Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 13: Last-Minute Advice for Fantasy Owners
Week 13 brings the end of the fantasy football regular season in most leagues. The playoffs start next week, but for a lot of teams, the playoffs start this week because they face a "win and you're in" scenario.
Crucial first-round byes are also on the line. Even if you can't go to the postseason, at least you can prevent another team from extending its season, right?
Lets take a look at the best starts and sits to achieve your goals this week.
START: Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick hasn't put up huge numbers in his first two starts, but he has a very high ceiling. He hasn't thrown more than 25 passes in either start, and the 49ers have only given this dangerous running quarterback a few designed runs.
With a floor that is usually among the top 10 quarterbacks in any given week and a matchup against a Rams pass rush that could force him to run, Kaepernick could easily have his biggest game so far this year.
SIT: Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland Raiders
Carson Palmer has only really produced in garbage time in the last month, and he couldn't even do that last week against his old mates in Cincinnati.
The Browns aren't going to run away from the Raiders and give Palmer the opportunity to pass against a prevent defense, and even if they do, the game is likely to be played in high winds and heavy rain.
Palmer's owners had been able to get away with living dangerously and subsist on comeback efforts until Week 12, but it's time to stop playing Russian roulette with your quarterback position if you have been relying on him.
START: Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans
The Houston Texans were one of the most feared defenses in the NFL for most of the season, but over the last two weeks, they've allowed 819 passing yards and six passing touchdowns to Jacksonville and Detroit.
Jake Locker is just getting his feet under him after missing six games with a shoulder injury. The Titans have fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, so a weight could be lifted from the shoulders of the whole offense.
Locker has an underrated set of weapons and a chance to slow down Houston's run to securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
SIT: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco is coming off of a 355-yard performance against the Chargers, but he will be facing a Steelers defense that is giving up less than half of that total on average over 11 games so far this season.
Flacco put up 164 yards without any touchdowns against the Steelers only two weeks ago, and with Charlie Batch in again at quarterback, the Steelers defense knows it will need to really step up.
The Ravens have been smart to center their offense around Ray Rice instead of Flacco as the season has gone on. Expect more of the same in Week 13.
START: Bryce Brown, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
It's certainly possible that Bryce Brown's huge Week 12 game had more to do with the Panthers run defense than Brown's undeniable talent, but the Cowboys are down to backups at both inside linebacker positions, so they might not be that stiff of an opponent either.
Brown comes with risk, but injuries and disappointments at the running back position have made any feature back with the ability to break long runs a strong RB2 play at this point in the season.
If you have Brown and don't feel compelled to start him, it's only because you have been very lucky at running back this year.
SIT: Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
UPDATE Sunday, Dec. 2, 10:30am ET: Looks like McFadden owners will have to wait another week to see him back in action, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Raiders RB is unlikely to play in Week 13 vs. the browns.
-- End of Update --
Darren McFadden's owners have been anxiously awaiting his return to the Raiders lineup, but they shouldn't trust him in their lineups until they get to see him for a week.
Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times reports that Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said Marcel Reece will remain at running back while McFadden gets back into football shape, which means that McFadden might not even be the best play at the position on the Raiders roster this week.
If you own both, play Reece. If you only own McFadden, leave him on your bench unless you have no other viable options.
START: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
No one except for Broncos head coach John Fox and Knowshon Moreno knew he was going to start in Week 12, but Moreno performed well against the Chiefs.
The Broncos' Week 13 opponent, Tampa Bay, is the No. 1 rush defense in the league, but the Buccaneers have given up nine rushing touchdowns, and Peyton Manning loves to audible to the run in the red zone.
Moreno should be good for 20-plus touches and at least 80 total yards in even a worst-case scenario, and he should get at least a few shots at a rushing touchdown. That's good enough for at least a flex play, if not an RB2 start in most fantasy leagues.
SIT: DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
DeMarco Murray's mysterious foot injury cost him six weeks, which means it was not a minor foot sprain in any sense of the word.
