1:00PM ET Games
San Diego @ Kansas City
Looking to bounce back from last Sunday night's 27-17 loss in Denver, expect the Chiefs to re-focus on the two things they do best: Feature Jamaal Charles and play attacking defense. In Week 12, Charles takes on a San Diego defense allowing the third highest YPC average (4.83) in football. The Bolts will also be minus edge-setting OLB Jarret Johnson (hand), who is a run-defense specialist. With LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch on byes and Adrian Peterson not right physically, Charles is the No. 1 fantasy running back play this week. ... Rookie Knile Davis showed juice on gains of 7 and 11 yards against the Broncos and is a recommended stretch-run handcuff for Charles owners. Coach Andy Reid's offense has been decidedly running back-centric this season, and would likely stay that way in the event of a Charles injury due to Alex Smith's talent limitations. ... The Chargers' pass defense is pathetic. They lack impact edge rushers and cover corners, and only Atlanta and Jacksonville have allowed opponents to compile a higher combined passer rating (102.3). Checkdown machine Smith's ceiling is always capped by his inability/unwillingness to throw the football aggressively at the intermediate and vertical levels, but he's a quality two-QB-league play based on Week 12 matchup alone. I'd try aiming higher if in need of a QB1 streamer.
Smith's target distribution since Anthony Fasano returned from injury four games ago: Dwayne Bowe 37; Dexter McCluster 27; Charles 26; Donnie Avery 20; Fasano 13; Anthony Sherman 10; Sean McGrath 7. ... The Chiefs have made a more concerted effort recently to get the football to Bowe. He has at least a dozen targets in back-to-back games, converting stat lines of 7-67 and 4-57-1. Bowe is back on the mid-range to high-end WR3 radar in this favorable matchup. ... With over 50 receiving yards in three of his last four games, McCluster is worth consideration in return-yardage leagues. He leads the NFL in punt return yards. ... Avery could catch a touchdown bomb against the Chargers and still wouldn't be worthy of a roster spot in 12- or 14-team leagues. His role has diminished as McCluster's has increased. ... Fasano paid Week 11 dividends as a TE1 streamer with four receptions and a red-zone score. San Diego has allowed the 13th most fantasy points to tight ends, but Fasano has failed to clear 40 yards in each of his six appearances this season.
Philip Rivers' top-seven passing offense travels to Arrowhead for a meeting with a Kansas City defense ranked ninth against the pass and limiting enemy signal callers to a 10:12 TD-to-INT ratio. The Chiefs are second in sacks and permit a league-low 54.2% completion rate. It's difficult to justify Rivers as more than a back-end QB1. Although his on-field play hasn't noticeably slipped, it's worth noting Rivers has a 6:3 TD-to-INT ratio over his last five games, compared to 13:5 over his initial five. ... Rivers' counting stats are down because the Chargers are running the football more, and for good reason. With 432 yards and two touchdowns on his last 83 carries (5.20 YPC), Ryan Mathews has earned a commitment from San Diego's coaching staff. Springing some leaks in run defense, Kansas City has coughed up 297 yards and two touchdowns on 63 runs (4.71 YPC) to Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller and Knowshon Moreno/Montee Ball over its past two games. The Chiefs will also be without LE Mike DeVito (knee). Per Pro Football Focus' charts, DeVito has been a top-five run-stopping 3-4 end this season. Mathews is an attractive flex play in Week 12. ... Rivers' target distribution over his last seven games: Antonio Gates 58; Keenan Allen 55; Danny Woodhead 44; Vincent Brown 39; Eddie Royal 29; Ladarius Green 12; Mathews 9.
Another reason for Rivers caution is Kansas City's ability to match up effectively with San Diego's pass-catching corps. Keyed by SS Eric Berry's shutdown coverage, the Chiefs are allowing the fewest fantasy points to tight ends. I'd play usual borderline TE1s Coby Fleener and Greg Olsen over Gates this week. ... Fine physically following last week's knee scare, Allen is a quality WR3 even in this difficult on-paper matchup. Allen's slippery route running should allow him to rack up catches in stiffer Chiefs RCB Sean Smith's coverage, particularly underneath and on crossing patterns. I like Allen's chances of leading San Diego in Week 12 receiving. ... With at least 80 total yards and/or a touchdown in seven of his last eight games, Woodhead has been the Chargers' steadiest fantasy producer. Expect him to be a critical component of Mike McCoy's Week 12 game plan as the Bolts look to get the ball out of Rivers' hands quickly in an effort to minimize the impact of Kansas City's edge rush. Woodhead is an every-week RB2 in PPR and respectable flex play in standard leagues. ... Brown hasn't scored a touchdown since the season opener and has failed to clear 40 receiving yards in five straight games. He's a fantasy WR5/6. ... A touchdown-dependent fantasy commodity, Royal is on pace for just 48 receptions and 636 yards. Royal will hurt you if you start him and he doesn't hit pay dirt. He's scored twice over his last eight games.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 23, Chargers 20
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football league for Week 12. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
Minnesota @ Green Bay
Eddie Lacy's per-play efficiency has taken a predictable hit with Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) out of the lineup, but the Packers won't stop feeding him. Lacy has 42 touches in two games since the Rodgers injury, compared to complementary back James Starks' seven. At home taking on a Christian Ponder-quarterbacked offense, the Packers are in little danger of falling behind big on the scoreboard and should have no trouble pounding out rushing attempts. Minnesota ranks 14th versus the run and has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns, tied for fifth most in the league. Keep riding Lacy as an RB1. ... Through two NFL appearances, Scott Tolzien has completed 48-of-73 throws (65.8%) for 619 yards (8.48 YPA), one touchdown, and five picks. The TD-to-INT ratio is poor, but Tolzien has shown an ability to keep the chains moving and hit a handful of shot plays, which is all owners of Green Bay pass catchers can ask of a quarterback signed off the practice squad three weeks ago. Tolzien isn't a standalone fantasy option, but he isn't killing his teammates' cause. ...Tolzien's 2013 target distribution: Jarrett Boykin 21; Jordy Nelson 18; James Jones 12; Andrew Quarless 7; John Kuhn 4; Lacy and Brandon Bostick 3; Myles White 1.
