Fire and Ice – Week 12

It’s time to take our weekly look around the NFL to see which players have the potential to set your roster on fire and which ones seem to be cooling down. I’ll try to avoid the obvious candidates for the players that are heating up, in addition to focusing in on higher profile players that could leave your team on ice this week. I will also be taking a look at their performance from the previous week, as well as what the matchup holds for them heading into Sunday.

On Fire:
Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins

Matchup – New York Giants
This was supposed to be the stretch in the season where Kirk Cousins fell of the rails a little bit. Washington has faced the Seahawks, Vikings, and Saints over the last three weeks, and Cousins has performed admirably in each contest. He picked apart New Orleans for 322 passing yards and three touchdowns last week in what turned out to be a nail biting loss in overtime. This marks the fifth time that Cousins has thrown for more than 300 yards in a game and the sixth contest where he has accounted for multiple scores. The good times should continue this week against the Giants. 
Blaine Gabbert – Arizona Cardinals 

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars 
I thought Arizona was completely screwed with Blaine Gabbert starting for Drew Stanton. While the Cardinals did lose the game, Gabbert actually played surprisingly well against Houston. He finished the day with 257 yards and three touchdowns, however, he all but threw the game away by throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter. The general assumption is Gabbert’s time as the starting quarterback for Arizona will be short lived once Stanton gets healthy. Regardless of who is starting this week, you’re going to want to leave them on the bench against Jacksonville. 
Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills 

Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs
I was dumbfounded by the decision of the Bills coaching staff to bench Tyrod Taylor in favor of Nathan Peterman this week. Considering the rookie completed six passes and threw five interceptions before getting pulled, it doesn’t appear that my confusion was unfounded. Taylor managed to throw for 158 yards and found the end zone twice in a complete blowout loss and should get the starting nod moving forward. After all, it’s not exactly his fault that Buffalo’s defense has given up an average of 41 points in the last three games. Taylor has some upside against a vulnerable Chiefs defense this week. 
Running backs:
LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills

Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs
LeSean McCoy owners can all breathe a little easier today after watching their stud running back get back on track. Shady had struggled mightily in the two games prior to his matchup with the Chargers as he failed to rush for more than 50 yards in either contest. He ended up rushing for 114 yards on 13 carries against Los Angeles and scored two touchdowns. While the Buffalo offense is in disarray, McCoy should at the very least provide some sort of stability to this team. He’s a solid play again this week on the road against Kansas City. 
Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings 

Matchup – Detroit Lions
I really thought this was going to be Jerick McKinnon’s job after a couple of impressive outings a few weeks back. As it turns out, Latavius Murray has other plans. After being mostly written off, Murray has been impressive in his last few outings. He’s scored four touchdowns in his last four contests and has rushed for more than 65 yards in all but one of those games. What’s infuriating about this situation is Minnesota will not commit to one of these running backs. They each see near identical carries each week, so predicting which one will have a good game is an issue. Murray has just as good a chance as his counterpart at having a big day against Detroit. 
Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins

Matchup – New York Giants 
Samaje Perine is officially the last man standing in Washington’s backfield. Rob Kelley is on injured reserve and Chris Thompson fractured his fibula against the Saints last week. The rookie looked impressive at times in his role as the featured back against New Orleans as he rumbled his way to a career high 117 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Considering he’s the only option the Redskins have, he should see as many carries as he can handle moving forward. Perine is an intriguing play against the Giants this week. 
Wide receivers:
Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers 

Matchup – Dallas Cowboys 
Well it’s about damn time. Keenan Allen has been a blip on the radar since week four against the Eagles and had only two games with more than 50 receiving yards twice during that span prior to last week. Allen exploded against the Bills and finished with 159 yards and two touchdown on 12 receptions. This is the type of performance this guy is capable of when this offense is clicking. Sure, Buffalo’s defense has been terrible in recent weeks. I’m not letting that stunt my excitement. Allen is an elite talent that can take a game over when the situation is right. I’m thinking we should see another big game from him on the road in Dallas this week. 
Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings 

Matchup – Detroit Lions
Stefon Diggs is no longer the number one receiver for this offense. That may be an obvious statement, but I still get the feeling that people aren’t taking Adam Thielen seriously. This guy has one yard shy of 300 yards in the last two games and has scored twice. Considering he had 98 yards and a score against Cleveland before Minnesota’s bye, Thielen has officially ventured into must start territory. I’m shocked at how well Minnesota is playing considering all of the adversity they’ve faced this year with injuries at key positions, but this offense is simply just getting the job done. It’s all systems go for Thielen moving forward. Don’t sit this guy. 
Rishard Matthews – Tennessee Titans 

