RotoWire Partners

Weekly Matchups: Strong Plays, Weak Plays Week 12

Kyle Fisher

Kyle Fisher writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


Matt Ryan vs. MIN

Ryan has quietly become one of the hotter fantasy quarterbacks the last several weeks. He has thrown for at least 300 yards or scored multiple touchdowns (passing or rushing) in each of the last five games. This trend should continue against a Vikings pass defense ranked last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and which has also given up multiple touchdowns from the quarterback position in each of the last five weeks. Ryan should be one of the better plays this week as the Falcons fight for a playoff spot.

Mark Sanchez vs. BUF

Sanchez's real-life numbers have been a lot worse than his fantasy numbers the last five weeks. Sanchez has multiple touchdowns in three of the last five games, and his fantasy averages have been consistent with his overall numbers, which put him just outside the top-12. Sanchez should get in the top-12 this week with his matchup against the reeling Bills. The Bills have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and have been burned for six touchdown passes the last two weeks as they are on a three-game slide. Sanchez needs a good game to restore his confidence, and get the Jets back into playoff contention. This matchup offers the opportunity for him to do just that.

Rashard Mendenhall vs. KC

Mendenhall hasn't broken 100 yards since Week 6 but has scored touchdowns in each of his last two games and could get the breakout game his fantasy owners need this week against the Chiefs. The Chiefs have given up the fourth-most points to fantasy running backs this season and haven't allowed less than 16 fantasy points to the running back position (in standard scoring leagues) in a month. Mendenhall has had tough matchups the last three weeks but should get a break this week, and don't be surprised if he approaches the 100-yard mark as well.

Cedric Benson vs. CLE

Benson hasn't surpassed 100 yards since Week 4 but did give a surprisingly good fantasy performance last week as he scored two touchdowns against the mighty Ravens run defense. This week, Benson faces the team that he had his best game of the season against in the Browns. Benson rushed for season-high 121 yards in Week 1, and the Browns run defense hasn't gotten any better. The Browns rank ninth in most fantasy points given up to running backs (17.8) but are on a four-game streak of giving up 23 fantasy points a game to the running back position in standard scoring leagues. Benson might not top his Week 1 performance, but he looks to be a must-start this week.

Percy Harvin vs. ATL

With Adrian Peterson (ankle) out, Harvin figures to increase his role and get more carries out of the backfield in addition to his receiving duties. Harvin would most likely earn a start this week regardless of the expected increased running duties in this matchup against Atlanta. The Falcons has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season and have been especially poor the last two weeks against the Saints and Titans. Look for Harvin to contribute both on the ground and in the air and have a nice fantasy performance in Week 12.


Joe Flacco vs. SF

Flacco's not a weak play, but he has the least desirable matchup of the week of any quarterback you might consider starting. Flacco has been up-and-down all season and is coming off a solid start against the Bengals. The 49ers defense has gotten a lot of credit for being the stingiest against the run but also has good numbers against the pass. The 49ers have allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks despite being ahead most of the time. What's more, they have forced12 turnovers from the quarterback position (7 interceptions, 5 fumbles) in the last four weeks. Expect the defenses to shine on Thanksgiving in Harbaugh Bowl I.

Frank Gore vs. BAL

After five consecutive games of more than 100 yards rushing Gore has missed the mark in each of the last two weeks and doesn't figure to end that streak this week against the Ravens. The Ravens have given up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season and only allow 3.3 yards per carry. While owners might not have the depth to sit Gore this week, don't expect him to be the star of Harbaugh Bowl I.

DeMarco Murray vs. MIA

Murray was very good while Felix Jones was injured and got 31 touches in Jones' return last week. Murray has been a big reason why the Cowboys are suddenly hot again and Tony Romo is playing like an MVP. This week, Murray faces the suddenly red-hot Dolphins in a Thanksgiving showdown that might be a lot tougher than expected. The Dolphins rank second in fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs. They haven't given up a touchdown since Week 4 and have held running backs to less than 10 fantasy points since Week 6. Unless you are deep at running back, Murray will most likely be in your lineup, but his numbers might not put you in the holiday mood.

Jerome Simpson vs. CLE

With A.J. Green (knee) questionable, Simpson has elevated to the Bengals' go-to guy. He rewarded owners nicely last week with 152 yards in a close loss to the Ravens. This week, Simpson faces a tough Browns pass defense that should put the clamps on Simpson. The Browns rank as the toughest fantasy defense for wide receivers. They have given up just four touchdowns all season and are winning the Triple Crown (fewest catches, yards and touchdowns). Look for more of a ground attack from the Bengals and for Simpson to perform like a WR3 or WR4 this week.

Giants DEF vs. NO

The Giants are still a force in fantasy defense as they are tied for the league lead in sacks (31) and are eighth in interceptions and fifth in fumble recoveries. Their problem has been points allowed (21st) and that could be a big problem against the high-flying Saints. The Saints have been very good lately, turning the ball over just three times in their last four games and alloweing just five sacks in four home games this season. Even if you don't count the 62-point outburst against the Colts, the Saints still averag more than 32 points a game at home this season. In most week the Giants are a must start, but this might be one of those weeks where the offense is just playing too well.