The last regular season game in quite a few leagues, and a crucial week for other leagues heading into the last run to make the playoffs, week 13 is probably the last gasp of hope for many fantasy football managers. Things get tougher from deeper league standpoints since teams on later weeks decide to rest players more often than letting banged up players on the field, as was the case with Danny Amendola last week, playing against Arizona, but for only 7 snaps. This week we go deeper into the players you’d rather stay away from, and the players you can start trusting again:
- Cam Newton – CAR – vs KC
Incredible 4 touchdown performance by Cam on Monday night football, and now an even easier match up for Cam against the struggling Chiefs. After a very poor start for Cam on his sophomore season, Cam exploited the Eagles to the best of his ability for 2 early passing touchdowns and 2 great late rushing touchdowns than reminded everyone about the stellar rookie season that he had. With 11 passing, and 6 rushing touchdowns, his numbers look a lot better than before, but still not what we expected. The Chiefs on the other hand are very vulnerable on the ground and air, which means Cam will have a lot of options. The Chiefs might have an advantage at home, but this is the perfect opponent for Cam to build some momentum with.
- Tony Romo – DAL – vs PHI
Romo has heated up of late, but most of those numbers have come because of the late game situations he has gotten himself into. He threw for 441 passing yards on 62 pass attempts against the Redskins on Thanksgiving, and while those numbers are more than likely not to repeat themselves against the Eagles, the lack of a ground game opens the possibility of a few more attempts than Romo would be used to. Romo has connected well with Dez Bryant lately, and even with Miles Austin exiting early on thanksgiving, he still managed to throw 3 touchdowns and over 400 yards. As long as Demarco Murray stays on the sidelines, Romo can be counted on, even if Jones is healthy, Felix Jones has already showed hes not going to be a dominant back. And seeing as the Eagles just let Cam Newton torch them for 4 touchdowns, Tony Romo should be a good option for week 13.
- Andrew Luck – IND – vs DET
The Lions had allowed multiple touchdowns to quarterbacks for 4 consecutive weeks prior to their Thanksgiving game against the Texans. Andrew Luck hasn’t look unbeatable over the last few weeks, but he has found ways to make the most out of his situations, and he hasn’t been forcing the ball at all. He has developed a great connection with T.Y. Hilton to add to his already impressive mix with Reggie Wayne. The Lions on the other hand have improved their offense quite a bit, meaning Luck will most likely have to throw if he wants to try and beat the Lions. He has attempted more than 35 passes in 8 of his 11 games, and not less than 44 in any of the Colts loses. If the Colts are to lose, Luck will patch his stats even if it is in garbage time, and if the Colts are to win, then it is because Andrew Luck has already made something happen with his receivers. Not the greatest option, but if you like Luck, I support the selection.
- Chad Henne – JAC – vs BUF
Say what you want to say about Chad Henne, but the numbers aren’t lying, and the match ups aren’t bad at all. Since taking over for Blaine Gabbert, Henne has thrown 7 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions, all going together with 615 yards in his last 2 games. They may have been against a Texans defense who has recently slowed down, and a terrible Titans defense, but Henne doesn’t pick his match ups, he just takes advantage of them, and this week against the Bills should be another good one. Buffalo ranks 26th against the pass and dead last against the rush, but with the ground game in Jacksonville completely a mess, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jaguars lean on Henne a little bit more. This is more of a last resort start, but it is not a bad one. I am actually starting Henne in my league since Big Ben went down, and I am not regretting it one bit.
- C.J. Spiller – BUF – vs JAC
Spiller will remain the starter for now, and rightfully so. I’m not a fan of Spiller, specially in a place like Buffalo, but he is making the most out every chance he has, and his play making ability have pushed him over Fred Jackson for more touches. Fred Jackson did play a decent amount of snaps, but the Bills are using him as a blocking back more than anything. Spiller on the other hand got double digit carries and 3 targets in a slow paced game versus the Colts. I don’t see things changing against the Jaguars as I see this game as an opportunity to take advantage of the incredible 6.7 yards per carry that Spiller has been able to account for. It’s an incredible number that has earned Spiller respect all around the league, and should earn him respect among the fantasy football world as well.
- Jamaal Charles – KC – vs CAR
Did you all see what Bryce Brown did against the Panthers? Then this pick should be relatively simple to explain. Charles eclipsed the 100 yard mark against the Broncos and the Panthers should give him enough holes for Charles to do it again. He has gotten no less than 87 rushing yards in each of the last 3 games and no less than 100 total yards either. The Panthers are the 7th easiest defense to run on, and considering how bad the passing game is in Kansas City, the Chiefs should rely on Charles as much as they have, if not more.