Matchup – Indianapolis Colts
Don’t look now, but Rishard Matthews has been quietly gaining steam as the go to option in Tennessee’s passing attack. There was so much potential with this offense heading into this season. They signed Eric Decker, drafted Corey Davis, and have a perennial Pro Bowl player in Delanie Walker. Unfortunately, they’ve struggled to get much going. However, if we look at the numbers it’s clear that Marcus Mariota still favors Matthews as the veteran receiver has at least four receptions or more than 50 yards in four out the last five games. His 113 yards last week was a season high, which makes me think Matthews shoul put up big numbers against a soft Indianapolis secondary this week. 
Tight ends:
Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans 

Matchup – Indianapolis Colts 
Delanie Walker has really turned things around in the second half of this season. The veteran tight end was in a slump from weeks three through six as his highest yardage output was 51 yards. However, last week marked the marked the fourth time in four games where Walker had at least five receptions for 60 yards, and he had a season high 92 yards against the Steelers last week. He’s seemingly healthy, and it comes at a good time as we come closer to the final stretch of the season. Walker should have a field day against the Colts this week. 
OJ Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Matchup – Atlanta Falcons 
It’s rare to see a rookie tight end make a huge impact in the NFL these days. The learning curve is steep in the transition from the college game, so it generally takes a year or two for them to get heavily involved in the offense. It’s clear, however, that OJ Howard is going to be a special player in the future. He had his third best game of his young career against the Dolphins last week and vastly outperformed Cameron Brate from a fantasy standpoint. Tampa Bay looks like a team that is lost out on the field, and not having Jameis Winston is certainly having a negative impact. I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance from Howard this week, but anything can happen. 
Adam Shaheen – Chicago Bears

Matchup – Philadelphia Eagles 
I was curious to see whether or not Adam Shaheen would be able to fill the shoes of Zach Miller after his horrific leg injury. While Shaheen hasn’t exactly blown the doors off with his last two performances, he was able reel in four passes for 41 yards and a touchdown against the Lions last week. The rookie isn’t the most explosive player, but he does have the tools to make an impact in the National Football League. Considering the lack of playmakers the Bears have at pass catching positions, Shaheen could become more involved in the offense down the stretch. He’s worth a speculative add if you need help at tight end. 
Ice Cold:
Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs 

Matchup – Buffalo Bills
The Chiefs are starting to sputter after a very strong start to the season. Rookie Kareem Hunt is struggling to get much going on the ground, and this offense in general seems stagnant. Alex Smith has been up and down and is coming off his worst game of the season. He threw for 230 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions in an upsetting loss against the Giants last week. After looking like a Super Bowl contender through the first half of the season, Kansas City looks like a team on their heels. The good news is they face a Buffalo defense that’s given up an average of 41 points over the last three games. If there’s a time for Alex Smith to turn things around it’s got to be this week. 
Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders 

Matchup – Denver Broncos 
Considering Derek Carr was made the highest paid quarterback in the league at one point in the offseason, you’d think he’d at least play like it. I had huge expectations from him heading into this year, but this offense just isn’t generating much production. Carr was disappointing once again last week against the Patriots as he threw for 237 yards and one touchdown with one interception. We’re heading into week 12, and Carr has just three 20 point performances. That’s simply not very good considering the hype surrounding this team before the season. Don’t expect a turn around against Denver this week. 
Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams

Matchup – New Orleans Saints 
I expected some regression from Jared Goff last week against the Vikings, but his numbers were pretty surprising. This is the quarterback of one of the highest scoring offenses in the league, and he threw for only 225 yards in a game where he was playing from behind for a good chunk of it. Considering he threw seven touchdowns in the last two games, this was certainly a disappointing outing for the second year signal caller. I would normally look at this matchup with New Orleans and get excited about the prospect of a bounce back game. However, this Saints defense is not the punching bag they’ve been in years past. He should be serviceable, but I wouldn’t expect a huge day from Goff. 
Running backs: 
Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs 

Matchup – Buffalo Bills
I don’t know that we’ve seen another running back that has exploded onto the scene with such ferocity, and then whimpered out quite like Kareem Hunt. Like I said with Alex Smith, Kansas City is struggling on all fronts. The infuriating thing about this situation is there isn’t one aspect of the Chiefs offense that we can point out to identify the problem. Hunt had seven consecutive games with double digit scoring and at least 100 total yards. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten very close to either of those marks in the last three weeks. The hope here is that this week’s matchup against a vulnerable Buffalo defense can remedy what ails the rookie. To be honest, you’re not sitting this kid regardless of the matchup at this point. 
Adrian Peterson – Arizona Cardinals 

