Fantasy Football: 3 Things We Learned in Week 12

Perhaps more than anything, fantasy football is a game of adjustments. Season-long fantasy doesn't end at the draft, and smart managers learn to take the trends and data that each week of games offers and apply it to their roster decisions moving forward.

This weekly piece will look at trends from the previous slate of games and determine which trends in snaps, usage, and matchups are actionable moving forward. Let's dive in and look at some interesting pieces of information from Week 12.

Zach Wilson Has a Long Way To Go

It's not often that a team can come away with a win but have no real positive takeaways or analysis from the game. Somehow the New York Jets found a way to do that on Sunday, beating the Houston Texans 21-14 in a battle for who gets the second pick in the 2022 draft. The Jets couldn't even get that right, somehow winning in spite of the play of their top 2021 draft pick, Zach Wilson.

In his sixth full game of the season, Wilson managed to throw for zero touchdowns, one interception and 145 yards, his lowest of the year. He also took four sacks for 36 yards lost and averaged only 6.04 yards gained per pass attempt. Thanks to solid defensive play, a random rushing touchdown by Wilson and three field goals, the Jets managed a win. But just as it has been all season, Wilson is actually hurting his team's chance to win by being on the field.

Among quarterbacks with at least 200 drop-backs this season, here are the bottom 10 in total Passing Net Expected Points (NEP).

PlayerDrop BacksPassing NEP
Zach Wilson228-43.06
Justin Fields229-31.84
Jared Goff385-22.35
Sam Darnold328-19.02
Davis Mills229-11.78
Trevor Lawrence418-11.25
Jacoby Brissett243-1.30
Daniel Jones3837.65
Baker Mayfield34114.24
Ben Roethlisberger40818.23

Wilson, of course, also holds the league's worst Passing NEP per drop-back (-0.19) and has by far the lowest Passing Success Rate (37.7%). Jared Goff is at 45.7% if that gives you any context.

With Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, Jamison Crowder and Corey Davis, the Jets have decent pieces on offense. But Wilson has been unable to unlock any of their potential or their ceilings. In redraft, Wilson is clearly waiver wire fodder expect for the deepest of Superflex leagues. And he is trending towards droppable in dynasty formats should he continue on the path Sam Darnold and Mark Sanchez blazed before him.

With Carter out injured, Moore is the only usable piece from this offense.

Good and Bad News For Antonio Gibson in the Red Zone

After a career game for Antonio Gibson on Monday night, all signs are pointing up for the running back, especially considering that J.D. McKissic left the game after taking a knee to the head and may miss some time. But for all the positives we saw in that thriller against the Seattle Seahawks, there are some signs of concern in the red zone that Gibson needs to address before he can ascend to the elite tier of running backs.

Over the past three games, Gibson has shown he can handle close to a bell-cow workload. He has averaged 24 carries per game in that span and also saw a career-high in targets Monday with seven. Fantasy managers -- particularly those in PPR formats -- were very happy with the results, but there were grumbles about the two touchdowns vultured by McKissic. And that's where we land on the good news and bad news for Gibson: his work in the red zone.

Only Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon saw more carries inside the 20 (seven) this last week than did Gibson (six). The issue is that Gibson amassed only 18 yards on those six carries and conceded the two scores to McKissic. None of Gibson's targets came in the red zone, either, which has been a consistent problem this year. In fact, Gibson ranks 48th among rushers with only two red zone targets this year. And although he ranks fourth with 34 rush attempts in that area, his 1.1 yards per rush in the red zone checks in 94th among all running backs.

Five touchdowns have boosted his fantasy numbers, but even with those scores, Gibson ranks 22nd among backs in red zone fantasy points, according to Fantasy Data.

If McKissic is out for any time, the Football Team will have no choice but to turn to Gibson when they approach the end zone, but he must improve his efficiency as he begins to ramp up the volume late in the season.

Jaylen Waddle's WR1 Role is Secure

A quick glance of the wide receivers with the most targets over the last three weeks is an unsurprising list of the elite pass-catchers and usage monsters in the league this year. Diontae Johnson, Keenan Allen, Justin Jefferson, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams lead the way. But the one name right after that group stands out: Jaylen Waddle.

Waddle has drawn 25 targets over the last three weeks for an elite 25.3% target share. His 21 receptions in that time rank fourth in the split, and he threw in a touchdown in Week 12 for good measure. But one number from Week 12 stands out above all the others: Waddle's 13.7 average yards per target.

That number is more than a yard-and-a-half higher than what he's posted in any other game this season and shows that Waddle is starting to be utilized more as a downfield threat rather than just a possession, chain-moving receiver. Waddle already had games of 12 catches for 58 yards, 10 catches for 70 yards and eight catches for 83 yards, but this latest outburst (nine grabs for 137 yards) signals a greater reliance on Waddle down the field and the leash being loosened on Tua Tagovailoa.

Tua has a completion percentage of more than 80% the past two weeks while posting his two highest single-game average yards-per-attempt marks of the season (8.12 and 8.06). With DeVante Parker and Will Fuller still out and Mike Gesicki getting just 16 targets and 67 receiving yards over the last three games, Waddle is clearly becoming the go-to target for Tagovailoa. With upcoming matchups in the next two weeks against the lowly Giants and Jets, Waddle's streak of dominant fantasy performances could push many of his fantasy managers into the playoffs.