2014 Fantasy Football Week 12 Start'em, Sit'em

Raiders second-year running back Latavius Murray had just four carries (like the previous week), but he was doing damage to the Chiefs run defense before leaving the game with a concussion.

Despite getting only four carries, Murray racked up 112 yards and scored two touchdowns for a total of 23.2 fantasy points -- or 5.8 fantasy points per carry. Those were the first two rushing touchdowns allowed by the Chiefs defense this season.

His total (23.2 points) would have been a top-five finish for a running back in each of the first 11 weeks of the season.

Assuming he is cleared from his concussion in time for Week 13, Murray should see a much larger workload and will be a must-start against the Rams.

Looking ahead to the rest of this week's games, however, here are some players to consider starting this week:

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (vs. TB)

Cutler has too many turnovers (12 interceptions and five lost fumbles) this season, but that hasn't kept him from being a productive fantasy quarterback. While there has been some week-to-week inconsistency, Cutler has finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of 10 weeks this season and currently ranks eighth in fantasy points at the position. The Bucs have allowed 266.1 passing yards per game, third-worst in the NFL, and 20 passing touchdowns (only three teams have allowed more). Cutler is a top-six option for me this week.

QB - Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CHI)

The other starter in this game (and for the Bears last year) has the potential to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback this week as well. In fact, McCown has now finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks since taking over as the team's starter again. McCown has thrown for a minimum of 288 yards and two scores in each of the past two games and the Bears have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

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RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

While DeMarco Murray has a great matchup against the Giants, Jennings is a solid RB1 for this week as well. Returning last week from a Week 5 knee injury, Jennings had 22 touches against the 49ers. Although he totaled only 67 yards from scrimmage, the 49ers are one of the league's stingiest defenses to running backs. This week's matchup is more favorable as the Cowboys allow 4.85 rushing yards to opposing running backs. Only the Giants (5.03) and Chiefs (5.00 through Week 11) allow a higher YPC to RBs. Since he can't play his own team and the Chiefs have already played this week, there isn't a better possible matchup for him this weekend on a YPC-allowed basis.

RB - Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

With his strong start to the 2014 season, the loss of Ahmad Bradshaw is a devastating blow to the Colts offense. Bradshaw was averaging 4.72 YPC, 3.8 receptions per game and had a total of eight touchdowns in 10 games. Now the Colts will rely even more on a generally inefficient Richardson, who was already averaging more than 15 touches per game. In a game where the Colts are favored by two touchdowns, however, T-Rich should get a high volume of work with the potential for a few goal-line opportunities.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (at ATL)

By waiving Ben Tate, who was signed in free agency to be the bellcow back, it further (or more clearly) opens more consistent opportunities for the team's two rookie running backs. While Crowell's grip on the top spot on the depth chart is not a lock, he led the team in carries last week and is the most talented back on the roster in my view. Either way, I would expect double-digit carries for both Crowell and Terrance West this week and they have a favorable matchup against the Falcons, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ)

It's crazy that Buffalo has had as much snow as most cities get the entire winter BEFORE Thanksgiving. And while it's unfortunate that the Bills won't be able to play in front their home fans, the move out of the elements to a controlled environment (dome) in Detroit could actually benefit Watkins. Watkins has had back-to-back quiet outings (4/27 and 3/32), but he had a monster 3/157/1 line the prior game, which was the first time he faced the Jets.

WR - Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (at ATL)

Last year, Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the season and ended up leading the NFL in receiving. With a much longer suspension this year, that obviously won't happen again, but Gordon has the skill set that puts him back into the WR1 (top 12) conservation beginning with his first game back. There are a few concerns (not necessarily being in "football shape" and the expectation that he'll play about half of the offensive snaps), but he has dominant physical tools and the team has one of the weakest receiving corps if you exclude him. While better days should be ahead compared to this week, he's still a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 for this week.

[Related: The Browns selected a WR with one of their two first-round picks in my 2015 NFL Mock Draft.]

WR - Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CHI)

It's been a phenomenal three-game run for Evans as he has posted a 7/100/1 (or better) line in each game. Last week, he had more than 200 yards and two scores. Over the past three weeks, no receiver has more fantasy points than Evans in total or on a per-game basis and he has become a must-start option the rest of the way.

WR - Odell Beckham, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

With the exception of Week 6, Beckham has finished as a top-24 fantasy wide receiver in five of his six NFL games. And although he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 7, when he scored two touchdowns against this week's opponent, ODB has 21 catches for 357 yards on 33 targets over the past three weeks.

