Taysom Hill plunged the fantasy world into chaos when it was announced he would be starting at quarterback for the Saints. Hill, sporting dual TE/QB eligibility in ESPN leagues, instantly became a big-time waiver pickup and streamer option at the TE position. That, plus a great matchup with a porous Falcons, defense made him a top target. This week, though, Hill is now just listed as a QB across all leagues, and he’s facing a much tougher matchup. That’s why he lands among our Week 12 bust picks along with other potential players to avoid like Lamar Jackson, Melvin Gordon, Brandon Aiyuk, Jonnu Smith, and more.
As always, our bust picks are just recommendations of players to avoid based on a variety of factors, including poor matchups, workload issues, or players who have just gone cold. You’re welcome to trust any of these candidates, especially if you don’t have a comparable option on your bench, but be aware that their floors and ceilings may be lower than some of the other available streamers, sleepers, and fill-in options.
Our bust picks were on point in Week 11. Mark Ingram and Ronald Jones both had poor showings, and it appears that the former has been replaced as the starter. Tom Brady had prime-time issues again, and Matthew Stafford (thumb) couldn’t score against the Panthers. Jarvis Landry didn’t do much at receiver, and Hayden Hurst laid an egg at tight end. We had some misses, including Salvon Ahmed, Jared Goff, and the Rams D/ST, so we’ll look to cut down on those in the upcoming week.
Week 12 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Melvin Gordon, Broncos vs. Saints (Jacob Camenker). Gordon is coming off a two-TD game and one of his best outings of the year, but it’s hard to recommend trusting him against the Saints. New Orleans has allowed just 660 rushing yards to RBs this season, second fewest to only the Buccaneers, and RBs have only scored five total TDs against them, the fewest in the NFL. Gordon may get more opportunities to score in the future, but this matchup isn’t a good one for him, especially considering that he’s still splitting touches with Phillip Lindsay.
Kenyan Drake, Cardinals at Patriots (Vinnie Iyer). The Patriots tightened up against the run last week, and this game screams for more of Kyler Murray running around and passing downfield.
Nyheim Hines, Colts vs. Titans (Matt Lutovsky). Hines followed up his monster game against these same Titans in Week 10 (17 touches, 115 total yards, two TDs) with a nine-touch, 33-yard effort in a favorable matchup against Green Bay last week. He’s never a sure thing, and it seems likely Tennessee will be more prepared for a Hines-centric attack this week. Don’t chase points.
Week 12 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Lamar Jackson, Ravens @ Steelers (Camenker). In two career starts against the Steelers, Jackson has averaged 184.5 passing yards, 1.5 TDs, and 3.5 turnovers per game. He has added 67.5 rushing yards on average in those games, but it’s clear that he struggles against the Steelers defense. Without two of his three best running backs for a game that has been moved from Thursday to Sunday, Jackson’s struggles should continue given how good the Steelers’ defense has looked of late.
Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Raiders (Iyer). Ryan is so tough to trust because of Julio Jones’ hamstring injury, even in a solid matchup at home. He seems to come with higher risk than reward as more of a QB2.
Taysom Hill, Saints @ Broncos (Lutovsky). Hill salvaged his day with two late rushing TDs last week, but his matchup against Atlanta’s 31st-ranked pass defense helped him early on. The Broncos are much tougher against the pass (ninth), so if New Orleans shows an unwillingness to run Hill early again, he could fall behind the eight ball. It’s unclear if he’s a good enough passer to rally, and it’s entirely possible he gets benched. When you put it all together, he’s a risky play this week despite having a decent floor.
Week 12 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Tee Higgins, Bengals vs. Giants (Camenker). Higgins has emerged as a quality wideout during his rookie season, but with Joe Burrow (ACL) out for the rest of the season, Higgins’ value will evaporate. He has to work with Brandon Allen at QB, and Allen has completed fewer than 50 percent of his NFL passes to date. That, and a potential matchup across from James Bradberry, should ensure that Higgins won’t have a very good week.
Corey Davis, Titans at Colts (Iyer). He delivered in a tough spot last week, but it doesn’t happen again here on the road vs. a secondary ready to make amends for Week 11 struggles at home.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers @ Rams (Lutovsky). Aiyuk is expected to play despite being on the COVID list to open the week, but there are several variables that could work against him. If Deebo Samuel (hamstring) is active, Aiyuk will likely see fewer targets (like the three he saw the first time these teams met). If Samuel is out, Aiyuk is more likely to see Jalen Ramsey in coverage. Either way, he’s a risk in a week where the WR position is loaded.
Week 12 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Jordan Reed, 49ers @ Rams (Camenker). Reed will get opportunities, but the Rams defense is strong. Brandon Aiyuk (COVID) and Deebo Samuel (hamstring) are questionable, and if they’re both out, the Rams can shift their attention to Reed. If even one or both of the receivers play, it’s hard to trust Reed since he has yet to play more than 50 percent of the 49ers’ offensive snaps in a game.
Jared Cook, Saints at Broncos (Iyer). There was no real connection between Cook and Taysom Hill. Adam Trautman is also getting more involved, and the wide receivers are all healthy, too.
Jonnu Smith, Titans @ Colts (Lutovsky). Look, we’re just gonna keep picking Jonnu until he doesn’t score. He’s burned us with short TDs in each of the past three games, but he’s done very little otherwise in that span (eight catches, 67 total yards). The Colts have been struggling a bit against TEs lately, but they still allow the third-fewest FPPG to the position. Expect a regression to the mean for both parties in this one.
Week 12 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
Kansas City Chiefs @ Buccaneers (Camenker). It may seem tempting to target Tom Brady after he threw a couple of interceptions and looked out of sorts against the Rams, but the Chiefs just struggled to slow down the Raiders offense and Brady should bounce back after a loss.
Washington Football Team at Cowboys (Iyer). Dallas’ offense isn’t the same as it was in Week 7 with Andy Dalton.
Chicago Bears @ Packers (Lutovsky). Fewer offenses have been tougher against fantasy D/STs than Green Bay, and that’s despite back-to-back poor games where it allowed a return TD and turned it over six times. That trend won’t continue, putting Chicago in a low-ceiling, low-floor spot on Sunday night.