Fantasy Football Week 13: Early Advice for Your Roster
We've got you covered for this last regular-season edition of our fantasy football season.
We've got some thoughts on what to do with your roster now that bye weeks are gone.
We've got the usual weekly matchups we like and then—as we have three games on Thursday this week—we break down all six teams for you.
Who to start, who to sit and who to run away from, screaming.
So kick back, ladle some gravy on those potatoes and let's get cracking.
To make things easier, I've hot-linked the Thanksgiving teams right here so you can skip the other stuff and come back to it later.
Bye Weeks Are Over, Time to Trim the Roster
Now that bye weeks are over (can I get an AMEN?), it's time to trim your roster of anyone you had just to get you through a rough spot.
Of course, you ideally want to keep a backup or two at each position and in some cases, you may be playing matchups with a position, so of course then you might keep more.
But there are a lot of guys you took fliers on who you may never use in your lineup again.
This is especially true with tight ends and running backs/wide receivers you were holding "just in case."
Now is the time to take a hard look at your roster and decide who really has value and who is just wasting space.
Maybe you have a player who had a couple of big weeks because someone on his team was hurt, but since that player returned, your guy has been quiet.
Is there someone with more upside on the waiver wire? Now is the time to grab him.
All you want to do is make sure you can always field a full starting team but ensure any bench spot has upside in it, not dead weight.
So take this week and the next to go over your roster and see where you can put more upside. Take a hard look at the schedules and situations of players on the waiver wire and see who has a good chance to heat up.
For example, Aaron Rodgers should be back in the next few weeks. Some of his receivers are suffering without him and may have been dropped. So if James Jones is sitting on the waiver wire, grab him.
Take stock of your roster and dump that dead weight in preparation for the playoffs.
Week 13 Quarterback Matchups to Like
Ryan Tannehill at New York Jets
While the Miami Dolphins haven’t exactly been easy to predict, they have provided a few fantasy players worth a start.
This week they’ll offer a quarterback you can use in a bind.
The New York Jets have a very good defensive line but not much else defensively. Their cornerbacks routinely get burned long, their front seven brings inconsistent pressure and their offense (such as it is) tends to give the opposing offenses short fields.
The Jets have been unable to generate turnovers either.
Tannehill is coming off a game against a very tough Carolina Panthers defense, where he threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown while throwing just one interception.
The Jets probably won’t add to that last number, but it’s a good bet they’ll add to the first two.
Nick Foles vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Eagles would also like you to know water remains wet.
Foles was productive before the proclamation and will continue to be so, even as he faces a tough Arizona Cardinals secondary.
While the pass defense is ranked a middle-of-the-road No. 17, the Cardinals also are ranked third in interceptions with 15 through 12 weeks.
In Foles' favor is the fact he has yet to throw an interception in any game this season, whether he has started or not. In his last three starts, Foles has thrown for 932 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Of course, one of those was the seven-touchdown beatdown Foles put on the Oakland Raiders, but he’s been very good in both of the other games as well.
The Cardinals have been good against the pass the last three weeks, but aside from the Indianapolis Colts, they’ve faced two teams with quarterback issues in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.
That’s not to say they aren’t good—they are—just that they aren’t dominating the creme de la creme. They’ve had their bad moments to, such as allowing the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson throw for three touchdowns or San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick throw for two.
They can be beat, and Nick Foles is definitely capable.
EJ Manuel vs. Atlanta
We only have a pair of games to go on since rookie EJ Manuel returned to the lineup for the Buffalo Bills, but his 20-of-28 completion, 245-yard, two-touchdown effort against the New York Jets seems to indicate he is trending upward.
Manuel faces a defense which has only generated six interceptions to date but has allowed 23 touchdowns. While his receivers are a bit banged up, Stevie Johnson has returned to practice, as has rookie Robert Woods, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN NFL Nation, and that will give Manuel some good weapons this week against a so-so secondary.
The Falcons are struggling right now, and while the Buffalo Bills have had their issues, Manuel appears to be getting comfortable again.
Manuel is a good fill-in or spot-start if you need it.
