Jay Ajayi (Miami) ranks right up there with the elite backs this week at home against the San Francisco 49ers, who allow an NFL-worst 31.3 points per game and a league-worst 179.5 yards rushing per game.
With C.J. Prosise out, Thomas Rawls (Seattle) quickly gets on the RB1 radar – he popped for 88 yards in his first game back last week. If you own him, you might want to pick up rookie Alex Collins, who would be next in line if Rawls were to miss time.
Drew Brees averages a league-high 366.4 passing yards per game at home, but the Rams have allowed just 12.5 points per game over their past four games (fewest in the NFL) and are No. 1 against the pass over their past three games, so something has to give – keep the faith with Brees and your Saints receivers at home.
Rishard Matthews (Tennessee) has been the fourth-best fantasy receiver over the past month, and Chicago allows the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Matthews remains a surprise must-start.
With the new injured-reserve rules where one player per team can return after eight weeks, we are starting to see sidelined stars potentially making their way back. Rawls (Seattle) and Dion Lewis (New England) returned last week, and now is the time to stash Ameer Abdullah (Detroit), Adrian Peterson (Minnesota), Charles Sims (Tampa Bay) and Sammy Watkins (Buffalo), who could all be making their return soon.
Players to avoid
All the Buccaneers get lowered this week facing the Seahawks, who allow a league-low 17.3 points per game. Even Mike Evans could have his challenges against this defense and shutdown corner Richard Sherman.
Jay Cutler (shoulder) is likely out, leaving Matt Barkley to get the Week 12 start – the Bears are completing falling apart having also recently lost tight end Zach Miller, receiver Alshon Jeffery and Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long. When in doubt avoid all your Bears, including running back Jordan Howard as this team is not going to be scoring much.
It’s near-impossible to sit Melvin Gordon (San Diego), but expect a likely lower than normal game against a Houston defense that allows the fewest rushing yards per game over its past three at 56.0 yards per game.
Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati) becomes likely the Bengals’ new No. 1 receiver with A.J. Green out, although it’s a tough matchup this week for Boyd, who is best left on the bench. Likewise with Jeremy Hill – the job is all his with Giovani Bernard lost for the season, although this week Hill faces a Baltimore defense that allows the fewest rushing yards per game at 76.0.
Week 12 sleepers
Rashad Jennings (N.Y. Giants) has been on fire of late, and Cleveland allows the second-most rushing yards per game at nearly 144.
With injuries to Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood (Philadelphia) could be the Eagles’ Week 12 starter, and Green Bay has allowed an NFL-worst six rushing touchdowns over its past three games.
Steve Smith (Baltimore) has been the 10th-best fantasy receiver over the past three games – he's a high-end must-play right now.
At home, look for Broncos receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas to be solid plays against a Kansas City defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Green Bay allows the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and they have allowed a league-worst 120 points over its past three games, leaving Jordan Matthews (Philadelphia) as a high-end sleeper for a strong game Monday night.
Michael Floyd (Arizona) is up one week but down the next, although this could be an up game. Atlanta allows the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and the Atlanta/Arizona game has the second-highest over/under for total points scored for the week.
Will Tye (N.Y. Giants) remains a solid option at tight end. He has been a top 12 tight end over the past three weeks and Cleveland allows the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.
Alan Satterlee is a co-owner and senior writer for DynastyFootballWarehouse.com, a comprehensive fantasy football strategy site.