Start vs Sit: Players to Start, Players to Bench Week 12

Start vs Sit: Players to Start, Players to Bench Week 12

This article is part of our Start vs. Sit series.

Welcome to the Week 12 installment of Start vs. Sit where we have a loaded slate with plenty of intriguing matchups across the landscape. Georgia will look to validate its new ranking when it heads to The Plains to face a tough Auburn squad. Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Baylor will battle for the playoff committee's respect in a top-15 showdown in Waco. There are plenty of other matchups to keep up entertained through the weekend as we begin the stretch run of the regular season, so let's dive into this week's toughest lineup decisions. 

AAC

START

Jamale Carothers, RB/FB, Navy at Notre Dame

This will test the legitimacy of Carothers' recent run of success in which he's racked up 355 yards and eight rushing touchdowns in his last four games. Navy has taken on Tulsa, South Florida, Tulane and Connecticut in that stretch, which certainly helped Carothers' effectiveness. Still, ripping off nearly 10.0 yards per carry over a full month is impressive regardless of having some shaky competition along the way. Notre Dame will present a tough test as it ranks 23rd in S&P+ and gives up just 155.56 rushing yards per game. But with Carothers' role as the primary ball carrier behind Nelson Smith of late (19 percent rushing share), there's reason to trust in using Carothers against the Irish. 

SIT

Anthony Russo, QB, Temple at Tulane

Russo has hit a skid of late, and a matchup against Tulane's respectable secondary is unlikely to be the turnaround spot.

Welcome to the Week 12 installment of Start vs. Sit where we have a loaded slate with plenty of intriguing matchups across the landscape. Georgia will look to validate its new ranking when it heads to The Plains to face a tough Auburn squad. Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Baylor will battle for the playoff committee's respect in a top-15 showdown in Waco. There are plenty of other matchups to keep up entertained through the weekend as we begin the stretch run of the regular season, so let's dive into this week's toughest lineup decisions. 

AAC

START

Jamale Carothers, RB/FB, Navy at Notre Dame

This will test the legitimacy of Carothers' recent run of success in which he's racked up 355 yards and eight rushing touchdowns in his last four games. Navy has taken on Tulsa, South Florida, Tulane and Connecticut in that stretch, which certainly helped Carothers' effectiveness. Still, ripping off nearly 10.0 yards per carry over a full month is impressive regardless of having some shaky competition along the way. Notre Dame will present a tough test as it ranks 23rd in S&P+ and gives up just 155.56 rushing yards per game. But with Carothers' role as the primary ball carrier behind Nelson Smith of late (19 percent rushing share), there's reason to trust in using Carothers against the Irish. 

SIT

Anthony Russo, QB, Temple at Tulane

Russo has hit a skid of late, and a matchup against Tulane's respectable secondary is unlikely to be the turnaround spot. In his last three games, Russo has thrown for less than 200 yards and has three touchdowns and three picks in the span. Russo's time early in the season when he was routinely putting up 20-or-more points every week is in the rearview mirror now. The 58.4 percent completion rate and 6.9 YPA doesn't cut it when Russo is only attempting 25 passes per game, and with the likelihood of Tulane having long, sustained drives when it has the ball, the likelihood of Russo cutting it loose upward of 35 times like early in the season is minimal. 

ACC

START

Deon Jackson, RB, Duke vs. Syracuse

Last week was a reality check for the Blue Devils as they were flattened 38-7 by Notre Dame in front of the home crowd. This week sets up much better for Duke, which plays host to a 3-6 Syracuse team that is waiting for the season to be over. The Orange allow 197.33 rushing yards per game on 4.89 YPC and their 22 rushing touchdowns allowed rank 110th in the nation. With Jackson owning a 29 percent share of the offensive touches, he's lined up for a lot of opportunities against arguably the worst defense in the ACC. 

SIT

Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest at Clemson

I hate to do this, especially after the season Newman has had as a legitimate top-10 quarterback to this point despite being a gamble during draft season. If Newman's supporting cast was at full strength, this would be a much tougher call. But when Sage Surratt (shoulder) is done for the year and Scotty Washington is questionable at best, it's going to be David going up against Goliath without his slingshot. 

Newman is on the road to take on a Clemson team that has seemingly woken up, having allowed an average of nine points per game to its last three ACC opponents. Vegas gives Wake Forest an implied total of 13.5, a slight upgrade over its ACC peers, but we don't want to chase points from a quarterback in this type of situation. Appreciate what Newman has done for your team this season and leave him on the bench this week.

BIG 12

START

Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma at Baylor

Oklahoma has had one of the tougher backfields to figure out for fantasy purposes this year with the Sooners employing a deep rotation of backs while also having plenty of rushes left over for quarterback Jalen Hurts. Things are looking a little clearer now, though it's through an unfortunate circumstance with Trey Sermon done for the season. But now we see Brooks primed to take over the No. 1 role, and we know he's capable of explosive production. In 2018, Brooks had the least rushing attempts of anyone with at least 1,000 rushing yards. It took him just 113 carries to reach 1,021 yards and 12 scores. That's a 9.04 YPC average for those keeping score at home. 

