Fantasy Football buzz: 1 area of intrigue for every team in Week 12

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Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) scrambles against the New Orleans Saints in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File) — Bob Leverone

Welcome to Pro Football Weekly's Fantasy Buzz, where we'll hit on the most pressing topic for every team, every week to try and help you make the most informed daily and weekly roster decisions.

If you see a position ranking in parentheses, that's where I have a player slotted for the week. Just don't let that preclude you from checking out our top 100 regardless of position here.


So about that Michael Floyd late-season flourish, well, he followed up the clunker in Minnesota by getting adding to the injury report with a hamstring late in the week. Sadly, David Johnson (RB4) and Larry Fitzgerald (WR13) are the only plays to feel good about — a shame since the Falcons have made almost every fantasy owner feel good this season. Carson Palmer (QB12) simply cannot be trusted at this point.

When we last saw Tevin Coleman (RB26), the yin to Devonta Freeman's (RB10) yang was exploding through a wide hole untouched en route to a 30-yard touchdown past the Bolts in Week Eight. The Falcons' rushing efficiency decreased in three consecutive games in Coleman's absence with a hamstring injury. Arizona, No. 2 against fantasy RBs, is tough, but Coleman is healthy coming off the bye and should get reassimilated quickly.


Andy Dalton (shoulder) appears on track to start after being limited early in the week, but without A.J. Green and Gio Bernard, he's not a reccomended start against a tough Ravens 'D,' albeit one he's excelled against in Baltimore the past two years.

We think Kenneth Dixon is the Ravens back to own down the stretch drive, but we're all left wondering why Dixon (RB29) and Terrance West (RB31) were ignored in the second half of Week 11. Since shutting backs out of the end zone in Weeks 1-4, the Bengals have permitted eight rushing touchdowns over the past six games. Don't be surprised when Dxon breaks through for the first time Sunday.


Blake Bortles (shoulder) is good to go — for the Jaguars, not for your fantasy team, which would likely be a regrettable decision. T.J. Yeldon (ankle) is questionable, so Chris Ivory (RB34) will get his first start for Jacksonville. Only five teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Bills' 10.

Sammy Watkins is poised to make his first start since Week Two after being shut down with lingering soreness in his surgically repaired foot. It comes at a key time for Buffalo, in must-win mode, and Tyrod Taylor (QB18), already without Robert Woods and with LeSean McCoy (RB8) coming off thumb surgery this week. If you can afford to wait a week with Watkins, his schedule significantly weakens with a trip to Oakland, then three straight at home for the fantasy playoffs: PIT, CLE and MIA.


Tennessee has been held below 100 rushing yards twice since Week One, with both coming in the past two losses. Eddie Goldman (ankle) could return for Chicago, but missing Jerrell Feeman bodes well for DeMarco Murray (RB5), Marcus Mariota (QB6) and Delanie Walker (TE1). They'll attack Chicago's susceptibility over the middle, where a pair of still-green rookie starters — ILB Nick Kwiatkoski and S Deon Bush — reside.

With Matt Barkley starting, there isn't a single player we'd recommend from the Bears. Jordan Howard (RB22) will finally get the workload he's lacked, but with the offense lacking anyone to take heat off its best remaining weapon.


Quietly, Rashad Jennings (RB15) has averaged 118 srimmage yards over the past two games, both coming against better defenses than Cleveland's. Of course, there are 31 defenses better than Cleveland's, but only 14 backs we'd reccomend before Jennings in what figures to be the Giants' busiest rushing day of 2016. We might even sign off on Paul Perkins as a contrarian DFS dart throw.

This isn't fantasy related, but arguably the Browns' two best players — Joe Thomas and Terrelle Pryor — both took Sashi Brown and the front office to task this week. It was more fight than Cleveland has shown on the football field all season. Robert Griffin III could return for the fantasy playoffs. This only matters if your team isn't playing in the fantasy playoffs.


Philip RIvers (QB13) had a week-plus to stew after arguably the worst quarter of his life, in a 31-24 Week 10 loss to Miami. If we had to guess, in addition to Melvin Gordon (RB6) going off, Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates should be big for Rivers with Tyrell Williams (WR29) and Dontrelle Inman in tough matchups.

We mentioned here why C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE12) has been Houston's most consistent pass-catching fantasy asset. All due respect to Fiedorowicz, who is putting it all together, DeAndre Hopkins' disappearance in 2016 is one of the more disappointing, and confounding, stories of the year.


Carlos Hyde (RB12) had 110 scrimmage yards last week, his best outing since early October. The Dolphins have largely battened down the hatches since DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell took their talents to South Beach in Weeks 5-6, but Hyde is going to be busy in a low-scoring game and should produce.

DeVante Parker parlayed his monster game-winning drive into WR18 status, his highest ranking in this space all season. The Dolphins seem intent on feeding Parker, who has 18 targets, 182 total yards and a score in the past two games combined. Jarvis Landry's fall has helped Parker's mini flourish. There's also this good sophomore back, Jay Ajayi (RB2), colliding with the NFL's worst run 'D' if that's more to your liking.


