Even with Case Keenum playing at an elite QB level (statistically) since the Vikings' Week 9 bye, the Vikings are giving him the Tyrod Taylor treatment by looking for a reason to bench him in favor of Teddy Bridgewater. From a fantasy standpoint, the Vikings have plus matchups in Weeks 13, 16, and 17; if Keenum can make it that far, he will be worth holding on to. Maybe Bridgewater offers more long-term upside, but why fix what isn't broken?
In Atlanta, Julio Jones owners finally got what they paid for when they drafted him high in the 1st round, as he led the league this week with 15 targets, 12 receptions, 253 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns against the Buccaneers' generous secondary. Jones has the 9th-most targets to WRs this season (101), with the 7th-most receptions (66), and 2nd-most receiving yards (1,039), but his 3 TDs drop him all the way down to the 33rd spot.
Keenum makes for a volatile play because his leash is sure to be as short as any other QB in the league, while Jones is a must-start every week because you just don't know when he will go out and hang a 12/253/2 line on a defense.
p.s. – Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook has 16 targets in 2 games since being activated from Injured Reserve. With the Colts' secondary on the slate next, Westbrook is a sneaky sleeper play in Week 13.
Case Keenum – Vikings: Keenum was able to complete 21 of 30 passes this weekend, racking up 282 passing yards, 20 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns against the Lions. Keenum now has a completion percentage of 71.2 over the last 3 games, while averaging 288.7 yards passing over that span. He's also thrown 7 TDs to just 2 INTs in those 3 games, while the Vikings have outscored their opponents 92-60.
Keenum has done absolutely nothing to warrant the talk surrounding him being benched for Bridgewater, yet the Vikings seemingly can't wait to make the switch. Remember, Bridgewater hasn't played an NFL down since Week 3 of last season, and has thrown for 300 yards in just 5 of his 29 career games.
Keenum may keep his job through Week 13 with the Falcons up next on the schedule. But it won't shock me at all if he doesn't finish the Week 14 matchup against the Panthers. The Vikings are looking for a reason to yank him, and that is likely going to be the defense that gives it to them.
Blake Bortles– Jaguars: Bortles completed just 19 of 33 passes this weekend, totaling 160 yards, no touchdown passes, and 1 interception in the air. So, how is he a fantasy winner? Well, he used his legs to run for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Cardinals.
Fantasy football is all about stats, and statistically speaking, Bortles finished with 23.60 fantasy points in standard scoring formats. That puts him firmly in the QB1 rankings for Week 12, albeit in an unorthodox way.
With the Colts up next on the schedule, I'd consider Bortles as a QB2, and a possible starter for those in 2QB leagues. The Jaguars are a running team, but Bortles will give you mid-range QB2 stats against the Colts.
Jamaal Williams – Packers: Jamaal Williams had a good fantasy weekend, finishing with 135 total yards, 4 catches, and 2 touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns came on two long plays, while the other 23 touches he had on the day were less than impressive.
Too many owners are going to see the fantasy points from Week 12 and assume Williams is a must-start player for Week 13. The reality for Week 13 is the Bucs have a fairly soft run defense, giving up around 19 PPG to fantasy RBs this season. His value all depends on how many touches he gets, and if he can break one (or more) of those touches for a long run. He's averaging 3.2 YPC this season, meaning he needs 20-ish carries to have a decent chance at fantasy relevance.
Joe Mixon – Bengals: Mixon easily had the best game of his rookie campaign, running the ball 23 times for 114 yards and a touchdown, and adding 3 receptions for 51 yards. One hundred sixty-five total yards and a touchdown is what we've been waiting for from Mixon, and the hope is the Bengals now have a recipe for success with Mixon and his game.
If the Bengals can build on Mixon's Week 12 success, and continue to feature him to finish out the season, he should find plenty of success in the fantasy playoffs. He gets a tough divisional rivalry in Week 13 against the Steelers, but then has the Bears, Vikings, and Lions in Weeks 14-16.
Robby Anderson – Jets: Anderson is one of the more undervalued fantasy WRs heading into the fantasy playoffs, but that is largely due to his team and QB. The Jets are 4-7 this season, and Josh McCown has a total QBR of 49.0, 21st in the NFL. Despite those factors, Anderson has managed to rack up the 13th-most fantasy points for WRs in PPR formats this season.