Week 13 Running Back Matchups to Like
Maurice Jones-Drew at Cleveland
It hasn’t been a fantastic season for the Jacksonville Jaguars or Maurice Jones-Drew, but they seem to be improving. The Jaguars have won two of their last three games, and Jones-Drew has scored a touchdown three games in a row.
While I don’t know that I would say the Jags will make it three games out of four, it’s a fair bet Jones-Drew will make it four games straight with another touchdown this week.
At first glance, this might seem unlikely since the Browns are the No. 6 run defense in the NFL, but the Browns have allowed nine touchdowns so far this season.
While he’s struggled a lot this season, Jones-Drew is a great running back who can both run with power and flash speed in the open field as well.
Also, the Jaguars have been able to move the ball down the field by passing, getting Jones-Drew close enough for some juicy short-yardage and goal-line chances.
Don’t expect giant-yardage totals from Jones-Drew, as the offense doesn’t put him in the space to do that right now, but he should be very safe as a No. 3 running back—giving you decent yards and a touchdown.
Chris Johnson at Indianapolis
Here we are again, with the Indianapolis Colts near the bottom of the rankings for run defense and a prime matchup for any fantasy running back.
Now, the Colts have actually been burned more by team efforts than individual efforts—in other words, they will allow two backs to total more than a 100 yards rather than one back to top that mark solo—but the yards are there.
Last time these two teams met, the Colts allowed Tennessee to run for 122 total yards, though Chris Johnson only accumulated 86 of them. He did, however, score two touchdowns, and the Colts have allowed touchdowns on the ground three of the last four games.
Johnson won’t be a No. 1 running back, but he’s easily a low-end No. 2 or No. 3 with upside.
Andre Brown at Washington
Since returning from injury, New York Giants running back Andre Brown has run for more than a 100 yards in two of three starts, and his combined yardage in the one sub-100 game was 93 including his receiving yards.
Washington is ranked at No. 14 against the run, allowing 111.5 yards per game on average. More appealingly for Brown’s fantasy owners are the 15 touchdowns given up this year—tied for the most in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Not exactly exciting company.
They’ve been holding some impressive running backs under 100 yards in the last few weeks—Frank Gore in Week 12 and LeSean McCoy in Week 11. By the same token, they let McCoy score twice, just as they did with Adrian Peterson in Week 10.
The Giants and Brown have been solid running the ball over the last three weeks, and this Sunday should be no different. Start him as a No. 2 running back and you should be pretty happy with the outcome.
Week 13 Wide Receiver Matchups to Like
Keenan Allen vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Last week saw San Diego Chargers rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen produce his fourth 100-plus-yard game, against a tough Kansas City Chiefs defense no less.
This week, he faces a good Cincinnati Bengals which has given up plenty of touchdowns (14) but generated a lot of interceptions as well (12) and will play Allen tight.
However, thus far, Allen has shown the ability to break free of coverage, fight for the ball and win.
Allen has been consistently targeted by quarterback Philip Rivers and proven to be a tough player to shut down.
While he doesn’t score many touchdowns at this point, he should amass enough yards to make him a solid No. 2 wide receiver (in both point per reception and non-point per reception) this week.
Josh Gordon vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Even with Brandon Weeden at quarterback, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is going to produce a good game.
If you want proof, you need only look at last week when he had Weeden throwing to him. After only amassing three catches and 36 yards with Jason Campbell at quarterback, Gordon caught 11 balls for 201 yards and a touchdown with Weeden throwing the ball.
Gordon has struggled a few times this season, but he has had back-to-back big games and five 100-yard games out of nine starts.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are not going to be able to match up with Gordon, and as we saw last week, Weeden will throw the ball to him a lot.
Do we expect a 237-yard day? No.
But you can expect over 100 yards and a touchdown with a shot at Gordon ending the day as one of the top fantasy wide receivers for the weekend.
Kendall Wright vs. Indianapolis Colts
Tennessee Titans receiver Kendall Wright has been seeing a lot of targets lately (28 targets over the last three games) and taking advantage of them (22 catches over that span).
