Going off of the notion that most of us are in standard leagues with three weeks of playoffs and no week 17, this is the final stand before we hit the fantasy postseason. And I couldn't be more excited.
I have been staring at week 14 for over a month and a half now. Once I felt comfortable that I had a good shot at making the postseason, I just wanted December to get here already. I mean heck, this is the first time I've actually played for real money, so in my head I've had visions of an Ipad2 dancing in my head.
Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, but only Chicago and Green Bay play on December 25th. Week 16, the fantasy championship week, will mostly be decided on Christmas Eve, when 13 of the 16 games will be played. So, Christmas may come one day early for some of us.
See, I'm still struggling to not look ahead.
We still need to make it through this week, so here are the player notes for week 13.
Tim Tebow the Passer versus the Vikings
Though he's not exactly a sleeper in the broader sense of the term (You may have heard of this guy before) what's going to happen when the league's most criticized "passer" faces the leagues worst pass defense? Tebow has not topped 200 yards passing this year, and it took him 39 passes to accumulate 172 yards against Detroit. He is completing 45.5% for only 8 TDs in the air in 7 games. Tebow is one of the most consistent fantasy QBs you'll find because of his near guarantee of 60 yards rushing and at least one score (his lowest fantasy output in a standard league has been 16.4 points) but can he throw for 200 yards and 2 TDs against a non-existent pass defense? He threw for 308 yards against the Texans last year when they were the worst pass defense in the league.
This also means that Eric Decker is a sleeper you may want to play.
Matt Moore versus the Raiders
The Raiders have won three straight games, but opposing QBs have done well in fantasy. They gave up 2 TDs to Caleb Hanie (with 3 picks) and 2 to Christian Ponder in each of the last two weeks.
Matt Moore has had a couple of great games recently and should be good for at least 2 TDs on the Raiders with at least 200 yards. This also marks Brian Hartline, Devone Bess, and Anthony Fasano as super deep sleepers.
Ricky Williams versus the Browns
File this under "Deep" but the Browns are TERRIBLE against the run. The only time they've allowed under 100 yards on the ground is when they played that thrilling 6-3 game against Seattle when Marshawn Lynch was out.
Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams versus the Buccaneers
Though they are well-known, their ball share has really put a damper on playing either one of them. Feel safe to play them both. The Bucs have been so atrociously bad against the run lately that they gave up 202 yards to the Titans, 185 to the Texans, and 195 to the Saints in 3 of their last 4 games. They gave up only 91 to the Packers two weeks ago, but the Packers don't run the ball as it is.
The Texans also run a ball-share and Arian Foster, Ben Tate, and Derrick Ward ALL scored a TD. Foster also caught a TD.
The Saints run a ball-share and Darren Sproles caught a TD, Pierre Thomas ran for one, and Chris Ivory had 67 yards.
Yes, it will be a good day for both.
Marion Barber versus the Chiefs
Similar to the Ricky Williams situation, but better because Barber has scored 5 TDs this year. (Matt Forte has only scoured 4. 3 on the ground and 1 in the air.)
The Chiefs don't have a great rush defense, and Barber could very well be in line for a goal-line score. It's still a mostly-desperate play unless you're in a deep league. But that's why they're called sleepers.
Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead versus the Colts
Most rushing TDs allowed in the NFL. It's hard to say who gets what, obviously some get more carries than others, but here are some desperate moves and at least one of them should score.
Mike Thomas versus the Chargers
I still kind of can't believe it but the Chargers have lost five straight but that's what has happened. Before the season, the AFC West on paper looked like Chargers.... wide open spaces... then the rest of the division. Sure, the Chiefs were good in 2010 and the Raiders were a team on the rise, but the Chargers had Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates. Seemed simple enough. I guess it wasn't so simple.
A major part of the problem has a been a defense that's allowed the 26th most points in the league and 20 passing touchdowns.
The Jaguars have waived Jason Hill, which means even more targets for Thomas. He's been a disappointment this year, but he was already the most targeted Jaguar and now he'll get even more. The Chargers can't stop the pass and against a similarly bad passing game in Denver last week, Eric Decker got 65 yards and a score. Thomas could do the same on Monday night.
Reggie Wayne versus the Patriots
Wayne on a sleepers list? Say it ain't so!
It is so with the absence of Peyton Manning, he just hasn't been the same. He finally had a good game last week, and against the Patriots, Dan Orlovsky could be throwing it a ton. The Pats give up the most passing yards in the league. This is also good news for Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon.
Jared Cook versus the Bills
The 27% owned (in Yahoo) Cook faces a Bills defense that just gave up 2 TDs to Dustin Keller and a TD to Anthony Fasano the week before. He should be good for 50 yards and a score, if you're not happy with your TE situation. (If you have Jermichael Finley, be happy. He will have a good game.)
The Miami Defense
Just sayin... this is the hottest defense in the league. I picked up the D for the Dolphins and am starting them against the Raiders.
Players That Might Not Get You to the Playoffs This Week
Matt Ryan versus the Texans
I was hesitant to put him on this list because Ryan is one of the hottest QBs in the league and I just started him over Stafford last week and am so happy about it. Going back to Stafford though as the Texans are #2 against the pass and have given up 11 TDs versus 15 INTs.
