Five up, five down for Week 13
Is Colin Kaepernick someone you should roll out with confidence in critical Week 13? Our Nathan Zegura shares his top starts and sits for the week ahead.
It is the final week to make punch your playoff ticket, so good luck to all of you this week. With that in mind, here are five guys I really like for Week 13 and five who will have a tough time.
Get 'em active ...
, QB, 49ers (at STL)
Current own/start %: 59/26
I'd start him over: Carson Palmer (vs. CLE), Josh Freeman (at DEN), Andrew Luck (at DET)
It is plain to see that not only is Colin Kaepernick a rather handsome fellow, but he has the skills to pay the bills on the field as well. Kap followed up his impressive debut against the Bears with another solid Fantasy day against the Saints. He completed 16 of his 25 passes for 231 yards (an excellent 9.2 yards per attempt) and one touchdown with one interception. He also ran for 27 yards and another touchdown for a 21-point Fantasy day. I know, it was only 21 points against the Saints, but you have to keep in mind that the 49ers defense had two pick-sixes and Kap did not have to throw the ball much in the second half. He is averaging four pass plays of 20 yards per start ( Alex Smith was at two per game) and should have plenty of success against the Rams in Week 13. I know the Rams had their way with Ryan Lindley , but last week's game was the first time the Rams had generated a turnover in over a month. When he played three quarters against the Rams in Week 10, Kap completed 11 of his 17 passes for 117 yards and ran for 66 yards and a touchdown for a solid 16 Fantasy points. With a full week to game plan and prepare for the Rams, look for another 20-plus points from Kap against a Rams defense that has allowed 28 points per game to opposing quarterbacks since Week 6 (excluding Mark Sanchez and Ryan Lindley of course). Furthermore, the Rams have faced two running quarterbacks this year (yes I am counting Kap) and have given up 153 yards rushing and three touchdowns to them in two games. If you lost Big Ben and are saddled with Philip Rivers or Michael Vick , go ahead and dial up Kap again in Week 13.
Other QBs with favorable matchups: Cam Newton (at KC), Tony Romo (vs. PHI), Eli Manning (at WAS), Robert Griffin III (vs. NYG), Matt Schaub (at TEN), Andrew Luck (at DET), Andy Dalton (at SD), Sleeper: Ryan Tannehill (vs. NE)
, RB, Giants (at WAS)
Current own/start %: 100/65
I'd start him over: Ryan Mathews (vs. CIN), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at SD), Michael Turner (vs. NO)
Ahmad Bradshaw finally got into the end zone in Week 12 and that is going to be the start of a trend for the talented runner. With Andre Brown out with a broken leg, Bradshaw will go back to being the team's goal line back. That is great news for Bradshaw's Fantasy value when you consider that Brown is currently second in the NFL with eight goal line rushing touchdowns and has scored in five straight games. If you were to have popped those touchdowns over to Bradshaw, then he would have been the seventh-ranked Fantasy back on a per game basis over his last five games. When you consider that Bradshaw has struggled from a Fantasy perspective when giving up the goal line carries, this is great news for those of you who invested an early pick in him. After all, Bradshaw entered 2012 with a 62 percent goal line touchdown rate, best in the NFL over the last three years, so you know he can produce at the stripe. Bradshaw has not produced less than 12 Fantasy points in a game in which he scored this year and averages 17.2 points per game when does find the end zone. The 'Skins have allowed a running back to score in four of the last five games and both Bradshaw and Brown scored in their Week 7 meeting. Look for Bradshaw to get into the end zone and deliver Top 15 Fantasy production as long as he is handling the goal line duties.