While he isn’t topping 100 yards or scoring touchdowns often, he has been able to put up some decent games, especially in point-per-reception leagues.
The Indianapolis Colts are ranked No. 19 against the pass and have allowed 16 touchdowns to date—not bad but not a lockdown unit either.
Wright will continue to be what he has been this season—a good No. 3 wide receiver with the ability to play as a low-end No. 2 receiver in a PPR league.
Week 13 Tight End Matchups to Like
Jordan Cameron vs. Jacksonville
After a red-hot start, Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron has cooled off until his status could be stamped as “deep freeze.”
That’s mostly on the ineptitude of the quarterback play, although Cameron has struggled to overcome the extra attention he started getting because he was tearing up defenses.
This week, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be focusing on slowing Josh Gordon down. It won’t work, but they’ll have to try, and while they do, quarterback Josh Weeden will be looking for alternatives.
Cameron’s size and athleticism will be too tempting to ignore so Cameron should have a solid day, meaning that if you don’t have one of the top studs (Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis), Cameron should be a good start.
Greg Olson vs. Tampa Bay
As the Carolina Panthers offense has turned itself around, tight end Greg Olson has started to have a great deal of fantasy impact.
Over the last five games, Olson has scored a touchdown in four of them, and while he hasn’t put up big-yardage numbers, he is seeing a lot of targets—29 of them over that span.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t been especially bad or good against tight ends this season—they’re rather neutral, and you can tend to score on them from any position.
Over the last two games, quarterback Cam Newton has looked at Olson more often than any other potential receiver, including in the red zone where he has targeted Olson four times—twice more than any other receiver.
Charles Clay at New York Jets
The New York Jets don’t match up against anyone all that well right now, but they also seem to struggle against big tight ends like the Miami Dolphins’ Charles Clay.
At 6'3", 245 pounds, Clay is a mismatch for both the secondary and the linebacking corps.
There was a period earlier this year where Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill tossed touchdowns to Clay for three weeks in a row, but that hasn’t been as frequent lately.
The Jets will probably attempt to clamp down on receiver Mike Wallace, so Tannehill will look for someone else to move the chains.
Clay—who has seen 22 targets in the last three games—is definitely on his mind.
If you’re in a bind, Clay has the upside to get you through the week.
Week 13 Defensive Matchups to Like
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
It's pretty simple: Geno Smith, turnover-machine.
Well, if you need more, Smith has thrown eight interceptions and one touchdown over the last five games and not topped 200 yards since Week 7.
While you can never tell when the "good" Geno Smith will turn up, the Miami Dolphins defense has had some good success against the Jets in the past.
They have the front seven to pressure Smith, and when that happens, turnovers abound.
This is a great week to start Miami.
Buffalo Bills vs. Atlanta Falcons
Hot off the decimation of the New York Jets (and a bye week), the Buffalo Bills run into a struggling and reeling Atlanta Falcons offense.
While technically a home game, both teams are away in Toronto this week, though Buffalo seems to end up with good support when they visit.
Aside from the veritable cornucopia of turnovers, courtesy of the New York Jets last week, the Bills have generated an interception in each of the last three games and a total of 10 sacks in that span.
Meanwhile, the Falcons have allowed 10 sacks in the last three games, including a whopping five last week.
It's a very good matchup for the Bills this week, and fantasy owners looking for a one-week fill-in.
New York Giants at Washington
If we're being brutally honest, Robert Griffin III hasn't been very good this season. Even as he's started to look better, he still takes too many big hits and throws too many interceptions.
Over the course of the season, he has only gone two weeks without at least one interception and last week against a tough San Francisco 49ers defense, completed just 17 passes for a terrible 127 yards and an interception.
The Giants have looked much better defensively of late but didn't get the job done late in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys. On the last drive, the Giants defense allowed Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to run a 4:45-minute, 64-yard drive which ended in a game-winning field goal.
So why are we saying start them?
Because they generated four sacks against Romo and forced an interception.
Because Griffin isn't at 100 percent and is prone to take bad sacks and throw interceptions.
