With so many teams playing on Thursday this week, we decided to release your Start’em & Sit’em column early to give you the best information possible for setting your lineup in Week 13.
Welcome to your weekly start or sit column. Before we proceed, let me tell you that this article is NOT here to state the obvious. I will not ever recommend you start Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham. The fact is you should like your fantasy football live under the following mantra: START YOUR STUDS!! If you need me to tell you to start your studs, you need a lot more help than this column will provide.
There may be some rare occasions where I might possibly suggest you sit a top-level player simply based on the match up. I’ve done similar things in the past for WR’s scheduled to be on Revis Island. That all being said, if you don’t see your player named on the start list, that doesn’t mean it’s a suggestion you sit him. If you don’t see your player named on the sit list, that doesn’t mean you should start him. For any lineup questions you should visit the FFLockerroom forums and one of our staff of experts will address your specific question. With all that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Cam Newton (vs. TB) – With the exception of the stinker he put up in Week 10 against San Francisco, Newton has been on a great run since Week 6. This week he faces a Tampa Bay defense that he torched in Week 8 for 221 yards passing and two touchdowns plus 50 yards rushing and another score. Look for Newton to put on another dynamic performance. Tampa Bay has actually played well of late, winning three in a row, but that bodes well for Newton. The more the Bucs are able to stay in the game, the more Newton will be forced to pour on the stats.
Josh McCown (at MIN) – What a match-up for McCown. Only two quarterbacks this season have failed to put up 20 fantasy points against the Vikings defense. The Vikings are ranked 29th in the league giving up 282 yards per game through the air. In addition, they have allowed a league high 24 touchdowns while only picking off 8 passes. Indoors, so no weather concerns, McCown is a safe start this week.
Carson Palmer (at PHI) – King of the garbage time stats has actually been putting up solid numbers of late. Palmer has multiple touchdown passes in 4 straight games and this week he gets an Eagles pass defense that’s ranked dead last in the league giving up 300 yards per game through the air. Look for Palmer to run his streak to 5 games with multiple touchdowns. The only concern could be the weather so check the reports in the morning.
Alex Smith (vs. DEN) – Just two weeks ago Smith put up 26 points against this same Broncos defense. He’s scored 25 or more in three of his last four games and facing a Broncos secondary that’s been decimated by injuries, he has a chance to score 20+ once again. This is a huge game as the winner get a big leg up on the division title and run towards #1 seed in the AFC. You know Peyton Manning will be ready so Smith will have to do his part to keep up.
Matt Ryan (at BUF) – The Buffalo Bills are ranked 12th in the league giving up 229 yards per game through the air. They have allowed 22 passing touchdowns but are tied with a league high 16 interceptions. At this point, it’s simply hard to trust Matt Ryan. The weather conditions in windy Buffalo could present a problem and Ryan hasn’t scored more than 20 fantasy points even in a 6-point touchdown league since Week 7. That’s 5 straight weeks of sub-optimal performance.
Nick Foles (vs. ARI) – Foles has been a hot hand the past few weeks but this time he’s facing a surging Cardinals team that just shut down Andrew Luck. Patrick Peterson will likely play lockdown on DeSean Jackson leaving Riley Cooper as Foles’ main weapon. Arizona trails only Seattle and Buffalo in interceptions with 15 on the season. It’s not a terrible match-up on paper as Arizona is only 17th in the league against opposing quarterbacks; it’s just that they’ve played better of late.
Robert Griffin III (vs. NYG) – It’s tough to get a handle on Griffin because sometimes he’ll play terribly but then rack up the fantasy points late in the game. This past week, he simply put up a stinker against the 49ers. In fact, there were opposing players suggesting he shouldn’t even be playing. He took a physical beating and having played on Monday night, they have a short week to prepare for a defense that has played much better the last 5 games. Doesn’t seem like a great week for Griffin.
Chris Johnson (at IND) – Two short weeks ago Johnson had 17 carries for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Colts defense. Two weeks later and things have actually gotten worse in Indianapolis. The Colts are 27th in the league allowing 125.5 yards per game on the ground. Indoors on the fast track is where Johnson is absolutely deadly as his sub-4.3 speed becomes impossible to catch. Look for another big game from Johnson.
Giovani Bernard (at SD) – In the last two games Bernard is averaging 18 touches per week and has averaged over 4 yards per carry in each game. San Diego is flying high after a huge upset win over Kansas City so this game could potentially be high scoring. A game in San Diego should also deliver ideal weather conditions as well. Look for Bernard to continue his high touch rate and to produce quite well especially in PPR formats.
