We're leading this column for the second week in a row with the Broncos, but this time it's for positive reasons. Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas flexed their Fantasy muscles against the Dolphins, and C.J. Anderson looked like a star in a 39-36 victory.
The Dolphins put up a great fight with Ryan Tannehill (32 Fantasy points) and Jarvis Landry (17 points) trying to keep up with Manning and Thomas, but they fell just short. This was Denver's day coming off a tough loss at St. Louis in Week 11.
Last week, the Broncos lost Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) and Julius Thomas (ankle) to injuries. Sanders returned in Week 12, and he finished with nine catches for 125 yards and a two-point conversion. Thomas was out, but hopefully he can play in Week 13 at Kansas City.
For Manning, he was 28-of-35 passing for 257 yards and four touchdowns for 36 Fantasy points. Thomas caught three of those touchdowns and finished with 10 catches for 87 yards for 26 points. This was the first time he's scored since Week 7, so hopefully he can get rolling for the rest of the season.
As for Anderson, we had him as the Start of the Week, and he delivered with 27 carries for 167 yards and a touchdown and four catches for 28 yards for 24 Fantasy points. He will be in your lineup every week going forward until Ronnie Hillman (foot) and Montee Ball (groin) come back, but I expect Anderson will be the main running back in Denver for the rest of the season.
Player on the rise
We'll stick with Tannehill here since he's coming off his second 30-point Fantasy outing of the season. I was pleasantly surprised by Tannehill this week at Denver after he was 26-of-36 passing for 228 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and he added four carries for 15 yards and a touchdown. This ended a two-game streak with 15 Fantasy points or less on the road, but Tannehill now has at least 20 Fantasy points in three of his past four games overall. He faces the Jets on the road in Week 13, and he should be considered a solid starting option in that matchup. Tannehill has turned into a must-start Fantasy quarterback for the rest of the year.
Player on the decline
Matthew Stafford was touted as an elite Fantasy quarterback coming into this season, but he's failed to deliver. Part of that was not having a healthy Calvin Johnson at times this year, but Stafford has just four games with more than 20 Fantasy points. In his past two games at Arizona and at New England, Stafford has combined for 14 Fantasy points. Now, throw out everything with Stafford up to this point. Let's look ahead, and the future is bright. Stafford closes the season with a great schedule vs. CHI, vs. TB, vs. MIN, at CHI and at GB. Except for the Packers game in Week 17, these are all amazing matchups. We expect Stafford to close the season playing at a high level, so don't give up on him just yet. The best is yet to come.
Quarterback injuries: Ryan Mallett
Quarterback waivers: Eli Manning (76 percent ownership), Ryan Tannehill (75 percent), Alex Smith (51 percent), Kyle Orton (30 percent), Brian Hoyer (28 percent), Teddy Bridgewater (18 percent), Zach Mettenberger (9 percent)
Of note: This was a bad week for quarterbacks as just eight scored at least 20 Fantasy points heading into Sunday night's game. ... Two surprise performances came from Zach Mettenberger (23 Fantasy points at PHI) and Teddy Bridgewater (23 points vs. GB). I wouldn't trust Bridgewater in Week 13 even with a good matchup vs. CAR, but I can see Mettenberger playing well at HOU. This is now two games in a row with at least 20 Fantasy points for Mettenberger, and he's scored at least 19 points in three of four starts. ... Russell Wilson continues to prove he's matchup proof. He had 21 Fantasy points against the Cardinals, and his rushing ability continues to set him apart from other quarterbacks. He's rushed for at least 71 yards in three games in a row, and he's now scored at least 18 Fantasy points in eight of 11 games this year. He has a tough matchup at San Francisco on Thanksgiving this week, but I'd still start Wilson based on his track record this year. ... Two quarterbacks I can't trust right now are Philip Rivers and Colin Kaepernick. Rivers had his third bad game in a row against the Rams with 15 Fantasy points. He has now combined for 25 Fantasy points in his past three games, and you can't start him in Week 13 at Baltimore. And Kaepernick was held to 15 Fantasy points in a dream matchup against the Redskins. This is now five games in a row with 15 Fantasy points or less, and he should be benched against the Seahawks in Week 13. ... Sanchez had 25 Fantasy points in his first start against Carolina in Week 10. Since then he has combined for 31 Fantasy points against Green Bay and Tennessee. He still has plenty of upside in Chip Kelly's offense, and he's attempted 43 passes in each of the past two games. But he has four interceptions over that span, and he'll be a risky starting option at Dallas on Thanksgiving. ... The Jay Cutler-Josh McCown bonanza we were expecting in Chicago failed to deliver. Cutler was held to nine Fantasy points, and McCown only had 14 points. Both will be risky starting options in Week 13 with Cutler at Detroit, and McCown will face Cincinnati at home. It's time to cut McCown with his favorable matchups behind him. ... Andy Dalton also failed to play well in a good matchup at Houston, and he finished with just 13 Fantasy points. I'll give Dalton another chance in a plus matchup at Tampa Bay next week.
