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Starts and Fades: Week 12

How about that Monday night game? That was the first time in NFL history that both teams scored over 50 points. In total, there were 10 passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown (by a QB rather than one of the two Pro Bowl RBs in the game), and 3 defensive touchdowns. Oh, and over 1000 yards of offense. Not surprisingly, the game was a boon to fantasy players. For those who didn’t have a horse in that race though, did you start the right players to overcome the instant Monday night classic? Maybe a little advice from us could help. Before we get into this week’s picks though, let’s take a look at how we did last week.

Last Week’s Starts: Dion Lewis, T. Y. Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald, Chiefs Offense, Rams Offense

Getting the bad out of the way first, Lewis was awful. He handled 10 carries for an abysmal 24 yards and was only able to tack on 1 catch for 8 yards. This was a surprisingly poor showing from a player seemingly on the rise with what appeared to be a plus matchup. The rest of the picks turned out pretty good though. Hilton absolutely balled out to the tune of 9/155/2. Fitz was a victim of an extremely low volume Arizona passing attack with only 2 catches, but both catches went for touchdowns so it’s hard to complain. As for the Chiefs and Rams offenses, I think they lived up to their billing. The only two starters to underperform were Sammy Watkins (left after the first series with an injury) and Todd Gurley (played through an ankle injury). Even the Rams TEs and both defenses were worth starting.

Last Week’s Fades: Julio Jones, Juju Smith-Schuster, Dalvin Cook

Julio Jones overcame the strong Dallas coverage unit to post a solid 6/118/1 line, becoming just the third receiver and fourth player to break 100 yards against the Cowboys this season. Juju did not hit on one of his trademark big plays, but he remained heavily involved with 8 catches for 104 yards. Also not a bad fantasy day by any stretch. Cook was our only hit in this section, posting a paltry 12 yards on 9 carries. He did add 3 catches, but actually recorded a net of -2 yards on those.

Overall, our starts were pretty on point but our fades could use a little work. We’ll aim to fix that with this week’s picks.

Starts

Theo Riddick

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Detroit’s offense is suddenly being torn apart. First Golden Tate is traded away, then Marvin Jones goes down with an injury, and now star rookie Kerryon Johnson is injured and in danger of missing multiple games. This doesn’t spell anything good for the Lions’ offense in general, but one major beneficiary will be Riddick. LeGarrette Blount and Zach Zenner don’t offer much in the pass-catching department out of the backfield, and Golladay can’t eat up all those missing targets himself. Bruce Ellington will take some of them, but Stafford has a much more familiar safety valve in Riddick. Knowing Riddick’s playstyle (and the Bears’ defense he’ll be facing), he likely won’t rack up too many yards and is unlikely to score touchdowns. However, if your league has any sort of PPR Riddick should gain plenty of points that way for you.

Gus Edwards

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Up until last week, Edwards really only showed up during garbage time. However, with Alex Collins proving ineffective Edwards was given a chance. What followed was a spectacular 115-yard effort that marked the best game of any Ravens running back this year. It would appear that as long as Lamar Jackson is lining up at quarterback Edwards will be the primary running back. There is speculation that Edwards may lose touches again if Flacco comes back this week, but the general consensus appears to be the Flacco isn’t quite ready yet. Even then, Edwards has likely earned himself more touches in base sets. This week against the Raiders is a good time to add touches too, as the Raiders are giving up the second-most rushing yard per game this year.

Chris Carson

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Carson has been a bit up-and-down this year due to a litany of minor injuries, but when he’s healthy he keeps getting fed and keeps rewarding the Seahawks for doing so. Back to full health, he draws a matchup with Carolina this week. On the surface this looks like a somewhat tough matchup as the Panthers are top 10 in rushing yards allowed. However, keep in mind that their numbers are heavily influenced by three consecutive games against Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Tampa (the Eagles are bottom 10 in rushing yards, the Ravens are bottom 10 in YPC, and Tampa is both). More recently, both James Conner and Kerryon Johnson posted over 5 YPC on the Panthers defense before both left early with injuries. Carolina’s run defense is overdue for a reckoning, and the Carson-led Seattle ground attack is likely the group to do it.

Josh Adams

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Philadelphia’s offense has struggled this year, especially on the ground since Jay Ajayi went on IR early in the year. Enter Josh Adams. He has yet to reach 10 carries in a game and has only reached 10 touches twice, but he has by far been the lone bright spot in an otherwise disappointing backfield. Over the past three games, he has averaged at least 6.7 YPC each game. Those weren’t cupcake matchups either as that slate included the Jaguars and Saints. This week, the Eagles face a much softer run defense in the New York Giants, who have allowed a 100-yard rusher every week since trading away Damon Harrison. This situation feels very reminiscent of Aaron Jones’s breakout against Miami a few weeks ago. The Eagles still have a bit more of a committee than Green Bay did at the time, but even 12 or 13 carries for Adams could bring a huge fantasy day.

Fades

Leonard Fournette

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Let me start out by saying that I don’t necessarily expect Fournette to be outright bad. This is, after all, a fades section, not a sit section. I would not be surprised to see Fournette end the game with 30 touches and likely a touchdown. The reason I’m putting him here though is that I do not expect any sort of efficiency whatsoever; I would not be surprised to see Fournette fail to reach 100 scrimmage yards on those 30 touches. The Bills are top 10 in both total rushing yards allowed and yards per carry allowed despite being almost constantly in negative game scripts. Against a pretty one-dimensional offense like the Jaguars, the Bills D is likely to load the box, making Fournette’s life even harder. Fournette is probably worth starting based on volume alone, but don’t expect him to carry your fantasy team this week.

Christian McCaffrey

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McCaffrey will likely never have a truly bad game due to his receiving abilities, but that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to churn out good games. Seattle is fresh off shutting down breakout star Aaron Jones with a defense that has looked surprisingly feisty despite all the new faces. Seattle also has a highly effective, clock-burning run game, something that Carolina has not been very good at stopping lately. That will likely result in fewer chances for CMC. Fewer opportunities than usual against an above average defense usually doesn’t end well.

Aaron Jones

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Aaron Jones burst onto the scene against Miami two weeks ago, but then was stifled by the Seahawks defense/Green Bay coaches last week. Unfortunately for Jones, his job isn’t getting any easier this week. Minnesota is top 5 in the league for both rushing yards allowed and YPC allowed. The Vikings also boast a potent offense, albeit a mistake-prone one. Green Bay is likely going to continue to rely on Aaron Rodgers’s arm rather than Jones’s legs in an effort to keep up. Low volume against a tough defense is going to make it a long day for Jones.

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