Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 12

One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Derrick Henry was the RB1 in all of fantasy in half-PPR formats in 2020, but Henry himself only had three weeks as the top fantasy scorer. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may lead the league in fantasy points at their positions.

That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.

Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.

(All predictions are for half-PPR and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks.)

1. Turkey Day 12 Personnel: 3 Tight Ends Will Be Top-12 Scoring Players on Thanksgiving

Several injuries to quarterbacks, running backs, and top wideouts have taken some steam off the Thanksgiving Day slate of games in fantasy football.

Enter...the worst position in the game?

The one noticeable thing that stands out about Thursday's three games is the high-quality options we have at tight end.

Darren Waller is the cornerstone of that. The Raiders' tight end is his team's top receiver at the moment with a 24.8% target share and 32.8% air yards share. He's a great bring-back option to Dak Prescott in the highest-totaled game of the Thanksgiving slate. On the other side, Dalton Schultz saw a healthy eight targets in Week 11, and the Raiders' defense is allowing the second-most Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back to opponents (0.32) over the last three weeks.

The evening game has a pair of emerging options, as well. Buffalo's Dawson Knox led the entire team with a 25.6% target share in Week 11. As for the Saints, they unfortunately appear to have lost Adam Trautman to a knee injury, but Juwan Johnson has three touchdowns on just 16 total targets, so his single-game upside is at least present.

Admittedly, the early game has definite quarterback issues, but even so, there's a decent bet on the talent and season-long target shares of T.J. Hockenson (21.4%) and Cole Kmet (17.4%) to see a path to upside as well.

Among players anticipated to be active for the games, five of the six tight ends that will play on Thanksgiving have a top-two target share on their team. We should see a lot of looks -- including red-zone looks -- funneled their way throughout the day.

They should get fed like you and me on Thursday.

2. Trevor's Turnaround: Lawrence Posts a Top-15 Week

Things aren't great in Jacksonville.

The Jags have scored just three offensive touchdowns across the last three weeks, but that stretch includes Buffalo, Indianapolis, and San Francisco defenses that have held some merit this season. Indianapolis (13th) is the worst-ranked team of the bunch in terms of numberFire's pass-defense metrics.

The bounce-back has to happen this weekend for the Jags. They're taking on an Atlanta team that is struggling mightily on both sides of the ball. On offense, they've scored three points in two weeks with a per-play average of -0.43 NEP per play. On defense, they are tied for seventh-worst in NEP per play allowed (0.12). It all adds up to getting outscored 68-3 in a two-week span.

It's not like Trevor Lawrence hasn't shown positive signs, at times, in 2021. He eclipsed 17 fantasy points in three of his first seven games before the recent downturn. Encouragingly for the offense as a whole, James Robinson returned to a 63.6% snap rate in Week 11.

With top quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray on bye weeks, Lawrence is not a bad streaming option this week, and his rushing upside (seven games with 20-plus rushing yards) gives him the slight nod over Matt Ryan in this totally irrelevant game that should otherwise be fine for fantasy football.

3. Gask-in the Zone: The Dolphins Tailback Turns in Another RB1 Week

Myles Gaskin has been a frustrating fantasy player this season.

There were decent expectations for him to have a solid lead role for the Dolphins, and amidst injuries, poor play, and a variety of signal-callers, he hasn't been even a viable flex option for most of the year. However, things are looking up for the former Washington Husky.

In Week 11, Gaskin turned a 74.6% snap share into 23 of Miami's 30 running-back carries. He also added four targets, which totaled a season-high 31 adjusted opportunities. That was the fourth-highest mark of any NFL running back for the week.

He's a must-start this weekend against Carolina. The Panthers have allowed a 43.68% rushing success rate (14th-worst in the NFL) to opposing running backs this season. They've essentially been average, but Gaskin is on the field enough to score against average.

With his new workload, he's becoming a bonafide RB2 with RB1 upside, and as long as Malcolm Brown remains sidelined, there really seems to be no threat to that role. Duke Johnson and Patrick Laird have just five total carries this season.

4. Sunday Night Scores: Either Jarvis Landry or Rashod Bateman Find the End Zone

One of my favorite places to turn for streaming options or under-the-radar daily fantasy plays is "The Zero Club."

Typically, wideouts with sizable volume will find the endzone before the season's end. This article even freed poor Jakobi Meyers from one of the most notable cold spells in recent memory. Here are the remaining members of 2021's "Zero Club" as wideouts with 20-plus targets who have not yet scored:

NameTeamTargetsRec TDsTDs Per Target
Laviska ShenaultJAC6200.00
Amon-Ra St. BrownDET4800.00
Jarvis LandryCLE4300.00
Sammy WatkinsBAL3900.00
Quez WatkinsPHI3800.00
Kadarius ToneyNYG3600.00
Rashod BatemanBAL3400.00
Adam HumphriesWSH3200.00
Julio JonesTEN3100.00
Jerry JeudyDEN2800.00

When examining this, I found it interesting that the two of the highest-quality pass catchers (sorry, Laviska Shenault) were facing off in primetime this weekend. Both Cleveland's Jarvis Landry and Baltimore's Rashod Bateman could be in line for their first receiving touchdown of the season on Sunday night.

Landry actually had a rushing touchdown in Week 11, so he's not sitting on a total goose egg. He's the Browns' top pass-catcher -- for whatever that is worth. Landry has run a team-high 80.2% of Cleveland's routes since Odell Beckham was released, and he's seen a 23.1% target share in that time. He's a low-end flex consideration with upside if Cleveland faces a negative game script and is forced to raise their passing volume.

Bateman should get Lamar Jackson back under center, assuming Jackson's illness subsides. With Tyler Huntley at -0.13 Passing NEP per drop back this season, Lamar's return can't come soon enough. Bateman has a 17.6% target share in four games since returning from injury, but that could get larger if Marquise Brown (thigh) ends up being forced to miss Week 12. Either way, Bateman has seen 34 targets in just four games, so his volume has been decent with or without "Hollywood."

For fun, this pick is that one of them exits "The Zero Club" in a game with a respectable 46.5-point total.

5. Houston, We Have No Problem: The Texans Post A Third Consecutive Top-Five D/ST Week

After the Houston Texans' defense was blasted for 29.0 points per game in the first four weeks, many expected they'd be a target for fantasy football all season.

In a bizarre 2021 with plenty of poor defenses, they're actually...not too bad?

Week 11's battering of Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill -- in which Houston forced five turnovers -- came just a game after the Texans also posted five turnovers against Miami's Jacoby Brissett. Next on the docket? They host the lowly New York Jets.

Admittedly, the Jets surged way beyond expectation with Joe Flacco at the helm. Flacco averaged 0.24 Passing NEP per drop back against the formidable-but-beatable Dolphins' defense. There's a chance he does well versus the Texans, as well, but there are several factors to monitor.

First, Zach Wilson is nearing a return to play. It may not come this week, but once the rookie is physically cleared, he will likely vault back into the starting job. That's good news for the opposing defense; Wilson leads the NFL with 1.83 turnover-worthy plays per game.

Second, the Jets will be without offensive catalyst Michael Carter this week. Carter injured his ankle and will miss several weeks. That's a huge blow to whichever signal-caller gets the nod.

The prediction is that the Texans put together a third straight solid defensive performance.