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Week 12 fantasy football matchups preview

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Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Browns

Baker Mayfield: Stream
Nick Chubb: Start
Duke Johnson: Flex
Jarvis Landry: Start
Antonio Callaway: Sit
David Njoku: Stream
Browns DST: Sit

The Browns offense has found a new gear since Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator -- much of it revolving around Nick Chubb and the running back group. That unit should continue to produce against a Bengals defense that hasn't slowed many backs all season. A solid running game could make things easier for Baker Mayfield but that also depends on his pass-catchers making plays on his behalf. Jarvis Landry is a nice start this week and David Njoku could rebound after several poor outings. Everyone else on this roster is questionable at best.

Bengals


Andy Dalton: Beware
Joe Mixon: Start
Tyler Boyd: Flex
John Ross: Deep sleeper
C.J. Uzomah: Stream
Bengals DST: Sit

With A.J. Green looking likely to sit again this week, Andy Dalton is hard to trust as your starting fantasy quarterback. Similarly, Green's absence has made Tyler Boyd easier to defend. He'll still see targets but his overall production might be limited. Cincinnati is likely to lean heavily on Joe Mixon against a defense that hasn't been as stout as we thought early in the season. It's been a few weeks since C.J. Uzomah was fantasy relevant but this is a matchup that works in his favor.

San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX


49ers


Nick Mullens: Sleeper
Matt Breida: Start
Alfred Morris: Deep sleeper
Marquise Goodwin: Flex
Pierre Garcon: Sit
George Kittle: Start
49ers DST: Sit

Nick Mullens has done an admirable job taking over for C.J. Beathard and could have another nice day against a bad Buccaneers defense. There's no doubt that George Kittle will continue to be a frequent target in the offense but Marquise Goodwin also offers the chance for big plays in the passing game. Matt Breida has been a pleasant fantasy surprise this year and should get plenty of touches versus Tampa's run defense. The Bucs offense has been turnover prone but the Niners defense hasn't been opportunistic enough this season to take advantage.

Buccaneers


Jameis Winston: Start
Peyton Barber: Flex
Mike Evans: Start
DeSean Jackson: Sleeper
Chris Godwin: Sleeper
Cameron Brate: Start
Buccaneers DST: Sit

Jameis is back! For now. But with the Niners not bothering to intercept a lot of passes this season, Winston could be a nice starting option for some fantasy managers. We know Mike Evans will get his targets, as will Cameron Brate (in the wake of O.J. Howard going on injured reserve). Whether DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin get to eat this week remains a question mark. The matchup is certainly good enough. Keep an eye on Peyton Barber, who has played well recently and doesn't seem likely to fall victim to game script this week. You can still avoid the Bucs defense, though.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Jaguars


Blake Bortles: Sit
Leonard Fournette: Start
T.J. Yeldon: Deep sleeper
Carlos Hyde: Sit
Jaguars WRs: ???
Jaguars DST: Start

If there's one thing we've learned about the Jaguars offense this season, it's that Blake Bortles is not a trustworthy fantasy option in 2018 and shouldn't be in your lineup against a fairly tough Bills defense. His pass-catchers have been similarly tough to decipher this season. Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief have been the best of the bunch but their production leaves a lot to be desired. Leonard Fournette currently stands as the only Jaguar you can start with confidence, mostly because of his large volume of touches and a matchup against an underwhelming Bills run defense. Josh Allen should return for Buffalo but it's not enough to scare you away from starting the Jaguars defense.

Bills


Josh Allen: Sit
LeSean McCoy: Sit
Kelvin Benjamin: Sit
Zay Jones: Sit
Charles Clay: Sit
Bills DST: Stream

There haven't been any Bills players that you have been able to feel good about locking into your lineup on a weekly basis. That isn't likely to change this week. The Jaguars haven't been the fearsome unit we saw last season but they should still be strong enough to make life hard on Josh Allen and company. It would be nice if LeSean McCoy could get another 27 touches like he did in Week 10 but that seems unlikely. The only Bills option that you can truly consider might be a defense that gets to square off against Blake Bortles this week.

Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Raiders


Derek Carr: Sit
Doug Martin: Sit
Jalen Richard: Sleeper
Seth Roberts: Sit
Marcell Ateman: Sit
Jared Cook: Deep sleeper
Raiders DST: Sit

The Raiders have been a fantasy black hole for much of the season. This week's matchup against the Ravens isn't going to get anyone excited. Derek Carr has struggled to push the ball downfield all season long and that job will get even tougher with Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant and Brandon LaFell all expected to miss more time. You can try relying on Jared Cook but you can never be sure which Jared Cook will show up. Just avoid any and all Raiders players where you can.

Ravens


Lamar Jackson: Stream
Gus Edwards: Start
Alex Collins: Sleeper
Javorius Allen: Deep sleeper
John Brown: Beware
Michael Crabtree: Sleeper
Willie Snead: Sleeper
Ravens TEs: ???
Ravens DST: Start

Lamar Jackson is expected to get another start for Baltimore and he should be a matchup nightmare for a slow-footed Raiders defense. It also portends good things for newly-minted fantasy favorite Gus Edwards if the Ravens are again run heavy. However it does not mean good things for Baltimore's group of pass catchers unless Jackson starts throwing the ball more often than he did last week. Nonetheless, the Ravens defense should be started in all leagues against a Raiders offense that hasn't frightened many people all year.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX


Seahawks


Russell Wilson: Stream
Chris Carson: Start
Rashaad Penny: Sleeper
Mike Davis: Sleeper
Doug Baldwin: Flex
Tyler Lockett: Start
David Moore: Deep sleeper
Nick Vannett: Deep sleeper
Seahawks DST: Beware

Russell Wilson has picked up his game after a slow start to the season and there's little reason to believe he won't keep it going this week against an uneven Panthers defense. While he's not running as much as we're used to seeing, he is spreading the ball around. Doug Baldwin says he's feeling healthier, which is reason for optimism but he might need to work to surpass Tyler Lockett in the pecking order. The Seahawks are still a run-heavy team with Rashaad Penny working more into the rotation alongside Chris Carson. Mike Davis could also see touches but likely not enough to be impactful. It might be best to leave Seattle's defense on the bench this week.

Panthers


Cam Newton: Start
Christian McCaffrey: Start
Devin Funchess: Beware
D.J. Moore: Start
Curtis Samuel: Sleeper
Greg Olsen: Start
Panthers DST: Beware

Cam Newton is in the midst of one of his best career seasons and shouldn't be on your bench in any circumstance. Likewise, Christian McCaffrey has become a top-tier fantasy back and should be started every week. Devin Funchess is doubtful this week, which could further expand already-growing roles for D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. Greg Olsen has been very good since returning from injury, adding depth to a very shallow tight end pool. The Panthers defense sits outside the top 25 and should probably be left aside for now.

New England Patriots at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Patriots


Tom Brady: Beware
James White: Start
Sony Michel: Start
Julian Edelman: Flex
Josh Gordon: Flex
Rob Gronkowski: Start
Patriots DST: Stream

Tom Brady is questionable but likely to play this week, however, his recent run of play doesn't make him an automatic start. Especially not when the duo of James White and Sony Michel have played so well this season. Julian Edelman remains a PPR darling, even if his overall yardage totals have been hit-or-miss. Josh Gordon remains more of a ceiling play than a consistent floor play. Rob Gronkowski is expected back after battling recent injuries. If he is truly healthy, he should once again be a force in the New England passing game. Either way, it's hard to imagine sitting him. The Patriots defense is an excellent streaming option against a turnover prone Jets offense.

Jets


Josh McCown: Sit
Elijah McGuire: Beware
Isaiah Crowell: Sit
Quincy Enunwa: Sleeper
Robby Anderson: Sleeper
Jermaine Kearse: Deep sleeper
Chris Herndon: Sit
Jets DST: Sit

Josh McCown gets another start as Sam Darnold continues his recovery from a foot injury but starting the veteran quarterback or any of his pass-catchers is a tough ask this week. Elijah McGuire is an option with some potential but the fear of a game script gone wrong makes him a wary start in Week 12. The Patriots passing game hasn't been a juggernaut this year, but New England is careful enough with the football that the Jets defense might not give you much of a fantasy return.