This week Anderson finished with 6 catches (10 targets), 146 yards, and 2 touchdowns at home against the Panthers. Anderson has now scored in five straight games, and is tied for the 3rd-most touchdowns for WRs at 7. Anderson's Rest OF Season (ROS) value is a mixed bag, with the Chiefs up next, but then the Broncos, Saints, and Chargers in Weeks 14-16. Be aware, and beware.
Jamison Crowder – Redskins: Fantasy owners have been waiting for the Redskins to involve Crowder more in the offense all season, and we thought they finally had when he put up 9 catches and 123 yards back in Week 8. But he flopped following the Week 9 bye, averaging just 5.5 catches and 74 receiving yards over the next 2 games.
This week, however, Crowder busted out with 7 catches, 141 yards, and his first touchdown of the season. You somewhat have to take it with a grain of salt, since it was against the Giants. Even with that being the case, Crowder draws the Cowboys in Week 13, putting him in the WR2 slot in most formats.
Ricky Seals-Jones – Cardinals: Prior to Week 11, I couldn't have told you who Ricky Seals-Jones was, let alone what position he played in the NFL! But RSJ has now put up 7 receptions, 126 yards, and 3 touchdowns in 2 games. What's more impressive for him is he is doing it from the TE position, a spot normally all-or-nothing past the top 3-4 guys in the league.
I'm not ready to jump on his bandwagon, but TE-needy teams may want to take a flyer on him to finish out the season. He clearly has the Cardinals' attention, and has Blaine Gabbert's trust. The Cardinals face the Rams in Week 13, putting him squarely in the bust category after back-to-back strong performances.
Los Angeles Chargers defense: Did you know the Chargers have the 4th-best fantasy defense this season, behind the Jaguars, Ravens, and Rams? Well, they do. This week they had a great matchup against a Cowboys offense that is completely lost without Ezekiel Elliot. They held the Cowboys to just 6 points and racked up 2 sacks and 2 interceptions, and scored a defensive touchdown on a 90-yard Desmond King interception.
The Chargers finished Week 12 as the best fantasy defense, a ranking they could duplicate in Week 13 with the Browns coming to Los Angeles. Cleveland will be getting Josh Gordon back this week, but he doesn't solve their play-calling and QB issues. Consider the Chargers a must-start defense for this one.
Dak Prescott – Cowboys: Prescott continued his slide to the bottom of the fantasy QB rankings this week as he managed to throw for 174 yards, no touchdowns, and 2 interceptions against the Chargers. Without Elliot in the backfield, the Cowboys offense has become stagnant and predictable. All of Prescott's weaknesses have been magnified, and the Cowboys have to do something before the fans turn against him.
With the Redskins and Giants up next on the schedule, I don't have much faith in Prescott turning things around anytime soon. The Redskins and Giants give up plenty of fantasy points to QBs this season (5th- and 3rd-most respectively), but the Redskins and Giants always seem to step up their games when it comes to playing their division rivals in the Cowboys.
I've lost faith in Prescott, and won't be using him even if he hangs a 400/4/0 line on the Redskins in Week 13.
Marcus Mariota – Titans: I expected Marcus Mariota to take a step forward this season after the Titans drafted Corey Davis with the 5th overall pick in the draft. Through 10 games this season, Mariota is averaging 227.3 YPG passing, and he has thrown 12 INTs and just 9 TDs. Those are the numbers of a QB barely hanging on to the #20 fantasy ranking at his position.
This week Mariota finished with just 184 yards passing, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. He's now thrown 7 INTs and 3 TDs over his past 3 games, but he draws a Texans secondary in Week 13 that is giving up 23.9 PPG to fantasy QBs this season, the most in the NFL. Mariota will either be a bounce-back candidate this week, or solidify his place as a bottom-end QB2 this season.
C.J. Anderson – Broncos: Week 12 was more of the same for Anderson, managing just 5 carries for 12 yards. While the yardage and lack of scoring is obviously a major problem, the few fantasy owners still holding on to him can take solace in knowing he only saw 3 fewer touches than Devontae Booker (8), and he had 2 more touches than Jamaal Charles (3).
The Broncos offense is possibly the worst in the NFL with Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, and Brock Osweiler taking turns getting benched due to terrible performances. Even with Hall of Fame QB John Elway as the Executive VP of Football Operations for the Broncos, the team still can't seem to find a QB that is not the worst the NFL has to offer. Because of that, everyone on the Broncos is suffering.
