Fantasy managers don’t (or at least shouldn’t) need help with the obvious choices at receiver each week. Barring the first sign of an apocalypse, players such as Tyreek Hill and Amon-Ra St. Brown should be in starting lineups every single week.
Decisions get a bit tougher after that, and that is where I hope to help by providing a reason or two why we can trust certain WR3 or WR4 types that usually end up deciding fantasy matchups. Below are a few receivers who could post fantasy week-winning performances and a few other wideouts who are generally considered weekly starters that might disappoint:
Fantasy Football Week 12 Start’Em Wide Receivers
1] Josh Downs, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Downs was the overall WR13 on a fantasy points-per-game basis from Weeks 5-8 – a stretch that marked the end of Anthony Richardson‘s season in Week 5 and began Gardner Minshew’s reign as the full-time starting quarterback on Indianapolis’ depth chart. The rookie receiver then popped up on the Week 9 injury report with a knee injury that has bothered him since OTAs and has scored a mere six fantasy points since.
Mutual causality is likely at play here, so the team’s Week 11 bye likely served Downs well. As luck would have it, the Colts’ first post-bye matchup is against a Tampa Bay defense that may not have its top two corners (Jamel Dean has been ruled out and Carlton Davis is listed as questionable) and has surrendered 14-plus PPR fantasy points to seven receivers over the last four games. Even better for Downs is that the Bucs have allowed more fantasy points to slot receivers than any other team.
Our Start/Sit Optimizer projects a return of 9.9 points for Downs this week.
2] Khalil Shakir, Buffalo Bills (@ Philadelphia Eagles)
While Shakir has yet to establish a dependable role in Buffalo’s offense, there are a few reasons why fantasy managers should be excited to play him. He logged a season-high 56 snaps in the team’s first game under new OC Joe Brady and rewarded the team’s faith in him with 115 yards and a touchdown against a stout Jets’ secondary. Another reason managers should consider starting him in deeper leagues is that he has led the team in receiving yardage in two of the last four games.
The Bills will almost certainly need to rely heavily on Josh Allen‘s right arm to keep up with the Eagles’ offense this weekend, so opportunity should not be a problem for any Buffalo receiver. Another factor working in the Bills’ favor is that Philadelphia’s pass defense has surrendered at least 12.3 PPR fantasy points to 19 receivers. With Gabe Davis becoming increasingly boom-or-bust, no one should be surprised if Shakir and Stefon Diggs both feast on the Eagles’ secondary.
Other potential strong start(s):
Demario Douglas, New England Patriots (While uncertainty at quarterback makes Douglas a bit of a risky low-upside option, he has earned at least seven targets and recorded five catches in three straight games. This week, he faces a Giants’ secondary that ranks as the fourth-most forgiving defense for fantasy wideouts.)
Fantasy Football Week 12 Sit’Em Wide Receivers
1] DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans (vs. Carolina Panthers)
There was one glorious day in Week 8 in which Hopkins torched the Falcons for 128 yards and three touchdowns in Will Levis‘ first career start. Hopkins has compiled 146 yards and a TD in three games after that. While his targets have remained relatively constant (eight per game over the last three), opponents have largely been able to contain Tennessee’s offense. Part of the explanation for that lies in Hopkins’ woeful 41.7 percent catch rate over the last three contests.
The Panthers have not been good in a lot of areas this season, but they have been among the best at slowing down passing games – due in part to their inability to stay competitive long enough to force teams to throw more often.
Given Tennessee’s recent ineptitude of sustaining offense, it seems unlikely that the Titans will try to tempt fate by testing a secondary that has held Michael Pittman Jr., D.J. Moore and CeeDee Lamb below their season scoring average in recent weeks.
2] Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns (@ Denver Broncos)
Cooper has played in 10 games, finishing with at least 89 yards receiving in six of them and fewer than 34 in the other four. That only tells part of the story of his inconsistency. In the six games Deshaun Watson started at quarterback before going on IR, Cooper averaged five catches for 83.7 yards and scored both of his touchdowns. In the two games started by rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, he has totaled five catches and 50 scoreless yards.
While the transition from a veteran to a rookie quarterback makes the significant drop in production somewhat understandable, it seems unlikely Cleveland will open up its offense much – if at all – versus the Broncos this week. Only three receivers have scored double-digit PPR fantasy points against Denver since Week 4. (Rashee Rice’s 11.2 points are the most.) Included in the group of single-digit scorers: Garrett Wilson, Stefon Diggs and Jordan Addison.
Other potential weak start(s):
Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos (Jeudy is enough of a “name” that some fantasy managers still feel as though they should start him, but his top PPR effort this season was 13.1 points in Week 2. He now faces a Cleveland defense that has allowed that total to only four receivers this season and ranks as the second-stingiest defense for fantasy wideouts.)