7 Fantasy Stars to Watch in Week 13

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 27, 2012

7 Fantasy Stars to Watch in Week 13

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    At this point in the fantasy season, you are likely just biding your time until the postseason starts. It doesn't make the games any less meaningful, but you are anxious to see your players get through each week healthy before the playoffs. 

    Still, with just one week to go until most fantasy leagues start their postseason, the competitive juices are flowing. You can't afford to give up a game here and risk having your team lose its hold on a spot. 

    The magic of fantasy football is the way it makes you manage a team in a way that real NFL teams do. You feel the same way about this team that you have built and put together, albeit without the need to develop the way NFL teams do, that any general manager does. 

    You want to find ways to win every game possible, but at the end of the day, you are just rooting to get through the regular season healthy, while at the same time hitting your stride heading into the postseason. 

    As we move towards Week 13 of the NFL and fantasy season, the stars of 2012 have been clearly defined. But there are still individual matchups and certain patterns that have us loving what is going to happen this weekend. 

    Here is our lineup of superstars, one at each position and a flex player, that we absolutely love in Week 13. 

Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. New Orleans)

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    2012 Season Stats

    294-for-429 (68.5%), 3,425 yards, 21 TD, 13 INT

    New Orleans Defense vs. Pass

    257-for-403 (63.8%), 298 yards allowed (29th), 22 TD Allowed (T-30th), 8 INT

    What Ryan Will Do

    After looking like the MVP of the league after nine games, Ryan had one of the worst fantasy games of the season against Arizona two weeks when he threw five interceptions.

    A decent bounce-back game against Tampa Bay, which saw Ryan throw for 353 yards and complete 81 percent of his passes, has him back on track just in time to play a Saints defense that has not stopped anyone all season. 

    In fact, last week's game against San Francisco was the first time the Saints have held an opponent under 400 yards of offense—they gave up 375. 

    Ryan just picked this defense apart three weeks ago, throwing for 411 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons' 31-27 loss at New Orleans. Playing on a short week at home will give Ryan the decided advantage he needs to dominate the Saints once again. 

Running Back: C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)

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    2012 Season Stats

    123 carries, 830 yards, 4 TD; 32 receptions, 332 yards, 1 TD

    Jacksonville Defense vs. Run

    360 carries, 1,496 yards (28th), 14 TD (T-29th)

    What Spiller Will Do

    When the Bills put the ball in Spiller's hands, good things are going to happen. Even during a recent two-game stretch when he only had 15 total carries, Spiller still managed to rack up 109 yards, over seven yards per carry. 

    The Bills finally remembered that Spiller is great when he is getting 15-20 carries, as he has combined for 36 carries the last two games and racked up 198 yards. His touchdown output is lacking—he has scored just once since Oct. 14—but he finally has a matchup to exploit. 

    As bad as the Colts, who defeated the Bills last week, are against the run, they seem to play better when they are at home. 

    The Jaguars are a disaster no matter where they are playing. They allow 4.2 yards per carry and have no muscle up front to contain a team's running game. 

    Spiller will have no problems running for over 100 yards and finding the end zone for the first time in well over a month. 

Running Back: Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals (vs. New York Jets)

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    2012 Season Stats

    46 carries, 124 yards, 2 TD; 1 reception, 24 yards

    New York Defense vs. Run

    359 carries, 1,571 yards (30th), 12 TD (27th)

    What Wells Will Do

    After being a non-factor virtually all season due to injuries and a terrible offensive line, Wells sprang to life, relatively speaking, last week against St. Louis with two rushing touchdowns. He only had 48 rushing yards, so expectations should be kept in proper perspective. 

    A matchup against a Jets defense that has been disastrous against the run this season gives Wells plenty of upside this weekend. He is not going to break 100 yards, but there are going to be plenty of opportunities to get yards and in the end zone. 

    As long as the Cardinals are able to move the ball, even a little bit, through the air, Wells will have a lot of fantasy value this weekend. If you are in a league that favors yardage over scoring, he probably isn't right for you. 

Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (vs. Indianapolis Colts)

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    2012 Season Stats

    73 receptions, 1,257 yards, 4 TD

    Indianapolis Defense vs. WR

    228 receptions, 2,572 yards (19th), 19 TD (22nd)

    What Johnson Will Do

    There seemed to be a perception, not that long ago, that Johnson was a bust this season. He was having a solid season, but it wasn't anything compared to what he did in 2011, when he had over 1,600 yards and 16 touchdown catches. 

    But somewhere along the way, the sleeping giant known as Megatron has sprung to life. Over the last four games, Johnson has 619 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

    For perspective on how good and dominant Johnson has been, if you take just his performance from the last four weeks, he would be 36th in the league in receiving yards. 

    Against an Indianapolis defense predicated on speed and that utilizes smaller defensive backs, Johnson should keep his streak of consecutive 100-yard games alive. He has also caught touchdowns in three straight games, and there is no reason to expect that streak not to move to four. 

    Even if the Lions continue to shoot themselves in the foot, Johnson is an incredible talent and one you should stop what you are doing to watch. He is doing something special right now, so pay close attention. 

Wide Receiver: Eric Decker, Denver Broncos (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

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    2012 Season Stats

    54 receptions, 685 yards, 8 TD

    Tampa Bay Defense vs. WR

    284 receptions, 3,471 yards (32nd), 18 TD (T-18th)

    What Decker Will Do

    Demaryius Thomas has gotten all the recognition among Denver wide receivers with Peyton Manning at quarterback, but the value that Decker has added as the do-it-all wideout can't be understated. 

    In a game like this, against the worst pass defense in the NFL, both Decker and Thomas should have huge fantasy weeks. Decker actually has more touchdown catches than Thomas, so a case can be made he is more dangerous in fantasy than Thomas. 

    The Buccaneers have done a lot of great things in turning their season around, but the one thing they have never figured out is how to stop opposing teams from throwing the ball down the field. Plus, they traded Aqib Talib to New England and lost Eric Wright to a four-game suspension

    Against a depleted Bucaneers secondary, Decker will threaten to break 100 yards for just the second time this season. When the Broncos get in the red zone, don't be shocked if Manning looks Decker's way before seeing where Thomas is. 

Tight End: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (vs. Atlanta Falcons)

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    2012 Season Stats

    55 receptions, 595 yards, 8 TD

    Atlanta Defense vs. WR/TE

    217 receptions, 2,439 yards (13th) , 11 TD (3rd)

    What Graham Will Do

    Graham has not been as consistent this season as he was in 2011, but his upside still remains greater than that of any tight end outside of Rob Gronkowski, who is out with a broken forearm suffered in the Patriots' blowout win vs. Indianapolis. 

    Even though he has totaled just 62 yards on just 10 catches the last two games, Graham seems poised for a huge game this weekend against division-rival Atlanta. 

    After all, it was just three weeks ago when Graham torched the Falcons for seven catches, 146 yards and two touchdowns in that thrilling game in New Orleans. 

    With the Saints and Falcons knowing each other so well, nothing that either team does will be a surprise. It is just two teams lining up and trying to outscore each other. That means big things for fantasy players, especially those who own Graham. 

    I wouldn't tell anyone to expect another 146 yards and two touchdowns, but 100 yards and at least one touchdown does not seem too far fetched for a player of Graham's ability. 

Flex Player: Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (vs. New England Patriots)

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    2012 Season Stats

    150 carries, 662 yards, 5 TD; 24 receptions, 189 yards

    New England Defense vs. Run

    284 carries, 1,109 yards (10th), 7 TD (T-11th)

    What Bush Will Do

    Bush has run hot and cold this season, which is a nice way to sum up his career. You have to pick and choose which spots to play him, depending on his own recent performance and the opponent. 

    Given the way New England has defended the run this season, the idea of Bush being a smart fantasy play could be a dangerous one that bites you. 

    However, if you look at what Bush was able to do against Seattle's run defense, which isn't that different from the Patriots', at least statistically, you have to like his chances of having a good week. 

    Bush ran for 87 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks last week. The Dolphins will have to run the ball this week in order to keep it away from Tom Brady and the white-hot New England offense. 

    This should be the week where Bush actually breaks the 20-carry barrier, which he hasn't done since Week 2 against Oakland. That was also the only time he ran for over 100 yards in a game this season.