What am I thankful for?
I’m thankful for my family, friends and health – I’m thankful for the important things in life.
But I’m also thankful for football, and that we’re able to live in a country that nearly forces us to eat ourselves to sleep while watching the Detroit Lions every single November. And I’m just as thankful for fantasy football, which allows me to write these columns every week, and have a voice within the awesome fantasy sports community and industry.
I’m thankful for numberFire and the beastly metrics we have, guiding others and me to the fantasy football playoffs. I’m thankful for Ryan Fitzpatrick, a waiver wire quarterback who’s saving a few of my fantasy teams. I’m thankful for Pierre Thomas’ ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and Keenan Allen for making me look good, calling him out the week prior to his breakout.
I’m thankful for draft strategies, friendly pigskin debates and fantasy football sleepers. I’m thankful for PPR leagues, but just the half-point variety.
I’m thankful for everything, all the way down to this very article each and every week.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Let's win some fantasy football games.
Pumpkin Pie: Nothing Better (Solid Starts)
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Brady’s mentioned here not because I’m reminding you all that he’s “back”, but because he’s our top-ranked passer entering Week 13.
The Texans have been atrocious on defense this year, as pointed out by our own Leo Howell, and now, on a per pass basis, rank second-to-last against the pass according to our Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP/P metric. Thanks to volume, their ranking jumps up a few spots when looking at cumulative Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points. (For more on NEP, click here.)
The defense has been bad against quarterbacks. It’s translated to fantasy at times this season to, as they’ve had four separate games of allowing three or more passing touchdowns. Expect Brady to work his magic this week.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
You can basically do whatever you want against the Chargers’ defense this year, as they rank third-to-last against the pass and second-to-last against the run according to our metrics.
Dalton and the Bengals are coming off their bye, and are trying to keep pace to get a potential first-round bye in the playoffs. San Diego just allowed three passing touchdowns to Alex Smith a week ago, and have allowed eight over their last three games. Dalton is a nice value this week.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
Vereen’s been a PPR stud since his return two weeks ago, and given the fumbling situation in New England, could see more rush attempts than his owners initially anticipated. Nonetheless, he’ll be a force in the receiving game, as he’s caught 16 passes from Tom Brady over the last two weeks.
Did I mention Houston’s defense has been awful?
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Like I said with Dalton, the Chargers defense can’t stop any portion of opposing offenses, and rookie Gio Bernard should benefit greatly. Jamaal Charles ended up with nearly 30 half-point PPR points last week, and while that’s Jamaal Charles, one of the best in the game, it wouldn't be surprising to see Bernard reach four or five catches for 80 total yards and a potential score.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
Not enough people have talked about how good Josh Gordon has been this year, even if some of his fantasy output – like last week against Pittsburgh – has come in garbage time.
Over the last five weeks, Gordon has the second-most fantasy points in the league, behind only Calvin Johnson. And one of Gordon’s games during this time was a two-catch, 21-yard performance against the Packers.
The Browns will face Jacksonville this week, who can be generous to wide receivers. Expect Gordon, even if Brandon Weeden is quarterback, to post solid numbers.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins
Pierre Garcon has caught fewer than five passes zero times this season, and has hit the six-catch mark in all but one game. He’s consistent as can be giving you a half-point PPR floor of about nine points each week with the potential to blow up.
Against the Giants in Week 13, that type of production should continue. While the G-Men are very underrated at stopping the run, they’re pretty average at limiting the pass. Garcon should be fine with his struggling quarterback.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns
Though many will be scared about Brandon Weeden being Jordan Cameron’s quarterback, don’t forget that Cameron started the season with Weeden, and started it well. He’ll see Jacksonville’s defense this week, one that’s allowed the second-most points to tight ends from a fantasy point perspective. Cameron almost has to be started if you own him.
Sweet Potato Casserole: Amazingly Underrated (Sneaky Starts)
Josh McCown, QB, Chicago Bears
McCown’s been very solid this season, posting 20.8, 12.5 and 18.4 standard fantasy points in his three starts for the Bears. Because their defense (now the worst rush defense in the entire NFL) has been so bad, McCown’s been asked to use his arm to keep the team in games. That’s good news for fantasy owners.
This week he’ll face the Vikings, a team ranking 31st in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and 31st in Adjusted DPNEP. Minnesota hasn’t allowed fewer than 18.7 standard fantasy points since Week 8, and has only given up less than 15 points once (Eli Manning) all season long.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Why wouldn’t I target the Falcons defense? I do it every week, so why stop now?
Atlanta is still home to our power-ranked worst defense in the league, and has given up two total touchdowns to every signal-caller they’ve faced so far this year. While E.J. Manuel isn’t a prime option, he’s more than serviceable against this porous defense.
Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Cleveland Browns
Silent G struggled to see touches due to a fumble last week, and finished the game against Pittsburgh with just four carries and two receptions. However, Week 13 is a new week, and like I mentioned with his teammates, he faces Jacksonville, a squad that’s surrendered the 24th-most points to opposing running backs. While he’s a deep sleeper and will probably only be started in leagues with 14 or more teams, he’s worth a look.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Spiller’s roller coaster season continues against Atlanta this week, a team that, as noted with E.J. Manuel, has the worst defensive unit in the NFL.
