Week 13: Pickups of the Week
(Posted Tuesday morning and updated as needed)
Now that we're truly in the fantasy season stretch run, matchups become a larger part of the weekly waiver wire calls, long-term upside a little less. With only four weeks remaining in the majority of fantasy football seasons, the future is now. Brilliant statement, I know. Anyway, players profiled below are in bold and italics. For those still debating what to do, shoot me an email (email@example.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@benstandig)
1) Carson Palmer
2) Josh McCown
3) E.J. Manuel
4) Ryan Fitzpatrick
Others: Matt Flynn
Notes: Finally, all 32 NFL teams are back in action. That means less speculative lineup calls at the QB position, but there are some owners still cobbling together a weekly rotation. ...With Jay Cutler expected to sit another week, Josh McCown faces a Vikings defense that allows the second most fantasy points to the position and hasn't picked off a pass in three straight games. Consider him a QB1 for the second straight week. ...Assuming Matt Flynn gets the Turkey Day start after relieving Scott Tolzien last week, he'll face a Lions defense that has allowed 16 touchdown passes over the last six weeks.
1) Montee Ball
2) Bilal Powell
3) Benny Cunningham
4) Dennis Johnson
5) C.J. Anderson
6) Marcel Reece
Others: Mike Tolbert, Mark Ingram, Brandon Bolden, Fozzy Whittaker, Mike Gillislee
Notes: I touched on Montee Ball some in the C.J. Anderson post. If Knowshon Moreno sits and the Denver coaches can overlook the rookie's penchant for fumbles, Ball is a top-20 play against the Chiefs. Speaking of Anderson, he's not advisable for those needing "safe" points, but he's a potentially intriguing lottery ticket. ...Benny Cunningham is a must add for all Zac Stacy (concussion) owners. He's sketchier for all others in Week 13 as the Rams face the 49ers, but any potential starting RB is worth adding (especially one that rushed for 109 yards and a score on 13 carries last week.) ...On Monday the Texans said Ben Tate remains the starter despite doing squat last week, while Dennis Johnson had 74 yards on 13 carries in the same game. Seems logical that we're looking at a timeshare, which gives the Arkansas product value. The skidding Texans coming off a game with six points at home against the Jaguars limits Johnson's value to RB4 status unless the team announces a depth chart change. ...Marcel Reece helps Oakland in ways that don't help fantasy owners, but expect Oakland to feed its backs as often as possible against a Dallas defense that has been trucked by runners in recent weeks. ...As for Brandon Bolden, we can't trust Bill Belichick. It's that simple. Also, Bolden is more of Shane Vereen's backup than the fumbling Stevan Ridley's. Add for depth or as a Ridley hedge, but not to start. ...Fozzy Whittaker led the Browns in carrries last week. Granted it was only six, but he's receiving a larger role in Cleveland each week. Still not tons of touches, but worth a look considering the matchup against Jacksonville,
1) Nate Burleson
2) Michael Crabtree
3) Rod Streater
4) Doug Baldwin
5) Marquise Goodwin
6) Julian Edelman
7) Tavon Austin
8) Justin Hunter
9) Cordarrelle Patterson
10) Tiquan Underwood
Others: Ace Sanders, Eddie Royal, Dexter McCluster, Mario Manningham, Darius Johnson, Mohammed Sanu
Notes: Reports surfaced Tuesday morning that the 49ers will activate Michael Crabtree and make him active for Week 13. Sign, but be cautious using him in his first game back. Ideally he's ready to take advantage of great matchups in Week 15 (at Bucs) and Week 16 (Falcons). ...Crabtree drops on this list in a pure Week 13 sense, certainly behind Rod Streater, who has 11 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown the last two weeks with Matt McGloin at quarterback. Denarius Moore missed Monday's practice after sitting out last week, putting Thursday in doubt and likely leaving Streater as the only Raider WR worth using. ...From there it all depends. Doug Baldwin is coming off a three-game stretch with two scores and at least 63 yards per game, but now moves down a notch on Seahawks depth chart with Percy Harvin no longer on a snap count. ...Marquise Goodwin is a WR3 against a brutal Falcons defense IF either Stevie Johnson or Robert Woods sits out. ...Monster performance for Julian Edelman in Week 12, but the Pats have so many passing game options, making all but Rob Gronkowski iffy week to week. ...The next group of Tavon Austin, Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and perhaps Tiquan Underwood generates more interest in Dynasty leagues than the remainder of this season. That said, Hunter is coming off a stellar game, Austin has put up video games in two straight weeks and Patterson caught eight passes on a team-high 11 targets in Week 12. All are risk-reward WR3 types this week.
