As we enter into Week 13, we need to start at least thinking about which teams have quit, which teams are fighting it out, and which ones are coasting to the finish. The AFC and NFC races are very different yet very similar at the same time. There are still a lot of teams alive in both conferences but some fighting for different things. In the NFC, we have the Vikings somewhat coasting to the NFC North title, the Eagles one Cowboys loss away from the NFC East title, with the Bucs, Giants, and Bears giving up and looking for the future. Hell the Giants are trotting out Geno Smith for some god forsaken reason. The Seahawks, Rams, Panthers, Saints, and Falcons are dueling for playoff position with one team losing out altogether. The Packers, Lions, Cardinals, Redskins, and Cowboys are all wasting away in the Sunken Place while the 49ers are jumpstarting their 2019 playoff run with Jimmy Garrapolo this week. We certainly like playing teams that are still playing 60 minutes. In the AFC, the Steelers and Patriots are set for a clash in Week 15 and we’ve seen from the Steelers (other than AB) that they are looking ahead. The Pats are always professional but have the Bills and Dolphins the next 2 weeks. In the playoff picture still are the Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Bengals, Ravens, Titans, Jaguars, Bills, with the Dolphins, Jets, and Texans still mathematically alive. Only the Colts, Browns, and Broncos are giving up and even still, the Colts are still fighting and the Browns want to avoid a defeated season. By this time next week, I bet this number is cut in half. If we can identify the identity of each team, we can target certain players on each team. Impending FAs are going to play through the whistle and rookies and fringe players are also fighting for a 2018 roster spot. If you don’t think there is juice out there for players like Jimmy G, Marlon Mack, Bruce Ellington, Corey Coleman, Josh Docston, etc. then you are only living in fantasy world. Their lives can be impacted with a strong finish to the season and these are just the type players we can target at cheap prices to get the studs on the teams that are still playing for something.
Russell Wilson (7100|8200) This is my cash game QB on FanDuel. He has to run the entire offense through himself and he has returned 2x by at least 4 points the last 6 weeks. He has had 2 games under 16 points this year, 1 being in week 1. Bonus that we get the little Sunday night hammer to come storming back.
Brett Hundley (5100|6400) The Steelers have a good defense, and Brett was able to have a solid game against them. He threw for 245/3 in a week that we were looking for the Steelers to be dominate. This week he gets to take on the Bucs who let Matt Ryan and Julio Jones go insane (okay so Hundley is no Matt Ryan but the point stands) and the Bucs pass defense is questionable at best. If the Packers are able to gameplan like they did for Pittsburg then I think Hundley will be able to have another good showing at what I think will be an affordable price.
Philip Rivers (7000|8100) He showed us on Thanksgiving that he can get it done through the air (find stats) and after a long week of rest will play host to the Cleveland Browns. The Rivers Allen love connection was real in their last game and this may be another spot where you can load them up to go again! Only concern here is the Browns last win came against the Chargers. Could go both ways.
Case Keenum (6000|7600) Every week, he is playing for his job but could it be that Case Keenum is actually a NFL QB? Is Jeff Fisher that bad of a coach who got lucky with Steve McNair? I think both are true and I like Keenum even more this week if the Falcons lose their starting CBs in Desmond Trufant and Bryan Poole. (Sunday update: Trufant is out and Poole is questionable). It’s tough to put stats on games like this when key players are missing for the first time all season but the one constant is Diggs/Theilen/Keenum have been lighting the league up this year regardless of matchup.
Tom Brady (7800|9300) Brady. Bills. It feels like every year the Pats have a tough showdown with the Bills, but in 29 matchups against Buffalo, Brady averages 252 yards and 2.3 TDs. Last year when Brady took on the Bills (he only played them once as he was suspended for the early season matchup) Brady threw for 315/4 and added a 15 yard slow Brady rush. Sure, he’s going to cost, but it’s Brady. One concern for Tom this week is the gameflow. This game is setting up to be a run the ball down the throat game so I’m targeting Burkhead/Lewis and wouldn’t be surprised if Gillisee is activated as Bill looks to stick it to the Bills once again.
