Sunday NFL preview: Who to start, sit in Week 12

Carson Palmer a must-start QB for Week 12 fantasy

Field Yates explains why the Cardinals' Carson Palmer is the top-ranked QB for Week 12.

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Sunday has in store for each team.


Buffalo Bills: The Bills will start quarterback Tyrod Taylor this Sunday despite a right shoulder injury that left him in pain at the end of last Monday night's loss to the Patriots. Is he a smart fantasy play against the Chiefs' defense? Consider this: Kansas City has held opposing quarterbacks to a 9.4 Total QBR over the past four games, by far the lowest in the NFL. Stay away from Taylor. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn't been very good for fantasy owners lately. There is something about MetLife Stadium, however, that brings the best out of Tannehill. He is 3-0 in his career on the road against the Jets, and top cornerback Darrelle Revis (concussion) will not play for New York. Tannehill could be a surprise play this weekend for fantasy owners looking for a sleeper quarterback option. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: Who's catching the ball from Tom Brady? That's the big question Sunday night against the Broncos as Brandon LaFell and Chris Harper are the lone two healthy wide receivers. Look for a tight end-heavy plan, with Rob Gronkowski, who has eight touchdown catches this season, the primary option. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Running back Chris Ivory is coming off a bad game, but he's ready for a rebound. He's healthy and confident against the Dolphins, having rushed for 166 yards in the previous meeting. The Jets are taking a back-to-the-basics approach on offense, which should mean more power football. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Quarterback Matt Schaub won't have it any easier than his first start with the Ravens on Monday night in Cleveland. In the Browns' past three games, they have allowed quarterbacks to average 330 yards passing with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks have produced a passer rating of 124.2 since Week 8. That being said, Schaub hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since December 2013. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: If you have an opening at the defense/special teams slot on your fantasy team this week, consider starting the Bengals' D/ST. After all, Cincinnati's defensive unit is feeling both inspired and motivated following last Sunday's 34-31 loss at Arizona (which came in large part due to three consecutive completed passes in the final minute that covered 68 yards). Take away the Cardinals' game-winning rally and an abysmal third quarter, and the Bengals actually handled the league's No. 1 offense quite well. This week, they face the No. 31 unit. The Rams' offense doesn't feature a game-changing quarterback and really has only running back Todd Gurley and receiver Tavon Austin as playmaking weapons. Cincinnati's defense has hit double-digit fantasy points in two of the past four games. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns will hold a walk-through in the team facility the day before Monday night's game against the Ravens. It's been a long week for the team and coaches, dominated by more Johnny Manziel drama. Even suspended receiver Josh Gordon appeared to weigh in on Manziel's situation, adding the hashtag "starttheguy" to a tweet on Saturday. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have been top-heavy in the passing game with receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant combining for 21.3 targets per game, including 11.5 for Brown and 9.8 for Bryant. But the third option, and a fairly reliable TE2, is Heath Miller, who has 50 targets on the season, with 44 of those coming in Ben Roethlisberger's six healthy games. Miller has caught 70 percent of passes thrown his way. Miller has two games of at least 10 targets, so when Roethlisberger finds a rhythm with Miller early, the veteran pass-catcher can produce steady fantasy points. The Steelers' complementary receivers simply aren't good fantasy plays. Slot receiver Markus Wheaton and deep threat Darrius Heyward-Bey both average slightly more than three targets per game. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Texans running back Jonathan Grimes had 65 total yards last week against the Jets between catches and carries. The Texans used him on some Wildcat snaps. With running back Chris Polk set to return Sunday after missing last week's game, the Texans now have four running backs between whom to split carries, with Polk, Grimes, Alfred Blue (who took most of the carries last week) and Akeem Hunt. The Texans have packages for each player, and when each is used depends on the situation. This is no longer an offense with one running back doing the bulk of the work. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The size advantage between the Colts' cornerbacks and Tampa Bay's receivers clearly favors the Buccaneers. Tampa's two starting receivers -- Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson -- both stand 6-foot-5, while Indianapolis' starting cornerbacks -- Vontae Davis and Greg Toler -- are only 5-foot-11 and 6-foot, respectively. Evans leads Tampa in receiving with 725 yards. "They are a matchup problem," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "Big, physical guys, they body you, they have a huge catch radius and especially once you get down in the red area, in certain third-down situations, certainly they are athletic enough and fast enough to get on top of you. Fade balls, balls that are thrown outside the numbers, back shoulder things, there are a lot of things that are difficult." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns had his streak of seven consecutive games with a touchdown catch snapped against Tennessee, but the second-year player from Miami said that didn't bother him one bit because the Jaguars beat the Titans. The Jaguars play host to San Diego on Sunday. "Maybe I can start another streak," he said. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Quarterback Marcus Mariota has completed 78 percent of his passes intended for tight end Delanie Walker, averaging 9.86 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Mariota has posted an 88 Total QBR and a 111.1 passer rating with Walker. Tennessee hosts Oakland on Sunday. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders looked far more comfortable running routes as this week came to a close than he did last week. Sanders has dealt with an ankle injury since the loss to the Colts, but he figures to be a big part of the mix Sunday night against the Patriots. After having nine touchdown catches last year, he has only four this season. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs have confidence in Spencer Ware, who could replace the injured Charcandrick West as the featured back this week against the Bills, as a goal-line runner. Ware has 17 carries this season, fifth on the Chiefs, but is tied for second in rushing touchdowns with three. At 229 pounds, Ware is much bigger and a more physical runner than West. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree has been a consistent fantasy play. He has had at least four catches and 50 yards receiving in the past seven games. That is the longest such streak within a single season in Raiders franchise history. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Malcom Floyd appeared healthy in practice this week after missing one game with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Floyd should be a good option against a Jacksonville defense that has given up 30 passing plays of 20-plus yards this season. Floyd finished with three receptions for 39 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown, in San Diego's 33-14 win over the Jaguars last season. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys (3-8) now face another stretch without quarterback Tony Romo, who injured his collarbone in Thursday's loss to the Panthers. Matt Cassel, who is winless in four starts this season, will presumably start next Sunday's game at Washington. -- ESPN.com staff

