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Start or Sit? NFL fantasy football tips for Week 12

What players make the cut in this week’s start/sit list?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There are only two weeks remaining of the fantasy regular season (in most formats), and as teams jostle for playoff positioning it becomes super important to assemble the best lineup possible. One slip up could be the difference between taking down your matchup this week or coming up short and putting you on the outs of the playoff picture. To help you optimize your lineup, we have some advice for you if these players are on your roster. Here are this week’s fantasy start/sit suggestions.

QUARTERBACK

Start’Em

Philip Rivers (Colts) vs. Tennessee Titans (Week 12 position rank: 18th)

If you’re a quarterback streamer, the veteran Rivers could be your guy this week as he faces a Titans defense that allows the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Rivers has been a forgotten man as he didn’t finish inside the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks in each of the first five games of the season. Since then, he’s finished top 13 or better in four of the last five games, including throwing for three touchdowns in three of those games. Both these teams are 7-3 and are fighting for division supremacy. Both also have a top 10 scoring offense, so this game script could feature a back-and-forth battle that presents plenty of scoring opportunities for Rivers.

Sit’Em

Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) vs. Baltimore Ravens (Week 12 position rank: 12th)

The Steelers have taken to the air attack more heavily as of late to where Roethlisberger has thrown the ball 42+ times in three straight games. He’s finished top seven or better in two of those games. The Baltimore defense is top three in fewest points allowed and this will be a tough matchup. The last time they faced off, Big Ben only threw for 182 yards. While the matchup itself isn’t favorable, there’s also a chance that this game isn’t played in Week 12 due to the Ravens shutting down their facility. What that means exactly is unclear, but this puts fantasy players of both Pittsburgh and Baltimore at risk this week.

RUNNING BACK

Start’Em

David Montgomery (Bears) vs. Green Bay Packers (Week 12 position rank: 20th)

The Bears get back their running back as Montgomery to returns to the field after being kept out the last two games with a concussion. His offense doesn’t present a great ceiling and the offensive line does him no favors, but the volume of work always keeps him with respectable fantasy numbers. This week he faces a Packers team that is good at a lot of things, but stopping the run isn’t one of them. Green Bay allows 28.9 fantasy points (second-worst) to opposing running backs in half PPR-formats, and considering Montgomery is inline to get most of the touches, that opens the door for a nice return.

Sit’Em

Damien Harris (Patriots) vs. Arizona Cardinals (Week 12 position rank: 24th)

Harris is the clear featured back in New England, and he should be in your lineups on most weeks, however, there are a couple things to keep in mind with this one. First, the Cardinals are solid against the run, and their defense has only allowed six rushing touchdowns this season, which is the third-fewest in the league. Another element is that Rex Burkhead is out, which means James White will see the field more. If White churns out some nice plays, Bill Belichick could ride the hot hand and that may cut into Harris’ touches. This could be a game where most of the yards come off of short passes and Harris offers no value as a receiver.

WIDE RECEIVER

Start’Em

Darius Slayton (Giants) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Week 12 position rank: 37th)

The Giants playmaking receiver is coming off a five-catch, 93-yard game prior to the bye week, and now he’ll face a Bengals defense that ranks inside the top 10 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers. While Slayton is capable of having games with big yardage, he only has two games this year where he’s scored a touchdown. The Bengals are very touchdown-friendly in the passing game as their defense has given up the fourth-most receiving touchdowns this year. This is certainly a game where Slayton could come away with some big plays deep down the field.

Sit’Em

Cole Beasley (Bills) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (Week 12 position rank: 42nd)

The Bills slot receiver should be considered a spot starter for certain games as Beasley has put up two 100+ yard performances over his last four games, including a Week 11 performance that saw him finish as the no. 2 scoring fantasy receiver. He’ll face a Chargers team that has allowed the fifth-fewest points to wide receivers, and their overall corner depth does a good job shutting down secondary receiving targets.

TIGHT END

Start’Em

Austin Hooper (Browns) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 12 position rank: 12th)

Hooper has been largely disappointing this year for fantasy owners to where he’s probably on the waiver wire in some leagues. After putting up over 60 yards a game and scoring six touchdowns last year in Atlanta, Hooper’s only averaging 31 yards per contest and has only found the end zone once this season with the Browns. But if you’re in a pinch, Hooper could be a sneaky start this week against a Jaguars defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Sit’Em

Jonnu Smith (Titans) vs. Indianapolis Colts (Week 12 position rank: 13th)

Jonnu owners aren’t sitting their gem tight end find as his red zone attention alone is start worthy. Smith leads all tight ends this year with eight touchdowns. But it should be mentioned that he’s facing the Colts who are one of the toughest defenses against opposing tight ends. The first time these teams met, Smith scored a touchdown and that salvaged his day, but he only had two receptions for 14 yards. If touchdown luck is not on his side, it could result in a poor outing for him this week.

DEFENSE

Start’Em

Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Week 12 position rank: 8th)

Last week, we had the Cleveland Browns defense as our start recommendation and they finished as the top scoring defense of the week. They can thank Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense for that one as they piled up five sacks, a safety, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions - one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Eagles give up the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses, and this week they face a Seahawks defense that has shown nice improvement over the last couple weeks.

Sit’Em

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 12 position rank: 12th)

The Ravens have one of the top fantasy defenses to where they’re essentially an auto-start each week. They face the league’s only undefeated team this week in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only do the Steelers have the fourth-highest scoring offense, but their own defense has allowed the fewest points in the NFL. The Steelers tough D can put some added pressure on the Ravens offense, which could end up putting their own defense in some vulnerable situations. That, combined with the game status uncertainty should have Ravens owners looking for alternative options this week.