Leonard Fournette (7800|8700) Lenny of late has not been the player he showed us he can be early on in the season. He started his career off with 4 of his first 6 games over 20 DK points, but since then he has been injured, suspended, or just not producing. This week we see his price drop below 8k for the first time since week 5. He has a stellar matchup against the Colts who give up and average of 25.8 DK points to the running back this season. This game has the potential to be a get right game for Fournette. I want him to be back to form!
Jordan Howard (6500|7500) In what looks to be a low scoring affair between two less that great teams Jordan Howard may be the only shining light on the field. The 49ers gives up the most points to the RB, second most rush yards/game to the RB, most receiving yards to the RB. Howard has been up and down all season, and last week was a down game getting blown away by the Eagles. The last time the Bears and Howard travelled to SF was in week 13 of last year and Howard had a DAY having 32 carries for 117 yards and 3 TDs. Tarik Cohen is definitely their pass catching back, but if the Bears find themselves with a lead like we expect the game might again turn into Howard rushing all day with great potential to pop off.
The more I look at him the more potential I see for him to have an INSANE day.
Kareem Hunt (6900|6900) This is strictly a GPP # 4 or #5 lineup. Some fun stats on Hunt this year: first 4 games, 28 points per game, next 4 games, 13 points per game, last 3 games, 7 points per game. His output this year in a PPR has been 44-25-25-16-13-15-15-9-9-10-2. Something has to give and I think everyone is officially out on him plus his price has plummeted. Perfect opportunity to buy low and reap some rewards. Editor’s note: I also can’t quit on this guy. I love him too much.
Mark Ingram (7900|8000) After a very subpar week and Alvin Kamara going off, owners will be off Ingram and on Kamara but this is the perfect game for Ingram to sneak in and remind people who the true #1, between the tackles back is. Definitely another GPP play but one that you can differentiate enough with to get some high upside exposure.
Alex Collins (4500|5900) He is taking on a Lions defense who are giving up the 5th most DK points per week. His team is a home favorite and in those cases it is never a bad idea to play their starting RB. The only wildcard in this game are the other RBs on their roster. In the last 2 weeks with Danny Woodhead back we have seen him get 10 targets, and 5 total rushes. We also see Buck Allen stealing some of the attention, but Collins is clearly the number one go to back. He saw a small dip in rushes last week, but he has found the endzone in each of his last 2 games. Price and matchup make him a good cash option this week paired with a more expensive back.
Marshawn Lynch (6200|7300) The Giants will be without Damon “Snacks” Harrison for this one and with both starting WRs out, Lynch should see a lot of carries and action. He has rebounded slightly the last few weeks and this looks like as good a spot as any to fire him up.
Davante Adams (6500|6500) We highlighted Hundley up top but Adams has become his go to guy. Bucs gave up a zillion to Julio last week so even with 50% of that production, we are looking at 125 and a TD.
Seth Roberts (3700|4900) With Crabtree and Cooper out, plus Janoris Jenkins on IR, Seth Roberts becomes the #1 receiver vs a terrible Giants secondary. He has shown plenty of flashes this season, especially as a release valve for Derek Carr. He’ll be popular but certainly has all the opportunity in the world.
Stefon Diggs (6200|7000) /Adam Theilen (7500|7800) This is very dependent on the health of the Falcons DBs as it turns into an auto play if they are out. Even if Trufant and Poole suit up, they aren’t 100% and would expect both WRs to have a big day. (Sunday update: as mentioned above, Tufant is out so fire up Diggs and Theilen)
Dede Westbrook (4100|4700) I am going to keep firing him up week after week until he has his breakout game. His price is still pretty static and cheap but is seeing a target on 29% of his pass routes which would lead the league over Antonio Brown. Clearly the Jags want to get this dude the ball and it’s a perfect spot against the Colts.
DeAndre Hopkins (7300|8000) The Titans have given up the 7th most DK points per week this season and Hopkins has been having a stellar year. In his last five, he is averaging 12 targets and 124 yards. That is an AVERAGE of 10 per TARGET! He is the 5th most expensive option at WR and is in a great match-up. The last time he took on the Titans he was 10/107/1. He has also shown that he can blow-up in one of two ways. One game he got 3 TDs and another he had 224 yards. This guy is a machine and with Will Fuller out Tom Savage will continue looking to DeAndre.
