Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: 5 Must-Start Fantasy Players

Matt LechnerContributor IDecember 4, 2011

Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: 5 Must-Start Fantasy Players

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    We've reached the point in the fantasy football season where a loss this weekend could mean the end to your playoff hopes.

    Many of you are facing a must-win in Week 13, which is typically the last or second-to-last week of the regular season in most leagues.

    While you're sitting there agonizing over who to start this week, here are five players who are must-starts in Week 13.

5. Oakland Raiders D/ST

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    In the past three weeks, only the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears D/STs have scored more fantasy points than the Raiders, according to standard scoring leagues.

    Since Week 10, the Raiders D/ST have scored 47 points. In the previous eight weeks, they had scored a total of 58 points.

    While much of the Raiders success has been due in large part to the ineptitude of their opponents (Week 10: Chargers, Week 11: Vikings, Week 12: Bears), they are getting better pressure on the quarterback and forcing more turnovers.

    During the recent three-game stretch, The Raiders have forced 10 turnovers and sacked opposing quarterbacks 15 times. They're also giving up just under 20 points per game during that time, which is quite a change from Weeks 1-9 when they gave up an average of 27 points per games.

    The Raiders face a Miami Dolphins team in Week 13 that has given up the fourth most sacks in the league this season. The Dolphins also rank near the bottom of the NFL in points scored. 

4. Brandon Lloyd, Wide Receiver, St. Louis Rams

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    Since arriving in St. Louis in Week 7, Lloyd has been one of the most consistent fantasy wide receivers in the league.

    In six games with the Rams, Lloyd has 31 receptions for 396 yards and four touchdowns. He also has a league-leading 71 targets in the last six games.

    Lloyd is a big part of the Rams offense and they'll need him in Week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers.

    The 'Niners boast the league's top rush defense and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. They also haven't given up a rushing touchdown through the first 11 games—the first team to do that since the 1928 Providence Steamrollers.

    Bottom line, the Rams will need to throw to keep this game close. Lloyd should benefit the most from a pass-heavy game plan. 

3. Roy Helu, Running Back, Washington Redskins

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    The rookie grew up in Week 12 and looks ready to take over as the feature back in Washington.

    Last week, Helu was the second-highest scoring fantasy running back in standard scoring leagues. He finished last Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks with 162 total yards and a touchdown, good enough for 22 fantasy points.

    The good news for fantasy owners who have Helu: his success might just be getting started. Helu currently ranks eighth in the league in receptions among running backs, and now he's in line for more carries.

    During an interview this week, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said Helu is ready to be a 25-per-game back. If that holds true, Helu may get 30 or more touches per game. That would make him an extremely valuable fantasy players, especially come playoff time.  

2. LeGarrette Blount, Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    After a midseason slump, Blount appears to have regained his swagger.

    Blount has rushed for more than 100-yards in back-to-back games and found the end zone in Week 11, his first score since Week 4. He also added 56 receiving yards in Week 12, which is a career high.

    Previous to recent success, the Tampa Bay running back hadn't scored double-digit fantasy points in six straight weeks. 

    In Week 13, Blount and the Buccaneers host the Carolina Panthers. He should find plenty of running room against the league's 29th ranked rush defense.

    And if he continues to get more receptions, his fantasy value will keep going up.  

1. Victor Cruz, Wide Receiver, New York Giants

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    Cruz has been one of the great stories from this NFL season. He has gone from a virtual unknown to Eli Manning's top target. Which is impressive when you consider all of the offensive talent on the Giants roster.

    Cruz's rise to relevance began in Week 3 when he caught three passes for 110 yard and two touchdowns. Since then, he has been brilliant.

    Since Week 3, Cruz has 53 catches for 940 yards and seven touchdowns.

    During that nine game stretch, Cruz has been remarkably consistent. He has had 80 yards receiving or more in each of those games, with the exception of a 12-yard performance in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills.

    In his past two games, Cruz has 45 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. That's the best two-game point total of any wide receiver in Week 11-12.

    Cruz and the Giants face the 31st ranked Green Bay Packers in Week 13, which should yield more success for the second-year receiver.