This article is very long, but I hope you read it. My goal is to put the more pertinent info right in front of you to draw your eye, in hopes that you will read the less important filler and rantings that I have carefully constructed. More importantly, it is long because Week 13 is your last shot at capturing a playoff spot. A final push that will decide if a playoff berth can be attained or if a crippling loss will breed a nuclear winter of no football and hopes for a draft in August.
No matter what you are playing for, you need answers in Week 13 because you don’t want to make the wrong call and live with it for the next 8 months. Believe me, it never stops stinging. Here are some fringe players that you may be on the fence about starting in Week 13:
MATTHEW STAFFORD, QB DETROIT LIONS vs. Los Angeles Rams
19.1 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Detroit has struggled this season and are currently sitting in last at 4-7 in their division. The Lions hiring of Matt Patricia is a bit suspect since Patricia has not had a defense in New England in the Top 20 in his last 4 seasons as defensive coordinator (20th, 24th, 25th and 29th). What’s more is this former defensive coordinator’s defense is currently ranked 20th in the NFL. So a guy with a track record of coaching bad defenses is now asked to come up with an effective offense. Could be a long few years.
Matthew Stafford has been strangely ineffective this season, but should have a big game against a struggling Rams secondary who can’t stop anyone. With the looming breakout of Kenny Golladay and the potential for garbage time production, Stafford may have his biggest week of the season. The Rams Defense is allowing:
- 19.3 FPPG to QBs on the season (10th)
- 38.9 FPPG in their last 4 games (1st)
- 3017 pass yards (10th)
- 25 passing TDs (2nd)
Here are some recent notable performances against this porous Rams secondary:
- Week 3: Phillip Rivers 23.0 Fantasy Points (QB15)
- Week 4: Kirk Cousins 39.0 fantasy points (QB5)
- Week 5: Russell Wilson 27.0 fantasy points (QB10)
- Week 6: Case Keenum 29.0 fantasy points (QB10)
- Week 8: Aaron Rodgers 23.0 fantasy points (QB15)
- Week 9: Drew Brees 40.0 fantasy points (QB1)
- Week 10: Russell Wilson 35.0 fantasy points (QB4)
- Week 11: Patrick Mahomes 54.0 fantasy points (QB1)
Kenny Golladay is the only healthy receiver on this team, so look for Golladay to be featured in this showdown. This could be a massive week for both Stafford and Golladay.
CASE KEENUM, QB DENVER BRONCOS @ Cincinnati Bengals
19.7 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Case Keenum should not be your regular starter, but he is a hell of a streamer this week. Keenum is only averaging 15.3 FPPG in his last 3 games, which is a boarderline starter in a 2 QB league. That said: he should be in for a strong performance this week as the Bengals are allowing:
- 23.3 FPPG to QBs (1st)
- 27.2 FPPG in their last 4 games (5th)
- 278 completions (5th)
- 3319 pass yards (3rd)
- 25 TDs (2nd)
How have the Bengals fared against other quarterbacks?
- Week 1: Andrew Luck 20.5 Fan PTS (QB12)
- Week 2: Joe Flacco 21.8 Fan PTS (QB12)
- Week 3: Cam Newton 29.6 Fan PTS (QB3)
- Week 4: Matt Ryan 29.3 Fan PTS (QB8)
- Week 7: Patrick Mahomes 33.8 Fan PTS (QB2)
- Week 10: Drew Brees 28.9 Fan PTS (QB4)
- Week 12: Baker Mayfield 34.0 Fantasy Points (QB3)
Keenum may never be elite and most likely won’t put up any 40 point games, but he could definitely crack the 30 point plateau and should do it this week.
