Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 13: Evaluating Risky Options for Pivotal Fantasy Weekend

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 24:  Mike Wallace #11 of the Miami Dolphins stretches to try and make a catch as Drayton Florence #29 of the Carolina Panthers looks on at Sun Life Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

A roll of the dice may be necessary with precious fantasy football playoff spots dangling in the air.

For many owners, this is the final week to lock down a postseason slot before a six-team tournament begins in Week 14. Those with more time on their hands likely still have just two weeks to secure a fictitious title run.

The risk adverse among us will turn to sure bets during crunch time, but the impulsive managers impervious to consequence will slide all their chips to the center of the table with everything on the line.

I'm not here to say either mindset is better than the other; it depends on the circumstances. These players are hardly must-start options, yet a game-changing performance certainly exists in the realm of possibility. 

Let's break down some hazardous boom-or-bust options for Week 13.


QB Carson Palmer (at Philadelphia Eagles)

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 24:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Peters
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Remember when Carson Palmer excited many drafters as a popular sleeper to add to their bench as an insurance policy? This is what they had in mind.

Through his first seven games with the Arizona Cardinals, Palmer languished with eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Always a pick-six waiting to happen, many frustrated owners tossed him aside right before he caught fire.

During Arizona's turnaround four-game winning streak, Palmer has fired two touchdown passes in each win with 286.5 passing yards per performance. He has completed 69.0 percent of his passes and administered Michael Floyd's blossoming into a prominent wideout alongside Larry Fitzgerald.

Facing the Eagles bodes well for another strong outing from Palmer. Their defense ranks last with 300.1 passing yards allowed per game, recently yielding 297 yards through the air to two Green Bay Packers quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers in Week 11.

There are no more players on byes to replace, but Palmer is a better play than struggling second-year starters Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III. Just don't get too cute and bench Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

Verdict: Start


RB Stevan Ridley (at Houston Texans)

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 hands off to running back Stevan Ridley #22 of the New England Patriots against the Denver Broncos during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wick
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

A fumble a day keeps Bill Belichick away.

Ridley again was relegated to spectator status after coughing up the ball for the third consecutive week. This time, he stayed glued to the sidelines during the New England Patriots' 34-31 overtime win over the Denver Broncos, finishing with 14 yards on four carries.

When on the field, Ridley is a perfectly functioning fantasy back who scored seven touchdowns and averaged 4.3 yards per carry. But will Belichick give Ridley another chance after replacement Brandon Bolden offered 58 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries?

Although he is utilized more as a pass-catching back, Shane Vereen also provides another candidate to snatch some of Ridley's workload. 

Allowing 118.5 rushing yards per game but boasting the NFL's top pass-prevention unit, the Texans are a strong matchup that will make the Patriots run the football. Right now, however, owners can't count on Ridley getting those touches.

Unless your bench is depleted of alternatives at running back, look elsewhere this weekend.

Verdict: Sit


WR Mike Wallace (at New York Jets)

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 17: Mike Wallace #11 of the Miami Dolphins catches the ball in front of Shareece Wright #29 of the San Diego Chargers on November 17, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Just how daring do you feel?

Daring enough to start Mike Wallace, who has finished with less than five receptions and 45 yards six times this season? Are you crazy enough to start a receiver that went eight games without reaching the end zone before breaking the drought last weekend?

Wallace's maddening inconsistency is exactly what fantasy owners are typically wise to avoid, but an intriguing matchup and high upside help nullify those concerns.

The New York Jets' defense is scary up front, but they're weak if quarterbacks can force the secondary to stop them. They allow 250.3 passing yards per game and are prone to surrendering a deep ball.

Last week, Jacoby Jones reeled in a 66-yard strike from Joe Flacco. The previous Sunday, speedster Marquise Goodwin burned their secondary for a 43-yard score. Wallace is inconsistent, but he's also well versed in going vertical and making big plays.

Gambling on Wallace is not for the squeamish, but it could generate sizable rewards.

Verdict: Start