Josh Jordan

Fantasy football under-the-radar plays — Week 12

Baker Mayfield couldn't ask for a better matchup. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Week 12 is already here and I’m back to give out more sleeper plays. Remember to set your lineups early with 3 games being played on Thursday. My standard for a good fantasy game is around 100 total yards and/or a TD, and this is for PPR scoring. A game with a lot of catches helps too, obviously. Of course, the bar is a little lower for TEs. 

I went 6-6 last week, and you can check out that article here. I counted both QBs as a loss, even though they were middle of the pack-ish. Sorry, Week 11 was my worst week of the year. I will continue to look for players that can help you with playoff implications on the line heading forward. These players are in no particular order.

QB

Baker Mayfield (CLE): The Bengals are allowing over 32 FPTS/G to QBs over their last 4 games. Is that good?

Andy Dalton (CIN): I’m a little concerned that A.J. Green may not be back, but the matchup is tasty. Plus, our rule on QBs says that if we expect Mayfield to have a big game, we should expect the opposing QB to do the same. Here's hoping that rule comes through again this week!

RB

Nick Chubb (CLE): The Bengals defense is getting torched, so make sure you fire up Chubb this week. Cincinnati is allowing almost 39 FPTS/G to RBs over their last 4, and over 5 yards/carry.

Mark Ingram (NO): I put Ingram in this article 2 weeks in a row and he’s been money. Why mess with a good thing? The Falcons are a Top 2 matchup for RBs allowing over 33 FPTS/G to the position.

Marlon Mack (IND): Mack should come through again as long as he’s healthy. The Colts offense is really heating up.

Phillip Lindsay (DEN): The Steelers are an average matchup for RBs over their last 4 games allowing over 25 FPTS/G to the position.

Matt Breida (SF): I get it. He's brittle, but the matchup is too good to pass up. The Bucs are allowing just under 30 FPTS/G to RBs in their last 5.

WR

Allen Robinson (CHI): *Proceed with caution. His QB situation is concerning now.

He’s in a great spot to put up some points on Turkey Day against the Lions. Detroit is giving up over 43 FPTS/G to WRs over their last 5 games, and he smashed the Lions for over 100-yards and 2 TDs only 2 weeks ago.

Calvin Ridley (ATL): He had his best game of the year against the Saints earlier this season, so he’s worth taking a flyer on. His involvement in the offense lately has been concerning, so he’s no lock to blow up. This matchup is good however, and when you’re dealing with sleepers, beggars can’t be choosers.

Amari Cooper (DAL): I put Cooper in this article last week and he killed me, but I’m going to give him another shot. Washington is giving up over 41 FPTS/G to WRs in their last 5 games.

Doug Baldwin (SEA): He’s not perfect but he seems to be a lot healthier and starting to come on. He’s in a good spot against a Carolina D that is allowing almost 37 FPTS/G to WRs in their last 5. They really struggle with TEs as well, so Baldwin could come up BIG in the slot this week.

TE

Jordan Reed (WAS): He had a nice game against Houston in Week 11, and now he gets a Dallas defense that allowed 25 catches in their last 4 games to TEs, and over 17 FPTS/G.

C. J. Uzomah (CIN): He hasn’t been very good, but this is purely about the matchup. The Browns have given up an insane 37 catches to TEs over their last 4 games, and are allowing almost 23 FPTS/G to the position.

 

That’s all I have for this week. For more fantasy info, make sure you check out my show Moneyline on ESPN 97.5 every Sunday from 10-noon. Jerry Bo and I will get you ready for kickoff and answer any questions you may have. Also, follow us on Twitter.

Good luck in Week 12 and Happy Thanksgiving!

@jordanpfx

@JerryBoKnowz

@Moneyline975

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Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

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