The early slate of Week 12 games was highlighted by the Cincinnati Bengals' convincing victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and a number of great individual performances. Joe Mixon, Leonard Fournette, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kendrick Bourne all made fantasy managers very happy, scoring at least two touchdowns each. Other fantasy football stars, such as Jalen Hurts and Najee Harris, were kept quiet all afternoon.
PFF's fantasy football recap focuses on player usage and stats, breaking down all the vital information you need to achieve fantasy success in 2021.
Click here for more PFF tools:
- Snaps include plays called back due to penalties like offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
- Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
- Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.
- Leonard Fournette: 17 carries, 100 yards, 3 TD, (0% stuffed rate), 7 receptions, 31 yards, 1 TD
- Jack Doyle: 6 receptions, 81 yards, 1 TD, (30.4% threat rate)
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Indianapolis Colts||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Michael Pittman Jr.||65||46||10||0|
Rob Gronkowski is fully back: Gronkowski returned to action last week with a solid outing (71 yards on six receptions). He didn’t see as much playing time as usual in that game, but that changed this week. He played in over 80% of offensive snaps, which is similar to how the Buccaneers used him in the first two weeks of the season. The future Hall of Famer was able to take advantage of a favorable matchup and gain over 50% of the Buccaneers' receiving yards. He is a must-start the rest of the season as long as he remains healthy.
Don’t add Ashton Dulin: The 2019 undrafted rookie made a highlight-worthy catch in the second quarter, going 62 yards for the Colts first touchdown of the game. Despite the big play, he remained a clear fourth on the depth chart. He will continue to see a little bit of playing time but nowhere near enough to be on fantasy radars despite the good total this game.
Also don’t add Jack Doyle: Doyle put up one of the best games for a tight end this week. This will likely be the third week he’s finished as a top-12 fantasy tight end this season. We know he has the talent to succeed at tight end, but the Colts continue to use a committee at the position and that’s very unlikely to change. He ran a route on less than half of Indianapolis’ pass plays. That’s why he also has failed to rank among the top 20 tight ends in nine weeks. Doyle might have another good week this season, but it’s not worth all of the other weeks where he won’t be worth starting.
- Boston Scott: 15 carries, 64 yards, 1 TD, (0.0% stuffed rate), 2 receptions, 8 receiving yards
- Kenny Golladay: 3 receptions, 50 receiving yards, (24.1% threat rate)
|Philadelphia Eagles||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|New York Giants||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Monitor the health of Miles Sanders: The Eagles had a two-man backfield to start the game with Jordan Howard inactive with a knee injury. Sanders led the way, although Boston Scott was more impressive. Sanders limped off the field early in the second half and returned for a few plays, but it was mostly Scott the rest of the way. Kenneth Gainwell also saw more snaps in the second half, which resulted in Gainwell leading the team in receiving yards.
The Eagles have two great matchups remaining on the schedule, including next week against the Jets. If all four backs are healthy next week, it might be hard to trust any of them. As long as one back is injured, there could potentially be two fantasy starters among the healthy backs.
Avoid the Giants healthy skill players: The Giants didn’t have wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney or tight ends Kyle Rudloph or Kaden Smith in this game, all out with various injuries. This led to Evan Engram playing nearly every offensive snap at tight end. Darius Slayton would ideally be the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart, but he has spent most of the season as a starter. Pharoh Cooper has emerged as the third-best healthy wide receiver. Kenny Golladay was the only receiver to surpass 40 receiving yards today. It’s best to avoid any of these receivers who played today even with the increased roles.
Saquon Barkley trending up: Barkley returned to the Giants last week after missing over a month of football. His playing time was limited, and he only received 12 touches in that game. His playing time was much closer to normal today, playing 88% of of the Giants offensive snaps. He saw double digit carries for the first time since Week 4. Unfortunately, he wasn’t all that effective running the ball. He gained 32 yards on a single carry and totaled 8 rushing yards on the other 12. He should be back in fantasy starting lineups with this amount of playing time with plenty of room for his production to grow.
- Kendrick Bourne: 5 receptions, 61 yards, 2 TD (4.5 aDOT)
- Dontrell Hilliard: 12 carries, 131 yards, 1 TD, (5 avoided tackles); 1 reception, 2 receiving yards
|Tennessee Titans||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|New England Patriots||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Add Kendrick Bourne: The Patriots' third wide receiver had a quiet start to the season, but he was WR22 from Week 3-11. In Week 12, he put together what is highly likely to be his third top-10 fantasy finish of the season. It’s worth noting the Patriots play the Jaguars during fantasy football championship week, giving him what could be one of the week's best matchups.
Add Dontrell Hilliard: Hilliard got the start for Tennessee, though the two backs were used interchangeably throughout the game. There was a slight preference toward D’Onta Foreman on early downs and goal-line work, but not as much as expected. Hilliard was the more impressive back of the two, which should lead to even more work after their Week 13 bye.
