Gus Edwards, Derek Carr and 19 more under the radar sleepers for Week 12

Gus Edwards, Derek Carr and 19 more under the radar sleepers for Week 12

In this edition of Under The Radar, I’ve selected 21 quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends you can trust in Week 12. This article incorporates advanced stats and efficiency metrics from multiple websites, including FantasyData, RotoViz, Sports Info Solutions, and Pro Football Focus to share some fascinating observations, as well as my thoughts, on these players.

Before we dive into the analysis I’d like to take a moment to wish our subscribers in the United States a happy and heartfelt Thanksgiving filled with good food and great memories (check out Derek VanRiper’s player, pie, and beer rankings if you need to get int he spirit). It’s an understatement to say that it’s been a challenging year for everyone in the world. Please continue to keep you and your families safe. As we embark on the holiday season, cultivate an attitude of gratitude and please consider, if you’re able to, giving back to others in need.


Derek Carr (20.1% Start Percentage)

(“Start Percentage” refers to the number of ESPN fantasy leagues a player is started in divided by the number of leagues he is eligible in. This helps indicate how the public views a player.)

Carr completed 23 of 31 passes for 275 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception last week against the Chiefs. He was sensational against Kansas City, finishing with a passer rating of 120. Carr’s interception was thrown on a hail mary near the end of the game. The Raiders’ offensive line did a phenomenal job protecting the veteran quarterback. Carr was only under pressure on 11 dropbacks. He’s been very productive when the Raiders have had to lean on him.

Carr is playing some of the best football of his NFL career. Did you know that he finished Week 11 as PFF’s highest-graded quarterback of the season? Carr is being protected by an excellent offensive line and is surrounded by a plethora of offensive weapons at every position. He faces a Falcons defense in Week 12 that has allowed some monster performances from opposing quarterbacks over the last five games:

Carr is firmly on the QB1 radar against the Falcons. He has the potential in this matchup to finish as a Top 5 fantasy quarterback.

Baker Mayfield (5.7% ST)

Mayfield only attempted 22 passes against the Eagles last week and this was his third consecutive game without a touchdown. To be fair, Mayfield has been playing through less-than-ideal weather conditions recently. The stellar play of the Browns defense against the Eagles resulted in Mayfield not having to do much.

The Browns continue to lean heavily on their running game. Cleveland has averaged 32 rushing attempts per game this season, which ranks third in the NFL. As you can see from the chart above this has impacted Mayfield’s fantasy production. He’s only averaged 26.5 passing attempts and 185 passing yards per game this season. The good news is that the Jaguars’ defense has allowed an average of 22 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks entering Week 12. Jacksonville’s defensive unit has allowed multiple QB1 performances over the last five games.

The Browns’ offensive line is one of the top pass-blocking units in the NFL and shouldn’t have a problem with the Jaguars’ front seven. Cleveland has the fourth-highest pass-blocking efficiency rating, according to PFF. This rating measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed. Mayfield has a favorable matchup this week against a Jaguars secondary that will be missing C.J. Henderson. He can be viewed as an upside QB2.

Daniel Jones (5% ST)

Jones completed 21 of 28 passes for 244 yards and rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles in Week 10. His fantasy production has been up and down this season.

Jones has only averaged 33.5 pass attempts and 211 passing yards this season. The second-year quarterback’s biggest asset from a fantasy perspective is his rushing ability.

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The Giants’ offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. This lack of protection has led to a high number of interceptions and turnovers from Jones. It’s worth noting that he’s played fairly well when kept clean this season. Jones has completed 157 of 213 pass attempts for 1,514 yards and five touchdowns when kept clean. He’s had a passer rating of 93 on those dropbacks.

Jones can thrive in favorable matchups — such as the one the Giants have this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati’s defense has allowed an average of 34.6 pass attempts, 22.6 completions, 375.4 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 0.8 interceptions, and 24.5 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks over its last five. Jones can be viewed as a high-end QB2 against the Bengals this week.

Philip Rivers (5.2% ST)

Rivers completed 24 of 36 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception against the Packers last week. He’s averaged 291.2 passing yards, 255 passing air yards, and two passing touchdowns per game over his last five.