, RB, Cardinals (at NYJ)
Current own/start %: 76/30
I'd start him over: Fred Jackson (vs. JAC), Michael Bush (vs. SEA), Steven Jackson (vs. SF)
Beanie Wells came back in Week 12 and made a big impact as he rushed for not one, but two touchdowns against the St. Louis Rams. He finished the day with 48 yards and the two scores on 17 carries, so he has room to improve, but I loved the workload. Wells took 17 of the team's 21 running back carries and was the only running back to carry the ball in the red zone. The Jets have allowed 100 yards rushing to running backs in five straight games and they have also allowed a touchdown in three of the last four. In every single one of those games, opposing runners produced at least 110 total yards with a touchdown or 130 total yards, so the Jets have been very generous to opposing rushers. Furthermore, the Jets have allowed a running back to rush for a touchdown in eight of their 11 games this year and if anyone is going to score on the ground for the Cards, it is Wells. Add in the fact that the Cards have produced at least one rushing score in four of their last five games and this seems like a great week to get Wells into your lineups as a solid No. 2 running back or a great flex option.
Other RBs with favorable matchups: Stevan Ridley (at MIA), Mikel Leshoure (vs. IND), Marcel Reece or Darren McFadden (vs. CLE), C.J. Spiller (vs. JAC), Darren Sproles (at ATL), Alfred Morris (vs. NYG), Ryan Mathews (vs. CIN), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at SD), Michael Turner (vs. NO), Bryce Brown (at DAL); Sleepers: Rashad Jennings if he starts (at BUF), Fred Jackson (vs. JAX), Mark Ingram (at ATL), Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. NO), Michael Bush (vs. SEA), Dallas starter (vs. PHI), Bilal Powell (vs. ARI), Shane Vereen (at MIA), DeAngelo Williams (at KC)
, WR, Lions (vs. IND)
Current own/start %: 33/15
I'd start him over: Dwayne Bowe (vs. CAR), Denarius Moore (vs. CLE), Larry Fitzgerald (at NYJ)
Before Thanksgiving, Matthew Stafford noted that he needed to give Broyles more chances because all he does is make plays. Well, following a team suspension of Titus Young , Broyles got the start in Week 12 and Stafford supplied the chances. Broyles saw 12 targets against the Texans and caught six of them for 126 yards in a very impressive performance. That game should not have surprised anyone who paid attention to Broyles' excellent efficiency metrics because he enters Week 13 with a 68 percent catch rate and is averaging 10 yards per target and 1.4 Fantasy points per target. Those are all elite numbers and Broyles should be able to maintain them working opposite of that Calvin Johnson guy who seems to draw a lot of defensive attention. With the Lions hosting the Colts in Week 13, look for Broyles to get the opportunity to produce against a defense that is allowing 24.25 points per game to receivers, seventh most in the NFL. Also working in Broyles' favor is the fact that secondary receivers have caught 10 of the 14 receiver touchdowns allowed by the Colts this year. If you need a sneaky pickup and play for your third receiver this week, look no further than Broyles, who has likely locked up the starting job over the troubled Titus Young .
WR, Jaguars (at BUF)
Current own/start %: 94/75; 83/52
I'd start him over: Torrey Smith (vs. PIT), Lance Moore (at ATL), Brandon Lloyd (at MIA)
Big Daddy Cool Cecil Shorts is one of the hottest wide receivers in the NFL that no one is talking about. Shorts has scored in three straight games and has 100 yards or a touchdown plus 11 or more points in five of his last six games. In fact, since Week 7 when Shorts ascended into the starting lineup, he is the No. 3 Fantasy receiver, trailing only Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall . His running buddy Justin Blackmon was the first receiver taken in this year's NFL Draft, but he did not get much going until Chad Henne took over at quarterback in Week 11 against the Texans. Prior to that game, Blackmon was catching 44 percent of his targets and was averaging 4.4 yards and 0.5 Fantasy points per target. In two games with Henne, Blackmon has caught 63 percent of his targets and averaged 15.6 yards and 2.2 Fantasy points per target. He has produced at least 13 Fantasy points in each of the last two games and could make it three in a row with a score against the Bills on Sunday. The Bills have allowed 14 receiver touchdowns this year -- seventh most in the NFL -- and both of Henne's weapons are solid starts this week (and no, I never thought I'd type that either).