- Frank Gore – SF – vs STL
The fantastic job that Kaepernick has been doing made people forget about Frank Gore for a second. Kaepernick had wonderful games against completely different defenses (Bears, Saints), proving those games were no flukes. But Gore has been as reliable as he has, and will probably be an even bigger part of it on Sunday. With 97 rushing yards and a touchdown on his previous game against the Rams that resulted in an overtime tie, Gore will be used more now that Kendall Hunter has been placed on the injury reserve. Gore has turned into more of a consistent back than a big play runner, but he can be dangerous if given a shot. I don’t believe James Laurinaitis will let Gore run around too much, but with the 49ers offense, it’s probably Gore will have a decent day.
- Doug Martin – TB – vs DEN
The very popular “Muscle Hamster” hasn’t been incredible since his breakout day, but who could really expect another performance like that? He has still proven to be one of the top running backs of 2012 and with the Buccaneers offense heating up, Martin still looks good. Even when only getting 50 yards, his 2 touchdowns made managers quite happy, and against the Broncos, it might happen again. Charles was able to exploit the defense even when the Broncos knew he was going to run, so Martin might have a different advantage that might make his day another one to remember.
Good Desperate Starts:
- Benjarvus Green-Ellis – CIN – vs SD
The Law Firm has torched AFC west teams for 286 yards and 3 touchdowns in 3 meetings. The only one left is the Chargers, who allow 118 yards per game on the ground and have got to be demoralized after a tough loss against the Baltimore Ravens. Green-Ellis is not very reliable, and there is not much play making ability, but he has turned it on as of late, and it could be a nice dice to roll with this nice match up.
- Rashad Jennings – JAC – vs BUF
Jennings is free to run away with the backfield job since MJD is still injured, and Parmele was placed on IR. Jennings might not be the greatest running back, but against the worst defense in the league, he should be taken into consideration at least a little bit.
- Jacquizz Rodgers – ATL – vs NO
Finally Rodgers got more work than Michael Turner, and I don’t think that should change, specially against the Saints. On PPR leagues there is no question he should be started, he has been a nice change of back in Atlanta, and after scoring last week, and out producing Turner, Rodgers is a nice play maker in a potent offense. And besides, everyone against the Saints is a good start.
- Victor Cruz – NYG – vs WSH
3 of his last four games have gone terribly wrong. 2 for 23, 3 for 26, and 3 for 36. One game in between went for 5 receptions and 67 yards which is in no way acceptable for a player of Cruz’s caliber. Even though he got a touchdown last week in a rout over the Green Bay Packers, Cruz has definitely taken a step back with Hakeem Nicks now healthy. Eli Manning hasn’t been the greatest of quarterbacks lately, but nobody should be discouraged by the lack of production. Cruz faces a Redskins defense that allows the 2nd most points to wide receivers and has already allowed Cruz to go for 7 catches, 131 yards and a touchdown(even if those stats were highly increased with a 77 yard game winning touchdown, they still count)
- Eric Decker – DEN – vs TB
Before you start panicking about his recent lack of production, I will tell you one thing, Don’t panic. Sounds good right? Combining his last 3 games put him barely over 100 yards and 8 total catches with one touchdown, so I can understand the reason for concern owners may have, but with Peyton Manning as your quarterback, the opportunities for a big game will be there every game. Even with those 8 catches, he has gotten 18 targets over the course of those 3 games, and has actually gotten a few red zone looks in the process, which is more than enough reason for optimism. The Buccaneers allow the most points to wide receivers, and are one of the few teams to allow more points to #2 receivers rather than the primary stars.
- Brian Hartline/Davone Bess – MIA – vs NE
Hartline has been struggling the last 2 games, and has only one touchdown this whole year, which came during a week 4 explosion vs Arizona. On the other hand, Bess is coming off his best game with 129 yards on 7 receptions. They aren’t in the greatest situation but the Patriots allow the 4th most points to wide receivers, and with the Dolphins most likely playing from behind this game, there will be plenty of chances for them two to get their stats.
- Cecil Shorts – JAC – vs BUF
He has a touchdown in each of the last 3 weeks, and has great chemistry with new quarterback Chad Henne. Sure Justin Blackmon has gotten a lot of the spotlight for finally making it into the football scene but Shorts has been playing decently all year. The Buffalo Bills are again the worst defense in the league, and if there is one player in the Jaguars that can exploit a hole and make a play, it will be Cecil Shorts. He has a 50 yard catch and a touchdown in each of the last 3 games, making it even more plausible for Shorts play making ability to pay off on Sunday.
Good Desperation Starts:
- Josh Gordon – CLE – vs OAK
Got to monitor Brandon Weeden’s status before making this decision, but if Weeden is good to go, then so should Gordon. At least 10 fantasy points the last 2 weeks, and no touchdowns this whole month, Gordon is due for a good game. The Raiders are known to give big plays, whether its on the ground or air, and Josh Gordon is exactly the kind of player who could exploit their weakness.
