Must Starts and Sits | NFL Week 12

by Aditya Fuldeore · Matchups Start/Sit
Start Sit Week 12

Thanksgiving Week

Every week of the NFL season, fantasy gamers juggle players to insert into lineups at each position. Are you questioning which players face easy matchups and which players face tougher paths to production? You are in the right place! It’s Thanksgiving Week, which means turkey, mashed potatoes, and a day of football. Injuries have mounted as Joe Burrow, Mark Andrews, Aaron Jones and others suffered big injuries in Week 11.

Now for Thanksgiving Week, there are no teams on Bye, leading to a large player pool for start/sit decisions. For seasonal leagues, DFS, and more, this week’s Must Start and Sit picks give guidance on setting lineups. Good luck!


Start: Gardner Minshew

Finding startable quarterbacks is getting tougher with a slew of injuries and general bad quarterback play this season. Gardner Minshew has five top-24 finishes in seven games with over 20 pass attempts, making him a back-end QB2. Back-to-back games under ten fantasy points have spurned fantasy managers, but Minshew has a positive Week 12 matchup. The Buccaneers allow 288 passing yards per game. Their best games have come against mostly bottom-tier quarterbacks, yielding 10 passing touchdowns in their last four games.

Minshew is coming off a Bye and has a 6.5 (No. 13) Accuracy Rating, including a 7.0 (No.4) Red Zone Accuracy Rating. Short, accurate throws with efficient red zone play will slice the Buccaneers defense, funneling targets to Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman. Fantasy teams likely to be considering Minshew as a start are those in 2QB leagues or those with injured QBs teams in 1QB leagues. If you are in those categories, you can start Minshew with confidence in a matchup against Tampa.

Sit: Sam Howell

A pleasant fantasy surprise this season, Sam Howell is averaging 19.2 (No. 9) Fantasy Points Per Game. While his production has propelled him to near-weekly start status for fantasy managers, Howell takes nearly five sacks per game. He has taken 51 total sacks on the season. Howell has also thrown an interception in four out of his last five games, including three in Week 11 against the Giants.

This week, Howell faces a daunting Cowboys defense. Dallas averages more than three sacks per game, limiting opponents to under 180 passing yards per game this season. They have yet to allow over 255 passing yards to an opposing quarterback. Teams in 2QB leagues most likely need to start Howell, but managers in 1QB leagues can take a second look and bench him in a tough Week 12 matchup.

Running Back

Start: Jerome Ford

With the Browns starting rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback, Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt each saw 12 carries. Between the two, Ford has gotten more carries over the last few weeks with a small edge in Snap Share. He has eight top-24 fantasy finishes, making him a solid RB2 this season.

In Week 12, Ford faces a Broncos defense that has given up over 150 rushing yards in each of their last two games. Denver has allowed under 100 rushing yards in just four games this season, also yielding six RB receptions per game. Some of the Broncos’ per game stats are inflated by the Dolphins’ early-season 70-20 drubbing, but Denver is still a bad run defense outside of that game. You can start Ford with confidence this week.

Sit: Chuba Hubbard

Biting into Miles Sanders’ backfield share, Chuba Hubbard has actually been out-snapping Sanders since Sanders’ injury prior to Week 7. While Hubbard has a larger role, he is still averaging 3.7 (No. 47) True Yards Per Carry. This week, he faces a solid Titans run defense. They allow just under 90 rushing yards per game, with only three games yielding more than 100 rushing yards. The Titans also allow just three RB receptions per game. Hubbard and the Panthers offense will face a stout defensive line, capping the team’s already low scoring opportunities. Fantasy managers are most likely considering Hubbard as a flex play, but better options can be found. He is a sit this week against the Titans’ limiting run defense.

Wide Receiver

Start: Zay Flowers

With just one touchdown on the season, Zay Flowers has mostly been a WR3/4 this season. Amidst a humming Ravens offense, Flowers has earned a 24.3-percent (No. 21) Target Share on 100-percent (No. 1) Route Participation.

If there ever was a juicy matchup for Flowers to rack up yardage and get a scoring chance, it’s against the Chargers. The Chargers allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, yielding nearly 200 receiving yards per game to the position group. Brandon Staley’s defense has shown to be poor tackling, opening the door for Flowers’ shiftiness and yards-after-catch ability. With Mark Andrews gone, Lamar Jackson will look to his most-targeted wide receiver on both screens and deep plays over the middle. Fire up Flowers in a smash spot against the Chargers in Week 12.

Sit: Jerry Jeudy

The Broncos offense has scraped by in recent games, with Jerry Jeudy averaging 9.3 (No. 52) Fantasy Points Per Game. He has been second fiddle to Courtland Sutton, seeing a 20.8-percent (No. 38) Target Share to Sutton’s 22.8-percent (No. 28). Sutton also has eight touchdowns to Jeudy’s one.

Jeudy is a slot guy who hasn’t reeled in many of his deeper targets. Meanwhile, the Broncos play a tough Browns defense in Week 12. The Browns allow the least fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and have a menacing Myles Garrett-led pass rush. Cleveland has limited scoring opportunities for offenses, grabbing as many interceptions as they have allowed passing touchdowns. Jeudy has hardly been a viable WR4 this season, and now facing a strong defensive team, he can be kept on benches.

Tight End

Start: Cade Otton

The Buccaneers’ passing offense has mostly run through Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but there have been opportunities for other pass-catchers. Cade Otton has 46 targets on the season, just ahead of Rachaad White and good for third on the team. That’s helped him earn three top-12 TE finishes on the season. This week, Otton gets a matchup against a Colts team allowing nearly nine TE targets per game. They have given up just one TE touchdown, but on average yield slightly less than six targets for 57 yards per game . Baker Mayfield has looked for Otton often over the middle of the field. In a game featuring a pair of suspect defenses, Otton is a start for Week 12.

Sit: Tyler Higbee

Last season, Tyler Higbee boasted a top-five tight end Target Share. However, his usage has fallen off in 2023. He has a 13.9-percent (No. 21) Target Share this season. The Rams are a shifting offense that has seen the emergence of Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua.

Arizona has allowed just 3.5 receptions per game to tight ends, including only one game over 60 TE receiving yards. That’s led to the second-least fantasy points allowed to tight ends this season. Meanwhile, the Cardinals allow the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Expect the Rams to gain passing yardage through their wideout group, adding some checkdowns to the returning Kyren Williams. Under-utility makes Higbee a sit this week.

Thanksgiving Bonus Start: TE Jake Ferguson

Scouring the Thanksgiving slate for start/sit decisions wasn’t easy. The obvious starts like Ceedee Lamb, Jahmyr Gibbs and Christian McCaffrey are out there, but there are a few players teetering on the edge of fantasy lineups, as well. One such player is Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson. He has six top-12 finishes, along with five games of at least seven targets. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense have put together some strong offensive performances and now face a Commanders defense that was just sliced by Tommy DeVito. If you are considering Ferguson, give him a go for a Thanksgiving fantasy watch.

Give Thanks (For No Byes)

Week 12 has no teams on Bye and includes a Dolphins-Jets Friday game in addition to the three Thursday games. There will be no shortage of football as fantasy managers stay glued to their seats while scarfing down Thanksgiving meals. Enjoy the holiday, and don’t forget to set those lineups!

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