The New Orleans Saints and your Fantasy Football team are heading into Week 12 looking for a win to push them to a playoff berth, and Jake Ciely (@allinkid) of RotoExperts.com is providing exclusive expert Fantasy coverage for NewOrleansSaints.com. Get ready for the playoff run, as Jake gives you the expert deal on Saints players from Fantasy perspectives.*
The Saints are in the middle of a nice 10-day layoff leading up to the Week 12 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. The Saints are home, and that's great news for quarterback Drew Brees. In home games this season, Brees is averaging 366 yards, three touchdowns and 33.4 Fantasy points per game. In his last home game, Brees threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns against the vaunted Broncos pass defense, and the Rams put Brees in a much friendly situation this week.
If Brees is clicking, so are the receivers. Brandin Cooks is inside the Top 10, Michael Thomas the Top 20 and Willie Snead Top 30 for the season. Snead caught two of Brees' three touchdowns against the Broncos and is worthy of a WR3 play. Thomas now has at least 40 yards in each game and 681 yards and five touchdowns. He is a must-start WR2. Cooks has four touchdowns and double-digit performances in the last six games. With his big-play ability and recent play, Cooks is in the WR1 conversation. Coby Fleener got back into the end zone last Thursday night, and the Rams gave up 53 yards and a touchdown to Carolina tight end Greg Olsen two weeks ago. There is an opportunity here for Fleener to score his fourth touchdown, which puts him on the cusp of TE1 value.
Running back Mark Ingram had 75 yards on 10 touches before leaving the Panthers game with a concussion. The 10-day layoff hopefully gives him enough time to return for Week 12. If he's ready, Ingram is a must-start given his upside, but if not, Tim Hightower would be a must-start in Ingram's place. Hightower totaled 126 yards on 12 carries and eight catches against the Panthers. In their last two games, the Rams let the Jets total 139 rushing yards and 24 Fantasy points at the running back position and Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi to rush for 77 yards on 16 carries. This is a good matchup for Ingram and Hightower and gives them RB2 value with potential for more, even if they share touches.
Tennessee's Marcus Mariota has been playing like a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback, and Week 12 is setting up to be another great game. The Titans head to Chicago, and the Bears are susceptible to the pass. If you have been riding him to this point, don't stop now. The Browns continue to be one of the most forgiving teams against the pass, even with a quiet game from Ben Roethlisberger last week. Eli Manning and the Giants come to town in Week 12, making Manning a Top 10 option. Not only are the Bills not dominating on defense, but they are also allowing the second most Fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last four weeks. Blake Bortles is risk-laden, but his upside is great this week given the matchup.
Rashad Jennings has two nice games in a row with 109 and 129 yards including a touchdown last week. His increased usage and effectiveness comes at a great time as the Browns allow the second most FPPG to running backs. Jennings is a rock-solid RB2 this week. The Broncos defense is still dominant against the pass, but it's weak against the run, as the team allows the fifth most FPPG to running backs over the last four weeks. Don't fear the Broncos. Spencer Ware has the Chiefs backfield mainly to himself, making him a must-start. The Packers defense isn't stopping the run as it was early this year. They head to Philadelphia on Monday night, and with Ryan Mathews' status up in the air, Wendell Smallwood needs to be picked up in all leagues. If Mathews were to sit out this week, Smallwood would warrant use as a RB2. The Ravens are the toughest matchup for running backs this year, but with Cincinnati's Jeremy Hill having the backfield to himself, he remains startable in all leagues.
Back to the Packers, they allow more FPPG than any team, which means Jordan Matthews needs to be in your lineups. The 49ers are just behind the Packers, which not only gives Jarvis Landry plenty of upside this week, but with DeVante Parker coming back on in recent weeks, he's also worth using in most leagues. While the Ravens are extremely tough against the run, they are among the most forgiving when it comes to receivers. With A.J. Green out, Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd will step up and both have start-worthy value in 12-team leagues given this matchup. You don't need to be told to start Doug Baldwin, but with the Buccaneers allowing the fourth most FPPG to receivers on NFL.com (25.98), Tyler Lockett has deeper-league value given his ability to make the big play. Circling back to the Broncos, while their run defense has been weak, they are still the toughest for receivers, making all of their receivers dicey options.
The Lions continue to struggle against tight ends, and Kyle Rudolph faces them this week, making him a clear TE1. The Bengals allow the fourth most FPPG to tight ends with the fifth most receptions given up to them, turning Dennis Pitta into an intriguing fringe PPR TE1. As you can see with this next suggestion, the Packers are a defense to exploit, and that includes the tight end position, so make sure Zach Ertz is in your lineup. The Cardinals have allowed only 256 yards and no touchdowns to tight ends this year, so it's suggested to find other options than Austin Hooper for Week 12.
The Patriots are a terrific DST play if available, and they are a team you can ride the rest of the season with a good schedule. The Saints have limited team's No. 1 receivers all year with only Demaryius Thomas scoring. They make for a nice streaming option in this matchup with the Rams. The Lions can force turnovers at times, and with the Vikings offensive line struggling, their DST is a deeper sleeper. The Jaguars give up more FPPG to kickers than anyone else at 11.3 on NFL.com (Giants second at 9.6), which gives Dan Carpenter a high ceiling in Week 12.
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