Because they have been outstanding against the run, should stymie Alfred Morris and, again, force Griffin into risky throws to move the ball.
The Giants can be inconsistent, and if Griffin were more like his 2012 self, we might hesitate a little. But he's not, and this becomes a solid matchup for the New York Giants.
Thanksgiving Day Game Prep
Along with turkey, mashed potatoes, NFL games and drunken family shouting matches, fantasy football has become a big part of our Thanksgiving Day celebrations.
We already touched on these in the Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em article, but over the next three slides, we'll go over all the games in more detail.
As for general theory, my practice doesn't change much from most weeks—I start my studs and don't get overly cute.
The big question isn't "should I start Dez Bryant?" though is it?
It's "is this the week I take a chance on Ray Rice over Rashad Jennings?"
You have to make numerous decisions much earlier than we'd like and sometimes with less information than we'd prefer.
So let's take a look at Thursday's slate of games and see who is worth a start and who will give you indigestion.
Thanksgiving: Green Bay Packers
This game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions loses a little of its luster with Aaron Rodgers out, but there is a fair bit of fantasy value on both sidelines.
Green Bay Packers
Matt Flynn: Marginal Start
Matt Flynn looked alright filling in for Scott Tolzien against the Minnesota Vikings, but he faces a much tougher task in the form of the Detroit Lions front seven. He'll throw for a modest amount of yards and a touchdown—maybe two.
He won't be bad, but there are probably better options for your lineup, and there's no sense risking a spot this early in the week.
Eddie Lacy: Dangerous Start
(My breakdown on Lacy from Tuesday's article can be found here.)
It isn't going to be easy for the rookie, but Lacy has frequently faced seven- and eight-man fronts and still put together some outstanding stat lines. The Lions won't be able to completely shut him down because Flynn can throw, but it still won't be an easy start.
Lacy does get a full share of carries though and is averaging just under 20 carries a game.
That makes him a pure hit or miss this week.
The Lions have been solid against opposing running backs since their front seven is fierce, and they won't want the Packers to establish the run game and make life easier on Matt Flynn.
We saw what Lacy has down in games against stout run defense like the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants who clogged the running lanes and shut him down.
This is a week where playing Lacy is very dangerous, and he should probably be on your bench in favor of a better matchup.
Unfortunately, Nelson's production has been a bit up and down this year, but this should be an "up" week.
He's getting plenty of targets, and Nelson is a bad matchup across the board for the Lions linebackers (on slants) and defensive backs (on vertical routes).
Nelson has the talent to produce No. 1 receiver output but is limited by the quarterback situation and the receivers around him.
He should still produce as a high-end No. 2 receiver or low-end No. 1.
Expect some nice yards and a shot at a touchdown.
Jarrett Boykin: Fair Start
(My breakdown on Boykin from Tuesday's article is here)
Boykin was putting up great numbers with quarterback Scott Tolzien, so it was nice to see him have a good game with new starting quarterback Matt Flynn.
Watching Boykin bloom into a solid receiver has been great—he's gone from a tentative and rough player back in Week 6 to a real weapon for almost anyone who steps in under center for the Packers.
It will be interesting to see if teams start to account for him more.
Last week was a down week for him, saved by a touchdown. I expect his yards will go up a little, but I'm not counting on a touchdown this week—if he gets it, consider it a nice bonus.
Start him as a solid No. 3 receiver with upside.
James Jones: Fair Start
While he has seen a fair amount of targets since his return, Jones' production hasn't been all that great.
Last week was a high-water mark for him as he caught seven balls for 80 yards. It's production that has been infrequent at best this season, though.
Jones is going to get some targets, but expecting consistent numbers from him is a good way to end up pulling your hair out.
Start him as a mid-range No. 3 receiver but remember his upside appears limited.
Barry Bostick and Andrew Quarless: Bench
Both Quarless and Bostick have had moments, but neither is anyone we'd trust near our lineups. If you're looking for pure upside, there are some better bets.
Thanksgiving: Detroit Lions
On the other sideline of the Packers-Lions game are some very obvious fantasy stars. We'll touch on them anyway so we make sure nobody is over-thinking.