Spiller hasn’t topped five fantasy points since Week 9, but has an opportunity to take advantage of the bad D. He’s listed as an RB3 in our rankings, which makes sense due to his risk, but has the breakaway speed to produce a big play or two. If you need a high-reward player, he’s your man.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
Chris Ivory could be sidelined with an ankle injury this week against the Dolphins, and that’s great news for Bilal Powell. Miami is much more efficient at stopping the pass than the run, as they are only better than San Diego and Chicago at run stuffing.
In addition, the Dolphins are a bottom-10 team when defending running backs through the air – Powell is a pass-catching back – allowing 57 catches for 481 yards and two scores receiving to running backs this year.
If you’re in a bind, Powell may be able to help if Ivory is sidelined.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Michael Floyd’s been sneaky all season long, and now has 13 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown over his last two games. With the Cardinals offense finally looking like they’re getting things together, he’s become a very solid option in fantasy.
That should continue this week against the Eagles, who have given up the most fantasy points to receivers this year, and who have a bottom-10 pass defense according to our metrics. You have to stay with the hot receiver.
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants
Randle saw seven targets in the Giants loss this past week, three more than teammate Victor Cruz. There’s a chance that Hakeem Nicks misses another game this week, and even if he ends up playing, Randle should be involved in the offense. The Giants take on the Redskins in Week 13, who are giving up the 8th-most points to receivers this year in fantasy.
Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins
You can’t run against the Jets, but you can pass against them. And you can definitely throw to your tight end against them.
The Jets have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, and since Week 2, they haven’t allowed fewer than 5.6 points to the position. In fact, all but two of their contests since that time have seen opposing tight ends score double-digit points against them. Clay is a great play this week.
Defense to Start: Miami Dolphins (vs. New York Jets)
Watching the Lions on Thanksgiving: Typically Disappointing (Risky Starts)
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben’s put up some big numbers over the last couple of weeks, but will face the division-rival Ravens on Thursday night. These games are always brutal, and although the Ravens are very average against the pass, I’d look at another option at quarterback this week given the physicality this game will bring.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
While some quarterbacks are matchup proof, Eli Manning is the opposite – no matchup makes him a good fantasy starter in 2013.
The Redskins defense is mediocre at best against the pass, but it still shouldn’t force you to want to play Manning. He’s given you more than 15.2 fantasy points once this season, and it came Week 1 against Dallas. No thanks.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
We all know Eddie Lacy likes to eat – both food-wise and on the football field – but this week against the Lions, he may not be able to. As I noted in my Six Facts article this week, the Lions haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown to an opposing running back since Week 4, and have only given up 107 rushing yards to backs over their last three contests.
While he should certainly be started on most teams, Lacy could disappoint fantasy owners this week.
Bobby Rainey, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rainey hit a bad matchup last week (the one I just talked about with Lacy) and did nothing with it, running 18 times for just 35 yards. It won’t get any easier against Carolina on Sunday, a team that has given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs, and one that ranks fourth in rush defense when fixed for strength of opponent.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
The last time Steve Smith faced Darrelle Revis and the Bucs, he caught four passes for 42 yards. It was essentially the most 2013 Steve Smith day you could have asked for.
Smith has become nothing more than a WR3 in most leagues, being held without a touchdown in every game since Week 7. I’m afraid he’s hard to trust against the Bucs this week.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Joe Haden has mostly stopped opposing team number one wide receivers this year, with the exception of Antonio Brown last week. Shorts may see volume as the only legitimate option in the Jags passing game, but we’ve seen top corners Patrick Peterson and Alterraun Verner shut him down. He’s a risky play in Week 13.
Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams
Cook has scored in two of his last three contests, but is still too unreliable to start in fantasy. He’ll also being going up against San Francisco this week, a team that ranks first against tight ends in fantasy, allowing just four tight end touchdowns all season long.
Thanksgiving Calories: Not Good (Bad Starts)
Case Keenum, QB, Houston Texans
Well that got ugly fast, didn’t it?
Keenum produced as one of the worst fantasy signal-callers last week despite facing a Jacksonville defense that has surrendered plenty of points against quarterbacks this year. In fact, even after that atrocious Keenum outing, Jacksonville still ranks in the bottom four within the Adjusted DPNEP category.
This offense is a dumpster fire, and I’m staying far away. No matter the matchup, Keenum shouldn't be slotted into your lineup until he shows you consistency.
Geno Smith, QB, New York Jets
I won’t go into great detail about numberFire’s worst statistical passer in the NFL, as I wrote about him in depth yesterday. In essence, the answer is no, you should not be starting Geno Smith under any circumstance.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
The issues in Miami have hurt the offensive line in more ways than one, and Miller is, unfortunately, not performing well as a result.
He now ranks in the bottom 15 among relevant running backs in Rushing NEP on the year, and has a total of 27 rushing yards over his last three games. The Jets stop the run better than almost anyone in the league, making this a matchup to completely avoid.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers
Though Williams saw double-digit carries against the Dolphins last week, he still only rushed for 31 yards, and is in a full-blown committee for the Panthers. Even if he gets a good matchup, he’s going to be hard to trust. As of today, D-Will is is our 33rd-ranked running back for Week 13.
Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets
Geno Smith’s troubles are making each of his weapons irrelevant in fantasy. Although Holmes has seen 12 targets over his last two games, he’s not start-worthy in normal leagues, as Miami’s pass defense ranks as the seventh-best one in the entire NFL according to our numbers.
Defense to Sit: Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Denver Broncos)
For any other start or sit questions, visit numberFire’s Questions section and take a look at our weekly rankings.