Player on the rise
Jonas Gray went from AFC Player of the Week and the Sports Illustrated cover boy after running for 201 yards and four touchdowns at Indianapolis in Week 11 to being benched in Week 12. The Patriots did what the Patriots always do, which is change things up on us at running back when they signed LeGarrette Blount, and then Gray missed practice Friday because he overslept, sending him to the bench. Blount stepped up and looks like a running back to add in all leagues. He had 12 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions, and he should replace Gray as the running-downs back in New England for the rest of the year. Last season, Blount had five touchdowns in the final five games for the Patriots, so there's a familiarity here in New England, and his release from Pittsburgh has turned into a good thing for Fantasy owners.
Player on the decline
It looked like Frank Gore was turning the corner. He had 14 Fantasy points at New Orleans in Week 10, but he's regressed the past two weeks. He had over 100 total yards in Week 11 at the Giants, but he lost a fumble to finish with eight Fantasy points. Then he was held to 36 rushing yards with another fumble Sunday against Washington for one Fantasy point. Carlos Hyde scored a touchdown against the Redskins, and we'd like to see the 49ers give him more work. You can't start Gore in Week 13 against the Seahawks, and his last remaining good matchup is Week 14 at Oakland. We doubt Gore is going to help many Fantasy owners win a championship this season.
Running back injuries: Ryan Mathews
Running back waivers: Bryce Brown (60 percent ownership), LeGarrette Blount (44 percent), Dan Herron (31 percent), Theo Riddick (30 percent), Latavius Murray (28 percent), Shonn Greene (12 percent), Dexter McCluster (9 percent), Jacquizz Rodgers (7 percent), Daniel Thomas (5 percent)
Of note: LeSean McCoy finally rewarded Fantasy owners with a big game Sunday against the Titans with 19 Fantasy points. This was his best game of the season and just the fifth time he's scored double digits in Fantasy points this year. He has a tough schedule to close the season at DAL, vs. SEA, vs. DAL, at WAS and at NYG, but hopefully this is a game that can carry McCoy on to great things for the final five games. ... We expected Isaiah Crowell to play well at Atlanta, and he delivered with 12 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Terrance West had 14 carries for 62 yards, but Crowell has more upside moving forward. He should be considered a No. 2 running back in Week 12 at Buffalo. ... Ryan Mathews had a great game against the Rams with 12 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. He briefly left the game with a shoulder injury but appears to be fine. We hope this is the running back we see to close the season, but he does have a tough matchup at Baltimore in Week 13. ... Marshawn Lynch fought through some back issues against the Cardinals, and he struggled in a tough matchup with just 15 carries for 39 yards and three catches for 43 yards. Seattle is down two offensive linemen in left guard James Carpenter (ankle) and center Max Unger (knee), which will hurt Lynch against the 49ers. You're not benching Lynch, but you should lower your expectations. ... Alfred Morris did great against the 49ers with 21 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown, and he's played well with Robert Griffin III starting. In the four games Griffin has started and finished, Morris has at least nine Fantasy points in each outing, including three in a row with at least 12 points. For Morris' sake, we hope the Redskins don't bench Griffin any time soon. ... The Bengals got Giovani Bernard back from a three-game absence with a hip injury, but Jeremy Hill still had the better day at Houston. Hill had 18 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown and one catch for 9 yards, and Bernard had 17 carries for 45 yards and two catches for 22 yards. Continue to lean on Hill until he struggles, which shouldn't happen in Week 13 at Tampa Bay. And consider Bernard a flex in that game. ... The Colts started Dan Herron in the first game without Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle) against Jacksonville, and he played well with 12 carries for 65 yards and five catches for 31 yards. Trent Richardson had 13 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown and will likely stay in his