Five must-read fantasy football stats for Week 12

1) Projections

Happy Week 12! I hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving and thank you again for sharing your football season with me and my coworkers. I am still eating leftovers -- because they are awesome -- and still thinking about yesterday's games. I am curious if it would be interesting to you guys if we talked about the stats that don't appear in the box score more. Yes, I am inspired by Dez v. Norman with this question, but would it be interesting to talk about some of the tracking stats I use? Let me know.

Note: These projections are based on my stat-line projection for each player translated into standard fantasy scoring. These are the median values.

Tip: Use the order and points as a way to compare ... e.g. if a running back is projected to earn 1.5 points more than the guy behind him, but only 0.15 points less than the guy in front of him, take the magnitude into consideration. Also, asterisks (*) mean watch out for injury report changes, but always do that anyway, even if there doesn't happen to be an asterisk.

Quarterbacks:
Tom Brady, Patriots (19.6)
Cam Newton, Panthers (18.9)
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (18.9)
Marcus Mariota, Titans (18.2)
Derek Carr, Raiders (17.9)
Drew Brees, Saints (18.3)
Eli Manning, Giants (16.8)

Tight Ends:
Greg Olsen, Panthers (11.0)
*Rob Gronkowski, PAtriots (10.4)
Tyler Eifert, Bengals (8.4)
Delanie Walker, Titans (7.5)
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks (7.0)
Travis Kelce, Chiefs (6.6)
Zach Ertz, Eagles (5.7)

Kickers
Graham Gano, Panthers (8.8)
Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (8.6)
Robbie Gould, Bears (8.5)
Justin Tucker, Ravens (8.2)
Stephen Hauschka, Seahawks (7.8)
Cody Parkey, Browns (7.64)
Dan Carpenter, Bills (7.52)

2) Eli Manning is averaging 270.8 passing yards per game (13th) this season. In seven wins, he averages 271 passing yards per game, but only two of those wins were by more than five points (LA and CHI) and in those wins he only averaged 211.5 YPG.

The Giants margin of victory for seven wins is a total of 27 points, the lowest margin of victory over a team's first seven wins in history. Close games typically inflate stats and thus fantasy points. When I modeled this week's game, my simulated final score gives the Giants' an eight-point edge, with the away team winning 27-19. Cleveland's defense has allowed 100 or more rushing yards in nine of their 10 games so far, and the most offensive touchdowns this season (38). Overall, this defense is ranked 31st in points per game, total yards per game and rushing yards per game.

Fantasy Impact:Eli Manning is my QB11 with a median projection of 265 yards and two touchdowns. His floor is high but his ceiling is limited based on my projections that he'll be playing with the lead in the second half. Rashad Jennings is my RB9 for the week with 60 rushing yards and 28 receiving yards off of three catches. He also has a better than 50 percent chance of seeing the end zone.

3) Melvin Gordon has accounted for 50.3 percent of his team's offensive touches this season (first in NFL)

Gordon has 217 attempts (second-most), 838 rushing yards (fourth-most), nine rushing touchdowns (tied for third-most) and 1,184 scrimmage yards (fourth-most) and is the only player in the NFL to account for more than 50 percent of his team's offensive touches. Houston's defense held Oakland's offense to only 30 rushing yards total last week in Mexico City and overall is the No. 5 defense in terms of total yards allowed with 318.2 per game.

Fantasy Impact: I know you see Gordon in the listings above, and I know I usually don't talk about the listed players (on purpose), but I wanted to make sure to alert you to something my numbers reveal that might be a little different from expectations. My model output has the Chargers edging out the Texans in Houston by two points with a final score of 24-22. I get a lot of questions about home field advantage every week, and my answer is that some stadiums or teams show trends and some do not. My model tracks factors that relate to this, for example: location, results at location, what was supposed to happen with the final score compared to what actually happened, day the away team traveled, time between games, etc. So in other words, I am very mindful of the real home versus away information. Some more projections: Philip Rivers is my QB22, Tyrell Williams WR35, Antonio Gates TE12, Lamar Miller RB16 and DeAndre Hopkins WR19.

4) Two snacks: Jaguars wide receivers and Jordan Matthews

4a)Julius Thomas is not playing when his team travels to play the Bills this week. Thomas has averaged 3.3 catches on 5.8 targets and 31.2 yards in nine games so far this season, with four touchdowns. It's reasonable to assume the Jags will be playing from behind at the end of this game and both Allen Robinson and Marquise Lee have increased potential volume in Thomas' absence. Lee has four receptions and 50 or more yards in the past three games and could be a good sleeper candidate.

4b)Jordan Matthews averages 5.3 receptions on 8.6 targets and 63.9 yards per game this year with just three receiving touchdowns. This week against the Packers his upside is right up there with the elite wideouts. Why? Aaron Rodgers is averaging 276.1 passing yards per game (ninth) for the season, but 316.3 passing yards per game in the past four (third over this time). This game script could play out where lots of points are scored. If you are looking for upside (and a pretty safe floor) Matthews should be on your list.

5) Three If/Thens: Injuries

Broncos' defensemen Aqib Talib and Derek Wolfe are set to return to the field this week. If you have Alex Smith or any of the pass catchers that aren't named Travis Kelce in Kansas City, then you should consider starting someone else -- strongly. And yes, there is the sleeper argument with Jeremy Maclin sitting, but I would stay away from this situation.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and Earl Thomas have already been ruled out for Sunday. DeShawn Shead is also questionable, so factor this into your Bucs projections. Ahem … Mike Evans is already listed above, but you can give a bump to Cameron Brate, too.

If the Dolphins' rookie guard/tackle, Laremy Tunsil (questionable) joins center Mike Pouncey (OUT) and tackle Branden Albert (doubtful) on the final injury report, then downgrade the Miami offense. I know they are playing the 49ers, whose defense has been really generous to opposing offenses, but the difference in their ability to score with an injury-decimated o-line is significant.

-- Cynthia Frelund is an analytics expert who appears regularly on NFL Fantasy LIVE and GameDay Morning. Follow her on Twitter @cfrelund

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