2013 Fantasy Football Week 12 Dark Horse Sleeper: Nate Burleson

By Dustin Manko
Nate Burleson
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this season, Nate Burleson broke his arm in one of the more interesting injuries of the last few NFL seasons. Going for a late night snack, Burleson picked up a pizza, it slid off the passenger seat as he was driving and in an attempt to save it, he became distracted and lost control of his vehicle. The result was a broken arm and about a month out of action for Burleson.

Burleson has returned to practice and appears on track to play this week for the Detroit Lions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If he is in the Lions’ lineup, should he be in your fantasy football lineup?

It really depends on what type of depth you have at wide receiver, but I think you could do worse than Burleson this week. Prior to the injury, Burleson was averaging just over six receptions, about 80 yards per game and just over 12 points per game in PPR, or just shy of eight points per game in standard leagues. If your receivers are inconsistent, or performing at a lower rate than that, then he is worth adding.

This weekend, Tampa Bay would be crazy not to use Darrelle Revis and possibly Dashon Goldson to cover Calvin Johnson. By now everyone in the league knows that you simply cannot leave Johnson in single coverage unless you want him to score long touchdowns. If they do, Burleson should be left with Johnthan Banks and/or linebacker help, a matchup Burleson could exploit.

With the majority of the defensive coverage focused on top receivers, the Bucs have been getting destroyed down the slot, which is where Burleson plays. In the last two weeks, Tampa Bay has allowed 17 catches, 254 yards and three touchdowns to Rishard Matthews and Harry Douglas. Going further back, they have also allowed an average of 111 yards per game and 10 touchdowns to wide receivers since week six. Fantasy owners can’t ask for a much better matchup.

Detroit has attempted the second most passing attempts in the league this season along with having the number three passing offense. While most of that is obviously Johnson, Burleson will resume a critical role underneath the long outside routes that Johnson runs. This week, I like Burleson’s odds of getting a touchdown. At least, you should be able to depend on about six catches and 70-80 yards. I’ll take those numbers with my WR3 or flex any week.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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