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Weekly Matchups: Strong Plays, Weak Plays Week 12

Kyle Fisher

Kyle Fisher writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


Colin Kaepernick vs. NO

Kaepernick had a fantastic outing on Monday night against the Bears and earned the starting assignment for this week's game against New Orleans. Coach Jim Harbaugh said the decision was not based on Alex Smith's health. Kaepernick couldn't have picked a better opponent to be fantasy relevant again than against the Saints. The Saints are last in the league in fantasy points allowed to the quarterback and have allowed multiple touchdown passes in six of their last seven games. Furthermore, the Saints offense has really clicked in the last three weeks averaging more than 32 points a game, dictating the need for opponents to thrown more. Look for starter level numbers from Kaepernick in Week 12.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. OAK

Green-Ellis is coming off his highest rushing total of the year, breaking 100 yards for the first time all season in last weeks' win over the Chiefs. Green-Ellis owners should be in line for another fine performance in this week's matchup against the Raiders, who are 30th in the league in fantasy points allowed to running backs and have given up six rushing touchdowns in the last three weeks. Green-Ellis should put up numbers this week worthy of a starter spot against the shaky Raiders run defense.

Ronnie Hillman vs. KC

With Willis McGahee (knee, leg) out of action six to eight weeks, Hillman will get the first crack at a bad Chiefs run defense and should find success in his first start of the season. The Chiefs have surrendered the sixth most fantasy points to running backs this season and have given up at least 119 yards to running backs in five of their last six games. If Hillman plays well, this week he could be more than a one-week wonder as Denver has run the ball fairly well this season, and the schedule is very favorable down the stretch.

Miles Austin vs. WAS

Austin has been limited in his last three games as he hasn't broken 100 yards and has seen the emergence of running mate Dez Bryant, especially last week against the Browns. Still, Austin has caught at least five passes in four of his last five games and has averaged 10 targets per game since Week 7. We look for Austin to have his best game in weeks in this matchup against the Redskins. The Redskins have given up the third most points to fantasy wide receivers, and Tony Romo has been hot lately, breaking 300 yards three of his last four weeks. All the signs point to a solid effort from Austin this week in a huge game for the Cowboys.

Dustin Keller vs. NE

Keller has done nothing lately, catching just five passes for 63 yards the last two weeks. However, Thanksgiving night should be nice for Keller against the rival Patriots. Keller had his best game of the season in Week 7, catching seven passes for 93 yards and a touchdown, and the Patriots overall are the fourth-worst team in fantasy points allowed to the tight end. The Patriots have allowed at least six catches to the position in each of their last four games, so Keller could be a nice start for owners who are weak at tight end.


Philip Rivers vs. BAL

In a week with few bad matchups for starting fantasy quarterbacks, Rivers is about the only unfavorable option that comes to mind. While he has been a turnover machine (18 total) he has thrown for multiple touchdowns in six of his last seven games and is on pace for a near 30 touchdown season. This week will be difficult against the Ravens. Despite all the injuries, the Ravens pass defense has been a strong point this season, ranking sixth in fewest points allowed to the quarterback position and giving up a league-low eight touchdown passes. Rivers has been a solid option lately for owners without a true top-tier quarterback, but this doesn't look to be the week to use him.

Mikel Leshoure vs. HOU

Leshoure is coming off a nice fantasy game against the Packers and has been fantasy relevant in two of the last three weeks for an inconsistent Lions running game. The matchup, however, suggests Leshoure won't have a lot to be thankful for on Thursday against the Texans. Despite last week's scoring fest by Jacksonville, the Texans gave up very little on the ground and rank second in the league in fewest points allowed on the ground. The Texans also have not given up a rushing touchdown in a regular season game since Week 15 last season. If the Lions are going to put up points on Thanksgiving, look for it to be through the air rather than on the ground.

Brian Hartline vs. SEA

Hartline has performed like a low-end No. 2 receiver in PPR leagues for most of the season and ranks 24th in scoring in that format. Hartline has been great when he catches more than four passes and a non-factor when he catches four or fewer as he doesn't make big plays or get into the endzone. This week Hartline should struggle to get the high volume of catches he needs to be fantasy relevant against the Seahawks. The Seahawks are the top team in the league against fantasy wide receivers and have been lights out in their last four games against non-elite passing teams (Jets, Vikings, 49ers, Panthers) as they have given up just 25 catches for 251 yards and no touchdowns to all receivers. Look for this to be one of the down weeks for Hartline as the Dolphins passing game should struggle again this week.

Vincent Jackson vs. ATL

Jackson has been either feast or famine the last four weeks. In his two feast games, Jackson has gone for eight catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns while in his two famine games he has been held out of the endzone on just seven catches for 99 yards. Jackson doesn't usually have a high volume of catches and relies on the big play and getting into the endzone for his fantasy points. That could be difficult this week against the Falcons. The Falcons rank third overall against fantasy wide receivers and have given up the second fewest touchdowns. If Jackson is in your lineup, he probably is best suited as the flex option for this week in what looks to be one of his tougher matchups of the season.

Heath Miller vs. CLE

After a hot first eight weeks Miller has come back to earth as he has not found the endzone or broken 50 yards in the last three weeks. With Charlie Batch slated to be the quarterback in this matchup, it doesn't appear things will get better for Miller. The Browns are the top team in the league regarding defending the tight end as they have allowed just two touchdowns this season and just 46 total fantasy points in standard scoring league. Even more impressive, in the eight games they have not allowed a touchdown the Browns have given up just 20 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. Look for Miller to have another down week in Week 12.

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