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Fantasy Football Volatility Index: Risky & Safe Starts for Week 12

Could Justin Jefferson post a dud on Thanksgiving day? Using NECC consistency rating to identify the riskiest and safest starts for Week 12 fantasy football.

There’s always risk in fantasy football. You’re never certain in the performance you’re going to get from a certain player when you start them. In order to help you make the best start/sit decisions for your fantasy team this week, I’ve used our NECC consistency rating to chart the safest and riskiest starts for Week 12.

What Is NECC Rating?

NECC stands for NerdBall Efficiency and Consistency Coefficient. It is a glorious stat, developed by our stats man Paddi Cooper, to help gage both a player’s consistency and efficiency with each touch in fantasy football. Here’s a full breakdown of what goes into the calculation.

The rating is a great way to help make determinations when it comes to weekly starts and sits as you have a clearer image of how volatile a player’s fantasy production has been this season. A player with a high NECC rating who’s in a bad matchup isn’t likely to be a great start. The reverse is likely to be a great start. Feel free to do your own digging with the stat and use it when making your own start sit decisions.

Let’s get it!

High-Risk Starts

Christian Watson (WR48 in NECC rating)

It’s been helluva two week stretch for Watson who has exploded onto the fantasy stage. He followed up his three touchdown performance in Week 10 vs the Cowboys with two touchdowns vs the Titans in Week 11. It isn’t a surprise that over those two weeks, Watson is the WR2 in .5PPR, second only to Davante Adams (beautifully ironic). Prior to these past two weeks, Watson had been a complete fantasy afterthought though, never finishing above WR37. How long will this new Watson last?

It might not matter which Watson shows up this week as the Eagles have been the best pass defense per NEFF rating this season. Over the last four weeks they’re allowing just 25.7 points per game to the position, good for sixth-best in the league. Only the Patriots, Broncos, and Texans have allowed fewer WR touchdowns this season. It’s hard not to start the hot hand of Watson, but this might be the matchup he comes back down to Earth in.

Samaje Perine (RB47)

Perine was easily one of Week 11’s biggest surprise performances, scoring three receiving touchdowns vs the Steelers. However, up until last week’s touchdown eruption, Perine had only finished above an RB2 once (Week 3 vs Jets). In every other game this season he’s been a low-end flex play or a fringe top-50 option.

The Titans boast the best run defense in football (per NEFF rating) and are allowing the seventh-fewest points to the position this season (18.5). They haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown to an opposing back in over four weeks. However, Tennessee is vulnerable to pass-catchers out of the backfield, allowing the most targets (86) and second-most receptions (67) to RBs this season. Perine could either hit another home run or strikeout in glorious fashion this week.

Ryan Tannehill (QB28)

Since his return in Week 10, Tannehill has been playing some good fantasy football. Over those games he’s been the QB8, averaging 19.7 PPG. Prior to that (Weeks 1 through 7 before he was injured), Tannehill was not playing good fantasy football. He was the QB26, averaging less than 12 PPG. This week will be a tough matchup for Tannehill to keep the good vibes going. The Bengals are one of five teams this year allowing fewer than 13 PPG to opposing QBs (12.7). I wouldn’t trust Tannehill as my QB1 this week.

Mid-Risk Starts

Tom Brady (QB18)

For the most part, Brady’s finished around a mid-tier QB2 this season. In 50% of his games this season he’s finished a mid-tier QB2 (which isn’t likely super helpful for those in a non-Superflex league but at least he’s consistent). In the other half of his games this year he’s ranged from an elite QB1 to a dud QB3. Quite the spectrum to choose from.

The Browns are league-average when it comes to QB PPG allowed (15.7, 14th-fewest) so the matchup doesn’t really tilt the needle in any direction. Cleveland has allowed the fourth-most passing touchdowns over the last four weeks with six, which could open the door for a solid Brady performance. I’m starting Brady in my Superflex league, but I wouldn’t be sure in 1QB leagues.

Michael Carter (RB30)

Carter’s last five games gives you a perfect picture of his average NECC rating. In Weeks 6 through 8, he finished a solid flex play (RB30 range). In Week 9 against the Bills, he finished an RB1. Last week against the Patriots, he barely finished a top-50 back. He also hasn’t been super efficient with his touches, ranking in the bottom third of RB PER rating, averaging 0.72 points per touch.

That all being said, this might be a Carter week. The Bears are allowing the sixth-most PPG to opposing backs this season (25.5). Even more than just the matchup, head coach Robert Saleh has announced that Mike White will start at QB for the Jets this week. White started three games last year and during those games, Carter averaged 7.3 targets per game. This season he’s averaging 3.4. He’s a solid flex start with RB2 upside in my book this week.

Justin Jefferson (WR28)

I know it’s inconceivable to willingly bench Justin Jefferson at any point. I’m not saying you should do that. I only want to note that for as great as Jefferson has been this season—and he has been great, finishing a top-5 WR in 50% of his games—he’s had a few real dud performances. Last week against the Cowboys is a great example, where he posted only 33 yards on 3 catches.

The Vikings face another elite defense this week in the Patriots. New England’s pass defense ranks No. 2 in NEFF rating and over the last four weeks is allowing just 18.3 WR PPG (1st). They are one of two defenses who haven’t allowed a WR touchdown during that time (the other is the Chargers). Like I said, I could never bench Jefferson, but I certainly wouldn’t be playing him in DFS this week and might construct my lineup expecting a potential ghost game from him.

Low-Risk Starts

Latavius Murray (RB5)

I know your league waivers have likely already run at this point, but if somehow Murray is still available, go add him right now. Stop reading and add him. Now. Since joining the Broncos, Murray has reliably been a flex play or better. He’s scored a touchdown or had 60-plus yards rushing in all but one game this season for Denver. And now he’s the lead back there with Denver cutting Melvin Gordon this week.

The Panthers this year rank eighth in RB PPG allowed (24.9) and they’ve been a bottom-5 unit over the last four weeks (29.5). Already coming off a RB1 performance last week vs the Raiders, all signs point to Murray doing it again.

Jakobi Meyers (WR12)

Meyers has consistently been the Patriots top receiving option this season. Over New England’s last three games, Meyers has seen at least 6 targets and 42 yards receiving. Only once this season has Meyers had fewer than 3 targets and 40 yards in a game. He’s not likely to wow you with his fantasy output, but he will be a reliable WR3/flex play.

That being said, Meyers might wow you this week given the matchup. No team has given up more WR PPG over the last four weeks than the Vikings (44.5). During that time, they’ve allowed 65 receptions (1st), 802 yards (2nd), and 5 touchdowns (T-2nd). Given his consistent target share, Meyers has WR2 upside this week.

Dawson Knox (TE7)

Since Week 6, Knox has been the TE8 in .5PPR with multiple TE1 finishes. He’s had over 40 yards receiving or a touchdown in all but three games this season. He’s become an even more vital part of the Bills’ passing game in the last two weeks, seeing at least six targets in each game.

Knox should be in for another strong week as the Lions have struggled all season to stop opposing tight ends. On the year they’re allowing the fourth-most PPG (14.8) and the second-most touchdowns (T-7) to the position. Knox’s increasing role in Buffalo in a plus-matchup makes him an easy and confident start this week.

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