Week 12 fantasy football matchups, starts and sits

Struggling to set the perfect fantasy lineup? Let us be your guide. Each week the NFL Fantasy staff will provide you with game-by-game, player-by-player matchup breakdowns in this column to help you set a winning lineup. Think of this as the one-stop shop to crushing your opponent in fantasy football.

Now, onto the best and worst Week 12 fantasy matchups.

Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4:05 p.m. ET on FOX

Seahawks

Russell Wilson, QB -- START: He throws. He runs. He catches. Maybe Pete Carroll will let him kick a couple of extra points this week as well.

Thomas Rawls, RB -- START: With all of the turmoil in the 'Hawks backfield, there are no challengers to any of his touches this week.

Doug Baldwin, WR -- START: He probably won't throw another touchdown this week. But wouldn't it be nice? Either way ... start him.

Jimmy Graham, TE -- START:Jimmy Graham is back, y'all. 'Nuff said.

Seahawks D/ST -- START:Jameis Winston might find a way to move the ball but Jameis Winston will also find a way to turn it over a couple of times.

Buccaneers

Jameis Winston, QB -- SIT:Jameis Winston might find a way to move the ball but Jameis Winston will also find a way to turn it over a couple of times.

Doug Martin, RB -- SIT: You might not have the depth to actually sit Martin, but watching him this week might give you post-Thanksgiving indigestion.

Mike Evans, WR -- START: Who else do you think Jameis is going to throw the ball to?

Cameron Brate, TE -- SIT: Brate needs touchdowns to be fantasy relevant. The Seahawks don't give up touchdowns to tight ends. Good luck with that.

New England Patriots at New York Jets: 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

Patriots

Tom Brady, QB -- START: Some people say there are no stupid questions, but if you have to ask if you should start Tom Brady, well ... that's a stupid question.

Patriots RBs -- FLEX: The Jets allow just 3.88 yards per carry to running backs this year, but LeGarrette Blount is always a touchdown threat and could rack up carries if the Patriots establish a sizeable early lead. James White and Dion Lewis are now splitting targets, which hurts their weekly floor. Both are worth a flex in deeper PPR leagues, though, as the short passing game remains a staple of the New England offense. Only nine teams have thrown more passes to running backs than the Pats.

Julian Edelman, WR -- START: Edelman saw a ridiculous 17 targets last week with Rob Gronkowski on the sidelines. Gronk is expected to miss this game, meaning Edelamn should be in line for plenty of volume again.

Malcolm Mitchell, WR -- FLEX: Mitchell played a season-high 84 percent of the snaps with Chris Hogan and Gronk out. If both sit again, Mitchell will have flex appeal in deeper leagues after an impressive 4-98-1 performance on five targets.

Rob Gronkowski, TE -- SIT (INJURY): If Gronk does play, he's worth a start, but that is looking increasingly unlikely.

Martellus Bennett, TE -- START: Tight end remains a wasteland in fantasy, so we need not get too discouraged by the Black Unicorn's disappointing one-catch, 14-yard performance last week. He played on 95 percent of the snaps and should see more work against the Jets.

Patriots D/ST -- START:Ryan Fitzpatrick turns the ball over a lot. Need we write more?

Jets

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB -- SIT: Dude was benched for Bryce Petty. Yes, he was dealing with an injury, but come on.

Matt Forte, RB -- START: Forte is getting long in the tooth, but owned 72.7 percent of the backfield opportunities over the Jets' last four games. Volume like that cannot be ignored.

Bilal Powell, RB -- SIT: Powell has two double-digit fantasy outings in his last four games, but both came with touchdowns. He could be hard-pressed to reach the paint this week.

Brandon Marshall, WR -- START: Marshall averages nearly three more targets per game this year when Ryan Fitzpatrick starts. He's a volume-based play but still carries a frighteningly low floor.

Quincy Enunwa, WR -- SIT: Do you feel lucky, punk? Then sure, start Enunwa.

Carolina Panthers at Oakland Raiders: 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

Panthers

Cam Newton, QB -- START: Newton has only scored more than 15 points once in the four games since his Week 7 bye. The Raiders secondary can be beat, but the front is pressuring quarterbacks of late with six sacks in the last three games. Newton has been taken down nine times in his last three, and pressured constantly as well. He's a risky start.

Jonathan Stewart, RB -- FLEX: Stewart is extremely touchdown-dependent behind the banged-up Panthers line right now. He's averaged just 2.9 yards per carry since the team's bye week on roughly 18 carries per game.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR -- START: Week 11 was just the second game all year where Benjamin didn't have at least 70 receiving yards or a touchdown, and that was partly due to him missing some time with a minor injury. Expect him to bounce back against the Raiders.

