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Week 13 Fantasy Sleepers: Sneaky Starts to Help Spark Playoff Run

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 17:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a  pass during the NFL game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 17, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2013

Time is running out before the finger-biting fantasy football season makes way for the nerve-wracking postseason. 

Perhaps some owners would prefer not having to watch a 21-point game on Monday night in constant terror of Pierre Garcon ruining your week with a 50-yard touchdown catch during garbage time. Maybe this crazy game of ours does more harm than good to our mental psyche, and we'd be better off watching the season's final month purely out of joy for football.

Nah. We've already invested too much time and energy to look back now. In many leagues, this is the last week to snatch a playoff spot or a higher seed before the true excitement commences.

While the lucky ones have a reliable nucleus to turn to in Week 13, some managers might need to get a little creative. These guys could help propel you into the playoffs this week.

 

QB Andy Dalton (at San Diego Chargers)

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 31: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to pass the ball against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 31, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The good Andy Dalton should show up this week.

Andy Dalton's season has been a tale of... I don't even know what it's a tale of because his season has been so confusing. He started off slowly but then caught fire from Week 6-8, amassing 1,034 passing yards and 11 touchdowns through three games.

Andy Dalton: Week 6-8
WeekOpponentCompletion %Passing YardsTDsINTs
6Buffalo Bills65.033731
7Detroit Lions70.637230
8New York Jets63.332551
ESPN.com

That Andy Dalton looked like a legit No. 1 fantasy QB. So of course, he has thrown eight interceptions during his last three outings.

Overall, Dalton ranks as ESPN's 14th-best fantasy signal-caller, which makes him a matchup play in standard leagues. Well, here's the matchup to play.

The San Diego Chargers have surrendered 276 passing yards per game while capturing just six interceptions. Last week, they let the timid Alex Smith reel off a season-high 294 yards through the air.

This is the week to dust off Dalton as he manufactures another 300-yard performance.

Other QBs to consider: Carson Palmer (at Philadelphia Eagles), Josh McCown (at Minnesota Vikings)

 

RB Donald Brown (vs. Tennessee Titans)

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 14:  Donald Brown #31 of the Indianapolis Colts scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 14, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Often we warn against an unfavorable matchup yet write off a player after producing the results we expected against that tough opponent.

After compiling 94 total yards and two touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans, Donald Brown warranted an add in all leagues where he remained available. But against a vicious Arizona Cardinals defense that allows a league-worst 9.9 fantasy points per game to running backs (per ESPN scoring), he remained a poor start for Week 12.

The matchups proved right; Brown finished with minus-one yard. So now I'm advocating owners start a player who posted less yards last week than Marshawn Lynch, who sat out with a bye. 

Brown only touched the ball three times during a blowout that forced the Indianapolis Colts to pass. Trent Richardson received the bulk of the carries early, but he again proved to be terrible with 15 yards on seven rushes.

Now Brown faces the Titans, whom he just torched two weeks ago. Forgive his absence last Sunday and consider trotting him out in your flex spot against a defense that has allowed 150.6 total yards per game to opposing running backs.

Other RBs to consider: Bilal Powell (at Miami Dolphins), Montee Ball (at Kansas City Chiefs), Brandon Bolden (at Houston Texans)

 

WR Rod Streater (at Dallas Cowboys)

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Wide receiver Rod Streater #80 of the Oakland Raiders picks up 8 yards and a first down against cornerback Derek Cox #22 of the San Diego Chargers in the first quarter on October 06, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Need to add some excitement to your Thanksgiving? Add Rob Streater and hope he maintains his hot streak.

Over the past two weeks, Streater has recorded 11 receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown. Matt McGloin has taken a liking to Streater, targeting him 17 times in those games.

If he can post 84 yards and a score against the NFL's top passing defense (Houston Texans), he should fare well against Dallas' No. 31 passing defense. The Cowboys allow 298.5 passing yards per game, trailing just the Philadelphia Eagles, whom Streater tallied a season-high 98 receiving yards against.

Other WRs to consider: Dwayne Bowe (vs. Denver Broncos), Nate Burleson (vs. Green Bay Packers), Rueben Randle (at Washington Redskins)

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