Robby Anderson (6300|7200) My boy Robby has great recently. He has found the endzone in each of the last 5 games with 2 last week. This week he is again at home to take on the struggling Kansas City Chiefs who give up 39.4 DK points/game to the WR this season which is good for 3 worst. Coming into week 13 they let up the most TD to the WR with 16. The Jets have essentially no run game so I really love Anderson in this spot! Not that it is a big concern but Revis is playing for the Chiefs. He certainly lost a step but it’s a revenge game and could see him blanketing Anderson for most of the game.
Jared Cook (5400|5500) Absolutely brutal week last week catching 1 pass for 1 yard but what you didn’t see was a TD that got overturned. He had 5 targets and draws the Giants this week who should officially quit on Ben Macadoo. Janoris Jenkins is out plus Crabtree and Cooper are sidelined. Big week for Cook.
Antonio Gates (2700|4500) Everyone and their brother, sister, mothers will be on Hunter Henry this week. IN CASH GAMES, PLAY HUNTER HENRY – DO NOT PLAY GATES. This is a great spot to pivot off and steal the position in a GPP with Gates. Henry is all over the place in snap counts and production and while Gates isn’t lighting it up, I can certainly see one more game where he reminds people how good he was.
Kyle Rudolph (4500|6000) Rudolph is consistency for a TE. His last 5 games before Thanksgiving he had 7 targets. In each. And on Thanksgiving when he only had 4 targets, all of which he caught, he had 2 TDs. He is taking on Atlanta who are pretty good against the TE, but Rudolph’s volume makes him a very safe cash play.
Back this week with my defensive breakdowns and we have a very interesting week, similar to Week 11 where there are a lot of mediocre QBs facing even more mediocre defenses. That’s why we do our rating system to cut through it all and figure out what defenses stand out from an unbiased angle.
49ers @ Bears
Jimmy G gets his first start at Chicago who are stingy but have zero talent amidst injuries. The 9ers offense is not the Eagles but with Jim, it won’t be the worst. On the other side, Mitchell Trubisky led the Bears to exactly zero first downs in the entire first half last week. It will be easier sledding this week but the #2 overall pick hasn’t shown much this year.
49ers: 1 star D | Bears: 1 star D
Buccaneers @ Packers
This is an interesting game from both sides as both defenses are sub par yet both offenses are even more questionable. What tends to happen with these is the offense shows flashes but also turns the ball over a few times. I think both Ds would be viable streamers but there isn’t enough oomph to really roster either.
Bucs: .5 star D | Packers: .5 star D
Broncos @ Dolphins
The Broncos D has fallen off as of late and I think a big part of that is their offense not sustaining drives. Likewise with the Dolphins, the Defense is always on the field which is not conducive to the pass rush or the secondary. Like the Bucs/Packers game, this one will have some flashes of offense and a bunch of turnovers. I certainly like Denver more as their talent level is much higher than Miami.
Broncos: 2 star D | Dolphins: 1.5 star D
Lions @ Ravens
Ravens are a team to watch closing out the season on defense. Their identity is defense and has been for the life of their franchise. They welcome the Lions who have a banged up Matt Stafford and while a gamer, he is remarkedly worse when injured vs healthy. The Lions get to face a downright atrocious offense with an offensive line that is crumbling. I think both are viable but like the Ravens at home.
Lions: 1.5 star D | Ravens: 2.5 star D
Vikings @ Falcons
Key injuries to watch here are the Falcons starting CBs. If they are both out, I am pounding the Vikings and the Vikings D. They have yet to let up a 100yd rushing game and with Devonta Freeman back after a concussion, I don’t see that changing. They have one of the better CBs in the league to shut down Julio and in the past, after big games, Julio is a non factor.
Vikings: 2 star D | Falcons: .5 star D (1 star if healthy)
Colts @ Jaguars
The Jaguars did it again last week and are rewarded once again with a dream matchup at home vs the Colts. Brissett struggled last week against the Titans and I expect similar this week. For the Colts, Bortles is managing the game well and they have zero corners to cause havoc.
