Top fantasy takeaways from Week 12’s action
What did we learn from Sunday's games? Jeff Ratcliffe runs through the top fantasy lessons from each game.
Top fantasy takeaways from Week 12’s action
It was either the best or worst of times for a lot of fantasy teams out there this week. With the fantasy playoffs coming at us, here are the most important takeaways from Week 12 of the NFL season:
Tennessee @ Chicago
Matt Barkley played well?
He did. It’s one of the biggest surprises of the week, but Barkley threw for more than 300 yards and three scores against a reasonably good Titans defense. Sure, he threw two picks, but Barkley displayed touch and accuracy that we haven’t seen out of him in his pro career. And Barkley could have had a much bigger day had his receivers not dropped 10 passes. The offense Improbably, Barkley is on the streaming radar going forward.
Jacksonville @ Buffalo
Sammy Watkins returns.
Back a week earlier than many expected, Watkins was on a snap count and played just 25 snaps, which was 45.5 percent of the Bills’ Week 12 offensive snaps. Watkins looked like his old self, especially on a 62-yard reception he caught deep down the sideline. If Watkins is somehow still available, he’s a must. He screams upside for the fantasy playoffs.
Cincinnati @ Baltimore
Rex Burkhead out-snapped Jeremy Hill 39-37.
With Giovani Bernard on injured reserve, the Bengals gave a nearly 50-50 split to Burkhead and Hill, but did not divide the touches up evenly. Hill dominated in that department with a combined 18 touches to just seven for Burkhead. Despite being touted as a strong receiver, Burkhead saw just two targets with Hill racking up six receptions on six targets. Despite the snap distribution, Hill is still the clear feature back in the Bengals offense. He figures to see heavy volume down the stretch.
Arizona @ Atlanta
David Johnson accounted for 21 of the Cards’ 39 touches.
That’s nearly 54 percent, which is a massive workload for the standout running back. Unfortunately, this stat speaks to how one-dimensional the Arizona offense has become. Johnson put up big fantasy numbers yet again, but that was really it from the Cardinals offense. Larry Fitzgerald played well, but only managed four catches for 53 yards. The rest of the receiver corps combined for 79 yards on eight catches.
NY Giants @ Cleveland
Josh McCown leads the week with seven sacks taken.
He’s been sacked 14 times on 99 dropbacks over the last three weeks. That’s roughly 14 percent of the time, which is an enormous rate considering the league average is 5.5 percent. And this really isn’t the product of poor offensive line play. The Browns line was solid on Sunday, so it’s fair to point the finger at McCown. Despite his poor play, McCown’s presence does help Terrelle Pryor’s value going forward. Pryor saw a team-high 12 targets in Week 12.
Los Angeles @ New Orleans
Still a 50-50 split in the Saints backfield.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the fantasy box score, but Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower remain in a committee situation with Hightower actually out-touching Ingram 17-15 in Week 12. That being said, Ingram nearly doubled up Hightower in snaps 42-25. He also was clearly the better back, showing strong burst as a runner and forcing six missed tackles, which lead all running backs for the week. The committee doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in New Orleans, but Ingram remains the stronger fantasy option.
San Francisco @ Miami
Jay Ajayi struggles behind the banged-up Dolphins offensive line.
In a dream matchup against the putrid San Francisco run defense, Ajayi managed just 45 yards on 18 carries. He savaged a half-decent fantasy day thanks to a rushing score, but that’s certainly not the productivity his fantasy owners had expected. However, the writing was on the wall for this lackluster performance with Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey and Laremy Tunsil all sidelined. Ajayi’s success down the stretch will depend on the offensive line getting back to full strength.
San Diego @ Houston
Tyrell Williams racks up 13 targets.
That’s tied with Michael Crabtree for the position high in Week 12. Williams didn’t put up big yardarge – he had 70 yards on eight catches – but did find the end zone and finished as a top-15 PPR wide receiver. Thrust into a prominent role in the Chargers’ offense following Keenan Allen’s season-ending injury, Williams has emerged as San Diego’s top wideout. He has double-digit targets in three of his last five games.
Seattle @ Tampa Bay
Russell Wilson disappoints in a big way.
The fantasy community, including yours truly, widely got this one wrong. Wilson was surging and had what appeared to be an ideal matchup. When the dust settled, he managed just 150 yards and no scores through the air, but was able to chip in 80 yards on the ground. Still, it’s not what fantasy owners wanted or expected. So what went wrong? His offensive line struggled mightily against a Tampa defensive front that hasn’t been able to generate much pressure this season. Wilson saw pressure on a massive 51.1 percent of his dropbacks, and completed just 23.1 percent of his passes under pressure.
Carolina @ Oakland
Cam Newton struggles but puts up QB1 numbers.
It wasn’t a great day for Newton from a football standpoint, but unlike Wilson, he managed to post solid fantasy numbers. Newton only completed 14 passes, but two of them went for scores. He also chipped in a rushing touchdown. Despite the rocky performance, Newton finished tied for sixth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring for the week. He now ranks a disappointing 16th at the position for the season.
New England @ NY Jets
Dion Lewis’ workload increases.
We expect the Patriots to ramp up Lewis down the stretch and that’s exactly what’s happening. Lewis saw 10 touches in Week 12, which is only two more than he saw last week. However, his six carries were more than half of LeGarrette Blount’s 11. James White remained heavily involved as a receiver with eight targets, but Lewis saw a healthy six targets. Expect this workload to continue to increase as we move through December.
Kansas City @ Denver
Tyreek Hill scores three times.
The genie is completely out of the bottle with Hill at this point. The rookie receiver was the most dynamic player on the field Sunday night, catching all nine of his targets for 52 yards and a score in addition to scoring on a wildcat handoff and a kickoff return. Despite the Chiefs’ conservative offensive ways, Hill’s explosive ability is appealing for the stretch run. He should be considered a high-upside flex option.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.