Photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Cincinnati Bengals game on Sunday, November 16, 2014 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Photos by Micheal C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)
The 2014 Fantasy Football campaign is entering Week 12, and Jake Ciely of RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive fantasy coverage for neworleanssaints.com throughout the rest of your regular season and playoffs. Jake will give you the expert deal on Saints players from fantasy perspectives with his in-depth game previews every week.
Heading into a pivotal Week 12, the New Orleans Saints host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. Not only will all eyes be on this game with it being on the national TV stage, but Mark Ingram and Justin Forsett will have the attention of fantasy owners again. Since each took over his team's running game, both rank as Top 10 running backs in Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG).
Much focus will be on quarterback Drew Brees, too, and it speaks to Brees' greatness when owners want to see "more." Brees will look to rebound against a Ravens defense allowing the 10th-most passing yards per game while only having six interceptions (tied for fifth fewest). Prior to last week, Brees had at least 25.1 Fantasy Points in every game since Week 4 and two or more touchdowns in all but two games. With the matchup and fact that it's a home game, Brees is once again a Top Five QB option.
The Ravens allow the fewest FPPG to running backs (12.69 on NFL.com), but you should have no qualms over keeping Ingram in your lineup. Ingram is averaging 26 carries, 115 rushing yards and 17.5 FP over the last four games. Those are must-start numbers. In PPR leagues, Travaris Cadet has deeper league value, as Brees may need him more with Brandin Cooks' absence. If running back Pierre Thomas plays, he immediately slides back into RB3/Flex territory and has higher upside if it's a PPR league.
Speaking of Cooks, while he looks ahead to the future, there will be more targets for everyone in the passing game now. It's unclear who the main beneficiary behind Kenny Stills will be, and likely, we'll see the leftover targets mixed among the likes of Nick Toon, Joe Morgan, etc. However, Stills will see the biggest boost in value, as he steps into the two-receiver sets alongside Marques Colston. Stills has flashed his big-play ability a few times already: Weeks 7, 9 and a touchdown catch last week. Stills is now a must-own in all leagues. Colston should see a slight increase in targets now, meaning he can return to WR3 value. The matchup will help Colston and Stills with high-risk/reward provided for Toon and Morgan. The Ravens allow the fifth-most FPPG to receivers (26.18 on NFL.com), which includes the most yards overall at 1,966.
Tight end Jimmy Graham is primed for a big game. In the three weeks before the Cincinnati matchup, Graham had at least 59 yards and a touchdown in each game. That put Graham second only to Rob Gronkowski with 15.3 FPPG. In Graham's four sub-10-point games, Cooks averaged 9.3 targets and 7.3 receptions. In Graham's double-digit games, which includes a 16.4 FPPG average, Cooks averaged 6.0 targets and 4.0 receptions. Basically, Graham is now ready to seize a necessary opportunity.
Kicker Shayne Graham had a quiet week against the Bengals, but he still managed four points. Plus, he's always primed for a big day when the Saints' offense is clicking, as seen with his high-end K1 numbers in Weeks 7-8. The Saints DST streak of games with at least one turnover stopped last week, but they could start another one, as Joe Flacco has eight picks.
Over his two recent starts, the only quarterbacks averaging more FPPG than Josh McCown are Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Russell Wilson. McCown now faces his old team (Bears) that gives up this second-most FPPG to quarterbacks at 20.49 on NFL.com. Ryan Tannehill continues to be a good source of fantasy points, the Broncos allow the sixth-most FPPG to QBs and we know the Dolphins will need to pass more than usual to keep up with Manning. In that same matchup with McCown, Jay Cutler should continue to right the ship, as the Bucs have been weak against the pass all year.
As seen last week, the Seahawks run defense isn't the same without Brandon Mebane. While they still are a tough matchup, they're not one that should have you sitting Andre Ellington. Rashad Jennings had 18 carries in his first game back. The Giants trust him and so should you. The Browns released Ben Tate, which helps clear the picture in Cleveland some, but remember, Kyle Shanahan has used Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West intermittently. I rank Crowell higher, but he's still a risky RB2/3 with obvious upside for more. Jonas Gray had a huge week, and he fills the Stevan Ridley role quite well. In pass-heavier games, it will still be more of Shane Vereen, but Gray now has at least RB3/Flex value.
Josh Gordon's suspension is over. Plug him in, immediately. You didn't wait this long not to use him, and you didn't wait until now just to trade him - so don't! Gordon's return hurts the other Browns receivers, but with the Falcons being weak against the pass, Andrew Hawkins can still have deep-league PPR value. The Eagles' defense allows the most FPPG to receivers on NFL.com, so you can trust Kendall Wright again this week. Even after a hard-fought win against the Broncos, the Rams DST still allows the fourth-most FPPG to receivers, which means Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd are WR3s with upside for more, yet again.
The Colts are the obvious DST pickup of the week with the Jaguars still allowing the most FPPG to opposing defenses. The Rams are right behind the Jaguars at 12.90 FPPG (Jags 13.20), which makes the Chargers a decent streaming option. Even though it's not at Lambeau Field, the game against the Vikings presents the Packers with another high score potential, especially if Rodgers has them up by four scores before the half again.