Does Jonathan Stewart's injury mean Deangelo Williams is "finally" set to put up some decent numbers? (Courtesy: Getty Images)
How realistic were some Week 12 risers? Are they legit enough for you to doubt or sit your star players? In most cases, you need to keep the faith in your squad's cornerstones.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: The Cheese showed holes Sunday night, but as long as they contain the Minnesota Vikings' Jared Allen, they'll get by. Though Rodgers has throw for just three scores over his last two games and hasn't topped 300 yards in any of his last four, expect a dominant performance versus one of his favorite passing pushovers.
RB Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns: Despite reaching the end zone last weekend, he's averaged just 3.16 yards per carry over his last two games. Luckily, Richardson has been on the receiving end as well with 41 receptions to help boost his fantasy value. He faces the Oakland Raiders' run defense, which has allowed a league-high 28.8 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields over the past month.
WR Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning loves to get the ball to his best after-the-catch playmaker. Thomas has topped seven targets in each of his last five games and has seen fewer than six once all year. In allowing 205.5 yards and 1.25 scores to wideouts in the last four, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have walked the plank. With Eric Wright suspended, their stormy secondary depths will continue sinking them.
WR Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: While Victor Cruz continues struggling with increasingly physical coverage, Nicks displayed a vintage look over his last two games: 14 catches, 152 yards and a score. The Washington Redskins secondary is battered in health and ability, so Nicks should cause an even bigger statistical landslide.
TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: Graham's recent performances have hardly been elite, but in case you thought about benching him: Don't. His eight touchdowns rank second to Rob Gronkowski, and Graham will revisit Week 10, when he soared over the same Atlanta Falcons with 146 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.
RB Chris "Beanie" Wells, Arizona Cardinals: His two goal line crossings canceled out a dismal average of 2.8 yards a carry. That's the way it'll work with Wells; you'll need him to break the plane. The New York Jets have been one of the league's most susceptible run defenses, but with Ryan Lindley taking snaps and Antonio Cromartie covering Larry Fitzgerald, they'll stack the box against Wells.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals: Back-to-back showings of 100-plus yards and a score will cement you in plenty of lineups. That momentum, however, is primarily a product of his last two opponents: the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. In Week 13, he'll be shocked by the San Diego Chargers, one of the toughest fantasy matchups for running backs not named Ray Rice.
WR Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams: Benching him after his one-catch effort last week may be a bit extreme, considering his Week 10 outing versus these San Francisco 49ers (11 catches, 102 yards). Still, he's coming off a limited workload as he continues gutting out his bum foot and the Niners will have a game plan for him. With Amendola snuffed out, Sam Bradford looks like a rookie.
RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: If you own Moreno in a point-per-reception format, he's likelier to break even. But Tampa Bay's wall between the tackles has been one of the best in the league. Plus, his surprising Week 12 workload came against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos may change things up this week as they look to abuse the Bucs' shoddy aerial coverage.
RB Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers: Dwyer had a notable outing two weeks ago against a Baltimore Ravens unit that's less daunting than in years past. Unfortunately, just because Dwyer is the new top backfield dog doesn't mean he'll have a hearty meal again. Isaac Redman and the demoted Rashard Mendenhall will continue to rotate in, and with Ben Roethlisberger (rib, shoulder) unlikely to replace Charlie Batch for Week 13, the ravenous Ravens will prepare even more for a ground assault.
RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Stewart's high ankle sprain finally unshackles Williams, who's been an afterthought for most of the year. Mike Tolbert may steal inside-the-5 opportunities, but the Chiefs lay out a welcome mat for the often-explosive Williams. Patient owners awaiting lead-back work for Ron Rivera's expensive placeholder should jump at the chance to use him.
WR Ryan Broyles, Detroit Lions: Titus Young's seat in Jim Schwartz's doghouse and Broyles' 12-target, six-catch, 126-yard Thanksgiving put the mighty mite near the top of Matthew Stafford's pecking order. The Indianapolis Colts' pass defense could struggle covering the Lions' new weapon.
TE Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans: A new offensive system with more vertical freedom should unchain Jake Locker. Cook stands to break loose, as well. The Houston Texans have struggled versus this position and quarterbacks overall thanks to key injuries.
WR Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys: Miles Austin (hip, back) and Kevin Ogletree (concussion) are questionable for Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, who've been relatively fantasy-friendly to wide receivers. Beasley, the rookie slot man, looked quite comfortable with seven catches on 13 Turkey Day targets following Austin's departure.
New York Jets Defense: As previously mentioned, a team that's attacking the Cardinals' Lindley stands as a noteworthy one-off play. As long as they cover Fitzgerald, the Jets should get a decent pass rush on the rookie slinger. Lindley has been sacked five times and thrown four picks in the last two weeks.