Welcome to Week 12 of Lessons Learned! In this article, we break down ten important takeaways from the prior week in fantasy football, and what they could mean for your lineups moving forward.
If you learned anything from Week 12 that you think we should know, send us a comment or shoot me a tweet @FantasySensei! Without further ado, let’s dive into the fantasy classroom.
1. Adam Humphries is So Hot Right Now
I’ve been holding out on this lesson for a few weeks now because it just didn’t seem possible. But the numbers don’t lie, and they’re telling a mighty fine tale about Buccaneers slot receiver Adam Humphries. Here are some benchmarks for your enjoyment: since Week 6, Humphries is averaging more yards per game than Kenny Golladay, more yards per reception than Adam Thielen, and a higher catch percentage than Julio Jones, and his 4 touchdowns are more than Keenan Allen and teammate Mike Evans over that span.
Moreover, current starting QB Jameis Winston has targeted Humphries on 18.8 percent of his passes this season, compared to Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s 10.6 percent. With great matchups the next 2 weeks, and sneakily fine matchups as the slot receiver against the Ravens and Cowboys, Humphries is a legitimate starter rest of season in my book.
2. Gus Edwards is a Potential League-Winner
We talked about the legs of Lamar Jackson last week, but now it’s his running-buddy Gus Edwards who makes the cut. Since breaking out with the arrival of Lamar Jackson two weeks ago, Edwards now has back-to-back games of 115+ rushing yards. His 233 rushing yards since Week 11 are fourth in the NFL, to only Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, and the explosion of Lamar Miller.
The Ravens have clearly figured something out with this Jackson-Edwards combo, and I don’t see them moving away from it for the likes of Joe Flacco, Alex Collins, or anyone else. That means Edwards is looking at 15+ carries a game against the upcoming schedule of the Falcons, Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Chargers. Sign. Me. Up.
3. LeGarrette Blount is Matchup-Proof … LOL?
This is a joke … or is it? We just watched LeGarrette Blount put up 88 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns against the stout Bears defense. It can’t mean anything … can it? Sadly, I think it might. Blount seemed to find a new gear this past week, something he is prone to do every now and again (see 2016 Patriots or Super Bowl Eagles). But more importantly, the Lions brought in C.J. Anderson for a workout this week, putting some seriously dark clouds over the prospects of Kerryon Johnson‘s season.
If Johnson is out, and Blount retains a lead role, I’m not sure we can look the other way. With the loss of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, this passing game is a shell of its former self, leaving room for a Blount-led offense rest of season. And while a matchup with the Rams this week is a mixed bag, games against the Cardinals and Bills the following weeks are pretty strong. It’s a desperation move, but as much as I hate it … I don’t hate it.
4. Amari Cooper is Making the Cowboys Look Good
Good golly gracious. Cooper was the No. 1 wideout in fantasy last week with his Thanksgiving banquet of 8 catches, 180 yards, and 2 touchdowns. After that massive breakout, Cooper has now totaled more targets, yards, and touchdowns in 4 games with the Cowboys than he had in 6 games with the Raiders (and the same number of catches, for what it’s worth).
The entire Dallas offense is playing better with Cooper on the field, and he’s even making the brass look good for acquiring him at the high price they paid. Plus, Cooper draws a magnificent stretch of matchups in the closing weeks (at least on paper), with the Saints, Eagles, Colts, and Buccaneers. Cross your fingers that he doesn’t disappear now that we’re ready to trust him again, and plug him into your WR2 slot.
5. Krampus is Coming to Town
With Christmas less than a month away, it’s hardly surprising that Krampus himself is making an appearance. (That’s Doug Martin for those of you uninitiated in Fantasy Footballers lore.) Martin managed to put together a 72-yard performance with a rushing touchdown on 14 touches versus the elite Ravens defense last week. That’s four consecutive games with at least 58 scrimmage yards, and his first touchdown of the season to boot.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Doug Martin is no league-winning super-savior for your fantasy team. His upside is highly limited. However, he is playing like a capable spot-start, fill-in type of fantasy asset, perhaps for those of you who are missing Melvin Gordon or Kerryon Johnson. I’d consider Martin startable against the Chiefs this week and the Bengals in Week 15 but would try to get away from him in Week 14 vs the Steelers and Week 16 vs the Broncos.
