Matt Schaub (Houston Texans, Week 12: @ Detroit, FantasyPros.com rank: 15, My rank: 7)
So Schaub goes off for 500+ yards and 5 touchdowns and he doesn’t crack the top 10 in the expert average this week? Well, he must have a terrible matchup, right? Wrong! Schaub faces the Lions who have the 5th worst pass defense according to footballoutsiders.com.
The other reason I like Schaub is my wariness of Arian Foster. He’s pretty widely considered to be one of, if not the, best running back in the game. But of the 44 qualified backs, Foster is 42nd in yards after contact and 42nd in missed tackles forced per touch. And he’s averaging three less carries per game in his last five games and roughly half a yard less per carry.
Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 12: @ Atlanta, FantasyPros.com rank: 12, My rank: 9)
Jaaaaaaaash Freeman is 7th in fantasy points among QBs, 5th in yards per attempt, and 10th in NFL QB rating. The matchup isn’t great, but Freeman has established himself as a must start.
Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions, Week 12: vs. Houston, FantasyPros.com rank: 9, My rank: 14)
Stafford is 22nd in both yards per attempt and NFL QB rating. And his opponent, the Texans, have the 4th best pass defense according to footballoutsiders.com. They are also top ten in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Ronnie Hillman (Denver Broncos, Week 12: @ Kansas City, FantasyPros.com rank: 19, My rank: 17)
Your guess is as good as mine as to whether Hillman is any good. But regardless of talent, Hillman has a couple things working in his favor. First, the matchup. Kansas City allows the 6th most fantasy points to RBs and has the 25th ranked run defense according to footballoutsiders.com. And second, the Denver offensive line is an above average run blocking unit (12th in adjusted line yards). So, Hillman may be able to produce in week 12 whether he has much talent or not.
Mikel Leshoure (Detroit Lions, Week 12: vs. Houston, FantasyPros.com rank: 20, My rank: 23)
Leshoure is 36th out of 44 qualified backs in yards after contact and dead last in missed tackles forced per touch. Despite a seeming lack of talent, Leshoure has had three nice fantasy games in his eight games as the starter. However, two of those three good games came against teams that currently rank 4th and 5th in most fantasy points allowed to RBs. But the Texans are no such soft matchup as they allow the second fewest fantasy points to RBs.
Torrey Smith (Baltimore Ravens, Week 12: @ San Diego, FantasyPros.com rank: 25, My rank: 19)
The Chargers are tied for the most touchdowns allowed to receivers this year. Look for Smith to bounce back in a decent matchup.
Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants, Week 12: vs. Green Bay, FantasyPros.com rank: 17, My rank: 23)
The Giants passing game has been an absolute mess. In their five games preceding their week 11 bye, the Giants failed to top 200 yards through the air in four of them. And the only time they topped 200+ yards was against a Redskins team that has allowed the 4th most passing yards. You could certainly make the argument that this is the week that Eli and company turn it around against an injured Green Bay secondary that has been middle-of-the-pack when healthy. But there’s probably too much risk involved to rely too heavily on any member of the New York passing game.
Dustin Keller (New York Jets, Week 12: vs. New England, FantasyPros.com rank: 14, My rank: 9)
This is a pure matchup play. New England has allowed 50+ yards to tight ends in nine of their ten games, ranks 4th in most fantasy points allowed to TEs, and has allowed the third most touchdowns to tight ends.
Antonio Gates (San Diego Chargers, Week 12: vs. Baltimore, FantasyPros.com rank: 7, My rank: 11)
Gates has hit double digit fantasy points in three of his ten games, but he has had five or less in the other seven. And of 39 eligible tight ends, Gates ranks 32nd in yards per pass route run.
Sneaky D/ST Start
Carolina Panthers D/ST (Week 12: @ Philadelphia)
Only one defense is owned in fewer ESPN leagues (1.1%) than the Panthers, but they rank 8th in team defense according to footballoutsiders.com’s DVOA. Their strength is their secondary, and they could give Nick Foles fits. If McCoy misses the game, the matchup gets even better for Carolina.
Written by Brett Talley exclusively for thefantasyfix.com. If you have any further questions about this particular topic, feel free to ask him on Twitter (@TheRealTAL) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.