Jared Goff hits the road for the first time against Drew Brees and a Saints pass rush — don't laugh! — that's improving. What could possibly go wrong?

I told you to play Michael Thomas last week, and that didn't turn out so well, though it still turned out better than New Orleans' PAT operation. Mark Ingram (RB20) returned to practice Thursday after suffering a concussion a week earlier, and both Ingram and Tim Hightower (RB29), despite not having a great matchup, should be the beneficiaries of a few extra Saints possessions.


Thomas Rawls (RB17) runs with fury. It's both what I love about him and the reason I don't have confidence he can stay on the field. But it's his backfield again after C.J. Prosise's injury. If, like me, you worry about Rawls' durability, now might be the time to plan ahead and grab Alex Collins off waivers.

If ever there's a time to play the Seahawks, this might be it for Tampa, amid its best two-game stretch of the season and catching Seattle when half of its secondary is down. Seattle secondary injuries aside, Richard Sherman is healthy. And Jameis Winston and Mike Evans should know by now most people who say they're not going to shy away from Sherman ultimately rue the decision. In light of Seattle's white-hot offense, Dirk Koetter not shying away from Doug Martin (RB13) probably is Tampa's best shot.


Tom Brady (QB1, knee) practiced Friday after missing the previous two days and said "we'll see" about his Week 12 availability. Translation: we'll see pigs flying before we see Brady missing a chance to lead the Pats' high-flying show into the Jets' high-priced and highly disappointing defense. But it can't hurt to scoop up Jimmy Garoppolo just in case. It'd probably work out better than the playing Martellus Bennett in Rob Gronkowski's absence a week ago.

I love jokes in this space but I can't possibly make one that can contend with the joke that is the Jets continuing to start Ryan Fitzpatrick. It's impossible. Thus, the joke's probably on me for slotting Matt Forte (RB18) and Brandon Marshall (WR16) this high but the Patriots defense isn't good right now. Speaking of the Patriots defense, it will be good in fantasy this week. And again on Chrismas Eve.


Ryan Kalil and Michael Oher remain out. Kelvin Benjamin remains underwhelming — more than we can say for the rest of Carolina's pass catchers not named Greg Olsen — and even Olsen has underperformed in three of the past four games. All that being said, the Raiders can change Cam Newton's (QB7) luck in a hurry. And fantasy playoffs would include Washington and Atlanta for Newton's Panthers.

No Luke Kuechly, yes big problem for Carolina. A.J. Klein is fine and Shaq Thompson was a first-round pick for a reason, but did ya'll see what Bill Musgrave's backs did to Houston's linebackers a week ago? Latavius Murray (RB20) could produce closer to Week Nine than Week 11 — especially if he could get a damn red-zone touch! I'll also go ahead and predict Jalen Richard will be a hot waiver add next week as his role increases.


In four career games vs. the rival Broncos, Travis Kelce (TE5) has averaged four catches for 52 yards and has yet to find the end zone. Thus, building on his best game of 2016 — 7-108 in a loss to Tampa — seems unlikely. Spencer Ware (RB7) going off against a 'D' that's healthy coming off the bye but yielding over a yard more per carry than it did a season ago is both vital to Kansas City's upset bid and easier to envision. The Chiefs aren't scoring, though, nor do they have the weapons without Jeremy Maclin to give Ware room to operate.

The Chiefs have been nearly as bad as the Broncos at limiting rushing yards, though they've surrendered just four touchdowns compared to Denver's nine permitted. Devontae Booker (RB21) has been disappointing in C.J. Anderson's absence but Denver remains committed, having fed him a career-high 24 times on the ground in New Orleans. To protect increasingly mistake-prone Trevor Siemian from the NFL's most opportunistic 'D,' Booker has to elevate his game.


The Eagles have an excellent pair of safeties and questions at corner, yet the best thing Green Bay had going offensively in Washington was Jared Cook (TE10). Like the Packers, if you've waited this long for Cook's breakout, you'd be silly not to lean on him with it finally here. Jordy Nelson (WR12) has touchdowns in four consecutive games, and Philadelphia has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five of the past seven games. Nelson has been a valuable fantasy asset — WR6 overall — largely because of those touchdowns. It's worth noting, however, he's seemingly gaining more and more explosiveness back, too, perhaps setting up for a finish that features more than consistent red zone production.

Start 'em if you got 'em, owners of Eagles skill position guys who aren't named Nelson Agholor. The Packers' sieve-like defense hasn't allowed less than 30 points to QBs other than Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley since Week Five. Carson Wentz (QB19) might finally get well, and fellow rookie Wendell Smallwood (RB27) could finally get in excess of 15 touches in consecutive games for the first time as a pro, what with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles dinged. Jordan Matthews (WR14), drops and all, might finally collect his first 100-yard day since Week One vs. the Browns, because Green Bay's 'D' has been Cleveland-like in embarrasing itself lately.