Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 13


Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 13

Entering a crucial Week 13 matchup - the final week of the regular season in many leagues - we can't offer you guarantees.

Sorry, it just doesn't work that way.

But we can guarantee that we gave more thought to our picks than the Raiders did to this play:

And we can guarantee we will have better execution than this Carson Palmer Gronk Spike: 

Sound good?


Javorius Allen, RB, BAL (@ MIA) - Look, Allen isn't all that enticing as a real-life or fantasy option just based on talent alone. He's just not that good of a back. But his sheer number of touches is a huge reason why he's a must-start right now, especially against a Miami defense that has surrendered an average of 30.6 fantasy points per game (in PPR leagues) to teams not named the Tennessee Titans since Week 2. (Tony Andracki)

Bears D/ST (vs. SF) - This isn't a joke. If you don't have a D/ST on your roster such as the Broncos or Panthers, the Bears are a reliable streamer option. Going up against his former team and the one that spurned him in their head-coaching search last offseason, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is going to have his unit amped up. The 49ers don't pose as much of a threat on a blustery December afternoon at Soldier Field. Start this unit with confidence. (Scott Krinch)

Brandin Cooks, WR, NO (vs. CAR) - I'm not sure which movie character Josh Norman will depict this week, and I don't think the Saints have any prayer of hanging with the undefeated Panthers. But what I do know is once the Panthers take a big lead, Drew Brees is going to be throwing and throwing and throwing. If there was ever a great "garbage time" start this week, it's Cooks at home in a game in which the Saints will be trailing. They won't be pretty points, but Cooks is worth starting in a FLEX spot. (Mark Strotman)

Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN (@ SD) - Sure, CJ Anderson looked fantastic against the Patriots Sunday night and Hillman really struggled in his first few carries. But Hillman still received 15 touches, broke free for a touchdown and the Broncos have proved there are enough touches to go around for both backs in the Brock Osweiler-led offense. Facing the league's worst rush defense in the Chargers is just icing on the cake this week. (Andracki)

DeSean Jackson, WR, WAS (vs. DAL) - Jackson's infamous hamstring is finally healed. It took forever to get him back on the field but Jackson is showing again why he's one of the best deep threats in the game (63-yard TD last week). Kirk Cousins is clicking (I can't believe I just wrote that) and Jackson and Jordan Reed are his favorite targets. This matchup against the Cowboys secondary in a Monday night showdown has me excited. The Cowboys have pretty much closed the books on this season with Tony Romo out for the rest of the year while the Redskins have a lot to play for. Expect Jackson to put on a show on Monday. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

David Johnson, RB, ARI (@ STL) - Johnson finally gets his chance to run the Cardinals' backfield and he's got a not-so bad matchup. Normally, you'd think a stout Rams DL would slow down running games but that hasn't really been the case that much this year (Rams have given up 100 yard games to opposing RBs in three of the last four games). Johnson has also shown he can get into the end zone in many different ways (rushing, receiving or returning). He's a great play in your FLEX spot this week (although with the way RBs are these days you probably need him in that spot). (Paschall)

Brandon LaFell, WR, NE (vs. PHI) - Look. All you need to know is that the Patriots host the Eagles in Week 13. Yeah, those same Eagles that have allowed opposing wide receivers to catch seven total touchdowns the last two weeks. Their injury-ridden secondary can't stop anybody right now and Tom Brady is running low on targets. He trusts LaFell and will likely target him in the double-digits on Sunday. I'm buying what LaFell is putting down. (Krinch)

DeVante Parker, WR, MIA (vs. BAL) - The rookie wideout flashed his potential with a four reception, 80-yard and one touchdown game in Week 12. Parker has been rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup as the Dolphins' "X" receiver and gets to go up against a terrible Ravens secondary. He's the ultimate boom or bust play this week, and I'm leaning towards a major boom out of him. (Krinch)

[MORE: Complete Fantasy Football coverage at Rotoworld]

Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA (vs. BAL) - If you watched the final few minutes of last week's Monday Night game, you saw exactly why it's so easy to feel comfortable about starting a QB against this Ravens defense. Austin Davis came into the game ice-cold and promptly marched down field, finishing off a TD drive to a WIDE-OPEN Travis Benjamin. The Ravens defense is brutal right now and while Tannehill has been disappoining overall this season, he's been good lately and he still has Jarvis Landry and solid options. (Andracki)

