It’s been a year of ups and downs in the Busts Piece. At times I swear that if I listed Disco as a weekly fade, Donna Summer and The Bee Gees would immediately zoom to No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Ah, variance. This is the life we have chosen. I am thankful for everyone who plays at Yahoo and consumes our content; you are welcome to fade or follow any of the advice discussed below.
Most importantly, I hope your holiday is safe, festive, and filled with excellent food and connections with the people you care about. It’s a day to reflect, be kind, and be grateful. (And for this half-Italian, it's a day to eat pasta, pasta, and some more pasta. And it will be glorious.)
Time for the Week 12 clipboard. Send all correspondence (football or otherwise) to @scott_pianowski on Twitter. Respectful disagreement? Ship it over before the game starts, and we'll hash it out together.
Carson Wentz vs. Buccaneers
It’s possible to build a stat case that supports Wentz’s first year with the Colts. He’s 10th in sack-percentage absorbed, second in interception percentage. He has the 13th-best rating in the league; not MVP-worthy but respectable.
But Wentz is merely 21st in passing yards per game. The Colts understand that hiding Wentz is often their best path to victory. Jonathan Taylor and the offensive line, they can drive the bus. Wentz has a seat in the back.
Tampa Bay’s been a funnel defense all year, stopping the run reliably but allowing plays in the secondary. Injuries have played into that problem, too. But I don’t expect the Colts to throw the burden of this game on Wentz’s shoulders, and if Tampa Bay can competently mark No. 1 receiver Michael Pittman, I don’t see a second major threat who can drag Wentz into a big fantasy day.
With Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray on bye weeks, you might be looking for a short-term rental at quarterback. And maybe Tampa Bay’s metrics in pass defense have you temped to dial up Wentz. It’s a trap. He’s ranked outside my Top 20, someone I can't consider proactively.
A.J. Brown at Patriots
Maybe I can use this column for my own benefit — I have numerous Brown shares and would love to see him bust out Week 12. But he’s been playing hurt, of course, the Patriots defense is on an absurd roll, and we know the ethos of any Bill Belichick defensive unit: Stop the No. 1 option from the opposing offense.
Brown, of course, is the major Titan to focus on.
The Patriots have a budding cornerback star in J.C. Jackson, and the New England secondary ranks second in WR1 coverage, per the analytics site Football Outsiders. Seasonal managers might have to start AJB and take whatever they can get, but I’ll be looking for Brown props and punching under tickets as soon as they’re available.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A.J. Brown has reportedly been ruled OUT of Week 12's matchup against the Patriots.
Devin Singletary / Zack Moss, at New Orleans
The Bills have been scuffling for three weeks now, including a shocking loss at Jacksonville and a beatdown against the Colts. And because of those recent losses, I suspect OC Brian Daboll might be ready to actually shift personal deployment and usage going forward. It’s time to accept the backfield elephant in the room — Matt Breida has looked better than his backfield teammates the last two weeks.
Sure, Breida’s done this snappy work on limited opportunity; the small-sample light is flashing. And I get it, he’s a bit of a journeyman who has occasionally worn down from modest workloads in the past. But I suspect this is the week Buffalo elevates Breida to a more prominent role, perhaps letting Moss be a game-day scratch. In short, this is a pro-Breida stance wrapped into a Singletary and Moss fade. If you’re dialing up a Buffalo back this week, Breida is your man.
Evan Engram vs. Eagles
Philadelphia has been the friendliest tight-end giveaway this year, handing out completions and touchdowns to almost everyone. Add it up and we’re looking at 81 catches, 811 yards, nine touchdowns — monstrous production.
But I need a level of assumed competence before I apply matchup logic, and I’m not confident Engram and Daniel Jones qualify. Engram is averaging 29.5 yards per game, 5.8 yards per target, career lows. He was invisible against the Buccaneers on Monday —five looks, 12 yards. Jones has been so inconsistent, I’m not confident the Giants will give him a second contract.
It looks like Freddie Kitchens will step in for fired OC Jason Garrett, if that excites you. I remember the Kitchens who basically drove the 2019 Browns into a ditch. Some managers are likely tempted to bench a second-tier Ty Conklin or Dan Arnold or Gerald Everett in favor of Engram this week, but I’m warning against it. Philadelphia’s seam coverage is begging to be exploited, but I can’t trust Kitchens, Jones or Engram to crack the code.