News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Week 12 Recap: Tyreek Hill and Derrick Henry go off, Austin Ekeler returns to a full workload

Nov 29, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) celebrates his touchdown scored against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tyreek Hill made things look easy against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, as he and Patrick Mahomes led fantasy squads to victories on the back of Hill’s 269 receiving yard and three-touchdown performance. I should know — I went up versus Hill in many of leagues and my current Monday/Tuesday night miracle requires at least 70 points. 

Let’s dig into every game from Sunday’s action to see who else stepped up as we trudge forward toward Week 13. I'll hit on snap counts, routes run, goal-line usage, targets and target shares from every game on the Sunday slate. 

Keep in mind that there are two teams on bye weeks in Week 13 — Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and then it’s time for the fantasy playoffs. Get hyped. 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS @ BUFFALO BILLS

Reports surfaced before game time that Austin Ekeler would see a full workload coming back from his injury. These reports came to fruition as Ekeler saw 16 targets and 14 carries in Week 12. He, unfortunately, was vultured as the goal-line by Joshua Kelley (eye roll) despite breaking what seemed to be three tackles to get the team within scoring distance. But I digress. He’s an RB1 from here on out. 

He out-snapped Kelley 72% to 23%.

Justin Herbert came back down to earth in this spot, posting his worst fantasy outing since Week 3. He didn’t get the chance to connect on any deep ball attempts against a Bills defense that prides itself on limiting long pass plays. Adding Ekeler back into the offense has a trickle-down effect on Herbert.

That Week 3 game where Herbert's numbers were down was also Ekeler’s highest fantasy point total of the season. More short targets and carries for Ekeler means less deep throws for Herbert. 

It was also a disappointing fantasy outing for Josh Allen, who I was concerned about because of his splits with and without John Brown in the lineup. He passed for less than 160 passing yards, and Stefon Diggs posted his lowest yardage total of the season despite Chargers’ top cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. not playing.

Zack Moss is still getting the slight lean in snaps over Devin Singletary, but Singletary saw three more touches in Week 12. These backs continue to cannibalize each other, making neither a trustworthy fantasy asset. 

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS @ ATLANTA FALCONS

When the Atlanta Falcons score 40-plus points, we’d assumed great fantasy days for the likes of Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley and Brian Hill. Ridley was fine (6-50-1), but Ryan (13.9 fantasy points) has shown he cannot be trusted without a healthy Julio Jones

Hill out-snapped Ito Smith (34 vs. 27), but the judge earned the pass-game work and the lone carry inside the 10-yard line, which he scored on. Both also ran the same amount of routes, but Smith went 4-for-4 on his targets in the passing game. Hill saw zero. We can’t trust either back next week if Todd Gurley II can’t play. 

Derek Carr and the entire Raiders offense laid an egg in Week 12 — just six total points scored against arguably the worst defense in the league. The offense could never get in a rhythm, coughing up four fumbles and one interception. It’s going to be tough to trust any of these pass-catchers outside of Darren Waller versus the Jets.

It was an encouraging day at least for rookie Henry Ruggs III, who saw his most targets since Week 1. He caught a nice deep ball from Carr down the sideline and was just inches away from scoring. Two of his targets came inside the 10-yard line. 

Josh Jacobs sustained an ankle injury during Week’s 12 contest, so keep tabs on Devontae Booker who would be the immediate target off the waiver wire. 

TENNESSEE TITANS @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

By the time the first half came to a conclusion, Derrick Henry had already rushed 17 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts, who clearly missed stud interior defensive lineman DeForset Buckner today. 

With the Titans’ upcoming cupcake schedule, Henry is going to be the driving force behind several fantasy titles this season. I’d stash D’Onta Foreman to the back-end of fantasy benches as Henry insurance. Since Week 8, Foreman has seen the majority of backup RB carries on early-downs. 

