Ten Things We Learned in Week 12 (Fantasy Football)
Week 12 kicked off on Thanksgiving with a game that we may not have been so thankful to watch. Unfortunately, we were forced to watch Andy Dalton and the Chicago Bears vs. Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions for the first game of the day, but at least we got to watch football. The Raiders and Cowboys game was much better, with the Raiders sneaking away with a win. Thanksgiving Day football finished with the Bills beating the Saints 31-6. Hopefully, you have a lot to be thankful for in fantasy football this year as the playoffs are near. Let’s take a look at some of the storylines and what we learned in Week 12.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson is the Falcons’ Offense
The Atlanta Falcons welcomed their breakout star Cordarrelle Patterson back in Week 12. Patterson was injured in Week 10 and missed most of that game and then missed Week 11. The Falcons hadn’t scored a touchdown in the last two weeks since Patterson’s injury. In Week 12, the Falcons beat the Jaguars 21-14 on the back of Patterson’s 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Patterson has to be in contention for the Fantasy MVP of 2021. Who would have known that this year would be the year that Patterson truly takes on a valuable role in an offense. He makes the Falcons a better team and may lead some teams to some Foot Clan Titles!
2. Deebo Samuel Can Still Dominate with Only One Reception
Deebo Samuel only had one reception on four targets in Week 12 but still will finish as a top-12 wide receiver on the week. Samuel caught 1-of-4 targets for 12 yards and had six rushing attempts for 66 yards and two touchdowns. This week was the third consecutive week that Deebo had at least five rushing attempts and had a rushing touchdown. Deebo scored 20.8 fantasy points in PPR, which would be the most ever by a wide receiver with 12 yards receiving or less. He also would tie two other receivers (DeSean Jackson and Brad Smith) for the most PPR fantasy points ever for a wide receiver who had one reception or less. Deebo is such a weapon and can dominate a game in so many different ways.
3. Jonathan Taylor Should be the First Running Back Taken Next Year
Jonathan Taylor‘s breakout season continued in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vaunted run defense. Taylor proved to be matchup proof and had a nice fantasy day, rushing 16 times for 83 yards and a touchdown. Taylor averaged 5.19 yards per carry, which would be the fourth-highest average against the Bucs defense since 2019 when they started to be a dominant run defense. The Colts’ offense excelled when Taylor got the ball, and it seems that the Colts’ coaching staff is finally on board with feeding Taylor. He is a young stud running back who has so far proven to be durable and reliable. I think Jonathan Taylor should be the RB1 off of the board next year, even if it may be way too early to say something like that.
4. The Patriots are Super Bowl Contenders
After a down season in 2020, the New England Patriots are back to being true Super Bowl contenders in 2021. They are now in first place in the AFC East at 8-4 and seem to be getting better every week. Next week, they will be riding a six-game win streak into a pivotal divisional matchup against the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots decided to go with rookie quarterback Mac Jones and released Cam Newton, which has paid off. Jones has looked the part and has the best rookie season among all the quarterbacks selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Patriots have a dominant defense, which is averaging a league-leading 15.8 points allowed per game. They are tied for third in yards allowed per game (316.7). Bill Belichick has his team back into contention and will be a dangerous team to play in the playoffs.
5. Cam Newton Was Benched
With about ten minutes left in the 4th quarter of the Panthers vs. Dolphins game, Cam Newton was benched for P.J. Walker. The Panthers were down by 20 at the time. Newton only completed 5-of-21 pass attempts for 92 yards and threw two interceptions. The concern with Newton has always been his passing, and it was a rough outing for Cam in Week 12. He did manage to rush for another touchdown, but that’s about all he did and did not have a good fantasy day. Cam will be hard to trust in fantasy lineups going into the fantasy playoffs, even though he does offer so much upside with his ability to run.
6. Tee Higgins Finally Has a Breakout Game
Fantasy managers who believed Tee Higgins was set to have a breakout year have been left disappointed, especially after watching Ja’Marr Chase tear up the league in the first half of the season. Higgins had yet to score 14 fantasy points or above in half-point PPR formats before Week 12, where he scored 20.4 points. Higgins caught 6-of-8 targets for 114 yards and a touchdown and was tackled at the one-yard line, just shy of scoring his second touchdown on the day. Higgins remains a risky play as he competes for targets with Chase and with the Bengals attempting to establish the run, but he does play for a good offense and should see good volume.
7. Odell Beckham Jr. Can Still Play
Odell Beckham Jr. had his best fantasy performance since Week 4 of 2020, which would only be nine full games since tearing his ACL last season. Beckham looked good and still has a lot to offer the Rams as he builds chemistry with Matthew Stafford. Beckham caught 5-of-10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, his first touchdown in the last nine games. The Rams clearly want to get Beckham involved and tied Cooper Kupp for a team-leading ten targets. Those who stuck it out with Beckham have to be happy with this scenery change and the upside he now has in the Rams’ elite offense.
8. CMC is Battling Another Injury
Unfortunately, Christian McCaffrey was injured again in Week 12. McCaffrey seemingly has an ankle injury and was spotted in a walking boot. The Panthers have a bye next week, so he may not miss any games, but the injury is still concerning considering the number of injuries he has had over the past two seasons. As mentioned earlier, Week 12 was brutal for the Panthers, and McCaffrey only had one target and no receptions. McCaffrey did not record a single reception in a game for the first time in his career. We all know that the receiving game is where he makes a significant impact and why he is such a valuable fantasy asset. Hopefully, the bye week will allow McCaffrey to heal up in time for the fantasy playoffs starting soon.
9. Darnell Mooney Can Thrive as the Number One Option
Darnell Mooney is proving to be a tremendous value pick in fantasy drafts this year. He is having a somewhat surprising breakout season. This year has been a mess for the Chicago Bears offense, but Mooney is one of the only bright spots. Allen Robinson was supposed to continue to dominate the targets and be the true number one in the Bears’ offense, but instead, it’s Mooney who has been putting up the fantasy points. In two weeks without Robinson, Mooney has 24 targets. He turned that into ten receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. Mooney will be a great play going forward, even when Robinson returns, but it’s good to see Mooney thrive as the team’s number one option.
10. Hunter Renfrow is a Solid and Consistent Play
Hunter Renfrow has emerged as the number one wide receiver in the Raiders offense. With Bryan Edwards not living up to expectations and Henry Ruggs no longer being on the team, the Raiders don’t have many options to throw to outside of star tight end Darren Waller. Renfrow has become a favorite target for Derek Carr, and that should remain the case going forward. Renfrow has at least eight targets in 7-of-11 games this season. He has also scored at least ten fantasy points in half-point PPR formats in 6-of-11 games this year. He may not have the ceiling that some other wide receivers have, but he has consistent volume and can be a nice play in fantasy lineups.
Bonus: You Can’t Take a Snap from the Right Guard
This is just a bonus entry to this weekly series. If you missed it, Kirk Cousins lined up behind his right guard instead of the center in the Week 12 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Alexander Mattison realized what was happening and quickly ran up to Cousins to make sure he didn’t snap the ball. I highly recommend you find the video, because it was funny.