Fantasy: Start, Sit, Stash, Quit - Week 12
SSSQ is a weekly look at underappreciated fantasy players to consider starting and potential busts you should leave on your bench. We also identify breakout candidates to stash on your roster and players you can safely cut.
Geno Smith, Seahawks
Prior to the Seahawks' Week 11 bye, Smith posted three straight top-12 fantasy performances - bringing his total number of QB1 weeks to six on the year.
It helps that he's thrown multiple touchdown passes in eight of his 10 outings this season.
The Comeback Player of the Year candidate should return from his week off refreshed and ready to capitalize against a Raiders defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Smith has earned his place as a locked-in fantasy starter in your lineup for the rest of the season.
Boone's projection: 276 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 28 rushing yards
Other QBs to start
- Jimmy Garoppolo at Saints
- Taylor Heinicke vs. Falcons
Jeff Wilson Jr., Dolphins
Since joining the Dolphins, Wilson has operated as Miami's lead back - finishing as the RB8 overall in Week 9 and the RB7 in Week 10 before going on bye.
Even with the team returning from the break, veteran back Raheem Mostert hasn't been able to practice due to a knee injury. That puts his availability for Sunday's contest versus the Texans in doubt.
Wilson would be an excellent fantasy play either way. But if Mostert is sidelined, you can expect Wilson to dominate a Texans squad that's giving up the most fantasy points to running backs.
Treat him as a rock-solid fantasy RB1 in Week 12.
Boone's projection: 124 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards, 2 receptions, TD
Other RBs to start
- James Conner vs. Chargers
- Michael Carter vs. Bears
- Rachaad White at Browns
Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
Pittman is 10th in targets per game among receivers this season, which is impressive considering the up-and-down nature of the Colts' offense. Fortunately, his numbers are on the rise again now that Matt Ryan has been reinstalled as the starter.
Things should get even better this week with the Steelers coming to town. Pittsburgh is the easiest matchup for fantasy receivers and has been absolutely torched by star wideouts to the point where it would take up too much space to list all the massive stat lines here. You'll have to take our word for it.
In what will likely be his best game of the rest of the season, Pittman should be deployed as a strong fantasy WR2 with the potential to crack the top 15 if he can find the end zone.
Boone's projection: 107 receiving yards, 8 receptions, TD
Other WRs to start
- Chris Godwin at Browns
- Keenan Allen/Josh Palmer at Cardinals
- Donovan Peoples-Jones vs. Buccaneers
David Njoku, Browns
As we've discussed multiple times in this column and on theScore Fantasy Football Podcast, tight ends have been a roller-coaster ride this year - unless you have Travis Kelce.
With all the injuries at the position, it was nice to see Njoku get back into the lineup last week after an ankle issue forced him to miss two games.
Prior to getting hurt in Week 7, Njoku was the TE8 in fantasy points per contest. So his return could help desperate fantasy managers down the stretch.
Though he played a season-low 37% of the snaps in his first game back, he looked healthy and moved well - resulting in three targets. His usage should start to ramp up this week against a Bucs defense that's the seventh-softest matchup for fantasy tight ends.
It's only a matter of time before Njoku is putting up top-10 weekly totals again, and we're expecting that to start on Sunday.
Boone's projection: 71 receiving yards, 5 receptions, TD
Other TEs to start
- Foster Moreau at Seahawks
- Logan Thomas vs. Falcons
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Here's a quick reminder of why we always default to average fantasy points scored and not overall fantasy totals.
As one of the only quarterbacks who hasn't had their bye week yet, Rodgers is the QB11 on the year. However, he's the QB23 in per-game scoring.
To Rodgers' credit, he's been fairly consistent as a middling fantasy performer in 2022; he just hasn't had difference-making games. He hasn't topped 20 fantasy points in any contest this season.
It's hard to envision a matchup with the Eagles making his life any easier since they're the top-ranked defense against fantasy QBs.
Boone's projection: 218 passing yards, TD, INT, 11 rushing yards
Other QBs to sit
- Trevor Lawrence vs. Ravens
- Russell Wilson at Panthers
Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons
Since coming back from injured reserve, Patterson isn't playing as many snaps or getting as many touches as he was early in the season.
He's splitting work with rookie Tyler Allgeier pretty evenly - though C-Patt is the favorite for high-value work in the red zone.
That might not be enough to overcome a stingy Commanders defense that's sharpened its teeth against the run. Washington ranks second in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA and is the sixth-toughest matchup for fantasy backs.
You should be wary of having Patterson in your lineup this week. He's more of a touchdown-or-bust option than usual.
Boone's projection: 42 rushing yards, 8 receiving yards, 1 reception
Other RBs to sit
- D'Onta Foreman vs. Broncos
- Cam Akers/Kyren Williams at Chiefs
- Kareem Hunt vs. Buccaneers
Diontae Johnson, Steelers
We continue to wait for Johnson to reach his pre-2022 levels of production, but it simply hasn't happened.
While the 26-year-old wideout had 107 catches, 1,161 yards, and eight touchdowns a year ago, he's currently on pace for 87 grabs, 775 yards, and zero scores this season.
That's right, Johnson doesn't have a touchdown or a game over 85 receiving yards through the first 11 weeks.
He doesn't seem to have chemistry with rookie passer Kenny Pickett, and this isn't the week to take a chance on that bond developing. The Colts are giving up the fewest fantasy points to wideouts.
As shocking as this is to say, Johnson should be placed on your bench until we see signs that something is changing. Sadly, that might not occur until next season.
Boone's projection: 39 receiving yards, 5 receptions
Other WRs to sit
- D.J. Moore vs. Broncos
- Brandin Cooks at Dolphins
- Darnell Mooney at Jets
Injuries at tight end
Joshua Kelley, Chargers
Kelley (2% rostered) is back at practice, meaning his return from injured reserve could happen as soon as this week.
Before he got hurt, the 25-year-old back was the most impressive backup runner on the Chargers' roster, and he'll have a good chance to reassume the No. 2 role behind Austin Ekeler.
While it's possible rookie Isaiah Spiller (4% rostered) has earned more snaps moving forward, we're projecting Kelley to be the more valuable fantasy option down the stretch as the insurance policy in the event of an Ekeler injury.
Demarcus Robinson, Ravens
Robinson (17% rostered) should be scooped up in more leagues after turning in stat lines of 6-64-0 and 9-128-0 in two of the Ravens' last three outings.
The increased production can be directly tied to the loss of Rashod Bateman, who underwent season-ending Lisfranc foot surgery.
Tight end Mark Andrews is Baltimore's true top pass-catching option, but Robinson could easily emerge as the team's busiest receiver the rest of the way.
Feel free to stash him or even slot him into your lineup as a risky flex play this week.
Quarterbacks (1QB): Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford
Running backs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, J.K. Dobbins, Nyheim Hines
Wide receivers: Cooper Kupp, Chase Claypool, Mecole Hardman
Tight ends: Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller