Week 13 Fantasy Starts & Sits
What to watch for this weekend:
1. The 8-3 Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Baltimore Sunday night to take on the 8-3 Ravens for sole possession of first place in the AFC North. Prior to dropping a 17-14 heartbreaker to Joe Flacco and company back in October, the Steelers had won three of the previous four regular season meetings between these two teams. Keep in mind that Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a QB rating of 63.8 in two career regular season starts at Baltimore.
2. The NFP/FanDuel Salary Cap Challenge is back for another week! Owners get a $60,000 Salary Cap to assemble a team that consists of the following roster spots: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, D/ST, K. Cash prizes, a Procter & Gamble gift bag and bragging rights are once again on the line.
3. Watch the alcohol intake on Sunday as you’ll want to be in good mental and physical shape for Monday night’s epic showdown between the New York Jets and New England Patriots. For as solid as the Patriots have been over the last decade, they’ve lost three of their last four games against the Jets. Nevertheless, Bill Belichick’s crew opened the week as a 3.5-point (Current line: Patriots -4).
4. The NFP’s “Fresh 2 Death” fantasy squad (9-3) in the Procter & Gamble fantasy bloggers league has already clinched one of four available playoff spots, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders’ Week 13 recap article. Things are starting to heat up in this bad boy. In addition:
CLICK HERE to enter the Procter & Gamble “Take it to the House” facebook game for a chance to win a trip to this year’s Pro Bowl in Hawaii. (If one of you wins, you’re expected to bring me back at least one coconut).
5. Those high-flying Oregon Ducks (-16.5) are one win away from a trip to Arizona and a chance to play for this year’s National Championship. However, standing in their way is an Oregon State team (3:30pm eastern, ABC) that has won two of the last four meetings between these two schools. Chip Kelly’s crew once again opened the week as a big favorite, but keep in mind that the Ducks have failed to cover the spread in each of their last two games (at Cal, vs. Arizona). Can Oregon close the season in style?
And now, for your motivational moment of the day…
START ‘EM UP
Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: After throwing 12 touchdown passes over his last four games, it’s safe to say that Matt Cassel is a must-start fantasy quarterback moving forward. The K.C. signal-caller has another favorable matchup this Sunday against the Denver pass defense that ranks 20th in the league (239.0 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 22.6 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks (third-most in NFL). Keep in mind that the last time these two teams met (Week 10), Cassel racked up 469 yards and four touchdowns.
ICONForte is averaging 20.0 carries per game over his last three outings.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte got off to an inconsistent and unreliable start this season, but keep in mind that he’s rushed for 214 yards and a touchdown over his last two games and is averaging 20.0 carries over his last three outings. The third-year back out of Tulane should find some fantasy success in Week 13 against a Lions team that ranks 24th in run defense (128.6 yds/gm) and is giving up an average of 23.6 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (third-most in NFL).
Mario Manningham, WR, New York Giants: We had Manningham on the Start list last week and he responded by catching three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in New York’s win over Jacksonville. With star wideouts Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks sidelined due to injury, Manningham has become the No. 1 wide receiver for quarterback Eli Manning. The former Michigan Wolverine is averaging 9.6 fantasy points per week over his last three outings and has found the end zone in four of his last six games. Expect more of the same this weekend when Manningham goes up against a Redskins secondary that ranks 29th in the league in pass defense (269.4 yds/gm) and is allowing an average of 26.0 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (sixth-most in NFL).
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: Another member of Big Blue makes the Start list as we advise Bradshaw owners consider the New York running back a solid RB2/flex option for Week 13. In his first game as a “backup” to Brandon Jacobs, Bradshaw touched the ball 13 times for 83 yards. Not great, but definitely something we expect him to improve on this Sunday against a Redskins team that ranks 26th in the NFL in run defense (131.5 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 19.9 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (11th-most in NFL). Everyone (including head coach Tom Coughlin) knows that Bradshaw is the more dangerous running back and gives the New York offense a better chance to move the football.
Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams: Amendola generally doesn’t rack up a ton of receiving yards, but this guy is averaging a respectable 7.4 fantasy points per game over his last five outings. Not great, but keep in mind that the former practice squad player currently ranks 17th in the NFL in targets (90). Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford has thrown two or more touchdown passes in four of his last five games and we expect that trend to continue Sunday in Arizona against a lousy Cardinals team that ranks 25th in the league in pass defense (249.3 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 23.3 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (ninth-most in NFL). Consider Amendola a solid WR3 option (WR2 in deeper fantasy leagues).
Zach Mill er, TE, Oakland Raiders: Miller’s only caught four passes for 23 yards over his last three games and hasn’t found the end zone since October 24, so we can understand you hesitation to start him in Week 13. Just keep in mind that the veteran tight end travels to San Diego this Sunday to take on a Chargers defense that is giving up an average of 9.0 fantasy points per week to opposing TEs (fifth-most in NFL). In addition, Miller has had a history of solid production when squaring-off against the Bolts. Over his last six games vs. San Diego, Miller has hauled in 38 passes for 453 yards and two scores on 47 targets (Last Meeting on October 10: six receptions, 62 yards, one touchdown).
