Nov 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs the ball past Detroit Lions cornerback Chris Houston (23) during the second half at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won the game, 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Several pivotal games mark up the schedule for week 12. How will this impact the NFL fantasy landscape and who should owners embrace or avoid?
Start – Brandon Marshall against St. Louis Rams
Being the great receiver he is, Brandon Marshall doesn’t like having bad game. So when he does have one, like he did against Baltimore last week, he tends to bounce back in a big way. The St. Louis Rams pass defense is stable but by no means suffocating. With Alshon Jeffery on the other side, Marshall will see his fair share of single coverage and he will take full advantage.
Sit – Antonio Brown against Cleveland Browns
There is probably no hotter receiver in the NFL fantasy landscape than Antonio Brown. He has gone over 80 yards six times this season and scored five touchdowns. It offers good reason to start him, but not against cornerback Joe Haden and the Cleveland Browns. Haden is rounding into a shutdown corner. His two interceptions last week were clear evidence of that. Brown will get limited opportunities to start with and those are not good conditions for a fantasy owner.
Start – Zac Stacy against Chicago Bears
He had a rough game stat-wise against Indianapolis but otherwise Zac Stacy has single-handedly revived the St. Louis Rams rushing attack. He’s averaging 4.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns in his last two games. He faces a Chicago Bears defense decimated by injuries that has struggled all season against the run, allowing 133 yards per game. Stacy is certain to find some open lanes to run through. What he does with them will depend on how well the Bears tackle.
Sit – Philip Rivers against Kansas City Chiefs
One of the best pass rushes in the league faces a division opponent with a weak offensive line. The Kansas City Chiefs know if they win their matchups up front then quarterback Philip Rivers isn’t going to run away from them. He’s had trouble avoiding pressure all season, which explains why his strong start in NFL fantasy leagues has tapered off over the past month. Unless San Diego protects him, it’s hard seeing the Chiefs give up much of anything.
Start – Carolina Panthers defense against Miami Dolphins
Identifying the matchups is key in fantasy land and there is probably none more lopsided in week 12 than the Carolina Panthers defensive line against the Miami Dolphins offensive line. Ryan Tannehill is the most sacked quarterback in football, and the Panthers are coming off a game where they put down Tom Brady twice and harassed him several other times. That is with the notorious ability of the future Hall of Famer to unload the ball quickly. Can Tannehill do the same thing or will his tendency to hold the football result in some severe punishment? Based on trends from both teams, it’s not hard to see the outcome.
Sit – Reggie Bush against Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Detroit Lions got a huge steal when they signed Reggie Bush back in March, and he’s in the midst of one of his best seasons as a pro. That being said, he might find the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense less accomodating than previous opponents. The Bucs rank ninth overall against the run. Their mission from the outset is to force teams to throw, which Detroit will happily do if there is even a hint that Bush isn’t getting anything done on the ground. That is when the Revis vs. Megatron battle will really get started and Bush will likely not see many handoffs the rest of the day.
Sleeper – Mark Ingram against Atlanta Falcons
On paper it looks like a lopsided game but everyone knows division contests are different from regular schedule games. Still, there is no hiding the fact that the Atlanta Falcons have one of the worst run defenses in the league. New Orleans got Mark Ingram back from injury and he has run the ball very well since returning. He can expect some extra carries in this contest and should be able to pop a few for big gains.