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The Fantasy Football Nerd: Week 12 – Part 2 – The Guessing Game

November 24, 2013


Welcome to part 2 of week 12’s The Fantasy Football Nerd.  Because I split this week into 2 posts, I’ll keep this short and sweet.

It’s the biggest question asked in Fantasy Football: Should I start ____ or should I start ____?  Nothing drives owners more insane than that dreaded question.  With now being do or die time for a lot of teams, here are some to ask yourself when deciding who to start and who to sit.

  1. Who has the better match-up? – Take a look at past trends (for the individual player and their opponent).  Don’t go purely on how well the opposing position did because that can be misleading.  For example, over the past 4 weeks (not including the bye), the Giants have looked great against opposing quarterbacks.  However, opposing quarterbacks included Josh Freeman (in his first start in MN), Matt Barkley (the third string QB for Philly), Terrelle Pryor (a quarterback that is essentially in his first year), and Scott Tolzien (another third string QB).  Your best option is to look at your player’s level of talent and how the opposing position did against opponents of similar caliber.  If it’s a divisional opponent, you could also look at how well they’ve done year after year (at home and away).  Teams tend to step their game up against divisional foes.
  2. How big of a game do you need? – If you’re debating between two or three players, decide what sort of game you need from them.  Naturally, one of the players is going to have the highest ceiling and lowest floor and one will be Mr. Consistent.  If you’re projected to have a close game or dominate, Mr. Consistent may be who you want.  If you’re projected to be dominated (or need a big game to win a tie-breaker), then the high ceiling will be your guy.
  3. Who is on your favorite / least favorite team? – The whole point to fantasy sports is to increase the enjoyment of watching a particular sport.  If one of the players you are debating between is on your favorite team, then there’s no problem being a “homer.”  Just this week, a friend asked me if he should start Jarrett Boykin or Anquan Boldin (it’s a PPR league).  I saw the merit of both, but ultimately stood on Boykin.  He’s a Packers fan, so why not have more fun rooting for Green Bay against division rival Minnesota.  On the flip side, if one of the players is on a team you hate, you can root for them to fail at life.
  4. Who is on your opponent’s favorite team? – Nothing is more fun than playing mind games with your Fantasy opponent.  If you have the chance to make him feel conflicted about a particular player scoring, then I say that’s a big factor.  Let me tell you, it’s quite the scene watching someone cheer for a big play only to realize that it hurt them bad in Fantasy Football.
  5. Who is your opponent starting? – This comes into play more with quarterbacks and wide receivers / tight ends.  If your opponent is starting Jay Cutler, starting Alshon Jeffery may be a great idea.  Chances are yardage and touchdowns count more for Jeffery than they do to Cutler.  Jeffery offsets some of Cutler’s points.  On the flip-side, if you’re playing against Victor Cruz and considering starting Eli Manning, you may want to reconsider for the same reason.
  6. What does your gut say? – At the end of the day, you have to live with the decision (as discussed in a previous article).  If your gut is strongly telling you one thing, then roll with it.  It will eat at you more deciding not to go with your gut and it causing you to lose than going with your gut and having it cause you to lose.

Hopefully these questions help and don’t confuse you more.  And now, to (hopefully) help you make your decisions, here are the week 12 match-ups that make me salivate and scare me.



  1. Scott Tolzien – Since taking over for Aaron Rodgers and Seneca Wallace, Tolzien has thrown for well over 600 yards.  His match-up in week 12 doesn’t get much better… a terrible Vikings’ secondary at home.  Given his weapons, I expect Tolzien to throw for 300+ yards and 2 TDs.
  2. Tony Romo – Romo and the Cowboys thrashed the Giants in week 1.  Fresh off a bye, I expect them to do much of the same.  Forget “how good” the Giants have looked these past few weeks on defense.  Their opposition was Josh Freeman, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor, and Scott Tolzien… not exactly pro-bowl talent.  You should also note, Freeman overthrew his receivers (they were wide open), and Scott Tolzien threw for over 300 yards against this defense.
  3. Tom Brady – It’s an absolute classic on Sunday night: Manning vs. Brady!  Based on the defenses, though, I’d say Brady will have the slight edge.  In either event, you’re starting both QBs.
  4. Colin Kaepernick – The Washington defense has suffered on the ground and through the air.  Colin Kaepernick is good on the ground and through the air.  The math’s not that tough.

Running Backs

  1. Eddie Lacy – Simply put, Minnesota’s defense is bad.  They know Lacy will be getting a lot of carries, and there’s nothing they can do about it.  Start Lacy with no problem.
  2. Matt Forte – St. Louis struggles against running backs on well balanced offenses.  Jay Cutler or not, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will make defenses honest against the run.  Expect Forte’s 2013 success to continue in week 12.
  3. Zac Stacy – You know who else has been terrible against opposing running backs?  Chicago (see the gifts they gave Ray Rice last week).  Who has been one of the hottest running backs since taking over the lead role?  Zac Stacy.  Stacy should have another huge day against this struggling Chicago defense.
  4. Ben Tate – No Arian Foster, and he gets to play the Jaguars.  What’s not to like?

