Optimize your weekly fantasy football lineup by starting these top 10 players heading into Week 13.
Nov 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Week 13 of fantasy football. It has been a bumpy ride. We saw elite players fall short to injuries, top drafted players not living up to their expectations and second and third string players have offered more fantasy value than several starting positions.
The headache is almost over. Most leagues are gearing up for the playoffs which means one of two things for fantasy football owners.
One, you’ve clinched your playoff spot and this week is a freebie. Or two, you have one more week to win the Week 13 battle and earn your playoff spot.
Unfortunately, for the majority of you, the second option is the most realistic. But, that’s okay. There are only two bye teams this week; Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans, and this week’s matchups offer great fantasy value.
After analyzing this week’s games, past performances, and bye week teams, I have identified the ideal players to start this week. Be sure to fill your lineup with some of these top 10 starters heading into Week 13.
Next: 10. New England Patriots D/ST
10. New England Patriots D/ST
The New England Patriots haven’t necessarily been in the spotlight because of their amazing defense. However, with the right matchup, their D/ST can outshine their terrific offense.
Although the Patriots D/ST hasn’t earned fantasy football points that compare to the Denver Broncos, they still managed to earn double-digit points in all their games except three. Their best game was in Week 3 against the Houston Texans where the Patriots recorded two sacks, one interception, and two recovered fumbles; they earned over 30 fantasy points.
Their worst week was last week against longtime rivals the New York Jets. The Patriots had only one sack and two recovered fumbles earning a little under 10 points. However, the Patriots get a comeback week as they prepare to take on Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams. Over the last 15 years, rookie quarterbacks entering Foxborough left with only about 200 yards and a 50 percent pass completion. They also recorded 14 interceptions and only four touchdowns.
You can’t deny those statistics! The Patriots D/ST should earn a spot on your Week 13 roster.
Next: 9. Philadelphia Eagles D/ST
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Connor Barwin (98) reacts after a defensive stop against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
9. Philadelphia Eagles D/ST
The Philadelphia Eagles D/ST had a great beginning to the season. In their first three games, they brought in over 20 fantasy football points per game.
Then, after their Week 4 bye, they continued their 20 plus fantasy outings even earning over 40 points in Week 7. However, over their last three games, the Eagles D/ST has slowly crumbled.
In Week 11, fantasy owners were lucky if they earned 10 points; they offered the Seattle Seahawks 26 points and only sacked Russell Wilson once. Then last week, they gave up 27 points to the Green Bay Packers; they didn’t sack Aaron Rodgers throughout the entire game. The Eagles earned a whopping four points.
Over their last five games, they only sacked opposing quarterbacks six times. That’s nothing compared to their 20 sacks in the first six weeks of the season. But, this is the week we get a glimpse of the Eagles D/ST we remember as they prepare to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are surrendering the fourth-most sacks in the league.
The Bengals have surrendered 32 sacks this season and on average offer opposing D/ST’s double-digit fantasy points; even the Cleveland Browns earned almost 15 fantasy football points against them.
Look for the Eagles to dominate. Start them in all leagues if you want a Week 13 victory.
Next: 8. Tight End Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
Nov 20, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) runs for a touchdown after catching a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
8. Tight End Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
I always say tight ends in fantasy football are like a get out of jail free card. They don’t produce enough to be a huge value, but if they do earn double-digits it’s an extra bonus.
This is true even for elite tight ends; Jimmy Graham is a great example. He’s owned in almost 100 percent of leagues and was a top tight end drafted player. Unfortunately, Graham has been a fantasy football bust and is as inconsistent as they come. He’s only tallied double-digit points in three of his matchups.
Those three games brought in over 20 fantasy points per game yet, he can’t even manage 10 points weekly . Over his last four games, he’s totaled 264 yards and three touchdowns.
This week Graham takes on the Carolina Panthers who rank 28th against the position. Also, keep in mind he has the most receiving yards, catches, and touchdowns against the Panthers over the last seven years.
You shouldn’t need any more convincing! Graham is a must-start in this week’s matchup.
Next: 7. Tight End Lance Kendricks, Los Angeles Rams
Nov 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight end Lance Kendricks (88) celebrates his touchdown catch with Rams center Tim Barnes (61) and wide receiver Brian Quick (83) in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
7. Tight End Lance Kendricks, Los Angeles Rams
Lance Kendricks hasn’t been of any fantasy football value this season. He’s only earned 10 or more points twice this season; it’s no wonder he’s only owned in about 20 percent of leagues.
However, with Goff front and center, we’ve seen his targets and production increase over the last two weeks. Kendricks has been targeted seven times in each of those games; not bad for a tight end.
Last week, he had one of his best fantasy football weeks of the season. He completed 4-of-7 targets for a little over 50 yards and a touchdown. This week he takes on the Patriots. As I stated earlier, rookie quarterbacks don’t have much luck in Foxborough however, the Patriots tend to lack against the position; 14th in the league.
