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The playoff push is upon us. Performance-driven breakouts and injuries have opened up some opportunities for players who could shine in Week 12. Here are 24 under-the-radar options from various positions that you might want to take a look at for your starting roster. Some of these may be waiver claims, others may be players on your roster that may finally be worthy of a start this week.
Tyrod Taylor, Houston vs NY Jets - It's a good strategy to target players who are playing the Jets and this week is no different. The 2-8 Jets are being outscored by an average of 14.2 points per game this season. They have allowed at least two touchdown passes or more since Week 4. This week Tyrod Taylor gets his crack at productive point-scoring against them. On the plus side, Taylor has 40, 15, 23, and 28 yards rushing in the four games he has appeared in this season. In addition to passing well, Taylor should also be able to add fantasy points via the run. He's a good start in 2QB leagues and if you need a quarterback in single-QB leagues, you could do worse.
Taylor Heinicke, Washington vs Seattle - The first thing that sticks out with this matchup for Washington is the volume of pass attempts that opponents of Seattle have had since Week 5. Every quarterback who has faced Seattle in the last six games has 35 pass attempts or more. Quarterbacks on that list include (Stafford, Roethlisberger, Winston, Lawrence, Rodgers, and McCoy). Next up is Heinicke who has topped 32 pass attempts or higher in seven of his last nine games. From a volume standpoint alone, he's worth a look. Since Week 7 he is ranked QB12 including 4th in quarterback rushing yards with 149.
Cam Newton, Carolina at Miami - Cam Newton has five touchdowns (3 pass, 2 rush) in his last two games, one of which was only 9 snaps. In addition to that, he has a 77.4% completion percentage. He has been hesitant to throw much downfield in his return to the field but that may be due to him not being completely familiar with the playbook in his limited time with the team. Quarterbacks are averaging 26-for-42 for 255 yards and 1.3 touchdown passes in the last four games against the Dolphins. If Newton comes close to those numbers and is successful on the ground with a rushing touchdown or two, he could come away with a strong fantasy performance this week.
Andy Dalton, Chicago at Detroit - Andy Dalton has been named the starter for the Bears in Thursday's Thanksgiving showdown with the Lions due to a rib injury that has sidelined Justin Fields. Detroit has been pretty decent against quarterbacks lately, allowing only 177 yards passing with 0.7 touchdown passes per game over the last three games. Having said that, Dalton can be used in two-QB leagues as an emergency option. On the bright side, Detroit opponents have averaged 34:16 of possession (third-most in the league) over the last three games. This may be a ground-controlled game but Dalton could sneak in with one or two touchdowns in a spot-start in front of a national audience. Dalton is more of an in-case-of-emergency-break-glass type of fantasy option, but against Detroit, you never know.
David Johnson or Rex Burkhead, Houston vs NY Jets - So far the "start your running backs vs the Jets" strategy has paid off handsomely. The string of at least one touchdown scored by a running back vs. the Jets since Week 1 is in jeopardy this week. Can Houston follow suit? The Texans have three rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns by running backs all season. Can they get another this week? Since Mark Ingram II was traded to New Orleans after Week 7, the breakdown of snaps by a Texans running back has been 78 for Rex Burkhead, 77 for David Johnson. Nearly a 50/50 split. In terms of touches, it breaks down similarly, 27 for Burkhead and 26 for Johnson. Fantasy points (PPR) have been 18.70 for Burkhead and 14.70 for Johnson. Who is the better play if you had to choose? Since Week 8, Johnson has 7 receptions vs Burkhead's 3, however, Burkhead is the only one of the two to score a rushing touchdown in that span. The chances are, we'll see one of them have a fairly decent game with an outside chance of both accumulating a decent return. Perhaps a slight lean towards Johnson due to his receiving tendencies in this offense.
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