The Predictalator has run every Week 12 2014 NFL game 50,000 times. Below we present the up-to-date top three at each fantasy position for the week, a sleeper likely to have a breakout game (generally chosen as the best $/FP value on daily fantasy sites), a player to avoid (the worst $/FP value) and some injury situations to monitor heading into the week. Also, check out free projections for every player in every future week in our Rest of Season Fantasy Football Rankings.
1. Andrew Luck 32.3 (IND vs. JAC) – Luck averages almost six more points (a touchdown) this week than any other player - and with good reason. In five career games against the Jaguars, Luck has averaged 31.3 fantasy points, which is almost identical to his projection in this game.
2. Aaron Rodgers 26.6 FPs (GB @ MIN) – Rodgers are Luck are the clear top two fantasy quarterbacks for the rest of the season and will likely be among the top three projected scorers every remaining week through the fantasy playoffs. Rodgers has been amazing this season, averaging 31.2 fantasy points since the team's opening week loss to the defending champion Seahawks.
3. Jay Cutler 26.0 FPs (CHI vs. TB) – Cutler may not be elite quarterback for non-fantasy football and he is not even a must-start each week in fantasy football, but a great matchup (Buccaneers have bottom five pass defense), lack of significant weather issues in Chicago and some tough matchups for other QBs (like Peyton Manning playing top ranked Miami pass defense) leads to a top three ranking for Cutler. This is just the second matchup all season for Cutler against a bottom ten pass defense. Previously, at Atlanta, he put up 381 yards passing.
Breakout Candidate: Eli Manning 22.4 FPs (NYG vs. DAL) - Touchdowns do three times as much good as interceptions do harm. Remember that when it comes to a juicy Eli Manning matchup.
Must Avoid: Michael Vick 13.4 FPs (NYJ @ BUF?) – No matter where this game is played, Michael Vick should be avoided. The Bills have a balanced defensive team that should limit the run and the pass and they like to slow the game way down offensively.
1. DeMarco Murray 19.5 FPs (DAL @ NYG) – Murray is back and rested after the bye week. Facing the Giants, who allow the most yards-per-play in the NFL, we project the Dallas running back to top all other rushers en route to more than 100 yards on the ground (again) and almost 150 yards total.
2. Arian Foster 19.0 FPs (HOU vs. CIN) – This ranking comes with a big asterisk. When Foster has played, he has averaged almost 30 touches and has at least 110 total yards in all but one game. If he suits up, the Texans will do everything they can to feed him. That is a big "if" after he missed last week's game and has not been practicing fully this week (more on this situation below).
3. Rashad Jennings 17.5 FPs (NYG vs. DAL) – Jennings is helped here by this ranking only considering Sunday and Monday running backs, but this is still the first time all season he has been top five at his position in standard scoring leagues. A close shootout between two teams with terrible defenses and no weather issues to worry about means that just about all Cowboys and Giants should be started for Sunday night. Jennings should top 100 yards rushing for the second time this season. On the year, he has averaged 21 touches for 95.3 total yards per start.
Breakout Candidate: Jerick McKinnon 14.1 FPs (MIN vs. GB) - This may be the only week McKinnon has this kind of value, yet it's tremendous value given that he ranks in the top ten at his position in fantasy points. Matt Asiata is hurt and the team just acquired Ben Tate midweek to be McKinnon's backup. He is by far the most efficient player the team has (active) at the position and should shine against a Packers' run defense that struggles.
Must Avoid: Jonas Gray 8.2 FPs (NE vs. DET) – Despite his 200+ yard, four touchdown performance last week, Gray ranks just 30th this week at RB in standard scoring leagues and 38th in PPR leagues. The Lions, New England's opponent, have the best run defense in the league. Gray is not a receiving threat and the team just added LeGarrette Blount back to the roster to compete with Gray for short-yardage carries. His entire career may have already peaked. Shane Vereen is ranked ahead of Gray in all formats.