Julius Thomas, TE, JAC (@ TEN) - Chances are if you own Thomas it's because you picked him up after his monster performance against the Chargers (9/116/1). That likely means you're going to start him anyway, so I'm here to confirm that you should. He faces a Titans team that two weeks ago he also scored on, and his 14 targets the last two weeks are one fewer than he had in his first five games of the year. The tight end position has been a real crapshoot, but if you're scrambling to find a replacement for a guy like Tyler Eifert or Martellus Bennett, you could do a lot worse than Thomas. If Allen Hurns (concussion) sits, this is a no-brainer. (Strotman)

Shane Vereen, RB, NYG (vs. NYJ) - The Jets have quietly been pretty bad at covering running backs out of the backfield and one of the best in the game at carving up defenses from the backfield is Vereen. He's haunted the Jets before when he was in New England and he should do the same again on Sunday. The Giants RB situation really is a mess but I expect them to abandon the run early and attack the Jets through the air where Vereen thrives. He's a nice play in DFS and for desperate owners looking to fill up their roster. (Paschall)

Charcandrick West, RB, KC (@ OAK) - Owners probably aren't feeling great after the Chiefs announced that West and Spencer Ware will be a committee this week against the Raiders. But that doesn't mean West won't be valuable in a divisional game. Ware was good, but West was downright awesome in the three weeks before he was injured. The Raiders are far from anything to write home to against the run, meaning West will have his opportunities. I still feel comfortable starting him as an RB2 with some serious upside. Ware may get some carries; West will get the ones that count. (Strotman)


Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (vs. CIN) - The Bengals got Benjamin's number earlier in the year (2 catches, 22 yards) and there's no reason to think they won't again. Austin Davis isn't the answer and should come crashing back down to Earth after his clutch TD pass in the loss to the Ravens. I'm not comfortable with putting Benjamin in my lineup at this critical point in the season with this matchup in front of him so I'm going to be looking for better options. (Paschall)

Martellus Bennett, TE, CHI (vs. SF) - We've seen this in Chicago before: A disgruntled receiver who throws off an entire offense (See: Marshall, Brandon). The difference this time around is that John Fox isn't going to deal with it, and with Zach Miller emerging as a threat in the Bears' offense there's not a lot of confidence that Bennett can turn things around in his return to the lineup. He's got one double-digit scoring game in his last six, and with this being the final week of the fantasy regular season there's too much riding on a player who isn't buying in to an offense that also touts a healthy Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford. I'm avoiding Marty this week. (Strotman)

Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN (@ SEA) - Diggs has faded the last few weeks after his late touchdown against the Bears and it hasn't been good for fantasy owners. What also hurts Diggs this week is his matchup against the Seahawks. While Richard Sherman likely won't be covering Diggs the entire game, the Seahawks known Diggs is the biggest threat in the passing game and will try to slow him down wherever he's lined up. With the playoffs nearing and every spot in your lineup crucial, Diggs isn't worth the play. (Paschall)

Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL (@ TB)I've questioned Freeman all season, and I've been proven wrong before. But after a scorching-hot start, the second-year back is trending in the wrong direction. Freeman has totaled 143 rushing yards in his last three games and is coming off a concussion, suffered against the Colts in Week 11. The Falcons will try to run their offense through Freeman, but the Buccaneers will likely stack the box and force the struggling Matt Ryan to beat them. Lovie's squad hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 3 so it will be tough-sledding for Freeman. (Krinch)

Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (vs. CLE) - Sticking with this theme of not risking it in the final regular season week, Hill still hasn't done enough for me to feel comfortable starting him. I like that he's tallied double-digit scoring games in two straight (for the first time all year) but Gio Bernard is still lingering, receiving 26 touches the last two games to Hill's 30. The latter still doesn't do anything in the passing game and this is still very much a committee situation, which means Hill goes to my bench. If he can rack up another 10-point week or better, we'll talk about a starting nod. (Strotman)

Vincent Jackson, WR, TB (vs. ATL) - VJax has actually been pretty good the last two weeks after coming back from a knee issue, but he suddenly missed practice Wednesday due to a knee problem and he actually has a terrible matchup. The Falcons have allowed just three (THREE!) TDs to opposing WRs all year, and none since Week 7. The last time these two teams faced off, Bucs receivers totaled just 7 receptions for 66 yards. (Andracki)

