The Fantasy Hipsters are here to save you from being duped into starting these mainstream "must-starts" of Week 12. These players are sprinkled around the top the consensus rankings for the week, but Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) have some underground knowledge to get you in the know and make you think twice before locking them into your starting lineups. So make sure your ripped skinny jeans are cuffed, because you're about to tread some contrarian waters. Dude, is that coffee you're drinking even locally sourced? Folgers!? Are you kidding me? Ugh, whatever.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders
It's cute to see the sheep out there attempt to bask in their own intelligence as they pontificate their knowledge about shutdown cornerbacks, and who they may line up against on game day. Oh yes, no one has ever heard of Josh Norman, Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson, sure. Please. We've known those cornerbacks are threats to opposing wide receivers for years now.
Carolina drafted Bradberry to replace Norman after they let him walk out the door to Washington. From a physical perspective, he's a worthy replacement. Just like Norman he stands over 6-feet tall with a long frame.
The Panthers secondary struggled to start the season, and Bradberry missed multiple games in the middle of the season, but he's been a major difference-maker since he's returned to the starting lineup.
Over the last three weeks, opposing quarterbacks have targeted Bradberry 17 times but they haven't had much luck. He's allowed a mere 47.1 percent completion rate, just 75 yards and a lowly 79.3 passer rating. Yes, he did allow a single touchdown in that span, as well, but he gave it up to Kenny Britt. Your mainstream friends might not know it, but he's on pace for a career-best 1,177 receiving yards this season.
Bradberry will be responsible for taking out Michael Crabtree when the Raiders welcome Carolina to their stadium this Sunday. Crabtree racked up 59 percent of his yardage so far this season when lined up at right wide receiver. Bradberry took 98 percent of his snaps on the defensive left side over the last three weeks.
Look, Derek Carr is no fool; he knows how to pick out the best spot to attack in a defense almost as much as we know how to find the best underground bar in Los Angeles before it starts trending. He's not going after Bradberry on Sunday, he'll take his opportunities at throwing against the other cornerbacks on the Panthers. That should mean a big day for Amari Cooper on the left side of the field, which will keep Crabtree quiet.
Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
If you drafted Spencer Ware back in August, you probably knew Jamaal Charles was way too mainstream, man. And you were totally on point. Ware was great during the first few weeks of the season before he sold out and decided to quit racking up receiving yards. In fact, much of the appeal with Ware in fantasy this year was due to his ability to gain all-purpose yards. But over his last three games he's collected his fewest scrimmage yard totals of the season with 47 in Week 8, 72 in Week 10 and 85 in Week 11 (missed Week 9 with a concussion). I know what you're thinking: He's trending up! Don't stoop to that average way of thinking. You're way too cool for that.
This week, Ware has to play against the most mainstream defense in the league, the Denver Broncos ... maybe you've heard of them. They won that big shiny trophy last season on the heels of an "amazing" defensive performance or whatever. Now, the Broncos are at home, in primetime on Sunday night, which is about as mainstream as it gets. Some plebes might point to the fact that Denver has struggled to stop the run this season, but if you think a 7-3 record counts as "struggling" then you need to check your sources.
Look, the Chiefs just aren't getting it done on the ground, averaging just 97.9 rushing yards per game, 21st in the league. I'm not sure if the barbecue meat in Kansas City is free range, but if it was they'd probably have more success rushing. It's almost like a solid passing game helps out a running back, but I'm not so sure Alex Smith is hip to that way of thinking. Don't buy into the Spencer Ware hype for Sunday night's game. Thank me later.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
It was cool to start Emmanuel Sanders early in the season, but he's gone over 70 yards just once in the last five games and hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 4.
Eventually we're going to get back to using Sanders, but not this week when he's the consensus WR32 in NFL.com's rankings. That's generous, and clearly those other cats aren't woke to one the most obvious trends of the season.
One trend that we noticed a while ago was that a certain kind of receiver was tearing apart the Chiefs defense. The big isolated X-receivers that line up on the left side of the field have given Kansas City trouble all year. Mike Evans was just the latest player of this archetype to keep the trend going.
Top receivers' production against the Chiefs when lined up at left wide:
Kelvin Benjamin - 60 percent of his yards
Allen Robinson - 63 percent of his yards
Donte Moncrief - 44 percent of his yards
Michael Thomas - 93 percent of his yards
Amari Cooper - 73 percent of his yards
Antonio Brown - 94 percent of his yards
DeAndre Hopkins - 63 percent of his yards
The Chiefs never move Marcus Peters off the left cornerback position, so he just takes away the receiver on the offensive right side while the other areas are wide open. Sure enough, Emmanuel Sanders takes the majority of his snaps (43 percent) on the offensive right side of the field. If Peters plays after missing Week 11, he'll tangle up with Sanders.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yo, Doug Martin was all the rage a few weeks ago before he came back from a hamstring injury. He totally rocked some yoga and got healthy again but unfortunately he let it go to his head and went all feature back on us. Apparently, he's too cool to average greater than 2.8 yards per carry. That's the worst rushing average in the NFL among all players with 50-plus carries this season. With just 96 rushing yards on his last 40 carries since returning, he's been a total buzzkill.
This week, Martin faces the Seattle Seahawks. The plebe move would be to start Martin this week against Seattle, because their defense over the last four weeks has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to running backs over the last four weeks. But bro, just don't. What the sheep don't realize is that Kam Chancellor has been back for two games and when he's on the field, the Seahawks allow just 85.8 rushing yards per game compared to 117.3 when he's out. Plus, the team might be getting lineman Michael Bennett back this week to troll the Bucs' 21st ranked run blocking line. Now that's some underground knowledge.
Man, I remember back in 2012 when Martin scored like, 11 touchdowns. It's like he's allergic to paint or something. He needs to find some of that organic stuff that David Johnson's been rocking.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Yes, benching Tyler Eifert might be trying a little too hard. It's like those guys who buy the extra way-too-tight skinny jeans. Come on. Obviously, slimmer jeans are the sharp look, but everyone can tell when you're taking it too far.
Still there's good reason to wonder if this is going to be a slow game for Eifert. A.J. Green's injury is going to open up some increased target opportunity, but it will also make Eifert the top threat for defenses to worry about.
If ever there was a defense to clamp down on the star tight end, it's the division rival Ravens. Baltimore only allows opposing offenses to 59.6 plays against them, which is the lowest in the NFL. The Ravens are particularly strong against tight ends, as well. Over the last month they've given up just 101 yards and not a single touchdown to the position. On the season they allow an average of 34 yards per game to tight ends.
Again, like we said, you might be trying too hard to squeeze into a pair of jeans that just don't work if you're pushing Eifert out of your season-long lineup. But it's hard to fathom he meets expectations, and we certainly wouldn't go chasing his ceiling this week. The non-sheep move is to play Brandon LaFell in this game, not the mainstream tight end everyone knows.