Other WRs and TEs with favorable matchups: Josh Gordon (at OAK), Hakeem Nicks / Victor Cruz (at WAS), Pierre Garcon / Santana Moss (vs. NYG), Michael Crabtree (at STL), Steve Smith (at KC), Steve Johnson (vs. JAC), Danario Alexander (vs. CIN), Antonio Brown (if Ben Roethlisberger is back; at BAL), Vernon Davis (at STL), Jermaine Gresham (at SD), Dustin Keller (vs. ARI), Scott Chandler (vs. JAC); Sleepers: Brian Hartline / Davone Bess (vs. NE), Malcom Floyd (vs. CIN), Mohamed Sanu (at SD), Mike Williams (at DEN), T.Y. Hilton (at DET), Dallas Clark (at DEN), Jacob Tamme (vs. TB), Martellus Bennett (at WAS)
Ride the pine ...
, QB, Raiders (vs. CLE)
Current own/start %: 91/30
I'd rather start: Andrew Luck (at DET), Andy Dalton (at SD), Matt Schaub (at TEN)
All it took was a trip to Cincinnati to take some of the shine off of Carson Palmer , who had been putting up big Fantasy points despite some obvious flaws in his game. The biggest one that stands out to me is that Palmer needs to play some serious huck and chuck football to produce Fantasy points. In the five games in which Palmer has thrown less than 40 passes, he has just one 20-point game and is averaging 14.6 Fantasy points per game. In the six games in which he has attempted 40 or more passes, Palmer has topped 20 Fantasy points four times and has not been held below 18 Fantasy points, while averaging 22.5 points per game. Palmer has thrown an interception in seven straight games and has 10 picks during that span. Furthermore, three of his best games have all come without Darren McFadden and early reports have Run DMC returning to action this week. That should bring more balance to the Oakland offensive attack and it should be noted that Palmer produced 20 points in only two of McFadden's seven full games. Add in the fact that the Browns bring their impressive pass defense to town and it adds up to a tough day for Palmer. In their last four games with Joe Haden in the lineup, the Browns have given up just 9.75 points per game to opposing quarterbacks. In those games, the Browns have allowed only one passing touchdown, have four quarterback turnovers and have not allowed a single passer to throw for 200 yards! Palmer will be under pressure all game long and I think he struggles much like he did against Cincinnati, which means you need to bench him this week.
Other QBs with tough matchups: Philip Rivers (vs. CIN), Joe Flacco (vs. PIT), Josh Freeman (at DEN), Jay Cutler (vs. SEA)
, RB, Broncos (vs. TB)
Current own/start %: 63/23
I'd rather start: Michael Turner (vs. NO), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at SD), Beanie Wells (at NYJ)
Is Mike Shanahan still in Denver? You would think so after John Fox turned to the previously inactive Knowshon Moreno to be the team's featured back once Willis McGahee went down with an injury in Week 11. Moreno ran the ball 20 times for 85 yards and added four catches for another 26 yards in the Denver win over Kansas City in Week 12. He touched the ball 24 times in this game and the much ballyhooed Ronnie Hillman had only three touches, so it certainly does appear to be Moreno's show right now. He has a great playoff schedule with Oakland, Baltimore and Cleveland on tap Weeks 14 to 16, but I would keep him reserved against the Buccaneers in Week 13. I know that both Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers scored against the Bucs last week, but Turner was held to 17 yards on 13 carries. Adrian Peterson is the only runner to rush for more than 55 yards against Tampa Bay since Week 6 and Moreno could struggle against the team that is allowing the fewest yards per game (70.2) on the fewest yards per carry (3.5) to opposing runners this year. I really was encouraged by what I saw against Kansas City, but that was the Chiefs and this is the best run defense in the NFL. Moreno will help you win some critical Fantasy games, but this is not the week to count on him.
