Fantasy Football Week 12: Lineup suggestions

Fantasy Football Week 12: Lineup suggestions
January 23, 2013, 10:45 pm
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News and notes to help you make those all-important lineup decisions for Week 12...

• 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made a lot of people notice him on Monday Night Football. Kaepernick – who started in place of the injured Alex Smith (concussion) -- dismantled the vaunted Bears defense, throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He also showed good mobility and athleticism. Considering how well he played, there will be a lot of people in the Bay Area clamoring for Kaepernick to replace Smith, who has struggled at times this year. Either way, Kaepernick needs to be added in all leagues. If he starts against New Orleans this week, don’t hesitate to use him in fantasy. If he doesn’t play and Smith returns, keep him stashed on the bench. He’s worth owning.
 
• According to Bay Area media reports, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen thinks Darren McFadden (ankle) will be able to play this week. If he can’t go, Marcel Reece becomes a must-start. Reece has been a monster in McFadden’s absence, totaling 46 points (including 22 last week) over the last three games. Whichever running back plays will have a good matchup. Cincinnati allows 20.5 fantasy points per game to RBs, ninth-most in the league.

• The Chargers might have found an answer to their lackluster receiving issues. Danario Alexander has put on a show lately. Over the last two weeks, he’s become a huge part of the offense, totaling 12 catches on 18 targets for 230 yards and three touchdowns. I’d start him over Hakeem Nicks and both Eagles receivers.

• Willis McGahee suffered a torn MCL in Week 11. While he could be back for the AFC Championship Game, the Broncos placed him on IR and that is the earliest McGahee could return. In the interim, Ronnie Hillman should benefit nicely. After McGahee went down last week, Hillman got the majority of the work, carrying the ball 12 times for 43 yards against the Chargers. The Broncos are at Kansas City this weekend, which is good news for Hillman and his owners. The Chiefs have given up nearly 120 rushing yards per game.

• So much for the Alex Green experiment in Green Bay. The Packers’ running back didn’t get a single carry against the Lions a week ago. Instead, Green Bay turned to James Starks. While Starks wasn’t all that impressive (he averaged just 2.9 yards per carry), he was given the ball 25 times against Detroit. If he’s going to get that much work, Starks is at least worth a flex start in the majority of formats against the Giants in Week 12.

• Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t flashy, and he hasn’t been the kind of dominant player the Raiders hoped he would become when they made him a first-round draft pick. Even so, DHB is a significant part of the Oakland offense, a guy who’s a consistent fantasy scorer. Heyward-Bey has been targeted at least five times over the last three weeks. In his last five games, in standard scoring formats, he’s posted eight, nine, seven, 18 and six fantasy points, respectively. Again, not flashy, but solid. He’s the kind of guy you can start each week in the flex position and know you’ll get a decent return.

• The season has been a little disappointing for Matt Forte. The Bears’ running back faced tough defenses (Houston, San Francisco) the last two weeks, which probably has a lot to do with why he totaled just nine points against those opponents. Still, Forte has only four double-digit fantasy scoring performances this year. The Bears will take on Minnesota in Week 12. The Vikings have been middle of the pack against RBs (16.8 fppg).

• In Week 11, Daniel Thomas looked better than Reggie Bush. Again. Thomas – who has seen his role with the offense grow as the season has progressed – finished with a team-high 33 yards on 12 carries. Bush rushed the ball eight more times than Thomas, but he amassed 13 fewer yards. Bush is still the lead running back, but Thomas is worth considering as a flex option as the fantasy playoffs approach. You should probably keep him benched for Week 12 against the Seahawks (14.1 fppg vs. RBs, sixth-fewest), however.

• Aside from Marshawn Lynch, the Seattle offense is tough to trust. And yet Sidney Rice is quietly having a nice season. Rice has more points this year than Malcolm Floyd, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Lloyd and Hakeem Nicks. Three of Seattle’s next four games come against opponents (Miami, Arizona, Buffalo) that give up 22 points or more to wide receivers.

• Will Ryan Mathews ever look like the fantasy monster we were led to believe he would become? The Chargers’ running back had another pedestrian performance last week, rushing for 47 yards on 15 carries against Denver. Mathews has had just one double-digit outing this year. You’re still starting him, but it’s tough to think of Mathews as much more than a low-end No. 2 running back at this point.

Quick hits
Josh Freeman has thrown for multiple touchdowns in each of the last six games. He has 16 touchdowns over that span ... Randall Cobb has seven touchdowns in his last six games for the Packers. He’s also scored at least one touchdown in each of his last four games ... Jermaine Gresham has become a must-start tight end. He’s been targeted 22 times in the last four games, catching 15 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals face Oakland (ninth most fppg allowed to TEs) in Week 12.