James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.
Week 13 marks the end of the regular fantasy season for most, and the final week to secure playoff seeding for some. Not everyone makes it to the playoffs because in every game there has to be a winner and a loser. But, I know for sure that more of you faithful readers are winners than losers because you have told me so.
Just remember the No. 1 rule of fantasy football and you will be fine. Don’t get cute! Play the players who got you here, not a waiver wire pickup like Nate Burleson or Benny Cunningham. While Cunningham and Burleson might be the guys those big-box Web sites or those honks on the podcast want to throw around as their “sleeper picks,” you have to remember that their accuracy rating is usually in the sub-50 percent range because they make wild predictions in the hopes of 1) making headlines, and 2) getting one right so they can brag about it the rest of the season. I write for NFL teams already, so I am where they want to be, which gives me the freedom to make the right picks without trying to make headlines!
I’ll talk about Cunningham later, but I’ll speak on Burleson here. While I do think he holds fantasy value and should be picked up in most formats, I wouldn’t play him this weekend. The Packers are in the middle of the pack for WR fantasy points this season with 23.9 PPG allowed. But, Calvin Johnson + Thanksgiving could = massive numbers. Megatron has a way of stepping his game up when the nation has its eyes on him, and they certainly will on Thursday. Maybe the Packers do all they can to shut him down and take him out of the game, but then that just means Reggie Bush has a chance to do his thing. Burleson had a good game last weekend (7 catches, 77 yards and a TD), but that doesn’t mean he is a plug-and-play WR now.
Josh McCown – QB, Bears: McCown has a juicy matchup this week against a Vikings defense that gives up 25.0 fantasy PPG to QBs this season, second highest in the NFL. The Bears offense features playmakers from top to bottom with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and even Martellus Bennett if he gets his game going. This is going to be his last week to show what value he still has as a backup as Jay Cutler should be back in Week 14.
Shane Vereen – RB, Patriots: Vereen comes back from his injury only to see that seemingly no RBs on the roster can take a handoff without fumbling it these days. Stevan Ridley and LaGarrette Blount were both benched last week for fumbling, thus allowing Vereen to rack up 31 yards on 10 carries, and 60 yards on 8 receptions last week. As you will see later on, the Patriots RB situation is changing, and I think Vereen is the short-term winner with it. The Texans are about in the middle of the pack when it comes to fantasy points allowed to RBs (17.7 PPG), and Vereen is a dual threat that has a good chance at scoring this weekend. I’d give him low-end RB2 value with upside if he can reach the end zone.
Rashad Jennings – RB, Raiders: With Darren McFadden expected to return this week, many owners are wondering what to do with Jennings as he has put up 413 rushing yards and 2 TDs the last four weeks. Word is that Jennings will NOT lose his starting spot with McFadden back, and that makes him a legit RB2 this week against a Cowboys defense that is dead last in the NFL with 24.1 fantasy PPG allowed to RBs this season.
Kendall Wright – WR, Titans: Wright is more of a PPR beast than a standard scoring one, but I would play him in both this week. The Colts give up 25.9 fantasy PPG to WRs this season, sixth most in the NFL. The Titans have Wright, Nate Washington and Justin Hunter at WR. Need I say more? Wright is owned in 80.7 percent of NFL.com leagues, but started in just 20.6 percent of them. That number should be much higher this weekend against the generous Colts secondary.
Michael Floyd – WR, Cardinals: If I had one WR to pick up off the waiver wire this week, it would be Floyd. Over the last two games Floyd has hauled in 13 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown, and he ranks fourth for WRs for total points the last two weeks (standard scoring) on NFL.com with 35.70 fantasy points. He is owned in 59.6 percent of NFL.com leagues, so I would go check mine right now.
Jordan Cameron – TE, Browns: From hero to zero, that could be the storyline of Cameron’s season at this point. Cameron hasn’t been horrible the last seven games (29 receptions for 301 yards receiving and a touchdown). The problem is that owners got used to his stats from the first four games (30/360/5). Tight end has always been an all-or-nothing position in fantasy football, so you have to take the highs with the lows. This week the Browns get a Jaguars defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to TEs at 11.2 PPG. If there were a time for him to turn back the clock and put up some monster stats, this would be it.
Cleveland Browns Defense: The Browns defense is headlined by Joe Haden, a shutdown corner that can handle any WR in the NFL. With the Browns allowing just 97.7 rushing YPG (sixth-best in the NFL) and 208.4 passing YPG (fifth-best in NFL), I’d say the Jaguars will be ice-skating uphill this weekend considering they average a league-worst 283.0 YPG on offense. Not running, not passing, the 283.0 is TOTAL yards! The Browns are owned in just 10.9 percent of NFL.com leagues, and I could really see them finishing as the No. 1 overall defense in Week 13.