, RB, Rams (vs. SF)
Current own/start %: 100/72
I'd rather start: Michael Bush (at SEA), Darren Sproles (at ATL), Mikel Leshoure (vs. IND)
Steven Jackson is playing great with at least 81 yards rushing in each of his last three games. He has two 100-yard games during that span, including 29 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown in his last meeting with the 49ers. That was Jackson's first 100-yard game against the 49ers since 2008 and it is a feat that I do not expect to be duplicated. After some hiccups with the run defense earlier this season, the 49ers have been lock down the last two weeks. In the last two games against Chicago and New Orleans, opposing runners have been held to just 133 yards on 46 carries, which is just 2.9 yards per carry. I could see Jackson struggle to get north of 80 yards this week against a San Francisco team that will not take the Rams lightly as they did when the two teams tied in Week 10. Add in the fact that he has just two rushing touchdowns all year and has failed to convert any of his six goal line carries into scores and it could be a disappointing day. If you have to start Jackson, take solace in the fact that he is no longer in a RBBC with Daryl Richardson and is seeing at least three carries for every one that the rookie gets. Much like Moreno, look for Jackson to struggle this week but explode in the Fantasy playoffs with tasty matchups against Buffalo and Minnesota respectively in Weeks 14 and 15.
Other RBs with tough matchups: Shonn Greene (b/c of Powell's TDs; vs. ARI), Steelers RBs (at BAL), Reggie Bush (vs. NE), James Starks / Alex Green (vs. MIN)
, WR, Raiders (vs. CLE)
Current own/start %: 100/56
I'd rather start: Josh Gordon (at OAK), Mike Williams (at DEN), Michael Crabtree (at STL)
After a torrid start to his season in which he saw at least eight targets every game and produced 100 yards or a touchdown in five of his first seven games, things have cooled off considerably for Denarius Moore . Moore had caught at least four passes in each of those seven games, but the last two weeks have seen his production completely disappear. Moore has been targeted only 11 times over the last two weeks and has caught just two of those for 29 yards and one touchdown total. Fortunately, his lone catch last week was a 20-yard touchdown, but you do not want to take that kind of chance with your team in critical Week 13. The fact that his two catches for 29 yards came against the Saints and Bengals is even more troubling and it's hard to be optimistic about his chances against Joe Haden and the Browns this week. Joe has literally been hating on opposing wide receivers and in his last four games, he is giving up an average of 42.7 yards and 5.5 points per game to opposing No. 1 receivers. No opposing No. 1 receiver has produced more than 10 points against Haden during that span and two have been held to four points or fewer, so things are not looking good for the slumping Moore.
, WR, Cardinals (at NYJ)
Current own/start %: 100/70
I'd rather start: Davone Bess (vs. NE), Greg Jennings (vs. MIN), Steve Johnson (vs. JAC)
It looks like another week of Ryan Lindley at quarterback for the Cardinals, which could mean another off day for Larry Fitzgerald . Over the last two weeks with Lindley under center, Fitz has caught four of his 19 targets for a grand total of 42 yards. Dating back to Week 7, Fitz has been held to four or fewer Fantasy points in four of his last five games, which is absolutely dreadful. It will not get any easier this week against Antonio Cromartie and the Jets. Cromartie may be the toughest cover in the NFL right now, allowing only one receiver, Sidney Rice , to top 10 points against him in the last eight games and Rice needed to score on a wide receiver pass gimmick play to get there. Over this span, no other receiver has topped six Fantasy points against Cromartie and Michael Crabtree , Reggie Wayne , Andre Johnson , Brandon Lloyd twice and Brian Hartline have combined for just 14 Fantasy points total against AC. Fitz is in an unenviable situation and has a brutal matchup, so I would certainly take my chances with a higher-upside receiver with a better matchup in Week 13.
Some WRs and TEs with tough matchups: Antonio Brown (if Ben Roethlisberger is out; at BAL), Dwayne Bowe (vs. CAR), Jeremy Maclin (at DAL), Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. CLE), Anquan Boldin (vs. PIT), Danny Amendola (vs. SF), Sidney Rice (at CHI), Golden Tate (at CHI)