While he has been practicing this week, Murray is still listed as "questionable," and Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett refused to guarantee that Murray would play this weekend on Friday, according to Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
With the Cowboys playing in the Sunday night game, that would mean that you would have no one other option than Felix Jones (if he is even on your roster) to turn to if Murray is inactive.
Between the uncertainty about how his foot will respond, the likelihood that the Cowboys will go with a committee approach at running back and the possibility of a late scratch, Murray is not worth the risk this week.
START: Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins
Any doubts that Pierre Garcon could get back to full speed after missing a total of six games with a foot injury were dispelled after his scintillating 59-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Garcon didn't even play half of the offensive snaps in his five-catch, 93-yard performance against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and after practicing in full this week, he should be ready for even more on Monday night.
We know that Robert Griffin III is already an excellent passer, but we haven't seen what a mostly healthy Garcon can do with him for more than half a game. You'll want to have him in your lineup when we learn the results.
SIT: Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are likely to be playing in heavy wind and rain against the Browns, but Denarius Moore has had problems connecting with Carson Palmer the last two weeks in much better conditions.
He had two catches for 29 yards and a score over the last two weeks, and he's facing a Browns secondary that has held four of the last five teams they've faced under 200 passing yards.
Moore might get back on track before the end of the season, but it's unlikely to happen in a monsoon against a tough defense.
START: Ryan Broyles, WR, Detroit Lions
Benching Titus Young in favor of Ryan Broyles has provided a significant boost for the Lions passing game.
Broyles had six catches for 126 yards on Thanksgiving, but he may have an even bigger game against the Colts.
Broyles is a relatively safe bet for a new starting wide receiver because he plays in an offense that passes more than any other, and the opposing defense will always be focused on Calvin Johnson.
SIT: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
It seems unthinkable to bench one of the most talented receivers in the NFL for the most important week of fantasy football so far this season.
However, the writing is on the wall that Larry Fitzgerald will be completely contained as long as the Cardinals are starting rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley.
He has only caught four of his 19 targets in the last two games for 42 yards. This week, he'll draw Antonio Cromartie, who has emerged as one of the best cover corners in the league since his partner Darrelle Revis went out for the season.
START: Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
In the Giants' last four games, Victor Cruz hasn't had more than 67 yards, but bet on a big breakthrough on Monday night against the Redskins.
The starting receiver on the other side of the field, Hakeem Nicks, is as healthy as he has been all season, which should prevent Washington from focusing solely on Cruz in its game plan.
The Redskins gave up 131 yards on seven catches to Cruz in their first meeting, and seven other receivers have gone over 100 yards this season against their woeful secondary.
SIT: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are going to lean heavily on the run, and when they do pass, the Panthers are very likely to sell out to stop Bowe.
Quinn also fails to test the defense downfield, which makes it easier for them to defend short and intermediate routes. The deck is stacked against Bowe and any fantasy owner that starts him in Week 13.
START: Dallas Clark, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It has been a while since Dallas Clark was a relevant fantasy tight end, but his Week 13 matchup against the Broncos may mark his return to fantasy prominence.
Clark has been coming on as a trusted target for Josh Freeman in the middle of the field, with 11 catches for 123 yards and a score in the last two weeks.
This week, he goes up against a Denver defense that has allowed eight touchdowns and six games over 50 yards to tight ends this season.
With Freeman having to pass more to keep up with Clark's old quarterback, it is a great week to give Clark a shot in your lineup.
SIT: Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
How many more weeks does Antonio Gates have to let his fantasy owners down before they stop trusting him in their lineups?
Gates has three games with only two catches and under 20 receiving yards in the last five. He only has 18 targets over the span, which is at least partially the effect of Danario Alexander coming on in the last three games as a No. 1 receiver for Philip Rivers.
If Gates goes off on your bench, you should probably be able to survive it because most fantasy teams are not getting much from their tight end this year.
If using Gates means another dud in your lineup, you have no excuse, as that has been what you've gotten the last two weeks.