DESHAUN WATSON, QB HOUSTON TEXANS @ Cleveland Browns
25.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Our feelings about Deshaun Watson this season are confusing and complicated, as he has not been the model of consistency and has broken our hearts on numerous occasions. Watson is coming off a 35 point effort Week 12 against the Titans, and he should be looking to keep this momentum going this week against a Browns Defense that is allowing:
- 17.9 FPPG to QBs (15th)
- 29.4 FPPG in last 4 games (2nd)
- 286 completions (2nd)
- 3279 yards (4th)
Here are some fantasy performances against this Browns defense that shouldn’t go unnoticed:
- Week 2: Drew Brees 23.0 fantasy points (QB13)
- Week 4: Derek Carr 41.0 fantasy points (QB4)
- Week 6: Phillip Rivers 23.0 fantasy points (QB16)
- Week 7: Jameis Winston 22.0 fantasy points (QB13)
- Week 8: Ben Roethlisberger 23.0 fantasy points (QB16)
- Week 9: Patrick Mahomes 37.0 fantasy points (QB4)
- Week 10: Matt Ryan 25.0 Fantasy Points (QB12)
Deshaun Watson is a star in the making and is quietly leading this Texans squad to a playoff bid. He should capitalize this week on a soft matchup, and he has a very favorable schedule down the stretch as well. Look for Watson to really come on down the stretch and finish the season as a Top 5 Fantasy Quarterback.
JAMEIS WINSTON, QB TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS vs. Carolina Panthers
20.7 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
I think everyone is pretty tired of this Quarterback soap opera that is transpiring in Tampa Bay right now. But since coming off the bench in week 11, Winston has thrown for multiple scores in his last 2 games and is averaging 24.5 fantasy points during that span. The Panthers defense is normally one most owners take caution against, but they are currently allowing:
- 20.0 FPPG to opposing QBs (6th)
- 27.6 FPPG in their last 4 games (4th)
- 2958 passing yards (12th)
- 24 passing TDs (3rd)
The Panthers secondary has been exposed to opposing QBs as evidenced by the following results:
- Week 2: Matt Ryan 31.7 Fantasy Points (QB5)
- Week 3: Andy Dalton 18.1 Fantasy Points (QB15)
- Week 5: Eli Manning 19.2 Fantasy Points (QB12)
- Week 7: Carson Wentz 20.7 Fantasy Points (QB10)
- Week 9: Ryan Fitzpatrick 26.0 Fantasy Points (QB5)
- Week 10: Ben Roethlisberger 35.8 Fantasy Points (QB1)
- Week 12: Russell Wilson 29.0 fantasy points (QB8)
Jameis doesn’t instill confidence in any fantasy owners, so just ride him out as long as you can, staring with a strong week 13 performance.
DEREK CARR, QB OAKLAND RAIDERS vs. Kansas City Chiefs
17.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
The Raiders are trash, but Derek Carr is not. While he is having a very down year, you really can’t blame him or this dormant offense. A good coaching staff puts teams in a position to win, and that clearly isn’t the case. The Chiefs possess a potent high-powered offense and have the ability to get up quick and run the clock out. They also have a very bad defense, who is unable to stop anyone right now. Garbage time is almost a guarantee in this one, which could make Carr very productive in Week 13.
The Chiefs secondary is allowing:
- 20.7 FPPG to opposing QBs (5th)
- 27.0 FPPG in their last 4 games (6th)
- 296 completions allowed (1st)
- 3520 passing yards (1st)
- 20 pass TDs (13th).
And the Chiefs have been torn apart by some pretty notable names:
- Week 1: Phillip Rivers 35.0 fantasy points (QB4)
- Week 2: Ben Roethlisberger 46.0 fantasy points (QB2)
- Week 3: Jimmy Garoppolo 26.0 fantasy points (QB11)
- Week 5: Blake Bortles 29.0 fantasy points (QB7)
- Week 6: Tom Brady 28.0 fantasy points (QB12)
- Week 8: Case Keenum 24.0 Fantasy Points (QB11)
- Week 9: Baker Mayfield 22.0 fantasy points (QB14)
- Week 11: Jared Goff 46.0 fantasy points (QB2)
People tend to forget that Derek Carr was once a serviceable fantasy starter and a Top 10 option. He may not have an effective offense around him, but he will find a rhythm and start to produce, hopefully starting in Week 13.