- Jeremy Maclin – PHI – vs DAL
With Desean Jackson out, he has to be the central focus of the offense. Damaris Johnson and Riley Cooper will have a big role in this game as well, but just like Maclin dominated last game with 8 targets, he should do so again against the Cowboys. The Cowboys allowed 4 touchdowns to wide receivers on Thanksgiving, and while that has to do with Robert Griffin III more than the Cowboys own fault is unimportant, the fact of the matter is that they are having trouble covering wide receivers and stopping big plays. Maclin might not have the best quarterback leading him, but he is bound to have a ton of balls thrown his way.
- Aaron Hernandez – NE – vs MIA
With Hernandez having a long week to rest and get healthier, he should be poised for a big game against the Dolphins. Sure the Dolphins are a great defense against opposite tight ends, but Hernandez doesn’t exactly operate as your traditional tight end. 7 catches for 103 yards against the Dolphins last year, Hernandez might be looking to post the same amount on 2012, it doesn’t seem too far fetched either considering the amount of points the Patriots have been putting up.
- Antonio Gates – SD – vs CIN
This is a tough one. Gates has been a massive disappointment, but it is hard to put a superstar to rest. This is one of my last few attempts at giving Gates the benefit of the doubt. While the Bengals have been playing great against the big men, they still have allowed the 10th most points to tight ends. It will be a battle, and even though Gates hasn’t been the top priority of the Chargers offense, it’s about time to make his presence felt again.
- Jermaine Gresham – CIN – vs SD
Gresham is getting hot thanks to the red machine catching fire. He has caught 19 balls out of a possible 23 throughout his last 4 games. Even with the Chargers being a good defensive team against tight ends, Gresham is a good option until Dalton stops performing.
I feel good about starting Carson Palmer. He needs to bounce back after a horrible trip back to his old team. I also like Josh Freeman this week. His streak of 6 multi touchdown weeks might be over, but he needs to go back to those ways if he wants to have a chance to out duel Peyton Manning. Bryce Brown deserves a good mention after tearing the Panthers apart for 178 yards on Monday night, and with Nick Foles as the probable starter, it makes it even more likely for him to be a decent start. Beanie Wells scored twice against the Rams, even on a losing effort, the Cardinals knew their best chance at winning was with Wells pounding the ball. His 50 yards aren’t encouraging, but as long as he gets goal line work, he has to be worth something. Same as Shonn Greene, who I’ve never liked, but since the Cardinals pass defense has harassed quarterbacks lately, it is in the Jets best interest to run the ball. Receiver Steve Smith might finally get in the end zone again against the Chiefs, and Wes Welker is a guarantee for a big week against his former team. Greg Olsen is worth a look since Cam Newton is heating up.
- Philip Rivers – SD – vs CIN
It feels as if just a year ago he was threatening to break the passing record that Dan Marino had, and climb himself into the elite conversation. Now the record belongs to Drew Brees, and the conversation for elite will never include Rivers. The Bengals have surprised quite a few people with a great defense throughout the year, top 10 against quarterbacks as a matter of fact, and well, Rivers hasn’t been doing so hot. His passes seem to float more than ever, and its just been too easy for defenses to intercept. Romo might lead the league with 15 interceptions, but Rivers is 2nd with 14 and has the most interceptions since the start of last year. Rivers will have a decent game, turnovers are definitely to be expected, I don’t think we are going for decent at this point.
- Joe Flacco – BAL – vs PIT
Flacco finally had a good game on the road. 355 passing yards and a touchdown against the Chargers was not expected from him, but he showed that if the situation is right, he can pull it together. He might be home against the Steelers, but I still don’t want to trust Joe. If he can turn around his crappy road performances into decent ones all of a sudden, he can also turn amazing home performances into dreaded shows. The Pittsburgh Steelers allow the 2nd fewest points to quarterbacks, and Flacco is a player they are familiar with, it is safer to go a different rout and bench Flacco.
- Marshawn Lynch – SEA – vs CHI
Lynch had been on a tear lately. 4 games of 100+ yards and 3 straight games with a touchdown put Lynch at the top of the running backs fantasy list, but a terrible showing against the Dolphins showed a lot of vulnerability. The Seahawks face the Bears this week, making it even tougher to think Lynch will turn things around. They allow the 2nd fewest points to running backs behind only the 49ers, they will have no trouble harassing every player on Seattle’s offense. Lynch wont get back to his 100 yard games this week, I can guarantee you that.
