Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em – Week 13
No More Byes!!!
Every week, there are certain fantasy studs who you simply have to start no matter what. Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and A.J. Green fall into that category, to name a few. There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well. But then, there are those players whom you have no idea whether to start or sit. Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictates one way or the other.
Matthew Stafford (vs. Ind) – Here comes the “Second-Half Staff push, fellas. After a super-slow start to the season, Stafford has now been in the top-five fantasy scorers in three of the past five weeks and has made his way up to eighth on the overall totem pole. The addition-by-subtraction move the Lions made last week concerning the Titus Young suspension and Ryan Broyles insertion into the starting lineup could be the catalyst Stafford needed to get back to where he belongs—in the top-five fantasy QBs. We’ll see for sure this weekend with the Lions playing at home against a very beatable Colts secondary. Detroit isn’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs just yet, but it’s close enough where I expect Matty to let loose a little bit and start whirling the ball all over the place—which can end up being a good thing for fantasy owners.
Tony Romo (vs. Phi, Sunday night) – The fantasy stars were aligned for Tony Romo against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving, even if the real life stars were crashing down all over Dallas Cowboys. His 441 yards passing were a bit more than I expected, but the three TDs he tossed up weren’t as he was due for the yearly fantasy outburst that puts him right around the top-ten region. This week he’ll be facing off against another divisional foe when he takes on a down-and-out Eagles team on Sunday night. The Eagles looked absolutely awful against an offensively-challenged Carolina Panthers last Monday, so there’s no reason to believe that Romo be able to outdo his production from their last matchup in Week 10 when he threw for 209 yards and two TDs.
Eli Manning (at Was, Monday night) – Finally! After tossing up just two TDs in his last five games and ZERO in his last three, Eli Manning came out of his rut to toss for 249 yards and three TDs against the Packers last Monday night. Does this mean his fantasy season is about to turn around? It might, and will certainly be helped out going up against one of the worst pass defense in the league this Monday night. In fact, Manning’s last 300-yard game came against the Redskins back in Week 7, so he’ll at least have the confidence to make it happen. If he needs any more confidence, all he has to do is look at the to-date statistics as Washington has allowed the most passing TDs in the NFL this year as well as the third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. These inner-division games change things up a bit, as shown by Eli’s two total TD passes in his last five games against these guys, but I believe he overcomes his past after the confidence-builder he put up last week.
Andy Dalton (at SD) – Andy Dalton is slowly becoming a bit of a fantasy stud as he now has six games with 20 or more fantasy points on the season and seven games with three or more total TDs. He’s accomplished both in each of the last three weeks with his last two coming against teams from the same division as his opponent this Sunday, the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have been a bit up-and-down against the pass this year and are currently right in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs. However, they’ve been nailed by the injury bug yet again of late and are giving up a ton in the secondary because of it. Look for Dalton to put in another nice low-end QB1 performance this weekend.
Others with QB1 Potential:
Cam Newton (at KC)
Chad Henne (at Buf)
Andrew Luck (at Det)
Brandon Weeden (at Oak)
Ryan Tannehill (vs. NE)
Colin Kaepernick (at StL)
Russell Wilson (at Chi)
Trent Richardson (at Oak) – So let me get this straight. Trent Richardson is a rookie who missed a bunch of the pre-season due to knee surgery, yet has no idea what a “rookie wall” is considering his 106 carries in the last four games (26.5 per game); has scored a touchdown or rushed for 100 yards in all three games against the Ravens and Steelers thus far; and currently sits within the top-five in fantasy scoring for running backs on the year. Do I have that all correct? The answer is, of course, yes. I could go into how astonishing, yet completely unsurprising all this is, but instead I’ll simply talk about how dominant Trent will be this weekend. The Oakland Raiders have allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns, the most receptions and the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season, all things that Richardson will pile up on all game long this Sunday. In fact, I’ll be surprised as all hell if the rookie doesn’t end up with more than 100 rushing yards, 150 total yards, five receptions and a touchdown or two in this one.