Andrew Luck – QB, Colts: Over the last three weeks Luck has managed to throw four INTs to just two TDs. The Titans currently give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at 16.2 PPG, but their standing should improve with the Seahawks secondary a shell of its former self. Luck is the lowest of the low-end QB1 plays this week, and he only ranks that high because he was drafted as most people’s starting QB and he has the talent to overcome the poor matchup. But, I wouldn’t bet on it and would suggest you try and find other options if possible.
Ben Roethlisberger – QB, Steelers: Big Ben has been on a tear over his last four games, throwing for 1,188 yards, 11 TDs and just 2 INTs. But, to be fair, it was against the Patriots (18th-most fantasy points to QBs this season), Bills (15th), Lions (11th) and Browns (20th) defenses. Not the best and not the worst at stopping QBs. This week he runs into the Ravens and they always play the Steelers tough as they are division rivals. Not to mention that the Ravens are currently the 11th-best defense at stopping fantasy QBs after allowing just 18.7 fantasy PPG. Big Ben is a true boom-or-bust player in my opinion, and I could see it being more bust than boom.
Stevan Ridley – RB, Patriots: How the mighty have fallen! Ridley went from being one of the hottest RBs in fantasy football with 7 TDs in Weeks 6-11 (bye in Week 10), to now being someone I wouldn’t even consider in my flex spot. Patriots OC Josh McDaniels recently said of Ridley, "When things happen like this, in back-to-back games, or in this case a few games in a row, I think you certainly have to address what you can address in terms of trying to fix the problem. I have great confidence in Stevan as a runner. At the same time, obviously, ball security is the most important factor for our offense and for our team when we have the ball." Read between the lines and you get that Ridley’s role is bound to be reduced.
Benny Cunningham – RB, Rams: Cunningham went from being virtually unowned in fantasy football to being picked up by 34,670 people in NFL.com’s game alone. Too many people are adding Cunningham after he ran for 109 yards and a TD last week in relief of Zac Stacy. Consider this, Stacy had 87 yards and a TD in just 12 carries, and Cunningham put up his 109 yards and a TD with just 13 carries. That tells me more about the Bears defense than it does about Cunningham’s ability as a runner. And, although Stacy did not practice on Wednesday, he did do some running on the sideline and reportedly "did a little" in the walkthrough section of practice. The 49ers are better than the Bears on defense, so I wouldn’t look for a repeat performance from Cunningham in Week 13.
T.Y. Hilton – WR, Colts: As Luck has struggled, Hilton, too, has struggled. Since racking up 14 catches for 251 yards and 3 TDs in Weeks 9-10, Hilton has managed just 10 catches for 82 yards and no TDs in the two games since. The Titans give up the fewest fantasy points to WRs this season at 12.6 PPG (2.6 points below the Dolphins at No. 2), and the Colts have nobody else at the WR spot to take double-teams away from Hilton. I’d find another option at WR if at all possible because the matchup looks horrible.
Vincent Jackson – WR, Buccaneers: The last time the Bucs took on the Panthers (Week 8), Jackson managed just 5 catches for 79 yards and no TDs. Not much has changed with the Bucs since then other than Mike James is out and Bobby Rainey is in at RB, so there isn’t much reason to think he will be more successful this go-around. I saw a prominent fantasy Web site calling Jackson a WR2 with WR1 upside this week, but why? The Panthers are stingy with WR points, averaging the third-lowest points this season at 15.8 PPG. And, over the last five games Jackson has scored more than 7.90 fantasy points on NFL.com (standard scoring) just one time.
Antonio Gates – TE, Chargers: Gates was outshined by Ladarius Green last week, and the road to redemption won’t be an easy one this week as the Bengals are tightfisted with TE fantasy points this season (6.6 PPG allowed, seventh in the NFL). Gates missed practice on Wednesday with a hamstring injury, but it looked to be more about rest than a true injury. Regardless, I would sit Gates down this week and find other options at TE. And no, Green isn’t someone I would grab off the waiver wire as I see him as a one-week wonder.
Seattle Seahawks Defense: Quick, name me a Seahawks cornerback NOT named Richard Sherman (30 seconds of crickets chirping passes). The Saints are a pass-heavy team with plenty of weapons for Drew Brees to spread the ball around to, and the Seahawks have a suspension-decimated CB corps to try and defend against it. See the problem? I wouldn’t come within 10 feet of the Seahawks defense this weekend, and neither should you. Go grab the Browns or Dolphins defense and stream them for a week.