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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Wide receivers for Week 12

You have lineup questions, we have lineup answers -- at least we hope so. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make difficult roster decisions. And you know what is a good move? Starting Christian McCaffrey. But that's too obvious, so you won't see such simple analysis here. Instead, we're exploring more debatable situations. And if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.

Start 'Em

Michael Pittman
Indianapolis Colts IND
Josh Downs
Indianapolis Colts IND

You start Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen each week in fantasy football, right? So why would you not do the same with Pittman -- who, alongside Adam Thielen and those three studs, are the only players in the NFL with six-plus games with double-digit targets. Pittman brings one of the safest floors in the league, with more than 14 fantasy points in four straight games (and in all but two on the season). Meanwhile, Downs scored more than 13 points in four straight games prior to his recent battle with a knee injury. He has a great chance to get back on track this week against the Buccaneers, coming off the Indy bye. Tampa Bay has given up the third-most yards to receivers this season and the most since Week 6. In total, the Bucs have allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to receivers. Get both Colts in your starting lineup this week. 

Adam Thielen
Carolina Panthers CAR

If you skipped past the Pittman/Downs section because they’re not on your team, go back and read the intro that included Thielen. I had the wily veteran as a sit last week, but then the Panthers changed up their play-caller (again) and everything changed. Thielen is back in play as a strong fantasy option with head coach Frank Reich once again calling the plays. With Reich at the helm, Thielen has averaged 20.3 fantasy PPG. In the three games with OC Thomas Brown calling plays, he averaged just 11.1 per game. The Titans have allowed decent production to slot receivers, as well. Thielen is back to must-start status as long as Reich is calling plays. 

Zay Flowers
Baltimore Ravens BAL
Odell Beckham
Baltimore Ravens BAL

Mark Andrews is unfortunately out for the year. There is no replacing him in fantasy football or for the Ravens -- but others will get more opportunity in his absence. Flowers has proven to be a safe-floor option, but more volume would lead to more upside. Don’t forget he had a long TD called back last week. Meanwhile, Beckham has been coming to life as of late. He scored a touchdown in his two games prior to Week 11, then had his first 100-yard game since the 2021 playoffs. He’s scored 11-plus fantasy points in three straight games. The Chargers have allowed the fourth-most yards to receivers on the season. They’ve allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to the position. Both Ravens receivers are in play in this one. 

Calvin Ridley
Jacksonville Jaguars JAX

If you run in fantasy football social media circles, you’ve probably heard that Calvin Ridley puts up better numbers when Zay Jones is active. In the four games that Jones has played, Ridley has scored 24.1, 5.2, 20.6 and last week’s 30.1. That equates to 20 fantasy PPG. In the weeks without Jones, Ridley has never reached 15 fantasy points. Ridley has also faired better against zone coverage as of late, which comes in handy this week against a Texans defense using zone over 80 percent of the time. This could be a shootout between two teams fighting to win their division. It’s a good week to get Ridley back in your lineup. 


Brandin Cooks
Dallas Cowboys DAL

This is a great week if you need to stream receivers. Cooks is the top option, as he has a fantastic matchup. The Commanders have allowed the most yards and touchdowns and the third-most fantasy PPG to WRs in 2023. They’ve also given up the most yards and touchdowns on deep passes. Cooks is certainly boom or bust, but there’s a high chance he goes boom this week.

Khalil Shakir is another streaming option this week against the Eagles. He has been more involved recently, topping 90 yards and 15 fantasy points in two of his last four. And the Eagles have allowed the most fantasy PPG to receivers. For deeper options, there’s Demario Douglas and Darius Slayton. Douglas has at least seven targets in three straight, and the Giants have allowed the second-most yards to receivers since Week 7. The Patriots have allowed the seventh-most in that span, and Slayton is coming off a big game. Both are purely deep-league or desperation plays. 

Sit 'Em

Jaylen Waddle
Miami Dolphins MIA

This one is a bit of a bold call. Waddle is far from a must-sit, but with no teams on bye, it’s quite possible you have better options this week. He has been slightly more reliable as of late, but still scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in two straight. He has just two games this season with 15-plus fantasy points. But his performance is less of a factor in this sit than the matchup. The Jets have allowed the fewest yards, touchdowns and fantasy PPG to receivers. Waddle runs 79 percent of his routes out wide, which is Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed territory, and runs the bulk if his routes from the left side, where Gardner tends to live. If you have another receiver you’re comfortable starting, you can bench Waddle. 

Amari Cooper
Cleveland Browns CLE

Amari Cooper is a very good wide receiver. We know this. And when Deshaun Watson has played, he has looked like a top fantasy option. But in five games without Watson, Cooper has averaged just 8.8 fantasy PPG. He has not reached 15 in any of those games. That means the floor is low and the upside is not much higher. Plus, he could see a lot of Pat Surtain II this week. Cooper runs 81 percent of his routes out wide, and Surtain plays exclusively out wide and often splits between the left and right sides, which means he could shadow Cooper. All of that is enough to pull him from your lineup. 

Diontae Johnson
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT
George Pickens
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT

It’s not you, Diontae and George -- it’s your quarterback. Kenny Pickett has averaged 116 yards per game in the last month, with one touchdown in that span. It has single-handedly dragged down two very talented receivers. Pickens is consistently running go routes, and Pickett has completed just four deep passes this season. Johnson has scored 6.3 fantasy points in his last two games combined. This has the makings of a slow-paced, low-scoring game with both teams running a bunch. Perhaps the firing of OC Matt Canada will open things up in Pittsburgh, but we need to see it first. Get away from the Steelers receivers for now. 

DeAndre Hopkins
Tennessee Titans TEN

Volume is king in fantasy football. Hopkins ran just 15 routes and had five targets last week. That is not kingly volume. And no, he wasn’t hurt or benched or anything. He led the Titans in both stats. They just have not been able to sustain drives with Will Levis. Hopkins has become a boom-or-bust option with the rookie QB under center. He has topped 15 fantasy points twice (35 in one) and been held to 10.5 or fewer in the other two. It basically comes down to whether he’ll catch a long touchdown or not. On the year, the Panthers have allowed the seventh-fewest yards and sixth-fewest touchdowns to receivers. They have allowed just two deep touchdowns to the position all year. With your entire roster at your disposal this week, you can get away from Hopkins. 

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