6. Tyler Boyd (Might) Be OK With Jeff Driskel
Things got pretty scary for Boyd owners when Andy Dalton exited Sunday’s game with a thumb injury. And for anyone who didn’t watch the game, they got scarier when we heard Dalton was headed to IR, leaving 6th-round rookie Jeff Driskel at the helm of the Bengals offense. Red alert, right? (Or in this case, redhead alert … eh?)
Not so fast. Boyd officially snagged 5 of 5 targets from Jeff Driskel throughout the second half, to the tune of 62 yards and his lone touchdown. Driskel also hit him on a 46-yard bomb towards the end of the game that was called back on an illegal shift penalty. Driskel’s not likely very good, but with a positive outlook for A.J. Green‘s return, meaning less primary coverage on Boyd, I think Boyd still has a great shot at WR2 production down the stretch.
7. Josh Adams May Have Broken the Pederson Curse
For going on 3 years, Doug Pederson has refused to feature a running back in his offense. No single RB had managed to earn 22+ carries in a game since Ryan Mathews in Week 1, 2016, Pederson’s first game as head coach. Until Sunday. Josh Adams soaked up 22 carries after Pederson spoke outwardly of getting him more work, and turned his opportunity into 84 yards and a touchdown.
Now, it’s only one game, so I’m not fully convinced that Pederson has changed philosophies entirely. But when the Eagles turned to the run game in the second half against the Giants, they started staged a comeback and managed a win. And Pederson spoke positively of the offensive balance after the game as well. Adams has a strong chance at 15+ touches a game at this rate, and if the Eagles offense continues to produce as a result, he will have high-end RB2 upside in the right matchups.
8. Austin Ekeler Can Run Rampant in Melvin Gordon’s Absence
We’re not yet sure how long Melvin Gordon will be out with his knee injury, but it could be as long as four weeks, or the remainder of the fantasy season. That could mean RB1-level opportunity for backup Austin Ekeler through your fantasy playoffs. In Sunday’s game alone, Ekeler totaled 103 yards and a touchdown on 15 touches, including 10 catches on 11 targets.
Ekeler has been highly efficient this season, averaging the seventh-most yards after the catch per reception (10.7), second-most yards per carry (5.8), and most yards after contact per carry (3.5) among all RBs with 50+ carries this season. With a better than decent shot at 15-20 opportunities per game in Gordon’s absence, Ekeler’s numbers could easily translate to top-10 production. He’s an absolute must-start in PPR, and at least an RB2 in non-PPR until proven otherwise.
9. Andrew Luck is Pushing for Fantasy MVP
Yes, Patrick Mahomes is a near-shoo-in for this award, with Todd Gurley close behind. But if either player falters down the stretch, Luck might be the next man up. With 3 TDs against the Dolphins in Week 12, he has now thrown 3+ passing touchdowns in an obscene eight straight games, tying the second-longest streak in history. And he’s scored 21+ fantasy points in all eight of those games, something that’s only been done by Aaron Rodgers and LaDainian Tomlinson in fantasy history.
Luck is as consistent as they come right now and is utterly matchup-proof. That means next week against the Jaguars, and the following weeks against the Texans and Cowboys as well, all defenses that would normally have me concerned. There’s a case to be made that Luck is the No. 3 fantasy QB right now behind Mahomes and Brees. Do not hesitate to start him.
10. The Aarons in Green Bay Are Headed in Opposite Directions
Over the second half of the season so far, there are eight running backs who have outscored their quarterbacks in fantasy on a per game basis. Most of those RBs have awful QBs (see Leonard Fournette, Phillip Lindsay, etc.). But one of them is Aaron Jones.
That’s right, Aaron Jones is averaging 17.6 non-PPR fantasy points since Week 7, and Aaron Rodgers is sitting at 17.3. It’s an absolutely bonkers change of script, but we have to face the facts at this point. Rodgers is no longer an auto-start or even a QB1 many weeks, and Jones is working his way into the top 12 himself, possibly just outside the elite territory of the Hunts and Zekes of the world. The world of fantasy is topsy-turvy, folks — don’t get stuck in yesteryear.