1. Demaryius Thomas 15.5 FPs (DEN vs. MIA) – Thomas is usually featured in the top three receivers each week. That was in jeopardy with the Dolphins number one ranked pass defense. However, with Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both ailing, Thomas becomes even more of a factor in the Broncos' pass offense.
2. Jordy Nelson 14.3 FPs (GB @ MIN) – Jordy averages 21.4 PPR points a game and has at least ten PPR fantasy points in all but one game on the year.
3. Jeremy Maclin 13.3 FPs (PHI vs. TEN) – Many jumped off of the Maclin when Jordan Matthews starred in Mark Sanchez's first start for the Eagles, but Maclin is still the star in Philadelphia's passing attack. Last week, he was targeted 11 times and had nine catches plus a touchdown. He now has double-digit targets in six games and five TDs in his last four contests.
Breakout Candidate: Marques Colston 11.0 FPs (NO vs. BAL) – Two injuries mean everything here. First, for the Saints, Brandin Cooks was put on IR. Cooks had been second in the team in targets and receptions. He also played a lot out of the slot, which is a comfortable and productive spot for Colston. Also, Jimmy Smith, the Ravens top corner, is out for the year. In the two games he has missed, the top wide receiver on the opposing team has combined for 15 catches on 21 targets for 197 yards and a touchdown (and one of those quarterbacks was Zach Mettenberger in his second career start).
Must Avoid: Doug Baldwin 5.9 FPs (SEA vs. ARI) – The Predictalator loved the value in Baldwin heading into the game against St. Louis immediately after Percy Harvin was let go by the Seahawks and alternative options were not yet ready or active. Since that game, Baldwin has not reached double digit targets or top 61 receiving yards. This week, he ranks #58 at his position as Seattle faces one of the best overall secondaries in the league.
1. Rob Gronkowski 12.3 FPs (NE vs. DET)
2. Coby Fleener 12.0 FPs (IND vs. JAC)
3. Jimmy Graham 11.7 FPs (NO vs. HOU)
Breakout Candidate: Niles Paul 5.0 FPs (WAS @ SF)
Must Avoid: Charles Clay 5.1 FPs (if he plays, MIA @ DEN)
1. Adam Vinatieri 10.5 FPs (IND vs. NE)
2. Phil Dawson 10.7 FPs (SF vs. WAS)
3. Cody Parkey 10.0 FPs (PHI vs. TEN)
Breakout Candidate: Randy Bullock 9.2 FPs (HOU vs. CIN)
Must Avoid: Brandon McManus 5.7 FPs (DEN vs. MIA)
1. Buffalo Bills 12.1 FPs (BUF vs. NYJ)
2. San Francisco 49ers 10.9 FPs (SF vs. WAS)
3. New England Patriots 8.6 FPs (NE vs. DET)
Breakout Candidate: Green Bay Packers 8.0 FPs (GB @ MIN)
Must Avoid: Arizona Cardinals 3.9 FPs (ARI @ SEA)
Injuries to Watch
1. Arian Foster - Foster occupied this space last week. If he plays, he is a top three performer at running back taking on a porous Bengals' run defense. If he misses the game, Alfred Blue is a top ten play as the clear lead, feature back in his place.
2. Josh Gordon - Gordon is not injured, yet his ascension to the Browns' starting lineup after a ten game suspension should be fun to watch. Gordon averaged 117 yards receiving a game last year. Even though this team has a new offensive coordinator, running backs and, save for three starts early last year, quarterback, weekly top 20 productivity should be seen. It's worth noting that Gordon's new coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, had the leader in receptions on his offense last year in Washington (Pierre Garcon).
3. Returning Backs - Gio Bernard is practicing in full and Ryan Mathews is off the injury report altogether after his return to action last week. Bernard, Mathews, Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati's starter while Bernard was out) and Branden Oliver (San Diego's replacement while Mathews was out) are all worth consideration as starts this week (ranking between 12-34 at RB in all formats). Unfortunately, assuming both players for each team are healthy, neither player should come close to reaching his previous peak fantasy productivity.
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