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Play Em’ or Bench Em’: Week 13

Hello owners,
Who’s ready for the final game of the fantasy regular season? I know I sure am. Just take care of you and get the win this week and the rest will take care of itself. Clearly being the last week you know what you need to do in order to get into playoffs or if you’re even in them. All I can say to you is good luck and hope your team(s) do you well. Let’s move onward to the player you should play.
***Obvious players like Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Travis Kelce and other players of that caliber will not be featured in these columns***

Play Em’

Quarterback

-Phillip Rivers v. Cleveland Browns

  • Anyone having flashbacks from last year’s game where the Browns upset the Chargers in week 16 to get their first win of the season? Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but this Chargers team is different and is currently on a hot streak. Phillip Rivers and the surging defense have this team in key position to make playoffs or even win their division. From a fantasy perspective, the Browns give up a lot of points to opposing offenses. There is no reason that Rivers can’t finish in the top 5 in fantasy at the quarterback position. The Chargers are one of the hottest teams right now and they should continue the streak this week.

-Derek Carr v. New York Giants

  • The Raiders offense was clicking before their top two receivers were forced out of the game. Amari Cooper out with an injury and Michael Crabtree was ejected after fighting with Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. This week Carr and the Raiders will get a Giants team that just looks defeated on the field. To make things worse for the Giants defense, Eli Apple has been a healthy scratch the past two games because he threatened to leave the team due to his feelings being hurt and top cornerback Janoris Jenkins is rumored to have season ending surgery too. Crabtree will not be active this game and Amari Cooper is questionable for the game, but even still the Giants overpaid defense cannot stop anybody right now and Derek Carr should get the offense clicking as they too are in the AFC West division title race.

-Kirk Cousins at Dallas Cowboys (Thursday Night)

  • Talking about defeated teams, the Dallas Cowboys are struggling as a whole right now. In the last three games the Cowboys are averaging 27.49 points to opposing quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins may be too far out of the playoff picture to make a run, but Cousins is still playing for that mega contract he so desires. Unlike the Cowboys, Cousins and the Redskins have overcome their injuries and missing stars to still be competitive and win games. Kirk Cousins has played some great games against some of the better teams in the league recently and there should be no reason he shouldn’t come out on Thursday night and just dominate for his team to victory. Cousins is playing at a high level and will keep the Redskins relevant for now.

-Brett Hundley v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Alright, alright so maybe the Packers aren’t as dead as a door nail. Hundley certainly has impressed me over the past two weeks as he’s improved since his forgettable start. Hundley and the Packers went into Pittsburgh and gave the Steelers all they could handle on Sunday night football before losing to a field goal in the final seconds. The Steelers have one of the better pass defenses in the league, granted they weren’t 100% in the secondary it’s still something to come out of the game with a positive outlook. This week is a much easier task in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers whose secondary is one of the worst in the league. I’d roll with Hundley this week as a sneaky pick with huge upside.

Running Back

-Leonard Fournette v. Indianapolis Colts

  • Not only is Kareem Hunt struggling right now, Leonard Fournette hasn’t been as dominate either in recent weeks. Well, this week he’ll get a favorable match up against the Colts. Fournette missed the first game between these two teams and like last time owners are licking their chops for this juicy match up. Fournette hasn’t seen the end-zone since week 6, but I think that’ll change this week as he gets at least one score. The Jaguars saw firsthand what happens when they put the game in Blake Bortles hands, so I’m expecting a more run heavy approach in the game-plan this week.

-Jordan Howard v. San Francisco 49ers

  • Another high draft selection that’s been highly inconsistent this year. Not worry, if you follow trends Howard has a bad game then burst out with a big game then another bad game then right back to having a good game. Well, Howard and the Bears didn’t come to play last week against the Chicago Bears and he had less than 5 points. This week he’ll get a more favorable match up against the 49ers who give up the most amounts of points to opposing running backs. The run game is still the most important aspect of the Bears offense, so I can see them getting back to their roots while allowing their star running back to pad the stats this week.

-Lamar Miller at Tennessee Titans

  • Last time Lamar Miller played the Titans he had a 25+ point outing. Granted Deshaun Watson was the quarterback and had the offense playing at a high level, but Miller still has star potential with upside. The Texans know that they cannot trust Tom Savage winning games for them. So, how do they eliminate that issue? Running the football. The Titans defense has been a roller coaster this year and right now they’re near the bottom of the slope. Lamar Miller should see plenty of work this week against the Titans. Expect a touchdown in the stat sheet.

