2023 Fantasy Football Week 12 Hot Takes: Kyler Murray, Kyren Williams & Tank Dell Are League Winners
Andrew Cooper brings you his fantasy football hot takes from Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season.
There is some debate as to what a “league winner” is in fantasy football. But there is no debate on the outcome - you win your league. For me, it doesn’t have to be as drastic as rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown being virtually useless until Week 11 and then steamrolling the final seven weeks. Or Alvin Kamara scoring six touchdowns in your championship matchup.
For me, the one important criteria for a league winner is that they are a player that ANYONE could have drafted or added off the wire (so no, Christian McCaffrey does not count as a “league winner”). These are the guys that give you that EXTRA advantage on top of the players you knew would be studs. And they show up and get hot at the exact right time.
Week 12 Hot Takes
Quarterback: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Some folks said that Kyler Murray wasn’t going to play at all this year. Others even said he was never going to play for the Cardinals again. Well, he certainly is playing right now. Because he started the season on the IR coming off a torn ACL, virtually anyone could have drafted him at his ADP of 203. If you had an IR spot in your league, that made things even easier but in many leagues, he was sitting on waivers for more than half the season.
The Cardinals themselves aren’t winning much but, since returning, Murray has looked like his old self out there and has scored a rushing touchdown in all three games. All you need in this fantasy world is a rushing TD and a passing TD and Murray is making that seem like a pretty easy task as of late. For teams that lost guys like Anthony Richardson, Joe Burrow, Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, etc., Kyler Murray is providing new life down the stretch.
Running Back: Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams
I’ll admit that I was off of Kyren Williams - especially in Dynasty. At the running back position you can be slow or you can be small but you typically can’t be both. Kyren is smaller than what we look for in a bell-cow back at 5’9” 194 and his 4.65 40-yard dash is 31st percentile per PlayerProfiler. That’s probably why he slid to the 5th round of the NFL draft. Williams this year is proving that you can’t judge a book by its cover or even its back cover for that matter as he started the year scoring 17+ PPR points in four of his six games. and, after missing the last five games, he just returned this week to score a whopping 38.4.
Williams doesn’t get to play the Cardinals every week of course (his next two games are against the Browns and Ravens which is rough) but he gets both the Commanders and Giants during fantasy playoffs. If you can make it that far, that matchup with the Giants during fantasy championship week is looking pretty juicy. And, with an ADP of 257, he’s a Zero RB drafter’s dream.
Wide Receiver: Tank Dell, Houston Texans
We saw a flash of it early on in the season. Tank Dell dropped seven for 72 and a touchdown against the Colts and five for 145 and a TD against the Jaguars. Then he had an ice-cold stretch with one for 16, three for 57, and three for 16. Things were starting to look bleak for the 5’10”, 165-pound rookie. But over the last four weeks, Dell has been a FORCE. He’s averaged over 10 targets and 92 yards in those games while scoring five touchdowns. He even had another HUGE catch this week that was nullified because of an illegal motion penalty. Over the last six weeks, he also has 10 carries so they are finding other creative ways to get him involved.
C.J. Stroud is looking like a lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year and is even making a case for MVP. His other weapons were affordable as well like Nico Collins at ADP 156 but Tank Dell at pick 228 on average was on the waiver wire in virtually every league. So anyone could have Tank Dell. The playoff schedule is BRUTAL for the Texans’ running backs and tight ends with the Titans, Browns, and Titans again so this team is going to have to let it fly. Tennessee is fourth in DVOA against the run but 28th against the pass, all while allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, so conditions are perfect for the young wide receiver.
Tight End: David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
The Browns are technically a playoff team as it stands right now but their fans likely aren’t super pumped about it. Especially the state of the quarterback position given the contract Deshaun Watson has. Amari Cooper and the wide receivers have struggled mightily without Watson but it’s been a different story for tight end David Njoku. And it doesn’t seem to matter much whether it’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson (currently in concussion protocol) or PJ Walker. In the five games with Deshaun Watson at the helm, Njoku has averaged 5.2 targets per game.
In the six games with the backups, he’s averaged 8.6 targets per game including another nine this past week. The remaining schedule for the Browns features the Rams, Jaguars, Texans, and Bengals who are all bottom-of-the-pack teams vs. the tight end. In fact, no team they play the remainder of the way is in the top half of teams vs. the position. He was pick 92 at TE10 and hit waivers in a lot of leagues after a slow start so anyone could have had him. And, with injuries to guys like Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and Dallas Goedert, some teams sure would love to have him.
DST: Cleveland Browns
This secret has been out of the bag for a while now on this defense. We even said back as early as Week 5 that the Browns were the only “set it and forget it” DST out there following their early bye week. But no one expected the Browns to be THIS good. In fantasy football, you can honestly have any defense you want if you just take the first one in the draft - the earliest defense off the board was the San Francisco 49ers at pick 91 which is right where David Njoku was going as the TE10 and Antonio Gibson as the RB34. But the Browns could be had for free as the 20th defense off the board at pick 243.
There is really no argument to be made right now as the Browns are first in DVOA against both the run AND the pass. Their fantasy playoff schedule goes Bears, Texans, Jets and, while the Texans are a formidable opponent as of late, the Bears and Jets are both towards the bottom of the league in turnovers, giving the ball away 19-20 times this year. And the Jets, who they get fantasy championship week, have allowed the third most sacks this season. We honestly don’t even know who will be playing quarterback. The one rub is this - Myles Garrett left the game with an injury and, if he misses time, that changes everything. We are waiting on an update for the Defensive Player of the Year candidate.