same role, but Herron is someone to add in all leagues. I would put him third on the priority list at running back off the waiver wire behind Blount and Latavius Murray. ... Alfred Blue struggled in his second consecutive start for the injured Arian Foster (groin) with 16 carries for 46 yards and three catches for 20 yards against the Bengals. We'll find out if Foster will return in Week 13 against the Titans, but whoever starts for the Texans will be a must-start option since Tennessee is terrible against the run. ... Andre Ellington faced a tough defense against the Seahawks and struggled with 10 carries for 24 yards and five catches for 39 yards. He'll rebound in Week 13 at Atlanta, so don't give up on him yet. ... Lamar Miller played through shoulder and knee injuries at Denver and finished with 12 carries for 59 yards and one catch for 8 yards with a two-point conversion. The bad thing was he lost a 3-yard touchdown to Daniel Thomas. Miller has been consistent this season with at least nine Fantasy points in eight of 11 games, so hopefully he'll rebound in Week 13 at the Jets.
Player on the rise
Odell Beckham had the best catch you'll ever see on a one-handed touchdown falling down in the end zone against the Cowboys. He finished with 10 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets, and this is now at least nine Fantasy points in five games in a row, including double digits in points in four of those outings. He briefly left the game with a back injury but was able to return. He has a great matchup in Week 13 at Jacksonville, and Beckham has been impressive since being activated in Week 5 following a hamstring injury. He could end up as a huge difference maker for Fantasy owners down the stretch, and he's so much fun to watch.
Player on the decline
Jeremy Maclin can't wait for Nick Foles (collarbone) to return because Sanchez has limited his production the past three games. Maclin had six catches for 59 yards on eight targets against the Titans, and he now has just 23 Fantasy points in his past three outings with only one touchdown. Jordan Matthews, by comparison, has 48 Fantasy points over that span after he had six catches for 77 yards on eight targets Sunday. Maclin isn't a Fantasy nightmare along the lines of Andre Johnson or Pierre Garcon, but hopefully he can start posting better stats with Sanchez until Foles is back.
Wide receiver injuries: Cordarrelle Patterson (knee/ankle)
Wide receiver waivers: Kenny Stills (59 percent ownership), Andrew Hawkins (58 percent), Justin Hunter (40 percent), James Jones (40 percent), Greg Jennings (36 percent), Jarvis Landry (30 percent), Tavon Austin (13 percent), Marqise Lee (8 percent), Louis Murphy (2 percent), Charles Johnson (1 percent), Stedman Bailey (0 percent)
Of note: Welcome back, Josh Gordon. In his first game following a 12-game suspension, Gordon was heavily involved with eight catches for 120 yards on 16 targets at Atlanta. He's a must-start option for the rest of the season. And Andrew Hawkins also stayed hot with five catches for 93 yards on five targets. ... In that same game, Julio Jones snapped a seven-game scoring slump with five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. He had a tough matchup against Joe Haden, and he'll have another tough matchup with the Cardinals in Week 13. But you're not benching him any time soon. Roddy White also played well with nine catches for 96 yards on 10 targets. ... The 49ers have one reliable receiver in Anquan Boldin, who had another big game with nine catches for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins. Michael Crabtree, however, had five catches for 58 yards. You know Richard Sherman can't wait for that matchup next week, which means avoid Crabtree in all formats. ... Mike Wallace scored for the Dolphins at Denver but failed to reach double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league with just four catches for 35 yards on five targets. I said before the game Jarvis Landry would be better, and he was with seven catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets. He now has four touchdowns in his past three games and is playing better than Wallace over the past month. Add him in all leagues. ... Calvin Johnson was held to four catches for 58 yards at New England on 10 targets, and Golden Tate had four catches for 97 yards on 11 targets. Both should be great against Chicago on Thanksgiving, so