Here is a no huddle approach toward addressing this week's best starts, and most advisable sits at the QB, RB, WR and TE positions. It is designed to help with those difficult lineup decisions as you continue your drive toward the playoffs, or maintain the momentum for teams that are virtual locks to participate in the postseason. Your time won’t be wasted with recommendations that you start Drew Brees or LeSean McCoy. Nor will you be reading about the need to keep Trent Richardson or Ray Rice affixed to your benches. Instead, there will be a focus on less obvious player evaluations as we enter Week 13. Byes are no longer a factor, which should provide owners with a reason to rejoice. But don’t celebrate for too long, because game time is approaching. With that in mind, we’ll launch into this week’s starts and sits.
Josh McCown at Vikings
He is operating within a Marc Trestman that has been both efficient and successful throughout the season. And he possesses a stable of capable weapons that help him succeed. Those factors will propel McCown toward sizable point production this week, as his matchup is exceptional. Minnesota ranks a lowly 30th in total defense, and is allowing an even 401 YPG. Plus, the Vikings are yielding a league worst 31.5 PPG. There should be no hesitation in getting him into our lineups.
Carson Palmer at Eagles
After managing just eight TD passes with 13 INTs in his first seven games as a Cardinal, Palmer has helped revitalize the Arizona aerial attack during the past four weeks. He has thrown two scoring passes in each of those contests, while limiting his INT total to only two. He has also averaged 325 YPG in Arizona’s last three games, and could attain that number this week. Philadelphia ranks dead last in pass defense, while allowing an even 300 YPG. While the Eagles have had an additional week to prepare for the matchup, the Cardinals possess enough weapons for Palmer to continue his recent momentum.
Robert Griffin III vs. Giants
It is not exactly a shock that RG3’s production has lagged far behind last season’s production. But many owners who selected him during their drafts have been forced to face a sobering reality: they have a brand name QB who struggles and has subsequently failed to match the fantasy point totals of opposing signal callers in several recent matchups. He is performing at less than 100% and is currently lacking in weaponry beyond Pierre Garcon. Now he faces a 12th ranked Giant defense that should limit his output once again.
Andrew Luck vs. Titans
The level of production that Luck has been able to attain despite the shortcomings that abound on Indy’s offense has been commendable. But the limitations of those around him will become a factor in this matchup. T. Y. Hilton was limited to 44 yards and no TDs when these teams met in Week 11, and Tennessee’s CB tandem of Alterraun Verneer and Jason McCourty will shut down Hilton and the Colts’ other WRs again. Trent Richardson’s ineffectiveness goes beyond words, and the Titans will be better prepared for Donald Brown. All of which leaves Luck owners dependent upon him to duplicate his Week 11 output on the ground to salvage his output. That is not a favorable strategy.
C. J. Spiller vs. Falcons
All right Spiller owners. The time is now. The potentially explosive back will be returning from an additional week of rest, and will be presented with an exceptional matchup at home versus Atlanta. Not only do the Falcons rank 30th against the run (130 YPG), but they will be susceptible to Spiller’s bursts beyond the edge as a receiver. You either (A) invested an early first round pick on him, or (B) recently traded for him in the belief that he would deliver some big plays during the remaining weeks of your fantasy season. And with those expectations in mind, now is the time to use him.
Chris Johnson at Colts
This is a matchup in which he is fully capable of generating success. In fact he did exactly that, when he lined up against Indianapolis in Week 11, as Johnson gashed the Colts for 86 yards and two TDs. That should supply him with proper motivation for this second encounter, and he should navigate freely through the NFL’s 27th ranked run defense once again.
Pierre Thomas at Seahawks
Take a good look at these numbers: 91, 80, 94, 90, 111, 84, and 130. Those are the total yards for Thomas in his last seven contests. It was easy to be skeptical when he initially began producing these results, because the seventh-year back has provided disappointment to owners so frequently throughout his career. But he has consistently performed with great proficiency as both a rusher and receiver this season, and should remain in all lineups despite a challenging matchup with Seattle. Because the ball will repeatedly be placed in his hands.
Stevan Ridley at Texans
Among Ridley’s candid comments to ESPN after his latest fumble was the statement “I can’t keep doing this”. That is now also true for his owners, who cannot risk the chance that that he will suddenly be chained to the sideline by Bill Belichick as punishment for his latest transgression. It require a certain degree of risk to start a Patriot back amid an always fluid distribution of touches from week to week. But after fumbling in three straight contests, can you feel confident that Ridley won’t lose touches to Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, or even LeGarrette Blount? The answer should leave you feeling uneasy about using him.
Bobby Rainey vs. Panthers
Any owners who started him prior to his 167-yard, three TD explosion in Week 11, were rewarded massively. That understandably compelled many to use him again last week. But his output against Detroit’s sturdy run stoppers was not even remotely successful (18 carries, 35 yards). This week, he must contend with a Carolina rush defense that is even more formidable, and another modest yardage total is imminent.
