Week 12: Start 'Em
When it comes to setting your lineups for each week of the fantasy season, a good rule of thumb is simply to not over think it. You drafted players for a reason and in almost all cases, it is to play them from the jump. Then again, don't let draft day pride interfere with a basic - or detailed - look at the match-ups, something you most likely do throughout the season. That's why we offer the "Start 'em" column, where we look beyond the obvious names to offer suggestions on potential lineup options, perhaps someone sitting on your bench right now that you may have simply overlooked. Throughout the season check back here for sleepers and oh so subtle plays and also sneak a peak at our Matchup Analyzer page.
The 49ers really loved Kaepernick when they drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but due to how well Alex Smith played last year, Kaepernick didn't see the field very often. This season the 49ers have used Kaepernick in the wildcat and for some passes here and there. That was until Smith went down with a concussion and missed the game vs. the Bears. No one was sure what to expect from a second year QB with a total of 31 pass attempts to his name, facing one of the best defenses in the league, the Chicago Bears. Kaepernick exceeded everyone's expectations by passing for 243 yards with 2 touchdowns and no ints, as well as 12 yards rushing. After such a display, don't be surprised if Smith sits out many more weeks. After facing the Bears D, Kaepernick should have a much easier time against his next opponent -- the Saints, who have been one of the worst defenses in the league this season. If you are one of the many fantasy owners with an injured QB or underperforming QB, Colin is your man. Don't hesitate, get him started.
Rookie Vick Ballard wasn't expected to do much in his first season in the league. That was until starter Donald Brown went down with an injury and missed a few games. Since taking over as the starter, Ballard has averaged 82 total yards, as well as 8 catches and 1 touchdown. While those are not numbers that blow you away (he has been sharing the load with Brown), they can definitely help if you have injury issues (and there have been many injuries the past few weeks). This week Ballard faces the 2nd worst rush defense in the league, the Bills, who are giving up 153 yards per game. Don't be afraid to give Ballard a chance.
If McCoy sits out Monday night with a concussion, I would seriously give Bryce Brown a shot at starting. Despite the fact that the Eagles aren't very good, neither are their opponents the Carolina Panthers, so Brown is definitely worthy of a spot start as either a RB2 or flex option. Brown was drafted in the 7th round, but he has first round talent after being the #1 High School RB in 2008, ahead of guys like Trent Richardson. So don't be discouraged by his low draft spot or the crappy team he is playing for. Watch him breakout on MNF if given the chance.
With Willis McGahee out for the next 6-8 weeks, the Broncos will need to look elsewhere for help in the running game. For this week's upcoming game vs. the Chiefs, expect rookie Ronnie Hillman to get first crack. After McGahee went down last week, Hillman got the most touches; he had 12 rushes for 43 yards as well as 2 catches for 16 yards. Hillman has very good hands (no fumbles this season) and great speed, so despite the fact that the Broncos will also let Lance Ball carry some of the load, Hillman will be given every chance to be the main guy. Expect at least 20 total touches. Hillman makes for a solid RB2 or flex start this week.
When MJD went down, the Jags just gave the starting job to Rashad Jennings (who was given every opportunity, but failed week in and week out --a lot of that had to do with the rest of his team sucking). Last week Parmele was the main man for the Jags and despite playing vs. one of the better defenses in the league, he was able to rush for 80 yards as well as 3 catches but for only 3 yards. He will be the starter this week when the Jags face a weak Tennessee Titans run defense, giving up 132 yards per game. If you are in desperate need of an RB2 you could give Parmele a look, but he probably fits better as a flex.