The Fantasy Cover 4 – Week 13
While everyone drafts to pick the best available players at a position for the entire year, week-to-week there are always matchups to exploit and matchups to avoid. I’ve got you covered. Welcome to Start ‘Em Up and Shut ‘Em Down.
This is where you find out what matchups to jump on and which ones you may want to pass on.
(General Rule: ALWAYS start your stud players*. For everyone outside of that, follow the matchups)
Start ‘Em Up
Tony Romo: Romo is playing like a fantasy stud. He is a must start at this point. Since injuring his back vs Washington Week 8 and missing Week 9, he’s completed 72% of his passes for 521 yards and a 7:0 TD: INT ratio. The Eagles high paced offense leaves their D on the field a lot, and they are giving up 266 YPG (30th in NFL). Expect Romo to continue his roll through the Eagles. Looking ahead, Romo has terrific matchups for the fantasy playoffs as well.
Tom Brady: Remember back after Week 4, the Patriots were 2-2 and people were saying Brady is washed up? High comedy. Since that Week 4 beating, Brady has 22:4 TD: INT ratio. Washed up indeed. Brady is on such a roll right now, he’s unstoppable regardless of who the defense is.
Drew Brees: The Saints haven’t been able to get out of their own way, dropping 3 straight games at home – unheard of in the Brees/Payton era, but for fantasy purposed, Brees is still racking up yards and throwing TDs. The Steelers have a “Middle of the Pack” pass D, giving up 242 YPG (T-16), but they also have only 8 INTs as a team (T-20th) and have not generated much pass rush at all (20 sacks – 25th). Brees should have his way.
Justin Forsett: The man who has the most famous Thanksgiving Day non-TD TD (thanks to Genius Jim Schwartz) has shown that you really can find a RB almost anywhere. He’s run for 294 yards and 4 TDs the last 2 weeks. The Chargers are 15th in the league in run D, yielding 109 YPG, but those numbers have been helped by recently playing the inept offenses of the Raiders and Rams. Previously they gave up over 130 yards to the Dolphins, Broncos and Chiefs in the 3 immediate games before then. Forsett should have some room, plus he’s a cinch for goal line work.
Andre Ellington: The recent signing of Michael Bush could take away some short yardage and goal line work from Ellington, but at the same time, he should be fresher not having to take such a pounding and he should be motivated to play well and keep Bush on the bench. Plus the Falcons D is dreadful. They are 24th vs the run, allowing 126 YPG and a league-high 15 rushing TDs.
Rashad Jennings: The Giants offense has been an inconsistent unit all year. Injuries on the offensive line and to star WR Victor Cruz have hampered the team, as well as a stunning lack of depth. With Jennings back on the field, it does run a little smoother. Jacksonville is just the team to help the Giants stop the bleeding. They give up 130.6 YPG (28th) on the ground.
Josh Gordon: If you watched Gordon play last week (8 rec 120 yds) you would have no idea he missed the team’s first 10 games on suspension. The Bills actually have a very good pass defense, but when Gordon is on top of his game, he’s unstoppable. Considering how motivated he is right now, there’s no chance I would bet against him. Start him like a stud.
Golden Tate: to put Tate in perspective, he stepped up and filled Detroit’s #1 WR spot with Calvin Johnson injured, and his old team, the Seahawks, their passing game is hurting without him. Playing the Bears (lack of) pass D should be just what Matthew Stafford & Co need to get healthy. Bears give up 260 YPG in the air (28th) and have given up the 2nd most passing TDs (25) in the league.
Odell Beckham Jr: since the Giants returned from the bye Week 8, OBJ has been on FIRE. In 4 games since the break, he has 31 receptions for 503 yds and 2 TDs. Had the catch of the year last week with a 3-fingered, off-balance catch while being interfered with. He’s the one guy on jersey/A that Eli Manning can trust when he throws the ball. Good to know at least 1 former LSU WR on the Giants is dependable. Add in the Jaguars 27th ranked pass D (258 YPG) and the fact they have only 5 INTs this year (T-28th) and OBJ should find lots of room to work this week.
Coby Fleener: The Colts got caught napping early on last week against Jacksonville, don’t expect Andrew Luck to allow that to happen again. The Redskins statistically have the 8th best pass defense, allowing only 230 YPG, but if you peel the onion back a little, they allow opposing QBs to complete 65% of their passes (23rd), and opposing QBs have a QBR of 103.5 (2nd worst in NFL) against them. They are also 25th in the league allowing 7.7 YPA. Fleener should have a chance to do some damage.
Delanie Walker: Walker is among the highest targeted players on his team, and last week, he clicked with rookie QB Zach Mettenberger for 155 yards. The Texans give up the 2nd most passing YPG in the league at 274, and are weak in coverage at the LB and Safety positions. Look for Mettenberger to go to his TE frequently.
Greg Olsen: He averages for the season almost 8 targets per game, and what’s left of Cam Newton will continue to rely on Olsen. The Vikings are tough in pass D (224 YPG/7th) and they get a pass rush (31 sacks, T-4th) so Newton will likely look for his TE frequently since he probably won’t have a lot of time to let downfield routes develop and is too banged up to do a lot of running.
Shut ‘Em Down
Alex Smith: Had one of his best statistical games of the season last week, and still probably didn’t break 20 points in your league’s format. Doesn’t matter who the opponent is, he doesn’t do enough to ever earn a legitimate start in any week in a fantasy lineup. He’s an emergency backup only.
