It is now or never in many of your fantasy leagues, as Week 13 is the final slate of matchups before the playoffs start.
Those who are on the verge of clinching a playoff birth may be experiencing a ton of fantasy related stress. Well, as usual, that’s where I come in. Time to highlight the good, the bad and the ugly for this week’s action. Go get yourselves a win this week!
Before reading: This column features players that you are on the fence about starting. You will not see obvious names such as Arian Foster or Drew Brees here.
Thumbs Up: Quarterbacks
Cam Newton @ Kansas City Chiefs: Did you read my column regarding Newton’s rocketing fantasy value? I love Newton for the rest of the season, starting with this week. Cam is coming off his best game of the season and appears to be gaining more and more confidence each week. The Chiefs are well, the Chiefs, and are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Roll with Newton the rest of the way.
Tony Romo vs Philadelphia Eagles: Romo has been the definition of viable this season. He hasn’t put up monster fantasy numbers but has also had his moments. This week, Romo has a chance to have one of those monster games, as the Eagles defense is giving up, quite frankly. They have surrendered 20 passing touchdowns this year and have a plethora of holes in their coverage. He also had a good 20 fantasy points against them in Week 10.
Matthew Stafford vs Indianapolis Colts: Once started the season as a major disappointment, Stafford has been coming on as of late. He is coming off a 441-yard, two touchdown performance on Thanksgiving and has a favorable matchup this week. The Colts are allowing 234 passing yards per game and Stafford has the most passing yards in football (3,429). You do the math.
Joe Flacco vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Look, I know what you’re thinking. “But Adam, Flacco isn’t on the road! How can you sit him?” Well, let’s take a look at the yardage from Flacco over the past four games. 355, 164, 341, 153. Talk about inconsistent. This week’s matchup proves to be a killer for the Delaware product, as the Steelers are the number one pass defense in football. From a fantasy perspective, you can’t trust him.
Russell Wilson @ Chicago Bears: While all of the rookie quarterback hype is surrounding Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Wilson has been sensational as well. In fact, he has more fantasy points than guys like Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers. However, as good as he has been, he certainly needs to be on the bench this week. Wilson heads to Chicago to face a Bears defense that has picked off quarterbacks 20 times this year.
Thumbs Up: Running Backs
Trent Richardson @ Oakland Raiders: Richardson has played like anything but a rookie this year. He ranks seventh in the league in touchdowns, as well fifth among running backs in fantasy. The workload this guy gets is ridiculous, carrying the ball 209 times on the year. Over the past four games, T-Rich has games with carries of 29, 28, 25 and 24. He is a must start against an awful Raiders defense.
C.J. Spiller vs Jacksonville Jaguars: Head coach Chan Gailey stated that Spiller will see 60 percent of the snaps, while Fred Jackson will see the remaining 40. Whether this holds true is unclear, but regardless, Spiller is a must start this week. The guy is averaging a ridiculous 6.7 yards per carry and the Jags are allowing an average of 136 rushing yards per game.
Jacquizz Rodgers vs New Orleans Saints (Thurs.): A bit of a gut call here, seeing as he isn’t even a starter, but Rodgers is slowly cutting into Michael Turner’s work. He saw 12 touches on Sunday and actually found the end zone. Rodgers fits this uptempo offense much better, in my opinion. In the first showdown between these two teams, Turner had an ugly 13 carries for 15 yards, so maybe they give Rodgers more looks.
Steven Jackson vs San Francisco 49ers: Jackson has actually been playing well the past few weeks. This week, he faces division rival San Francisco, two weeks after a 101-yard, one touchdown performance against them. He looked like the Jackson of old but it is difficult to rely on him succeeding again against this stout defense.
DeAngelo Williams @ Kansas City Chiefs: You would think that the ankle sprain to Jonathan Stewart would raise the fantasy value of Williams. Maybe, maybe not. However, it’s trust far to difficult to trust any back out of Carolina. Remember the last time Williams was the main back? He carried six times for negative one yards.
Thumbs Up: Wide Receivers
Demaryius Thomas vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Thomas has been great all season long, ranking sixth among wide receivers in fantasy points. Going against the number one run defense, who are also the league’s worst pass defense, look for Peyton Manning to sling the ball around quite a bit. Start Thomas with confidence.
Cecil Shorts III @ Buffalo Bills: Shorts has had quite the sophomore season, establishing himself as a legitimate wide receiver in football. He has found the end zone in each of the last three weeks and is honestly in must start territory. The matchup this week is favorable, as the Bills are giving up the 10th-most fantasy points to wide-outs. Keep rolling with Shorts while he’s hot.
