Week 12: Start 'Em
Bye weeks are finally over and we are into the final weeks of the fantasy regular season. For most, the next few weeks will tell where you finish and if you make the playoffs or not. While it's always important to pay attention to match-ups, make sure to keep starting the guys who have been producing for you week in and week out. Despite the fact that bye weeks are over, most teams are dealing with injuries and since the trade deadline has passed in many leagues they will be forced to look to their bench for help with their starting lineup. If you're one of those of teams and are looking for help, take a look below.
You would have to think the Raiders are happy with the trade they made for Carson Palmer. So far so good for Palmer, he is 2-1 as a starter and in those three games he has put up very solid fantasy games passing for 795 yards, 6 passing touchdowns and even rushed for a TD last week. Palmer looks like he has his arm strength back and despite not having a legit #1 (maybe not even a #2) each week, he has another guy who steps up for him and makes plays. This week Palmer has a good match-up vs. the Bears, who are giving up the 3rd most passing yards per game in the league, at 270 per game. Look for another solid fantasy game out of Palmer. If you have injury issues at QB and are not sure who to start, Palmer is your man.
After taking over early in 2007, Ryan Grant had been a starter for the Green Bay Packers until getting injured in the first game of the 2010 season. By the time he returned this season, the Packers had already won the Super Bowl and James Starks had proven his value to the team. While Grant starts the games, he gives way early in games to Starks and hasn't rushed for over 30 yards since week 3. Starks left midway through the last game and is dealing with knee and ankle injuries. With the Packers playing on Thanksgiving, look for them to be cautious and sit Starks out. If that's the case, Grant makes for a great start. He faces the 5th worst rush defense and in the only game this season with more than 10 carries he rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries. Check out Starks' availability and if he does indeed sit out then make sure you start Grant.
When the Lions drafted Kevin Smith in the 3rd round of the 2007draft, they were probably hoping he would have his best game before week 11 of the 2011 season. Smith had a very solid rookie season in 2007 playing in all 16 games, but he only managed to stay healthy for 19 games the last two seasons and wasn't on an NFL roster 3 weeks ago. With starting tailback Jahvid Best out for who knows how much longer with concussion issues, the Lions were looking for someone to replace the useless Mo Morris. They loved what they saw in Smith in his tryout and he finally broke out vs. the brutal Panthers defense last week for 140 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns and 61 yards on 4 receptions and a touchdown. He won't replicate those career numbers again this week, but he doesn't have to in order to be a useful fantasy player. Give Smith a start this week.
The Bills drafted CJ Spiller with their 9th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft with obvious expectations that they were getting an elite offensive player. So far that hasn't happened. Despite being given every opportunity to start over the past two years, he has been unable to pass Marshawn Lynch and then Fred Jackson on the depth chart. This past week the Bills, who are already thin at WR, lost Donald Jones for the next 3-6 weeks due to injury. Fred Jackson didn't finish the game either and may not be ready to play in week 12. Spiller will definitely be counted on to play more and with a lack of playmakers available, look for the Bills to do what they can to get the ball in Spiller's hands. So if he plays running back or receiver (or most likely a combo of both), he makes for good flex start this week.
Nothing cures going through a horrible three game stretch for a running back like facing the St. Louis Rams, who are giving up a league worst 148 yards per game on the ground. Wells has been inconsistent at best, dealing with his ongoing knee issues and mostly sub par play. Wells is really not one of my favorite players (as you are never sure if he will finish a game), but going into week 12 Wells seems to be as healthy as he has been all year and probably as healthy as he will ever be. With very questionable play from their quarterbacks, look for Arizona to give Wells a bigger workload this week in this above average match-up. For this reason, Wells is worthy of a start as a RB2 or a flex.