Matt Stafford: Great Start
The Green Bay Packers defense has a lot of issues. It drops any interceptions it has a shot at, and while it can generate sacks, teams can move the ball on it anyway.
Given the weapons Stafford has in Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and Nate Burleson, he should blow the Packers up.
He's a No. 1 fantasy quarterback this week and could end up as the top scorer at the position.
Reggie Bush: Great Start
Reggie Bush has been in the midst of a bit of a dry spell, having not scored a touchdown since Week 8. His yardage totals have been a bit inconsistent as well.
This week, he should have a good shot at correcting both of those things.
Running backs have been doing well against the Green Bay Packers the last few weeks, and a dual threat like Bush—who can split out wide or catch the ball out in the flat—will be a real problem.
Bush is a low-end No. 1 running back this week (a solid one in a point-per-reception league) or an outstanding No. 2.
Joique Bell: Marginal Start
Bell has produced a few good games here and there—mostly when he stole a touchdown from Reggie Bush in short-yardage situations.
His production is inconsistent, though, and that makes him an unreliable start as more than a flex or No. 3 start.
If you're in a bind, you can start him and hope but look and see if you have more reliable production.
Calvin Johnson: Great Start
You'll never keep "Megatron" on your bench, and so I won't waste your time convincing you not to. I will say I think he is probably the best start at wide receiver this week.
Nate Burleson: Fair Start
It's almost like he never left.
Before he broke his arm, Nate Burleson caught six balls for 116 yards, and in his first game back, he caught seven balls for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Targeted 10 times in his first game back, Burleson is going to get the opportunity to put up some nice yardage totals, though we don't expect him to be the receiver on a touchdown this week.
So start him as a No. 3 receiver with some upside.
Kris Durham: Bench
While Burleson was out, Durham seemed to produce sporadically, but now that the veteran receiver has returns, Durham will see a drop in targets.
I'd prefer to have him on the bench and possibly miss a decent day by him than have him in my starting lineup and get a far more likely one or two points.
Brandon Pettigrew: Bench
The veteran tight end had a nice day last week because of a third-quarter touchdown, but on the average, he's not getting enough targets—or yards—to risk having in your lineup unless you are in a big bind.
Thanksgiving: Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are going to find themselves sorely overmatched on both sides of the ball. It's going to be slim pickings for fantasy owners, but there are a few guys worth rolling the dice with.
Matt McGloin: Bench
So far, Matt McGloin has been OK since taking over the Oakland Raiders starting quarterback job.
However "OK" is not the same as "starter" in fantasy football.
The Dallas Cowboys defense isn't perfect, but it has enough on the ball to take care of McGloin.
Rashad Jennings: Great Start
(My writeup on Jennings can be found here.)
Add that to offensive coordinator Greg Olson saying the Raiders will stick with Jennings, according to Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times, as he has the "hot hand" right now. That's good news for anyone who owns Jennings as this is a fabulous matchup.
Jennings should be just about the only bright shining star for this offense on Thanksgiving, and you can start him as anything up to and including a low-end No. 1 running back.
Darren McFadden: Bench
Unless Jennings gets hurt, McFadden probably won't see a ton of time. Or at least, you can't be confident he will in which case you are playing with fire by having him in your lineup.
McFadden might start stealing carries from Jennings, but if Jennings keeps up his play, McFadden may find himself a free agent after this season.
Rod Streater: Fair Start
Like Rashad Jennings, Rod Streater has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners as well as the Raiders. He's fearless when going up for the ball and clearly willing to sacrifice his body to make a catch, which has endeared him to quarterback Matt McGloin.
He'll get a lot of opportunities on Thursday and put up enough points to be a good No. 3 receiver.
Jacoby Ford: Bench
Once upon a time, Jacoby Ford looked like a guy who was going to be heavily involved in the Raiders offense.
He's never been able to string a consistent batch of games together, though, and if it wasn't for the injury to Denarius Moore, I wouldn't have even mentioned him.
He may see some targets, but why risk a spot to a guy who will let you down 99 times out of a 100?
