Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 12

Here’s who I like and who I don’t like for Week 12:

Quarterbacks

IN: Tim Tebow, Broncos
Despite not being a “traditional quarterback” Tebow is still getting it done from a fantasy perspective. The former Gator has won four of his five starts and has at least two touchdowns in three of those games. The Chargers (who rank 28th in the league in points allowed) have been struggling to stop anything these days and are giving up almost 19 fantasy points to QBs this season. Tebow came off the bench and scored two touchdowns against San Diego back in Week 5, and you can expect another good game from him Sunday.

OUT: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Big Ben has been on quite a roll these days, but unfortunately he now has an injured thumb on his throwing hand to contend with. Roethlisberger has had a week to rest but will be wearing a splint when the Steelers face the Chiefs on Monday night. Kansas City’s defense doesn’t scare anyone but the big question is how much will that thumb impact Roethlisberger’s performance? Don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh relies more on the running game in Week 12 (and that Steelers defense knows a thing or two about putting points on the board).

Running Backs

IN: Chris Johnson, Titans
Just when you thought CJ2K was finally turning things around, he has his worst game of the season (28 total yards with just 13 coming on the ground in Week 11). Johnson has struggled against good rush defenses, but the Bucs are not one of those teams. Tampa has allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this year, including an astonishing 107 combined over the last three weeks. Look for Johnson to rebound in a big way in Week 12.

OUT: Reggie Bush, Dolphins
It looks like Miami has finally figured out the best way to use Bush and he’s rewarded his team by scoring a touchdown in each of the last three games (he has four in that span). The Cowboys rush defense presents a whole new challenge though.  The unit may be giving up over 101 yards per game on the ground, but Dallas has allowed only six rushing touchdowns this season. Bush is a dual back who could still rack up the yards, but the odds are against him finding the end zone for a fourth straight week.

Wide Receivers

IN: Brandon Lloyd, Rams
Much like Bush, Lloyd has been on a bit of a roll lately. Sure, the Rams receiver has averaged just 62 yards over the last four weeks, but he’s found the end zone in three of those games. The wideout is developing a nice rapport with quarterback Sam Bradford and has put up at least seven fantasy points in every single game since coming over from Denver five weeks ago. Lloyd has a nice matchup this week in the Cardinals, who are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.

OUT: Torrey Smith, Ravens
Smith is coming off an outstanding game last week against Cincinnati (165 yards and a touchdown) which saw him win AFC player of the week honors. But don’t expect a similar performance from him in Week 12. There’s a lot of risk in playing explosive receivers like Smith week in and week out, and next up for the Ravens is an opportunistic 49ers squad that knows how to clamp down on defense. This should be a grinding, hard-hitting game and points will be hard to come by, so don’t be surprised if Baltimore avoids the deep ball, which is where Smith excels.

Tight Ends

IN: Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
After a lengthy absence, Pettigrew finally found the end zone last week for the first time since Week 6. The tight end is more comfortable in the friendly confines of Ford Field (he has touchdowns in three of his last four home games) and this week the Lions are hosting a porous Packers secondary, which gave up 132 yards to Kellen Winslow last week. We could see a shootout between Green Bay and Detroit in Week 12 and Pettigrew should be a good goal-line target for Matthew Stafford.

OUT: Fred Davis, Redskins
The tight end’s production has been seriously hampered by Washington’s inability to put points on the board over the last few weeks. Davis hasn’t had more than 50 yards in any of the last three games (just eight fantasy points combined) and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 7. The Redskins are in Seattle this week to face a Seahawks D that is giving up the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends, but I don’t think that’s enough to put Davis in your lineup.

Kickers

IN: Olindo Mare, Panthers
Carolina’s offense got back on track last week against Detroit and Mare was a big beneficiary of the outburst leaving the Lions with nine points. In Week 12 the Panthers have another juicy matchup and should be able to do some damage against the lowly Colts. Indianapolis is giving up almost nine fantasy points to kickers on the season, so there’s a good chance Mare will reach double digits for the fourth time this year.

OUT: Neil Rackers, Texans
Rackers has been one of the most consistent kickers this season and the only reason he makes the “out” list is because of Houston’s quarterback situation. It’s been almost two years since Matt Leinart played an NFL game so who knows what you’re going to get from him. Leinart may have issues converting in the red zone or he may struggle to move the ball period on Sunday. Either way, there’s too much uncertainty to play Rackers with any confidence.

Defenses

IN: Bengals
Cincinnati’s secondary has suffered since losing Leon Hall (the defense overall has just 20 fantasy points combined in the last three games) but a visit from Cleveland could be the perfect cure. The Browns haven’t scored more than 14 points in any of their past five games and have passed the 20-point plateau just once this season. The Bengals D has performed much better at home (averaging more than 10 fantasy points) so this squad is worth a gamble in Week 12.

OUT: Giants
New York gave up just 17 points and picked off Vince Young three times in a losing effort to the Eagles in Week 11 but this week the team is heading to New Orleans to face the high-flying (and well-rested) Saints. The Giants have not been getting to the quarterback with any regularity lately (only five sacks in the last three games) and are having issues stopping the run.  Opposing defenses have not had a lot of success against the Saints, averaging just five points against that explosive offense.