Jamaal Charles (vs. Car) – Jamaal Charles has double-digit fantasy points in three straight games now after his 23-carry, 107-yard game against a tough Broncos rush defense last week. His 4.8 yards per carry this season are nearly a yard below his career average (5.7 YPC), but still rank within the top-ten for running backs on the season. This week he’ll keep his home cleats on against a Carolina Panthers rush defense that just got torched by rookie Bryce Brown for 178 yards and two touchdowns last Monday night. The week before that they were lit up by another rookie, Doug Martin, to the tune of 138 yards on 24 carries. Against a team that has trouble tackling as is, a speedster like “The Ostrich” should be able to come up with a couple of long runs and easily find himself in the RB1 range this week.
C.J. Spiller (vs. Jax) – Even though Fred Jackson actually played three more snaps than Spiller did against the Colts last weekend, C.J. still came out with more touches in the game edging Jackson by a margin of 15 to 7. Coach Chan Gailey hasn’t jumped off the bandwagon yet, either, as he came out to say after the game that Spiller will continue to see the most action this week against the Jaguars. If that is indeed the case, then Spiller should be able to put up better numbers than the 107 yards on 14 carries he did last weekend considering the Jags have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards and sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. The main reason C.J. wasn’t in the game as much as F-Jax was because Jackson is a far superior pass protector. However, that won’t be an issue in this game with the Jaguars being tied for the least amount of sacks in the league. Being at home where Spiller tends to shine, I’m expecting a fat breakout game for the speed demon in this one.
Frank Gore (at StL) – I expected more out of Frank the Tank last week going up against a weak New Orleans Saints defense, but 101 total yards and a touchdown isn’t all that bad, so I’ll give him a pass. This weekend he’ll be travelling to yet another indoor arena where he’ll take on another porous defense in the St. Louis Rams. Earlier this season, the two teams played to the only tie of the year as Gore amassed 115 total yards (97 rushing) in the game with a fourth-quarter 20-yard touchdown. His career has been more down than up against the Rams of late, but a season-ending injury to Kendall Hunter will force the 49ers to ride Gore a bit more from here on out and I expect him to rise to the challenge well.
Doug Martin (at Den) – If a song about the “Muscle Hamster” doesn’t find its way onto the airwaves sometime soon, I’ll be forced to create one on my own. The kid is legit, folks, and it doesn’t look like the “rookie wall” is going to hit him like it does most players in their first year out of college. In fact, Martin has gotten better as the season has progressed and it seems like the coaching staff has noticed as they’ve given him 20 or more touches in five straight games now. This week will undoubtedly be a tough test for him, though, with the Broncos being one of the better run defenses in the league. The Donkeys have allowed the second-fewest yards per carry so far this season (3.6) and have given up just one rushing touchdown to an opposing RB in their past six games. That being said, Martin is one of those backs that tends to break trends and is already one of the better red-zone RBs in the league. He may not put up outstanding numbers this week, but I still expect him to land in the top-ten one way or another.
Alfred Morris (vs. NYG, Monday night) – Is Alfred Morris the best RB2 in the league, or can he be considered an RB1 for the rest of the season? You say tomato, I say f#$% off. Every time I lose a little confidence in this kid, he shows me up and runs for 100 yards or a touchdown—or both, like he did last week against the Cowboys. This week the Redskins stay within the division as they come back home to take on the NFC East-leading Giants. Strange as it sounds, this could actually be a huge game-changer for the ‘Skins because if they end up beating the G-Men, they’ll be within one game of the division lead and certainly back in the playoff picture. Obviously they’ll ride RGIII as much as they can, but Morris will have to be a big part of the game as well like he was back in Week 7 against them when he ran for 120 yards on 22 carries. New York can be pretty nasty against the run from time to time, but they tend to tire out towards the end of games due to their emphasis on the pass-rush and have had their struggles containing bruisers like Morris because of it. It may not be pretty, but Alfred should be able to come out with pretty good numbers by the end of this battle.
Others with RB1 Potential:
Bryce Brown (at Dal, Sunday night)
Mikel Leshoure (vs. Ind)
Ahmad Bradshaw (at Was, Monday night)
Ryan Mathews (vs. Cin)
Darren Sproles (at Atl, Thursday night)
Beanie Wells (at NYJ)
Knowshon Moreno (vs. TB)
Darren McFadden (vs. Cle)
Rashad Jennings (at Buf)
Jonathan Dwyer (at Bal)
Chris Ivory (at Atl, Thursday night)
Vick Ballard (at Det)
Joique Bell (vs. Ind)
Mike Tolbert (at KC)
Wes Welker (at Mia) – Wes Welker has at least five catches in ten straight games now after accumulating seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving. I mention this because in the nine games he’s faced the Dolphins since joining the Patriots back in 2007, NOT ONCE did Welker catch fewer than five balls in a game. In fact, some of his finest performances as a pro have been against Miami, with one of them coming in Miami last season when he had eight receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns. With Tom Brady’s other go-to guy, Rob Gronkowski, still out with an injury, you can bet Welker will see his fair share of targets in this game and should be able to put up WR1-type numbers with the action.