Davone Bess vs New England Patriots: Another sleeper here, but Bess has been very productive over the past couple weeks. Over the last two contests, Bess has 13 catches on 18 targets for 179 yards and a score. When you are targeted that much, good things will happen, especially this week. The Patriots are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and with the Dolphins likely to be behind, expect Bess to be heavily involved.
Larry Fitzgerald @ New York Jets: What in the world happened to Fitz’s fantasy value? Well, ask the quarterbacks and offensive line in Arizona. Fitzgerald is clearly still one of the best receivers in football. However, the unstable quarterback situation has really hurt his production. He has a dismal 42 receiving yards over the past two weeks. The fact of the matter is, until a reliable quarterback is under center, you can’t count on Fitzgerald.
James Jones vs Minnesota Vikings: It appears Jones’ hot streak is a thing of the past, as he has been very quiet. Over the past two games, Jones only has 33 receiving yards and that only came from one of the games. On Sunday night, Jones was held without a catch and wasn’t even targeted. With Greg Jennings scheduled to return this week, Jones may have to take a backseat.
Mike Wallace @ Baltimore Ravens: Wallace is losing fantasy value by the minute lately. First, the quarterback situation is a mess, and all Steelers options lose value. But then, head coach Mike Tomlin named Wallace a co-starter with Emmanuel Sanders. He will have to earn his starting job back during practice this week but even if he does, it’s a tough matchup.
Thumbs Up: Tight Ends
Owen Daniels @ Tennessee Titans: Daniels has arguably been the best waiver wire darling this season and continues to impress. His lowest fantasy point outing this season is six, which is still solid considering the state of the tight end position. This week, he faces his division rival Titans, who are one of only five teams that have more than 700 receiving yards to tight ends.
Dallas Clark @ Denver Broncos: While he hasn’t exactly been the most consistent option in fantasy land, Clark has been solid over the last two games, posting 123 yards and a score. The fact that the Broncos are allowing the third-most fantasy points to tight ends make Clark an intriguing play.
Rob Housler @ New York Jets: Who? He may not be a household name, but Housler has the situation to be a good fantasy tight end. Housler is a part of an offense with a rookie quarterback, who often checked down to him a lot last week ( 8 catches for 82 yards). This matchup against the Jets is good, as they are allowing the 8th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. If you’re tight end situation is a mess, Housler is worth a lottery ticket.
Vernon Davis @ St. Louis Rams: After the first few weeks of the season, Davis has become a roller coaster for fantasy owners. He has had monster games, however, he’s also posted two goose eggs so far, one of which came last week. The last time Davis faced the Rams, he posted just four catches for 30 yards. It’s hard to bench a big name guy like Davis but he just hasn’t been consistent.
Brandon Pettigrew vs Indianapolis Colts: Last season, Pettigrew was a very nice fantasy tight end, large in part due to the targets he received in the red zone. This season, that is simply not the case, as the Lions are running the ball a bit more. Meanwhile, the Colts are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Thumbs Up: D/ST
New York Jets defense vs Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. These are the named of quarterbacks under center for Arizona this season. This week, it’ll be the rookie Lindley again, coming off a four-interception game on Sunday. Play this defensive unit against an offensive disaster in the desert.
Dallas Cowboys defense vs Philadelphia Eagles: Outside of whoever is running the football, there are literally no appealing fantasy options in Philly. That being said, the Cowboys defense is a great play this week. Remember back in Week 10 when they scored 24 points against the Eagles? And that was when the Eagles had DeSean Jackson.
Cleveland Browns defense @ Oakland Raiders: Coming off a game where they forced eight turnovers, the Browns are a sneaky good play here. This unit has been playing much better lately and Carson Palmer has been coming down to earth.
St. Louis Rams defense vs San Francisco 49ers: The Rams defense is coming off a monster performance on Sunday, totaling 23 fantasy points, including two touchdowns. Don’t get too excited this week against the 49ers, allowing the 11th-fewest fantasy points to defenses. With Colin Kaepernick at the helm, he provides an entirely different dimension for that offense.
Atlanta Falcons defense vs New Orleans Saints (Thurs.): The Falcons defense has been very manageable in fantasy this year, posting double digit points five times. However, you’d be better off looking elsewhere this week. This divisional showdown against New Orleans is sure to be an absolute shootout, so expect a ton of points on the scoreboard.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.