How did Josh Gordon work out for everyone in Week 12? Pretty good return game for him. Week 13 brings us to the end of the bye weeks. As a bonus, due to Thanksgiving, we are blessed with three games on Thursday: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, and Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers.
With the full roster of NFL players to choose from and factoring in recent past week’s performances, it’s hard to go against the “big name” guys. I’ll try to find you a few hidden gems this week. Here we go:
Andrew Luck, IND (Week 13 vs Washington)
Even though his team won, for Luck, he had a bad game in Week 12. He ended his eight-game streak of over 300 passing yards with only 253 yards and one touchdown. He also fumbled four times, luckily only losing two of those. I expect a major rebound for him this week against a horrible Washington defense. He “rights the ship” and has a monster game.
Middle of the Road:
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (Week 13 vs New Orleans)
Pittsburgh was on bye in Week 12, so they now return with a push for the playoffs in the only division in the NFL to ever have all four teams at least three games over .500. Pittsburgh opens up their final five games against an underwhelming New Orleans team that just lost three in a row at home. Expect Pittsburgh to take advantage of the miserable Saints’ defense, Roethlisberger to test their bad safeties, and Pittsburgh to lay a beating on the Saints.
Cheap, High Upside:
Kyle Orton, BUF (Week 13 vs Cleveland)
After quite an interesting week, the Buffalo Bills were finally able to play some football and did so crushing the New York Jets in primetime. Kyle Orton is proving he can still sling the ball around for Buffalo. He finished Week 12 with 24 completions on 32 attempts (75%), 230 passing yards, and two touchdowns. He now gets to go back home to play in front of the Buffalo fans that just lost out on a home game due to being buried by snow. I expect this to be a shootout, so for the price, Orton could be well worth it.
Le’Veon Bell, PIT (Week 13 vs New Orleans)
Bell has been running wild this year. Now that he does not have LeGarrette Blount to steal the goal line carries, Bell should see some more touchdown opportunities coming his way. New Orleans Saints have allowed a 150+ yards rusher in two straight games and now they go to Pittsburgh to face Bell. Expect him to have a huge game against a struggling team.
Middle of the Road:
Andre Ellington, ARI (Week 13 @ Atlanta)
Ellington has been running well this year for Arizona. In Week 13, Arizona should focus on the run as Atlanta is the worst ranked run defense in the league, allowing the most points to opposing running backs. In Week 12, they allowed 162 rushing yards and two touchdowns. After being bottled up in Week 12 by Seattle, expect Ellington to stretch those legs for many yards and a touchdown or two.
Cheap, High Upside:
Jonas Gray, NE (Week 13 @ Green Bay)
With an unbelievable performance in Week 11 (201 rushing yards and four touchdowns), Gray did not play in Week 12 after missing practice on Friday. With the addition of veteran LeGarrette Blount, Gray might be out of a job soon. However, New England, especially Bill Belichick, knows how to game plan perfectly for their opponents (focus on the run against pass-happy Colts and spread the ball out against stout Detroit run defense). In order to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers‘ hands, New England will have to run the ball and Gray should get back into the mix. For his deflated price, Gray might be a, “diamond in the rough.”
A.J. Green, CIN (Week 13 @ Tampa Bay)
It appears that Green’s toe injury is “100% better” as he had a career high in receptions in Week 12. He finished with 12 receptions for 121 yards. In Week 13, as the AFC North is the tightest it has ever been, Cincinnati will continue their playoff push as they get the second-most generous team to opposing wide receivers: Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I do not expect Tampa Bay to go down easily at home, so Cincinnati will have to score some points to stop the Bucs. Green is a solid play.
Middle of the Road:
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (Week 13 @ Jacksonville)
In Week 12, Beckham gave us one of the best catches we will see this year. He finished Week 12 with 10 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He is emerging as one of the best rookie wide receivers this year and that is even after missing the first few games due to injury. Now he gets Jacksonville, who has been torched the past two games by T.Y. Hilton and Dez Bryant. I expect another phenomenal performance in Week 13 and if we are lucky, some more unbelievable catches.
Cheap, High Upside:
Kenny Stills, NO (Week 13 @ Pittsburgh)
With rookie Brandin Cooks out for the year, Kenny Stills stepped up in Week 12 with career highs in targets (9) and catches (8). In a game where the Saints will need to score many points against Pittsburgh, I expect Stills to remain the focal point. He is a solid play for such a cheap price.
Jimmy Graham, NO (Week 13 @ Pittsburgh)
Graham is one of the elite tight ends in the game. He is playing Pittsburgh who is top 10 for most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. I expect Graham to continue his dominance.
Middle of the Road:
Larry Donnell, NYG (Week 13 @ Jacksonville)
As Jacksonville may be focused on trying to stop Odell Beckham Jr., the middle of the field will be left open for the New York Giants to have their way with. Donnell might have some success in finding open slots. I expect a touchdown from Donnell in this game.
Cheap, High Upside:
Jordan Cameron, CLE (Week 13 @ Buffalo)
If Cameron returns from his concussion this week (all signs point to he will), he may be a great sleeper option. With the return of Josh Gordon and the “ground-and-pounder” Isaiah Crowell, Cameron may find open room to roam. With Gordon likely being double-teamed and the box stacked for Crowell, Cameron has a good opportunity for points. If he plays, consider Cameron a sleeper.