Ted Ginn Jr., WR -- FLEX: Ginn remains a boom-or-bust flex option with his ever-present threat of a deep touchdown.

Greg Olsen, TE -- START: Olsen has disappointed of late, but a date with a Raiders secondary that allows the sixth-most targets per game and sixth-most yards per game to tight ends should be just what the doctor ordered.

Raiders

Derek Carr, QB -- START: Carr and his dynamic duo of wide receivers should be able to find plenty of space against the Carolina secondary. His ceiling isn't super high, but expect solid totals.

Latavius Murray, RB -- START: Over the last four games the Raiders have finally treated Murray like more of a featured back, with about 61 percent of the backfield opportunities going his way.

Amari Cooper, WR -- START: As noted by the Fantasy Hipsters, Cooper should avoidJames Bradberry in this contest and could feast as a result.

Michael Crabtree, WR -- FLEX: Even though Crabtree has a less than savory matchup, he's still worth rolling out in the flex as the No. 2 option in a high-powered passing attack.

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos: 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Chiefs

Alex Smith, QB -- SIT: There are zero teams on bye and Smith is facing the best pass defense in the league. No thank you.

Spencer Ware, RB -- FLEX: The Broncos have struggled to stop the run this year so there is some flex appeal with Ware. Just temper expectations with the Chiefs' running back who has strung together his three lowest yardage from scrimmage totals of the season in his last three games.

Travis Kelce, TE -- START: Kelce has quietly put together a TE4 season with just three touchdowns on the year. That explains what kind of shape the tight end position is in. If the Chiefs do somehow score through the air, the most likely candidate for that score is Kelce.

Chiefs WRs -- SIT: The Broncos have not allowed a 100-yard receiver all season. You'd be wise to bench all of your Chiefs wideouts in this one.

Broncos

Trevor Siemian, QB -- SIT: You'd have to be hard-pressed to start a quarterback who has fewer fantasy points this season than Brock Osweiler. If you're in desperate need, he's tossed two touchdown passes and thrown for over 250 yards in each of his last two outings.

Devontae Booker, RB -- FLEX: The Chiefs have only allowed three rushing touchdowns to running backs this year, but given the state of the running back position and Booker's volume upside, he's got some flex appeal here. Just beware that Kapri Bibbs could eat into his opportunities.

Demaryius Thomas, WR -- START: Thomas has been the better of the two Broncos' receivers recently and has scored twice in the last four games. His touchdown potential makes him a low-ceiling WR2 option at home against a Chiefs defense that has allowed 11 receiving touchdowns to wideouts.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR -- FLEX: Sanders is getting the volume in terms of targets, with 53 in his last six games. In that span though, he's averaging just 62 yards per game and hasn't scored. The matchup is decent which makes Sanders a low-end flex option.

Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles: 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Packers

Aaron Rodgers, QB -- START: Over the last five weeks, Rodgers is averaging 5.5 more fantasy points per game than the next closest quarterback. Even in a bad matchup, he's damn near a must-start as his defense will force him into pass-heavy game scripts.

Packers RBs -- SIT:James Starks had kept his fantasy value afloat since returning thanks to being the only back in town. With Christine Michael now set to see some work, this split is far murkier. Take a wait-and-see approach this week.

Packers WRs -- START: If you have Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, or Davante Adams, you can confidently start or flex them. The Packers offense is averaging 45 attempts per game over the last four weeks, and those three have taken turns feasting. Sadly, the Ty Montgomery fever dream is no more. He should be benched.

Jared Cook, TE -- SIT: Cook's breakout game in Week 11 was a welcome surprise, but don't chase the points here. The Eagles allow the fewest yards per game (29.5) and second-fewest targets per game (five) to the position.

Eagles

Carson Wentz, QB -- START: The Packers defense has allowed 153 points and 1,562 total yards over the last four weeks. Yeah, Wentz makes for a fine streaming option.

Eagles RBs -- ????:Ryan Mathews is day-to-day with a sprained MCL, Darren Sproles is expected to play through a broken rib injury and Wendell Smallwood led this group in touches last week. Playing any member of this group carries a ton of risk, but the upside is there against a Packers defense falling apart at the seams. Smallwood figures to be the safest play of the bunch, for what it's worth.

Jordan Matthews, WR -- START: The Packers defense has been eaten alive over the middle of the field, where Matthews thrives. He's an excellent play against a banged-up secondary.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR -- SIT: Unless you're playing in deep leagues or daily fantasy, DGB should be left on the bench. He could see more work with Nelson Agholor potentially getting benched, but there's too much risk here to trust otherwise.

