Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Time to panic or Week 12 antic?

2RYJN29 Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

  • Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa posts his worst fantasy day of the season: Up against the New York Jets, Tagovailoa scored just under eight fantasy points in Week 12, giving us just another data point that road Tua might be better left on fantasy benches.
  • Since returning from their Week 10 bye, DeVonta Smith has been outscoring teammate A.J. Brown: A big decline in Brown’s overall efficiency paired with a newly reported injury might just indicate that he’s playing at less than 100% health.
  • San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle posts another week of five or fewer fantasy points: Kittle’s high upside makes him an impossible “sit” for fantasy managers, but his pattern of production might provide a map of when to expect those down weeks.
 Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The NFL’s Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Sunday/Monday Night Football marathon is officially in the books, and most fantasy football leagues are approaching the playoffs in the next couple of weeks. As such, analyzing various disappointments for fantasy becomes as important as ever because fantasy managers need to know if they can trust their studs after some down performances. We’re here to help with that, breaking down five stats highlighting various fantasy disappointments from Week 12 and a temperature check; is it time to panic, or just a Week 12 antic?

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa posts his worst fantasy day of the season

The Miami Dolphins played the New York Jets on Black Friday in Week 12. Despite a convincing 34-13 win over the Jets in all three phases, it didn’t translate to much fantasy production for Tagovailoa specifically, throwing for 243 pass yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on the day for a season-low 7.8 fantasy points.

To be fair, fantasy managers’ expectations shouldn’t have been sky-high for Tagovailoa to begin with, particularly considering the Jets' propensity for limiting big plays and generating turnovers. On the plus side, Friday’s outing did give us another data point in proving the case that the decision to start or sit Tua on any given week should lie with whether he’s playing at home.

Home Away
Completion% 72.5% 67.5%
Pass yards per att. 8.9 8.0
Pass TD% 8.2% 3.9%
Pass INT% 2.3% 2.9%
Fantasy points per game 21.42 13.99

Tua’s only road game with 14 or more fantasy points this season has come against the Los Angeles Chargers, who are allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. His next road matchup is up against the Washington Commanders (who lead the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks), so feel comfortable slotting him back into lineups. He’ll close out the season with four more games at home, but beware of a Week 17 matchup on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.

Temperature check: Week 12 (road) antic

Seattle Seahawks RB Zach Charbonnet averages just 3.36 yards per attempt 

After the Seattle Seahawks selected UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, there were plenty of question marks about how he’d work in the offense alongside veteran Kenneth Walker. While Walker clearly was maintaining the RB1 role for the Seahawks, a groin injury in Week 11 set the stage for a potential Charbonnet breakout, registering his first career start in Week 12 with Walker out. Unfortunately, it didn’t amount to much despite playing a career-high 88% of offensive snaps, as he totaled just 58 yards on 18 touches.

The good news is that Charbonnet handled 87.5% of RB rush attempts on the day, even if it didn’t amount to much, while backup DeeJay Dallas totaled just two total carries. The bad news is that he was pretty inefficient with those opportunities, averaging just 3.36 yards per rush attempt, having totaled the sixth-fewest fantasy points per snap (0.2) and per touch (0.54) among running backs to play 25% of snaps or more. Fantasy managers shouldn’t expect an improvement in efficiency, either, considering their upcoming schedule with games against the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers over the next five weeks. PFF’s strength of schedule tool grades the Seahawks with the worst remaining schedule for fantasy running backs, which should have fantasy managers tempering expectations for Charbonnet, even if he does have the backfield to himself for a period of time.

Temperature check: Time to panic

Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua combine for just eight total fantasy points in the Los Angeles Rams’ dominant win over the Arizona Cardinals

If fantasy managers had heard that the Rams would score 37 total points on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12, they surely would have believed that wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua had themselves an absolute feast. That wasn’t the case, however, as these studs combined for just eight total fantasy points in half-PPR scoring formats, finishing as the WR78 and WR65, respectively. 

It appears that there are two dynamics at play here when it comes to assessing the disappointing production for each of these receivers. For Nacua, understandably, the return of Kupp has decreased his overall target volume, dropping from a 29.9% target rate on routes run in Weeks 1-4 down to 25.8% in the weeks since. 

Kupp, meanwhile, has also seen a drop in his target rate on routes run with Nacua’s emergence in the offense, as he's simultaneously seen a monstrous increase in his deep target rate. After averaging a 10.1% deep target rate through his first six seasons, that rate has climbed to 22.4% in 2023 – likely contributing in some way to his career-low 52.9% catch rate. 

This has generated the perfect storm of disappointing fantasy performances for both of these Rams receivers despite their talent. Unless some of these circumstances change, however, it might be best to consider both WR2/WR3 options with WR1 upside in any given week.

Temperature check: Time to panic

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta Smith outscores A.J. Brown for the second consecutive week

Philadelphia Eagles WR A.J. Brown started the year red-hot for fantasy managers, averaging just under 19 fantasy points per game over the first 10 weeks of the season as the overall WR2. Since their bye, however, teammate DeVonta Smith has been stealing the show, as he's outproduced Brown in most metrics over the past two games, including threat rate (23.2%), passer rating when targeted (139.6), deep target rate (25%) and yards per route run (2.97), among others. That’s translated to 16.5 fantasy points per game for Smith while Brown has averaged just 6.75 in that span. 

So, what gives, Mr. Brown? Well, there is a world in which we should consider the possibility that Brown is not entirely healthy, as he popped up on the injury report ahead of Week 12 with a thigh injury, listed as a limited practice participant in the first two games of the week. 

Weeks 1-9 Weeks 11, 12
Fantasy points per game 18.89 6.75
Yards per route run 3.04 0.69
Passer rating when targeted 125.0 48.6
Yards after the catch per reception 4.9 2.7
Max MPH on route 20.17 MPH 19.04 MPH
% of Catchable passes that were caught 95.7% 60%
Avg. yards of separation 2.5 1.9

Brown did practice fully on Friday and was not listed with a final injury designation, but the sudden injury concern paired with the decline in efficiency might indicate that he’s not playing at 100%. While his fantasy upside is great enough that he’s never in consideration to “sit” in a given week, managers will want to keep a close eye on his efficiency metrics and perhaps temper expectations should he be managing this thigh injury long-term.

Temperature check: Luke-warm panic time

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle posts his fifth game of five or fewer fantasy points in 2023

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle continued on his rollercoaster of fantasy production in Week 12, catching three of his five targets for 19 total yards and no touchdowns… totaling just 3.4 fantasy points on the day. It marked his fifth finish outside the top-25 fantasy performers in a given week, despite the fact that he sits as the overall TE3 on the season – living up to his reputation as a player with an absurdly high ceiling but equally jolting floor.

While the rollercoaster can be nauseating at times, and you can’t ever truly consider sitting Kittle given how high his ceiling is, there is a clear pattern emerging to help fantasy managers know when to expect these down weeks. All but one of Kittle’s games with 12 or more fantasy points on the season have come with the 49ers at home, averaging just under 16 fantasy points per game at Levi Stadium compared to just under seven fantasy points per game on the road. When Kittle is on the road, consider some high-upside options in the flex.

Temperature check: Week 12 (road) antic


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