Julio Jones (vs. NO, Thursday night) – Jones had been dealing with an ankle injury prior to last week’s game, but evidently he was able to put the injury behind him seeing as how he torched Tampa Bay for 147 yards on six catches, including an 80-yard TD. The big man out of Alabama is definitely back on track now and will be looking to go off against a Saints team he’s had success against before. In their final match-up last season, Jones came down with eight catches for 128 yards and a TD against them while back in their first game of 2012, he was well on his way to a big game before hurting his ankle and ended up with just four catches for 75 yards. You can bet he’ll want to make up for his lost time in that one, so with this game having all the makings of an old-fashioned shootout and Jones coming off one of his best games of the season, I’m banking on his putting up at least 100 yards and a TD.
Dez Bryant (vs. Phi, Sunday night) – Dez Bryant is obviously on the best roll of his career right now as he’s caught 23 balls for 377 yards and four touchdowns over the last three weeks. In fact, if Calvin Johnson hadn’t transformed back into Megatron right around the same time, Bryant would have the most fantasy points in the league for wide receivers since Week 10. This Sunday night, the Cowboys welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to town—and I do mean “welcome”—as Bryant will look to continue his recent hot play against the same team he started his latest streak against back in Week 10. In that game, Dez had three catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, but with as poor as the Eagles defense has been playing of late and as well as Bryant has been playing, I expect even better numbers this time around.
Jordy Nelson (vs. Min) – Jordy Nelson’s big-play ability was out in full force last Sunday night when he caught that 61-yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers on the Packers fourth play from scrimmage. Unfortunately, Jordy would make just one catch on the evening, but his final numbers were still good enough to place him in the WR2 range for the week. This Sunday, the Packers return home after not playing there since Week 9 to take on a fast-fading Minnesota Vikings secondary. In their last five games, the Vikes have given up 11 passing TDs and allowed seven different receivers to put up nine or more fantasy points against them, so Nelson looks to be in good shape here. Greg Jennings returning to the lineup should also be a nice boost for him as the defense will now have one more threat they’ll need to pay attention to. In last year’s home match-up against Minnesota, Jordy grabbed five passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns. I expect something close to that again this Sunday.
Andre Johnson (at Ten) – When Andre Johnson caught nine balls for 188 yards last week, a new NFL record was set as he now has the most receiving yards in a two-game stretch (461) in the history of the league. For fantasy owners, I’m sure a touchdown would have been nice to see in his stat-line as he only has three of them on the season, but beggars can’t be choosers. This weekend, Andre will be facing a Tennessee team that he used to destroy on a regular basis, but hasn’t really done much against in their last two meetings. However, with the out-of-his-mind way he’s been playing of late, I believe he gets back to his old ways and takes it to them this Sunday. If Cecil Shorts and rookie Justin Blackmon can catch TD passes from Chad Henne against them (as they did last week), then I’m pretty sure ‘Dre can as well.
Victor Cruz (at Was, Monday night) – Where in the world is the Victor Cruz we were watching earlier this season? Some of the lackluster numbers he’s been putting up recently can be attributed to the poor play of QB Eli Manning, but you’d still have to expect better production than the 13 catches for 152 yards and one touchdown he’s accumulated over his last four games. However, a resurgence could be on its way with that TD coming just last week against the Packers and an awful Redskins secondary due up next. If Eli’s arm has truly gained back its strength, then there’s no reason to think that the Meadowlands Magician won’t be able to put up WR1 numbers, especially with the Redskins defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year.