Rashad Jennings (at DAL) – In his last four games Jennings is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. This week he gets to face a Cowboys defense that’s ranked 30th in the league against the run surrendering 133.6 yards per game. They have also allowed 11 rushing touchdowns. Darren McFadden is only going to spell the hot Jennings and with the match-up right and the game indoors, it looks like a great time to continue to ride the hot hand.
Andre Brown (at WAS) – Brown has been the man in New York these last few weeks and this week he faces a Redskins rushing attack that’s ranked 14th in the league allowing 111.5 yards per game on the ground. Where they struggle is preventing running backs from scoring. The Redskins have allowed a league most 15 rushing touchdowns this year and that bodes well for the bruising Brown. In his last 3 games he’s averaging 23 carries for 103 yards. He should be in line for another heavy workload this week.
Ray Rice (vs. PIT) – I’m somewhat torn on this one. The Steelers defense is 23rd in the league giving up 118.8 yards per game on the ground and 13 touchdowns. That being said, this isn’t the Ray Rice we’ve known and loved over the years. In his last match-up with the Steelers, Rice had 15 carries for 45 yards and only 10 points even in PPR leagues. Look for the Steelers to take Rice out of the game and attempt to force Joe Flacco to beat them.
Stevan Ridley (at HOU) – Uh oh, Ridley has now fumbled away the ball in each of his last three games. His most recent fumble landed him securely in Bill Belichick’s doghouse as he saw no action after it occurred. The Patriots have a great all-purpose back in Shane Vereen and they also gave the rock to LaGarrette Blount (though he fumbled too) last week. It’s simply too hard to trust Ridley at this point and he should remain squarely on your bench until we know for sure that he’s actually the primary ball-carrier.
Ben Tate (vs. NE) – Just when we thought it was time to trust Tate after he had 88 yards on 19 carries against Oakland he rushes for all of 1 yard against the worst rushing defense in football. Dennis Johnson came on in relief last week and looked a million times better as he rumbled for 74 yards on 13 carries. New England’s defense is actually terrible against the run but without knowing who’s actually going to start and with a good chance that Houston falls behind early, the Texans could be forced to abandon the run. Tate could still provide value in PPR formats but I fear another clunker in standard leagues.
Zac Stacy/Benny Cunningham (at SF) – Stacy was knocked out of last week’s game with a concussion so there’s a question as to whether he’ll be cleared for action this week. That would mean Cunningham becomes the primary ball carrier. Let’s not be fooled by what he accomplished last week against a horrible Bears defense. This week they face a 49ers defense that just held Alfred Morris to 52 yards on 14 carries. Cunningham will not achieve the same success again.
Alshon Jeffery (at MIN) – In the last 4 games Jeffery is averaging almost 12 targets a game. Minnesota is 29th in the league allowing 282 yards passing per game. Don’t be fooled by Jeffery’s 1 catch for 11 yard effort against Minnesota in Week 2. He’s a very different player at this point and he’s proven that the change from Jay Cutler to Josh McCown won’t hurt his value. Look for a bounce-back effort this week.
Jarrett Boykin (at DET) – In the last three weeks Boykin is averaging 10 targets per game and has become a big part of the passing attack in Green Bay. A Thanksgiving match-up with the Lions and their 28th ranked pass defense presents another opportunity for Boykin to show his stuff. Indoors on the fast track I’m expecting a high-scoring affair on Thursday. At this time of year you love the indoor match-ups as weather plays zero factor in a player’s production.
Nate Burleson (vs. GB) – Welcome back Mr. Burleson. So much for being eased back into the lineup. Burleson was targeted 10 times and came down with 7 grabs for 77 yards and a score. The first three weeks of the season Burleson was averaging just fewer than 8 targets per game so clearly Matthew Stafford trusts him. As I said with Boykin, I like the indoor match-up and potential high scoring game and think Burleson could certainly repeat or even surpass last week’s production.
Michael Floyd (at PHI) – Don’t sleep on the surging Floyd. In his last two games he has 13 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown. Carson Palmer trusts his surging weapon and so should you. Philadelphia is dead last in the league giving up 300 yards per game through the air. The only potential issue could be the weather so check the wind conditions on Sunday. If things are calm, Floyd could go wild.
