Samaje Perine Fantasy Outlook: Should you start him in Week 12?


Samaje Perine could be the starting running back for the Cincinnati Bengals and your fantasy team in Week 12 as we look at the possibility that both of the RBs ahead of him on the depth chart will miss the game with the New York Giants due to injuries. Joe Mixon, the man expected to lead the Bengals’ rushing attack following his big contract extension in the summer, has been sidelined for several weeks with a foot injury.

While the Bengals were optimistic that he’d be back before long, they finally made the decision to place him on injured reserve prior to the Week 11 matchup with the Washington Football Team. Doing so guaranteed that he’d miss at least three weeks and, with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow’s season-ending prematurely due to injury, it doesn’t make sense for the Bengals to rush Mixon back.

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Is Giovani Bernard playing in Week 12?

With Mixon out of the picture, the Bengals turned to veteran Giovani Bernard, but Bernard is now dealing with injury concerns of his own. He made it through Sunday’s game largely unscathed but appeared on Wednesday’s injury report with a concussion and didn’t practice.

The NFL’s concussion protocol requires players to clear a number of physical and medical tests, concluding with a team physician signing the player off after a full practice. The protocol was deliberately put in place to ensure that players have fully recovered after a concussion and aren’t putting themselves at further risk by playing so it’s not a quick process that can be bypassed like with other injuries. If there are any concerns, then the player will not be cleared.

While it’s not yet certain what Bernard’s status is, and fantasy managers should continue to check the Bengals injury report and our Week 12 RB rankings throughout the week, preparations should be made for Bernard missing the game.

Who is Samaje Perine?

Samaje Perine has had an underwhelming career, both in fantasy and real life, since being selected by the Washington Football Team in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

He showed promise in his rookie season, rushing 175 for 603 yards but has failed to make an impact since that point. He was waived by Washington in 2019 following the arrival of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, who was brought in to play a similar role on early downs.

Related | Antonio Gibson or JD McKissic: Which Washington RB has most fantasy value?

Following that, he bounced around from the Cincinnati Bengals to the Miami Dolphins before landing back in Cincinnati in the offseason. When he arrived, Joe Mixon was the unquestioned starter in Cincinnati, but Perine was brought in as depth behind Bernard, who had performed admirably in the past, both as a backup to Mixon and an occasional spot starter when injury forced him into a more prominent role.

Perine’s involvement has increased throughout the season, though, acting as the change of pace back and taking some carries from the largely ineffective Giovani Bernard. His cousin, La’Mical Perine, was selected by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft and has, since Le’Veon Bell’s trade, found himself involved in the Jets’ running back by committee approach alongside veteran Frank Gore.

If Gio Bernard is forced to miss the game, then Perine should see plenty of opportunities. Trayveon Williams is the only other healthy running back on the roster to have received a carry this season, and Perine looks to be clearly ahead of him on the depth chart.

Samaje Perine has been active for every game this season. He has carried the ball 24 times for 102 yards and a touchdown while also catching four of his five targets for 14 yards. Perine rushed five times for 19 yards and caught one of his two targets for two yards in Sunday’s 20-9 loss to Washington.

Finding a running back on the waiver wire at this stage of the season who is going to get the majority of the backfield reps is definitely worthy of adding to your fantasy roster. The Bengals play the struggling New York Giants in Week 12 in a match that will add further temptation. The Giants have actually allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game, though, despite facing players who have produced throughout the season. When you consider the issues that the Bengals have had running the ball throughout the season, Perine becomes a risky play.

The injury to Joe Burrow could negatively affect the game script for the Bengals and end up limiting the number of rushing attempts that the team has, but it would still be a surprise if Perine didn’t see 10+ carries. On the other hand, the fact that Brandon Allen is starting at quarterback could provide Perine with more opportunities.

Allen spent the 2019 season with the Denver Broncos and was largely inaccurate. The Giants haven’t been leading in many games so far this season and, if it’s the low-scoring affair that it looks as if it might be, the Bengals could rely on the running game and Samaje Perine to spearhead their offense.

While the expectation is that Samaje Perine will only have fantasy value for one week, a strong performance could see him rewarded with more playing time for the remainder of the season, beginning with the Miami Dolphins in Week 13.

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Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PFN365 to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also seeing our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

Andy Gallagher is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @AndySGallagher on Twitter.

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