As I set out on my journey to compose this article, I was informed that you readers aren’t here to listen to me rant about the previous week; apparently you’re coming here for this week’s fantasy tips.
Fine, maybe I talk a little too much. I’ll keep the recaps short and sweet so we can get to the good stuff. (What you came for.) That said, I’m still going to poke fun at my buddy Nicholas’ fantasy team from time to time, even though his flex rankings are pretty sweet.
Here’s where I hit big last week…
- Drew Brees – 32.50 points (QB2)
- Tyrell Williams – 13.00 points (WR18)
- Eli Manning – 19.56 points (QB19) – less than 1.5 points from being top-ten
- Sam Bradford – 6.96 points (QB32)
- Jameis Winston – 16.00 points (QB24)
- Cameron Meredith – 1.90 points (WR93)
- Tajae Sharpe and Kendall Wright – 1.10 points combined
Here’s where I busted…
- Thomas Rawls – 3.80 points (RB45)
- Rob Kelley – 4.20 points (RB42)
The rest of the advice was not good enough to boast about, but you can look back on it here. Now onto the week ahead.
A Steady Seven Fantasy Tips for Week 13
1. Start Jordan Howard
The Bears rookie running back is currently averaging 5.1 yards per carry and has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of his last eight games. Howard has only scored three touchdowns on the season, which has to be troubling his fantasy owners. No need to worry in this one, though.
He may not be able to catch a ball, but the Bears would be silly to do anything other than hand it to Howard in Week 13. San Francisco’s defense is surrendering 5.1 yards per carry (32nd), and have seen running backs reach the endzone 17 times this season (32nd).
To pile on, the 49ers’ defense is giving up a league-high 27.27 PPG to RBs this season. Howard is not only one of the safest plays of the week, due to his almost guaranteed volume, but one with almost no ceiling.
2. Thanks to matchups, start…
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Don’t laugh, I’m serious. There are some tough matchups at the top of the quarterback board, and one on bye, so you may need to find a streamer. Fitzpatrick actually looked pretty good last week and faces a Colts defense that’s surrendering 20.70 PPG to QBs (second-most). If that’s too risky for you, then Russell Wilson against the Panthers or Tyrod Taylor against the Raiders are a little safer.
Doug Martin – The Muscle Hamster is back to his workhorse ways. The Bucs eased Martin back into the lineup with just 17 touches in his Week 10 return; he has 52 combined touches over the last two games. To go along with that volume, the Chargers are allowing 20.85 PPG to RBs this season (sixth-most). Martin should be viewed as a high-end RB2 for this matchup.
DeAndre Hopkins – Even though he has been the biggest fantasy bust of the year (thanks Brock Osweiler), Hopkins provides a lot of upside this week against a Packers defense that’s allowing 27.15 PPG to WRs this season (third-most). Not only is this a plus matchup, but with the way Green Bay’s offense is playing lately, there is a good chance Hopkins will get to pad his stats in garbage time. View him as a top 20 play for the week. (Tyler Boyd enters the WR2 conversation this week, too.)
3. Thanks to matchups, bench…
Blake Bortles – The Jags pivot enters Week 13 as the QB10 on the season, but don’t expect him to produce for you this Sunday. Bortles gets the Broncos, who are allowing a league-low 12.71 PPG to QBs. Just don’t do it. (Sit Allen Robinson, too.)
Jay Ajayi – Last week, in a matchup with the league’s worst defense, Ajayi only managed 45 yards on the ground, but saved his day with a touchdown. The disappointing output was a result of linemen Branden Albert, Mike Pouncey, and Laremy Tunsil all sitting out. Ajayi may get Albert and Tunsil back, but Pouncey is unlikely to play against Baltimore, which is allowing a measly 12.73 PPG to RBs (fewest). The odds of Ajayi saving his week with a touchdown become a lot less likely against a defense that’s only given up four total touchdowns to running backs this year. He’s an RB3 in a very tough matchup.
Kelvin Benjamin – Benjamin is fighting through a shoulder injury and Cam Newton has taken a major step-back from last season. On top of that, the wideout will have to deal with Richard Sherman and the rest of the Legion of Boom this week. The Seahawks’ defense is only allowing 21.24 PPG to WRs this year (seventh-fewest), and will be playing pissed off after an embarrassing performance last week. Not to mention, Carolina kicked Seattle out of the playoffs last year. Put Benjamin on your bench.