In spite of the Rodgers-to-Tolzien downgrade, Green Bay's wideouts have an appetizing Week 12 matchup versus a Vikings defense that ranks 29th versus the pass and has allowed a league-high 23 passing scores. ... With at least 80 yards and/or a touchdown in eight of his ten games this year, Nelson is the No. 5 overall receiver in fantasy football. Perhaps he's more WR2 than WR1 with Tolzien at the helm, but Jordy needs to be in fantasy lineups regardless. He's coming off an eight-catch, 117-yard game against the Giants. ... Tolzien's obvious rapport with Boykin has kept Green Bay's No. 3 wideout on the WR3 radar despite Boykin's somewhat limited playing time. Although he has played just 68% of the snaps compared to Jones' 94% the past two weeks, Boykin has registered stat lines of 8-112 and 6-91. Fantasy owners can't expect Jones to re-assume the clear-cut No. 2 wideout role before Rodgers comes back. Jones' stats over the two-week stretch are 4-44 and 2-55. Whereas Boykin seems to be a fairly stable back-end receiver play, Jones can only be viewed as a WR4 until something changes. ... Tolzien is making very little use of his tight ends. Quarless is blocking on most of his snaps. Bostick just isn't playing much.
A week after benching him for Matt Cassel early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings announced they will start Ponder against the Packers in Week 12. Quite possibly on a short leash again, Ponder has committed 13 turnovers through seven starts this season, losing all but one. I could see justifying Ponder as a Hail Mary two-quarterback-league start if Rodgers were healthy and this game had shootout potential. But with Tolzien engineering the opposing offense, this one projects as a low-scoring bore. ... Adrian Peterson's groin injury is likely a bigger problem than the Vikings are letting on, but isn't affecting his game-day availability or workloads. Peterson has averaged 23.7 touches over his last three games. Green Bay has allowed a combined 346 yards on 67 carries (5.16 YPC) to Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, and Andre Brown the past three weeks. Even if Peterson is no longer fantasy's consensus No. 1 back, he hasn't fallen out of the top five. ... Ponder's 2013 target distribution: Greg Jennings 35; Jerome Simpson 33; injured Kyle Rudolph 24; Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson 23; John Carlson 22; Jarius Wright 18; Toby Gerhart 8.
From a fantasy perspective, Jennings' 2013 production hasn't been lofty enough to overcome concerns with the Achilles' injury that kept him out of Week 11 and limited him in practice this week. I'd just write off Jennings as a Week 12 fantasy option. ... Carlson is at least worth a matchup-based TE1 streamer look. Green Bay has allowed the 11th most fantasy points to tight ends. Through two starts in place of Rudolph, Carlson has dropped stat lines of 7-98-1 and 5-69. ... The Vikings benched Simpson for disciplinary reasons in Week 11, starting Patterson instead. It's unclear whether Simpson will get his job back. If forced to choose from Minnesota's wide receivers in fantasy this week, I'd aim high and try to hit a home run with Patterson's game-breaking talent. Jennings has injury and productivity concerns, Simpson's playing time is too uncertain, and Wright will be reduced to the Vikings' No. 4 wideout against the Packers.
