2019 Week 12 game-by-game recap: Cowboys vs. Patriots becomes a fantasy nightmare

Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots

A matchup between two playoff-bound teams featuring a Cowboys offense that entered ranked No. 1 in DVOA and averaging the most yards per game (454.0) in the NFL this season turned into a fantasy nightmare consisting of just one combined touchdown and a lot of injuries. Dak Prescott came in as part of the MVP discussion after a recent hot stretch in which he tossed nine TDs over the last three games and averaged a whopping 420.5 passing yards over his last two, but he managed just 6.4 YPA and failed to deliver a single touchdown drive. The Cowboys finished with more yards Sunday, but this Patriots defense is one to avoid at all costs, remarkably allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs (their 29 takeaways are already more than they had all of last season). The Ravens allowed an NFL-record low 10.3 ppg in 2000, and New England has ceded just 10.6 so far in 2019.

Poor weather conditions and a banged-up receiving group didn’t help, but Tom Brady didn’t rebound as fantasy managers hoped, failing to record at least two touchdowns for the first time at home this season … Rookie N’Keal Harry had just one catch but made it count in the end zone, and he’s a sleeper down the stretch given New England’s injuries in the passing attack. The first-round rookie is available in more than 85% of Yahoo leagues.

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Sony Michel benefitted from New England’s offensive line getting healthier but somehow hasn’t scored in a month, while James White mysteriously saw just three targets that resulted in -6 receiving yards … Julian Edelman gutted it out through his shoulder injury and remains about as safe as it gets in PPR formats.

Amari Cooper clearly remains compromised and once again didn’t see a full set of snaps, but Stephon Gilmore added fuel to his DPOY argument with this impressive pick while holding Cooper without a catch for just the fourth game of his career … Michael Gallup will have better days ahead like the rest of the Cowboys offense, and if Jason Witten were to go down, Blake Jarwin would immediately become a must-add and an easy TE1 option.

Ezekiel Elliott was held in check, but his 40 receiving yards were the second-most of the season, and if Cooper’s health continues to hobble him, it could mean Zeke featured more in the passing game moving forward. Dallas continues to have a tough upcoming schedule, but they are at home against a run-funnel Bills defense on Thanksgiving, so he’ll be one of the best starts in Week 13.

Avoid the Patriots defense at all costs. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Avoid the Patriots defense at all costs. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield had his best game of the season and finally has more TD passes than interceptions after a nice stretch (8:1 TD:INT ratio) over his last four games, while Ryan Fitzpatrick got just 5.5 YPA and had a poor game for Miami but helped fantasy managers with three scores in the second half … Nick Chubb was late to Sunday’s touchdown party but added another 164 YFS (with four targets) and continues to see his value remain the same after Kareem Hunt’s return … Since Cleveland’s bye week five games ago, Jarvis Landry has averaged 10.6 targets compared to Odell Beckham’s 8.6 (five TDs to one), so it’s hard not to rank Landry higher right now (and an easy call in PPR).

Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles

The big story here is Rashaad Penny, who not only looked terrific rushing for 129 yards on 14 carries (including this impressive TD run), but Chris Carson fumbled on back-to-back plays during one stretch, easily giving him the most in the NFL this year. The Seahawks enter a tough two-game stretch (Min, @LAR), but Penny is flat-out more explosive than Carson and immediately becomes worth every remaining cent of your FAAB this week. He’s still available in 82% of Yahoo leagues.

Carson Wentz was dealing with injuries all over, but he got 5.7 YPA at home against a middling Seattle defense missing Jadeveon Clowney, committed a career-high four turnovers and now leads the NFL in fumbles since entering the league in 2016. He’s been a huge disappointment … Tyler Lockett saw just two targets after not practicing all week while recovering from his leg injury, while Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert continue to benefit from all of Philly’s injuries ... This trick play by Seattle was nice, and they are 6-0 on the road this season … Don’t be fooled by Jacob Hollister’s quiet game, as Russell Wilson badly missed him wide open on a short throw in the end zone, and he’s going to be an easy TE1 option down the stretch in this offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

Benny Snell Jr. was an intriguing sleeper this week, but few could’ve foreseen Jaylen Samuels being this quiet, especially in the passing game. What a disaster for those who were relying on him … Devlin Hodges presumably overtook Mason Rudolph as Pittsburgh’s starting QB, and he had a nice long scoring connection with James Washington Tyler Boyd had one of this week’s best catches and continues to see good volume. He’ll be plenty useful in fantasy leagues down the stretch despite playing for the winless Bengals … The Steelers would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints

In a battle featuring the league’s two best (non-QB) offensive players this season, Michael Thomas (11-10-111-1) and Christian McCaffrey (nine catches, 133 YFS, two TDs) had their usual production. CMC managers were actually unlucky he didn’t add at least one other touchdown as well … Kyle Allen had his best game since he took over back in Week 3, and DJ Moore finally cashed in all those air yards and doubled his season TD total with two scores … Latavius Murray had a bigger game on the ground than Alvin Kamara against arguably the league’s worst rush defense, but the latter remained busy as a receiver and has now secured all 19 of his targets over the last two weeks (if one target is truly equal to roughly three carries like estimated, then Kamara is being treated like a true workhorse right now) … The Saints scored on their opening drive for the first time this season, while the loss of LT Terron Armstead could prove significant … The Saints had yet another critical pass interference call go against them (overturned even), but Joey Slye made sure it didn’t matter, shanking a late 28-yard field goal after already missing two extra points earlier in an epic meltdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are impossible to figure out, as their defense regressed in a big way while allowing 35 points and 11.2 YPA to Jameis Winston (he added his requisite two picks). Winston has thrown for 300+ yards in six straight games and now sports a 14:5 TD:INT ratio on the road compared to 8:15 at home this season … Chris Godwin was a monster, turning eight targets into 184 yards and two TDs. If he’s not careful, he’s going to price himself into the first round of fantasy drafts next year … Calvin Ridley saved his day with a late score from Matt Schaub, and Russell Gage was solid in a favorable spot, but Julio Jones had fewer yards than both in a dream matchup and hasn’t scored in eight games after hitting pay dirt nine times over his previous seven contests … Matt Ryan was ambushed all game, took a season-high six sacks and failed to reach 300 passing yards for just the third time this year ironically against a Bucs defense that entered allowing the second-most yards through the air.

Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins

In one of Week 12’s most highly anticipated matchups, Dwayne Haskins was less awful (5.4 YPA, 0:2 TD:TO) than Jeff Driskel (three interceptions, six sacks), leading Washington to an upset that won’t soon be forgotten … Kenny Golladay led Detroit in receiving despite seeing seven fewer targets than Marvin Jones, while Terry McLaurin led the league in air yards in Week 12 and once again lost an easy touchdown when overthrown while wide open in the end zone. Haskins has some work to do on his touch.

New York Giants @ Chicago Bears

Daniel Jones got 4.2 YPA, Saquon Barkley got 3.5 YPC (with an ugly drop) and Sterling Shepard got 1.7 YPT, with David Montgomery countering by rushing for 22 yards on 13 carries in an ugly offensive showing … Allen Robinson actually had a big game (10-6-131-1), while Darius Slayton is the Giants’ receiver I’d want to roster most in a keeper league … The Bears are a disappointing 5-6 on the year, but their defense has actually allowed fewer points per game this season (17.1) compared to last year’s league-low mark (17.7).  

Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets

Sam Darnold has gotten 10.3 YPA with seven touchdowns over the last two weeks, and his big game Sunday surprisingly came with a quiet Jamison Crowder (4-2-18) … Josh Jacobs suffered from a poor game script and was facing the No. 2 ranked rush defense in DVOA, so expect a big bounce back against KC’s 31st-ranked rush D next week … Tyrell Williams has fallen behind Hunter Renfrow in Oakland’s pecking order in the passing attack, which was dormant during Sunday’s 10 a.m. body clock game.

Running back Josh Jacobs struggled in Week 12, but should rebound in a favorable matchup against the Chiefs on Sunday. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Running back Josh Jacobs struggled in Week 12, but should rebound in a favorable matchup against the Chiefs on Sunday. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen’s rushing continues to give him one of the better floors among fantasy QBs, while Brandon Allen dropped back to pass 29 times Sunday and produced fewer than 50 net yards ... Devin Singletary entered with a Buffalo offensive line that looked overmatched on paper against a Denver run defense that ranked No. 6 in DVOA and also ceded 15 carries to Frank Gore, yet the rookie back ran for 106 yards nevertheless. With a running QB on his side as well, Singletary is going to be someone you’ll want to target aggressively at drafts next year … Phillip Lindsay continues to dominate work over Royce Freeman, while Tre’Davious White and a shaky QB proved too much for Courtland Sutton (who was actually first in WOPR this week) to overcome.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill had a huge fantasy day, throwing for a couple of touchdowns and rushing for another two (with 40 rushing yards), and he’s now up to 9.2 YPA on the season. He suddenly looks like the future at the position for Tennessee … Leonard Fournette saw more big volume with 24 carries and 12 targets and doubled his season TD output with two scores, while Derrick Henry predictably ripped a soft Jacksonville run defense for 8.4 YPC and a couple of touchdowns of his own. Henry’s impressive 74-yarder helped him become the first player to score two touchdowns in a 20-second span since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006. Henry had a TD catch called back by penalty too and is a beast who wears down defenses, as nine of his 11 touchdowns this season have come during the second half.  

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo has completed 73.8 percent of his passes while getting 10.4 YPA over his last two games and finished with a perfect Passer Rating during play-action Sunday night. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers posted the lowest YPA (3.2) during any game of his career. While having his backup left tackle benched mid-game, Jimmy G, who’s thrived under pressure this season, found George Kittle for an impressive 61-yard scoring strike despite the tight end playing through a broken ankle. The entire San Francisco offense gets a huge upgrade when Kittle plays, as its rushing attack got back on track with 5.1 YPC and touchdown runs by both Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert.

The Packers entered 6-0 versus winning teams this year but won’t be yearning for another west coast trip after totaling fewer than 20 points in LA and SF … It came with just 43 yards on 12 targets, but Davante Adams scored his first touchdown of the year (running backs had accounted for 20 of the team’s 30 touchdowns this season) … Emmanuel Sanders simply can’t be trusted in fantasy lineups with his current rib condition, while Deebo Samuel produced for managers for the third straight week with a 42-yard TD … The 49ers’ schedule continues to be tough with the team traveling to Baltimore and New Orleans next, but San Francisco emphatically answered any lingering questions of whether they were real Sunday night. 

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