-LeSean McCoy v. New England Patriots

  • The Bills best play-maker has also been inconsistent this year. Although he has shown up in big games this year and this is arguably the biggest test yet. The Bills are very much still alive in the play-off race and if they have any chance at defeating the Patriots they need to feed McCoy the ball. They also haven’t been getting him involved in the passing game which they need to do. Note that the Patriots also give up an average of 18 points to opposing running backs too.

Wide Receiver

-Keenan Allen v. Cleveland Browns

  • Phillip Rivers and his star receiver Keenan Allen have been on fire over the past couple of weeks. Allen had one touchdown on the season entering week 11, but has added 3 to that total in the two weeks. The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now and if they have last year’s loss to the Browns fresh in their memory, they’ll be sure to make sure it doesn’t happen again this year. I’m sticking with all the Chargers starters this week.

-Adam Thielen at Atlanta Falcons

  • The beginning of the year Stefon Diggs was making crazy receptions and looking like one of the best receivers in the game. Well, Diggs has some serious competition in his teammate Adam Thielen. The undrafted home state player has at least 5 catches in each contest this season and has been an absolute monster on the field. Case Keenum clearly favors him in the passing game and he’s becoming one of the best stars before our eyes. He’s a must start in every league moving forward. Add in that Desmond Trufant is dealing with an injury and might not be able to go for this game, which will surely put the secondary in a bad position.

-DeAndre Hopkins at Tennessee Titans

  • The Texans offense is nothing to worry about on the football field with Tom Savage leading the way, but DeAndre Hopkins still manages to find ways to make plays. The Titans still give up the most amounts of points to opposing #1 receivers and no matter who is throwing the ball to Hopkins, he’ll find a way to come down with it. Hopkins ceiling is limited because of the quarterback play, but this week the floor is high.

-Tyreek Hill at New York Jets

  • The Kansas City Chiefs are in a rut right now. They simply cannot muster any offense. Sure it’s worrisome for fantasy owners as the playoffs are approaching, but Tyreek Hill has gotten double digit points in 3 straight games and has a favorable match up against some young defensive backs. Despite the struggles, Hill is still a player that can take it the distance whenever he touches the ball. The amount of touches he gets per game is enough to warrant a start almost every week in all formats.

*Josh Gordon at Los Angeles Chargers

  • Oh the Josh Gordon saga. Notice that there is an asterisk next to the name here. I’m not going to lie; a player that hasn’t played a snap in the NFL for almost 2 years is a little worrisome and risky. However, if you’re in a pinch and need a player with the potential of getting you some crazy amount of points; Josh Gordon is your guy. When he’s on the field, no one can deny his talent and explosive play-making ability. He will be active for the first time this season and head coach Hue Jackson has already said they want to get him the ball a lot. Consider this my last “streamer” of the year.

Tight End

-Jimmy Graham v. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday Night)

  • The Seahawks are finally utilizing Graham in the red-zone. This game will be their first real test in over a month. Russel Wilson and the Seahawks are a hot team right now. Wilson is playing at a MVP type level and is making almost everyone around him better. Graham has been one of the beneficiaries of the elevated play and should continue seeing plenty of targets in the red-zone.

-Jared Cook v. New York Giants

  • The Raiders could be without their top two receivers in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper this week. That means Cook should be in play for an increased role in the offense as the top option for Derek Carr. Add in the fact that the Giants have been absolutely horrible against tight ends this season and it equals a good fantasy outing for Cook this week. Nothing more to say except Cook’s ceiling is probably the highest of all tight ends this week.

-Hunter Henry v. Cleveland Browns

  • Along with Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry is getting more involved in the passing game. Henry is hard to trust on a weekly basis, but the Chargers want to give him the ball more and have a very favorable match up against the Browns this week who give up the third most points to tight ends. If you’ve stuck with Henry for this long he’ll reward owners here down the stretch.

Defense

-Jacksonville Jaguars v. Indianapolis Colts

  • Alright last week was somewhat of a fluke. It’s not the Jaguars played bad, it was more of the Arizona Cardinals rallying around Blaine Gabbert to beat his former team. The defense still ended up as a top 10 unit in points at the position for the week too. This week they’ll face a Colts team that’s been hit or miss. If last week was a letdown for you, they should “bounce-back” in a big way this week.

-Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Thursday Night)

  • Last week the Redskins just manhandled the Giants in the night game on Thanksgiving. This week they’ll get another struggling divisional foe on prime time Thursday night. The Cowboys are averaging less than 10 points per game since the Zeke Elliott suspension while the Redskins are clicking at the right time. The Redskins have dealt with their own issues, but still look like a team that could win a game in January. Unfortunately for the Redskins they’re unlikely to make the post-season, but they’re still playing for a purpose and will look to get after their rival. Besides, how can’t you enjoy the Dez Bryant-Josh Norman rivalry?

-Los Angeles Chargers v. Cleveland Browns

  • I don’t know if there is a hotter defense than the Los Angeles Chargers right now. In the last two games they have 7 interceptions. That’s an unbelievable number in two games. This week they’ll go up against the team that gives up the most amounts of turnovers on the year. I like the Chargers chances and adding to their turnover numbers this week and you should too. If you streamed this team, continue to do so.

Bench Em’

Quarterback

-Matthew Stafford at Baltimore Ravens

  • If you’re a Matthew Stafford owner you’re probably bald from pulling your hair out every week. The Lions start off the game slow then after half time they kick start into their comeback drive. It can be maddening for owners. This week though, he’ll face another tough defense. We’ve all seen how Stafford performs on the road against top defenses. Also note that Stafford sustained an injury in last week’s game and it could affect his play. If your fantasy season is on the line I’d suggest finding another option this week.

-Matt Ryan v. Minnesota Vikings

  • The Falcons are on a win streak and Matt Ryan is playing his best ball of the season. Although, this game could chill the Falcons a bit. The Vikings defense is one of the best in the league and do a good job at taking out the opposing offenses best player. Xavier Rhodes is likely to shadow Julio Jones all game long which will force Matt Ryan to look elsewhere for big plays. Last year’s MVP might be hard to sit, so if you play him limit your expectations for the week.

-Dak Prescott v. Washington Redskins (Thursday Night)

  • I’m trying to think of another starting quarterback that’s played worse than Adam Prescott over the last 3 weeks. Okay Alex Smith is up there too. Seriously though, Prescott looks lost without his premier running back behind him. Defenses are making the Cowboys one dimensional and forcing them to throw the ball more than they would like. It’s clearly affecting Prescott and he simply cannot make the plays needed when it counts. Until Zeke Elliott comes back, Prescott should be on your bench.

-Jared Goff at Arizona Cardinals

  • We’ve seen how Jared Goff reacts when defenses bring the pressure. Arizona is a tough place to play and they’re coming off a huge win against the Jaguars. That building is going to be lit with excitement and put up a better showing against the Rams than they did in London. The Rams are hot and coming off a game many considered an upset over the Saints. Jared Goff has been much improved this year and is the quarterback of the best offenses in the league, but I don’t like him in fantasy this week. Let’s call it a gut feeling.

Running Back

-Mark Ingram v. Carolina Panthers

  • Has anyone been watching potential rookie of the year candidate Alvin Kamara? He’s a stud that’s out producing Mark Ingram almost every week. Also there was something in Ingram’s that resurfaced last week about him potentially being a free agent after this year if he makes AP 1st team all pro this season. There is some speculation that the Saints will limit Ingram’s touches to make sure he doesn’t get that reward so he’s around another season. Add in that the Panthers run defense is a tough front and give up more points to running backs through the air, whereas Kamara is clearly favored in that department. Ingram might have a rough time this week getting you points.

-Ameer Abdullah at Baltimore Ravens

  • I for one was high on the Lions rushing attack. Even predicted them to finish in the top 15 of the league before the season; currently 30th in total rush yards. Oops, but hey go bold or go home right? The Ravens at point in the season were like Swiss cheese stopping the run, but since star defensive lineman Brandon Williams came back from injury its back to being a brick wall. It’s safe to say that Ameer Abdullah has underwhelmed this season and is a hard player to start in fantasy. Unless the matchup is favorable, keep this Lion’s runner on the bench.

-DeMarco Murray v. Houston Texans

  • This back field is a headache. Both Murray and Derrick Henry is an inconsistent fantasy player at this point. You cannot trust either for a strong performance as they both split carries and steal from each other’s thunder. It’s sad to say, but unless one of them gets a touchdown their fantasy outlook isn’t ideal. Keep them both on the bench unless you’re feeling lucky or one will get featured more than the other.

-CJ Anderson at Miami Dolphins

  • Speaking of running backs that just stopped getting featured. CJ Anderson is losing more and more touches week after week. Devonte Booker looks like the best back in the back field and we cannot forget about Jamaal Charles either. Both put a huge damper on Anderson’s production each week. If you’re an Anderson owner, it might be time to drop him or see what you can get in a trade. He might hold some name value still.