Zach Ertz, TE -- START: Ertz has seen 26 targets the last three weeks, second on the team, and should also be able to run free through the Packers defense. He's a great streaming option as well.

Eagles D/ST -- START: The Packers offense should put up points, but their special teams have been suspect of late. The Eagles special teams are great, and the front seven could rack up a few sacks on Rodgers as well.

Completed Games

Tennessee Titans at Chicago Bears: 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS

Titans

Marcus Mariota, QB -- START: Mariota's 19 touchdown passes since Week 5 are the most in the NFL, and his 116.8 passer rating since then is second only to Tom Brady. You're not sitting this guy right now.

DeMarco Murray, RB -- START: Murray eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week and is second in the NFL in that category. He leads the league with 252 offensive touches and took the field on 99 percent of the Titans offensive plays last week. Leave him in your RB1 slot and move on.

Rishard Matthews, WR -- START: At this point, Matthews is a high-end WR2 playing with a quarterback on fire. The chemistry between Mariota and his top wideout is only growing and should continue against a Bears defense that's allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to wideouts.

Tajae Sharpe, WR -- FLEX: After a slow start, the rookie has posted exactly 68 yards and a touchdown in each of his last two games. His snap count rose back up to 88 percent last week and with Mariota dishing out touchdowns like it's his job (oh wait, it is) Sharpe will be tough to bench.

Delanie Walker, TE -- START:Delanie Walker is tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions at his position with five and has 607 receiving yards. He actually leads the Titans in targets (68) and receptions (46) too. Start him confidently.

Bears

Matt Barkley, QB -- SIT: Barkley has never started an NFL game since being drafted in 2013. That should be a red flag.

Jordan Howard, RB -- START: Howard might be the only Bears player fantasy owners should consider starting this week and until the end of time. He's posted 99-plus scrimmage yards in each of his last three games and if the Bears want any shot at beating the Titans, they'll load Howard up with touches and let him do the heavy lifting.

Bears WRs -- NOPE:Cameron Meredith, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson were not attractive options when Jay Cutler was under center. Their collective outlook is even worse with Barkley making decisions back there.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills at 1:00 pm EST

Blake Bortles, QB -- SIT: The Bills come with the highest sack rate in the league at 8.6. The Jaguars quarterback struggles with mistakes and under pressure. Of course, the potential for garbage time points always exists, but this could get dicey.

Chris Ivory, RB -- FLEX: T.J. Yeldon left the Week 11 loss to Detroit with an injury, forcing Ivory into a 17-carry day. He could have that volume once again, but only use him if you're in a pinch at running back.

Allen Robinson, WR -- START: The Bills have had issues with their top two cornerbacks, as Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby have both been disappointments and Darby even lost playtime lately. Robinson has a touchdown in three straight games and just one contest with less than double-digit targets just once.

Marqise Lee, WR -- SIT: It worked out for us last week, but we probably won't want to test those waters again this coming week.

Julius Thomas, TE -- SIT: The Bills are a middle of the pack defense against tight ends and Thomas' playing time keeps varying week-by-week.

Buffalo Bills

Tyrod Taylor, QB -- START: He was just on the wrong side of touchdown variance last week. The Jaguars let Matthew Stafford complete over 70 percent of his passes last week out. Taylor will be more than just fine.

LeSean McCoy, RB -- START: He should be cleared for this game, and if so he's in your lineup. McCoy is in a fine spot this week. The Jaguars have been run on 100 times over the last four weeks, which is made possible due to the fact that they are always losing.

Bills WRs -- SIT: If Robert Woods is out, we aren't interested in a soul from this group. Sammy Watkins is beginning to practice, and if he plays he's a dicey bet. But he certainly needs to be on rosters as he could be a boom in the playoff run.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS

Bengals

Andy Dalton, QB -- SIT: He's facing a quality defense and just lost two of his major pass-catching weapons. Feel the excitement!

Jeremy Hill, RB -- START: The Ravens are tough against the run, but Hill will see plenty of volume without Gio Bernard.

Brandon LaFell, WR -- FLEX: Without A.J. Green, LaFell moves up to be the Bengals' No. 1 receiver. You might still need a touchdown to salvage a decent day from him.

Tyler Boyd, WR -- SIT: Nope. Not yet.

Tyler Eifert, TE -- START: Eifert is likely to be pummeled with targets this week. And likely every week until Green returns or the season ends.

Ravens

Joe Flacco, QB -- SIT: Are you looking for a fantasy quarterback who can get you somewhere between 14 and 16 points? Then Joe Flacco is your man!

