The stuffing has been properly packed away. The mashed potatoes and gravy are devoured. The turkeys are regrouping until next year’s purge. Thanksgiving weekend is over, and real life comes crashing back down all around us. Not before some exciting and disappointing events happened in Week 12, though. Lamar Jackson proved again that he doesn’t need to throw the ball to have a start worthy day in fantasy, and Baker Mayfield blossomed into a beautiful touchdown throwing machine. It’s going to be very exciting as we watch these two (and the other rookie QBs) develop in the League.
Last week also dealt us some disappointing blows. Andy Dalton was placed on IR with a thumb injury. Jeff Heuerman was placed on IR after sustaining broken ribs and a bruised lung. Jack Doyle was placed on IR after Sunday’s win with a kidney injury. The injury bug hit hard in Week 12. If you’re in need of a replacement and/or on the cusp of making the playoffs in your league and need a big play, then look no further. Here are this week’s QBs & TEs to consider for both Season Long & DFS formats.
Jameis Winston vs. Carolina Panthers – FD: $7,500 | DK: $6,000
Winston did ‘Winston-Plus’ things on Sunday against a failing 49ers team completing 29 of 38 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns, with 24 rushing yards. The most exciting aspect of his game, though, was the lack of turnovers. No interceptions. No fumbles. While I don’t expect that to continue, I do expect Winston to use this past week’s game as a confidence boost. He’ll need that confidence boost as they go up against their division rivals, the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers’ defense ranks among the worst in the league against the quarterback position. This game has “shoot-out” written all over it, and given that Fitzpatrick started over him during their first meeting of the season, Winston will be looking to make a statement in Week 13 against the Panthers.
Case Keenum @ Cincinnati Bengals – FD: $6,900 | DK: $5,200
Keenum was able to actually find some success against the Steelers’ defense that blitzed on 60% of snaps. Arguably the most pressure he’s seen in his career. Despite this, Keenum was still able to sneak in another win against a top ten team. That is now two consecutive wins against top ten teams. It’s never pretty, but he’s winning important games against strong defenses. Now the Broncos go on the road to Cincinnati. Cincinnati has a world of issues going on. Andy Dalton has been placed on IR, AJ Green is still battling his foot injury, and the Bengals’ defense just allowed the Baker Mayfield to throw for 258 yards and four touchdowns. Needless to say, the Bengals are in shambles, and their defense has now “surpassed” the Bucs’ as the worst in the League in points allowed. So that’s the play here. The expectation that Keenum & the Broncos will be able to put up points against the worst defense in the League.
Lamar Jackson @ Atlanta Falcons – FD: $7,500 | DK: $5,900
It was a little shaky there for the start of Sunday’s match-up against the Raiders, but Jackson managed to bring it together. He didn’t do it through the air, mind you, but on the ground once again. Jackson only completed 14 of 25 attempts for 178 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, but made up for that with 71 rushing yards and a score on eleven rushing attempts (7 designed runs). As I said last week, Jackson’s ability to run and his utilization in the run game gives him a stable floor. Now he’ll be facing off against the Falcons’ defense which is second only to Cincinnati in points allowed to opposing teams, with both a weak defense against the pass and the run. It’s an ideal situation for the rookie, and similar to last week’s engagement against the Raiders.
Marcus Mariota vs. New York Jets – FD: $7,000 | DK: $5,200
Mariota came back in a big way against a solid Houston defense after getting injured in Week 11. He posted the second-best completion percentage in NFL history when he completed 22 out of 23 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the near record setting night, the Titans still failed to best their division rival Texans. Fortunately, this week Mariota has the benefit of going up against a NY Jets defense that has weakened of late. On the season they’ve allowed opposing QBs to a rating of 90.1, but they’ve worsened over the last three games allowing a rating of 105.4. Yes, one of those quarterbacks was Tom Brady, but the other two were Brock Osweiler and Matt Barkley. If Mariota can continue to build on the success he had on Monday night, he should be in store for a very solid Week 13 performance.
Derek Carr vs. Kansas City Chiefs – FD: $6,600 | DK: $5,000
Listen, all you need are two eyes, hell even one, to see that the Raiders are a disaster on both sides of the ball. Despite that disadvantage, Carr still has the ability to put up a solid outing from time to time. The Chiefs will continue to pour it on the Raiders’ defense, and Carr will be forced to throw the ball utilizing the only two worthwhile players on their offense: Jalen Richard & Jared Cook. The Chiefs have had a weaker defense against the pass for the majority of the season, but have been improving. This will be a home game for Carr, where he’s statistically performed better. A “mini-Big Ben” if you will. This is a bit of a glory play with Carr, but the game on Sunday should be high scoring which will favor Carr ever so slightly.
