Austin’s Fantasy Train: Week 12


Austin West, Staff

It’s officially one of the best times for football of the year: Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what it is about it but those Thanksgiving games just hit differently. Before, during, and after you eat there are games on so maybe it could be the addition of the food. Some people watch the games surrounded by family members or use them to avoid those questions about ‘how is school?’ or ‘why don’t you have a girlfriend yet?’ so maybe it’s the atmosphere around them. Either way, these games make for some of the most entertaining or downright bad football games of the year. Speaking of bad games, I’m sure that’s how a lot of people are looking at their fantasy matchups this Monday morning because some notable stars just didn’t shine. First, the Vikings are unable to score a touchdown as the Cowboys score 40, then the Eagles barely hang on to defeat the Colts, and then Kadarius Toney, who everyone thought was going to be a lock this week gets a goose egg even before leaving with an injury. What I will say however is that the kickers decided to have themselves a day on Sunday: 12 kickers scored at least ten fantasy points and three scored 15+. Who would’ve thought we could see matchups so prominently decided by kickers? 


Now with these games that seemed all out of wack yesterday, let’s see how out of wack my predictions were. It was a scary start to the day for Daniel Jones, a guy I started hyping up this week to anyone who needed a streaming quarterback, but thankfully he was able to get back on track and beat his projection for a cool 26.6 fantasy points. Devin Singletary gets his highest rushing workload of the season on route to breaking his projection as Chase Claypool’s workload doesn’t get the boost it needed for him to be a viable flex play. Unfortunately, Tyler Higbee is only able to real in 50% of his targets giving him a suboptimal fantasy day as well. Derek Carr surprisingly beat his projections as he was able to toss two touchdowns and over 300 yards for just the second time this season meanwhile Curtis Samuel and James Connor both find the endzone but still come up short of their marks. Finally, Dawson Knox crushed his projections after the Bills vs Browns game was moved to the dome in Detroit after seven receptions for 70 yards. Once again a 50% on predictions this week as we head into the holiday weekend. 


Tickets to Ride

Quarterback, Geno Smith: One of the most consistent fantasy quarterbacks this season, Geno Smith is primed for a big day against the Las Vegas Raiders. Smith scored 19+ points in three straight games heading into last week’s BYE, thanks to two touchdowns, 200+ passing yards, and 20+ rushing yards in each of those games. He now comes out of the BYE facing a Raiders secondary giving up just under 250 passing yards per game and 17 touchdowns on the year. With Smith throwing an average of 31 passes per game, he’s bound to pick up plenty of yards and allow room for his receivers to find the endzone against a beatable defense.


Running Back, Jeff Wilson Jr: The newest of the Miami Dolphins running backs has had a great two games since joining the team. Currently out snapping partner in crime Raheem Mostert, Wilson’s production value looks to rise as the games continue. With a touchdown and at least 20 receiving yards and 50 rushing yards in both games with the Dolphins, Wilson has been a great FLEX spot addition for your fantasy team with at least 15 fantasy points in the two contests. This week he faces off against a Houston Texans defense that gives up the most fantasy points to running backs and the most rushing yards per game. Coming off a BYE week, Wilson should have fresh legs and plenty of preparation to earn 15+ touches against a team head coach Mike McDaniels will want to establish the run. 


Wide Receiver, Donovan Peoples-Jones: This will probably be the week Donovan Peoples-Jones gets the hype he deserves, so it may seem as if I am just following what everyone else is saying. However, I’ve been keeping tabs on him these last few weeks mostly because my roommate Brandon Patten has been basking in DPJ’s glory in the FLEX spot this season. So projected 10.6 fantasy points this week, Peoples-Jones has scored over 11 fantasy points in his last five games and in all but three games this season. Oh, he must be touchdown-dependent. Nope, only one touchdown this season, and it came last week against the Buffalo Bills. Jacoby Brissett has found his number two guy and he faces a Tampa Bay defense that is middle of the pack against wide receivers. At least 50 yards per game since Week 4, and Peoples-Jones looks to continue the streak this week. 


Tight End, TJ Hockenson: A rough day at the office for the Minnesota Vikings offense last week against the Cowboys, especially TJ Hockenson who had some big drops including a touchdown that would’ve put the Vikings up 7-3 early in the first quarter. This week he looks to get the proverbial monkey off his back against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving. At least nine targets in his three games with the Vikings so you know Kirk Cousins likes to target him. Plenty of opportunity as he averages 83% of offensive snaps, he just has to be able to come down with the ball when it matters. 


Missed the Train

Quarterback, Daniel Jones: From making the train last week to getting left behind this week, Daniel Jones unfortunately is having a fall from grace this week. The main reason? The Dallas Cowboys’ defense. Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson is out for the year leaving just Saquon Barkley, Darius Slayton, and Kenny Golladay as the main targets for Danny Dimes. They now face a Cowboys team that decimated the Vikings’ O-Line last week and are averaging the least amount of passing yards per game in the league. The last time these two teams met Jones threw for under 200 yards and no touchdowns, finishing with just 14.7 fantasy points. Don’t expect much when these two face off for a Turducken, and possibly Odell Beckham Jr., this Thanksgiving.


Running Back, Jonathan Taylor: Prepare for another average week for your first overall pick in Jonathon Taylor. After an average rushing day against the Philadelphia defense, he was able to find the endzone to put him up over 15 fantasy points. He may not be so lucky this week as he faces a Steelers run defense that has only given up five touchdowns on the ground to running backs, with only two of them since Week 5. Add the addition of TJ Watt these last two games and running backs have only amassed 94 yards TOTAL on the ground. It is worth mentioning that five separate running backs ran the ball in those two games. Taylor managers are either going to have to hope for one of three options: a defensive fluke statistically, JT finding the endzone, or Taylor becoming a larger part of the receiving offense.


Wide Receiver, Christain Watson: Five total touchdowns in the last two games for the Packers’ rookie Christian Watson. He’s been a huge red zone target for Aaron Rodgers in these last two games as well as he leads the team in targets within the 15-yard line during that span. The game against Dallas was great and the game against Tennessee was alright, thanks to the two touchdowns, but this Eagles defense has only allowed six receiving touchdowns this season, which is tied for third least in the NFL. Averaging 12 yards per reception in three of four games since returning in Week 8 and only earning six receptions in those three games, Watson becomes a touchdown-dependent FLEX play.


Tight End, Tyler Conklin: The New York Jets offense has fallen apart under Zach Wilson who is no longer the starter after the loss to the Patriots and the poor performance in the second half of that game. Tyler Conklin has borne much of the brunt of that with just three receptions and 22 yards in the last two games combined. With Mike White declared the starter by Jets head coach Robert Salah, Conklin may have a slightly higher upside but still faces a Bears defense that has been one of the best against the position this season: only three total touchdowns and under 400 yards receiving from 24 combined tight ends. None have scored over 15 points either.