Harmon Rankings: QB , RB , WR , TE/DEF
I can't wait to review the Sit/Start questions that crop up on Sunday morning following the three Thanksgiving games. A number of players put up ridiculous stat lines in support of their fantasy owners (don't forget to thank Bill Belichick) and staked owners to substantial leads in their pivotal Week 12 matchups.
I suspect that there will be an additional player added to the end of most of the usual "either/or" queries. There will be quizzical reading of the individual's waiver wire scraps to find a flier. After all, most leagues have entered the final two weeks of regular season play and desperation (or the desire to spoil another's chances) comes into play. Happily, fantasy owners have at least put the horror of Bye weeks behind them.
Some situations just might call for the installation of a dart board in the studios before it's done.
Let's dig deep into the remaining games for Week 12 for this installment of "Lineup Calls."
Heroes (Exclude Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Doug Martin, Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore)
C.J. Spiller at IND
Spiller retains a big role in Buffalo despite the expected return of Fred Jackson to the mix. He'd been the more explosive and effective option in the workload split prior to Jackson's injury, and Spiller's versatility makes him a rock-solid start against the Colts. Indianapolis has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this season, including 11 rushing touchdowns.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. OAK
Green-Ellis returned to the end zone in Week 11, his fourth rushing touchdown of the season, and earned his first 100-yard game of the campaign against the Chiefs. He's on the board for a huge encore performance this week against the putrid Oakland defense. The Raiders have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs (103.7 rushing yards and 1.1 rushing touchdowns per game).
Cedric Peerman warrants a look-see as a deep "sleeper" option this week. The Raiders have been hurt tremendously by pass-catching running backs, having allowed 69 receptions to opponents for 493 yards.
The Bengals are a top-12 team in terms of total offense, and I expect to see Green-Ellis exact a goal-line plunge.
Marcel Reece at CIN
The waiver-wire darling gets one final crack at a starting role for fantasy owners before Darren McFadden and/or Mike Goodson get back into the mix. Reece amassed nearly 200 total yards of offense in the Raiders' Week 11 loss to the Saints.
He's in a good spot here against the Bengals, a team that has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to running backs (144.3 total yards and one touchdown per game). Most importantly, opposing running backs have averaged 6.2 receptions per game, and Reece is particularly effective as a receiver of the backfield.
Ryan Mathews vs. BAL
Mathews has not developed into the home run threat that fantasy owners anticipated this summer. I'm sorry for that understatement of the issue. Mathews was drafted in the late-first or early-second round of most draft, and owners have received two games in which he earned more than 100 total yards and a single touchdown.
Still, I'll be bold and theorize that Mathews' aptitude as a receiver comes into play this week against the Ravens to push him to a high-RB2 slot. Baltimore has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs (150.8 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns per game).
Ronnie Hillman at KC
Willis McGahee's season-ending leg injury opens the door for the speedy Hillman to assume a huge role against the Chiefs. He rushed for 43 yards on 12 carries, adding two receptions for 16 yards in the Broncos' win over the Chargers.
Hillman will cede carries to Lance Ball (deep "sleeper" for owners in injury or matchup issues), but has the big-play speed that makes him an attractive RB2 this week. The Broncos will push the ball downfield with Peyton Manning in the passing game, and this is a defensive unit that has surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs (162.5 total yards and 0.7 touchdowns per game).
Jalen Parmele vs. TEN
Parmele ran well in place of the ineffective Rashad Jennings in the Week 11 shootout against the Texans. The former Ravens tailback amassed 80 rushing yards on 24 attempts and will likely take on a big workload again here. The Titans have allowed 173.9 total yards and one touchdown per game to opposing running backs (third-most fantasy points to running backs). I anticipate that Chad Henne works to stretch the field against the Tennessee secondary early, thereby afford Parmele running lanes as the game progresses.
Sleepers Bryce Brown vs. CAR
Brown ran for 35 yards on five carries in relief of LeSean McCoy last week. We're still monitoring McCoy's status for Monday night, but Brown is an intriguing back-end RB2 option if he gets the nod.
Carolina has been stellar against opposing passing attacks this season (last week's collapse against the Buccaneers notwithstanding), but have struggled markedly against opposing running games. Opponents have averaged 104.7 rushing yards and seven receptions for 53.7 receiving yards against the Panthers (11th-most fantasy points to running backs).
Andre Brown vs. GB
Brown scored in four consecutive games prior to the Giants' Week 11 Bye. He did not amass a high touch count during that period behind Ahmad Bradshaw, just seven per game, but he's become a fixture in the Giants' red zone offense.
The Packers have allowed the 18th-most fantasy points to running backs, just 116.7 total yards per game (seven total touchdowns).
Chris "Beanie" Wells vs. STL
Wells returns from injured reserve to team with LaRod Stephens-Howling against the Rams. It's an interesting one-two punch against a St. Louis defensive unit that has been susceptible to the run. The Rams have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to running backs (131.7 total yards and one touchdown per game).
Flops Matt Forte vs. MIN
Will the Bears finally turn to Forte early for a heavy workload? I know that he amassed 21 carries in Week 11, but most of his effort came after that game was decided. Forte earned 63 rushing yards, a pedestrian follow-up to his miserable 39-yard game against the Houston front.
I'm cautiously optimistic that Jay Cutler returns and that the Bears will get Forte more involved in the passing game. The Vikings have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Therefore, Forte slides toward the back-end of the RB1 division for this important divisional tilt.
Trent Richardson vs. PIT
I know that you're not going to sit Richardson down, but I'm certainly not anticipating fireworks from the rookie running back. Richardson has amassed at least 103 total yards in three consecutive games. However, he's scored just once in his past five appearances.
The Steelers have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs (95.9 total yards and 0.7 total touchdowns per game).
Reggie Bush vs. SEA
Bush just completed a three-game stretch of favorable matchups against the Colts, Titans and Bills. He produced a touchdown run against the Colts, but just 66 total yards. Bush amassed just 64 total yards against the Titans and Bills combined .
The string of strong plug-in opportunities for Bush ends against the Seahawks. Seattle has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points against running backs. Opposing running backs have averaged 116.5 total yards and 0.4 total touchdowns per game.
Jonathan Stewart at PHI
Stewart scored his first touchdown since Week 2 in Carolina's overtime loss to the Buccaneers. Alas, he recorded just 43 rushing yards on 15 carries (2.9 YPC average). He's an unreliable option for fantasy option despite the "starter" tag. Stewart has eclipsed 70 total yards just twice this season.
The Eagles are a middling unit against the run, surrendering 129.5 total yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game. He's a back-end RB2 at best.