Others with WR1 Potential:
Reggie Wayne (at Det)
Randall Cobb (vs. Min)
Hakeem Nicks (at Was, Monday night)
Eric Decker (vs. TB)
Marques Colston (at Atl, Thursday night)
Cecil Shorts (at Buf)
Ryan Broyles (vs. Ind)
Justin Blackmon (at Buf)
Josh Gordon (at Oak)
Lance Moore (at Atl, Thursday night)
Julian Edelman (at Mia)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. Cle)
T.Y. Hilton (at Det)
Brandon LaFell (at KC)
Brian Hartline (vs. NE)
Santana Moss (vs. NYG, Monday night)
Chris Givens (vs. SF)
Davone Bess (vs. NE)
Owen Daniels (at Ten) – You have to love what Owen Daniels has been doing this year as he’s been pretty consistent as a fantasy player from the first snap of the season. He’s averaged almost five receptions, over 55 yards and 0.6 TDs per game thus far and hasn’t had less than three receptions in any one game. He's not the type of player to break out and go for big yardage, but as he showed on Thanksgiving against the Lions, he’s always a threat in the red-zone catching a TD pass from Matt Schaub despite putting up just 20 yards on the day. This week he goes to Tennessee to face a Titans defense that’s given up the most touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs this season. In their first match-up of 2012, Daniels caught all six of his targets for 72 yards and a TD—numbers he should come close to repeating this weekend.
Kyle Rudolph (at GB) – Rudolph came out of the Week 12 game against the Bears due to a concussion, but the reason he missed Wednesday’s practice wasn’t because of his head as he passed all his concussion tests, but instead due to a banged up shoulder that nobody seems to know anything about. My guess at this point is that he’ll be okay, and if Percy Harvin happens to miss one more week, then Rudolph fantasy owners will be jumping for joy as the kid has absolutely dominated since Harvin went out. In the last two weeks, Kyle has averaged six catches for 59.5 yards and a touchdown, numbers that any fantasy owner would be happy with considering the craziness with tight ends this season. This week he’ll face a Green Bay defense that’s normally pretty tough against tight ends, but Rudolph is on a bit of a roll right now and as Crash Davis said in Bull Durham, you can’t fuck with a winning streak.
Dallas Clark (at Den) – Yeah, I know, my head is spinning too. Dallas Clark in the top-ten tight ends?!?! Actually, it’s not as strange as it sounds as Clark actually ranks sixth in the league for most fantasy points over the last three weeks and ninth over the last five. Basically, if he’s on your team and you haven’t played him lately, you might have considered a nice game of Russian roulette. Anyway, the Bucs and Clark will be taking on the Denver Broncos this weekend and though they pretty much rock in defending all other facets of the game, the Donkeys happen to suck at guarding the tight end position this season. They’ve allowed the most touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points per game to TEs this season, so look for Dallas to be included in the game-plan this week with Denver focusing their attention more on guys like Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson.
Martellus Bennett (at Was, Monday night) – Martellus Bennett started off the season hot as nail putting up three straight games with a touchdown and double-digit fantasy points. However, he hasn’t had either since then, though his best game since Week 3 came against the Washington Redskins when he put up 79 yards on five catches. The self-proclaimed “Black Unicorn” has a chance to put up some decent numbers again this week with the Washington defense allowing the most receptions, second-most touchdowns and third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. This isn’t a play I would depend on, but if you’re in need of a breakout-type of game this week, Bennett might be the guy you’re looking for.
Others with TE1 Potential:
Marcedes Lewis (at Buf)
Jared Cook (vs. Hou)
Jermichael Finley (vs. Min)
Jermaine Gresham (at SD)
Tony Moeaki (vs. Car)
Dwayne Allen (at Det)
Ben Watson (at Oak)
Rob Housler (vs. NYJ)
Anthony Fasano (vs. NE)
Carson Palmer (vs. Cle)
Josh Freeman (at Den)
Philip Rivers (vs. Cin)
Matt Forte (vs. Sea)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at SD)
Fred Jackson (vs. Jax)
Marcel Reece (vs. Cle)
Felix Jones (vs. Phi, Sunday night)
Steven Jackson (vs. SF)
Vincent Jackson (at Den)
Torrey Smith (vs. Pit)
Denarius Moore (vs. Cle)
Dwayne Bowe (vs. Car)
Steve Smith (at KC)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. NYJ)
Brandon Lloyd (at Mia)
Brandon Myers (vs. Cle)
Heath Miller (at Bal)
Dustin Keller (vs. Ari)
Brandon Pettigrew (vs. Ind)
Brent Celek (at Dal, Sunday night)
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