Week 12 brings us two high-powered offenses on bye weeks: Kansas City and Arizona.
It also brings us three Thanksgiving games which limits us to just 10 Sunday games on the main slate. The fewer games means more volatility, but just as much opportunity for lucrative lineups.
Each week, I will bring you an early look at which players to target and fade for the upcoming Sunday DFS slate on DraftKings and FanDuel. I’ll do this by using our large suite of analytical fantasy tools, most specifically, our FantasyLabs Player Models.
Keep in mind that a lot can change between now and when lineups lock. Our Player Models update in real-time to help make quick lineup decisions before rosters lock.
Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.
This is a wonderful time of year, so let’s take a deep dive into which players to target in the 12th week of the 2021 NFL season.
Tyrod Taylor ($5,300 DK, $7,400 FD)
Tyrod Taylor returned to his usual low-end QB1 ways, with the overall QB11 performance in Houston’s 22-13 upset win. Taylor has posted a QB1 stat line in two of his four games this season.
His DFS price is still too low, especially on a limited week. He now faces a New York Jets defense that has allowed the fourth-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
The Jets allow an average of 32 points per game to their opponent, the most of any team in the NFL. Taylor’s rushing upside always brings the possibility of a high-end QB1 week. He is coming off a game with two rushing touchdowns. If Taylor had added just one throwing score, he would have been a top five quarterback DFS play.
As the No. 17 priced quarterback on DraftKings, Taylor brings a safe floor and a strong projected ceiling against a weak fantasy defense. He is the perfect Week 12 play if you’re looking to save salary.
Justin Herbert ($6,600 DK, $7,800 FD)
This fade is a belief in Denver head coach Vic Fangio and his ability to scheme up a defensive game plan to limit Justin Herbert.
While a very small sample size, Herbert’s number have been reduced against Denver when compared to his other starts.
Herbert will face a Denver defense coming off their bye that put forth an incredible performance in Week 10 at Dallas. The Cowboys were being shut out 30-0 by Denver until four minutes left in the fourth quarter. I expect Fangio’s defense to produce a strong defensive effort, one that will certainly limit Herbert’s production at his high Week 12 price. He is the fifth-highest-priced quarterback on both sites and would need to produce towards his career average to justify that investment.
In the past five games, Herbert has notched the overall QB1 and QB2 performances. He has also accumulated three games with the overall QB15 or worse game. I don’t see another elite DFS performance happening at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium against the AFC West rival Broncos.
Running Back Target
Miles Sanders ($5,100 DK, $6,100 FD)
This a gut play based on a late-season push by the fantasy football disappointment, Miles Sanders. In his first game back from a Week 7 ankle sprain, Sanders posted his highest yardage total (94 yards) since Week 1, on only a 42.9% snap share. With fellow running back Jordan Howard likely out with a knee injury, Sanders has a chance to reestablish his role as the lead running back in the Philadelphia backfield. On DraftKings, Sanders has the fifth-best Project Plus/Minus on DraftKings at the time of writing.
New York allows the sixth-most schedule-adjusted PPR fantasy points (4for4) to opposing running backs, which should allow for Sanders to display both his rushing and receiving upside. Given his season-long lack of production, it takes a leap of faith, but it’s one I’m willing to make in Week 12.
Running Back Fade
Leonard Fournette ($6,800 DK, $7,100 FD)
I was disappointed with Leonard Fournette’s lack of production against the Giants on Monday night and have big concerns about a short week turnaround on the road against the Colts.
Indianapolis trails only New Orleans and Carolina in the fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, and that will be a problem for a running back that has relied on efficiency for fantasy production. Fournette only ranks 17th at the position with a 60.3% snap share. He only had 10 carries against the Giants, averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. The corpse of Ronald Jones saw eight carries, at 4.1 yards per carry, with a rushing touchdown.
On a short week, I can’t invest in Fournette against a tough Colts defense.
Wide Receiver Target
Brandon Aiyuk ($5,300 DK, $6,300 FD)
Similar to Miles Sanders, I think Brandon Aiyuk has started to turn a fantasy corner for San Francisco.
Aiyuk has produced two top-10 fantasy wide receiver performances in the past three weeks, highlighted by last week’s 21.5 PPR (WR8) stat line against Jacksonville. Aiyuk has appeared to climb out of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse, with over a 90 percent snap share since Week 8. He projects for 12.3 fantasy points on DraftKings and 10 fantasy points on FanDuel.
Aiyuk should benefit from a Vikings defense that will be laser-focused on limiting Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, the two main receiving options for the 49ers. The explosive Aiyuk has seen seven or more targets in three of the past four games. It is very difficult to find that level of passing game involvement for a player in the mid-$5000 (DK) and mid-$6000 range (FD).
I am all-in on Brandon Aiyuk at home in a game with a 49-point over/under.
Wide Receiver Fade
A.J. Brown ($7,100 DK, $6,800 FD)
A.J. Brown at $7,100 on DraftKings? At New England? In this economy??
The Tennessee Titans offense has scratched and clawed their way through the last few weeks without star running back Derrick Henry. Since losing Henry for the season after their 34-31 OT win at Indianapolis, the Colts found creative ways to win at the Rams and home to New Orleans. As a result of turnover fortune and a questionable call, the Titans climbed to 8-2 before a shocking home loss to Houston.
Now, Tennessee must travel to New England and face a Patriots team that historically limits the opponents best offensive player. With Henry out, and Julio Jones, I project Bill Belichick’s target to be A.J. Brown, which makes him a bad DFS value in Week 12.
The “Belichick factor” is reflected in Brown’s projection in our models, which places him around the same level as marginal wide receivers such as K.J. Osborn and Kendrick Bourne
As a result of his opponent and Tennessee’s decimated roster, I can’t justify spending up for Brown in Week 12.
Tight End Target
Rob Gronkowski ($4,400 DK, $6,500 FD)
At $4,400 on DraftKings, Rob Gronkowski is a fantasy matchup against an Indianapolis defense that ranks third in scheduled-adjusted fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Gronkowski is one of the most efficient fantasy players, ranking third overall in fantasy points per game with just a 60.4% snap share. He has two games with double-digit touchdowns and ran 23 routes last week in his first game back from back spasms.
Gronkowski is the seventh-priced DFS tight end, currently producing as the overall TE3 on a weekly basis, with overall TE1 upside. He may be the best DFS value on the entire Sunday slate.