Jake Ciely looks ahead to the matchups across the NFL for Week 13 and which players are due for big-time fantasy production.
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We’re getting into the nitty-gritty, so let’s just jump straight in as your season may be on the line.
(Note: Rankings for each table below are not in exact order of points allowed. Other metrics are calculated in along with just straight points. This allows for better analysis so one off-week doesn’t skew the opponent difficulty too greatly.)
Quarterback Points Allowed
|1||Cleveland Browns||OAK||18.5||17||Washington Redskins||NYG||15.4|
|2||Atlanta Falcons||NO||20.7||18||San Francisco 49ers||STL||14.9|
|3||Houston Texans||TEN||17.5||19||Philadelphia Eagles||DAL||13.5|
|4||Dallas Cowboys||PHI||18.0||20||Arizona Cardinals||NYJ||13.8|
|5||New York Giants||WAS||18.4||21||San Diego Chargers||CIN||12.9|
|6||Buffalo Bills||JAX||17.0||22||Minnesota Vikings||GB||15.2|
|7||Detroit Lions||IND||16.0||23||Pittsburgh Steelers||BAL||12.1|
|8||Denver Broncos||TB||17.5||24||Tennessee Titans||HOU||13.9|
|9||Green Bay Packers||MIN||17.8||25||Kansas City Chiefs||CAR||13.5|
|10||Jacksonville Jaguars||BUF||17.4||26||New Orleans Saints||ATL||12.5|
|11||Carolina Panthers||KC||17.3||27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||DEN||13.1|
|12||Miami Dolphins||NE||16.8||28||Baltimore Ravens||PIT||10.3|
|13||Indianapolis Colts||DET||15.1||29||St Louis Rams||SAF||11.5|
|14||Cincinnati Bengals||SAD||15.9||30||Chicago Bears||SEA||10.8|
|15||Oakland Raiders||CLE||15.4||31||New York Jets||ARI||11.4|
|16||New England Patriots||MIA||15.7||32||Seattle Seahawks||CHI||9.1|
ACES IN THE HOLE
It’s a big roll of the dice to rely on Brandon Weeden as your starter. Even with a great matchup against the extremely weak Raiders defense, I wouldn’t recommend Weeden in anything aside from 14-team (or larger) and two-QB leagues. The Raiders are second in Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) allowed, but they rate out worse metrically than the Saints. Weeden has scored eight or less points in three of his last four games, and while they’ve been tougher matchups, Weeden is still a risk/reward play.
Quick hitter: Matt Ryan is a must-start at this point, but just a note that his owners are in for a treat as he faces the Saints. Last time they played: 411 yards, three TDs, 26 FPs. Yippee!
Matt Schaub only has two games with more than two TD passes, but he has a good chance to make that three as Tennessee is second to only Oakland in pass TDs allowed (22, OAK 23). Even if Schaub tops out with two TD passes (the average per game allowed for TEN), the Titans also give up 274.7 passing YPG. Schaub can sneak into QB1 territory depending on league depth.
With a matchup against Washington, Tony Romo proved that he could still pass with the best, as he put up 441 yards and three TDs. He has another good matchup this week with Philly headed to town. What was thought to be a strength of the Eagles has actually been anything but that. In addition to having 20 passing TDs allowed already, Philly just let Cam Newton throw for 306 yards and two scores. Romo is a QB1 in Week 13.
Russell Wilson actually has two or more TD passes in each of his last four games. That will come to an end this week. The Seahawks head to Chicago to play a Bears team that has allowed just 10 passing TDs all year. In fact, when at home, the Bears have given up just four passing TDs in six games and never more than one. They also allow an average of just 215.3 YPG at home, and that includes games against the pass-happy Colts and Lions.
Just in case anyone was still insane enough to trot Mark Sanchez out as their QB, let’s ensure they don’t this week. Sanchez has one game over 12 FP on the year AND two games with goose eggs! On top of that, the Jets face an Arizona team that holds opposing QBs to an average of 220.5 passing yards, 1.4 TDs and 11.4 FP per game.
