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6 Fantasy Football Stars to Start or Sit for Week 13

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Will this be the week that people learn not to trust Michael Turner? They should based on the analytics.

We've already taken a look today at some of the Top Week 13 Sleepers, with special guest appearances from Andrew Luck, Vick Ballard, Jonathan Dwyer, Jeremy Maclin, Sidney Rice, and Jermaine Gresham. But that's not enough. We can never get enough.

For many leagues, this is either the start of playoff time or the end of the regular season, so the decisions you need to make today are some of the most crucial of the entire season. Not to put any pressure on you or anything. But you're not alone in the fight; that's why we're here to help.

If you want our full projections, make sure to check out our Week 13 Projections page. But below is an expanded look at six key players for Week 13, with a heavy focus on tonight's high-flying NFC South affair.

Fantasy Football Best Starts/Must Sits Week 13

Michael Turner - Atlanta Falcons
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 6.44 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 31 Ranked RB (No. 123 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 71.6%
Week 13 Opponent: vs. New Orleans Saints
Verdict: Sit Him

How much will it take for fantasy owners to finally sit Michael Turner? Yes, he has scored a touchdown in each of his past two games. Don't worry, I'm mentally preparing banners in my head in commemoration of this momentous accomplishment. But realize that, even with those two touchdowns, Turner has combined for 19 fantasy points over the past three weeks. And he's been the starting back each of those weeks, with at least 13 carries a game. That, my friends, is the definition of inefficient rushing.

As I noted earlier in the week, Jacquizz Rodgers is slowly but surely encroaching on Turner's territory; Turner has received the most carries each of the past two weeks, but it's Rodgers who has been on the field for the most plays. When coupled with the fact that Rodgers has averaged more yards per carry in each of Atlanta's past three games as well, the writing's on the wall in terms of Turner's projected production.

Yes, the Saints have numberFire's dead last opponent-adjusted defense. But against all odds, they've been strangely not terrible (read: below-average) against the run, giving up 8.47 Net Expected Points (NEP) less than expectation. We project Turner to only have 41.02 yards rushing and 0.29 expected touchdowns this week.

Darren Sproles - New Orleans Saints
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 8.72 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 21 Ranked RB (No. 74 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 46.1%
Week 13 Opponent: at Atlanta Falcons
Verdict: Flex Him (Must-Start in PPR leagues)

Once again, Darren Sproles, pass-catcher extraordinare, was in the center ring to showcase his abilities last week. His seven catches and 65 yards receiving against the 49ers led the team in both categories after being a late scratch the week before in Oakland. The most impressive number to me though is 23: that's the percentage of Drew Brees's 40 pass attempts that went Sproles's way in Week 12, the highest proportion on the team.

With Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram, and Pierre Thomas all fighting for carries, Sproles looks likely to be left out in the cold in terms of actual rushing attempts. (And as an aside, because of that competition, no other New Orleans back should even be considered for a start this week.) But Sproles's pass-catching ability guarantees that he will see looks. His projected 43.91 yards receiving is the most of any running back, and his projected 0.15 receiving TDs sits in third among all backs.

Darren Sproles is a highly-variable play; our analytics can reasonably see him as low as zero points or as high as 17.87. Only Michael Bush of the Bears currently has a wider range among all running backs. But it's that high upside that makes Sproles an intriguing flex play; the high end of his range is better than all but 13 wide receivers this week.

Shonn Greene - New York Jets
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 6.47 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 30 Ranked RB (No. 121 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 53.7%
Week 13 Opponent: vs. Arizona Cardinals
Verdict: Sit Him

Transitioning away from the Rumble in the Coke Factory for a second, I have been squarely on the Greene bandwagon over the past couple of weeks. With his high number of carries and the large proportion that the Jets carry the ball as compared to trusting Sanchez's excuse for an arm, I've been trusting Greene due to quantity over quality. And that's exactly what we've gotten: six straight games of at least 54 rushing yards and 14 carries, but no touchdowns since Week 7.

Normally those touchdowns wouldn't be a problem, but when you're facing a run defense as stout as the Arizona Cardinals, it's time to be worried. The Cardinals have allowed 42.55 NEP under expectation so far this season, a figure that ranks seventh among all NFL franchises. Their second-ranked secondary may be the main key to currently holding numberFire's No. 2 opponent-adjusted defense, but the run defense isn't a bad corollary to have.