Wide Receiver

-TY Hilton at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Ouch. I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. This is a brutal match up for the Colts best receiver. The Jaguars have been tough against #1 receiver this season and I see the trend continuing this week against Hilton.

-Marvin Jones at Baltimore Ravens

  • Another team rough on opposing #1 receivers is the Ravens. Marvin Jones is enjoying himself a nice year and is the team’s best outside receiver. After seeing Jones explode on Thanksgiving, no not from being overstuffed, the Ravens might make it a point to stop Marvin Jones who showed he can be a big bodied play-maker down the field still. This game could be a slug fest until the fourth quarter when Matthew Stafford and the Lions decide to wake up from their cat nap. I feel like the game flow and match ups favor Golden Tate this week instead of Marvin Jones.

-Dez Bryant v. Washington Redskins (Thursday Night)

  • Who’s ready for Bryant-Norman2.0? I sure am. The first time Bryant faced the Redskins secondary he amassed 39 total yards. That was with Zeke Elliott. The offense has changed drastically since then. I don’t like any of the Cowboys this week in most formats. Dez Bryant has a low ceiling this week and if your season is at risk you might want to look elsewhere.

-Devin Funchess at New Orleans Saints

  • In the first match up against the Saints Devin Funchess had 58 yards on 4 receptions. Former teammate Kelvin Benjamin had 1 reception for 8 yards in that game. Why is this relevant? Because now Funchess is going to be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore this time. Sure they volume of targets will increase, but a similar stat line is what you should expect. Unless he sees the end-zone I see a sub 10 point game for the new Panthers #1 receiver.

Tight End

-Jack Doyle at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Similar to TY Hilton, Jack Doyle is the next best pass catcher on the team. Doyle should have a rough outing against a very tough defensive unit. To make things worse, Doyle has found the end-zone in 3 straight games. The streak should continue this week in a game where the Jaguars defenders will be a little upset after last week’s loss. Don’t trust any Colt’s players this week.

-Tyler Kroft v. Pittsburgh Steelers (Monday night)

  • The Steelers give up the third least amount of points to opposing tight ends. Tyler Kroft has less than 15 yards in 3 straight games. The only thing saving his fantasy point total in the past two outings is that he’s had a touchdown. Kroft was once a popular streaming option, but now he’s a player that should be in the waiver wire and not in your starting lineup.

-Cameron Brate at Green Bay Packers

  • The Buccaneers tight end started the season on fire, but Brate has been less than great recently. He hasn’t had a touchdown since week 6 and has had less than 13 yards in 4 straight games. Oh yeah and the Packers are tough on tights this season. If you haven’t already, put Cameron Brate on the bench.

Defense

-Buffalo Bills v. New England Patriots

  • The Buffalo Bills are trying to earn a playoff berth for the first time since 1999. They still have a chance down the stretch, but it might be tough seeing as they have the Patriots 2 out of the next 3 weeks. Tom Brady has the Patriots rolling right now and I don’t see the Bills slowing them down.

-Seattle Seahawks v. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday Night)

  • Injuries suck, but they’re apart of the game and unfortunately happen on a yearly basis. The Seahawks secondary has lost Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor for the season and it’s clearly affected them. Against some opponents it’s an easy cover up, but against some of the better quarterbacks in the league it becomes an issue. Carson Wentz has the Eagles flying at a high level and they’ll surely put up points in this contest.

-New Orleans Saints v. Carolina Panthers

  • Cam Newton and the Panthers have been inconsistent on offense this season. The Saints also gave the Panthers their first loss of the season way back in week 3. The Saints defense has been miles better than previous years, but this week could pose problems for them. Cam Newton is due for another break out game here soon and we saw how the defense reacted with first round pick Marshon Lattimore out of the game last week against the Rams.

-Cincinnati Bengals v. Pittsburgh Steelers (Monday Night)

  • The Steelers have struggled against lesser teams on the road this year and seeing as this is a divisional foe it could happen again. Unless the Bengals somehow injure Le’Veon Bell once again, the Steelers should continue to put up a crazy point total this week. This will be the Steelers third straight prime time game and in the first two they put up 30+ points. The Bengals defense is not a safe play this week.
That concludes this week’s edition of Play Em’ or Bench Em’. As always, good luck in your match up(s) and I hope you win. If you ever need more help with your lineup(s) don’t hesitate to ask myself or anyone from the SFT crew. We’ll always respond to you on all of our social media pages. So, don’t forget to like and share us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, as well as connecting with us on LinkedIn. Until next time, have a great day!
Austin Thomas

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