New York Giants: The Giants' Week 3 victory over Washington was one of only two games this year in which running back Shane Vereen did not have a catch. Don't expect a repeat Sunday. With starting offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg out, it's going to be more important than ever for Eli Manning to rely on his quick-hitting short-passing game to enhance his protection. And while Manning always looks for Odell Beckham Jr. when he's in trouble, Vereen should provide a reliable outlet if the play breaks down right away. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: So much for the idea that the absence of Ryan Mathews would mean more production from DeMarco Murray. After he gained just 30 yards on 14 carries, including a 19-yard run, with zero catches against the Lions on Thursday, it may be time to conclude that Murray just isn't a reliable fantasy player in Chip Kelly's offense. Philadelphia visits New England in Week 13. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins liked how they ran the ball vs. the Giants in their first meeting this season, but the big problem was the number of attempts. The Redskins rushed 20 times for 88 yards with a season-low one carry going for a loss. The Redskins consistently felt the run game worked and are looking for a repeat with a lot more attempts Sunday. Matt Jones rushed 11 times for 38 yards; not a great day but what the Redskins want most is to avoid second-and-longs and those numbers would help do the trick. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: After the Bears (5-6) ended their losing streak to the Packers, they get some time off this weekend before playing at home vs. the 49ers in Week 13. Can Chicago better utilize its two-headed rushing attack going forward? -- ESPN.com staff