If you were to start any player against the Patriots this week, it should be Kendricks. Put him in your Week 13 starting lineup.
Next: 6. Running Back Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 6, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants strong safety Landon Collins (21) tackles Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles (43) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
6. Running Back Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
It has been a rough season for Darren Sproles fantasy football owners. In Week 3, he earned over 40 points in some leagues, and has barely earned double-digits since then.
He saved owners by adding 48 receiving yards on five pass completions. But, it still wasn’t enough to earn at least 10 fantasy points in Week 12. This week, Sproles gets a break. He takes on the Cincinnati Bengals who rank 22nd against the position. The Bengals have offered opposing running backs 4.4 yards per carry on average.
Look for Sproles to be a streaming RB2 option heading into Week 13. He’s a starting option in all leagues.
Next: 5. Running Back Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
Nov 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) rushes the ball against Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (98) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
5. Running Back Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
Jordan Howard has been up and down all season. After his Week 4 breakout game, fantasy owners jumped at the chance to pick him up; only to be let down as he is very inconsistent.
Some weeks he earns over 20 fantasy football points per game, sometimes even topping 30. On the other hand, he didn’t even earn one point in Week 7. And, in Week 11 he earned less than 10 points.
Last week was a decent week against the Tennessee Titans. He had over 100 yards; 84 rushing and 43 receiving, earning almost 15 points. In his last four games, he’s averaged about 4.5 yards per carry and has at least 15 touches per game. This week, Howard takes on the worst run defense in the league!
The San Francisco 49ers has offered opposing backs 5.1 yards per carry and a little over 171 rushing yards on average. How can you pass up Howard in this ideal matchup? Start him in Week 13.
Next: 4. Wide Receivers Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Nov 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Levi
4. Wide Receivers Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
Brandin Cooks is an interesting receiver. In his season opener, he earned over 40 fantasy football points against the Oakland Raiders. He didn’t earn double-digits after that until Week 6 when he topped 40 points again.
Since then, he has only had nine or more points twice. And, if you do own Cooks, you can’t forget last week’s dreadful performance. Wait, last week there wasn’t a performance because he didn’t even see one target! I guess Michael Thomas owners lucked out.
Luckily enough for fantasy owners, Cooks has an ideal matchup and is expected to bounce back. This week he takes on the Detroit Lions that leads the league in allowed yards per reception.
On average the Lions offer opposing receivers a little over 10 yards per reception. Expect Cooks to strike back with a little under 100 yards and a touchdown.
Next: 3. Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
Nov 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) catches a touchdown pass in front of New England Patriots corner back Malcolm Butler (21) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
3. Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
It’s draft day, and your ecstatic because you were lucky enough to get your hands on Brandon Marshall. To much disappointment, this is not the NFL record-breaking Marshall we remember from last season.
Once a top scoring receiver, Marshall has only earned 10 or more points four times this season. He’s also only recorded three touchdowns this season. One of those touchdowns came last week, and before that, he didn’t score since Week 5. Unfortunately, this WR1 has become more of a WR2 in recent weeks.
However, his Indianapolis Colts matchup puts him back on the WR1 radar. The Colts rank 27th in the league in points allowed to opposing receivers. On average, they have surrendered 22 passing touchdowns. Look for Marshall to have another touchdown this week. He’s a borderline WR1/2 in all leagues heading into Week 13.
Next: 2. Quarterback Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2. Quarterback Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees has been a beneficial fantasy football quarterback this season. He has earned double-digit points in all his matchups and has topped 20 in seven of his games.
Brees leads the league in yards, completion percentage, and touchdowns. Last week alone we saw him throw four touchdowns.
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He completed 28-of-36 passes for over 300 yards, four touchdowns; he also lost a fumble. But, that didn’t affect his fantasy value or points as he brought in over 35 points in some leagues.
This week he’s projected another three touchdowns and over 300 yards against the Detroit Lions. The Lions have surrendered the third-most points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Brees owners couldn’t ask for a better matchup. This QB1 is a must-start in all leagues!
Next: 1. Quarterback Eli Manning, New York Giants
Nov 27, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) congratulates wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) on his touchdown reception during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Giants won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
1. Quarterback Eli Manning, New York Giants
Personally, I am not a huge fan of Eli Manning. But, I can’t deny his great fantasy football production this season.
Manning consistently earns double-digits points; he’s earned over 10 points in all but three of his games. On average, those points reach 20 or more per game. In his last four games, Manning has recorded 12 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Last week alone he had three touchdowns earning about 20 fantasy football points.
This week, he takes on the Pittsburgh Steelers. And, although I added the New York Giants D/ST to my sit ‘em list, the Giants offense is another story.
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Yes, the Steelers rank 8th against the position, however, the Giants are going to be forced to pass the football. Manning will need to throw shot guns downfield to keep up with the Steelers top offense. What that means for Manning owners is you absolutely start him! He’s expected to have at least 250 yards and three touchdowns.