Although the Arizona defense gave up buckets of yards to Steven Jackson last week, his game looks to be the exception rather than the rule. Before that outburst, the Cardinals had not given up over 65 rushing yards to a single running back since Week 7, a streak that included both Frank Gore and Michael Turner. It would take a repeat Herculean effort this week for Greene to pull off what Gore and Turner could not.

Lance Moore - New Orleans Saints
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 9.67 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 18 Ranked WR (No. 59 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 22.7%
Week 13 Opponent: at Atlanta Falcons
Verdict: Start Him

Roddy White is a must-start. Julio Jones is a must-start. Marques Colston is a must-start. Sensing a trend? Tonight's Saints-Falcons game is loaded with receivers that need to be started in any format. And Lance Moore undoubtedly deserves to be on that list.

For as good as Marques Colston has been, Moore has stayed with him stride for stride, and may even have captured Brees's eye a bit more over the past three weeks. Moore has received more targets than Colston over two of the past three Saints games, including a team-high nine targets in Week 10 against - wait for it - these exact same Atlanta Falcons. And while Colston has been praised for his consistency, capturing at least six FP in every single game since Week 4, Moore has accomplished the same feat over the past four weeks and has more total FP than Colston over that span. (You know who hasn't accomplished that feat over the past four weeks? Roddy White and Julio Jones.)

Atlanta's No. 12 opponent-adjusted defense should pose somewhat of a challenge to Moore, but he has done well against these types of defenses. In three games against teams ranked between No. 7 and No. 17 on numberFire's defensive efficiency rankings (San Diego, Atlanta, and Washington), Moore has averaged 93 receiving yards per game.

Cecil Shorts - Jacksonville Jaguars
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 8.63 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 27 Ranked WR (No. 77 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 51.2%
Week 13 Opponent: at Buffalo Bills
Verdict: Sit Him

The darling of the fantasy world over the past couple of weeks, Shorts is currently being started in over half of ESPN leagues. And despite playing numberFire's No. 29 opponent-adjusted defense, that figure is still way, way too high.

If you want the reasoning why, I suggest you take a quick peek at the targets distribution of the Jacksonville offense. Last week, Shorts indeed led the team in targets. The week before, it was Justin Blackmon's monster day. The week before that: Laurent Robinson. And the week before that: a tie between Blackmon and Robinson. Shorts may be only seven targets behind Blackmon (79 to 72) for the team lead, but he has not being seeing those targets on nearly a consistent enough basis to be considered a weekly fantasy play.

Shorts comes into this week with double-digit fantasy points in four of his last five games, but many of those figures are due solely to one big play. Last week, it was a 59 yard bomb. Week 11 it was a 67 yard TD pass. And Week 10's version was a long 52 yard pass. Those long passes aren't sustainable from week to week, and you can't count on them in your fantasy projections.

Denarius Moore - Oakland Raiders
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 8.60 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 29 Ranked WR (No. 79 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 46.0%
Week 13 Opponent: vs. Cleveland Browns
Verdict: Sit Him

If you want another guy that I've been high on recently but have plummeted back down to earth, look no further than Oakland's Denarius Moore. He's been getting the targets, but call it the Pierre Garcon Virus: his apparent pre-game ritual of covering his hands in Vaseline isn't working too well right now.

Currently sitting at a 45.6% catch rate, Moore has missed more balls that Carson Palmer has thrown his way this season than he's actually caught. It's not Palmer's fault; teammate Brandon Myers sits with a 75.3% catch rate and teammate Darius Heyward-Bey has a below-average-but-manageable 52.8% rate himself. And those struggles have popped up in a big way recently, as Moore caught only one pass (albeit a TD) on four attempts in Week 12 and one pass on seven attempts in Week 11.

It doesn't matter how many passes are thrown his way or how great the matchup is if Moore's simply can't catch the ball. And until he proves that he can, Moore should be planted firmly on your fantasy bench.

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In This Article

Cecil Shorts
WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Darren Sproles
RB, New Orleans Saints

Denarius Moore
WR, Oakland Raiders

Lance Moore
WR, New Orleans Saints

Michael Turner
RB, Atlanta Falcons

Shonn Greene
RB, Tennessee Titans

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