Detroit Lions: The Lions, now winners of three straight, start practicing to try to sweep the Packers for the first time since 1991. The Lions starting this winning streak by beating Green Bay in Wisconsin for the first time since that year. Two things of import to watch -- whether or not Pro Bowl free safety Glover Quin (ankle) practices Sunday and the health of right guard Larry Warford, who is going through concussion protocol. Those two players would be vital for the Lions' chances against the Packers. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: The Packers (7-4) have now lost four out of five games after Thursday's night home defeat to the Bears. Could Green Bay try to dominate in the running game to fix its struggling offense? The Packers face the surging Lions in Detroit next weekend. -- ESPN.com staff

Minnesota Vikings: With Harrison Smith out because of a knee injury, the Vikings' defense could have a tough time capitalizing on Atlanta's turnover-prone offense and stealing possessions from quarterback Matt Ryan & Co. Smith is the Vikings' best safety, and might be the most indispensable player on their defense, with what he means to their blitz packages and run support. He also tied for third in the league with five interceptions last year, and his absence cuts down on the big-play potential of the Vikings' defense. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: With receiver Leonard Hankerson out for Sunday's game against the Vikings with a hamstring injury, this could be the perfect opportunity for the Falcons to utilize rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy. The fourth-round draft pick from East Carolina is sure-handed and caught 35 touchdown passes during his college career. Hardy was targeted once in the red zone against San Francisco but he was pulled down short of the goal line. One failed attempt shouldn't deter the Falcons from looking Hardy's way in a scoring situation, particularly if the defensive attention is all on Julio Jones. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Players are enjoying an off weekend after improving to 11-0 with Thursday's win at Dallas, but cornerback Josh Norman and Thomas Davis won't take Sunday off. They'll be in the ESPN studio as part of the NFL Countdown show. It will be the first time any Carolina player has done the show. It should be interesting since both players talked about the lack of respect the Panthers were getting prior to and after the 33-14 win over the Cowboys. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: One of the bright spots during the Saints' recent skid is that they've consistently been tapping into the big-play potential of top receiver Brandin Cooks. He has 15 catches for 257 yards and five touchdowns over the past three games with a mix of deep balls and short stuff designed to get him in open space to maximize his speed. Cooks has been a consistent producer for the Saints ever since he was drafted in the first round in 2014. But until this latest stretch, he had only four TD catches in his first 17 games. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If you had Doug Martin on your fantasy football roster last Sunday, you likely soaked in the spoils of his monster individual effort in Philadelphia. Sure, the Eagles' defense has been terrible lately, but it's no accident that he ran for 235 yards. Martin could have another big afternoon in Week 12. The Colts' defense is vulnerable against the run, having allowed at least 100 yards rushing seven times this season and on four occasions in the past five games. You can't go wrong with Martin, who's tormenting defenses behind a confident offensive line. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: Wide receiver Michael Floyd has had 100 or more receiving yards in back-to-back games just once before in his career, in 2013. He missed out on a third-straight triple-digit game by one yard. He's looking for three consecutive 100-yard games for the first time Sunday at San Francisco, and coach Bruce Arians said Friday that Floyd started opening up and going after passes, making all signs indicate that he'll play against the 49ers. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams look set to have Nick Foles back at quarterback this week as Case Keenum recovers from a concussion. But starting Foles in your fantasy league isn't recommended unless you're desperate. Not only does Foles rank near the bottom of the league in Total QBR, he's playing a talented Cincinnati defense that's in the top five in points allowed. Plus, the forecast calls for plenty of rain. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin became a trusted target for quarterback Blaine Gabbert last week in Seattle with five catches on seven targets for 93 yards. Expect Gabbert to lean on the veteran some more against one of Boldin's former teams. He is 129 yards away from becoming the 18th member of the 13,000-yard receiving club. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson is the only quarterback in the NFL who ranks in the top five in completion percentage (67.5) and yards per attempt (8.06). Opposing quarterbacks have completed 66.9 percent of their passes against the Steelers this year (fifth highest). With running back Marshawn Lynch sidelined and Pittsburgh's strength being its run defense, Wilson will get plenty of opportunities for a big game. -- Sheil Kapadia