From 2008-11, opposing teams looked forward to entering Gillette Stadium about as much as a man looks forward to a vasectomy. No matter what you told yourself, deep down you knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. During that span, the New England Patriots reeled off 30 consecutive victories at home. Not much hope walking into a situation like that, just grin and bear it.
This week I'm entering my "Gillette"...a holiday at the in-laws. When I'm at home, I have my routine. I'm in my comfort zone. I know where I'll be from wake-up to kickoff, what I'll eat, where I'll sit. The remote is close by, my laptop is in position, and I have a clear path to refreshments and the john. Now, all that has been stripped away. I'm at the mercy of other peoples' plans and traditions. It's not like they've painted the guest room pink or anything to get in my head, but it's enough to throw me off my game.
So we're not eating at the house? No problem, as long as there's...What's that? No TV?! Why are we celebrating Thanksgiving in a dungeon? No dear, I know that wasn't funny. Well, can I bring my...no laptop? Not even a tablet?! Yes, I know we're here to be with family dear, but...Yes, I know family is more important than football ( theoretically). Thank goodness for phones with internet access. Guess I'll be spending a lot of time in the bathroom looking up scores and stats (no need to poke the she-bear). I spend enough time in there anyway, she might buy it. Just gotta blame the "different" foods.
Forget the Patriots; I'm switching into San Francisco 49ers mode. Between 1988-90, they won 18 straight road games. If they can do it, so can I. No excuses, just win!
Here's some plays this week that could impact your matchups: some good, some bad, and a little bit of everything else for Week 12.
Week 12 BUYS
Matchups I like this week
QB Andy Dalton vs. Oakland. Dalton wasn't seeing a ton of action in fantasy lineups until recently. Considered a strong backup or QB2, Dalton all of a sudden became a hot commodity with the recent slew of quarterback injuries. To his credit, Dalton has rewarded owners that snatched him up. In his last two games, Red has scored 31 and 28 points, respectively. I don't care who he's replacing, those are strong numbers. Now he gets a matchup at home versus Oakland. His sights are set on big numbers this weekend. ( Other favorable matchups: Andrew Luck vs. Buffalo, Chad Henne vs. Tennessee, Peyton Manning at Kansas City, Ryan Fitzpatrick at Indianapolis.)
RB Chris Johnson at Jacksonville. Johnson deserves some love after all the heaping piles that were dumped on him at the beginning of the season, even by yours truly. Guess I was a bit disgruntled after spending an early pick on him in one of my leagues. Happens to the best of us, and I don't mind admitting that I am the best. Hey, if I don't think that way, who will? Since Johnson's first three games, where he totaled eight points combined, he has reached double-digit fantasy points in every week but one. Congratulations to you if you were able to 'buy low' on him from another of his disgruntled owners. Now Johnson and the Titans get to travel to Jacksonville to face-off against the Jaguars. The Jaguars have done a decent job the past two weeks, holding Vick Ballard to five points and Arian Foster to just six points, but they still rank second-to-last overall in the category, ahead of only the Buffalo Bills. I'm thinking a Titans team fresh off of a bye will be ready to let Johnson roam through the Jacksonville secondary. ( Other favorable matchups: Vick Ballard vs. Buffalo, Frank Gore at New Orleans, BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Oakland, Stevan Ridley at New York Jets.)
WR Miles Austin and Dez Bryant vs. Washington. (Editor's note: This article was submitted prior to Thursday's games) It's Thanksgiving; why not go back for a second helping? Austin started off the season as a double-digit machine. The last couple of weeks however have been a different story as Bryant has taken away the lion's share. On a big day with a big game against a division rival with a pitiful secondary, I'm betting that both receivers get their fill. Besides, it's not like Dallas has a plethora of healthy running backs at the moment, so I'm guessing they Cowboys agoing to air it out. ( Other favorable matchups: Michael Crabtree at New Orleans, Mike Wallace at Cleveland, Stevie Johnson at Indianapolis, Randall Cobb at New York Giants.)
Week 12 HOLDS
Tough matchups for studs this week:
QB Drew Brees vs. San Francisco. So...Brees is pretty good, huh? But is he $100 million good? His fantasy owners would tell you, yes. All he's done so far is lead the entire league in scoring. Decent, I guess. New Orleans is hosting San Francisco this week, who, thanks to its bout with Jason Campbell last week, took over the No. 1 ranking against quarterbacks for fantasy production. But if you are really considering benching Brees, I will make an opening for you in one of my leagues next year. RB Adrian Peterson at Chicago. Adrian Peterson has proved all of his doubters ( and the medical world) wrong. One knee or two knees, he's plowing over the defense either way. Peterson is averaging more than 16 points per game on the season and 21 points over his last five games. He's playing at Soldier Field against a tough Chicago defense this week, but are you going to doubt him again, ever? WR Marques Colston vs. San Francisco. Colston, and the New Orleans Saints as a whole, got off to a pretty rough start this season. Both have turned it around. Colston is now a Top 10 fantasy wide receiver, and New Orleans has won five of its last six games. Both face a tough opponent this week against San Francisco, but I doubt they'll regress all the way back. Week 12 SELLS
Matchups to avoid this week
QB Christian Ponder at Chicago. Ponder has been wildly inconsistent this year. He's as likely to get you five-or-less points as he is 20-or-more. In Week 10, before his bye, Ponder put up 22 points against Detroit. Not bad; that's a steady week. The week prior against Seattle, though, was more than a bit unnerving, totaling just two points on the day. He's had a week off to collect himself, but gets welcomed back into action by a Chicago defense that feasts off of turnovers like I do with pumpkin pie and Cool Whip. This is one matchup that doesn't even warrant a second look. ( Other difficult matchups: Ryan Tannehill vs. Seattle, Brandon Weeden vs. Pittsburgh, Sam Bradford at Arizona, Philip Rivers vs. Baltimore.)
RB Mikel Leshoure vs. Houston. (Editor's note: This article was submitted prior to Thursday's games) Leshoure likes him some Green (Bay, of course). Last week against the Packers, he ran for more than 80 yards and a score. With some big names on bye last week, that was definitely worth more than a nickel. I bet Leshoure comes off his high this week though against Houston and its No. 1 fantasy defense against running backs. ( Other difficult matchups: Darren Sproles vs. San Francisco, Reggie Bush vs. Seattle, James Starks/Alex Green at the New York Giants, Matt Forte vs. Minnesota.)
WR Josh Gordon vs. Pittsburgh. Sometimes a diamond in the rough is really a lump of coal. In Weeks 5-7, Gordon had everyone jumping on the bandwagon. Four touchdowns in three weeks to go along with three double-digit outings will do that. Gordon has now had three straight weeks with five or less points. Don't hear so many people bragging about their waiver claim now, do you? After this week against a strong Pittsburgh defensive backfield, I doubt you'll hear many more. ( Other difficult matchups: Brian Hartline vs. Seattle, DeSean Jackson vs. Carolina, Vincent Jackson vs. Atlanta, Dwayne Bowe vs. Denver.)
Until the next go-round.