The only concern is Jeremy McNichols was once again inactive due to the concussion he suffered. Once he’s back, there is a chance he could cut into Hilliard’s playing time. It could be a risk starting Hilliard in Week 14, but it’s definitely worth picking him up if he can play close to this level going forward.
Don’t start Hunter Henry: Both Patriots tight ends were limited in practice throughout the week with different injuries. Jonnu Smith has been on the injury report for over a month now with his shoulder injury, which has typically limited him. Smith was able to cut more into Henry’s playing time today, catching three of the four passes thrown his way for 49 yards. Henry only caught two passes for 16 yards.
We might not see Smith overtake Henry for the primary receiving role at tight end, but we could see the two get closer to even in routes run. If this happens, it will be hard to trust starting either player.
- Myles Gaskin: 16 carries, 49 yards, (43 yards after contact), 2 TD, 2 receptions, 3 receiving yards
- Jaylen Waddle: 9 receptions, 137 yards, 1 TD, (37.0% threat rate)
|Carolina Panthers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Miami Dolphins||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Monitor the Dolphins backfield: Myles Gaskin fantasy managers were very happy with his performance today, but there should be a little concern with his playing time as this became a four-man backfield. Phillip Lindsay was added off waivers from the Texans, while Salvon Ahmed saw significant time after being inactive last week. Gaskin was on the field for only half of the team’s offensive snaps and handled less than half of the team’s carries.
Luckily, he has two great matchup against the Giants, a bye week and then another against the Jets. Even if he’s seeing less volume, those matchups will make Gaskin a fantasy starter. Once the fantasy football semifinals hit, it might be much harder to start him.
Monitor the Christian McCaffrey injury: McCaffrey rolled his ankle early in the game. He tried to play through it but only had one offensive snap in the second quarter. Ameer Abdullah was the primary back throughout the second quarter and would be the waiver wire target if McCaffrey misses time. He and Chuba Hubbard would likely split carries, but Abdullah would see most of the receiving work.
Drop Cam Newton: Newton was expected to have a big game, but he only completed five passes to his teammates compared to two passes to the Dolphins. He was benched for Phillip Walker late in the game. Walker didn’t fair much better than Newton.
Newton’s problem is just as much the schedule as it is his level of play. Carolina has a bye week, followed by games against the Falcons, Bills, Buccaneers and Saints. It’s OK to hold on to Newton if you trust starting him in Week 14 against Atlanta after this performance. If not, he can be released.
- Cordarrelle Patterson: 16 carries, 108 yards, 2 TD, (4.1 yards after contact per carry), 2 receptions, 27 receiving yards
- Russell Gage: 6 receptions, 62 yards, 1 TD, (4.6 aDOT)
|Atlanta Falcons||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||71||43||7||0|
|Laviska Shenault Jr.||53||35||7||0|
The return of Cordarrelle Patterson: The Falcons offensive MVP missed last week with an ankle injury and was a true game-time decision. He received the green light to play but didn’t see as much playing time as usual. He saw his usual role in the run game, but Mike Davis was used in receiving situations more than usual. Fantasy managers were perfectly happy with this because Patterson scored two touchdowns. With another week of rest, hopefully Patterson sees even more playing time next week.
Laviska Shenault Jr.’s new role: The second-year receiver started to see more snaps from the slot last week. Forty-three of his offensive snaps came from the slot today. On the bright side, he was targeted seven times, which was above average for him this season. On the downside, he played in fewer snaps than usual, as Laquon Treadwell typically played in two wide receiver sets. He caught five of the passes thrown his way but only for 33 yards. He can remain on benches in most fantasy leagues.
Drop Dan Arnold: The Jaguars started the season with James O’Shaughnessy as their receiving tight end. He caught six passes for 48 yards in Week 1 and landed on injured reserve after Week 2. He was activated off of injured reserve yesterday. The Jaguars started the game with a rotation at tight end before Arnold suffered a knee injury. O’Shaughnessy was the primary receiving tight end the rest of the game.
If the injury is not serious, we can expect the two to split snaps making neither a safe bet in fantasy football. If the injury is serious, then O’Shaughnessy would be worth a waiver wire pickup.
- Brandin Cooks: 3 receptions, 45 yards, 1 TD (19.6 aDOT)
- Tevin Coleman: 16 carries, 67 yards, (5 avoided tackles), 2 receptions, 3 receiving yards
|New York Jets||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Houston Texans||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Add Rex Burkhead: The Texans had a true two-man backfield with Burkhead and David Johnson. Burkhead led in both carries and routes run. He again wasn’t all that effective in those snaps, but any time someone is the clear leader in a backfield, he should be picked up.