DeMarco Murray, RB, PHI (@ NE) - I know the Patriots got somewhat gashed by the Broncos in the ground game but I really don't see the Eagles doing the same thing at Gillette Stadium. Outside of Week 1, the Patriots have not given up 100 rushing yards or more to opposing running backs at home this season. I'm also expecting the Patriots to jump out to a big early lead and that may lead to Murray not seeing the field quite as much. If you MUST start Murray because of desperate times, go for it. But if you got options, look elsewhere. (Paschall)

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK (vs. KC) - Murray and I used to go together like spaghetti and meatballs. Now, we're more like lamb and tuna fish (bonus points if you get the movie reference). The bruising Murray has been consistently average in 2015, and doesn't appear as if he will break out of his mediocre play anytime soon. The carries are there, but the touchdowns are far and few between. Don't expect much in his matchup against the Chiefs, who have allowed a single rushing touchdown since Week 4, at the Coliseum. (Krinch) 

Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF (vs. HOU) - Will the real Watkins please stand up? Are we more likely to see the Week 9 (24.8 fantasy points) and Week 12 (29.8 fantasy points) Watkins, or the guy who totaled 5.3 points sandwiched in the two games in between. Watkins is far too inconsistent for my liking, especially against a Texans secondary which has been very impressive as of late. (Krinch)

Jameis Winston, QB, TB (vs. ATL) - You already see that I don't like the Bucs pass offense this week against the Falcons, but it's not even just that. It's a big factor (Falcons are a Top 5 D against QBs), sure. But this is more about WHERE the game is being played. On the road, Winston has thrown for 11 TDs, 2 INTs and a 100.5 rating. But at home, he's thrown just 5 TDs compared to 8 INTs and a 69.2 rating. (Andracki)

Danny Woodhead, RB, SD (vs. DEN) - In a PPR league you're probably going to be forced to use Woodhead, but even then he's alternated good and bad receiving weeks (11, 2, 6, 1, 6 receptions his last five games). And against a Broncos defense showing no signs of slowing down, this could be an ugly matchup all around for Woodhead and the Bolts. If you've gotten this far with him he's an acceptable FLEX play, but there's a chance Denver shuts him (and everyone else) down in a quiet afternoon. (Strotman)

TJ Yeldon, RB, JAC (@ TEN) - I'm going to keep hammering this point home: The Titans are fantastic against fantasy RBs. They currently rank 1st in most scoring formats, having allowed just 375 yards and 1 TD to opposing RBs in the last five games. Even with three catches, Yeldon still tallied just 10 fantasy points against the Titans in Week 11. Sit him at all costs this week. (Andracki)

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

Matt Nagy gives update on the state of Khalil Mack's ankle

The Bears have seemingly dodged a bullet, for now. 

Following Tuesday's announcement that Khalil Mack would undergo further tests on the right ankle injury he sustained during Sunday's loss, Bears head coach had more optimistic news on Wednesday:

It could obviously get a lot worse than a day-to-day diagnosis, though not practicing on Wednesday might raise some eyebrows. 

It sounds like Mack is expected to be a go for Sunday's matchup with the Patriots, though as the Bears saw with the Dolphins' QB situation last week, things can change in a heartbeat. 

First and Final Thoughts: The Brady Bunch are in Town

First and Final Thoughts: The Brady Bunch are in Town

Welcome into First and Final Thoughts, one of our weekly columns with a title that's a little too on the nose. Here we'll have Insider J.J Stankevitz and Producers Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan give some insight into what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on Week 6

J.J. Stankevitz: On the surface, losing a game to your two previous offensive coordinators (Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains) and a punchline quarterback (Brock Osweiler) is rough. And undoubtedly, it is – Bears players still seemed frustrated by Sunday’s 31-28 loss to Miami on Tuesday, which would break the usual “24-hour rule” implemented by coaches. But the Bears won’t play in 88-degree temperatures all year, and their next two outdoor road games are in Buffalo (cue the lake effect snow) and East Rutherford, N.J. So that’s the good news: The Bears will have plenty of opportunities to prove that giving up all those yards and points to Miami was an aberration. This defense is far better than what it showed on Sunday.

Offensively, this is a quicker thought – Mitch Trubisky is going in the right direction, and that he was able to come out and have a strong second half (minus the end zone interception) after an uneven first 30 minutes was impressive.