AARON JONES, RB GREEN BAY PACKERS vs. Arizona Cardinals
18.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Aaron Jones has been freed and it is glorious. Since coming off a bye week in Week 8, in his last 5 games Jones has 419 Rushing yards (2nd) on 6.1 Yards per Carry (2nd). He also has 5 TDs (1st), 23 First Downs (2nd) and 12 runs of 10+ yards (2nd). He has lived up to the hype and was well worth the wait.
These numbers bode very nicely against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Cardinals are allowing:
- 26.6 FPPG to RBs (1st)
- 32.7 FPPG in their last 4 games (4th)
- 313 rush attempts against (1st), 1454
- yards allowed (1st)
- 14 TDs (1st)
The Arizona run defense has been gashed repeatedly and for big numbers:
- Week 1: Chris Thompson 24.8 Fan PTS (RB5) / Adrian Peterson 24.6 Fan PTS (RB6)
- Week 2: Todd Gurley 28.3 Fan PTS (RB2)
- Week 4: Mike Davis 28.4 Fan PTS (RB6)
- Week 6: Latavius Murray 22.8 Fan PTS (RB8)
- Week 7: Phillip Lindsay 16.6 Fan PTS (RB12)
- Week 12: Melvin Gordon 21.0 Fantasy Points (RB10)
- Week 12: Austin Ekeler 21.0 Fantasy Points (RB10)
Aaron Jones is the future in Green Bay and has a very favorable schedule going forward. The only roadblock may be the Bears Week 15, but he has proven to be matchup proof and a must start every week.
PHILLIP LINDSAY, RB DENVER BRONCOS @ Cincinnati Bengals
13.8 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
If you thought Phillip Lindsay was good, it will be reconfirmed this week as he should have his biggest game of the season. This matchup is Taylor made for his skill set and his versatility as a pass catcher should be on display.
Lindsay is averaging 18.8 FPPG in his last 5 games. With literally the greatest possible upcoming schedule for a running back (CIN, SF, CLE, OAK), Lindsay will be looking to keep his recent momentum going against a Bengals defense allowing:
- 26.6 FPPG (1st)
- 38.3 FPPG in their last 4 games (2nd)
- 265 attempts (4th)
- 1301 yards (4th)
- 11 rushing TDs (5th).
They are also allowing 590 receiving yards (7th) and 6 receiving TDs (1st) to running backs. Notice that most of these results are from pass catching running backs.
- Week 3: Christian McCaffrey 21.4 Fan PTS (RB6)
- Week 5: Kenyan Drake 24.5 Fan PTS (RB6)
- Week 6: James Conner 28.9 Fan PTS (RB5)
- Week 7: Kareem Hunt 37.1 Fan PTS (RB1)
- Week 10: Alvin Kamara 26.2 Fan PTS (RB10), Mark Ingram 25.2 Fan PTS (RB12)
- Week 11: Gus Edwards 19.0 Fan Points (RB10)
- Week 12: Nick Chubb 27.5 Fantasy Points (RB3)
Phillip Lindsay has been the steal and the find of the 2018 fantasy football season, and you can’t help but root for the guy. Look for him to set career highs in Week 13.
GUS EDWARDS, RB BALTIMORE RAVENS @ Atlanta Falcons
11.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Gus Edwards success mainly depends on Lamar Jackson. With Jackson under center, the Ravens have been running a zone read offense. This forces the defense to devote at least one defender to the QB, and Edwards has been able to gain yards in chunks as a result. Edwards has 2 straight games of 115 rushing yards and 17+ touches.
The Ravens will face the Falcons, whose defense is allowing 24.0 FPPG (4th) and 32.3 FPPG in their last 4 games (5th). The Falcons run defense has been like swiss cheese this season – full of holes and stinks like shit. Here’s the numbers to prove it:
- Week 2: Christian McCaffrey 28.0 Fan PTS (RB2)
- Week 3: Alvin Kamara 34.0 Fan PTS (RB1)
- Week 4: Giovani Bernard 26.0 Fan PTS (RB9)
- Week 5: James Conner 34.0 Fan PTS (RB1)
- Week 6: Peyton Barber 21.0 Fan PTS (RB9)
- Week 7: Saquon Barkley 24.0 PTS (RB5)
- Week 10: Nick Chubb 35.9 Fan PTS (RB4)
- Week 11: Ezekiel Elliot 31.5 Fantasy Points (RB2)
Edwards is a solid play this week and should be a solid play rest of season (KC, TB, LAC, CLE). He has been another great find for a Ravens team who has struggled to run the ball.