Colts: .5 star D | Jaguars: 3.5 star D
Chiefs @ Jets
The Chiefs have fallen apart. It’s over for them as their offense cannot keep up with their defense in terms of points allowed. The Jets are a sneaky decent offensive squad with Robbie Anderson providing the outside speed and skill and Jermaine Kearse and ASJ manning the middle. The Jets D is also sneaky and have had a resurgence year from Morris Claiborne. The question will be if KC can get Kareem Hunt back on track.
Chiefs: 1 star D | Jets: 1 star D
Texans @ Titans
Yet another game of mediocre to poor defenses going up against even worse offenses. The Titans were expecting a leap year from #2 overall pick Marcus Mariota but a hamstring issue and overall inconsistent play has turned this predicted high powered offense into a sputtering mess. On the Texans side, their defense is obviously hurt by the loss of their all pro LBs but their offense went from all world to the Browns with the loss of Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller.
Texans: .5 star D | Titans: 1.5 star D
Patriots @ Bills
Don’t look now but the Pats D is turning into a force with only a few of their stars left. They have been on of the stingier pass Ds the last 4. Their run D isn’t great in terms of YPA but they are bottom five in rushes against. The Bills are the worst run D this year so I expect the Pats to run a lot.
Patriots: 2.5 star D | Bills: 0 star D
Browns @ Chargers
The Chargers get a dream matchup against the Browns aerial attack. They have turned into one of the best pass Ds but like the Pats, their rush D is suspect. If game flow goes correctly, we’ll get 30 minutes of the Browns trying to pass. The Browns D is actually good against the run but are atrocious vs the TE and not much better vs the WR even though their CBs grade out decently on PFF.
Browns: 1 star D | Chargers: 3 star D
Giants @ Raiders
The Giants have placed Janoris Jenkins on IR but that is the least of their worries. They are trotting out Geno Smith and even against a defense that had its first INT of the season last week, it’s Geno Smith. In return, the Raiders will be without their #1 and #2 receivers which means limited options against a Giants D that has come to life the last 2 weeks shutting down the Chiefs and Redskins. We’ll see if they will show up again in a winnable game.
Giants: 1 star D | Raiders: 1 star D
Panthers @ Saints
I have a sneaky feeling this might be a low scoring affair. Drew Brees is still a game manager and Cam is hurt. The Saints D should get one CB back but not their #1 in Marcus Lattimore. (Sunday update: Lattimore is expected to test in pregame warmups and give it a go. I still would rather have him 100%). The Panthers meanwhile have looked shaky on D, giving up 27 points to the Jets but expect a bounceback week as the talent is there.
Panthers: 1.5 star D | Saints: 1.5 star D
Rams @ Cardinals
The Cardinals put up a great fight against the Jaguars, ultimately winning on a 57 yard FG. The Rams offense is not the Jaguars which should mean a tougher matchup. Look for Cooper Kupp to attack the slot and Justin Bethel while Todd Gurley dominates on the ground. For the Rams, their run D is still sub par but they’ve shown the chops to be adequate through the air. Whether its Stanton or Gabbert, I like the Rams to feast.
Rams: 2 star D | Cardinals: 1 star D
Eagles @ Seahawks
It’s fun when you get matchups that don’t quite lineup. The Eagles have the best run D in the league and the Seahawks the worst rush O but that’s not telling the entire story. The Eagles force teams to pass by leading the majority of the time while the Seahawks do not run the ball at all. So essentially, the Eagles strength isn’t necessarily a strength and even so, the Seahawks do not care since they only pass the ball. The Seahawks D is stingy as always but losing Richard Sherman is a blow.
Eagles: 2 star D | Seahawks: 1 star D
K (for the FanDuel fans)
Ryan Succup (4800) No need to mess with something that isn’t wrong. At 4800, he provides some salary relief but gives you that high upside.
Stephen Gostkowski (5200) The Pats have one of the highest implied team totals this week and he did not disappoint last week. He is the highest priced K on the slate but well worth it with the opportunities.
Robbie Gould (4500) A little revenge game for Robbie as he goes back to Chicago where he was the Kicker for quite some time. He is min price which might open up some more spots.