ICONIt's time for Pete Carroll's defense to step up.
Seattle Seahawks, D/ST: Shocked to see Seattle make the Start list? To tell you the truth, I felt a little shame writing this considering the fact that the Seahawks has given up 33 or more points in four of their last five outings. Take solace in knowing that Pete Carroll’s crew welcomes in a Carolina Panthers offense on Sunday that ranks dead last in the NFL in both total offense (259.2 yds/gm) and scoring offense (12.7 pts/gm). Not only that, but the Panthers are surrendering an average of 13.5 fantasy points per week to opposing defenses this season, which is more than any other team in the league. If the Seahawks want to stay in the playoff hunt, this is the perfect team to have coming to town at this point in the season.
SIT ‘EM DOWN
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben has thrown one or fewer touchdown passes in three of his last five games and has a QB Rating of just 63.8 in two career starts at Baltimore (1 TD, 2 INTs). Be sure to keep in mind that in his last six regular season starts against the Ravens, Roethlisberger has thrown one or fewer touchdown passes five times. That doesn’t look too promising heading into Sunday night’s showdown in Maryland where the league’s seventh-ranked pass defense will be waiting to take down their arch nemesis. Be advised that Baltimore is currently surrendering just 15.4 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks (fourth-fewest in NFL).
Brian Westbrook, RB, San Francisco 49ers: After stepping in for the injured Frank Gore (fractured hip) Monday night and racking up 136 yards and a touchdown on just 23 carries, Westbrook became the hottest name on the waiver wire heading into Week 13. While we like his potential moving forward, be advised that this Sunday’s showdown at Green Bay is a poor matchup for the former Philadelphia Eagle. The Packers have given up just five rushing touchdowns this season (second-fewest in NFL) and are currently surrendering only 13.9 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (fourth-fewest in NFL). Keep Westbrook on the bench in Week 13.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: It goes without saying that Megatron is an absolute beast. The guy has found the end zone 11 times in 11 games and currently ranks fourth in scoring among fantasy wide receivers. However, Johnson’s stock is about to take a big hit now that backup quarterback Shaun Hill is likely done for the season due to a finger injury. That leaves Motown with the inconsistent Drew Stanton and the inexperienced Zac Robinson to man the quarterback position. Not good. Oh yeah, did we almost forget to mention that the Chicago Bears have allowed just eight touchdown passes this season (second-fewest in NFL) and are giving up only 18.2 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (fourth-fewest in NFL)?
Jahvid Best & Maurice Morris, RBs, Detroit Lions: Best hasn’t found the end zone since Week 2 and has been hobbled by turf toe injuries to both of his feet, so he’s now an obvious sit. However, Morris racked up an impressive 75 total yards and two touchdowns in the Lions’ Thanksgiving loss to New England, which has likely given some of you the itch to get him in the lineup. Before you go making any final decisions, keep in mind that the Chicago Bears currently rank second in the NFL in run defense (80.5 yds/gm) and are giving up an average of just 15.1 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (seventh-fewest in NFL). Still think Morris is a viable option for Week 13?
ICONCrabtree has been living and dying by the touchdown.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers: The second-year receiver out of Texas Tech has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games. Impressive, but owners need to realize that Crabtree is averaging just 3.0 receptions per game over his last six outings, meaning if he doesn’t find the end zone, his fantasy production will be minimal. Expect the San Francisco offense to struggle Sunday in Green Bay against a Packers team that is A) coming off a loss, B) ranks tenth in the NFL in pass defense (208.2 yds/gm) and C) is allowing only 18.4 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts this season (fifth-fewest in NFL). Also, be advised that the Niners are 1-4 and averaging just 15.4 points per game on the road this season.
Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins: With injuries taking a serious toll on the tight end position in 2010, we can’t blame you for starting Cooley this weekend. Just be advised that the veteran pass-catcher hasn’t scored a touchdown in any of his last seven games and has topped 50 yards receiving only once over his last four outings. Those numbers can’t instill a lot of confidence in fantasy owners this Sunday, especially when taking into account the fact that Washington travels to New York to take on a Giants team that is surrendering only 5.2 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends (third-fewest in NFL).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, D/ST: Believe it or not, the Buccaneers currently rank tenth in scoring among fantasy defenses. Credit Tampa Bay’s 16 interceptions for part of the success head coach Raheem Morris and company have enjoyed this season. However, be advised that this is not a good week to back the Pirate ship. The Atlanta Falcons are coming to Raymond James Stadium this Sunday and are bringing with them an impressive four-game streak in which the team hasn’t committed a single turnover. The Falcons currently rank in the top-ten in both total offense (364.4 yds/gm) and scoring offense (25.1 pts/gm) and are giving up an average of just 5.5 fantasy points per week to opposing defenses (third-fewest in NFL). There are better options on the board.
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