Back to the Seattle-Chicago game, Jay Cutler is a risky play as well. We’ve seen some solid performances from him (four games with 17-plus FP) and some terrible ones (four games in the single digits). The Seahawks barely allow double-digit FP to QBs (10.8 per game) and have held seven opponents under 10 FP. Look elsewhere for your Week 13 QB.
Running Back Points Allowed
|1||Jacksonville Jaguars||BUF||22.6||17||Indianapolis Colts||DET||14.5|
|2||Atlanta Falcons||NO||21.9||18||Cincinnati Bengals||SAD||14.5|
|3||Buffalo Bills||JAX||19.8||19||Green Bay Packers||MIN||14.5|
|4||Cleveland Browns||OAK||21.7||20||Miami Dolphins||NE||13.7|
|5||Houston Texans||TEN||20.4||21||New York Jets||ARI||14.2|
|6||Detroit Lions||IND||17.5||22||New York Giants||WAS||13.5|
|7||Carolina Panthers||KC||17.8||23||Denver Broncos||TB||15.6|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||CAR||18.6||24||Baltimore Ravens||PIT||13.3|
|9||Pittsburgh Steelers||BAL||17.4||25||Washington Redskins||NYG||12.6|
|10||San Diego Chargers||CIN||16.9||26||Dallas Cowboys||PHI||13.7|
|11||New Orleans Saints||ATL||18.1||27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||DEN||13.6|
|12||Arizona Cardinals||NYJ||18.6||28||New England Patriots||MIA||13.3|
|13||Oakland Raiders||CLE||15.7||29||Chicago Bears||SEA||12.9|
|14||San Francisco 49ers||STL||17.5||30||St Louis Rams||SAF||10.2|
|15||Minnesota Vikings||GB||15.7||31||Tennessee Titans||HOU||11.0|
|16||Philadelphia Eagles||DAL||15.2||32||Seattle Seahawks||CHI|
ACES IN THE HOLE
News broke Tuesday than Jalen Parmele is done for the season (that was quick). Rashad Jennings here is your second (second) chance. Maurice Jones-Drew is still out for at least one more week, which means Jennings has the backfield and top matchup of the week to himself. The Bills can’t stop anyone’s rushing attack having already allowed 14 rushing TDs on the year. Jennings will sneak into RB2 territory even with his uninspiring play so far.
Michael Turner was beyond fortunate to find the end zone the past two weeks. If he hadn’t, we’d be looking at three straight games with four or less points and five of his last six with five or less. Turner hasn’t topped 58 yards rushing since Week 5, and he’s hit the century mark only twice. There still might be some value left though. The Saints allow 190.3 combined YPG to RBs (133.8 rushing). However, the only team that they held under 16 FP since Week 4 was, you guessed it, the Falcons. Turner is a flex play now, as without a TD, he is a waste. The matchup helps him get to the flex level, but as pointed out, Turner is still a risky option. You would actually be better served going with Jacquizz Rodgers and his upside given the choice.
Similar to the QB section, we have a matchup where the opposing teams have similar values because of the defenses. This time, it’s the other side of the Jaguars-Bills game, as Jacksonville is only a smidge better than Buffalo against the run. They allow a few less YPG rushing (119.5 to 125.1) but allow more receptions and receiving yards per game to RBs (4.5 to 3.2 and 38.7 to 27.7). Hmm, could that be good news for C.J. Spiller? Most definitely. He is easily a RB1 given the matchup.
Quick hitter: Trent Richardson (a must start) is set for a big week as he faces the Raiders.
For weeks, I saw numerous owners ask if they should trade Marshawn Lynch given his late-season schedule. Time and again, I told owners, “only if you get RB1 value in return.” Matchups like Chicago this week and Arizona and San Fran coming up do hurt his upside some, but let’s look back to Week 7 in San Francisco: 19 carries, 103 rushing yards, 11 FP. Lynch can overcome the matchups. True, the Bears present the most difficult test yet, but we can’t rank Lynch overly low just because we’re worried.
