While there’s zero chance he will sit out Week 12, fantasy owners should think twice about starting San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The five-time Pro Bowler said Wednesday he was banged up, and the Chargers listed him as a full participant in practice despite a chest injury.
Still there’s been a noticeable drop-off in Rivers production the last few weeks, and as such the Chargers have lost three of their last four games. Rivers started off red-hot, looking like the same player who led the league in completion percentage last season with 15 touchdowns to two interceptions through the first six games of the season, including two games with 300-plus yards.
But over the last four games Rivers has thrown as many interceptions (6) as touchdowns and San Diego’s offense has gone from averaging 27.3 points per game to 13.5. The schedule might have something to do with it, facing AFC West rival and rising defense Kansas City in Week 7, then trips to Denver and Miami. The only victory came against Oakland, and Rivers didn’t have to do much because the Raiders own the worst offense in the league.
In Week 12, Rivers again faces a very tough defense in the St. Louis Rams, who just bumped off Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Throw in the fact that Rivers has the No. 29 rushing game in the league backing him up, and it could be a very difficult game for Rivers and fantasy owners.
Some better quarterback options this week include San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. Cutler seems like a poor choice given his six interceptions in the last four games, but he has a far better matchup in Tampa Bay’s No. 30 pass defense than Rivers. He also has far more weapons in Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall.
Kaepernick also has a favorable matchup in Washington, who’s surrendered the fourth most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season according to Yahoo!. He’s thrown more than one touchdown in only three games this season, but the Redskins have allowed 20 touchdowns through the air, tied for the fourth-worst mark in the league.
Ryan’s a solid third choice against Cleveland’s No. 10-ranked secondary, given his touchdown-to-interception ratio of 17-to-8 on the season and that he’s playing at home. Cleveland’s 2-2 on the road this year, and have surrendered five passing touchdowns away.
Another option before Ryan this week is Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. Like both Rivers and Ryan, Flacco’s cooled from his awesome start five games into the season, but he’ll face New Orleans No. 24-ranked pass defense and his No. 1 receiver Steve Smith has torched the Saints for 10 touchdowns in his career, the most against any team.
Now let’s turn to some running backs and wide receivers owners should contemplate starting and sitting in Week 12. Remember, always start and sit at your own discretion.
RBs To Start/Sit
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Foster’s injured groin is a major concern. It’s a shame because he was having such an incredible year with 822 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games. While he’s expected to return this week after sitting out against Cleveland, owners should hesitate. This is the same guy that missed eight games last year with various injuries, and with Alfred Blue playing well the Texans will pull back Foster if anything flares up.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
Jennings' return from a month-long hiatus was underwhelming with 59 yards off 18 carries. But much of that falls on Eli Manning’s five-pick performance. This week he’ll meet a Dallas D that’s No. 13 in rushing yards allowed, but has let up nine rushing TDs. Dallas also has some injury concerns along the defensive line and linebacker. Jennings could have a big game this week.
C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
Another running back that owners will start simply because he plays behind Peyton Manning? Maybe not. Anderson’s second on the team with 201 rushing yards, but hasn’t rushed into the end zone this season. He also faces Miami’s No. 8 rush defense. A better option might be rookie Juwan Thompson, who can vulture a touchdown from Anderson in the red zone.
WRs To Start/Sit
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
The comeback starts this week, and even though he’s sat out the first 10 games of the season Gordon is still one of the top five receivers in the game based off talent alone. He really couldn’t ask for a better matchup in his return. Gordon lines up against Atlanta’s No. 32 pass defense this week.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
Last week he faced a terrorizing Cardinals secondary and was held to two catches for 41 yards, both season-lows. Next up is trip to New England against the likes of Darrelle Revis. It’s a difficult choice to leave Tate on the bench , but if you have any of the amazing rookie wide outs like Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans or Odell Beckham Jr., consider them over Tate.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Evans emerging as the No. 1 receiver, and inconsistent quarterback play, Jackson’s put up decent numbers for PPR leagues, but he hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 4. Still Evans could draw most of Chicago’s attention this week, opening up some big lanes for Jackson. The Bears are ranked No. 25 against the pass, and have allowed 37 plays of 20-plus yards and nine more of 40-plus yards.
Week 12 Sleepers
Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago Bears
In his second year out of Washington State, Wilson was targeted four times last week, snagging two for 11 yards. He’s a long-shot in Week 12, but if Tampa Bay can somehow contain Jeffery and Marshall, Wilson is another big target in the red zone for Cutler, standing 6-foot-4.
Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos
Might seem crazy he’s listed as a sleeper, but Denver’s really pulled back his production this year with Emmanuel Sanders getting most of the looks from the slot. But with Sanders’ status unknown, Welker could get in the end zone for the first time since Week 7.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
With Allen Robinson out, Hurns and Cecil Shorts II should get the majority of the targets for the rest of the season. Hurns was elevated from questionable to healthy after he sustained a concussion. Say what you will about the Jags offense and quarterback Blake Bortles, but Hurns is still tops on the team with five touchdowns and meets a Colts secondary that’s allowing 262.9 passing yards per game.