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars 
I’m thinking you should’ve tried trading Adrian Peterson after his first monster game in an Arizona uniform. There’s just no way he was going to be able to repeat those numbers consistently. If you held onto him, then I’m certain you should’ve flipped him after his second big game against San Francisco. Outside of those two contests, Peterson is averaging 1.7 yards per carry. That’s just plain bad. He ran the ball 14 times for 26 yards last week against the Texans, and I just don’t know how much he still has in the tank. He should be on your bench for the next two weeks when the Cardinals face the Rams and Jaguars in back to back games. 
Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Matchup – Atlanta Falcons 
I was extremely optimistic after watching Doug Martin run in his first two games on the field this season. He gained 127 yards and scored two touchdowns in his first two outings, and it appeared that the Muscle Hamster was back. However, if we fast forward a couple of weeks we all know that has not been the case. Martin has seen basically 100% of the touches out of the Buccaneers backfield but has failed to gain more than 55 yards once in the last three games. Considering how badly this offense is performing, I’m not sure we’ll see Martin break out of this slump anytime soon. If you’re playing him against Atlanta, then fingers crossed. 
Wide receivers:
Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings 

Matchup – Detroit Lions
I feel like this happens every year. Each season Stefon Diggs starts off with a bang and gets everyone excited. Then the injuries start, and we’re left wondering what exactly happened to this guy. Diggs started off the year with three games of at least 90 yards and scored four touchdowns in the first four contests. He got injured in week five against the Bears and has been mostly quiet in the three games since his return. Diggs’ four receptions for 32 yards last week was his third lowest total of the season, and he’s seemingly taken a backseat to Adam Thielen. I’m not sure you bench the guy, because he can be a dynamic player. However, don’t be shocked if he doesn’t get back on track against Detroit this week. 
Golden Tate – Detroit Lions

Matchup – Minnesota Vikings 
I’m chalking this one up as just a bad day at the office. It’s incredibly unusual that Golden Tate had an off game in a contest that saw Matt Stafford throw for nearly 300 yards. Still, Tate’s three catch, 32 yard outing was his worst game since week four of the season. Often heralded as a PPR machine, Golden Tate has been mostly consistent so far this year and had at least six receptions and 85 yards in four consecutive games heading into last week’s matchup against Chicago. Detroit faces a stout Vikings defense this week, but they’ve given up some big games to wide receivers at times. I think we see Golden Tate get back to business as usual after a down game. 
Emmanuel Sanders – Denver Broncos 

Matchup – Oakland Raiders 
Emmanuel Sanders had by far his best game of the season the week before last against New England when he caught six passes for 137 yards. It was just the fourth time all year he had surpassed 60 receiving yards, much less 100. Unfortunately, his big game did not transition to Denver’s matchup with the Bengals last week. Sanders caught two passes for only 15 yards. It’s hard to put much blame on him, however. He’s dealt with nagging injuries and subpar quarterback play for much of the season. While this week’s matchup against the Raiders does give us cause for optimism, it’s hard to feel confident in Brock Osweiler. Play Sanders at your own risk. 
Tight ends:
Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots 

Matchup – Miami Dolphins 
I know this is blasphemy in the fantasy football world, and I get it. Gronk was still the third highest scoring tight end in the league heading into last week, and he’s a dominant force most of the time. However, the tight end position has suffered this year. There simply aren’t that many big names that are very dependable these days. For example, one of Gronkowski’s best qualities is his nose for the end zone. He’s only scored five times in ten games, and his three receptions and 36 yards last week against the Raiders was a season low. I just feel like we’re missing something out of this guy. I’m probably wasting my breath here, because there’s no way you’re benching Gronk against the Dolphins. I’m just saying he’s not the guaranteed lock to score 20 points that he once was. 
Evan Engram – New York Giants 

Matchup – Washington Redskins
Well, it finally happened. Evan Engram had a bad game. I said a couple weeks ago I’m riding this kid until the wheels come off, and the wagon exploded last week against Kansas City. If we’re being honest though, this was a terrible game offensively on both sides. The rookie out of Ole Miss has been superb this season since the Giants receivers were completely wiped out a few weeks back, and he had found the end zone in four consecutive games heading into last week’s matchup against the Chiefs. I’m chalking this up as just a bad offensive game. I have no issue playing Engram this week against Washington. 
Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers

Matchup – Dallas Cowboys 
There was a time when it looked like Hunter Henry was really going to be a focal point in this offense. He had either a touchdown or at least 70 yards receiving in weeks four through seven, but he’s seemed to be an afterthought in every game since. Henry was a popular sleeper candidate heading into this season after showing flashes as a rookie, but his best game since week seven was last week against the Bills where he had two catches and 25 yards. Yikes. At this point there’s no trusting Henry’s role in the Chargers’ offense. I’d look elsewhere for production from my tight end. 

As always, please feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @No_HuddleFFB if you have any questions or concerns regarding your lineup or just want to chat about fantasy football. Best of luck this week!

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