Mychal Rivera: Bench
Rivera has seen a few targets here and there but never enough to make him a worthwhile start even in a pinch. Even when he sees a target, he doesn't do all that much.
No upside, no production—no reason to have him on your roster, much less starting lineup.
Thanksgiving: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have a lot of potentially big plays this week. In short, if you have one of the main guys, you'll want them in your lineup.
But let's break it down anyway.
Tony Romo: Must Start
The Oakland Raiders secondary isn't anything special, and there is little chance it can contain the Cowboys' offense. Romo should be able to move the ball at will, and the only thing which can limit his numbers is if Dallas runs out to an early lead, and he stops throwing.
But he's a top-10 fantasy quarterback this week and a solid No. 1 for your team.
Demarco Murray: Must Start
After the Dallas bye week, Murray torched the New York Giants run defense (which had held the likes of Adrian Peterson and Eddie Lacy down) and is poised to have another great day against the Oakland Raiders.
Murray is a really nice start this week, a low-end No. 1 running back who most people will have the luxury of using as a No. 2.
As with Calvin Johnson, we should never need to tell you to have Bryant in your lineup.
If for some reason you need convincing, we expect him to be one of the top two fantasy receivers in terms of production this week.
Terrance Williams: Marginal Start
As Williams lost some snaps to Miles Austin, his situation is a bit more tenuous than we'd like. That bumps him down from a solid No. 3 to a low-end No. 3 or a No. 4.
He's got upside—Austin did squat last week so Williams might see his snaps and targets creep back up.
But you have to be careful with terms like "upside" and "potential" because both can trick you and not pay off.
So don't go overboard with Williams, but if you have the flex spot or a deep-receiver starting slot, you can plug him in.
Miles Austin: Bench
Austin struggled to break free of coverage and do much of anything when he did. It looked a bit like he may still be dealing with his hamstring issues, but whatever the reason, Austin isn't doing much to integrate himself into the Cowboys offense.
There are too many other, more reliable weapons to risk him in your lineup.
Jason Witten: Must-Start
As is often the case with Jason Witten, his production has been a bit baffling.
That said, against a bad Oakland defense, and with both Terrance Williams and Miles Austin failing to produce reliably, Romo will go to Witten when Dez Bryant is covered.
You can't expect much out of Witten in the red zone, but unless the name is Gronkowski or Graham, few tight ends are all that reliable in the end zone.
So with precious few exceptions, Witten should be in your lineup each week in a tight end-required league.
Thanksgiving: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers fans were walking out on ledges a few weeks ago, and fantasy owners weren't all that much better off.
Three straight wins (and five of seven) later, and everyone is looking at the Steelers a little differently.
Ben Roethlisberger: Fair Start
While his numbers weren't spectacular last week, Roethlisberger overcame some terrible conditions to put up some decent numbers. In Week 11, Roethlisberger torched the Detroit Lions to the tune of 367-yards and four touchdowns.
On the other hand, we're not that far removed from five interceptions in three games (Weeks 8 through 10), so we have to keep in mind Roethlisberger has been prone to struggling this year.
The Baltimore Ravens are a tough matchup right now, and they tend to have the Steelers' quarterback's number—last time out, they held him to 160 yards and one touchdown.
If you have some other bad matchups, Roethlisberger will probably not kill you, but he's not a great start this week.
Le'Veon Bell: Fair Start
As is the case with a lot of the Steelers offense, Bell can be a bit hit-and-miss. That said, he has been able to put together some OK combined-yardage totals.
In his last three games, he has totaled 98 yards (Week 12), 88 yards (Week 11) and 96 yards (Week 10) in combined yards. Of course, he's only scored one touchdown in that time (four total for the season) which limits his value a little.
He should have some success on the ground against the Baltimore Ravens, though not a tremendous amount.
You can start him as a low-end No. 2 running back or, more safely, a No. 3/flex.
Antonio Brown: Must-Start
Brown has quietly become one of the better starts in fantasy football. Two out of the last three weeks have seen Brown top 100 yards and, in that span, he has scored three touchdowns as well.