Don’t add Austin Walter: Fantasy managers spent the week debating if Tevin Coleman or Ty Johnson would be the better option with Michael Carter on injured reserve. The former Dallas Renegade from the XFL was surprisingly active over La’Mical Perine and ended up scoring a touchdown. He remained a clear third on the depth chart even after the touchdown. He will probably see a few touches each of the next few weeks, which isn’t enough for him to have value.
Coleman was used more than Johnson today, but that had a lot to do with New York staying close throughout the game. The schedule gets more difficult the next few weeks against the Eagles, Saints and Dolphins. The game scripts in these games should lead to Johnson being more valuable in those games.
Dynasty watch on Brevin Jordan: The fifth-round rookie has been elevated to the Texans primary receiving tight end. He saw his first offensive snaps in Week 8, and now Jordan Akins has been a healthy inactive in back to back weeks. Jordan played over 50% of offensive snaps for the first time and caught three passes for 23 yards and a touchdown.
Jordan might not be the best waiver target this year due to the offense, but he could be a factor in fantasy football next year depending on who the Texans have at quarterback.
- Joe Mixon: 28 carries, 165 yards, 2 TD, (39.3% first down/touchdown rate), 4 receptions, -2 receiving yards
- Tee Higgins: 6 receptions, 114 yards, 1 TD (6 explosive plays)
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Anthony McFarland Jr.||12||8||1||2|
|Benny Snell Jr.||7||5||0||2|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Stanley Morgan Jr.||22||6||1||0|
Start Pat Freiermuth, but have a backup plan: The rookie tight end has played better than expected this season. His Week 12 was saved by a garbage time touchdown, but the entire offense struggled and not just Freiermuth. He received over 75% of the offensive snaps for just the second time, which was in part due to Eric Ebron landing on injured reserve.
He should remain in starting lineups for at least one more week, as he has a very favorable matchup against the division rival Baltimore Ravens. They have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends heading into the week. The schedule is much more difficult after that game, so it would be good to have another option once the fantasy playoffs hit.
Anthony Miller trending up: The slot receiver joined his third team in four months when he landed on the Steelers practice squad on Oct. 12. He was elevated to the active roster yesterday. Miller cut into James Washington’s playing time a little bit throughout the game, and then Miller took over in the fourth quarter with the game well out of reach. He only caught one pass, but it’s possible he earns a starting job at some point. Washington was held to two receptions or fewer for the sixth straight game.
Joe Mixon remains high-risk, high-reward: The Bengals game-plan was to get the ball to Mixon early and often, and it worked. Most running backs are game script dependent, and Mixon is no different. He only played four of 11 third-down snaps in this game, which didn’t matter for his fantasy value because the Bengals had a lead. When the Bengals need to do a lot more passing, Mixon could see a significant decrease in offensive snaps. Cincinnati should have competitive games the rest of the way with matchups against the Chargers, 49ers, Broncos, Ravens and Chiefs.
- Austin Ekeler: 12 carries, 31 yards, 6 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 TD, (25.8% threat rate)
- Javonte Williams: 14 carries, 54 yards, 1 TD, (35.7% first down rate), 3 receptions, 57 receiving yards
|Los Angeles Chargers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Denver Broncos||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Melvin Gordon III||26||7||1||17|
The Broncos backfield remains a committee: Fantasy managers have hoped that Javonte Williams would start to see a higher percentage of the Broncos offensive snaps. That didn’t really happen this week despite what the snap count looks like. Melvin Gordon III suffered a hip injury on the first drive, which led to Williams seeing significant work on that drive. Gordon was back for the second drive, and the two saw their usual split the rest of the way. Williams led the team in receiving, but Gordon found plenty of success on the ground. They will likely continue to split work the rest of the season.
The Chargers new backup RB: Darius Bradwell was an undrafted rookie out of Tulane in 2020. He spent a few weeks of the 2020 season on the active roster and played four special teams snaps after being on the practice squad for most of the past two seasons. He was elevated to the active roster yesterday and received a few snaps as a receiver early in the game, though Joshua Kelley saw more snaps as the game went on. Bradwell could be added in deep leagues. In the vast majority of leagues, this would only matter if Austin Ekeler suffers an injury.
Don’t start Noah Fant: Fant was the top fantasy tight end of Week 6 but hasn’t found much success over the middle third of the season. Part of that was due to injury, but he didn’t show up on the injury report at all this week. His biggest problem is that Albert Okwuegbunam has played well when he’s been targeted. Fant still led the team in routes run, but Okwuegbunam had just as many receiving yards. He’s not running a route on a significant number of Broncos pass plays, and there are too many other good options in the offense for Fant to have a high threat rate. This makes it hard to start Fant in most matchups.