LAMAR MILLER, RB HOUSTON TEXANS vs. Cleveland Browns
11.8 PROJECTED POINTS
Here’s a stat the really surprised me. Over his last 5 games, Lamar Miller has rushed for 502 yards (1st) and is averaging 6.0 yards per carry (2nd). He also has 12 runs of 10+ yards (2nd) and 15 avoided tackles (4th). Not counting his 5 point dud in Week 9 against Denver, he is averaging 19.1 FPPG in his last 4 games. This is great, and the Texans are very good right now and he could get better.
Houston will square off with a Browns defense that hasn’t lived up to the billing and is allowing:
- 23.3 FPPG to RBs (6th)
- 28.9 FPPG in their last 4 games (9th)
- 1204 yards (6th)
- 12 TDs (3rd)
They have been hurt before by some pretty impressive performances, which has put a lot of pressure on their offense:
- Week 1: James Conner 35.0 Fantasy Points (RB2)
- Week 2: Alvin Kamara 16.0 Fantasy Points (RB12)
- Week 3: Isaiah Crowell 19.0 Fantasy Points (RB9)
- Week 4: Marshawn Lynch 19.0 Fantasy Points (RB14)
- Week 6: Melvin Gordon 35.0 Fantasy Points (RB3)
- Week 8: James Conner 37.0 Fantasy Points (RB1)
- Week 9: Kareem Hunt 33.0 Fantasy Points (RB2)
- Week 12: Joe Mixon 20.5 Fantasy Points (RB12)
This matchup has the potential to be a shootout and could be a pretty exciting battle. Either way, Lamar Miller should benefit from continued volume.
LESEAN MCCOY, RB BUFFALO BILLS @ Miami Dolphins
11.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
LeSean McCoy has only had one game of more than 12.0 fantasy points, and it was a Week 10 performance against the Jets for 27.5 points. The Bills offense is immune to offense and the end zone, but Shady may be making a resurgence. He will square off against a Dolphins defense allowing:
- 23.4 FPPG to RBs (5th)
- 25.5 FPPG in their last 4 games (16th)
- 276 rushes (3rd)
- 1334 yards (3rd)
- 9 TDs (9th)
McCoy isn’t a spectacular option, but the Dolphins have a track record in 2018 of not defending the run:
- Week 1: Dion Lewis 22.0 Fantasy Points (RB9)
- Week 2: Bilal Powell 19.0 Fantasy Points (RB9)
- Week 3: Marshawn Lynch 18.0 Fantasy Points (RB10)
- Week 4: James White 31.0 Fantasy Points (RB3)
- Week 5: Joe Mixon 21.0 Fantasy Points (RB9)
- Week 6: Tarik Cohen 24.0 Fantasy Points (RB6)
- Week 7: Kerryon Johnson 20.0 Fantasy Points (RB9)
- Week 8: Lamar Miller 19.0 Fantasy Points (RB15)
- Week 10: Aaron Jones 32.5 Fan Points (RB5)
Look for Shady to find his old form and have a big Week 13 against a Dolphins defense that has lost it’s way.
KENYAN DRAKE, RB MIAMI DOLPHINS vs Buffalo Bills
10.2 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
The NFL is unable to break Frank Gore, as he continues to cut into Kenyan Drake’s production and blocks him from a breakout. That’s ok because Drake is really blossoming as a receiver. Since Week 5 Drake has been targeted 5.3 times per game (10th) and is averaging 8.7 yards per catch (5th). He has run the 10th most receiving routes among RBs resulting in 28 receptions (10th) and 3 TDs (4th). This is impressive for a guy who is not a full-time running back.