We finally saw Brooks get unleashed for more than 10 carries for the first time all season in Week 11, and he responded for 132 yards and a score on 15 carries. He has to face a tough Baylor defense that ranks 14th in defensive S&P+. But no one has truly been able to stop the Oklahoma offense this year, and with Brooks in line for more work, he can be started with confidence for the first time all year. 

SIT

Dalton Rigdon, WR, Texas Tech vs. TCU

Rigdon is coming off his best game of the season with three catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, but context matters. That came against West Virginia, which ranks 89th in defensive S&P+. This week he faces off against a TCU defense that ranks 29th by that same metric. Furthermore, it's fair to wonder whether Rigdon would have had that same success against the Mountaineers if T.J. Vasher wasn't suspended. Ridgon should be considered a bench candidate for now, and he moves into definite bench territory if Vasher is back.

BIG TEN

START

Rodney Smith, RB, Minnesota at Iowa

Tanner Morgan and the star receivers draw most of the headlines for the Gophers, but Smith has been a consistent driving force for that offense. He was held in check last week, but that was against a Penn State defense that allows just 74.22 rushing yards per game. Smith still had 18 carries in that game, showing that the Gophers are willing to stick with him even when he's not ripping off chunk yardage. That bodes well for this week's game against the Hawkeyes.

Now, Iowa isn't a pushover against the run. The Hawkeyes give up 111 rushing yards per game, which ranks 20th in the nation. But there's a difference between good like the Hawkeyes and best in the country like Penn State was entering Week 11. With the type of role Smith has, averaging 19.1 carries per game, he should still be able to stick in starting lineups this week even with the suboptimal matchup. 

SIT

Wan'Dale Robinson, RB/WR, Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Maurice Washington's absence has opened a major role for Robinson as he's 26 carries and 16 targets in his last two games, which averages to 39 percent of Nebraska's touches. Robinson has compiled decent production in that span with 229 total yards and a touchdown. But he hasn't been efficient despite facing defenses like Indiana and Purdue. Robinson averaged 3.1 YPC and 7.3 YPT in those outings and now gets to face a Wisconsin defense that's the toughest he'll have faced outside of Penn State. Even if Robinson retains his recent role, it's tough to trust that he'll break free against the Badgers if the likes of the Boilermakers could bottle him up. 

CONFERENCE USA

START

Justin Henderson, RB, Louisiana Tech at Marshall

Marshall may be tough against the run, ranking third in the conference in points per game allowed to running backs at just 18.1. But when a back like Henderson is in the equation, we can't just lump him in with the average. (Yes, I'm borrowing a line from Chris Liss. Deal with it.) 

Henderson averages 6.5 YPC and leads the conference in rushing touchdowns with 14. Even the tough matchup and the deep running back rotation for the Bulldogs won't be enough to cut into Henderson's production this week. 

SIT

Treyvon Hughes, RB, UTEP at UAB

Hughes is on an impressive run, scoring in five consecutive games and racking up seven total scores in that span. His production has been overly reliant on touchdowns, though, and that could be a problem against a UAB defense that rarely surrenders scores on the ground. Hughes averages just 4.5 YPC and that number drops to 4.3 YPC during his scoring streak. With UAB  allowing just seven rushing scores all year and the Blazers expected to hold UTEP to just 13 points, playing Huges is a tough sell this week. 

MAC

START

Jaylon Bester, RB, Miami (OH) vs. Bowling Green

The matchup doesn't get much better than this as Bowling Green allows 214 rushing yards per game and ranks 113th in defensive S&P+. With Bester averaging 16.4 carries per game since taking over the lead role in the backfield in Week 5, this sets up for the quick 184-pounder to get plenty of opportunities against one of the nation's worst run defenses. And with Miami (OH) heavily favored Wednesday, the run game could be even more of the focal point. 

SIT

Tyrone Scott, WR, Central Michigan at Ball State

Ball State has a stout pass defense that has been especially stingy against receivers, giving up just five touchdowns through nine games. Scott will be a challenge for Ball State in his own right as someone who averages 17.0 yards per reception even if he's somewhat inefficient on a per-target basis (7.8 YPT). But with Kalil Pimpleton and JaCorey Sullivan now seemingly moving up in the pecking order, the target share could shrink for Scott. And when Scott's catch rate is so scattershot, it's tough to trust him this week when there's the added wrinkle of a tough matchup. 