don't hit the panic button yet. ... Even though McCown was miserable at Chicago, his receivers still played well. Mike Evans scored his sixth touchdown in his past four games with three catches for 47 yards, Vincent Jackson had five catches for 117 yards and a fumble and Louis Murphy had six catches for 113 yards. Evans remains a must-start option moving forward, and Jackson is a borderline starter since he hasn't scored in his past seven games. Murphy is only worth consideration in deeper leagues. ... It was good to see Keenan Allen score against the Rams with six catches for 104 yards on nine targets. We hope he can build off this performance, and this is now two touchdowns in his past four games. He's been a disappointment all year, but there's still time for a strong finish if he can be more consistent. ... The Vikings got good performances from Charles Johnson and Greg Jennings against the Packers. Johnson had three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown with a two-point conversion on 11 targets, and Jennings had four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown on six targets. You're not going to start either of these guys any time soon, but owners in deeper leagues can look into these receivers, especially Johnson if his playing time continues to increase.
Player on the rise
There are going to be times when Timothy Wright disappears like he did against Denver in Week 9 with no catches or targets. And there are going to be times when he looks great like Sunday with five catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns against Detroit on six targets. He has six touchdowns in his past seven games and at least six Fantasy points in a standard league in five of those outings. With the way tight ends have struggled this year, he's been better than most and is worth adding and potentially starting in all leagues. He might just have one catch for a touchdown, something he's done twice this season, but those six points could make him a Top 10 option most weeks
Player on the decline
I let myself fall for Vernon Davis again at the last minute this week, and I was burned for it. When we published Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em on Wednesday, Davis was listed as a sit. But after reading how much the 49ers wanted to get Davis involved, and with a home game against the Redskins, I took out Davis with the thought he would play well. He didn't, of course, with three catches for 21 yards on five targets. He now has three Fantasy points or less in every game since Week 1, which was the last time he scored. Davis is not playing well, and he's not connecting with Kaepernick. You can cut Davis in all leagues.
Tight end injuries: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back)
Tight end waivers: Kyle Rudolph (49 percent ownership), Timothy Wright (27 percent), Eric Ebron (21 percent), Brent Celek (11 percent), Garrett Graham (9 percent), Anthony Fasano (1 percent), Cooper Helfet (0 percent)
Of note: One of the biggest letdowns this week was Coby Fleener, who came into his matchup with the Jaguars with double digits in Fantasy points in consecutive games, and Dwayne Allen (ankle) was out. He finished with just two catches for 28 yards on four targets. We expect him to rebound in Week 13 against the Redskins, especially if Allen remains out, so don't give up on him yet. ... Delanie Walker returned from a concussion and had five catches for 155 yards on nine targets at the Eagles. He now has a touchdown or 100-yards receiving in the two starts with Mettenberger he's been able to finish, and he should be started in all leagues at Houston in Week 13. ... Kyle Rudolph played well against the Packers with three catches for 50 yards on five targets, and we hope he can build on this performance. He's a low-end starting option in Week 13 against Carolina. ... Martellus Bennett continues to struggle and will be hard to trust moving forward. He now has just nine Fantasy points combined in his past three games and has one touchdown in his past seven outings. ... Antonio Gates had a bad game as expected against the Rams, who are tremendous against tight ends. He had two catches for 14 yards and now has just six Fantasy points combined in his past three games. He should play better at Baltimore in Week 13, but that's another tough matchup. He should only be considered a low-end starting option in most leagues.