On paper it may seem as though the NFL made the wrong decision by allowing the 4-7 New York Giants vs. the 3-8 Washington Redskins to remain the Sunday Night Football game in Week 13, but this seemingly terrible contest will have a major impact in fantasy football terms.
Week 13 is the final week of the regular season in many fantasy leagues, which means plenty of owners will be sweating it out when it comes to whether or not they will qualify for the playoffs. Even though the Giants and Redskins have struggled this season, there are several players worth keeping an eye on in this game from a fantasy perspective.
Here are three fantasy stars that stand to put up big numbers in what could very well be an NFC East shootout on Sunday night.
Although last week's loss to the Dallas Cowboys put the Giants in a precarious position, they have clearly been a better team in recent weeks due to the play of running back Andre Brown. After missing the first eight games of the season due to a broken leg, Brown immediately provided stability at the running back position. He has racked up 308 rushing yards in three games, and he already leads the G-Men in rushing this season.
Washington's run defense hasn't been quite as egregious as its pass defense this season, but that isn't saying much. The Redskins are in the middle of the pack in terms of rushing yards allowed as they surrender over 111 yards per game, but they have also given up a league-high 15 rushing touchdowns. Because of those less-than-impressive numbers, the NFL named Brown its running back start of the week in fantasy:
It's hard to argue with that notion, considering how awful the Redskins have been defensively all season long. Also, with Giants quarterback Eli Manning struggling, head coach Tom Coughlin might rely more heavily on the running game against Washington. Brown is averaging 23 carries per game as it is, and it's unlikely that his usage will drop in this one.
Week 13 Fantasy Projection: 121 rushing yards and two touchdowns
It may be difficult for Redskins fans to identify a silver lining in the midst of such a miserable season, but the play of wide receiver Pierre Garcon has been encouraging. Even while quarterback Robert Griffin III struggles to regain his pre-knee-injury form, Garcon continues to thrive. His monster season has flown under the radar due to Washington's lack of success, but he enters Week 13 leading the NFC in receptions, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC 4 in Washington D.C.:
Garcon is clearly one of the few receivers on the team that RG3 trusts, and that gives him a very high ceiling from week to week. Garcon may only have three touchdowns and three 100-yard games to his credit this season, but he has caught less than six passes in a game just once this season, and that was a five-catch game. Even though he isn't consistently making big plays down the field, Garcon is a must-start fantasy commodity.
New York's defense has settled in as of late after a rough start to the season, but it still allows 247 passing yards per game and has given up 16 passing touchdowns. Garcon should be especially good in point-per-reception leagues this week as Griffin tries to get back on track. If Washington is going to have any success on offense this week, much of that will rest on Garcon's shoulders.
Week 13 Fantasy Projection: Eight receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns
Giants fans have grown accustomed to seeing wide receiver Victor Cruz salsa dance quite often on Sundays, but the Pro Bowler has been mired in a scoring slump. His catch and yardage totals are solid, with 60 receptions for 851 yards; however, his touchdown total is a major disappointment. Cruz has just four touchdown catches on the year, and he hasn't reeled one in since Week 4.
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Cruz's fantasy owners had to be drooling at the thought of what he might do this year after he scored three touchdowns in Week 1. Cruz has found the end zone just once since then, though, and his overall production has been inconsistent in recent weeks as well.
If there is one cure for what ails Cruz this season, though, it may be going up against the Redskins secondary.
Washington allows 286 passing yards per game, and it has given up 22 passing touchdowns to boot. Most of the blame for Washington's poor season has been directed toward Griffin, but it can be argued that the pass defense has been an even bigger issue. It's now or never for Cruz as far as his owners are concerned, and he will find a way to bust out with his best performance in weeks.
Week 13 Fantasy Projection: Seven receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown
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