Terrance West, RB -- FLEX: The Bengals can be run on. Hopefully the Ravens don't once again abandon the running game for no apparent reason.

Kenneth Dixon, RB -- SIT: This is fantasy football. Not football fantasy.

Steve Smith, Sr., WR -- START:Steve Smith is a Hall of Famer in football and trash talk. You can get points for the former this week but sadly, not the latter.

Mike Wallace, WR -- FLEX: Wallace's numbers have dipped in the past couple of weeks, but he's still had a fairly safe floor and has some sleeper appeal.

Dennis Pitta, TE -- SIT: The matchup suggests that Pitta could produce this week, but his track record in 2016 suggests the opposite.

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons: 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX

Cardinals

Carson Palmer, QB -- SIT: The matchup is quite favorable, but you're forgiven if you're having trust issues with the struggling Cards quarterback.

David Johnson, RB -- START: We could write convincing stats here. Or we could just say David Johnson. So ... David Johnson.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR -- START: With 60-plus yards in nearly every game, Fitzgerald has been the only trustworthy receiver in the Arizona offense.

John Brown, WR -- FLEX: Is this the week John Brown earns his third double-digit fantasy game? Hope for the ceiling. Expect the floor. Eat at Arby's.

Michael Floyd, WR -- SIT: The holidays are stressful enough. Don't compound the problem.

Cardinals D/ST -- START: The Cards are good defensively but the Falcons have punked plenty of good defenses this year. Start at your own risk.

Falcons

Matt Ryan, QB -- START: Are you normally in the habit of sitting top-three fantasy quarterbacks? No? Then we're done here.

Devonta Freeman, RB -- FLEX: Freeman's fantasy consistency has endured regardless of the matchup. Don't be afraid to give him a look this week.

Tevin Coleman, RB -- START: Coleman's Swiss Army knife skillset has posed a problem for countless defenses this season. The Cardinals don't figure to be much different now that Coleman is back from a hamstring injury.

Julio Jones, WR -- START: We're pretty sure that you're legally obligated to report us for internet fraud if we suggest sitting Julio Jones.

Mohamed Sanu, WR -- SIT: Seven games with fewer than 50 receiving yards makes Sanu not worthy of much more conversation than this.

Austin Hooper, TE -- SIT: Tight end might be thin, but not thin enough that this should be considered a quality start.

New York Giants at Cleveland Browns 1:00 pm EST on FOX

Eli Manning, QB -- START: The only thing that could keep Manning from having a big game is if the Giants run on the Browns to gain a lead and he doesn't get to throw more than 30 times. This exact scenario played out with Ben Roethlisberger last week. Otherwise, he should shred this pee-wee secondary.

Rashad Jennings, RB -- START: Back as the feature back, Jennings touched the ball 26 times last week. Every time he's had 16 or more touches in his Giants' career he's averaged 113 total yards. The Browns are a poor run defense, giving 127.3 yards per game to running backs.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR -- START: He had a bit of a slow game last week, but Cleveland's secondary should oblige in getting him back on track.

Sterling Shepard, WR -- FLEX: The Browns have been smashed by slot receivers this season and Shepard has a touchdown in each of the last three games. He's a bit boom or bust, but it's worth chasing that ceiling this week.

Will Tye, TE -- START: If you're steaming tight ends he's worth a shot. The Browns have allowed more yards and catches to the position than any other team in the NFL. Tye has played over 70 percent of the team snaps in each of the last three games.

Cleveland Browns

Josh McCown, QB -- SIT: He is fearless, so he could always hit that big play with these weapons. But the protection along offensive line is just too poor to expect good results.

Browns RBs -- SIT: Isaiah Crowell has been cold for months and the next time Duke Johnson rushes for 70 yards this year will be the first. The Giants give up just 3.8 yards per carry and are middle of the pack in passing production allowed to backfield players.

Terrelle Pryor, WR -- START: Pryor is at the point where he just owns such a dominant portion of the team's air yards that you have to play him every week. Pryor is pretty entrenched as the team's No. 1 receiver as Corey Coleman is still developing.

Gary Barnidge, TE -- START: He finally got into the end zone this last week and has a shot at another solid line in Week 12. The Giants allow the eighth-most yards per game to tight ends.

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints: 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX

Rams

Jared Goff, QB -- SIT: This week's game in the Superdome could give us a better idea of what Goff is, but the Saints defense is also improving. Watch this from afar.

Todd Gurley, RB -- FLEX: The Saints have been hard on running backs over the past month, but this is about volume and an offense that is (allegedly) doing new things to get its best player the ball.

