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Harsh Reality, Week 12: Try not to make mistakes as the playoffs get closer

With only a week or two until your playoffs, you may want to avoid these guys.


It's time for another edition of Harsh Reality, where we count down the best fantasy options every week ... except that we stop at 28! So these are the players you might NOT want to start in Week 12.

The fantasy playoffs are likely right around the corner for most leagues. At most you have two, maybe three games in order to make the postseason. Good luck with that, non-sarcastically. If you start the following players, though (based off of their performance + Football Outsiders DVOA ratings + regular stats of the defenses they are facing this week), good luck with that (sarcastically)!

The top two pass defenses in the NFL by DVOA, the Seahawks and the Bengals, have the week off. What quarterbacks will have a tough time anyway?


32. Geno Smith, Jets at Ravens

He's coming off a bad game, and this one is on the road. That means he should have both a great game and a terrible game. Which is true? It's most likely the latter.

31. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins vs Panthers

30. Robert Griffin III, Redskins vs 49ers

It's not the sophomore season most were expecting before RG3 hurt his knee, but the lack of a running game has seriously put a damper on his fantasy value. He has five touchdowns over the last two weeks, but San Francisco has a better defense than the Vikings and Eagles.

29. Matt Ryan, Falcons vs Saints

A short week, and Rob Ryan's pass defense is actually pretty solid. Matt Ryan is up to nine interceptions in his last four games.

28. Andrew Luck, Colts at Cardinals

Arizona is ranked as the No. 1 defense in the NFL by DVOA. Luck protects the football well ,and the Cards force turnovers. Expecting more than two touchdowns wouldn't make much sense -- that could be his max outpu -- but zero or one seems more likely.

Surpriser of the Week: Philip Rivers, Chargers at Chiefs

Rivers is enjoying a career year under Mike McCoy. Kansas City is like a whole new team under Andy Reid. Really, much of the Chiefs' success makes sense based on having four Pro Bowl players on defense a year ago, but now the offense isn't quite as terrible.

That should give the KC D enough rest to be able to contain Rivers. Maybe.

Running back

32. Ray Rice, Ravens vs Jets

The Jets are due to win this week, and if they do, it's because of their top-ranked run defense.

31. Trent Richardson, Colts at Cardinals

Trent Richardson says he's actually playing good. Has he watched Trent Richardson?

30. Lamar Miller, Dolphins vs Panthers

29. Bobby Rainey, Bucs at Lions

The Lions' overall defense isn't good, but their run defense is ranked fourth by DVOA. A far cry from their 27th-ranked pass defense, but enough reason to think Rainey might struggle.

28. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys at Giants

Surpriser of the Week - Chris Ivory, Jets at Ravens

Ivory is playing like a man on fire after finally getting a shot to be "the guy" for a team. He's had three great games out of his last four, but the Ravens' defense is equally on fire lately and great at stopping the run.

Wide receiver

32. T.Y. Hilton, Colts at Cardinals

Like what we said above about Arizona, but with more highlighting of Patrick Peterson.

31. Denarius Moore, Raiders vs Titans

The play of Alterraun Verner this season is perhaps being severely underrated. He is starting to put himself in the conversation with Peterson, Joe Haden, Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis.

30. Pierre Garcon, Redskins vs 49ers

29. Steve Smith, Panthers at Dolphins

28. Antonio Brown, Steelers at Browns

More talk about how good Joe Haden is.

Surpriser of the Week - Demaryius Thomas, Broncos vs Patriots

Not benchable by any means, but Thomas is facing off against the New England Patriots this week, and they rank fourth against a No. 1 wide receiver by DVOA. It might be a day when Peyton Manning focuses more on Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno. The Pats are ranked 32nd against a No. 2 receiver.

Fright Ends

Jordan Reed, Redskins vs 49ers

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions vs Bucs

Martellus Bennett, Bears at Rams

Amid another losing season, the Rams are now ranked No. 1 in the NFL against tight ends by DVOA.

Surpriser of the Week - Antonio Gates, Chargers at Chiefs

Closing in on St. Louis in that category is Kansas City. The Chiefs are ranked second in the NFL against tight ends. Gates is having his best season since 2010 and really stepped up after numerous injuries to the receiving crew in San Diego, but he might struggle at Kansas City.

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