Sneaky Starts: Week 12
Welcome to Week 12, a.k.a. Thanksgiving Week! Two of the most important teams in the realm of fantasy—the Rams and the Chiefs—are on bye. Kerryon Johnson (knee), Jimmy Graham (finger) and Marcus Mariota (elbow) are dealing with injuries, while O.J. Howard (ankle) and Alex Smith (fractured leg) have already been ruled out for the rest of the season. So there will be more than a few owners scrambling to find quality starts this week before they can cook Thanksgiving dinner and eat all those leftovers.
Speaking of leftovers, instead of my usual spiel about how great adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA), 4for4’s strength of schedule metric, is at helping to find Sneaky Starts, let me continue my tradition of sharing this excellent recipe from Adam Richman, the Earl of Sandwiches, for a Thanksgiving sandwich made almost entirely of Turkey Day leftovers. It’s called “Turkey, Day 2.”
- Start with grilled challah egg bread. Brush that with really good quality salted Kerry-gold Irish butter and grill it so it turns that awesome shade of goldeny toasted whatever.
- On the very bottom spread the layer of cranberry sauce, ideally fresh, though the canned gelatinous cylinder kind is completely acceptable.
- Stack thick layers of turkey breast.
- Do a thin spread of Hellmann’s Light mayo dusted with a pinch each of garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper.
- To offset the mayo, add sliced white onions and a layer of mashed candied sweet potatoes, with finely crushed walnuts on top.
- Pile on the dark meat from the legs and thighs.
- Take some stuffing, place it in a pan, and crisp up the edges until you have a kind of stuffing pancake that could go the length of the sandwich. Put it in!
- Drizzle the whole thing with gravy.
- Put the other half of the challah on top.
Thank me later.
Now let’s find a few Sneaky Starts for Week 12.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (vs. SF, 23 in QB aFPA)
Keep in mind that there’s a 15 percent to 25 percent chance that Winston commits three first-half turnovers, gets benched, and his owners are forced to watch helplessly as Ryan Fitzpatrick tosses three second-half touchdowns in another fruitless Tampa Bay comeback. If Winston plays two halves, he’s probably going to produce a nice fantasy line against the 49ers, who gave up three touchdowns to Eli Manning in Week 10 and yielded 252/2 to Josh Rosen in Week 8. In the 13 games in the last two seasons that Winston has started and finished, he has averaged 318 yards, 1.8 touchdowns and 1.2 interceptions, while adding 16 yards and 0.15 touchdowns on the ground. This equates to 20.0 fantasy points per game, which would be good enough for the No. 11 average at his position this season.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (vs. OAK, 27)
Jackson’s NFL debut went well. Did it? I guess it did. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 150 yards and a pick, while adding a mind-boggling 27 rushes for 117 yards on the ground. That bizarre line was good enough for 15.7 fantasy points, which made him the No. 12 QB on the week. If Joe Flacco is sidelined in Week 12, Jackson will almost certainly score at least one touchdown against the Raiders, who have yielded an average of 2.8 passing touchdowns in the last four games.
Nick Mullens, 49ers (@ TB, 31)
Mullens’ performance against the Giants—250 yards, one touchdown, two picks—was disappointing after his epic debut against the Raiders—262 yards and three touchdowns—but he still completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and showed enough competency to earn another start. The matchup this week is about as good as it gets. The Bucs have yielded an average of 282 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game through the air to go along with a generous helping of 8.9 yards per attempt and a league-worst 74.7 percent completion rate. Vegas has given this game the second-highest total on the board (55.0), so there should be points-a-plenty in this one.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (@ CIN, 22)
Mayfield’s run of easy matchups continues. In recent weeks he has posted 20.9 fantasy points against the Bucs, 17.9 FP against the Chiefs and 22.6 FP against the Falcons. This week he has a favorable matchup against the Bengals, who are probably still wondering what it was that Lamar Jackson and the Ravens did to them last week. In Week 10, Drew Brees dropped 265/3 on Cincy, while the combination of Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick managed 470/3 back in Week 8.
Eli Manning, Giants (@ PHI, 26)
Manning has three serviceable fantasy lines in his last four games and five in his last eight. Of those five decent-to-good fantasy days, four of them came on the road, and the Giants are on the road again, visiting a reeling Eagles defense that just got filleted by Drew Brees to the tune of 363 yards and four touchdowns. Philadelphia also gave up 270/1 to Dak Prescott and 286/1 to Blake Bortles in recent weeks. In two games since his Week 9 bye, Manning has tossed five touchdowns and no interceptions.
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