Kenny Britt, WR -- FLEX: Even in adverse conditions last week (both weather and quarterback), Britt still caught five balls. He's the only wideout of any fantasy relevance in Los Angeles.

Brian Quick, WR -- SIT: There have been moments this season when it looked like Quick could be a thing. Just not enough for you to put him in your starting lineup.

Lance Kendricks, TE -- START: Don't laugh. Kendricks saw seven targets from Goff last week and could see more against a TE-friendly defense in a game that could feature a pass-heavy game script.

Rams D/ST -- START: The Rams have won two games in which they scored nine total points. You can't do that without an above-average defense. That's what we have here.

Saints

Drew Brees, QB -- START: The matchup is a tough one, but Brees continues to be sweeter than beignets when he plays in the Superdome.

Tim Hightower, RB -- FLEX: Running against the Rams might be tough, but Hightower proved his mettle as a receiver last week against the Panthers. He'll need to do that again to succeed here.

Michael Thomas, WR -- FLEX: Beware of the Rams taking special care to lock down the Saints most consistent pass-catcher.

Willie Snead, WR -- FLEX: Snead has been a nice cross between Thomas' consistency and Brandin Cooks' explosiveness. Look for his targets to remain steady again this week.

Brandin Cooks, TE -- FLEX: If Cooks can get closer to his ceiling, he's a great play. Unfortunately, a very low floor is potentially in play this week.

Coby Fleener, TE -- SIT: There are times to start Coby Fleener in fantasy. And then there's this week.

San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins: 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX

49ers

Colin Kaepernick, QB -- START: Kap's rushing ability has given him a pretty safe floor all season and he's doing just enough with his arm to make himself a viable fantasy start.

Carlos Hyde, RB -- FLEX: The Niners want to showcase Hyde a little more this week. The matchup isn't great, but El Guapo continues to be muy immune to game script.

Jeremy Kerley, WR -- SIT: Even as the most-targeted player on the Niners roster, Kerley isn't offering enough production to be considered as even a flex play. Unless you're desperate. Are you desperate?

Quinton Patton, WR -- SIT: You thought the person starting Kerley was hard up for wide receiver options?

Vance McDonald, TE -- SIT: McDonald doesn't catch a lot of passes but when he does, there's a good chance it's going to the house. Step up and spin the Fantasy Wheel of Vance!

Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill, QB -- START: If you're looking for a streaming option, you can do worse than a quarterback going against the 49ers minus star safety Eric Reid.

Jay Ajayi, RB -- START: Ajayi's having a breakout season and facing an historically bad run defense. You do the math.

Jarvis Landry, RB -- FLEX: Landry has been a disappointment in standard but salvaged some PPR value. It might be more of the same this week. But hopefully with a touchdown.

Devante Parker, WR -- FLEX: Parker is starting to turn into a downfield threat for Miami. This week could be another chance for the young player to spread his wings.

San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans: 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS

Chargers

Philip Rivers, QB -- START: Consider Rivers a cautious start against a stout Texans defense that wears down because it's always on the field.

Melvin Gordon, RB -- START: At this point, Gordon should be in your starting lineup regardless of the matchup.

Tyrell Williams, WR -- FLEX: As the Chargers' leading target, Williams has upside but the Texans have erased better receivers than him this season.

Dontrelle Inman, WR -- SIT: Inman is third in targets and catches since Week 6, but this isn't a matchup you want to fool around with this week.

Antonio Gates, TE -- SIT: Rivers likes to force the ball to his favorite target, but it might be hard for Gates to find a lot of room to operate against Houston.

Hunter Henry, TE -- SIT: After a nice mid-season run, Henry hasn't posted more than 16 receiving yards in his last three outings. That's not how you win.

Texans

Brock Osweiler, QB -- SIT: Osweiler had one of his better games on Monday night and still only netted 13 fantasy points. Think on that.

Lamar Miller, RB -- START: The Texans don't have another reliable option in their offense. This not an exaggeration.

DeAndre Hopkins -- FLEX: fights back tears Pour one out for Nuk and hope for the best against a depleted secondary. sniffles

Will Fuller, WR -- SIT: In Week 4, Fuller had seven catches for 81 yards. In the four games he's played since then, he's had a total of seven catches for 66 yards. Gross.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE -- START: Fiedorowicz's weekly totals haven't been consistent, but he's had more receiving yards and touchdowns than Nuk since Week 4 on 19 fewer targets.

Texans D/ST -- SIT: For as well as they've played as a unit, this group hasn't produced much in the way of fantasy points.

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