The Colts have one of the top offensive lines this season. This unit has only allowed Rivers to be pressured on 24 percent of his dropbacks. It’s nice to see Indianapolis’ skill positions finally gel together. Rivers and the Colts face a banged-up Titans defense once again in Week 12. Tennessee’s defense has allowed some very good performances from quarterbacks over the last five games, including Rivers.

Running Backs

Gus Edwards (4.9% ST)

Rookie J.K. Dobbins set a season-high in offensive snaps and matched his season-high in opportunities last week against the Titans. The elated feeling that fantasy managers felt quickly turned to sorrow when Dobbins and Mark Ingram were placed on the COVID-19 list after testing positive on Sunday night. This positions Edwards to lead the Ravens backfield on Thanksgiving night Sunday. He’s only played 33 percent of Baltimore’s offensive snaps this season, averaging 9.3 opportunities per game. However, Edwards was very productive against the Steelers’ defense in Week 8.

Edwards will have the Ravens’ backfield to himself with only Justice Hill behind him challenging him for touches. He’s in a great position to accumulate 20 or more opportunities in a matchup that is projected to be low scoring and very close. The Ravens’ offensive line will have their hands full with the Steelers’ defensive line. Success for Edwards will come down to this battle in the trenches. The Ravens’ offensive line is creating 1.68 yards before contact, which ranks second among the teams playing in Week 12, according to PFF. Edwards is a plug and play low-end RB2 against the Steelers this week.

Damien Harris (36.3% ST)

Harris has been mentioned in UTR in previous weeks and continues to be a viable weekly flex option for fantasy managers. He’s averaged nearly 12 PPR fantasy points per game over the last four games. Harris has excelled as a rusher this season.

Harris continues to see a steady dose of rushing attempts on early downs and short-yardage situations. He’s only accumulated four targets all season. Running back Rex Burkhead is out for the season with a torn ACL, but Sony Michel could be active in Week 12 after being a healthy scratch last week. Harris’ workload is unlikely to change moving forward, though, as the Patriots’ lead power back. He’s running behind one of the top offensive lines in the NFL in New England. This is a unit that’s creating 1.57 yards before contact, which ranks fourth among the teams playing in Week 12, according to PFF. Harris is averaging a healthy 3.11 yards after contact per attempt. He and the Patriots face a Cardinals defense that has only allowed an average of 22 PPR fantasy points per game to running backs this season. Harris is a solid RB3, but will be more touchdown-dependent against a fast-paced Arizona team.

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Wayne Gallman (18% ST)

Devonta Freeman will be on injured reserve for at least one more game, which provides Gallman with at least one more opportunity to be the Giants’ lead back. He has been very productive for New York — and fantasy managers — over the last four games.

The Giants aren’t an offense that you want a ton of exposure to in fantasy. New York is ranked 30th in total yards per game (306) and points scored (19.5). As Lord Petyr Balish famously said, “Chaos is a ladder.” Gallman faces a Bengals defense that has allowed some productive performances from running backs over the last five games.

Gallman can be viewed as a low-end RB2 against Cinncinati in Week 12. The Giants offensive line’s quality of play all season has been very poor, but New York’s unit should be able to create running lanes against the Bengals front seven.

David Montgomery (14% ST)

Montgomery hasn’t been a difference-maker for fantasy managers this season, but the sobering reality is that few running backs could succeed behind Chicago’s offensive line. This is a unit that’s creating only one yard before contact, which ranks dead last among the teams playing in Week 12 according to PFF. It’s difficult to completely fade a running back like Montgomery who’s seeing the weekly opportunity share that Montgomery has been provided this season.

Montgomery has only 12.5 PPR fantasy points per game this season with one RB1 finish. He missed last week’s game due to a concussion. Montgomery was back at practice on Monday and is still working his way out of the concussion protocol but he’s likely to play against the Packers this week.

The Bears rank 31st in yards per attempt and run the football less often than any other team in the NFL. Montgomery is averaging 2.7 fantasy points per game less than expected as a runner this season. Did you know that Montgomery is last in the NFL in yards per rushing attempt (3.65) since entering the NFL? The matchup against the Packers this week should have you feeling optimistic about him, as Green Bay’s defense has allowed some favorable running back performances over its last five games.