Score Prediction: Packers 20, Vikings 17
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
Seemingly certain to be a low-scoring battle between division foes in chilly Cleveland, Steelers-Browns pits against each other teams that have produced final scores of 24-10, 20-14, 13-9, and 14-3 in their last four meetings. The Steelers' defense isn't as good as it's been in past years, but the Browns' is much better. And Cleveland's offense is on its third quarterback of the season, who returns from a brutal performance in Week 11’s loss to Cincinnati. The 40-point over-under is second lowest of Week 12 and still seems generous. I wouldn't actively look for fantasy lineup filler in this game. ... Ben Roethlisberger will lock horns Sunday with Cleveland's top-five pass defense, a unit limiting enemy quarterbacks to a sub-60% completion rate and the second lowest yards-per-pass-attempt average (5.47) in football. The Browns are tied for eighth in sacks and have defensive front-seven personnel to terrorize Pittsburgh's below-average line. Big Ben is fine to start in two-quarterback leagues. Avoid streaming him. ... Le'Veon Bell is an every-week RB2 because he's handled 18-plus touches in each of his seven rookie-year appearances, but that reliable volume might not get him especially far against Cleveland's top-eight run defense. The Browns are holding opponents to 3.55 yards per carry, the third stingiest clip in the league. Le'Veon owners need to hope for a goal-line plunge or two, because the Browns probably aren't going to let him get loose for any big plays.
Roethlisberger's target distribution since Bell joined the lineup seven games ago: Antonio Brown 76; Emmanuel Sanders 46; Heath Miller 45; Le'Veon 34; Jerricho Cotchery 29; Markus Wheaton 11; Felix Jones 9. ... Brown is sixth in the NFL in targets (106), first in catches (74), and fifth in receiving yards (952). I'd resist worrying about Joe Haden and start Brown as a WR2. OC Todd Haley does a good job of getting Brown favorable coverage with pre-snap motion and formation diversity. ... Expected to play through a Week 11 foot scare, Sanders has the best matchup in Pittsburgh's pass-catching corps. He'll do battle with CBs Chris Owens and Buster Skrine while Haden tries to keep up with Brown. Sanders is worth a look as a cheap FanDuel play and WR3 in 14- and 16-team leagues. ... The Browns are 20th in receptions allowed to tight ends and 22nd in yards. Although Miller's Week 11 box score (8-67) appears promising, he averaged 21.3 yards over his previous four games and got an in-game target boost from Sanders' first-half foot injury. Lacking playmaking ability following last January's triple-knee ligament tear, Miller is averaging 10.3 yards per catch with one touchdown in eight games. ... Cotchery hit pay dirt for the third game in a row last Sunday versus Detroit. Start Cotchery if you think his scoring production is sustainable. I don't. ... Although it was due primarily to Sanders' injury, Wheaton played a year-high 49 snaps against the Lions, catching 3-of-5 targets for 38 yards. Don't be surprised if he has a blowup game before the season is up. Wheaton is Pittsburgh's version of Marquise Goodwin.
Week 11's Jason Campbell is precisely what I expected when the Browns sat Brandon Weeden and turned to their third quarterback of the season a month ago. Campbell kept the chains moving and got the ball out quickly in his first two starts. He reverted to true form against the Bengals, checking down relentlessly, completing under 50% of his throws, and taking four sacks in a 41-20 blowout defeat. Beyond a 74-yard bomb to Josh Gordon where he had all day to throw, Campbell's long completion was a 12-yard "strike" to backup TE Gary Barnidge. This is the real Campbell. He's just a two-QB-league option against Pittsburgh's No. 8 pass defense. ... Campbell's target distribution on the year: Gordon 32; Chris Ogbonnaya 22; Davone Bess 20; Greg Little 19; Jordan Cameron 17; Fozzy Whittaker 11; Willis McGahee 4. ... Inconsistency remains inevitable for Gordon as a deep-ball specialist with quarterback woes, but your best bet is always to start him because he's capable of winning fantasy weeks. With Steelers top cornerback Ike Taylor getting torched on a weekly basis, Gordon is a recommended WR2. ... Bess dropped another pass against the Bengals and now has a league-high ten drops on the season, per Pro Football Focus' charts. And he hasn't hit 30 yards in a game since Week 3. The Browns need to stop playing him.
Friday Update: Steelers top pass rusher LaMarr Woodley (calf) missed Friday's practice and is expected to be inactive for Week 12. Woodley's absence provides Cleveland's deep passing game with a matchup boost, as Campbell should have a cleaner pocket on Sunday. It's good news for Gordon's fantasy outlook.
Little followed up his pre-bye 122-yard fluke with a one-catch, six-yard clunker at Cincinnati. He saw six targets. Little is not a starting-caliber NFL receiver. ... Cameron's stat lines in Campbell's three starts: 4-81, 1-4, 6-29. Far removed from the bountiful Brian Hoyer era, Cameron is a low-end, dice-rollish TE1 against a Steelers defense that ranks 23rd in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. ... OC Norv Turner pledged during the Browns' Week 10 bye to increase Ogbonnaya's ball-handling role. Turner made good on the promise as Ogbonnaya led Cleveland in carries (8) and caught six passes from checkdown machine Campbell. Although Ogbonnaya is a timeshare back in a suspect offense, he has some low-ceiling flex appeal in PPR leagues. Pittsburgh ranks 26th in run defense and has allowed 13 rushing scores, fourth most in the NFL. ... With a declining role and evaporating ability, McGahee was droppable in 12-team fantasy leagues a few weeks back.
Score Prediction: Steelers 20, Browns 17