He's also seen double-digit targets over that time and has been the most frequently targeted Steeler by far with 116 targets over the course of the season. The next-closest Steelers receiver is Emmanuel Sanders with 82.
While the Ravens defense can be tough, but they aren't unstoppable. They've allowed 17 touchdowns to date, and while they've been improved since their Week 8 bye, they've allowed at least one touchdown to every team they've played, save the New York Jets.
Brown is a borderline top-10 fantasy receiver this week and can function as anything from a solid No. 2 to a low-end No. 1.
Start him with confidence.
Emmanuel Sanders: "For the Flex of It"
Fellow Footballguys.com staff members, Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom, have a little thing they like to call the "what-the-heck flex."
I don't want to step on their copyright, so I'll call it my "For the Flex of It."
Sanders will be that guy tomorrow. A guy who should do OK but has a tremendous amount of upside. Enough to where having him in your lineup is something you should try to make happen.
At minimum, I expect him to have 40 to 50 yards, as he will find himself open when the coverage shifts over toward Brown.
I have a good feeling about Sanders this week, a real gut feeling he's going to have a touchdown in here as well.
No guarantees but if you have a flex spot and want some upside, he's your guy.
Heath Miller: Spot-Start
Heath Miller has always been a sort of "AW CRAP, MY TIGHT END IS HURT" sort of start. A guy who is fairly reliable overall but nobody you want to be starting.
This year, that seems to be especially true as he has never looked the same since he returned from injury.
While you can plug him in in an emergency, he's not going to put up great points—while he gets targets, there are never a large number of them, and they are almost never in the red zone, which means his touchdowns are infrequent at best.
If you are in a bind, throw him in because he won't likely give you anything, but he does have upside.
Thanksgiving: Baltimore Ravens
Finally we get to the Baltimore Ravens.
As a fantasy team, the Ravens have been almost as disappointing as they have been as an NFL team. The run game has been largely abysmal, the pass game has been inconsistent and the defense—a fantasy staple for years—has been pretty lackluster as well.
There are definitely some worthy starters here, though. Let's look at the Ravens' Turkey Day fantasy prospects.
Joe Flacco: Bench
(My breakdown on Flacco from Tuesday's article can be found here.)
In a nutshell, Flacco throws an interception for nearly every touchdown he throws and faces a Steelers defense which doesn't give up a ton of touchdowns and spent last week hammering Cleveland Browns quarterbacks.
He might get you some OK yards, but he might well negate them with a poorly chosen throw. If you have a better option—and I would count Alex Smith, Carson Palmer and Matt Flynn as better starts—keep Flacco on the bench.
Ray Rice: Fair Start
Don't overestimate the defense he just torched. The Chicago Bears' run defense is a mess, so we're not talking a return to the old Ray Rice.
We're talking about one good game.
This week should be an OK game. He'll face a tough-enough run defense but one which isn't infallible. You can't expect anything big from this backfield, but Rice should function as a decent low-end No. 2 running back or a solid No. 3.
Which just feels odd to type.
Torrey Smith: Fair Start
As with the rest of the offense, Smith is a guy who should be much more reliable than he has been.
Over the last month, he has either put up OK yards or a touchdown—never both. As Flacco has struggled, so has Smith.
He's a decent start as a No. 3 receiver with some upside but not enough to be confident in him as your No. 2.
Jacoby Jones: Bench
Yes, Jones had a huge game last week against a New York Jets team where corners get smoked long on a regular basis.
While the Steelers aren't exactly a lockdown secondary, they can hang with the receivers more easily than the "sad-sack" Jets.
Make sure you look over his past games before plugging him in because he hasn't come close to numbers like what he put on the Jets at all this season.
And it's unlikely he will again.
Ed Dickson: Bench
As is the case with a lot of these players, Ed Dickson's numbers are inflated due to a case of "The Jets."
In other words—the New York Jets inflated them.
Which in Dickson's case, that isn't even all that impressive. A grand total of 55 yards won't win you any spots in the Pro Bowl.
Dickson doesn't have far to drop, but he'll come back down to earth anyway. Keep him on your bench.
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