Jay Cutler: Talk about an enigma. Cutler has a ton of talent, and some of the best weapons in the league, yet somehow only threw for a paltry 130 yards against the Bucs pathetic excuse of a defense. This week he gets a Lions team that may have the best overall D in football. They are 10th vs the pass (233 YPG) and the best against the run (71 YPG). Prime time, on the road, this could be a long day for Cutler.
Russell Wilson: At the very least, the insane media members who were calling Wilson a top 5 QB earlier this year have finally come back to reality. Wilson is a good QB, but his inexperience is on display this year where he doesn’t have the best defense in the league anymore and his star RB is disgruntled. Fortunately for owners, he’s trying to make up for the lack of passing yards with his feet, going over 70 yds rushing 3 straight games, but his 211 yards passing last week were his most since Week 7 vs the awful Rams. In fact, it’s the first time hes gone over 200 yds since Week 7. In his last 5 games, he’s thrown only 4 TDs. Coming off a physical game with the Cardinals, he gets a short week with the even more physical 49ers, on the road. That’s a lot of obstacles to overcome.
Chris Ivory: Jersey/B will start Geno Smith at QB this week, which means no one is scared of the passing game. Expect a stuffed box for the Jets running attack. The Dolphins have the league’s 11th best run D, allowing 104 YPG. However, they also have the league’s 4th best pass D (212 YPG) and facing Geno Smith, they should have no problem shutting the Jets pass game down. That means more defenders for Ivory to face. Don’t expect much from the Jets who are crashing and burning.
Bishop Sankey: maybe one day he will be a lead back, but that day isn’t today. He hasn’t broken 61 yards all season in a game. While the Texans run D isn’t great (18th – 114 YPG) its tied for 9th in the league allowing an average of only 3.9 YPC. Don’t expect Sankey to suddenly bust out this week.
Lamar Miller: If there’s one thing the Jets do well, they stop the run. They give up only 86 YPG (4th) and 3.4 YPA (3rd). Miller has been inconsistent throughout his career, and hasn’t gone over 100 yards since week 3. He’s not a threat in the passing game, which is where the Dolphins will make their noise this week. This is a bad matchup for him.
Doug Baldwin: Baldwin may be the #1 WR in Seattle by default, but his numbers aren’t anything close to a top WR. Russell Wilson will spread it around, and last week Baldwin had 2 catches for 6 yards. In fact, he hasn’t had more than 61 yards receiving since Week 7, and 651 is his 2nd highest total all year. In a physical matchup with a tough 49ers D, especially if you need a win to make the playoffs or get seeding, you want to start someone else.
Wes Welker: Maybe this is the end for Wes. He hasn’t been anything close to the player he was last season. Between the PED suspension and the concussion, something just isn’t right for him. He’s not getting many looks, he’s not getting down the field and he’s certainly not breaking tackles. He would have to fight to be 4th on Peyton Manning’s radar right now. Hasn’t had 50 yards receiving since Week 7. He doesn’t belong in your lineup.
Dwayne Bowe: Do you think he saw the money the team gave Alex Smith and said “I’m screwed”? Smith just can’t get him the football. No 100 yard games. No touchdowns. No to your starting lineup.
Owen Daniels: Wait, isn’t Ravens OC Gary Kubiak supposed to love his TEs? Didn’t Kubiak hand pick OD to follow him to Baltimore? Maybe Daniels just isn’t that healthy but he has essentially been a non-factor in all but 3 games this year. In a game where his team scored 34 points, he had 2 catches for 7 yards. The Chargers have the 6th best pass D in the league (221 YPG) and opposing QBs are completing less than 61% of their passes against them (9th). Not the formula for Daniels to get re-acclimated to success.
Vernon Davis: How the mighty have fallen. How was this guy so good last year? If you remember in the season preview of this column, he was listed as ”overvalued”. That between never having a 1000 yard season, and the return of Michael Crabtree, not to expect 13 TDs again. But only 2 scores? In 9 games he has only 197 yards receiving total! Wile E. Coyote fell off shorter cliffs. Even though the Seahawks struggle vs TEs, Davis cannot be trusted.
Jared Cook: Maybe part of his woes this year can be attributed to the QB Carousel in St. Louis, but he’s had one good game all season. He also has 1 TD all season. This is the final week of the regular season in most fantasy leagues, and if you need a win, you need to do better than Cook at the TE spot this week.
Week 13 Top 5’s
Andrew Luck – Ind (vs Wsh)
Tony Romo – Dal (vs Phi)
Tom Brady – NE (@ GB)
Aaron Rodgers – GB (vs NE)
Peyton Manning – Den (@ KC)
DeMarco Murray – Dal (vs Phi)
Arian Foster – Hou (vs Ten)
Le’Veon Bell – Pit (vs NO)
Jamaal Charles – KC (vs Den)
Matt Forte – Chi (@ Det)
Calvin Johnson – Det (vs Chi)
AJ Green – Cin (@ TB)
TY Hilton – Ind (vs Wsh)
Dez Bryant – Dal (vs Phi)
Antonio Brown – Pit (vs NO)
Jimmy Graham – NO (@ Pit)
Rob Gronkowski – NE (@ GB)
Julius Thomas – Den (@ KC)
Greg Olsen – Car (@ Min)
Martellus Bennett – Chi (@ Det)
QB: Brees, P. Manning, Rodgers, Luck
RB: Charles, McCoy, Forte, Lynch, Murray, Bell, Foster
WR: A. Brown, Bryant, AJ Green, C. Johnson, Marshall, Nelson, D. Thomas, Julio Jones
TE: Graham, Gronkowski, J. Thomas, Gates
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight” on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1