Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 13: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers & More
The clock on the regular season of fantasy football is ticking, which magnifies the importance of making the right decisions in terms of starts and sits, matchup plays and sleepers in Week 13.
Wrong choices this week can be the difference between a berth in the postseason and the regulation of "better luck next year."
In the following slides, we give you fantasy advice on the week's most favorable matchups, sleepers, studs and duds. Adjust your Week 13 fantasy lineups accordingly.
Favorable Matchup: RB Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
After a rocky start, at least yardage-wise, Richardson is starting to gain some fantasy consistency. In each of his last four games, the Browns rookie back has eclipsed 100 total yards and 13 fantasy points.
Chances are very high that Richardson makes it five of his last five in both categories Sunday.
The Browns head out to Oakland to face the Raiders, who have allowed the third-most points to fantasy running backs and at least 24 points in three of the last four weeks. Opposing backs have rushed for 644 yards and seven scores against Oakland over the last month.
There aren't many sure bets in fantasy football from week to week, but Richardson beating up on a bad Raiders defense looks like one for Week 13.
Favorable Matchup: WRs Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
Fantasy strength meets fantasy weakness when the Denver Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 13.
Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, who have combined for 1,700 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012 (most for a receiver combination in the NFL), get the opportunity to face fantasy football's worst defense against opposing receivers this season.
The Bucs allow an average of 27.4 points a game against receivers, including games of at least 20 in 10 of 11 games. That's a staggering trend of poor play against one position, even in this age of passing football.
Thomas is the safer play (10 or more fantasy points in four of five games) over Decker (just 15 total points the last three weeks), but both should get a hefty chunk of fantasy production against this Tampa Bay defense. Even better, top Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright won't play (suspension).
Sleeper: WR Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
There's no more sleeping on Shorts, who has vaulted himself into the top 20 of fantasy receivers for the 2012 season.
Especially with Chad Henne at quarterback, Shorts needs to be in your starting lineup. The second-year receiver has at least 80 yards and a score in each of the games Henne played the majority of snaps (Houston, Tennessee).
His matchup Sunday is another good one, as the Jaguars go to Buffalo to take on fantasy football's 23rd-ranked defense against opposing receivers. The Bills allowed 29 total fantasy points to receivers last week in Indianapolis.
The only thing that could derail this matchup is the weather in Buffalo, but the Bills have still allowed at least one touchdown to receivers in every home game this season. With confidence, start Shorts.
Sleeper: RB Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints
Here's what we know about Ivory's matchup with the Falcons in Week 13: The Saints running game has come to life after Ivory started getting carries, he scored against Atlanta in Week 10, and the Falcons are the 25th-ranked fantasy defense against opposing running backs this season.
What we don't know is the scary part, however. The Saints are giving Ivory an average of just under nine touches a game, so we can't be confident he'll get the necessary amount of looks to be fantasy relevant this week.
But why wouldn't the Saints give Ivory 10-13 touches Sunday? He's earned a bigger role, and the Falcons had a difficult time containing him in the first meeting. Ride your strengths, New Orleans.
In terms of your fantasy team, Ivory remains a high-risk, high-reward option at both RB2 and flex.
Stud: QB Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
You don't have to be a defensive mastermind to understand that the Philadelphia Eagles secondary is not getting the job done since Juan Castillo was fired as the defensive coordinator over a month ago.
In the five games since his dismissal, the Eagles have allowed 123 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, including back-to-back games of 30 or more the past two weeks (only the Buffalo Bills have pulled off that feat this season). Opposing passer ratings since the switch are hovering around the 130.0 range.
While Romo is not the elite athlete that Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton obviously are, that's not a prerequisite for tearing this secondary apart. Expect Romo (441 passing yards, 27 fantasy points in Week 12) to continue the defensive misery for Philadelphia this week.
Stud: RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles will salivate at the sight of the film of Carolina's run defense from Monday night in Philadelphia.
Gaps were left vacant, the backside remained wide open for most of the night and contain from the defensive ends was nonexistent, all of which helped lead the Eagles running backs to 202 rushing yards and two scores.
Charles, despite playing on an offense lacking a quarterback, continues to be productive. In each of his last three games, Charles had more than 80 rushing yards and at least 10 fantasy points.
Against the Panthers' struggling run defense, Charles could (and probably should) double those numbers. He might not explode like Week 3 (233 yards, 34 fantasy points), but Charles has a high ceiling in Week 13.
Dud: WR Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Smith does have past success against the Steelers, including a late touchdown catch in a Ravens' win last season. It would be understandable if you're dead set on starting him this week, especially after 144 yards from Smith in Week 12
However, Pittsburgh completely shut down Smith (one catch, seven yards) in the first meeting this season, leaving the Ravens receiver with another high bust potential in Week 13.
And thanks to a suffocating stretch over the last four games, Pittsburgh is now the best fantasy defense against opposing receivers in 2012. Since Week 9, the Steelers have allowed an average of just eight fantasy points to receivers.
Start Smith at your own peril.
Dud: RB Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams
Fantasy owners will likely look at Jackson's 101 yards and a score against the 49ers in Week 10 and think the Rams have the 49ers' run defense figured out. I wouldn't be so sure.
Since allowing a season-high 159 rushing yards to the Rams running backs, San Francisco has mostly fixed the cracks and leaks. No opposing backfield has rushed for more than 75 yards or scored since.
Jackson is hot (321 rushing yards his last three games), but you get the feeling that the 49ers aren't going to let the veteran breathe Sunday. San Francisco has responded to the butt-kicking St. Louis handed out, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they returned the favor to Jackson in Week 13.
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