Paul Aspan: “Everything points to the Bears beating the Dolphins – which scares the hell out of me.” That sentiment only grew with the news that Brock Osweiler would replace the injured Ryan Tannehill on Sunday morning. Maybe this wasn’t a trap game until that happened, but it became exactly that. The Akiem Hicks goal-line strip sack in overtime is the season-changing type of play that unlikely playoff runs are made of, but even that wasn’t enough. A pretty brutal offensive PI call turned a two score game into a Murphy’s Law spiral of turnovers, poor  no tackling, and another 4th quarter / OT let down - and not at the hands of Aaron Rodgers - by the typically stout Bears defense.


The end zone interception can’t happen, but Mitchell Trubisky showed that he is continuing to trend in the right direction especially with the go-ahead, 6-minute TD drive to give the Bears the lead with just over 3 minutes to play. As for Matt Nagy, I guess I get trying to escape with a 53-yard field goal, but if he’s going to preach “We’re going to be aggressive” all offseason, he’s gotta be more aggressive than settling for that.


Cam Ellis: Mitch Trubisky can throw the ball down field a little bit. He still leaves too many throws on the field, and yeah, that interception in the end zone was dumb; he's also only played in 17 games. Later on Sunday night, I watched Tom Brady and his 259 career games scramble around a huge pocket for like, 15 seconds before getting strip sacked and losing the ball. Mistakes are always going to happen. With that said, Trubisky's deeps balls are *gorgeous*: 



He throws into double coverage (yeah, I know, whatever) and places that ball perfectly into Taylor Gabriel's hands. The window for that pass to be completed is absurdly small, and a bunch of today's NFL QBs couldn't make that throw. And yeah, if all you had to do to be an NFL QB was throw a pretty deep ball, Jeff George and JaMarcus Russell would be Hall of Famers. But for all the flack that Trubisky gets -- a lot of which is deserved -- it's worth recognizing that he can do some things really well. 


First Thoughts on Week 7


Stankevitz:  I’ll be very interested to see on Sunday how much scheming Matt Nagy can carry over from his days in Kansas City against New England. The Chiefs ripped of 42 points against the Patriots in their season opener last year, and the Patriots’ defense doesn’t look much better this year. The Bears, of course, have different personnel, but perhaps there are certain plays or concepts that’ll work as well as they did in Kansas City in Chicago on Sunday. 

The Bears’ offense nearly picked off the defense on Sunday, and depending on Khalil Mack’s ankle may have to do so again on Sunday. And I’ll leave it at this: The NFL is weird. Just because a team looks like one of the two or three best in the league doesn’t mean they’re invincible. The Patriots are more likely to win than the Bears, but don’t discount the Bears putting together an airtight game and emerging from Tom Brady’s final trip to Chicago with a win.

Aspan: Every (rational? objective? realistic?) Bears fan circled this one as an L before the season started, but hey if the Lions can do it! Khalil Mack not being at full strength is an obvious concern, and Bill Belichick against a young QB is always going to favor New England. But we saw what the Chiefs offense just did to New England and the Bears certainly have a better defense (even if they looked like Kansas City in the second half trying to tackle Albert Wilson). One issue for the D in both losses this season has been opponents getting the ball out quick - and New England does do that quite a bit.

The most intriguing part of this matchup for me is that the Patriots are basically facing the same offense for the second straight week, while Matt Nagy has the phone-a-friend advantage. You have to imagine Nagy and Andy Reid have spent some considerable time on the phone the last two days, and if I were Nagy I would have dialed up his old OC Doug Pederson as well. As much as no one wants to talk about moral victories, playing the Patriots tough, even in a close loss, could set the tone for a strong second half against a pretty weak schedule. As far as this game is concerned, at the end of the day I still think Trubisky misses too many throws (not unlike Patrick Mahomes) to beat the Patriots.

Ellis: The Pats' offense is outstanding, and we all know what the Bears' defense brings. I think this game is going to be won on the other side of the ball, where both teams are fairly medicore. The Bears' offense ranks 14th in passing DVOA and 11th in rushing DVOA; the Pats' defense ranks 19th in pass DVOA and 13th in rushing DVOA. Can the Bears get better production in the red zone? Right now they rank a paltry 20th in points per red zone appearance (PT/RZ) at 4.72. New England has long employed a bend-don't-break defense that gives up huge chunks of "meaningless" yards before buckling down and holding teams to three. If I had to pick one specific thing that wins this game for the Bears, it'd be a smart, creative red zone game plan. You can put up points on this Patriots defense -- but settling for field goals all game is how you lose.