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The bye weeks are finally over, so we're back to everyone having their full complement of players heading into the Fantasy playoffs. And aside from Arian Foster, Julius Thomas and Dwayne Allen, most teams should also be relatively healthy.
The waiver wire is definitely still useful, especially for your handcuff options at running back, and a few players could be added this week and potentially used as starters. LeGarrette Blount is likely the best of the bunch.
What a strange week it was for the New England backfield in Week 12. It started with Jonas Gray being named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week and being placed on the cover of Sports Illustrated after he ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns at the Colts in Week 11.
Blount, meanwhile, was getting cut by the Steelers, and the Patriots brought him in for a reunion. Remember, Blount was awesome for New England last year when he took over for the ineffective Stevan Ridley. In his final seven games, including the playoffs, Blount had 80 carries for 570 yards and nine touchdowns.
Then Gray overslept and missed practice Friday, which caused him to be benched Sunday against Detroit, and he didn't receive a carry. Blount came in and had 12 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns, and here we are.
The Patriots could treat this week's matchup at Green Bay like they did against the Colts and lean on their ground game to slow down Aaron Rodgers. Not that you're benching Tom Brady, but if that's the game plan we could see a lot of Blount, and he's a must-add running back in all formats.
Injuries: Nick Foles
(collarbone), Ryan Mallett (pectoral)
Priority list (add them in this order): Ryan Tannehill (75 percent ownership), Eli Manning (76 percent), Zach Mettenberger (9 percent), Drew Stanton (35 percent), Brian Hoyer (28 percent), Alex Smith (51 percent), Teddy Bridgewater (18 percent) and Kyle Orton (30 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Josh McCown (60 percent), Robert Griffin III (57 percent)
Why Tannehill is the best: I was wrong on Tannehill each of the past two games because I expected his offensive line, minus left tackle Brendan Albert (knee), to let him down against Buffalo in Week 11 and at Denver in Week 12. Instead, Tannehill has been great with 20 Fantasy points against the Bills and 32 Fantasy points against the Broncos. He now has at least 20 Fantasy points in six of his past eight games, and he has a dream matchup at the Jets on Monday night. Only Ben Roethlisberger in Week 11 has failed to throw multiple touchdowns against the Jets this season, and Tannehill should have another Top 10 finish in Week 13.
Of note: Eli has done a good job this season of taking advantage of favorable matchups, and he gets another one this week at Jacksonville. He only has one game with more than 20 Fantasy points in his past three games, but his two poor outings were at Seattle in Week 10 (13 points) and vs. San Francisco in Week 11 (seven points). He rebounded last week against Dallas with 29 points, and we expect him to do well against the Jaguars, who have allowed two of their past three opponents to throw multiple touchdowns in Andy Dalton and Tony Romo. Jacksonville did limit Andrew Luck to 16 Fantasy points in Indianapolis in Week 12, but we're expecting Manning to do better than that this week. ... Mettenberger has done a nice job as the starter for the Titans from a Fantasy standpoint with at least 19 Fantasy points in three of four games. He has consecutive games with 20-plus points, and he could make it three in a row in Week 13 at Houston. He's a great option in two-quarterback leagues, and I would start Mettenberger over Colin Kaepernick and Philip Rivers this week. ... Stanton has been shaky as the starter for the Cardinals with two games with at least 20 Fantasy points and three games with six points or less, including his five-point outing at Seattle in Week 12. This week should be another positive performance for him at the Falcons, who have allowed six of their past eight opponents to score at least 20 Fantasy points. Like Mettenberger, he's a good two-quarterback league option. ... Hoyer is more of a speculative add then someone you must go get because I think there's upside there with Josh Gordon back in the mix. If Jordan Cameron (concussion) can get healthy then this is a nice receiving corps with Gordon, Cameron and Andrew Hawkins leading the way. But I wouldn't start Hoyer this week at Buffalo. ... Smith could be useful this week with his matchup against the Broncos. He could be forced to throw if the Chiefs are chasing points, and Smith just had 21 Fantasy points at Oakland in Week 12. ... I like what Bridgewater was able to do in Week 12 against the Packers with 23 Fantasy points, and the Vikings appear to have found a new toy in receiver Charles Johnson. But even with a favorable matchup at home against the Panthers, how much can you trust Bridgewater at this point in the season? His 20-point outing against Green Bay was the first time he's hit that mark in his past six games. ... Orton is coming off a solid outing against the Jets on Monday night in Detroit with 22 Fantasy points, but the only time he's scored more than 20 points in his past five starts have been against the Jets. The Bills should have success running against Cleveland this week, so take that into account with Orton this week.