Now, Chris Johnson, he’s a running back where worries are warranted. CJK has been all over the map this season, and while he’s been significantly better since Week 5, facing Houston creates a problem. Houston allows just 75.5 rushing YPG and has only allowed two rushing TDs all year. In games without a TD, CJK is averaging just 6.8 FPPG. To be fair, he’s averaging 16.2 FPPG since Week 5, but there is no RB with more inherent risk than CJK, and that’s what keeps him from RB1 status.
Steven Jackson is showing that he still has some life left in that 40-year-old body of his (that’s 40 in RB usage years). While he does have three games with 11-plus FP over the past five weeks, including two with over 100 yards rushing, SJax still has seven games with eight FP or less on the year and now faces (queue menacing music drop) the 49ers. The numbers are very close to Houston as San Fran averages 78.4 rushing YPG allowed and has given up just two rushing TDs. In addition, the 49ers allow just 29.5 receiving YPG to RBs, which is part of what helps SJax’s value. He is no more than a RB2 in Week 13.
Wide Receiver Points Allowed
|1||Atlanta Falcons||NO||25.6||17||Philadelphia Eagles||DAL||21.0|
|2||Denver Broncos||TB||27.4||18||Green Bay Packers||MIN||18.5|
|3||New York Giants||WAS||27.2||19||Tennessee Titans||HOU||21.9|
|4||Detroit Lions||IND||24.5||20||New England Patriots||MIA||20.9|
|5||Miami Dolphins||NE||24.6||21||Pittsburgh Steelers||BAL||19.4|
|6||Jacksonville Jaguars||BUF||22.9||22||San Francisco 49ers||STL||18.2|
|7||Buffalo Bills||JAX||22.9||23||New York Jets||ARI||20.5|
|8||Houston Texans||TEN||22.2||24||Arizona Cardinals||NYJ||17.1|
|9||Cleveland Browns||OAK||21.9||25||Kansas City Chiefs||CAR||16.6|
|10||Oakland Raiders||CLE||23.4||26||San Diego Chargers||CIN||16.2|
|11||Washington Redskins||NYG||24.0||27||New Orleans Saints||ATL||15.7|
|12||Carolina Panthers||KC||21.0||28||Baltimore Ravens||PIT||14.5|
|13||Dallas Cowboys||PHI||21.5||29||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||DEN||16.5|
|14||Indianapolis Colts||DET||20.8||30||Seattle Seahawks||CHI||16.8|
|15||Cincinnati Bengals||SAD||21.8||31||St Louis Rams||SAF||16.4|
|16||Minnesota Vikings||GB||23.1||32||Chicago Bears||SEA||14.8|
ACES IN THE HOLE
versus the Saints, Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker versus the Bucs and the Giants’ Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks versus the Skins. So, let’s check down a bit. The Lions also have a must-start in Calvin Johnson, but have additional value as they face the Colts. News is circulating that Titus Young has not only slipped behind Ryan Broyles on the depth chart, but that he could sit the rest of the season. That makes Broyles a WR3 with upside for more. We saw what he could bring last week, and with Indy having allowing 14 receiving TDs already (third worst), it’s hard to bench Broyles.
Even with Miami having a nice matchup against New England, both Brian Hartline (almost non-existent since that huge game) and Davone Bess are tough to plug into lineups. Now, Bess certainly has PPR value with four catches or more in each game since Week 5, and with the Pats allowing 12.5 WR receptions per game. However, he’s still less than a must-start with only three games of 86-plus yards. Hartline, he’s only a desperation play at this point.
Where Cutler will struggle, so too could Brandon Marshall. It’s impossible to bench him with the number of targets he sees. However, we can’t expect WR1 numbers, and owners would be foolish to risk Earl Bennett even with Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester (likely) out. Seattle allows just 14.8 FPPG to WRs and has held seven teams to a combined 15 FP or less – and you know most of those will go Marshall’s way.