4. Do not trust Matt Barkley or any Bears receiver
In his first NFL start, Barkley came alive in the fourth quarter (garbage time) to finish with a very respectable 316 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Those numbers made him the QB11, which is pretty impressive considering all teams were in action.
Joining Barkley in fantasy stardom were Marquess Wilson (18.50 points), and Deonte Thompson (10.40 points) – Daniel Brown recorded 8.4 points, as well. But don’t get used to these numbers.
Although Barkley may seem like a great streaming option against a 49er defense that’s giving up 19.78 PPG to QBs (fourth-most), you need to remember that the majority of his points last week came when the game was seemingly out of reach. The chances of San Francisco running away with this game are pretty slim, and I’ve already stated that I believe Jordan Howard is in for a heavy workload. Barkley is not a good quarterback, and he will display that going forward. If you’re that needy at quarterback, Barkley should be a top 20 play, but there are far better options out there.
As for the receivers, the only one worth anything is Marquess Wilson, and that’s only because there is no Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, or Zach Miller. The only receiver he has to compete with is Cameron Meredith. But I would not be comfortable inserting either one of these players in my lineup, regardless of the fact the 49ers are giving up a league-high 28.08 PPG to WRs. Meredith should be seen as a very low-end WR3, while Wilson is a boom-or-bust WR3.
5. This week is make or break for Christine Michael
Two weeks ago I told you to stash the new Packer for now. After getting just two snaps against the Eagles, which included one carry for four yards, his stock took a major hit. The good news is his four yards per carry average with the Packers is much better than the 2.5 of James Starks.
A matchup with the Texans, who are surrendering 19.68 PPG to RBs (tenth-most) and are pretty tough against the pass, is the perfect opportunity for the Packers to test out their new toy. Michael has now been with the team for more than two weeks and should be ready to take some of the early-down work.
One thing is certain: we need to see a lot more usage to justify keeping him on our rosters. If Michael receives around ten touches, then he is worth holding onto; Packer RBs will see light boxes as opponents attempt to slow down Aaron Rodgers. Games against a bruised Chicago defense and Minnesota in Weeks 15 and 16 are also tempting.
6. Despite tough matchups, stick with…
Aaron Rodgers – The Texans are allowing 14.84 PPG to QBs this season (fifth-fewest), but Rodgers is way too hot to bench. Fantasy’s top quarterback has not recorded fewer than 23 points in a game since Week 6, and is averaging 27.29 PPG in that time. Rodgers appears to be back in MVP form, and there’s no reason to worry about him in this matchup.
Carlos Hyde – The 49ers’ back has now recorded back to back double digit fantasy performances, and is proving to be unaffected by gameflow. The Bears defense is giving up just 15.29 PPG to RBs (sixth-fewest), but it’s a very banged-up unit that will likely be focused on stopping Colin Kaepernick (whom you should also start Kaep). Start Hyde with confidence in this one, and view him as a safe RB2.
Odell Beckham Jr. – The Steelers are only allowing 19.14 PPG to WRs this season (fourth-fewest). To make matters worse, OBJ is nursing a thumb injury. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust the receiver who is the cog of the Giants’ wheel. New York is not built to run the ball, and they won’t try to against a pretty good rush defense. They do need OBJ to be involved for their offense to succeed. View him as a high-end WR2 this week.
7. Do not be fooled into starting…
Alex Smith – The ultra-safe Smith should not be counted on in fantasy, even when playing the Falcons, who have given up the most PPG to QBs this season (21.30). Smith has disappointed in other plus matchups this season (see Weeks 6, 8, and 10), and will only let you down again this week.
A 49ers wide receiver – Since he is not a wide receiver, this does not include Vance McDonald (he’s a low-end TE1 this week). It does include Jeremy Kerley and Torrey Smith. Don’t get too stoked on the fact that the Bears defense is giving up 24.93 PPG to WRs (11th-most), since even a touchdown from either isn’t likely to put them in double digits.