Injuries: Arian Foster (groin), Reggie Bush (ankle), Ronnie Hillman
(foot), Khiry Robinson (forearm), Montee Ball (groin)
Priority list (add them in this order): LeGarrette Blount (44 percent ownership), Dan Herron (31 percent), Latavius Murray (28 percent), Pierre Thomas (57 percent), Anthony Dixon (21 percent), Shonn Greene (12 percent), Stepfan Taylor (6 percent), Daniel Thomas (5 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Chris Ivory (91 percent), Jonas Gray (83 percent), Ben Tate (82 percent)
Why Blount is the best: He's now the running-downs guy for the Patriots, and he should have the chance for significant work if New England decides to lean on the ground game this week at Green Bay. You'll likely need a touchdown for him to have a big game, but he's worth the gamble as a starting option. His upcoming schedule isn't great with Green Bay, San Diego, Miami, the Jets and Buffalo all good against the run heading into Week 13, but when the Patriots commit to running the ball you should see Blount perform well. He could be a difference maker for the stretch run of the season.
Of note: I'm putting Herron ahead of Murray on the priority list because of Murray dealing with the concussion and the tough matchup at St. Louis. Herron is coming off a solid outing in Indianapolis' first game without Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle). He had 12 carries for 65 yards and five catches for 31 yards. Trent Richardson scored a touchdown and should continue to handle short-yardage work, but Herron can clearly be a direct replacement for Bradshaw, which makes him start worthy if he continues to get 17 touches, especially in PPR leagues. ... Murray is definitely worth adding, but don't overvalue his performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He had four carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns and might have had a monster game if not for a concussion. He has yet to be cleared as of Tuesday morning, and even if he plays at St. Louis this week it will be tough for him to post a big stat line. You should definitely put him third on the list behind Blount and Herron. ... Pierre Thomas returned from a four-game absence due to rib and shoulder injuries in Week 12 against Baltimore and finished with five carries for 19 yards and six catches for 37 yards. This is now three games this season with at least six catches, so owners in PPR leagues can feel comfortable using him now that he's back. The Saints are terrible on defense, so if they fall behind you can expect a lot of work for Thomas moving forward. ... Dixon, Green and Daniel Thomas all scored touchdowns in Week 12 for their respective teams, but they are truly touchdown dependent to help your Fantasy roster. Of that trio, I like Dixon the best in Week 13 with his matchup against the Browns. I also like Taylor this week as a potential touchdown vulture at Atlanta.
Priority list (add them in this order): Kenny Stills (59 percent ownership), Jarvis Landry (30 percent), Andrew Hawkins (58 percent), Justin Hunter (40 percent), Charles Johnson (1 percent), James Jones (40 percent), Stedman Bailey (0 percent), Greg Jennings (36 percent), Marqise Lee (8 percent), Robert Woods (10 percent), Louis Murphy (2 percent), Tavon Austin (13 percent), Joseph Morgan (0 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Andre Johnson (100 percent), Michael Crabtree (99 percent), Pierre Garcon (86 percent), Terrance Williams (83 percent)
Why Stills is the best: Stills was in this spot last week following the injury to Brandin Cooks (thumb), and he did what I expected in Week 12 against Baltimore, which was take on more work. He had a season-high nine targets for a season-high eight catches to go with 98 yards, and he should continue to see a heavy volume of targets moving forward. The Saints face some porous secondaries to close the season with Pittsburgh, Carolina, Chicago, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, so Stills can be a solid receiver in the majority of leagues.
