Week 12 had some great games starting with a long overtime back on Thanksgiving between the Texans and the Lions and wrapping up with the re-emergence of the Super Bowl champs on Sunday Night Football last night. Coming into the weekend, I picked fantasy football sleepers (click here for post) and recommended grabbing some of these players if you needed lineup help.
With just the Monday night matchup left to go, here’s the top three players who over-performed their expectations at each position this week making their teams and fantasy owners happy.
Robert Griffin III-Washington Redskins: RG3 was the second highest scorer of the week in standard scoring behind only Tom Brady. He faced a Dallas secondary that hadn’t allowed more than 15 fantasy points since its bye week in week five and torched them for 28 points. He threw for 311 yards on 20/28 passing. His Thanksgiving feast of four touchdowns were even more impressive when you consider that Dallas hadn’t given up three to any other quarterback it had faced all season. Griffin was picked off once, but added 29 yards rushing in another big fantasy week for the rookie sensation.
Matthew Stafford-Detroit Lions: Stafford threw for 441 yards and a pair of touchdowns on Thanksgiving against the tough Texan defense finishing with 25 points in standard scoring. He was a top-four quarterback and has nice matchups in the coming weeks so could be back in the top tier regularly throughout the fantasy playoffs.
Russell Wilson-Seattle Seahawks: Wilson was the eighth-ranked QB in standard scoring with 224 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and 38 yards rushing in the Seahawks loss in Miami. It was Wilson’s best road total of the season and his fourth game in a row with 15 or more fantasy points. He outscored Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, and Matt Schaub as he continues to be a consistent, non-glamorous, but effective QB option especially in two-QB leagues.
Shane Vereen-New England Patriots: While Arian Foster in the top running back spot is no surprise, Vereen as they second-highest scorer in standard leagues is. In fact, Vereen is on waiver wires in over 40% of leagues. The tricky thing about projecting Vereen’s stats is the fact that his role in the Pats offense varies greatly from game-to-game. He ended up with 12 touches against the Jets Thursday night finishing with 42 rushing yards on 10 carries and adding 91 yards and a touchdown on his two catches. In blowout wins, New England is starting to use him almost evenly with Stevan Ridley meaning Vereen has value in all formats in the weeks to come. Knowing when to play him and when to have him on your bench will be the real challenge though for Vereen’s owners.
Michael Bush-Chicago Bears: Right behind Vereen in the scoring ranks, Bush came in at number three thanks to a pair of short touchdown runs and some extra work since Matt Forte left the game with an injury. He finished with 21 carries for 60 yards and will be a great pickup if Forte misses any time with his latest ankle injury. If Bush is on the wire and Forte is out, he’ll represent a great steal in all formats.
Ahmad Bradshaw-New York Giants: Bradshaw proved his doubters wrong looking fresh coming off a bye-week and tearing up the Packers for 58 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries and taking two catches for 61 more yards. He may lose goal line looks and not be a “workhorse,” but he definitely has serious value for the rest of the season as a low RB1 or high RB2.
Julio Jones-Atlanta Falcons: Jones normally wouldn’t be on this list, but some people were down on him coming into the week as he continued to battle injury. He showed against Tampa that whenever he’s active he needs to be in your lineup as he caught six passes for 147 yards including an 80-yard touchdown early in the second half. He’s a top-tier receiver when he’s right and looked close to it on Sunday which is great news for the Falcons and his fantasy owners.
Chris Givens-St. Louis Rams: Givens was the fifth-best receiver on the week in non-PPR leagues with his five catches and 115 yards and a score. He was only out-scored by Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, and Andre Johnson. Givens was the only Rams receiver to catch more than one pass and was targeted a team-high six times by Sam Bradford. Even with Danny Amendola active, Givens appeared to be the top receiving option for Sam Bradford which could lead to good things for the Wake Forest alumnus going forward.
T.Y. Hilton-Indianapolis Colts: Hilton had a pair of touchdowns Sunday to help the Colts get past the Bills. He returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give Indianapolis the early lead. On a later punt return, he got crushed and had to leave with an injury but was able to return late in the game to get a second touchdown as part of his three catches for 33 yards on three targets. Hilton is one of the young Colts weapons in the passing game and has a favorable schedule going forward so add him to your roster if you need depth at the wide receiver position.
Charles Clay-Miami Dolphins: The top scoring tight end in standard scoring wasn’t Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, or Antonio Gates. Instead in the first week in this post-Gronkowski world, it was Charles Clay of the Miami Dolphins who led the way with six catches for 84 yards and his second touchdown of the season. Clay was targeted six times including the game-tying touchdown by Ryan Tannehill. He only had seven catches for 91 yards coming into the game, so don’t expect big outputs going forward. This is most likely an outlier statistically, but monitor how the ‘Phins deploy Clay in the coming weeks.
Rob Housler-Arizona Cardinals: Housler grabbed eight passes for 82 yards on a season-high 11 targets. He had the longest reception for Arizona as well on a 28 yard play setting up the Cardinals second score early in the second quarter. The Cardinals passing game is about as inconsistent as any in the NFL right now, but Housler has four or more catches in all but one of his last four games. His one clunker was the game in Atlanta when the Cards passing game completely disappeared and he finished without a target or a catch. He’s a speculative pickup at best, but he does have upside if his rapport with Ryan Lindley continues to grow. He has yet to find the endzone and is a risky pick but he does face the Jets next week meaning he could be a solid matchup play.
Jacob Tamme-Denver Broncos: Tamme had his second solid game in a row scoring his second touchdown of the year on four catches for 48 yards. Tamme and Joel Dreessen continue to split time at the tight end position, but he’s reemerged the last two weeks as the better Bronco to own. Next week he and the Horsies host Tampa Bay who rank dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.
St. Louis Rams Team Defense: The Rams defense feasted on the Cardinals piling up points on a pair of return touchdowns by rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins, adding two more picks for a total of four turnovers, and grabbing a pair of sacks. Their big week was more about the Cards as a great matchup for opposing defenses (which should mean a nice matchup grab for the Jets D next week). In week 13, the Rams will match up with the 49ers once again and should be dropped and avoided against Colin Kaepernick.
Cleveland Browns Defense: Another nice matchup play was the Browns as they faced the fumble-prone, Charlie Batch-led Steelers. Eight turnovers and a sack later, the Browns were the number-four ranked defense in standard scoring. If you’re already looking ahead, the Steelers travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens next week.
Indianapolis Colts Defense: The Colts faced the Bills and were able to get four sacks and a turnover as well as a punt return for a touchdown. They’ve been solid at home throughout the season but face the Lions in Detroit in an unfriendly matchup next week.