They say the real season only begins after Thanksgiving. We fantasy fans know that’s rubbish: every week is the real season! Each week we can study the matchups, scan the injury reports, add and drop and add again, each week learning that little bit more and perfecting the science of lineup construction.
Then the football games start and all of our hard work is in the lap of the football Gods. Hopefully they smiled on you this Sunday, but even if they didn’t, we’re here to share in your joys and sorrows as we look at the Week 12 NFL Fantasy Heroes and Villains!
Hero: Sam Darnold – QB – New York Jets
It was only in Week 7 that Sam Darnold told his head coach Adam Gase and the Monday Night Football microphones that he was “seeing ghosts” against the New England Patriots. He certainly seemed haunted, as he followed up his shutout performance against the Pats with three picks against the Jaguars, and then a humiliating loss against the tanking division rival Miami Dolphins.
Since then, Darnold has been exorcised. The second-year QB has put together three consecutive 20+ point performances in Fantasy in his last three games, and on Sunday he helped the Jets destroy the dark horse Oakland Raiders. Darnold connected on 20 of his 29 pass attempts for 315 yards and two touchdowns, and added to his totals with 16 yards and a score of his own on the ground. Next week Darnold will look to carry on his excellent form against the winless Bengals where he can lead the Jets, and your fantasy team, to yet another win.
Hero: Derrick Henry – RB – Tennessee Titans
It’s getting towards that time of year alright. Last season after Thanksgiving, Derrick Henry suddenly emerged from his hibernation to start racking up 200 yards and multiple touchdown games to push the Titans into playoff contention. He’s actually been a bit more consistent this season, but Sunday saw him have one of those winter Derrick Henry games we should probably just start expecting once the clocks go back.
In a divisional game against the Jacksonville Jaguars that was inexplicably not played on a Thursday night, the veteran running-back carried the ball for 159 yards on just 19 carries. He added two rushing touchdowns to his season tally, including a 74-yard tackle-breaking bulldozer run in the second half. He’s never a big threat in the passing game, but he even chipped in with a catch for 16 yards. Henry gave his fantasy owners plenty of reason to give Thanks a bit early this Sunday.
Hero: Jarvis Landry – WR – Cleveland Browns
It’s been a rough season for the Browns. Their stuttering offence has struggled for consistency all year, and now their defence has lost superstar pass rusher Myles Garrett indefinitely after he assaulted Mason Rudolph with his own helmet last week. The absence of big plays from their superstar players like Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr and Nick Chubb has only highlighted the disappointment for a season that started with such hope. And hype.
One of those superstars finally came good in a big way on Sunday, as Jarvis Landry took advantage of a hapless Miami Dolphins pass defence. The wide receiver wreaked revenge on his former team by catching 10 passes for 148 yards and two passing scores, giving him five touchdowns in his last four games. OBJ might still be the bigger name, but Landry showed this week that he’s the only Browns player to trust right now in fantasy.
Villain: Derek Carr – QB – Oakland Raiders
After a Hard Knocks summer, and then all the furore surrounding the departure of Antonio Brown right as the season was kicking off, it was easy to predict that Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders were going to implode in his second year back with the Silver and Black. Instead they’ve come into playoff contention in the AFC following a string of surprisingly competent performances, aided by a bounceback season from quarterback Derek Carr. They were aiming to beat up on a weak Jets secondary on Sunday and cement their playoff credentials.
They failed, and Carr was part of the problem. The Raiders QB could get nothing going in an embarrassing 34-3 loss in the Big Apple, throwing for just 127 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. With the result already beyond doubt, he was benched in the third quarter, as Gruden selfishly deprived Carr’s fantasy owners of even the chance of some garbage time points. He’ll have better days, but that doesn’t help if you leaned on him this week.
Villain: Tyler Lockett – WR – Seattle Seahawks
Tyler Lockett has been one of the most consistent receivers in fantasy football this year, and has featured in the opposite side of this column previously. The speedster has been the favoured target of MVP candidate Russell Wilson all year, and has posted monster games to make any fantasy owner pleased to have him on their roster.
In his last two games though, Lockett has been underwhelming. He was forced out of their matchup with the 49ers two weeks ago but, following a bye week to get healthy, the wideout suited up in a favourable matchup against the Philadelphia Ealges this week. While he did lead the Seahawks in receiving yards, that was with a paltry total of 38 from his lone catch of the day. There’s no fantasy points for that stat though, and ultimately Lockett was a disappointment for owners in Week 12. Defence and a rushing game were enough for Seattle to prevail in a low-scoring game.
Villain: Aaron Jones – RB – Green Bay Packers
For a team atop their division and with Super Bowl aspirations, Green Bay sure did look awful on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers and Co. looked all at sea in the Bay Area, and while a powerhouse performance from the San Francisco 49ers D certainly didn’t help, ultimately they were let down by their offence who failed to convert on downs too often.
Highlighting these failures was the disappointing performance of their star running back Aaron Jones, who carried the ball 13 times but only managed to rack up 38 yards for them. Most worrying for PP fantasy fans, Jones failed to have a single reception for just the third time this season, but for the second game in a row. The league’s rushing touchdown leader will look to get back on track next week when he faces the struggling New York Giants, and he’ll need to improve soon.