Demos: Week 12 fantasy projections

Khari Demos

Turkey Day is here, so you know it's time to grub out and enjoy a few NFL games. But first, let's look back on Week 11, during which Pittsburgh moved to a perfect 10-0.

Kansas City (9-1) is right in the hunt though, especially after avenging it's lone loss of the year against Las Vegas. The AFC continues to be a jumbled mess, with four 7-3 squads— Buffalo, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Cleveland — as well as three 6-4 teams in Vegas, Baltimore and Miami.

The NFC looks strong at the top with New Orleans at 8-2 and the NFC West's 7-3 duo of the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks. Speaking of LAR, the upset win over Tampa Bay currently places the Rams as the No. 2 seed after Green Bay fell to the Colts.

It's looking like Seattle, Tampa or Arizona could be the No. 5 seed as the top wild card, setting up a 4-5 matchup with whoever comes out of the historically bad East. It's the first division in NFL history to have each team have three wins or less heading into Thanksgiving.

Kudos to one of those squads, though, as Washington players showed love for Joe Burrow after the Bengals' rookie QB was knocked out for the year with a knee injury on Sunday. The irony of that is Alex Smith being on the opposite sideline, just two years removed from one of the most gruesome injuries in league history.

Only in the NFL, man.

My waiver picks of the week are Philadelphia's Richard Rodgers, New England's Damiere Byrd and Denver's Tim Patrick, after all three got back to big-game form.

Let's gear up for the Thanksgiving slate, with my start of the week playing in the first tilt.

START 'EM

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

It looks like No. 4 is back to his old ways. Please overlook the 3-7 record because Watson is still balling. Since the firing of Bill O'Brien, the Clemson alumnus has led the Texans to a 3-3 record, bouncing back from an 0-4 start.

Watson hasn't turned the ball over since throwing two interceptions in Week 5 while totaling 12 touchdowns (11 passing, 1 rushing) and an average of 323.6 total yards per game. In that five-game span, Watson has a passer rating of 116.2, a QBR of 75.0 (the league average is 50) and three 300-yard games.

Watson has five games of 300 yards passing overall this season and he's got one of the best TD-to-INT ratios in the NFL (20 TDs, 5 INTs).

Now Watson gets a Thanksgiving feast in Detroit, as the Lions look to salvage their season after being shut out for the first time with Matt Stafford under center. Stafford got a close look at Carolina's backup QB, PJ Walker, who putting together a solid outing last week against the Detroit defense (24 of 34, 258 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs).

Walker is not Watson, so the Lions should be concerned. Detroit is tied for the fifth-lowest sack total in the league (14), allowing the eighth-most passing yards per game (258.4) and is one of only 10 teams to be yielding a passer rating of 97 or above (97.2).

SIT 'EM

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

No Joey B? That's a problem. With Joe Burrow done for the year, Cincy unwillingly turns to Brandon Allen, a sixth-round pick in 2016 who has been on the team's practice squad all season and will be making his fourth career start.

I do think production will decline for Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins as well, but Green seems to be the odd man out. The seven-time Pro Bowler has already been lowered in the pecking order, scoring his lone TD of the season last week. He's recorded over 80 yards just two times all year.

After burrow left Sunday's game, Green saw two targets, posting just one reception for five yards. Now the Bengals get a tough matchup with the New York Giants, who have allowed 25 points or less in each of the last five games.

Big Blue has also done a fine job forcing turnovers, coming up with at least one in all but two of their 10 games. The Giants have had four multi-turnover games as well, leading to them tying for the fifth-most total turnovers in the league (15).

SLEEPER OF THE WEEK

Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers

Samuel has become one of the most underrated weapons in the NFL, scoring a touchdown in five of the last seven games. The Ohio State product is tied for the most rushing TDs (2) in league amongst wideouts and has the second most rushing yards for a receiver (112), recording carries in each game this year and three or more six different times.

The fourth-year WR is also blossoming as a pass catcher, hauling in eight or more receptions for 70 or more yards twice in the last three weeks.

Obviously DJ Moore and Robby Anderson get a lot of attention, but they both could open things up for him in this matchup with Minnesota. The Vikings seemed to have a glimmer of hope after a three-game winning streak, but they were humbled by Dallas, as they gave up their fourth 30-point game of the year.

Andy Dalton and the Cowboys' once explosive offense took advantage of them for three TD passes, pushing the Vikings total allowed to 22 — tied for second most in the league.

Minnesota is allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to wideouts this season (29.1), so the likely return of Teddy Bridgewater could mean big days for Samuel, Moore and Anderson.

BILLS OUTLOOK

LA Chargers

Even when they didn't play, the Bills won this weekend. While resting up on the bye, Buffalo had to enjoy seeing Miami, New England and the New York Jets all fall in Week 11.

But one thing the Bills did not enjoy was seeing who the Jets fell to, as the Chargers seem revved up heading into Week 12.

Again, LAC's 3-7 record is deceiving, as it has one of the most proficient passing games in the league. Justin Herbert (37 of 49, 366 passing yards, 3 TD passes, 116.5 passer rating, 89.1 QBR) keeps putting on a show in what's been a historic rookie season.

Herbert just had his third outing this year with three or more TD passes without a pick, his fifth 300-yard passing game, his fifth outing with a QBR of 79 or above and a passer rating above 100, as well as his third time completing over 71% of his passes.

It's easier to put up numbers when you've got weapons, especially when ones like Keenan Allen (16 catches, 145 yards, 1), Mike Williams (4 catches, 72 yards, 1 TD), Hunter Henry (4 catches, 48 yards, 1 TD) and Kalen Ballage (71 yards from scrimmage) all come to play as they did against NYJ. LAC even has guys like Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton, who are adept at making big plays downfield.

With Bills corner Josh Norman being activated Tuesday, the hope must be that he takes pressure off Tre'Davious White, who may be locked up with the NFL's reception leader in Allen for most of the day. It'll be a treat to see what Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier cook up for Herbert in his first trip to Western New York.

Something's gotta give in this one though, as the Bills are one of the worst-ranked rush defenses in the league (135 yards allowed per game, fifth-most in the league), and the Chargers have the fourth-most carries as a team (317) even though they are tied for the third-worst yards per carry average (3.8).

It looks like Josh Allen and company could be back at it again, as LAC's defense hasn't held an offense under 28 points since September. Expect a lot of Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley and possibly a Gabriel Davis sighting.

But as the story of the 2020 Bills go, the X-factor will be the running game with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. Buffalo accounted for less than 100 yards rushing in all three losses this year, as opposed to a 4-0 mark when hitting the 100-yard plateau.

Respond to sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos or at khari.demos@gnnewspaper.com. Also, be sure to listen to the GNN Sports Podcast, on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts and more.

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