MOUNTAIN WEST

START

Ronnie Rivers, RB, Fresno State at San Diego State

Running for 102 yards and three touchdowns against Utah State is one thing. Finding success against this Aztecs defense is an entirely different test. But Rivers  has elevated his game in the last month, taking 64 carries for 402 yards and nine rushing touchdowns in four games. He has a 46 percent rushing share in the last five weeks while Josh Hokit is next in the pecking order with 20 percent, showing that Rivers is the clear No. 1 for the Bulldogs. San Diego State has a top-20 defense in S&P+ and allows just 65.3 rushing yards per game. That makes for a tough showdown, but I'll side with Rivers. 

SIT

Marcus McElroy, RB, Colorado State vs. Air Force

When Marvin Kinsey was taken off the team it was McElroy who was set up to be the Rams' lead back. That was the case initially, with McElroy seeing 18 carries for 117 yards and two scores in a start against Fresno State. Colorado quickly moved to more of a committee approach, however, with Christian Hunter and Jaylen Thomas carving out roles. With a deep rotation coupled with a matchup against an Air Force defense that gives up the least fantasy points to running backs in the Mountain West, McElroy projects for a below-average outing in Week 12.

PAC-12

START

Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA at Utah

This might be one of the best in-game matchup anywhere in the Pac-12 this week with Utah sporting the top rushing defense in the nation going up against a UCLA run game that is clicking with Kelley at its forefront. Utah gives up just 56.0 rushing yards per game (!) and its three rushing touchdowns allowed ranks second in the nation. So, why start Kelley? Well ...

Since Week 5, Kelley has averaged 24.8 fantasy points per game, which ranks 10th in the nation. He is seeing 24.6 carries per game in that span and is churning out 5.4 yards per carry. Starting anyone against this Utah defense is risky at this time of the year, but with Kelley, the volume and per-carry production are enough to make him worth leaving in your lineup.

SIT

J.J. Taylor, RB, Arizona at Oregon

Arizona is in for a long day Saturday with a trip up to Autzen to face an Oregon team with its sights set on the Playoff. Oregon's defense has proven to not be as lights-out as once thought in October, but it's still a top-20 unit in S&P+ and allows just 100.1 rushing yards per game. Taylor, to his credit, averages 5.3 yards per carry and is seeing 17.8 rushes per game over his last four outings. The game script could get away from the Wildcats, too, as they're nearly four-touchdown underdogs. If that's the case and his workload gets scaled back against an already-tough run defense, this could go wrong for the Taylor backers this week. 

SEC

START

Kyle Trask, QB, Florida at Missouri

I'm ready to buy in on Trask even in a sneaky-tough matchup against Missouri. He has at least 20 fantasy points in three of his last four games with 12 passing touchdowns and a 63.4 completion rate in that span. He goes on the road against a Missouri defense that surrenders just 147 passing yards per game and ranks 11th in S&P+ defense. It's a legitimately challenging setup. But with Kyle Pitts, Freddie Swain and the ascending Trevon Grimes as his supporting cast, there's enough firepower around Trask to help him get it done Saturday. 

SIT

D'Andre Swift, RB, Georgia at Auburn

We've got a low over/under of 40.5, and Georgia is the road team facing one of the nation's most ferocious defenses. Swift's final line against Missouri belies how much the Tigers bottled him up as 47 of his 83 yards came on one carry. Of course, he only saw 12 carries against Missouri,  his lowest mark since the start of conference play, so maybe it's a moot point. He should see more carries this week, but the matchup is even tougher. 

Auburn gives up just 112.67 rushing yards per game and just 3.42 YPC in conference play. The Tiger defensive line is as advertised and will be a challenge for any offensive line, even Georgia's. Starting Swift on a weekend where he projects for one of his lowest stat lines of the season is something I'd try to avoid, if possible.

SUN BELT

START

Kaylon Geiger, WR, Troy at Texas State

One of the best-kept secrets in the nation, Geiger is tearing it up in the Sun Belt for the Trojans. He gets 8.0 targets per game and turns that into 10.3 yards per target and his 60 receptions are second in the Sun Belt behind Omar Bayless. Texas State has a respectable pass defense that allows just 186.4 passing yards per game, but it's not enough to steer off of Geiger. 

SIT

Cornelius McCoy, WR, Georgia State vs. Appalachian State

Appalachian State, the King Of The Carolinas, is nails on defense. It just held South Carolina to 15 points in Columbia and now heads  to Atlanta to face Georgia State. While McCoy and the Georgia State passing game are legitimate, Appalachian State is exactly the type of defense that could slow it down. The Mountaineers give up less than 200 passing yards per game and allow the least fantasy points per game to wide receivers. McCoy sees a high volume (8.2 Targets/Game) but isn't particularly efficient with those looks with just 7.0 YPT and four touchdowns. Look for McCoy and the Georgia State to struggle against the best of the Sun Belt on Saturday.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John McKechnie
John is the 2016 and 2021 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2014.
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