Week 12 is the penultimate week of the regular season in plenty of fantasy leagues. And if you're still in contention in your league, you know that every roster and lineup decision as well as every play on the field takes on critical meaning in the pursuit of a championship. Reading the Defense is certainly not going to abandon you in your time of need.
Defensive line: Well Jason Pierre-Paul, fancy meeting you here for the second straight week. JPP was the spearhead of a Giants defense that mauled the Browns in nearly every way possible. As for Pierre-Paul himself, he logged five solo tackles, three sacks, forced a fumble and added a pick six for good measure. Right now, Pierre-Paul trails only Khalil Mack (who also had a huge Sunday) atop the list of top-scoring fantasy defensive linemen and that duo is running away from the rest of the pack.
Linebacker:Justin Houston actually returned to the field in Week 11. But in Week 12, he returned to our consciousness in a big way. Facing off in a can-you-top-this battle with Von Miller, Houston came out ahead in the fantasy realm just as his team finished ahead on the scoreboard. That happens when you record 10 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. Nice to have you back, Mr. Houston.
Defensive back:Daryl Worley was a busy man on Sunday which isn't a surprise considering he and this Panthers teammates were tasked with trying to slow the Raiders passing game. Worley was particularly occupied on Sunday, making 10 solo tackles and breaking up a pair of passes. Things aren't likely to slow down this week with the Panthers making a trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks.
What went wrong
» When you think about how well Marcus Peters has played this season, it's a wonder that he's been so productive as a fantasy player. That ended on Sunday -- for one week, at least -- as Peters didn't have too much to do in Kansas City's win over Denver. The shutdown corner logged just one solo tackle and 1.50 fantasy points. Does this mean his fantasy value will decline as teams stop throwing to his side? Possibly. But we hope not.
Week 13 boomer
Casey Hayward, DB, San Diego Chargers: There hasn't been much about the Chargers secondary to get us excited this season, but Hayward is proving to be a playmaker in his first season with the team. Hayward is among the team leader in tackles and is far and away the leader in interceptions with six (no other Charger has more than one). There's a good chance he'll lock horns with Mike Evans this week, which could mean plenty of footballs thrown in his direction.
Week 13 buster
Everson Griffen, DL, Minnesota Vikings: Griffen is in the midst of another outstanding season, but this week is potentially a bump in an otherwise smooth road. The Vikings welcome the run-heavy Cowboys and their monstrous offensive line to the Twin Cities on Thursday. Part of Dallas' success this year has come from limiting the effectiveness of the opposition's defensive line. Griffen could just be another casualty of the Cowboys' o-line stampede.
Week 13 sleeper
Leonard Williams, DL, New York Jets: The big man in the middle of the Jets defensive line has been putting in work this season with 29 tackles and six sacks -- quality numbers for a defensive tackle and tops on the Jets roster. This week he'll take aim at a porous Colts offensive line that has allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL this season. This could be a big chance for the Big Cat to pounce.
First down: The season is over for Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, who ruptured his patellar tendon in Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans. It's a huge loss for a struggling Bears team that has been shedding pieces for the last few weeks. It's also a troublesome injury for Trevathan. While Jimmy Graham has made a nice recovery this season, the cautionary tale of Victor Cruz remains.
Second down:Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says the team expects to get defensive end Michael Bennett back in time for this week's game against the Panthers. Bennett hasn't played since Week 7 while dealing with a knee injury. The veteran would add another pass rusher to Seattle's already stout defense. It also means Bennett gets his shot at the Panthers' ramshackle offensive line.
Third down:Cowboys safety Barry Church is expected to return to practice this week after sitting out the past four games while recovering from a broken forearm. Church had been putting together a very nice IDP season, so his return will certainly be welcomed. It remains to be seen how much he can produce against a Vikings team with a questionable offense.