Drake should be in line for a decent day against Buffalo as the Bills are allowing 21.9 FPPG to RBs (9th) and 26.6 FPPG in last 4 games (14th). They are also allowing 12 TDs (3rd) and 66 Receptions to RBs (9th). This defense has been relatively solid against the run, but look for Frank Gore to get a bulk of the carries and Drake to do his damage in the passing game.
- Week 2: Melvin Gordon 29.0 fantasy points (RB2)
- Week 4: Aaron Jones 16.5 fantasy points (RB17)
- Week 7: Marlon Mack 34.0 fantasy points (RB2)
- Week 8: James White 20.0 fantasy points (RB10)
- Week 9: Jordan Howard 16.0 fantasy points (RB11)
- Week 12: Leonard Fournette 23.5 fantasy points (RB7)
Drake is another weapon waiting in the wings until Frank Gore gets hurt or is traded. Neither are likely to happen, but Drake can still be an effective flex and a solid option going forward.
MATT BREIDA, RB SAN @ Seattle Seahawks
12.9 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Matt Breida is quietly averaging 25.0 fantasy points per game in his last 2 games. Through all the bumps and bruised this year for both the 49ers and Breida, he has remained the starter in this backfield and should be solid down the stretch. The Seahawks are allowing 19.7 FPPG to RBs (14th), but 31.3 FPPG in their last 4 games (6th).
- Week 1: Phillip Lindsay 17.0 fantasy points (RB13)
- Week 3: Ezekiel Elliot 17.5 fantasy points (RB12)
- Week 4: David Johnson 19.5 fantasy points (RB14)
- Week 5: Todd Gurley 31.0 Fantasy points (RB4)
- Week 9: Melvin Gordon 24.5 Fantasy Points (RB7)
- Week 10: Todd Gurley 23.5 Fantasy Points (RB12)
- Week 11: Aaron Jones 24.5 Fantasy Points (RB4)
- Week 12: Christian McCaffrey 42.5 Fantasy Points (RB1)
This Seahawks defense was just single-handedly destroyed by Christian McCaffrey and the Panthers to the tune of 42.5 fantasy points. You really can’t come back from that.
LARRY FITZGERALD, WR ARZ @ Green Bay Packers
8.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Larry Fitzgerald is back. Not counting his fluky performance in his last 2 weeks that have netted him 3 TDs, he has been targeted 8.7 times per game (9th) in his last 4 games. Byron Leftwich is opening up this offense and trying to have Josh Rosen develop a repore with Fitzgerald. This Green Bay Defense is allowing:
- 28.4 FPPG to WRs (2nd)
- 46.8 FPPG to WRs in their last 4 games (2nd)
- 1934 receiving yards (10th)
- 16 Receiving TDs (3rd)
Look for Fitzgerald to get back on track this week in what could be a high scoring affair.
DJ MOORE, WR CAR @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12.1 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
DJ Moore has been the spark that this wide receiving core has needed all season. In his last 2 games he has been targeted 16 times on 15 receptions for 248 yards and 1 TD. That is a 93.8% catch rate, which is the best mark in that span. He is also averaging 16.5 yards per catch (3rD), 129 yards after catch (1st), 10 first downs (2nd) and 5 tackles avoided (1st). What’s more is he has a 139.6 passer rating when targeted (3rd). He’s good in case you weren’t sure.
The Panthers will face everybody’s favorite defense in Tampa Bay this weekend. They are currently allowing:
- 27.3 FPPG to WRs (5th)
- 17 Receiving TDs (2nd)
DJ Moore is leading this team with 17 targets in his last 2 games – no other WR on the Panthers even has double-digit targets. Continue to roll with DJ Moore every week going forward as he has a very favorable schedule down the stretch (CLE, NO, ATL, NO).