Wide Receivers

  1. Jordy Nelson / Jarrett Boykin – Minnesota’s secondary is terrible and the pass rush is lacking.  Jordy Nelson has played well even with Rodgers out, and Boykin has proven to be a favorite target of Tolzien.  Both receivers (especially in PPR formats) should have some big days.
  2. Vincent Jackson – Detroit can’t cover talented number one receivers… PERIOD!  There’s no reason to believe Jackson can’t repeat his week 11 performance in week 12.  Need any more incentive?  If Detroit runs away with the game (which they could) there could be a lot of garbage time opportunities for Jackson.
  3. Dez Bryant – If Dallas is smart, they will have found ways to get Dez Bryant the ball in the bye week.  New York’s secondary has been awful this year.  There’s no reason why Bryant shouldn’t be the focal point of the offense in week 12.
  4. Victor Cruz – The Cowboys’ secondary makes mistakes.  Cruz should have no problem capitalizing on these mistakes.  Need any more proof?  Cruz dominated this secondary in week 1 (albeit most in garbage time).

Tight Ends

Of course, you always start the relevant tight ends.  Here is one of the less relevant tight ends that has a super salivating match-up.

  1. Coby Fleener – Arizona can’t cover tight ends.  They have talented defensive backs, but they’re too busy covering receivers.  Fleener broke out in week 11 with 8 receptions for over 100 yards.  There’s no reason he can’t improve on that in week 12.

Defense / Special Teams

  1. Cowboys – Look at week 1.  The Cowboys dominated this offense.  Despite a four game winning streak, Eli Manning has not been playing well.  Expect the Cowboys to once again dominate their divisional foes.
  2. Ravens – Geno Smith likes giving the ball to his opponent.  The Ravens like taking the ball from their opponents.  For the Ravens, it’s a match made in heaven.



  1. Ryan Tannehill – Tom Brady struggled against the Panthers.  What makes you think Ryan Tannehill and co. can do what Brady and co. could not?
  2. Philip Rivers – Over the past few weeks, Rivers has looked like the Rivers we’ve grown to know and love/loathe.  Against a Kansas City defense looking to get back on top of the AFC West… it just doesn’t look good for Mr. Rivers.
  3. Geno Smith – See Ravens’ defense and special teams.
  4. Christian Ponder  Do you know how many yards Ponder threw for against the Packers in Minnesota in their first meeting this year?  Under 150.  There’s no reason to believe that would change on the road.  The only thing Ponder owners can hope for his a late game TD scramble (which saved his week 8 Fantasy game against the Packers).

Running Backs

  1. Maurice Jones-Drew – Losing Justin Blackmon means losing a balanced offense.  No passing threat spells an eight in the box minimum for Houston’s defense.
  2. Trent Richardson – Trent Richardson is just a small cameo in the Andrew Luck show.  Until he proves otherwise (or faces an unbelievably favorable match-up), there’s no reason to think he’s going to be reliable.
  3. Ray Rice – The Ray Rice of old may have come back in week 11, but that was against a poor Chicago defense.  Rice should be brought back down to reality against a solid Jets’ rushing defense.
  4. Stevan Ridley – Shane Vereen is back, and this game will undoubtedly be a shoot-out.  Neither of those things work in Ridley’s favor.

Wide Receivers

  1. T.Y. Hilton – Hilton is super fast, but so is Patrick Peterson.  I think Peterson wins this match-up hands down.
  2. Calvin Johnson – Look, you’re not benching him (we’ve been through this over and over).  But it’s Revis Island.  Now it may not be the same Revis Island as in the past, but it’s still a scary match-up.
  3. Antonio Brown – T.Y. Hilton gets to take on Patrick Peterson, Calvin gets the match-up with Revis, and with Seattle on bye, there’s only one elite corner left… Joe Haden.  Joe Haden has played extremely well this year.  It’s hard to believe that Brown can do what so many have not.
  4. Anquan Boldin – DeAngelo Hall likes covering opposing wide receivers.  He may not be as elite as the rest, but he’s pretty darn good.  If Kaepernick was smart, he’d look to Davis before checking down to Boldin.
  5. Cecil Shorts – No Justin Blackmon means all attention on Shorts.  All attention on Shorts means little separation.  With J.J. Watt putting pressure on Henne, I don’t expect Shorts to get a lot of opportunities either.

Tight Ends

  1. Antonio Gates – Kansas City has allowed only one touchdown to opposing tight ends this year (and it was a huge broken play to Julius Thomas last week).  Even with that, Denver tight ends didn’t do much.  Kansas City’s defense should continue to play well against tight ends and shut down Gates.

Defense / Special Teams

  1. Broncos – They play against Tom Brady in what will be a shoot-out…
  2. Patriots – They play against Peyton Manning in what will be a shoot-out…

You know the routine on kickers.  Find the highest projected non-Jaguar.

As always, feel free to e-mail me at with any lineup questions you may have.  I will try to do my best to answer them prior to kick-off.

Good luck on your Week 12 match-ups and making your Fantasy post-season!

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