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX


Giants


Eli Manning: Sleeper
Saquon Barkley: Start
Odell Beckham, Jr.: Start
Sterling Shepard: Flex
Evan Engram: Start
Giants DST: Beware

The recent collapse of the Eagles defense, combined with a slew of injuries to its secondary, offers hope for Eli Manning's sleeper potential this week. You're already starting Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham but Philly's defensive losses make Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram even more tantalizing starts this week. Starting the Giants defense isn't the worst idea in fantasy this week but there are also likely better options available.

Eagles


Carson Wentz: Start
Josh Adams: Beware
Corey Clement: Beware
Wendell Smallwood: Sit
Alshon Jeffery: Flex
Golden Tate: Flex
Nelson Agholor: Deep sleeper
Zach Ertz: Start
Eagles DST: Beware

Carson Wentz has played at an outstanding level for fantasy managers this season. The problem is that it's been hard to consistently count on any of his receivers. The worse news is that Zach Ertz has been up and down in recent weeks. Philadelphia continues to have a revolving door in the backfield. Josh Adams is the name on everyone's mind but he still is only seeing 7-10 touches per game ... not great. One season after being a fount of fantasy goodness, Philly hasn't lived up to expectations this season.

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX


Cardinals


Josh Rosen: Sit
David Johnson: Start
Larry Fitzgerald: Beware
Christian Kirk: Flex
Ricky Seals-Jones: Deep sleeper
Cardinals DST: Sit

The Cardinals have the worst offense in the NFL. The resurrection of David Johnson has been a welcome sight for fantasy managers but it hasn't done much to lift the rest of the Redbirds offense. With a bad offensive line and an improved Chargers pass rush (100 percent more Joey Bosa!), Josh Rosen and his pass-catchers could be in for a rough day.

Chargers


Philip Rivers: Beware
Melvin Gordon: Beware
Austin Ekeler: Sleeper
Keenan Allen: Start
Mike Williams: Flex
Tyrell Williams: Beware
Antonio Gates: Sit
Chargers DST: Start

It will be important to keep an eye on Melvin Gordon and Tyrell Williams with both players being questionable heading into Sunday. The matchup isn't a great one on paper for Philip Rivers. You might want to consider another option at quarterback if possible. Whether or not Gordon plays, Austin Ekeler is in a prime spot to break out of a prolonged slump. Keenan Allen could have a tough matchup this week if he lines up against Patrick Peterson. It could open things up for Mike Williams -- especially if Tyrell doesn't play. Beware not to chase the fantasy points with Antonio Gates. But definitely chase the Chargers defense against a bad Cardinals offensive line.

Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS


Dolphins


Ryan Tannehill: Beware
Kenyan Drake: Flex
Frank Gore: Sleeper
Kenny Stills: Sleeper
DeVante Parker: Deep sleeper
Danny Amendola: Deep sleeper
Dolphins DST: Sit

Ryan Tannehill returns to the Miami lineup but it's hard to predict what kind of impact he'll have in his first action since Week 5. There is upside for Kenny Stills, who saw plenty of targets from Tannehill earlier in the season. The rest of Miami's pass-catchers could be a questionable lot this week. What will become of Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore? No one can say for sure what's in the mind of Adam Gase. If the game remains close, Gore could seen plenty of touches. If the Colts grab a sizable lead, we could see more work for Drake. Good luck with that.

Colts


Andrew Luck: Start
Marlon Mack: Start
Nyheim Hines: Sleeper
T.Y. Hilton: Start
Eric Ebron: Beware
Jack Doyle: Stream
Colts DST: Beware

Andrew Luck has been red hot nearly all season long. There's no reason to bench him now. But apart from T.Y. Hilton, there are no other Indy receivers you can count on. Even Eric Ebron has slowed down from his hot start this season. However, that has meant a few more targets for Jack Doyle lately. Marlon Mack should eat against a bad Dolphins run defense with Hines waiting in the wings as a PPR sleeper this week. Indy's defense hasn't been awful but it's not necessarily the best fantasy start most weeks.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS


Steelers


Ben Roethlisberger: Start
James Conner: Start
Antonio Brown: Start
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Start
Vance McDonald: Stream
Steelers DST: Start

The Steelers have been one of the league's hottest teams recently in nearly every facet of the game. With the Broncos defense scuffling, Big Ben is a quality start -- as are Antonio Brown (of course) and JuJu Smith-Schuster. James Conner hasn't put up huge yardage totals in the past two weeks but that could change against a Denver defense that has been soft against the run. Vance McDonald has become Pittsburgh's tight end of choice and should see a number of targets this week. After being a fantasy patsy at the start of the year, the Steelers defense has become a unit you can trust in your lineup.

Broncos


Case Keenum: Sit
Phillip Lindsay: Flex
Royce Freeman: Beware
Devontae Booker: Sit
Emmanuel Sanders: Start
Courtland Sutton: Sleeper
Jeff Heuerman: Deep sleeper
Broncos DST: Sit

The Broncos offense hasn't been great this season but there are trustworthy elements here. Namely, Phillip Lindsay who continues to be one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the year. Emmanuel Sanders has been Denver's most consistent receiver but fantasy managers should be wary lest the Steelers shadow him with Joe Haden this week. All of the other Broncos' offensive starters are questionable fantasy options in Week 12. The Broncos defense should be avoided if possible against a Steelers offense on a roll.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC


Packers


Aaron Rodgers: Start
Aaron Jones: Start
Jamaal Williams: Sit
Davante Adams: Start
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Beware
Randall Cobb: Beware
Jimmy Graham: Beware
Packers DST: Sit

Green Bay's offense hasn't been the juggernaut we're used to seeing but Aaron Rodgers has done just enough on a weekly basis to remain in starting lineups. Similarly, Davante Adams has made the leap this season to being an elite fantasy receiver. In recent weeks, Aaron Jones has been unleashed and while the matchup isn't great, the volume of touches should keep his value afloat here. Randall Cobb is questionable for this week and might not be available to fantasy managers while Jimmy Graham hopes to play through a broken thumb. That's not great news for a player who has already underachieved this season.

Vikings


Kirk Cousins: Stream
Dalvin Cook: Start
Adam Thielen: Start
Stefon Diggs: Start
Kyle Rudolph: Beware
Vikings DST: Beware

Kirk Cousins has disappointed this season but this week offers a chance at redemption against an average defense. At least his top two receivers have generally been productive for fantasy managers this season. It's encouraging that Mike Zimmer wants to run the ball more -- encouraging if you have Dalvin Cook, that is. Kyle Rudolph and the Vikings defense have both let plenty of folks down in 2018 and it might be best to avoid counting on either this week.

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans, 8:15 p.m. ET (Mon.), ESPN


Titans


Marcus Mariota: Beware
Dion Lewis: Flex
Derrick Henry: Sleeper
Corey Davis: Sleeper
Taywan Taylor: Sit
Jonnu Smith: Deep sleeper Titans DST: Stream

Good luck figuring out a Titans offense that has had no identity and even less consistency this season. Marcus Mariota is expected to play but he and his pass-catchers can't seem to put together consecutive solid outings. Dion Lewis has been the one semi-constant in the attack but now there is some thought that Derrick Henry could get more touches. That helps no one. Jonnu Smith has been a deep sleeper and maybe he can come through but that's a tough ask for fantasy folk this late in the season.

Texans


Deshaun Watson: Stream
Lamar Miller: Flex
DeAndre Hopkins: Start
Keke Coutee: Sleeper
Demaryius Thomas: Sit
Texans DST: Start

Deshaun Watson hasn't been great statistically but he has had some decent fantasy week lately. That might be enough to give you confidence to stream him. It's not a great matchup for any of Houston's skill position players but there's no way you're keeping DeAndre Hopkins out of your lineup this week. Keke Coutee has sleeper appeal as a player who has seen more targets since Will Fuller's injury. The Texans defense has some appeal against an unpredictable Titans offense.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who writes words in this space to amuse you. Send him words of reaction appropriate to the previous sentence via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook, and Instagram.

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