Joe Flacco came into the league at the same time as Ryan, with a similar career path, and had 305 yards passing against the Texans, but 0 passing TDs and 1 INT. He did rush for a score.
Also, the Falcons are away from the comfy dome this week and the game is at Houston. I expect this to be a bump in the road for Ryan, though he could have a score or two. If you're in my situation with two good QBs, I might prefer the other guy to Ryan this week.
Joe Flacco versus the Browns
Speaking of Flacco, the Browns are a good pass defense. Flacco hasn't been that good this year. I'd avoid Flacco.
Michael Turner versus the Texans
Did I mention that Houston is also fourth in rush defense? They kept Maurice Jones-Drew out of the end zone last week. Turner could struggle to do big things, though he's still Michael Turner. If I had two other great RBs, I might start them.
Also, the Texans are still a contender with T.J. Yates. Check out this defense!
Cedric Benson versus the Steelers
Three weeks ago Benson had 15 carries for 57 yards against Pittsburgh. They are a tough, tough run defense.
Arian Foster versus the Falcons
This game is like the complete opposite of Tampa Bay-Carolina. You absolutely CAN'T bench Foster, but still, check out the Falcons lately: 64, 41, 41, 83, 104, 139, 57, 53. Those are the rushing yards allowed and the 139 came against the Panthers.
You can't run on Atlanta very effectively. Foster is too talented to ignore though and he can make plays with the catching the ball out of the backfield. Ben Tate is not a good start though.
Steven Jackson versus the 49ers
How many times do we have to go over how good San Fran's run defense is?
Julio Jones versus the Texans
Just as mentioned above, and because Julio was non existent in his return. As I said earlier this week, Texans aren't good at defending a #1, but they shut down every other receiver.
Greg Little versus the Ravens
They'll shut down your 1, your 2, your 3, it doesn't matter.
Johnny Knox versus the Chiefs
KC can stop a top threat and it's still even too soon to call Knox a top threat.
Vincent Jackson versus the Jaguars
A tough pass defense that likes to shut down the teams top receiver. Jackson could be in store for a long day.
Jimmy Graham versus the Lions
I know its blasphemous to say this right now, but hear me out. Lions. Shut. Down. Tight. Ends. They are number two in the NFL behind Philadelphia in shutting down the opposing tight end and they've shut down players like Finley, Vernon Davis, and Tony Gonzalez.
Players That Should Absolutely Get You To The Playoffs
Aaron Rodgers versus the Giants
As if you doubted this. Rodgers will burn them at least as bad as Drew Brees did.
Ray Rice versus the Browns
As mentioned earlier with Ricky, except ya know, this guy is the starter and should have a banner day.
LeGarrette Blount versus the Panthers
This game could be ridiculous. Two of the worst run defenses in the NFL and they should both be pounding it on the ground all day. This could be a high scoring game with a lot of rushing scores. Throw Cam Newton on the map as an excellent play while I'm at it.
Frank Gore versus the Rams
As they've improved in pass defense, they're still a terrible run defense. Gore should have a top day against St. Louis at home.
Calvin Johnson versus the Saints
The Lions should be throwing it a lot against the Saints and New Orleans isn't the best at defending against #1 WRs (19th in the NFL) and he's the best.
Mike Wallace versus the Bengals
The Bengals are 20th against #1's and in their last game Wallace had a modest 6 catches for 54 yards but he's too good to completely contain. Antonio Brown had 86 yards in that game and is also a good play.
Jermichael Finley versus the Giants
New York is average against the Tight End and I feel like this will be the week for Jermichael. I like the Packers offense as a whole and they could score five touchdowns on Sunday. One of those to Finley. Please?
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- If the Bengals win the division this season, it will be a major upset. Maybe even more of an upset than when the Dolphins won the East a year after going 1-15. However, to do that, they'll need to pull a major upset in Pittsburgh this weekend. I doubt that they will.
- Are the Bears going to spiral out of control with Caleb Hanie? There are six teams in the NFC West fighting for the last four playoff spots, if you consider the Packers and Niners as locks. I think the Bears and Giants are looking like the odd teams out.
- The Falcons still need to win in Houston though to solidify themselves as a playoff team. I don't know. I still really like the Texans.
- Something tells me that the Redskins, after beating the Hawks and nearly beating the Cowboys, will crush the Jets hopes this weekend.
- Go Lions Go! No Suh this weekend, Jahvid Best on IR, Kevin Smith can't stay healthy... I really want them to get a wild card, but a win in New Orleans is going to be hard. And just what the doctor ordered to get the season back on the right track.
- Carolina and Tampa Bay should be a fun mess to watch.
- The Broncos are one game behind the Raiders and have an easier game on the road in Minnesota than the Raiders do in Miami. The Dolphins have some legit pieces to a football team and this really could be the beginning of the Broncos in first place.
- Random Prediction of the Day: Jake Locker takes at least 10 snaps against Buffalo.
- The road to perfection goes through New York on Sunday. The Giants are fading, fading, fading... but maybe that's why they pull together and win. Remember when they lost to the Pats in their undefeated season, and then beat them in the Super Bowl?
- Any questions, hit me up on Twitter.