Hail Mary Quarterback Play of the Week
Colt McCoy @ Philadelphia Eagles – FD: $6,800 | DK: $4,900
Colt-45 McCoy had a surprisingly decent performance against a stout Dallas defense on Thanksgiving Day. It was turnovers that did his fantasy production in, but 268 passing yards and two touchdowns is something to he can hang his hat on. Three interceptions is certainly a dark spot, though it was encouraging seeing how aggressive McCoy performed under center with 38 pass attempts. He’s an interesting play this week against an Eagles’ defense that has had its defensive struggles throughout the season, and just barely eked out a win against the Giants. If McCoy manages to cut down on turnovers he should be in store for a solid performance in Week 13.
Chris Herndon @ Tennessee Titans – FD: $5,600 | DK: $3,200
The fact of the matter is Herndon has been a consistent tight end over the past two months. Though he hasn’t found the end zone over the past three weeks, he has emerged as the Jets’ most reliable receiver. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a team that hasn’t utilized the tight end position in decades (literally). Now this week poses the test for the rookie tight end. The Titans are the best in the league against the tight end position, giving up their only start-worthy performance to the #1 TE, Zach Ertz. Their defense has yet to surrender a single touchdown to a tight end all season. Impressive stats, no doubt. Still, the Jets are struggling everywhere on offense, and I expect them to continue to rely upon their young tight end on Sunday. Herndon likely won’t win you your week, but his anticipated target share provides enough of a floor to not lose your week.
Jonnu Smith vs. New York Jets – FD: $5,300 | DK: $3,300
I was apprehensive to list Jonnu Smith in Week 12 out of fear of chasing points, but Jonnu Smith looks to be a growing threat in this offense. Targets are a bit of a concern, as his numbers have swung like a pendulum over the past few weeks from 3 to 8 back down to 2 targets. Fortunately, Smith is capitalizing on these targets and has found the end zone in three of his past four contests. He’s clearly developing as one of Mariota’s favored red zone targets. If this trend continues he should be a good play this week against the New York Jets. Now the Jets have been one of the better defenses against tight ends this season, but they have had momentary lapses that have cost them dearly. It’s still a defense that can be exploited that’s going on the road after a disappointing loss to the Patriots. It’s not a wild jump to think the Jets will struggle on Sunday.
Cameron Brate @ Carolina Panthers – FD: $4,900 | DK: $3,700
I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight Brate in this week’s article. The stage couldn’t be more perfect for Brate to have another solid fantasy game with high upside potential. The Panthers have given up the most points to opposing tight ends, and Winston loves him some Brate. It’s a match made in heaven, and it should yield you some positive fantasy production. Last week Brate hauled in 3 of 4 targets for 26 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers, who have an above average tight end defense. I expect Brate to have a better fantasy outing this weekend in what should be one of the higher scoring games of Week 13.
Hail Mary Tight End of the Week
Matt LaCosse @ Cincinnati Bengals – FD: $4,700 | $2,500
If you’re looking for value, then look no further. LaCosse will come to your rosters for pennies on the dollar in DFS and is barely owned in Season Long formats. Sadly his peer, Jeff Heuerman was placed on IR this week after sustaining worrisome internal injuries. This has opened up a world of opportunities for Matt on the Broncos’ offense. When Heuerman left last week’s game against the Steelers, LaCosse came in and instantly made an impact hauling in three of four targets for 34 yards and a touchdown. This week the Broncos go up against the Bengals who rank among the worst in the league in points allowed to opposing tight ends. It’s a Hail Mary since we don’t know exactly how LaCosse will be utilized in the Broncos’ offense given a week to adjust to Heuerman’s injuries. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see LaCosse with at least 4-5 targets. This floor with the upside of playing against a gutted Bengals’ defense makes him Week 13’s Hail Mary tight end.
QB/TE Combo for Week #13
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and do a combo combo. The glaring combo is the Winston/Brate stack for Week #13. But, that was last week’s stack (a successful one at that), and it’s growing less and less likely that both pieces would be available in your Season Long formats. So, my auxiliary combo for Week #13 is Marcus Mariota & Jonnu Smith. Smith is becoming a similar fixture in the Titans’ offense to that of Herndon in the Jets’ offense. He’s been seeing decent targets, and has been finding the end zone on a consistent basis. If Mariota can stay healthy and remain on the field for the duration of Sunday’s game, then I’m confident he’ll be able to produce against a defeated Jets’ defense. Mariota/Smith & Winston/Brate (where available).
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week as we head into the murky realm of the playoffs.