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Starts and Sits Week 12

Purdy, Williams, Shaheed

PLEASE NOTE: Our dynamic duo are unable to do the usual Thursday Starts and Sits podcast this week due to personal commitments and illness, but they have put together some valuable starts and sits in written form for week 12.

They'll be back next week with the regular podcast.


QB - Brock Purdy (@ Seattle)

No shortage of great options this week, but after featuring him in the Week 11 newsletter I just don’t think I can pass on Brock Purdy. Road date with Seattle might feel a little fraught, but with his full arsenal of receivers simultaneously healthy (please vigorously knock on something wooden before continuing), Purdy’s big play penchant is currently on another level: Already lapping the league with 9.7 yards per attempt (Tagovailoa is a staggeringly distant second at 8.5, for context), Purdy’s seen his YPA jump to a positively cartoonish 12.3 since San Francisco emerged from their bye week. Huge game, the kid is hot as a tin roof – very few guys I wouldn’t start him over here.

RB - Kyren Williams (@ Arizona)

Maybe it was coincidental timing, but the Rams offense really hasn’t been the same since around the time that the waiver wire darling of September hit the shelf with a high ankle sprain: Matt Stafford was humming to the tune of 307 yards passing per game through week 4, but has been averaging a paltry 206 a game since. Williams wasn’t processing a ton of that passing game work, but the Rams’ ability to lean heavily on him (almost) right away in the early going sure seemed like it was their best recipe with the personnel they have on hand. With four RB7 or better games in his six games to start the season, the upside and the offense’s need for Williams is too tantalizing to pass up. A date with the Cardinals’ bottom-barrel run defense also doesn’t hurt.

WR - Rashid Shaheed (@ Atlanta)

This one’s not gonna be for everybody, and I fully understand that – I have been beating the drum for Shaheed for months now, and it’s been wrong more often than not: Shaheed has three games as a top-13 WR to go with seven finishes outside the top 50 at his position, the epitome of feast or famine. And yet I choose to believe.

But this isn’t strictly wishful thinking here. The argument for Shaheed was always that Michael Thomas would eventually succumb to injury and free up the targets needed for Shaheed to ascend, and while that took longer than expected Thomas is now out of the picture through at least Week 15 – and I’d be surprised if he were back even that quickly, given his track record. Shaheed has remained in elite company in advanced receiver metrics all season, and when Thomas departed early in Week 10 he wound up with a season-high nine targets as the Saints improvised some looks his way. Now coming out of their bye week against a Falcons secondary that’s shown plenty of cracks lately, it just makes sense that the Saints would seek to get Shaheed more involved going forward. I’m starting him in several leagues this week.

TE – David Njoku (@ Denver)

Nothing fancy to this one: Njoku enjoyed an eye-popping 15 targets from his new starting quarterback last week, and I don’t care if you’re David Njoku or the waterboy, if you get 15 targets in a game and have tight end eligibility then you’re going to get featured in some fantasy football articles.

Joining TJ Hockenson as the only two tight ends to register 15 targets in a game so far this season, Njoku failed to make the kind of hay with his 34.8% target share that we would have hoped as he finished with 7 catches for 56 scoreless yards. But the Steelers have been tough on tight ends this year; the Browns head to Denver to play the Broncos’ 32nd-ranked defense against the TE position. That’ll work.

DST – Tennessee Titans (vs. Carolina)

It’s been a rough season for the don’t-quite-realize-they’re-rebuilding Titans, and they’ve been pretty thoroughly embarrassed whenever they’ve played on the road – they’re sporting an 0-6 record outside of Nashville. But they’ve knocked off the Chargers, Bengals & Falcons at home, and they get a Carolina offense that frankly has been the least effective in the league in my opinion (267 yards of total offense a game, 31st in the NFL). With the Vegas over/under hovering around a scant 36.5 and the Titans 3.5 favorites, the implied 16-17 points for the Panthers still feels a bit generous.


QB – Russell Wilson (vs. Cleveland)

Don’t get me wrong, Russ has mostly won me over. And you would have been hard-pressed to find a bigger Russell skeptic than me over the summer, but a pristine 19:4 TD/INT ratio is pretty darn hard to argue with… even if it feels kind of ‘ginned up’.

But Russ hasn’t come by an honest top-8 QB finish all year (his QB3 day back in week 2 was owing to a Hail Mary touchdown as time expired, if you’ll recall) and he has been prone to dangerously anemic passing yardage totals against the better defenses – and there may be none better than this Browns unit that’s coming to town. With the Browns allowing the fewest total (243) and passing (144) yards per game in the NFL and the Broncos more keeping Russ out of trouble than counting on him to be a difference maker, this one has low-end QB2 production written all over it for me.

RB – Alexander Mattison (vs. Chicago)

Speaking of total defense, how shocked would you be to learn that the team allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game were the Chicago Bears? Deeply shocked? Me too! But it’s true: the Bears have been cracking down on opposing run games in recent weeks, including bottling up Mattison six weeks ago to the tune of 18 carries for 44 yards. While Mattison did add 4 catches for 28 yards that day, with his snap percentage continuing to erode and the Bears being much more inviting to throw on, I’d take my chances elsewhere if at all possible.

WR – Davante Adams (vs. Kansas City)

Justin Jefferson. Tyreek Hill. AJ Brown. All luminaries at the wide receiver position – and all kept in check by this Spagnuolo defense that has been the secret sauce in another successful Chiefs campaign. I’m certainly not saying you sit Davante Adams here; he’s still Davante Adams, and the Raiders have rightfully resumed shoehorning targets to their megastar receiver in recent weeks. But we are definitely in ‘temper expectations’ territory here.

TE – Pat Freiermuth (@ Cincinnati)

I am seeing a fair amount of people rolling out Freiermuth this week, and I gotta admit: I don’t get it. Yes, the Steelers finally caved to fan/Twitter pressure campaigns and fired the long-embattled Matt Canada, and that can probably only mean good things in the long run. But in the right now, we have a tight end returning from a twice-injured hamstring who was averaging 2.8 targets per game in a very low ceiling passing offense. I would start the likes of Cade Otton and Jonnu Smith over Freiermuth right now, and I recommend you do the same.

DST – Baltimore Ravens (@ Chargers)

Hard to sit a top-notch defense like this Baltimore unit, but if ever there were a matchup to do it, it’s this one: the Ravens haven’t been nearly as dominant on the road (16.4 points a game – 19.75 points a game against teams other than the Browns), and the Chargers offense has been very tough to get sacks or takeaways against: Herbert has only been sacked 22 times all year and only been picked off five times despite a healthy 35.8 pass attempts per game. This just sets up as a 27-24 kind of game, and those make it tough to get quality DST production – especially on the road, and especially when everyone knows the Chargers and head coach Brandon Staley have their backs fully up against the wall here

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