Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (Week 12): Austin Ekeler, Calvin Ridley, Giovani Bernard & More

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Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:

Austin Ekeler (RB) – Los Angeles Chargers

This is a tricky situation as you put the two reports together:

  • Ekeler is not expected to take his normal, full workload
  • With Ballage out, could Ekeler be forced to take on more opportunities than initially planned?

The Buffalo Bills are middle of the pack overall against opposing running backs, and the last time they took the field (Week 11) they allowed 156 rushing yards to Arizona running backs. With Joshua Kelley struggling (3.0 YPC) it’s fair to expect Ekeler to get 12-15 touches, at least, and that’s going to put him on the FLEX map.

Still, with the Bills struggling against opposing QB (fifth most points per week), would it be surprising to see this as the Justin Herbert show?

Verdict – Start ‘Em (low-end RB2/FLEX, but he’s not a must use)

Raheem Mostert (RB) – San Francisco 49ers

This is an extremely tricky situation, with it unclear if Mostert and Jeff Wilson will be active to join Jerrick McKinnon in the San Francisco backfield. There appears to be a good chance that all three are playing, and that’s going to make the opportunities nearly impossible to predict. Against a Los Angeles Rams’ defense that’s allowed the fourth fewest points per week to opposing running backs, only those desperate for a FLEX are going to want to roll the dice assuming Mostert does indeed play.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em (unless you need a FLEX)

Giovanni Bernard (RB) – Cincinnati Bengals

The Giants have not been strong against opposing RB, allowing the seventh most points per week. They have been far worse against backs who can catch the football:

  • Rushing – 870 yards and 7 TD
  • Receiving – 524 yards and 3 TD

That plays into Bernard’s skillset, especially with the need for a safety valve with Joe Burrows out for the rest of the season. Samaje Perine will likely mix in once again, but this is Bernard’s opportunity.

Verdict – Start ‘Em

Calvin Ridley (WR) – Atlanta Falcons

With Jones sidelined Ridley is going to dominate the targets from Matt Ryan. Over 8 games Jones has averaged 7.25 targets per game, so there are plenty of chances for Ridley to pickup. Just look at the production Ridley has had in the two games Jones missed earlier this season:

  • 09/27/20 (vs. Chicago) – 5 catches (13 targets) for 110 yards
  • 10/11/20 (vs. Carolina) – 8 catches (10 targets) for 136 yards

It’s a no-brainer that he’s a must start, but this pushes him to a Top 5 option. Russell Gage, who becomes a slightly more attractive option, is still not a trustworthy play.

Verdict – Start ‘Em

Jerry Jeudy (WR) – Denver Broncos

Talk about an absolute disaster, thanks to contact tracing Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles are all ineligible to play. That leaves the Broncos without a QB on the active roster, leaving Hinton and Royce Freeman as the most likely candidates to play the position. While Hinton did play QB in college, this is a disastrous situation with the Broncos likely trying to take a run heavy approach. With limited opportunities and the QB play likely questionable, at best, any pass catcher is going to be severely downgraded.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

Keelan Cole (WR) – Jacksonville Jaguars

Both D.J. Chark and Chris Conley have been ruled out, leaving Cole and Laviska Shenault Jr. to lead the receiving corps. Cole would appear to have the best fantasy upside, as he’s second on the team in targets (54), receptions (36) and receiving yards (453) while being tied with Chark in TD (4). The matchup is a favorable one against the Cleveland Browns, though Mike Glennon being under center is a bit of a disadvantage. Considering him more of a desperation option as opposed to anything else.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

Matt Breida (RB) – Miami Dolphins

With both Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin sidelined, the Dolphins are going to throw a mix of Brieda, Patrick Laird and DeAndre Washington against the Jets. It’s a missed opportunity for fantasy owners in what could’ve been a prime matchup (8th most points per week to opposing RB).

Breida could get a lot of the early down work, but there’s no guarantee that he gets the lion’s share of the opportunities. Unless you are desperate, this is a situation to avoid completely.

Verdict – Sit ‘Em

Sources – NFL.com, ESPN

Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses



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