1) Rob Housler
2) Brandon Pettigrew
3) Tim Wright
4) Anthony Fasano
5) Ladarius Green
6) Garrett Graham
7) John Carlson
Others: Owen Daniels, Dennis Pitta, Brent Celek
Notes: Chasing matchups at this late point in the season is an acceptable approach. The issue this week is that the TEs with the better matchups are overall more suspect than safe. Brent Celek faces a Cardinals defense that allows the most points to fantasy TEs. Next of the likely free agents with a strong matchup is Anthony Fasano versus the Broncos (3rd easiest), whomever on the Raiders replaces injured Mychal Rivera (concussion) against the Cowboys (4th), Jeff Cumberland against the Dolphins (6th) and Brandon Pettigrew against the Packers (8th). ...Ladarius Green deservedly requires our attention after back-to-back strong weeks, including 3-80-1 against the Chiefs. The impressive young stud received five targets, but he still played less than half the snaps of Antonio Gates. Perhaps this is the beginning of a late season surge, but Green remains more of a Dynasty league play than 2013 starter, especially against a Bengals defense that allows the seventh fewest points to fantasy TEs. ...Garrett Graham's production came off the one week sugar high, but he did have five receptions and has 18 targets over the last two games. Trusting anything in the Texans passing game outside of Andre Johnson is the issue...Owen Daniels and Dennis Pitta are moving closer to returning. Those in two-TE leagues can pick them up, but expecting either to help produce at TE1 levels, well, don't do that.
FFToolbox Week 13 Contest
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The sleeper tag affixed to Carson Palmer this offseason slumbered for most of the season. Lately he and the rest of the Cardinals have proved nightmarish for opposing defenses. Two of Palmer's three highest yardage totals have come in the last two games including 314 against the Colts in Week 12. In those two games he has had four touchdowns without an interception, the only games this season he's gone without a pick. Palmer has also completed over 70 percent of his passes in three of his last four games. Though improved following a tough start, the Eagles defense has allowed the seventh most points to fantasy QBs. With Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd on his side, Palmer is a QB1 in Week 13.MyFantasyLeague availability: 100%
Every quarterback likes playing against the Atlanta Falcons these days. Expect E.J. Manuel experience to be no different. Sure, he's a rookie, but the game is in Buffalo (and against a pass defense that has allowed at least two touchdown passes in 10 of 11 games, including the last three). Manuel produced his best week (245 yards, two TDP) before Buffalo's bye and did so without Stevie Johnson, who is expected back this week. Speedster Marquise Goodwin is turning into a scary deep threat, Robert Woods makes plays and both backs catch passes. Right now FFToolbox ranks Manuel as a top-15 QB this week. Even if news or gut feeling lowers him a touch, the rookie has the opportunity for a strong performance. The "rookie' part is indeed risky, but Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan owners should take a closer look.
(Update - As a reader pointed out, the Bills "home" game is in Toronto this week, The Falcons cannot defend the pass in any country.)MyFantasyLeague availability: 21%
Chris Ivory sprained his ankle in the first quarter against the Ravens in Week 12. He claims the injury was both a high and low sprain. An MRI will speak the truth. Either way, expect a less-than-healthy Ivory should he play against the Dolphins in Week 13. That means more Powell, who shined earlier in the season and had 65 total yards against the Ravens on Sunday. This mention though isn't simply about more opportunity. It's also about whom the opportunity comes against. Miami has allowed over 140 rush yards to running backs in four of the last few games. The outlier came last week against the Panthers, but that's due in part because Cam Newton runs so often. Carolina's backs still averaged 4.0 yards per game. If Ivory is out, Powell is a low-end RB2 in PPR formats and a Flex elsewhere. Even with Ivory, Powell is a worthy matchup plug-and-play option for those in need.
All we know about Knowshon Moreno's leg injury at this point is that he suffered a "significant bone bruise" against the Patriots. All we know about his Week 13 status is that he's "iffy." Even though the matchup against Kansas City has massive AFC West ramifications, don't expect the Broncos to rush the oft-injured back. Montee Ball likely inherits the larger role and should be added in all formats at this point. However, the Wisconsin rookie fumbled again in Week 12, a mistake that put Ronnie Hillman in the doghouse and elevated Anderson to the active roster. If Moreno sits, some other RB will help Ball handle the workload. Right now that guy is Anderson and by the end of the week we might discover the backfield is a split situation. Factor in that Peyton Manning puts up lots of points and the Chiefs could be without multiple linebacker starters. There are safer free agent RB options out there, but the Denver RBs put up points. Should Moreno miss multiple weeks, some other Broncos back will be poised for Mile High stats.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
Rumors of Nate Burleson's return from a broken arm lingered and lingered, but the veteran receiver finally delivered on Sunday against the Bucs. Playing for the first time since Week 3, the veteran pass catcher hauled in seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown versus the Bucs. Highly productive in the first half, Burleson played on 69 of the Lions' 76 snaps (FWIW, Kris Durham received 75, the most of any Detroit WR). He's played only four games this season, but has at least six catches in each game. Go ahead and use Burleson as a WR3 on Thanksgiving against the Packers, especially in PPR formats. Green Bay has allowed six TDP in their last four games.