St. Louis Rams (Week 13 vs Oakland)
St Louis has been pretty good on defense the past few weeks. Although they did lose in Week 12, they did have one interception, force three fumbles, two of which were recovered by St. Louis. Against a bad Oakland team, I expect St. Louis to shut them down.
Minnesota Vikings (Week 13 vs Carolina)
A surprising pick here is the underrated Minnesota defense. They just held the red-hot Green Bay Packers, who scored over 50 points their previous two games, to only 24. Minnesota also loves to get after the quarterback. In Week 13, they will be all over Cam Newton. Expect Minnesota to surprise.
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Check it out, and come back to post your feedback.
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Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
Over Tannehill’s last four games, his yardage totals haven’t been great (241 yards per game) but he has managed to throw for nine touchdowns during that stretch. It looks like he is on a hot streak and the schedule is decent with three middling passing defenses up next for Miami.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
With the current state of the Seahawks offensive line, I have some serious doubts that Wilson will finish the season upright, even considering his superior running skills and pocket presence. He just doesn’t have enough time to make the passing game go especially given the Seahawks lack of talent at the receiving positions.
Alfred Morris, Redskins
Since RGIII returned to the lineup in Week 9, Morris has racked up 371 total yards while finding the end zone three times. It certainly seems that having RGIII under center buys Morris some extra time to find his running lanes. Consider him a solid RB1 the rest of the way.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers
In his second game since returning to the lineup, Mathews looked impressive in the Chargers win over the Rams gaining 105 yards and a score on just 12 carries. Of course, he went out with a shoulder injury, although did return later. We’ve all been down this road before with Mathews but if he stays healthy, he could be fantasy gold to finish the season.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns
Meet the new lead dog in the Browns backfield. With Ben Tate released and Crowell outperforming fellow rookie Terrance West, Crowell should lead this committee in touches between now and the end of the season. He ran hard and effectively this week, picking up 88 yards and a pair of scores on 12 touches. If there is one issue with Crowell, it’s that he is a zero in the passing game with just five receptions on the season.
Latavius Murray, Raiders
The 2013 6th round pick looked like a beast against the Chiefs on Thursday night before leaving with a concussion, gaining 112 yards and scoring twice on just four carries. With the Raiders out of the playoff hunt and featuring a pair of aging running backs in Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, Murray should see plenty of touches in the coming weeks. Of course, this is the Raiders so maybe we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
C.J. Anderson, Broncos
Consider Anderson the Broncos starting running back even when Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman return to the lineup. He has run well enough to keep the job unless his performance declines and I don’t see that happening.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals
Even with Giovani Bernard back, Hill still managed to record 96 total yards and a score this week on 19 touches. While Hill will likely see fewer touches than Bernard going forward, he may have more fantasy appeal given his ability to find the end zone.
Jonas Gray, Patriots
Gray picked the wrong week to show up late for work. With LeGarrette Blount claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gray failed to see the field this week after being tardy for practice. Let’s face it. He was outstanding in Week 11 but it’s not like we can clearly state that he has more talent than Blount and we know the Patriots ride the hot hand at running back.
Charles Sims, Bucs
So much for the theory that Sims would revive the Bucs running game. Since his debut in Week 10, Sims has managed just 81 yards on 27 carries to go along with 36 yards on seven receptions over three games. There is nothing to suggest that he is startable between now and the end of the season.
Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
You’ve seen the catch, right? Nuff said.
Mike Evans, Bucs
Touchdowns in four straight games. Seven touchdowns in his last six games. 505 receiving yards in his last four games. While Sammy Watkins may have more pure receiving ability, Evans has been a more consistent fantasy threat due to his ability in the red zone. You can’t teach 6’5”, 231 pounds and solid leaping ability. This guy figures to be a fantasy stud for years to come.
Josh Gordon, Browns
While we all expected that Gordon would produce as a WR1 over the remainder of the season once his suspension ended, I’m not sure we were all prepared for him to catch eight passes for 120 yards in his season debut. With 16 targets this week, it is clear the Browns will force feed Gordon the ball on a weekly basis.
Charles Johnson, Vikings
For deeper leagues only. After his six reception, 87 yard performance in Week 11, Johnson caught three passes this week against the Packers for 52 yards and a touchdown. The former Packer 7th round draft pick has solid size and blazing speed and it’s not like Cordarelle Patterson has been lighting the world on fire.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
Floyd put up a big fat zero this week, failing to catch a pass for the second time this season. With just 23 targets in his last six games, Floyd simply isn’t an integral part of the Cardinals offense. If there is a mystery to this season, Floyd’s lack of use is it.
Wes Welker, Broncos
Even with Julius Thomas out, Welker saw only four targets this week, although it was nice to see him find the end zone for the first time in five games. However, with just one game with more than six targets in his last seven games and averaging a lowly 8.3 yards per reception, Welker is a 5’9”, 185 touchdown reliant fantasy option.
Nada. Nothing exciting at tight end this week.
Antonio Gates, Chargers
After catching 32 passes for 417 yards and nine touchdowns over the first eight weeks of the season, Gates has gone stone cold over the Chargers last three weeks, catching just eight passes for 74 yards and failing to find the end zone. It certainly appears that his 34 year old legs have begun to fail him at this stage of the season.
In the NOT CONVINCED JUST YET category, we present:
Delanie Walker, Titans – it was nice to see Walker rip off a five reception, 155 yard performance but that marked just his second game with more than six points in six weeks.