T.Y. Hilton (vs. TEN) – Just two shorts weeks ago Hilton caught 5 passes for 44 yards against this same Tennessee defense. Last week at Arizona things got worse and he caught the same 5 balls but for only 38 yards. Alterraun Verner will be once again drawing the primary coverage on Hilton and he’s proving to be one of the better corners in football. If the Colts are going to be successful, they will probably have to look elsewhere for production and so should you.
Marques Colston (at SEA) – It’s been frustrating to own Colston this season. He’s only scored 2 touchdowns and reached 80 yards or more 3 times. While the Seahawks defense has been decimated by suspensions, I’m looking for Richard Sherman to draw primary responsibilities on Colston allowing the rest of the defense to attempt to stop Jimmy Graham. Drew Brees is too smart to force the ball in against one of the best corners in the league. Could be a weak night for Colston on Monday.
Michael Crabtree (vs. STL) – I like Crabtree a lot as a receiver and I’m well aware of the fact that in two games last year against St. Louis he caught 12 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. What I don’t like it that this will be his first game action since coming back from a devastating injury. We saw how a limited snap count can kill upside when Percy Harvin returned from his injury and caught one ball. I’m expecting similar from Crabtree. The 49ers will likely ease him back into action, just allowing him to get his feet wet this week as they have their eye on the final prize, the Super Bowl.
Tavon Austin (at SF) – Let’s not be fooled by what’s been going on with the Rams and Austin these last two games. A deeper inspection shows that he’s only been targeted 8 times and has 4 catches for 177 yards. His 2-138-2 against the Colts was quite fluky and his big rushing touchdown against Chicago last week doesn’t impress me since the Bears are one of the worst in the league against the run. The 49ers are a disciplined, stay-at-home defense and won’t be fooled by misdirection and trickery. Should be a quiet game for Austin this week.
Greg Olsen (vs. TB) – In the last two weeks Olsen has been targeted 17 times and come down with 10 grabs for 86 yards and two scores. It’s the most he’s been targeted since the first three weeks of the season and Cam Newton is finally realizing the match-up advantage he has with Olsen. In Week 8 against Tampa Bay Olsen only caught 3 passes for 21 yards but he did score a touchdown. I’m thinking he scores again.
Cameron Jordan (vs. JAX) – While the Jaguars are playing a little better than they were earlier in the season, they are still 30th in the league in defending the tight end position. That bodes well for Jordan against a defense that will likely be focusing their attention on Josh Gordon. Jordan was targeted 10 times last week so don’t be turned off by the 3 catches and 32 yards. He should turn more of those targets into catches against a soft defense this week.
Vernon Davis (vs. STL) – This one might sound crazy, and maybe it is, but the Rams are #3 in the league in limiting points to opposing tight ends. Back in Week 4 Davis was held to 2 catches for 18 yards against the Rams but he did save his owners’ day somewhat with one of those receptions being a touchdown. Colin Kaepernick looked pretty solid last week but I think this week presents a tougher test. The 49ers will look to get Frank Gore on track and the potential return of Michael Crabtree, even on a limited snap count, might slightly reduce the targets for Davis.
Jared Cook (at SF) – Cook is riding high with two touchdowns in his last three games but this week he faces a 49ers defense that’s also riding high. Aldon Smith is back in the lineup and wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. San Francisco is #1 in the league in limiting fantasy points to tight ends and Cook went 4-45 in their last meeting in Week 4. Traveling across country only makes the match up tougher.
Patriots (at HOU) – Houston is a mess right now. Ben Tate rushed for 1 yard against the worst rushing defense in football and Case Keenum hasn’t thrown for more than 201 yards since November 3rd. The Patriots just keep finding ways to win ballgames so look for them to take advantage of any and all Houston mistakes. It’s an intriguing match-up for sure.
Dolphins (at NYJ) – In his last two games Geno Smith has thrown 5 interceptions and fumbled twice. He’s now thrown 18 interceptions and fumbled 8 times on the year. The Jets can’t seem to get anything going offensively and with wintry weather arriving in New York, the conditions (make sure you check the report) could make scoring even tougher. Dolphins are an interesting sneaky play this week.
Seahawks (vs. NO) – High flying Drew Brees comes to town for a Monday night tilt and the timing couldn’t be better for the Saints. All-world cornerback Brandon Browner has been suspended for a full year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and fellow corner Walter Thurmond III was suspended for 4 games. That leaves Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane and the newly signed Perrish Cox to play alongside Richard Sherman. A high-powered passing attack going against a depleted defense? Not good for the Seahawks.
Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.
See ya next week.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.