Nov 29, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrates his touchdown with teammates in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The same can’t be said for Jonnu Smith, who is going to be extremely frustrating to manage from here on out. He ran 15 routes and saw zero targets in Week 12. He spent 70% of his offensive snaps blocking. Not ideal for fantasy tight ends.

Jonathan Taylor was inactive in Week 12, so the Colts turned to Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins to carry the rock. Both backs were largely ineffective on the ground without center Ryan Kelly, but Hines made fantasy managers happy with 11 targets and 66 receiving yards. If Taylor can’t go next week, consider Hines a solid RB play after he led the backfield in Week 12. It’s a great matchup versus the Houston Texans

Rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. saw 10 targets himself but hauled in just two of them for 28 yards. Only five were deemed catchable, though the rookie dropped two as well. He will be a prime bounce-back candidate next week. 

Mo Alie-Cox ran more routes and played a higher percentage of snaps than Trey Burton, but the latter finished with six targets. Alie-Cox had just two targets. 

CAROLINA PANTHERS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS

D.J. Moore led the team in targets in Week 12 (nine) but left the game late with a lower-body injury. Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel would become every week starters should Moore be sidelined. Anderson scored for the first time since Week 1 and Samuel continued his pace of steady fantasy production. He’s scored at double-digit fantasy points in all but one game dating back to Week 5. 

It’s also important to note that Anderson’s aDOT (18.0) was much greater in this game than his seasonal average (9.2), so perhaps this is a sign of things to come for the receiver formerly known for his ability to be a vertical threat.

Teddy Bridgewater was also banged up toward the end of the game, so fantasy savvy owners need to think ahead as little injury news will be announced with Carolina on a bye week in Week 13. 

Kirk Cousins had no problem shredding the Panthers’ secondary for over 300 yards and three touchdowns despite not having Adam Thielen at his disposal. Rookie Justin Jefferson commanded 13 targets while catching a pair of touchdowns.

Kyle Rudolph also delivered for those TE-needy teams that had the faith to stream him. He had seven catches for 68 receiving yards on seven targets — that’s damn good for any tight end performance in 2020. 

CLEVELAND BROWNS @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

The Cleveland Browns finally got to play in a game that didn’t feature adverse weather, and it showed in the box score. Jarvis Landry caught eight passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Baker Mayfield threw for over 250 yards for the second time all season. 

Nick Chubb out-carried Kareem Hunt (19 vs. 10) and also saw both rushing attempts inside the 5-yard line. Hunt was working near the end-zone the past two weeks, so it seems that neither back is truly viewed as the team’s goal-line RB.

Nov 29, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Cleveland Browns offensive guard Joel Bitonio (75) lands on Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brandon Watson (40) as Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) runs the ball during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Chubb also ran more routes (16 vs. 14) and was targeted more in the passing game than Hunt (three vs. two). 

It was rookie Collin Johnson (eight) and not rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. (three) who led the Jacksonville Jaguars wide receivers in targets in the absence of D.J. Chark Jr. This was Mike Glennon’s first start — the fact that he immediately was drawn to Johnson shouldn't be overlooked.

It also means the likelihood of Shenault hitting in his rookie year is looking extremely grim. He’s probably safe to cut in any redraft format. 

James Robinson ran 31 routes and saw five targets in the passing game — the routes run were a season-high and no other Jags RB saw even one target. I projected Robinson’s pass-game usage to increase with Glennon under center in my Week 12 rankings overview because of his low aDOT. 

NEW YORK GIANTS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS

Daniel Jones is going to miss some time with a hamstring injury, leaving Colt McCoy under center for the New York Giants. On his 11 pass attempts, his top targets broke down as follows: Sterling Shepard (four), Golden Tate (three), Wayne Gallman Jr. (two).

If there was any doubt on whether Gallman was the bell cow in the Giants’ backfield, he put the question to rest in Week 12. He played a 63% snap share, totaled 24 carries for 94 yards and added three catches on five targets. Big Blue has found its workhorse. 