Anderson is barely clinging to fantasy rosters, and games like this one don't make his roster spot any more secure. I doubt there are better options on your waiver wire in Week 12, so just pray the Broncos realize they are out of the playoff picture, and become a run-heavy offense over the final 5 games of the season.
Jordan Howard – Bears: Howard was every bit as bad in Week 12 as I knew he would be when I told you to sit him on Tuesday. The Bears were blown out by the Eagles 31-3, with Howard managing an embarrassing 6 yards on 7 carries (0.9 YPC). He did reel in 2 catches for 13 yards, but that couldn't save his day even in PPR formats.
The Eagles are the #1 team in the NFL, and the Super Bowl favorites right now. So it's not surprising the Bears lost, or that Howard was a complete bust this weekend. I was forced to play him in one of my NFL.com leagues because I simply had no better options, so know that you are not alone if you fell victim to Howard this weekend.
The 49ers are up next for the Bears, making Howard my pick for bounce-back player of the week. San Francisco gives up the most fantasy points to RBs this season, and Howard is the only person on the roster the Bears can truly trust on offense. Look for 100-plus yards and a touchdown in Week 13 for Howard.
DeVante Parker – Dolphins: What is amazing for me is that Parker managed just 1 catch for 5 yards against a Patriots secondary that had given up the 4th-most fantasy points to WRs heading into this game. But it is hard for a WR to produce when your QB (Matt Moore) throws for 215 yards, with 1 TD and 2 INTs.
Jarvis Landry was Moore's go-to guy this week, tallying 8 catches (9 targets) and 70 receiving yards, while the touchdown went to Kenyan Drake. Parker gets the Broncos in Week 13, making him someone to avoid if at all possible. Denver is likely going to be without DB Aqib Talib, but the Dolphins still have to run out either Jay Cutler or Matt Moore at QB.
Jordy Nelson – Packers: Like Dak Prescott, Jordy Nelson's value has plummeted without his team's star player (Aaron Rodgers) on the field. Nelson had his 2nd-worst game of the season in Week 12, managing to catch just 3 of his 5 targets, for 11 empty yards.
When Rodgers went down in Week 6, Nelson's fantasy value went with him. Since Week 6, Nelson has a high of 4 catches and 35 receiving yards, both of which came in Week 9. He's averaged 2.6 receptions and 20.6 receiving yards over the last 5 games, and hasn't scored since Rodgers' last real game this season, which was Week 5.
Nelson won't be worth playing until/unless Rodgers makes it back for Week 15. If he does, then he becomes a legit WR1 again. But as long as Brett Hundley is under center, Nelson is barely on the WR4 radar in all scoring formats.
Vernon Davis – Redskins: Well, I certainly whiffed on this one! Davis was a sexy TE play this week for me, as he was facing a Giants defense that has given up the most fantasy points to TEs this season. Instead of being the go-to guy for Kirk Cousins, Davis drew just 1 target, which he didn't even catch. What hurts more than the goose egg Davis laid this week is that Niles Paul saw 5 targets to his 1! Paul's 3 receptions almost matched his season total (4), and his 16 receiving yards account for 40 percent of his season total (56)!
With Jordan Reed a life-time questionable tag, Davis is likely to see heavy action as we finish out the 2017 season. He is on the field for almost every play, and had averaged 71.7 yards in Weeks 9-11. But he hasn't scored since Week 3, limiting his fantasy ceiling. He'll probably bounce back to his 5-7 catches and 60-70-yard ways in Week 13 against the Cowboys, but a touchdown may be too much for his owners to ask for.
Kansas City Chiefs defense: The Kansas City Chiefs started the season on fire, beating the Patriots in Week 1, and handing the Eagles their only loss of the year in Week 2. The Chiefs won their first 5 games, with their offense and defense playing like they were on a mission. However, since then the Chiefs are sporting a 1-5 record, and have been outscored 125-108.
This week the Chiefs gave up 16 points to the visiting Buffalo Bills, managing just 2 sacks for defensive stats. If you take out the Week 8 game against the Broncos offense (who I talked about already), the Chiefs defense has 4 sacks, 2 INTs, no fumble recoveries, and no defensive touchdowns since they came crashing back to Earth in Week 6.
The Chiefs head to East Rutherford, NJ to take on the Jets in Week 13. Normally you would feel safe playing whatever defense plays the Jets, but the Chiefs defense has been pretty much a bust the last 6 games. If it were me, I'd pick up the underrated Chargers defense. They are owned in just 34 percent of fantasy leagues, and are at home against the Browns.