Danny Amendola is a PPR stud but looked less than 100 percent last week. Chris Givens is a prototypical “boom or bust” WR with five FP here, 12 there, one here, 17 there… you get the idea. Meanwhile, Brandon Gibson has topped 53 receiving yards just once, and before you look at his 12 FP from two weeks ago, realize that he would have had zero if not for the TD catches and did have zero against the Cards. All of this shows what kind of risk you run when starting any Rams WR against the 49ers. The 49ers are tied for the fewest WR TDs allowed with six and allow a combined 138.5 receiving YPG.
Both Sidney Rice’s and Golden Tate’s TD runs ended against the Dolphins. Don’t expect either one to pick it back up against the Bears. Chicago is one of the other teams that has allowed just six TDs to WRs. Overall, the Bears hold wide receivers to 16.8 FPPG, and the duo of Rice and Tate would be lucky to reach that number.
Tight End Points Allowed
|1||Houston Texans||TEN||9.8||17||Tennessee Titans||HOU||7.3|
|2||Cleveland Browns||OAK||8.2||18||Dallas Cowboys||PHI||6.4|
|3||Miami Dolphins||NE||10.0||19||Kansas City Chiefs||CAR||6.9|
|4||Indianapolis Colts||DET||8.5||20||San Francisco 49ers||STL||6.8|
|5||New York Giants||WAS||9.9||21||New England Patriots||MIA||6.6|
|6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||DEN||10.2||22||Chicago Bears||SEA||7.0|
|7||Atlanta Falcons||NO||7.5||23||Philadelphia Eagles||DAL||5.9|
|8||San Diego Chargers||CIN||8.0||24||Washington Redskins||NYG||6.5|
|9||Green Bay Packers||MIN||7.4||25||Pittsburgh Steelers||BAL||5.6|
|10||Jacksonville Jaguars||BUF||6.9||26||Cincinnati Bengals||SAD||5.6|
|11||Denver Broncos||TB||7.1||27||Oakland Raiders||CLE||4.7|
|12||Arizona Cardinals||NYJ||8.1||28||Baltimore Ravens||PIT||5.5|
|13||Buffalo Bills||JAX||6.5||29||Seattle Seahawks||CHI||6.4|
|14||Detroit Lions||IND||6.0||30||Minnesota Vikings||GB||5.7|
|15||New Orleans Saints||ATL||7.3||31||New York Jets||ARI||5.5|
|16||Carolina Panthers||KC||6.5||32||St Louis Rams||SAF||5.3|
ACES IN THE HOLE
It’s been a while since Tennessee has allowed big points to a tight end, but then again, it’s been a while since they faced a decent player. Over the last five games, only one team has topped five FP, but that was Indy, who put up eight with two rookies. The only other name of Fantasy worth was Scott Chandler, and I’ve mentioned plenty of times how TD reliant he is. Owen Daniels is easily the best TE the Titans have seen in a while, and even better, Tennessee is Daniels’ best matchup of the year. Last time, Daniels finished with 72 yards and a score, and it would little surprise to see him repeat that performance.
You’re not using Ben Watson or Anthony Fasano in your league, so let’s jump down to the Colts. If Coby Fleener misses another game, Dwayne Allen has solid TE2 value again, as Detroit is weak versus the pass and tight ends. If Fleener suits up though, I’d look elsewhere – possibly Martellus Bennett with the Giants facing Washington as a nice matchup right behind Indy.
Another TE you’re not using anyway is Lance Kendricks, so we’ll skip to Dustin Keller. While he has put up two very nice games since his return, they both came against the Patriots who are one of the worst teams in defending tight ends. The Cards are on the opposite end of the spectrum. While they did allow a TD catch to Kendricks last week, it was only the fourth TD catch for a TE against them, and it was a bit of blown coverage. Avoid Keller where you can.
Kyle Rudolph is back in the good graces of Fantasy owners after alienating them for three straight weeks. Warning: that could happen again against the Packers. First, his performance over the last two weeks came without Percy Harvin in the game. Second, the Packers have not allowed a TE to score in Green Bay since Week 2 and only one team topped eight FP at the position since Week 1. If Harvin is out again, sure, Rudy is worth the gamble. But if Harvin is back, we could easily see plenty of peeved Rudy owners again.