Evan Engram tied Shepard with a team-leading nine targets, but what stands out about his performance is that he was seeing targets downfield. His aDOT (12.6) was more than double his seasonal average (6.1). 

Most tight ends don’t see this type of downfield usage, so it’s very encouraging for his fantasy ceiling. It’s just slightly concerning that he targeted just once by McCoy — on a throw behind the line of scrimmage. 

Brandon Allen debut at quarterback for the Bengals this week and was underwhelming to say the least. He threw for less than 150 yards. Outside a touchdown throw to Tee Higgins, the new Bengals QB banished all Bengals skill players to fantasy irrelevance. 

Giovani Bernard led the backfield with 10 touches for 49 scoreless yards on a 75% snap share. 

ARIZONA CARDINALS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Kyler Murray scored fewer than 20 fantasy points for the first time all season (7.9) in Week 12 versus the New England Patriots. Clearly, his shoulder injury is hampering him — his rushing attempts per game (9.4 vs. five) and his average depth of throw (8.6 vs. 7.1) have substantially dropped since he sustained the injury back in Week 11.

Murray’s fantasy ceiling was tied to his legs; if we continue to see his rushing attempts halved from earlier this season, he won’t be the same difference-maker he was to start. 

His lack of conviction to run has boosted the stock of Kenyan Drake because his QB now looks to his running back in the passing game instead of running himself. He has seven catches over the past two weeks; he had eight catches on the season entering Week 11. 

Nov 29, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Kyle Dugger (35) tackles Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

But keep in mind that Chase Edmonds still owns the “pass-catching back” role. He played more snaps on third down and saw more total targets than Drake (five versus four). Drake’s uptick in pass-game usage is a clear trickle-down effect from Murray’s decreased rushing production. 

Damien Harris dominated the snap share for the Patriots’ running backs (65%) while Sony Michel played just one snap (zero carries). James White ended up getting the two rushing touchdowns, which hurt both Harris and Cam Newton as both rely heavily on rushing scores for fantasy. Although it wasn’t for a lack of opportunities on Harris’ part — the second-year running back was stuffed on both his carries inside the 5-yard line. 

MIAMI DOLPHINS @ NEW YORK JETS

DeVante Parker saw new life with Ryan Fitzpatrick in the form of 14 targets. We saw Parker contribute to fantasy championships a season ago with the veteran gunslinger firing him with bullets, so continue to start him with confidence as long as the beard remains under center. 

I discussed DeAndre Washington as my “shoot your shot” player in my Week 12 injury report article because I had zero faith that Miami was going to feed Matt Breida. Fifteen touches and a 47% snap share later, and Washington emerged as the clear frontrunner in the backfield in the absence of Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin

This was the first time all season that Sam Darnold started a game with his top trio of WRs. It seems like his affinity to target the slot has ended — Jamison Crowder only saw five targets, fewer than both Breshad Perriman (nine) and Denzel Mims (nine). 

The rookie should be the primary target off the waiver wire, as he has now seen eight-plus targets in three straight games and delivered double-digit fantasy points. Crowder can become waiver wire fodder considering his 10 combined targets in his last three games. 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ DENVER BRONCOS

The Kendall Hinton experiment at quarterback did not work for the Denver Broncos — he completed one pass — or for fantasy managers who took the risk of playing a fringy QB in their WR slot (-2.78 fantasy points). Hinton actually threw more interceptions (two) than completions (one). 

I say this all because this game needs to be thrown out in evaluating any of the Denver skill players. There was nothing this offense could do without any semblance of a passing game. 

It might be time to hit the panic button for Alvin Kamara managers. A week after Kamara’s pass-game usage took a major nosedive with Taysom Hill, this week his fantasy production followed suit to the tune of 6.2 points. He was out-carried 19 to 11 by Latavius Murray despite playing one more snap. 