Of note: I actually like Landry better than Stills in my rankings this week because of his touchdown potential, and he has scored four touchdowns in his past three games heading into a favorable matchup against the Jets. Landry is the latest rookie sensation, and he's been playing better than Mike Wallace over the past month. ... Even with Gordon coming back from his suspension we still had another solid performance from Hawkins in Week 12 at Atlanta. He had five catches for 93 yards on five targets, and he has at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in four of his past five games. ... Hunter has two touchdowns in his past four games, both with Mettenberger under center. He scored against the Texans in Week 8, and he had 10 targets in Week 12 at the Eagles, which ties a season high. Hopefully he can find the end zone again. ... Johnson has started to emerge as the best receiver for the Vikings the past two games with 18 targets for nine catches, 139 yards and a touchdown against Chicago and Green Bay. We hope Bridgewater continues to get him the ball in a favorable matchup against Carolina at home in Week 13. Jennings also has at least seven Fantasy points in a standard league in four of his past five games. ... Jones is a sneaky sleeper in Week 13 at St. Louis. He scored in Week 12 against the Chiefs, which was his first touchdown since Week 6, and the Rams have allowed a receiver to score or reach 100 receiving yards in nine of 11 games this year. Jones would likely have the best chance of any Oakland receiver to reach that mark. ... Bailey is worth looking into in deeper leagues after he had seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 at San Diego on nine targets. He could emerge as the No. 1 receiver for the Rams, who are still looking for consistency at the position. You can also speculate on Kenny Britt (32 percent ownership) as well, and he has two touchdowns in his past four games. ... The Jaguars are still looking for a consistent threat at receiver, and Lee is worth speculating on in deeper leagues. He had three catches for 52 yards on five targets at Indianapolis in Week 12, and he could be useful in Week 13 against the Giants. ... Woods (17 Fantasy points vs. NYJ) and Murphy (11 points at CHI) are coming off big games in Week 12, but they are too inconsistent to trust in the majority of leagues.
Injuries: Julius Thomas (ankle), Jordan Reed (hamstring), Dwayne Allen
(ankle), Charles Clay (knee), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back), Jordan Cameron
Priority list (add them in this order): Timothy Wright (27 percent ownership), Kyle Rudolph (49 percent), Eric Ebron (21 percent), Brent Celek (11 percent), Garrett Graham (9 percent), Marcedes Lewis (36 percent), Scott Chandler (22 percent), Anthony Fasano (1 percent)
Potential drop candidates: Vernon Davis (96 percent), Mychal Rivera (70 percent)
Why Wright is the best: With the lack of quality tight ends this year, you might as well gamble on one with a good quarterback and the chance to find the end zone on a regular basis. That's exactly what Wright has become playing with Tom Brady. He has six touchdowns in his past seven games after he had five catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns against Detroit in Week 12 and now has at least six Fantasy points in a standard league in five of those outings. There's always the chance he gives you a dud like he did against Denver in Week 9 with no catches or targets. But if he scores on just one catch – he's done that twice – those six points could prove more valuable then you previously expected given the overall lack of production from other tight ends this year.
Of note: Rudolph showed signs of life in Week 12 against Green Bay with three catches for 50 yards on five targets. This was his second game back after being out six games with hernia surgery, and we hope he can build toward a strong finish. At a time when Fantasy owners need tight ends, Rudolph gets a favorable matchup this week against the Panthers. Carolina has allowed a tight end to score or gain 100 receiving yards in three games in a row, so there's reason for optimism with Rudolph this week. ... The Bears allow the most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends, so maybe this is the week Ebron gets going. The Lions tried to get Ebron involved in Week 12 at New England with seven targets, but he finished with just two catches for 23 yards. He has not scored since Week 4 at the Jets, which was his lone touchdown of the season, but he could be worth the gamble this week based on the matchup. ... Celek is coming off a nice game against the Titans with five catches for 48 yards on seven targets, and he's facing a Dallas defense that allows the second-most Fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Celek has played better than Zach Ertz since Mark Sanchez took over for Foles, and Ertz is dealing with a minor oblique injury. ... Graham didn't play well with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, and he will take over for Mallett in Week 13 against the Titans. But Graham did play well the past two games with a touchdown at Cleveland in Week 11 and four catches for 41 yards on seven targets against the Bengals in Week 12. He has a good matchup in Week 13 and could be worth a look in deeper leagues. ... Chandler and Fasano are touchdown-dependent tight ends, and Fasano could have the best chance to score this week. Denver has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year, including twice in the past four games. ... Lewis returned from an eight-game absence from an ankle injury in Week 12 at Indianapolis and struggled with one catch for minus-5 yards on three targets. He'll start to play better, and he has a good matchup this week against the Giants if you're looking for tight end help in deeper leagues.
Ravens (vs. SD): 66 percent
Rams (vs. OAK): 58 percent
Bengals (at TB): 53 percent