The fantasy football playoffs are upon us, which means each and every roster move owners make from here on out will either doom or be a boon to all the hard work already put into their seasons. The NFL's Week 13 schedule features plenty of difficult matchups for star players, which only further complicates matters.
Fantasy owners aren't the only ones gearing up for the playoffs, either. With just four weeks left until the postseason, the NFL's playoff hunt is heating up to a boil.
With tensions running high in fantasy land and in real life, here's a look at the top players with difficult matchups you must start and sit in Week 13.
Start: QB Cam Newton vs. New Orleans Saints
The stark turnaround of the New Orleans Saints defense this year is a clear-cut reminder that coaching matters in the NFL.
The Saints were a league laughingstock last year, allowing over 7,000 yards of total offense, but this year's squad came into Week 13 with the NFL's No. 2-ranked defense and No. 3-ranked fantasy defense against quarterbacks.
New Orleans has kept opposing quarterbacks under 10 points five times this year, and this team has allowed a 20-yard scorer just once—back in Week 5 when Jay Cutler went off for 22 points.
But Cam Newton has been red-hot coming into Week 14, scoring 19 or more points in his last three games and 20-plus points in four of the team's current eight-game winning streak.
The dual-threat quarterback has been noticeably more comfortable with his reads during this stretch, and he's become more inclined to take off and run when the situation demands such an action. He will have a big game against the Saints, putting pressure on Drew Brees to do the same.
Projected Stats: 300 total yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Sit: QB Andrew Luck vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Andrew Luck comes into Week 13 as the No. 6-ranked fantasy quarterback in the NFL, but his production has plummeted since the Indianapolis Colts lost receiver Reggie Wayne for the season with an ACL injury.
He's only scored 23 points the past two games against the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans, scoring just one touchdown while throwing two interceptions.
Things don't get any easier this Sunday when the Colts head to Ohio to take on the Cincinnati Bengals, which feature the league's No. 7-ranked fantasy defense against quarterbacks.
Thanks to a ferocious front seven that is adept at pressuring quarterbacks (36 sacks) and a ball-hawking secondary (23 forced turnovers, including 13 interceptions), the Bengals have been giving opposing quarterbacks a hard time all year long.
This unit has allowed just 15 points combined the past two games, and Luck will be under heavy pressure all day long.
Projected Stats: 225 total yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Start: RB LeSean McCoy vs. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions completely shut down Eddie Lacy and the Green Bay Packers running game in Week 13, holding the team to just 38 yards on 19 carries.
Detroit's defensive line was dominant in that contest, often penetrating the line of scrimmage before Lacy even had the ball, as detailed by Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus:
"Eddie Lacy ended up with more yards after contact (18) than yards (16)."
For the season, the Lions rank No. 9 against opposing fantasy running backs, allowing 13.4 points per game, and Green Bay's offense has been languishing without Aaron Rodgers. Therefore, it wasn't shocking to see Lacy struggle to find running lanes.
But LeSean McCoy is playing with one of the league's hottest quarterbacks, and "Shady" has had himself quite a year so far.
In addition to being the No. 2-ranked running back in the league, he's a dangerous pass-catcher out of the backfield who has scored double-digit fantasy points in each of his last four games.
Projected Stats: 130 total yards with two touchdowns.
Sit: Vernon Davis vs. Seattle Seahawks
Vernon Davis has been extraordinary this season, catching 42 passes for 705 yards and 10 touchdowns, which has made him the No. 3-ranked tight end of the 2013 season.
However, he's not immune to poor showings, scoring fewer than 10 fantasy points in five games—one of which occurred in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. Davis only caught three passes for 20 yards in that contest before suffering a head injury that forced him out of the game.
It wasn't the first time the Seahawks have knocked Davis out of action, either. Kam Chancellor knocked him out in Seattle last year, too, and he's traditionally struggled against this team and its "Legion of Boom" secondary.
Earl Thomas and Chancellor are both adept at making life difficult for tight ends over the middle, and the Seahawks' athletic group of linebackers does a fine job, too. Heading into Week 13, the Seahawks featured the league's No. 8-ranked fantasy defense against tight ends, allowing just six points per game.
Projected Stats: Four catches for 60 yards and zero touchdowns.
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