the week. Cincinnati throws the ball at the sixth-highest rate in the league, 65.22% of the time.

Carson Wentz vs. Giants: Wentz laid a total egg in a dream spot at the Superdome last Sunday against the Saints, finishing as the QB29 after throwing for just 156 scoreless yards with three interceptions. The Saints field one of the worst pass defenses from a statistical standpoint. Simply put, it was a horrendous day for the Eagles all around. Prior to Week 11, Wentz had been on a tear, throwing multiple touchdowns in six-straight games while completing over 71% of his throws. Weeks 4-10, Wentz was the overall QB8. It’s tough to not see him bouncing back in a must-have divisional game. The Giants are a middling 14th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but check in at 27th in pass-defense DVOA, 22nd in passing yards allowed, and dead last in adjusted sack rate. When Wentz faced the Giants in Week 6 on the road, he completed 26-of-36 throws for 278 yards and three touchdowns with no picks, finishing as the QB8. The G-Men gave up the QB7 day to the combo of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston last Sunday. Matt Ryan completed 79.5% of his passes for 379 yards and a score in Week 8. With the Eagles dealing with a laundry list of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, this one has some shootout appeal. The Eagles’ implied team total of 26 points is the seventh-highest of 30 teams in action this week. Wentz is a set-and-forget QB1.

Kirk Cousins vs. Packers: Since Week 5, Cousins is the overall QB22 in fantasy points per game. It’s been a struggle ever since lighting up the Rams for 422 yards and three scores in Week 4. In that six-game stretch, Cousins has three one-touchdown games and three two-score days. He’s topped 300 yards just twice. A little bit of it had to do with blowout wins over the Cardinals and Jets in Weeks 6-7. On a positive note, the volume has been there for Cousins. The Vikings throw the ball at the highest rate in the league, 67.34% of the time. And Cousins has dropped back to pass an NFL-high 451 times while firing off 409 attempts, second only to Ben Roethlisberger’s 416 passes. Cousins has attempted 40-plus passes in a game six times. A couple pick-sixes over the last three games have been real crushers to the Vikings in losses to the Saints and Bears. The last time Cousins faced the Packers, however, back in Week 2, he had his best game of the season, going 35-of-48 for 425 yards and four touchdowns in an eventual 29-29 tie. It was one of the best games of the season to date. While Minnesota is No. 1 in pass-run ratio, Green Bay is No. 2. This game should be an aerial assault. The Packers are No. 5 in pass yards allowed, No. 7 in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks, and No. 15 in pass-defense DVOA, but throw that all out the window here. Green Bay just lost its best defensive lineman and pocket-pusher in Mike Daniels to a multi-week foot injury last Thursday night. This defense, particularly the secondary, has been decimated by injuries/trades. Jared Goff (295 yards, 3 TDs), Tom Brady (294 yards, 1 TD), and Russell Wilson (225 yards, 2 TDs) have all had strong days against this defense since the Packers’ Week 7 bye. None of the three tossed an interception. In between those guys, the Packers faced Brock Osweiler, who predictably was terrible. Cousins is an upper-echelon passer in a pass-happy attack playing in a game with a 47.5-point total, good for fourth-highest of the week. That total is probably too low.

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Sits

Dak Prescott vs. Redskins: Prescott disappointed last week in Atlanta with 208 scoreless passing yards but was able to save his day a bit with a four-yard rushing score. He has four rushing touchdowns over his last five games, and that includes a 33-yard, one-score rushing day against these same Redskins back in Week 7. Prescott also threw for a season-high 273 yards that day in D.C. with a touchdown via the air. He was the QB8 that week. Things have been trending up for Prescott the last month or so, as he’s attempted at least 31 passes in four-straight games and topped 200 yards in all four of them after only accomplishing that feat twice over the first five contests. That’s all great news, but fantasy managers have really been living and dying on that rushing floor with Prescott in this five-game upswing. He pretty much has to score on the ground to be fantasy-viable. The one game over the last five when Prescott didn’t score as a runner, Week 9 vs. Tennessee, he finished as the QB18. Prescott has zero 300-yard passing games and seven zero- or one-touchdown games through the air. The Redskins are No. 8 in pass-defense DVOA and play at one of the slowest offensive paces. Volume is going to be a real concern for Prescott on Thursday, especially with the Cowboys as heavy 7.5-point home favorites against a Colt McCoy-led offense. Dallas should be able to handle the Skins by just feeding Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott has been on a tear in three games since the bye, totaling 500 yards and three touchdowns on a whopping 76 touches. The 41-point total for Redskins-Cowboys is the second-lowest of Week 12, with Jaguars-Bills at 37.5 points. Washington limited Deshaun Watson to 208 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs last week. The Bucs didn’t score a touchdown against them in Week 10. Matt Ryan went berserk in Week 9. But Eli Manning had 306 yards, one score, and two picks the previous game. Prescott is a mid-range QB2.

Deshaun Watson vs. Titans: Watson has attempted 25 passes or fewer in five-straight games as the Texans have turned into a run-heavy unit that runs the ball at the fourth-highest rate. In this five-game stretch, Watson has failed to top 239 passing yards and was held to fewer than 200 yards twice. He has just two multi-score games over his last six outings. And since Week 6, Watson is the overall QB22 in fantasy points per game. This is a totally different Texans offense since Week 2 when Watson had 310 passing yards and two scores on 40 drop-backs. The Titans just got lit up by Andrew Luck in Indianapolis last Sunday, giving Watson some hope, but overall Tennessee is No. 3 in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks. The Titans have stonewalled Dak Prescott and Tom Brady in 2-of-3 games since the bye. This game’s 41-point total is the second-lowest of the week, along with Redskins-Cowboys, only better than Jaguars-Bills at 37.5 points. Watson is a low-volume QB2.

Philip Rivers vs. Cardinals: Rivers had a strong individual box score last week against the Broncos, throwing for 401 yards — his second-most of the season — and two scores, but he also had his first multi-interception game of the year with a pair of picks. Rivers is having an MVP-type season, but he’s doing it on relatively-low volume. His 315 pass attempts is 20th in the league, but he’s crushing most other categories with a high TD rate and 9.1 yards per attempt average. The Cardinals are terrible, having just lost at home to the hapless Raiders last week, but their pass defense is the backbone of the team. Arizona is No. 5 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 4 in pass yards allowed, No. 2 in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks, and No. 2 in adjusted sack rate. Patrick Mahomes had one of his worst statistical days against the Cardinals two weeks back with just 249 yards and two scores. Three of the last five quarterbacks to face Arizona have been held to fewer than 200 passing yards, while none of the five have eclipsed the 250 yards mark. That coupled with the Chargers being massive 12-point home favorites, Rivers could really threaten his season-low 20 pass attempts set in a Week 6 blowout win over the Browns. He’s fired off 27 or fewer passes in five of the last six games. Rivers would have to throw 3-4 touchdowns on that low volume to have a top-12 QB1 week.


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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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