Ben Tate vs. Patriots
It is a shame that Tate is no longer a viable option, because New England’s 31st ranked run defense can be shredded. But Tate managed just one yard on seven carries in Week 12 before Dennis Johnson replaced him, and provided a burst that was lacking when Tate carried the ball. With Houston spiraling downward amid a nine game losing streak, it makes sense to supply Johnson with more opportunities in order to fully determine his capabilities. That will diminish Tate’s workload, and render him useless for fantasy owners.
Keenan Allen vs. Bengals
I was extremely surprised at how much concern existed regarding the use of Allen in Week 12. Along with the number of observers who were fueling this hesitation through their words of caution about starting him. His systematic torture of the Chiefs ultimately included nine catches, which tied his season high, and his second game with at least 120 yards in the last four weeks. His excellent route running, extensive targeting by Philip Rivers, and his ability to generate favorable output against any level of competition should keep him locked into all lineups.
Percy Harvin vs. Saints
There is no need for owners to concern themselves with “limited snap counts” any longer, as the explosive playmaker will be unleashed during this Sunday night spectacle. With an additional week to construct schemes that will allow Harvin to operate in space, he should finally begin making sizable contributions to his new team. Plus, even though Seattle’s premier defense will create havoc for the normally potent attack of New Orleans, the Saints will still generate points. Which will compel the Seahawks to open up their offensive playbook to larger extent than normal.
Nate Burleson vs. Packers
The proficient numbers that he produced during his return from an eight-game absence were very beneficial for anyone who started him, and extremely consistent with his output before the arm injury. He has now averaged 79 YPG in four contests. Just as importantly, he is being targeted repeatedly, as Matthew Stafford is throwing just over eight passes per game in his direction. Those frequent opportunities will continue as he works fluidly in the slot, and the results will continue to boost his owners’ scoring totals.
T. Y. Hilton vs. Titans
This may be difficult for many owners due to his big play potential. But Hilton has been limited to a grand total of 82 yards in his last two contests, as a result of matchups with excellent corners. That includes in Week 11 meeting with the aforementioned Verneer, who held Hilton to 44 yards. The Colts’ top WR will be severely restricted by Verneer once again, and is not a desirable option.
Cecil Shorts at Browns
It was not surprising that Shorts’ complaints about his level of involvement resulted in more opportunities. He played all but two snaps, and was targeted 11 times. But this week, the numbers will not be quite so favorable. Antonio Brown temporarily thrived amid the conundrum that usually exists when being shadowed by Joe Haden. But Brown possesses a unique skill set, including the ability to line up in various spots. Haden has shut down too many talented WRs this season for his presence to be dismissed. Making Shorts a dicey start.
Danny Amendola at Texans
He is back in the lineup, but how much does it matter? He has a grand total of 62 yards in his last two contests, including a paltry 17 against Denver in Week 12. Four other Patriot receiving weapons garnered more targets during that matchup, which may or may not be replicated this week. And therein lies the issue with Amendola when he is healthy. Other than Rob Gronkowski, the distribution of opportunities from Brady to his potential weapons cannot be predicted with accuracy. Leaving owners with too much risk in starting Amendola.
Greg Olsen vs. Buccaneers
His ongoing role as a reliable weapon for Cam Newton continued last Sunday, as Olsen took advantage of his highest target total since Week 1 (nine). That enabled him to collect five passes, and generate the game winning TD. It was the second consecutive game in which he has scored, and he now leads Carolina with five this season. One of which occurred in Week 8 against the Buccaneers in Tampa, and he has an excellent opportunity to add to his total this week.
Delanie Walker at Colts
He collected all 10 of his targets while torching the Colts for 91 yards and a TD in Week 11. Even though that provides sufficient reason to start him, his ongoing use within the Titan offense should supply owners with even more confidence toward using him. In his first season as a Titan, the eight year veteran has already established career highs in targets, receptions, yardage and touchdowns. And he will be utilized heavily once again in this matchup.
Garrett Graham vs. Patriots
The third-year TE’s brief tenure as a feasible starter has ended quite abruptly. Numerous deficiencies that now exist within the Texans’ offense will prohibit him from being productive. Including the limitations of Case Kennum, who can be thoroughly overwhelmed by pressure and complicated defensive schemes. All of which should be provided repeatedly by Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense. Even the neediest owners should search elsewhere.
Rob Housler at Eagles
19 of his 39 targets this season have occurred in the Cardinal’s past three contests. That has enabled him to collect 14 receptions, and average 59 YPG during that span. But even though his recent production is encouraging, this is not the week to deploy him. The Eagles have allowed the fewest fantasy points to TEs among all teams throughout the season, and have permitted just one TD. There are certainly better options with less daunting matchups.