And hey, Jonathan Taylor was recommended in UTR last week. Montgomery is best viewed as a high-end RB3 in Week 12. The Packers held Montgomery to 57 rushing yards on 20 attempts and 37 yards on two receptions in two games last season.

Rapid Fire

  • Salvon Ahmed has accumulated 40 opportunities over the last two games. He and the Dolphins face a Jets defense in Week 12 that has allowed an average of 26 PPR fantasy points per game to running backs this season.

Wide Receivers

Jarvis Landry (25.6% ST)

Landry only caught two passes for 23 yards last week against the Eagles. KhaDarel Hodge, on the other hand, led the Browns with 73 receiving yards on five targets. Landry’s weekly targets have been sporadic considering how heavily the Browns lean on their running game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Landry hasn’t exceeded 60 yards since Week 5. The veteran receiver has one of the most favorable cornerback matchups in Week 12 against slot cornerback D.J. Hayden. The Jaguars secondary has been bullied by top wide receiver scorers over their last five games:

Landry can be viewed as a WR3 with upside in Week 12.

Shepard caught all six of his targets for 47 yards against the Eagles back in Week 10. He’s been productive over the Giants’ last four games.

Shepard has developed a very good rapport with Jones. The second-year quarterback has a passer rating of 94.6 when targeting him. Darius Slayton (4) only has two more targets of 20 or more yards than Shepard (2) over the last four games. Shepard is in a position to go boom coming out of the Giants’ bye week against a Bengals secondary that has allowed an average of 45 PPR fantasy points per game to wide receivers over their last five games. Receivers have averaged 6.5 fantasy points per game more than expected against Cincinnati over that span. Shepard can be deployed into lineups as an upside WR3. He should be able to impose his will on Bengals cornerback LeShaun Sims.

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Marvin Jones (37% ST)

Jones is best viewed as an upside WR3 in Week 12.

Brown caught eight of 13 targets for 57 yards last week against the Rams. The veteran receiver led Tampa Bay in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in a Monday Night Football game in which quarterback Tom Brady finished with a passer rating of 62.5. Brown has accumulated 26 targets through three games with the Buccaneers. He’s seen a steady dose of receiving air yards, but has only averaged 11.2 PPR fantasy points per game.

Brady will want to bounce back with a vengeance against the Chiefs defense this week. Brown is in a perfect position to benefit against a Kansas City team that allowed Nelson Agholor (20.8) and Curtis Samuel (26.8) to prosper over the last two games. Brown is best inserted into lineups as an upside WR3. The Buccaneers and Chiefs have a Vegas total of 56 points.

Tight End Rapid Fire

  • Jordan Akins caught five of six targets for 83 yards against the Patriots last week. Those six targets were his second-highest of the season. The Texans, unfortunately, use all three of their tight ends as receivers, but Akins is my preferred option if you are really struggling at the position. The Lions defense has allowed an average of 14.4 PPR fantasy points per game to the tight end position over the last five games.
  • Jimmy Graham has averaged nearly six targets per game and should continue to be heavily involved in the Bears passing game regardless of whether Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles is under center. The only tight end with more targets than Graham inside the 20 this season (15) is Darren Waller (17).
  • Robert Tonyan has been targeted nine times over the last two games. The Bears’ defense has allowed an average of 14 PPR fantasy points per game to the tight end position.
  • The Titans view Anthony Firkser as their pass-catching tight end according to beat writers. He has 12 receptions to Jonnu Smith’s 11 over the last five games. Both tight ends have an eerily similar target number. If you are really in a bind at the tight end position then Firkser should be on your radar.
  • Jordan Reed is a viable streamer against the Rams this week as the 49ers come off their bye week. In Week 10, he was targeted 6 times.

Bringing It All Together

Would you agree that making lineup decisions in fantasy football, whether it’s season-long or DFS formats, is mind-numbing? It’s important not to second guess yourself or make baseless last-minute changes. It’s a good best practice to set your lineup the night before your matchup begins. Breaking news should be the only thing that prompts you to make changes. You may have additional lineup questions about other players and your individual rosters. Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter (@EricNMoody) so we can discuss it! And there are additional topics this weekly column can also cover: what would you like to see in future columns? With each passing week, we will have more to analyze and we’ll do that, and more, right here in Under The Radar.

(Top photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)