- Deebo Samuel: 6 carries, 66 yards, 2 TD, (3 avoided tackles), 1 reception, 12 receiving yards
- Adam Thielen: 5 receptions, 62 yards, 2 TD, (20.6% threat rate)
|Minnesota Vikings||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|San Francisco 49ers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Jeff Wilson Jr.||10||2||1||2|
Monitor the Dalvin Cook injury: Cook suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter and was carted off the field. He was having a quiet game on the ground with 39 yards on 10 carries but was much better as a receiver, racking up 64 yards on six catches. Alexander Mattison took over as the primary running back the rest of the game. He gained 21 yards on seven carries and scored a touchdown. Mattison has been on rosters in a significant number of leagues and should be picked up in any league that he is available. If Cook's injury is serious, it’s worth spending the rest of your FAB to pick him up.
Monitor the Deebo Samuel injury: Samuel suffered a groin injury late in the game and was deemed questionable to return. Samuel continued to be more of a threat in the run game than the pass game with Brandon Aiyuk taking over as the lead receiver. If Samuel misses significant time, expect Trent Sherfield to take over as the starting wide receiver opposite Aiyuk — he’s been the primary backup the last few weeks including today. Sherfield received plenty of pre-season praise and would be worth a waiver wire pick up in deeper leagues.
Return of Elijah Mitchell: Mitchell missed last week with an injury but saw 27 carries for the second straight game he played. He had a solid game, gaining 133 yards and a touchdown on those carries. He never had a run for more than 15 yards, so he was consistently doing well to gain those yards rather than one long run. Kyle Juszczyk remained the third-down back, while Jeff Wilson Jr. remained his backup. Samuel has emerged as the biggest threat to Mitchell’s fantasy value. As long as the 49ers are winning, there isn’t much reason to worry.
- Randall Cobb: 4 receptions, 95 yards, 1 TD, (35.7% threat rate)
- Van Jefferson: 3 receptions, 93 yards, 1 TD, (18.6 aDOT)
|Los Angeles Rams||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||60||40||9||0|
|Green Bay Packers||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Equanimeous St. Brown||25||16||2||0|
Monitor the Randall Cobb injury: Cobb suffered a groin injury that kept him out of most of the game. The Packers had used a significant amount of 10 personnel after the injury to starting tight end Robert Tonyan, which allowed all four of Green Bay’s receivers to see significant playing time. Green Bay stuck with this strategy even after Cobb went down, with Equanimeous St. Brown taking over.
Odell Beckham’s full time role: Beckham joined the Rams in Week 10 and played 15 total offensive snaps, splitting time with Ben Skowronek. The seventh-round rookie was added to the injury report on Friday with a back injury and was inactive for the game. This left Beckham to play in all but one offensive snap for Los Angeles. He received the most targets for the team, catching three passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. There is no guarantee that he plays 100% of offensive snaps when Skowronek is healthy again, but there are decent odds after his solid numbers today.
Aaron Jones’ return: Jones suffered a knee injury two weeks ago that was expected to cost him significant time. He was a game-time decision and ended up being active. He saw his usual role for the majority of the game, seeing half of the carries and most of the pass routes. Green Bay had a big lead late, so the Packers stuck with A.J. Dillon for most of the fourth quarter. Green Bay has a bye week next week, which should give Jones even more time to recover. We can expect him to have his usual role after the bye.
- Mark Andrews: 4 receptions, 65 yards, 1 TD (14.8 aDOT)
- Jarvis Landry: 6 receptions, 111 yards (3 explosive plays)
|Cleveland Browns||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
|Baltimore Ravens||Snaps||Routes Run||Targets||Carries|
Return of Kareem Hunt: Hunt returned from the calf injury that has kept him out since Week 6. He didn’t play quite as much as he usually would, but he also wasn’t that far off — he ran seven times for 20 yards and didn’t catch his only target.
The Browns have a bye next week and play the Ravens again in Week 14. The playing time between the two backs should be even more split in their next game. This isn’t great news for Nick Chubb fantasy managers, who were also likely left disappointed with Chubb’s performance tonight.
Monitor the Harrison Bryant injury: Bryant caught a 41-yard pass in the second quarter but was slow to get up after the catch. Cleveland was staying in 13 personnel for a lot of the first half but stopped after the injury. Bryant did come back in the game but only played one snap in the second half. If the injury causes Bryant to miss games, this would lead to a little more playing time for both Austin Hooper and David Njoku, as it did tonight.
Don’t start Rashod Bateman: The Ravens had a few injuries at wide receiver coming into the game, which resulted in Miles Boykin being inactive and Marquise Brown playing despite being questionable. The Ravens still had a heavy rotation at wide receiver among four players.
The Ravens are one of the teams that use 11 personnel the least, so often it was just two wide receivers on the field. This left Bateman running a pass route on a fraction of the Ravens' pass plays. He caught all four passes thrown his way for 31 yards, but he’s not running enough routes or seeing enough targets to trust him.