Kamara also saw zero of the six carries inside the 10-yard line.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ LOS ANGELES RAMS

Deebo Samuel can’t be viewed as a normal wide receiver that is subjected to matchups. So many of his targets are behind or near the line of scrimmage (0.4 aDOT in Week 12) that defensive backs need to be concerned about whether or not they can tackle him rather than cover. 

And considering he averaged nearly 12 yards after the catch on his 11 catches on Sunday, these defensive backs aren’t having much success in stopping the locomotive that goes by the name of Deebo.

Nov 29, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs past Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Natrez Patrick (57) on a fourth quarter pass play at SoFi Stadium. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Raheem Mostert (40% snap share, 16 carries) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (34% snap share, 12 carries) split the 49ers backfield evenly, with Jerick McKinnon working in on third downs. It was a bad matchup to trust any of them, but Mostert emerged as the lead back in the committee. He should have a field day versus the Bills’ weak run defense in Week 13. 

The Rams’ backfield is far less exciting to talk about aside from rookie Cam Akers, who continues to provide sparks in the run game. He only played 17 snaps (27%) but rushed nine times (one less than Darrell Henderson Jr.) for 87 yards and a score. Neither Henderson nor Brown totaled more than 19 yards from scrimmage. 

Please, Sean McVay, give Akers more touches — sincerely, his fantasy managers. 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Tyreek Hill had over 200 receiving yards in the first quarter of this game. The Buccaneers could not contain Hill’s speed without their own speedy cornerback Jamel Dean and were therefore roasted in the backend all day long. Hill finished his historic day with 13 receptions for 269 receiving yards and three touchdowns — or, as the #nerds like to call it, 57.9 fantasy points.

Sammy Watkins’ return was obviously overshadowed by Hill’s massive game, but it’s worth noting that he and Demarcus Robinson were both Robin to Hill’s Batman. They saw similar totals of snaps, routes and targets. The only difference was that Watkins played and saw the majority of his targets from the slot. 

A week after Antonio Brown led us astray by leading the team in targets, he fell down to fifth in the target pecking order in Week 12. Chris Godwin led the way with 10 targets, converting eight into 97 receiving yards. 

Mike Evans saw nine targets of his own but caught the only three that were deemed catchable. He did, however, haul in two touchdowns as he has been accustom to doing in 2020.

Evaluating the three Buccaneers’ wide receivers is going to be challenging each week, but once they return after the bye, it will be difficult to keep any of them out of lineups. They will face the Vikings, Falcons and Lions from Weeks 14-16. Giddy Up. 

CHICAGO BEARS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS

Marquez Valdes-Scantling came into this game questionable, so it’s no surprise that he posted a donut. He was likely serving as a decoy to open things up for other receivers. Allen Lazard was one of those WRs, as he found himself on the receiving end of an Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass.

Lazard’s six targets trailed only Davante Adams (10) — an encouraging sign that the receiver is getting back to full health. 

Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (85) celebrates his touchdown reception with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) in the third quarter during their football game Sunday, November 29, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Apc Packvsbears 1129200754

Aaron Jones and Jamall Williams were neck and neck in total carries for another week. Each had 17 carries, but I’ll admit the positive game script did warrant the Packers using both backs. Since Jones returned from injury, Williams has stayed involved — that makes GB's RB2 a running back who desperate fantasy managers can turn to in a pinch.

If fantasy managers were running the Chicago Bears, they’d keep Mitchell Trubisky in at quarterback. Despite his tendency to turn the ball over — five turnover-worthy plays in Week 12 — he facilitated Allen Robinson II and David Montgomery to arguably their top fantasy performances of the season. 

Obviously, there was some garbage time involved there, but that’s Trubisky’s specialty. 

He also heavily targeted Darnell Mooney downfield. The rookie saw 11 targets with 155 air yards attached. That bodes well for him next week versus the Lions, who can’t stop anyone thrown deep through the air. 

Rookie tight end Cole Kmet played ahead of Jimmy Graham for the second-straight game. Kmet ran more routes and played 80% of the snaps. Graham played on just 35% of the team’s snaps. 

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