DOUG BALDWIN/TYLER LOCKETT, WR SEA vs. San Francisco 49ers
10.3/11.4 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS PER GAME
In his last 3 games, Tyler Lockett has been targeted 16 times on 15 receptions for 245 yards and 2 TDs. That is a 93.8% catch rate (3rd) and a 158.3 passer rating (1st). Doug Baldwin is averaging 7.3 targets per game in his last 3 games (8th) and is starting to get on the same page with Russell Wilson.
The 49ers are allowing 26.1 FPPG to opposing WRs (8th) and 15 receiving TDs (4th). Look for Russell Wilson to air it out in this one.
ADAM HUMPHRIES, WR TB vs Carolina Panthers
9.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
With DeShaun Jackson already ruled out, Adam Humphries should see an increased work load. Humphries is averaging 14.3 FPPG in his last 4 games and is quickly developing chemistry with Jameis Winston (featured above). The Panthers defense is allowing:
- 26.0 FPPG to opposing WRs (10th)
- 152 Receptions (7th)
- 2010 receiving yards (5th)
- 13 receiving TDs (5th)
Humphries has been a consistent receiving threat for this team all season and should continue to be busy underneath, while Mike Evans mans the perimeter.
ANTONIO CALLAWAY, WR CLE @ Houston Texans
5.5 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
The biggest knock on Callaway’s game is he has bad hands and can’t catch the ball, which was evident early in the season with a 50% catch rate (97th) and 6 dropped balls (2nd) through 9 weeks.
However, in his last 3 games, he has seen 7 targets on 6 catches for 101 yards and 1 TD. That is an 85.7% catch rate (6th) and a 158.3 passer rating (1st). THAT’S A PERFECT PASSER RATING FOR A GUY WHO COULDN’T CATCH THE BALL A MONTH AGO AND THAT SHOULD NOT GO OVERLOOKED.
The only problem is he is not being targeted (4.0 targets per game last 3 games). The Houston Texans are terrific against Wide Receivers, only allowing 19.4 FPPG to opposing WRs (28th), but their secondary should be busy with Jarvis Landry and containing Nick Chubb. I think we are about to see something special out of Antonio Callaway this week – and for the rest of the season.
CAMERON BRATE, TE TB vs Carolina Panthers
8.6 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Brate is Jameis Winston’s guy, but they haven’t quite got on the same page yet. Brate is only averaging 3.5 targets per game in his last 2 games since Winston was crowned the starter in Week 11. The Carolina Panthers are allowing 10.6 FPPG to opposing TEs (2nd), 62 receptions (6th) and 8 TDs (1st). Brate is a very chalky play, but one that could pay off with an increase in targets.
JARED COOK, TE OAK vs. Kansas City Chiefs
8.6 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
Jared Cook now has back to back games with a touchdown. He has also been targeted 20 times in his last 3 games (6th) and has 2 TDs in that span. The downside is he only has a 45% catch rate in these 3 games and a league leading 3 drops, so positive regression may be coming.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense is allowing 10.5 FPPG to opposing TEs (3rd), 812 receiving yards (3rd) and 5 TDs (4th). Cook is leading this team with 70 total targets on the season, while the next closest is Jordy Nelson with 40 targets. He will continue to be a focal point of this porous passing attack.
KYLE RUDOLPH, TE MIN @ New England Patriots
7.2 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS
I don’t quite understand why Kyle Rudolph has not been successful with Kirk Cousins under center. Cousins has a track record of being successful with his tight ends, which is why Rudolph was a late round favorite for most this preseason.
The opportunity is there as he is running the 2nd most receiving routes in the NFL, but has only seen 52 targets (10th) and 394 receiving yards (14th). In fact, his 1.08 yards per routes run rank him 32nd in the league among Tight Ends which means he is not getting open, and he is not doing much with his opportunities.
Something changed in Week 12 when he pulled in all 7 receptions targeted at him for 63 yards. In week 13 he will face a New England Patriots Defense allowing 10.2 FPPG to opposing TEs (5th) and 7 TDs (2nd). Kyle Rudolph could absolutely capitalize on having Cousins under center for the rest of the season, but he hasn’t gotten there yet. This may be the week he is reborn.
Visit Fantasy Rundown for additional start/sit and weekly ranking articles.