TE - Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

Not only did Dwayne Allen leave last week's game early with an ankle injury, but he has already been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jaguars. That should create more opportunities for Fleener, who finished last week with seven catches for 144 yards, both of which were season highs. The Colts feature the tight end position heavily as no position group has caught a larger share of Andrew Luck's touchdown passes this season. The Jags have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season and Fleener had 4/49/1 against them in his first matchup with a healthy Allen.

TE - Larry Donnell, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

Although he lost two fumbles in the first game against the Cowboys, Donnell also finished with seven receptions for a career-high 90 yards in Week 7. In his past four games going back to the Cowboys game, Donnell has a minimum of six targets in each game and he has scored in two of the past three weeks. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

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Here are some players to consider keeping on your fantasy bench(es):

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at NE)

Drafted as a top-six fantasy quarterback in virtually all leagues, Stafford has been a disappointment as he currently ranks 14th among quarterbacks in fantasy points. In the past six weeks, Stafford has finished outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks four times and was barely inside the top 12 the other two games (QB12 in Week 8 and QB9 in Week 10). In a relatively difficult matchup, Stafford is just outside my top 12 at No. 13.

QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. STL)

In the first six weeks of the season, Rivers finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback five times and he was a top-six quarterback four times. Since then, however, Rivers has finished outside the top 12 in four consecutive starts. During that four-game stretch, Rivers has averaged 197 passing yards per game and has posted a mediocre 6:6 TD-to-INT ratio during that span.

RB - Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ)

After sitting out last week's game, Jackson will return to the field on Monday, but he's probably better off remaining on your bench. The Jets rank fourth in the league in run defense (83.2 YPG) and only the Lions and Broncos are giving up fewer YPC. In addition, the Jets have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (vs. DET)

What Gray did in Week 11 was amazing! Not only did he rush for 201 yards, but he scored four touchdowns and finished as the week's highest-scoring fantasy running back. Fast forward one week, Gray has a brutal matchup against the Lions, who lead the NFL in rush defense (68.8 YPG). Other factors are also working against Gray this week as the Patriots have brought back running back LeGarrette Blount and Gray overslept and was sent home after showing up late for practice on Friday.

RB - Chris Ivory, New York Jets (at BUF)

Ivory had four consecutive top-24 outings to start the season, but things have been much less consistent since then. In the past six games, Ivory has finished as the RB45, RB58, RB8, RB9, RB50 and RB35. Coincidentally, the RB9 was his first matchup against the Bills, but it's unlikely that he scores two touchdowns like he did in the first matchup. In that game, he carried the ball 13 times for just 43 yards.

WR - Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (vs. BAL)

It's been a hugely disappointing season for Colston, who has just one touchdown on the season. In addition, Colston has finished as a top-30 wide receiver only once (Week 7, WR19). The Ravens have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and Brandin Cooks (thumb) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve, but it's difficult to trust Colston as anything more than a flex option this week.

WR - Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (at SF)

Garcon has had plenty of bad games this year, but he had his worst outing last week with one catch for six yards on two targets. Garcon has finished as a WR35 (or worse) in eight of 10 games this season and he has finished outside the top 50 in each of his past three games.

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (at SEA)

Dealing with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, Fitzgerald missed all practices this week, but he is listed as questionable for Week 12. If he does play, Fitz should remain on your bench given the injury and difficult matchup. The Seahawks defense hasn't been as stingy as they have been over the past couple of years, but they once again allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. In fact, the Seahawks have only allowed five top-24 finishes to wide receivers this season.

WR - Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (at NYG)

Williams has six touchdowns on the season and he scored in five of the team's first seven games. That's the good news. The bad news is that Williams has two or less receptions in seven of 10 games this season. In fact, Williams scored a touchdown in the first matchup against the Giants, but that 18-yard reception was his only catch and he still finished outside the top-30 wide receivers that week. Williams' odds of finishing with a productive week are pretty slim unless he scores a touchdown.

TE - Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (vs. WAS)

Vernon Davis is like the Adam Dunn of the NFL. He's either going to hit a home run (score a touchdown or two) or strike out. And Davis has been in a deep slump as he is averaging just 2.0 receptions for 18.9 yards since Week 2 with no touchdowns. He has yet to exceed four catches or 44 yards in any game this season. (The only place I might consider starting him is in a tournament like the Millionaire Maker, where he could pay off his $3,000 (position-minimum) salary several times if he scores a couple of touchdowns.)

TE - Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals (at HOU)

Even though he had just two catches for 13 yards, Gresham is coming off his best fantasy performance as both of his receptions went for scores. Of course, one of those has received plenty of attention due to the long-time Saints fan that snatched the football intended for a Bengals fan. That said, the Texans have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. In addition, Gresham has finished with 36 yards or less in four consecutive games (A.J. Green returned three games ago).

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 12 rankings:

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