- Vick Ballard – IND – vs DET
Since Luck is on the Start list, it should be good enough to be able to put another offensive weapon from the Colts on the start list, but I just don’t trust Ballard that much. He couldn’t really outperform Donald Brown that much against the worst defense in the Bills, so what hope does he have now? I’ve always liked Donald Brown more, so I can see Ballard’s value dropping more and more each week, specially since there is not much production, whether it is in fantasy or in reality.
- Fred Jackson – BUF – vs JAC
Considering what I said about C.J. Spiller on the top of the list, this is a little bit expected. Fred Jackson is being used mostly as a blocker, and while he will have opportunities on offense, the Bills see him as a goal line back more than a play maker. The Bills announced the split between running backs would be 60:40 in favor of Spiller. Jackson played 32 snaps last game but blocked on 12 and got a meager 7 total touches, Spiller on the other hand played in 30 snaps, blocked on only 4 and got a total of 15 touches, you see where this is going right? Fred Jackson is a great option for when Spiller gets hurt, lets face it, he can get hurt any moment.
- Mike Wallace – PIT – vs BAL
This isn’t really a surprise is it? If Charlie Batch is going to be the starter, I will side with the more protective and possession receiver in Antonio Brown who seems to be good to return week 13. Mike Wallace will surely have a better game than last week. Wallace had a lone reception for nine yards in 7 targets. Even though the numbers are awful, the targets are a positive sign. Antonio Brown returning might leave a space open for Wallace to make a play, but with Batch as a quarterback, I don’t see Wallace as a safe start.
- Kenny Britt – TEN – vs HOU
It looked promising when what was feared to be as bad as a season long suspension ended up being just one. Britt had a terrific start to the season on 2011 before he left with season ending surgery, but this year, he has been almost invisible. Hurt for a few games, and slow on others, Britt hasn’t produced at all, and has showed no sign that could possible tell us he would have a decent game against the Houston Texans. Even with the Texans defense playing terrible of late, I would much rather start other players.
- Larry Fitzgerald – ARI – vs NYJ
I love Larry, I wish I could just give him a Superbowl championship because he deserves it more than any other player I know. But the fact of the matter is, he is stuck in Arizona, and he is way to nice to admit how unhappy he could be in his football situation. Since Lindley became quarterback, he could only muster 1 reception vs Atlanta, and three catches against the Rams, and even on those 3 catches, some were in garbage time. Andre Roberts and Rob Housler were able to get 8 and 9 receptions respectively, but that was because of the attention Fitzgerald received. All 3 players got 10+ targets, which leaves room for optimism, but with Ryan Lindley as a quarterback for another week, it is tough to predict what Fitzgerald, as good as he is, will produce.
- Heath Miller – PIT – vs BAL
A bad game followed by a decent game, and now back to a bad game. Miller could only get 2 catches for 22 yards against the Ravens two weeks ago, and I don’t see how this week could be any different. Poor Miller. Since Big Ben left he has really been more of a blocking presence than a difference maker, but the Steelers need him to do so.
- Brandon Myers – OAK – vs CLE
I’ve been a big Myers supporter this year. I liked Palmer and expected good numbers from him, but the trust he is developing with Brandon Myers is so much better than I could have expected. This week however, he faces the Cleveland Browns, I know it doesn’t sound scary, but the best thing the Browns do is take the tight end out of the game. Before the last 2 weeks, no tight end had gotten more than 4 catches since week one, and the last 2 weeks were against Jason Witten and Heath Miller, can you blame them? The Best defense against Tight ends should be able to stop Myers for getting in the end zone, so unless you are in a PPR league I would advice not to start him, though there is a chance for a decent game. Last week I couldn’t decide whether to start Myers or Vernon Davis and I went with Vernon Davis who got me a big doughnut, needless to say, Myers is starting for the rest of the season and I am very proud of that fact.
If anyone is starting to like Russel Wilson, I advice you not to, against the Chicago Bears there is not much he can do. Sam Bradford is also in a tough situation against a tough 49ers defense. San Francisco might have a quarterback controversy at hand, but it does not affect the defensive side. Steven Jackson surprised everyone with over 100 yards on his first meeting with San Francisco, but the 49ers have stepped up their game, and I don’t see Jackson repeating his amazing feat. Miles Austin is banged up and he is going to try to give it a go. I’m not too confident about him performing well, I am not even sure he will be capable of finishing the game.This is a post submitted by Gino Bernasconi. Gino is currently a Florida International University student going for an electrical engineer major with a journalism minor. He is a huge New Orleans fan and a Miami Dolphins season ticket Holder. He has written fantasy football tips and articles for over 8 years and is prepared to defend any and all arguments you have against his picks. Gino is always looking for new leagues, new challenges, and new victims to build his confidence. Twitter:@GinoBuddah Facebook: Facebook.com/GinoBer