Fantasy Football Week 13: Analyzing Which Breakout Performers Replicate Success

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2013

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Benny Cunningham #36 of the St. Louis Rams rushes against the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones Dome on November 24, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Bears 42-21.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It seems like anyone is capable of having one big week in the NFL. The question is which players will turn that into future production and which are just flukes.

These shocking performances are seen virtually every week. Running back Bobby Rainey torched the Atlanta Falcons defense for 163 rushing yards and three total touchdowns to earn 34 points in Week 11. In Week 12, he only managed 35 total yards for three fantasy points.

In order to be successful for the remainder of the fantasy football season, you have to separate the players who are just one-week wonders and the ones who could be legitimate starters going forward.

Here is a look at some of the most surprising games in Week 12 with suggestions on how to handle each player.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tennessee Titans

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #4 of the Tennessee Titans drops back to pass against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter at Coliseum on November 24, 2013 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Week 12 Stats: 320 passing yards, two passing touchdowns; 26 rushing yards; 22 fantasy points

Not only did Ryan Fitzpatrick earn his first win of the season on Sunday, but he looked really good in the process. He completed 71.4 percent of his passes, had zero turnovers and threw the game-winning touchdown with only 10 seconds left.

In the last three games, the veteran has thrown five touchdowns with no interceptions while completing 71.8 percent of his passes. He is doing a great job of simply getting the ball to his talented receivers and allowing them to make plays after the catch. 

Now that he is comfortable in the offense, he appears likely to continue posting good numbers for the rest of the year.

With solid matchups upcoming against the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, two teams that have struggled to defend the pass recently, Fitzpatrick should be a legitimate option to those in need of a quarterback.

Verdict: Add and start


Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams

Week 12 Stats: 13 carries, 109 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown; 16 fantasy points

Zac Stacy was off to a big start before the starting running back went down with a concussion, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN. However, that does not mean you should spend the rest of your free-agent budget on Benny Cunningham. 

Sure, Cunningham did look explosive on a few runs and averaged 8.4 yards per carry. Still, it is important to remember that the Chicago Bears have been awful at defending the run this season. The unit ranks dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and even allowed a big game to the usually ineffective Ray Rice.

Even if the rookie gets a bigger role going forward, you can expect him to have a harder time against the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals in the coming weeks. Besides, Stacy is the clear starter when healthy.

He is only worth an add if Stacy is declared inactive, and even then he would be a risky start. With roster spots being valuable, this should keep him on waivers. 

Verdict: Avoid


Dennis Johnson, RB, Houston Texans

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 10:  Running back Dennis Johnson #28 of the Houston Texans carries the ball against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Week 12 Stats: 13 carries, 74 rushing yards; seven fantasy points

When Arian Foster was placed on injured reserve, many fantasy owners flocked to Dennis Johnson as the next big things in Houston. Unfortunately, he did nothing to warrant a spot on teams over the next few weeks as Ben Tate carried the load in the backfield.

That was until Week 12, when Johnson rushed for 74 yards on 13 carries. Meanwhile, Tate only managed one yard on seven carries before finding a comfortable spot on the bench. 

The truth is the Texans are a complete mess and have lost nine games in a row. This leaves the team with a chance to see if its 23-year-old running back can be a part of the future. A few more games like this and Johnson will certainly prove himself worthy.

Unless the coaching staff says otherwise, you can expect Johnson to get the bulk of carries going forward. With favorable matchups against the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots in the next two weeks, he is even worthy of a start if you need him.

Verdict: Add and start


Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Justin Hunter #15 of the Tennessee Titans plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field on November 10, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Week 12 Stats: Six catches, 109 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown; 16 fantasy points

Like Fitzpatrick, Justin Hunter had a big day through the air against the Raiders. The rookie receiver finished with a team-high 109 receiving yards, including a 54-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

While he had shown some flashes of brilliance earlier in the year, this was Hunter's first career game with more than two catches. Still, the second-round pick has the size at 6'4" to be a red-zone target and the speed to be a deep threat.

If he can stay on the same page as his quarterback, Hunter can be an extremely productive player for the rest of the season.

Fantasy owners should wait to see if this game was just a fluke, but his upside makes him a smart add that could help you for the playoffs.

Verdict: Add and bench


Tiquan Underwood, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24: Tiquan Underwood #11 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers catches a touchdown pass in front of Chris Houston #23 of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at Ford Field on November 24, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Week 12 Stats: Three catches, 108 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns; 22 fantasy points

The Detroit Lions entered Week 12 allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Many thought this would lead to a big game for Vincent Jackson, but Tiquan Underwood was in fact the beneficiary.

After scoring on a seven-yard pass from Mike Glennon in the first half, he added an 85-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that ended up being the game-winning play. This was the first 100-yard game of his career, but he settled in nicely as a secondary target for the Buccaneers' passing offense.

Of course, his day would have looked a lot different without that second touchdown, which is a play that is hard to replicate. Considering he still does not have more than three catches in a game, it is hard to trust him going forward.

Unless you are in an incredibly deep league, there is little reason to use a roster spot on Underwood.

Verdict: Avoid


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