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6 Fantasy Football Stars to Start or Sit for Sunday, Week 13

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Charlie Batch and Brady Quinn are quarterbacking poison, and Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe should see the effects this week.

It's been a busy week already, with our Top Week 13 Sleepers featuring Andrew Luck, Vick Ballard, Jonathan Dwyer, Jeremy Maclin, Sidney Rice, and Jermaine Gresham, as well as Thursday's Start/Sit article with Sunday starters Shonn Greene, Cecil Shorts, and Denarius Moore. But the fantasy train keeps rolling, and there are even more players who can make or break your fantasy season.

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.

Fantasy Football Best Starts/Must Sits Week 13

Philip Rivers - San Diego Chargers
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 13.34 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 21 Ranked QB (No. 31 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 29.3%
Week 13 Opponent: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Verdict: Sit Him

The top tier of quarterbacks is set in stone at this point; the top nine projected QB scores this week correspond directly with the same top nine most-started QBs in ESPN leagues. But in case you're one of the lucky fantasy owners with something to play for despite not having one of those nine QBs, don't be swayed by the fool's gold of Rivers' recent multi-touchdown outings.

The Chargers are throwing the ball a ton - they have had at least 10 more passing attempts than rushing attempts in each of the past three weeks - but that's doesn't necessarily equal efficiency. Rivers' 0.07 NEP per pass this season is one of the worst marks among all starting QBs. For comparison's sake, Alex Smith sat at 0.18 NEP per pass before getting benched; Ryan Fitzpatrick is at 0.13 NEP per pass and Rivers is decimal points behind Christian Ponder. That's not good.

And what makes it even worse is that, despite being an average 15th opponent-adjusted defense, the Bengals' main strength is in the secondary. The Orange and Blacks have given up only 35.84 NEP above expectation so far this season, good for 12th in the NFL. That could mean Pick City for Rivers; we have him projected for 1.67 of those this week.

Bryce Brown - Philadelphia Eagles
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 9.71 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 18 Ranked RB (No. 58 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 46.7%
Week 13 Opponent: at Dallas Cowboys
Verdict: Start Him

Every week, there's a running back du jour that pops out of the woodwork to be a presumed "must start". Last week, it was Ronnie Hillman. Rashad Jennings, William Powell, and Andre Brown have all sat in the golden throne at least once this season. You see how well those propped-up replacements usually go.

And that's exactly why it's so unusual that you should absolutely start Bryce Brown this week as an RB2.

I didn't suggest picking up Brown earlier this week because he looks to be, at most, a one-week wonder until McCoy comes back from injury. But if you picked him up for this one-week fix, then be thankful, because McCoy has already been ruled out for the game. 42% of Brown's rushes can be considered successful so far this season, meaning that he has increased the Eagles' net expected points for a drive on over two-fifths of his plays. His -0.11 NEP per rush average far outpaces McCoy's -0.18 NEP per rush on the season (albeit with a larger sample size), and Brown seems to have Nick Foles's eye with 24% of Foles's throws coming his way last week.

Dallas is a middling defense - No. 18 on our opponent-adjusted charts - but that should be enough for Brown as long as he receives consistent carries. And considering Dion Lewis only had five carries to Brown's 19 last week, I'd say the Kansas State Wildcat is safe.

Fred Jackson - Buffalo Bills
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 7.26 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 28 Ranked RB (No. 105 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 41.9%
Week 13 Opponent: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Verdict: Sit Him

There are two ways a fantasy owner can grossly misjudge a matchup. There's the more common way, where a top player has a bad matchup, and the owner will say "Pssh, it doesn't matter that he's facing the Cardinals, Frank Gore had 18 FP last week against Seattle!" before the player falls flat on his face. But there's another, less seen side. In that case, a bad player has a great matchup, and he'll be started on way too many teams because of it. This is one of those cases.

Jackson may be seeing a return to split duty now that he's back from sitting out with a concussion, but that does not necessarily mean that he'll be effective in the carries he gets. With -0.20 NEP per rush on 81 carries, Jackson has lost the Bills over 16 expected points on his rushes so far this season. He gets inconsistent carries - none of his three games with double-digit rushing attempts came in consecutive weeks. And to top it all off, he's only topped 30 rushing yards three times this season.

Considering we have C.J. Spiller as the most efficient RB in the league, we expect him to continue to get his fair share of carries. In fact, he's our No. 9 RB this week. And if the Bills are smart, they will keep the rushing attempt disparity between Spiller and Jackson large.

Danario Alexander - San Diego Chargers
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 8.96 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 20 Ranked WR (No. 65 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 8.0%
Week 13 Opponent: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Verdict: Start Him

Remember all those words up there about how Philip Rivers isn't even worth a second glance? Man, the guy writing that one was idiotic, huh?

Well, it is in fact possible for the quarterback to be a bad play but his receiver to be start-worthy, because that's exactly what we see here in San Diego. Alexander has now led the Chargers in targets in each of the past three weeks; he has received over a quarter of Philip Rivers' looks in each of the past two. And with his 67% catch rate, he's been able to take advantage to the tune of at least 74 yards receiving in each of those three games. He's also caught three combined touchdowns for his troubles.

He sustained a thigh bruise in Week 12, so keep an eye on the injury report early, especially with a 4:25 pm EST start time. But all indications are currently that Alexander is ready and raring to go, and even with Rivers expected to have a down day, you can't deny his #1 target.

Mike Wallace - Pittsburgh Steelers
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 8.59 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 31 Ranked WR (No. 79 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 70.3%
Week 13 Opponent: at Baltimore Ravens
Verdict: Sit Him

Having Charlie Batch at quarterback feels to Steelers fans like running out of ketchup. I'm not sure he could have started for either Kent State or Northern Illinois in the #MACtion! Championship Game. Kordell Stewart, wherever he is now, is crying. This arrangement isn't working, to say the least.

Yes, Mike Wallace is leading the Steelers in targets on the season with 85 looks. Yes, Wallace has gotten at least seven looks in each of the past two weeks with Roethlisberger out of the lineup. And do you know what that has gotten him? Five catches for 35 combined yards in his last two games. The Steelers have completed only 35.7% of the passes intended for Wallace over the past two weeks.

He may be the best option among Pittsburgh receivers this week (treat Antonio Brown like he has rabies), but that's not saying much against Baltimore and their No. 13 opponent-adjusted defense. Stay away.

Dwayne Bowe - Kansas City Chiefs
Projected Standard League Fantasy Points: 6.02 FP
numberFire Rank: No. 53 Ranked WR (No. 129 Overall)
Percent of Leagues Started (ESPN): 52.2%
Week 13 Opponent: vs. Carolina Panthers
Verdict: Sit Him

If Charlie Batch is fantasy poison to his receivers, then what does that make Brady Quinn? Fantasy plutonium?

Dwayne Bowe has not had a single double-digit fantasy point day since Week 4. Think about that for a second. Last week, Brandon LaFell, Aldrick Robinson, Ryan Broyles, and Julian Edelman all finished with double-digit fantasy days. All it takes is a touchdown and 40 yards receiving. And Bowe hasn't done it once; he hasn't even gotten above six. No touchdowns for him since that Week 4 game against the Chargers.

The Panthers may provide a solid matchup, but I wouldn't trust Bowe until he proves he deserves it. And a catch rate barely topping 50% isn't it.

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In This Article

Danario Alexander
WR, San Diego Chargers

Dwayne Bowe
WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Fred Jackson
RB, Buffalo Bills

Mike Wallace
WR, Miami Dolphins

Philip Rivers
QB, San Diego Chargers

Bryce Brown
RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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