Week 12: Player Upgrades
Player Upgrades is intended for fantasy football diehards. Each week when setting a lineup, a closer analysis is necessary to find out which players are destined for a great performance. Sometimes it is a favorable matchup or it can be as simple as an increased role due to an injury. Very few players are matchup-proof in this game. For every Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice, there are a dozen players who could potentially be interchangable depending upon a number of factors.
This weekly article isolates your best options for a statistical breakout from Week 1 to Week 17. Let FFToolbox do the homework for you! Instead of scouring the waiver wire and opening up 20 tabs to compare and contrast players, let Player Upgrades be your guide. Each week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
With injuries piling up and depth chart changes occurring on nearly every team, this week's Player Upgrades focuses on identifying breakout players.
We must all be living in a new parallel universe if Chad Henne is suddenly one of the hot waiver wire commodities available. The former Michigan Wolverine went nuts against a typically stout Houston defense last week, passing for 354 yards and four touchdowns in relief of Blaine Gabbert. Now that Henne is facing Tennessee and their 26th-ranked pass defense (allowing 266.2 yards per game), it is possible he may come close to replicating his Week 11 performance. The key here is he will need more stellar play from Justin Blackmon, Marcedes Lewis, and Cecil Shorts. The trio accounted for 357 of Jacksonville's 378 receiving yards and all four receiving TDs last week.
Most football fans probably did not see Colin Kaepernick performing so well against Chicago's defense on Monday night. The Bears were only allowing 14.8 points per game, yet the second-year quarterback was the 49ers' primary catalyst in a 32-7 romp. In Week 12, the Niners travel to New Orleans to face a suddenly resurgent Saints team. They have won five of their last six games, but unfortunately, their defense still ranks dead-last in the NFL. Kaepernick has not officially been named the starter yet, although if you can afford to make room for him on your roster, you should. His dual-threat potential could create a lot of problems for opposing defenses, especially in this week's very favorable matchup.
"Two Jacksonville Jaguars in this article?" Yes, it is a maddening fantasy football season. The Jacksonville Jaguars appear to have lost patience with Rashad Jennings and opted to give 24 carries to Jalen Parmele, which he turned into 80 rushing yards. All reports show that Maurice Jones-Drew will not be ready for Week 12 as he continues to recover from a foot injury. Jennings' rushing totals dwindled from 59 yards in Week 8, 45 yards in Week 9, 27 yards in Week 10, and -1 yard in Week 11. When you consider that Parmele rushed for a respectable total against the NFL's best run defense (Houston), a matchup against the Tenneesee Titans does not seem so daunting. Tennessee has only held their opponent to under 97 rushing yards twice all season, while also allowing at least one rushing touchdown in all but three games. With running backs dropping like flies because of injuries, Parmele has instant value across all formats.
Due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart, Marcel Reece put together his best game of the season last week. He rushed for 103 yards and caught four passes for 90 yards. In fact, due to his stellar receiving totals, he has posted double-digit fantasy points for the last three weeks. Since Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are out, Reece is a PPR owner's dream. Oakland will be traveling to Cincinnati this weekend, and the Bengals have the 24th-ranked fantasy defense against RBs (although they have outplayed that ranking in recent weeks). Reece is still widely available in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. Oakland has a relatively easy schedule remaining as well, which can help Reece should he remain in the backfield.
There should be no questioning Chad Henne's arm and Justin Blackmon's YAC potential after the duo connected 81-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter last week. The rookie had done very little to merit much fantasy consideration, but a budding chemistry between he and Henne is worth paying attention to even if it is a fluke. There is just no way you should leave any player on the waiver wire after they scored nearly 30 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. With the bye weeks having come and gone, Blackmon is an excellent player to keep on your bench and monitor at this stage of the season. He has a very favorable matchup against Tennessee in Week 12 and even though the Titans played well last week, do not forget that just two weeks ago they allowed Brandon Marshall to catch nine passes for 122 yards and three scores.