Fantasy Football Week 13: Advanced Stats, Trends to Maximize Your Lineup

Tyler Loechner@LoechnerNFLFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2015

Fantasy Football Week 13: Advanced Stats, Trends to Maximize Your Lineup

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    Cam Newton
    Cam NewtonMichael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Week 13 of the fantasy football season—the final week of the “regular season” in fantasyland—is upon us. This article will look at some of the advanced stats, metrics and trends you can use to maximize your lineup potential and earn a playoff spot.

    Player projections for the week’s top five options at each position will also be provided in this article.

    At quarterback, two of the league’s top options are facing off against two of the league’s worst defenses. If you need a win to make the playoffs and own either Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton or New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady this week, you’re sitting pretty before the games even begin.

    At running back, there’s no removing Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson from the top of the rankings. Not even a tough Week 13 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks can displace him.

    We also have one New York Jets wide receiver (Brandon Marshall) ranked in the top five this week, and some metrics on his teammate (Eric Decker) that may surprise you.

    Let’s get to some of the stats, metrics and player projections that will help you dominate in Week 13.

Quarterbacks: Andy Dalton Back in the Top 5

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    Andy Dalton
    Andy DaltonGary Landers/Associated Press

    Two of the front-runners for MVP this season—Cam Newton and Tom Brady—have dreamy fantasy matchups in Week 13. Their fantasy owners should be able to snooze their way into the playoffs with their help this week.

    Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton also finds himself back in the top five after having some down games in recent weeks. Find out below why you can trust him in Week 13.

    Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers was ranked No. 4, but he played on Thursday Night Football and was excluded from the list.

    The Projections

    1. Cam Newton (at NO): 22-of-30, 304 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 44 rushing yards—28.6 fantasy points
    2. Tom Brady (vs. PHI): 30-of-42, 316 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions—24.6 fantasy points
    3. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. IND): 27-of-39, 302 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception—22.1 fantasy points
    4. Carson Palmer (at STL): 21-of-29, 298 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception—21.9 fantasy points
    5. Andy Dalton (at CLE): 25-of-38, 292 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions—19.7 fantasy points

    Stats to Know

    Dalton will play against the Cleveland Browns in Week 13, a team that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this season, according to ESPN.com. Dalton is a lock as a QB1 this week.

    If Newton could be ranked higher, he would be. He will play against the New Orleans Saints, who have given up a whopping 30 passing touchdowns this season. No other team in the league has given up more than 25.

    The team that has given up 25 passing touchdowns this year (second-most in the league) is the Philadelphia Eagles, who will visit Brady and the Patriots this week. That’s why Brady ranks so high despite the fact his best weapons will be sidelined in Week 13. The Eagles have given up five touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks and 15 total touchdown throws in the past four weeks.

    What the Metrics Say

    Dalton hasn’t been as great in recent weeks as he was to start the season, but dropped passes may be part of the reason. He has suffered a dropped pass once every 12 throws over the past three weeks, according to data collected by Pro Football Focus. From Weeks 1-9, Dalton suffered a drop only once every 29 passes.

    However, the top two quarterbacks on the list this week—Newton and Brady—have been hit the hardest by dropped passes, with Newton losing 316 yards in air (excludes yards after catch) and Brady losing 303 on drops this season. With Newton lacking big-name wideouts and Brady’s pass-catchers dropping like flies, this isn’t all that surprising.

    Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings is under pressure on 48.1 percent of his dropbacks—tops in the league—but this isn’t entirely his offensive line’s fault. Bridgewater takes an average of 3.02 seconds to throw the ball (from the snap), giving him the second-slowest snap-to-throw count in the league. In other words, his offensive line is being asked to block a little bit longer than nearly every other team’s offensive line.

Running Backs: LeSean McCoy Rises into the Top 5

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    LeSean McCoy
    LeSean McCoyEd Zurga/Associated Press

    As previously noted, Adrian Peterson is the No. 1 running back this week despite facing the Seattle Seahawks, who have excelled against the run all year long.

    Behind him is DeAngelo Williams, who has displayed his high floor and ability to score points both on the ground and through the air in recent weeks. At No. 3 is Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who will return from injury this week to immediately help fantasy owners.

    The Projections

    1. Adrian Peterson (vs. SEA): 21 carries, 142 yards, 2 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 21 yards—28.3 fantasy points
    2. DeAngelo Williams (vs. IND): 23 carries, 94 yards, 1 touchdown; 6 receptions, 72 yards—22.6 fantasy points
    3. Devonta Freeman (at TB): 20 carries, 118 yards, 1 touchdown; 5 receptions, 48 yards—22.6 fantasy points
    4. Jonathan Stewart (at NO): 22 carries, 102 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 receptions, 25 yards—18.7 fantasy points
    5. LeSean McCoy (vs. HOU): 16 carries, 92 yards 1 touchdown; 4 receptions, 34 yards—18.6 fantasy points

    Stats to Know

    Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy has 14-plus fantasy points in four straight games and appears back to his normal ways. He also has at least 15-plus carries in six straight games. He is a strong RB1.

    Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson had by far his best game of the season in Week 12, and he could be set for a strong encore in Week 13 against the San Diego Chargers, who have given up the most fantasy points to running backs so far this season, according to ESPN.com. He can be used as a flex player.

    Peterson tops the list, but his matchup against Seattle is not the best. The Seahawks have given up the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs so far this season while allowing only four rushing scores. However, two of those four scores have come in the past three weeks—perhaps indicating a crack in the armor.

    What the Metrics Say

    According to Pro Football Focus, Arizona Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson has scored the fifth-most fantasy points per opportunity this season, with an opportunity defined as a carry or pass route run. Start him with confidence this week as an RB2.

    Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls is succeeding in part because of how elusive he has been. Among qualifying running backs, he ranks second behind Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin in terms of “elusive rating”—a PFF measurement that takes into account a runner’s ability to avoid tackles. Rawls has avoided 25 tackles on 128 touches.

    Speaking of Martin, he has been an excellent home run threat this season. He has gained an impressive 47.9 percent of his yards on runs that were 15-plus yards long. He has 15 such runs—most in the league.

Wide Receivers: New England Wideouts in for Strong Games in Week 13

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    Danny Amendola
    Danny AmendolaSteven Senne/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots will be without star tight end Rob Gronkowski in Week 13, but wideout Danny Amendola could return to the field, according to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride. Amendola, along with teammate Brandon LaFell, could be in for an increased workload and a big fantasy day in Week 13 against the porous Philadelphia Eagles secondary.

    Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson ranked No. 5, but he played on Thursday Night Football and was excluded from the list.

    The Projections

    1. Antonio Brown (vs. IND): 9 receptions, 122 yards, 1 touchdown—18.2 fantasy points
    2. Julio Jones (at TB): 9 receptions, 118 yards, 1 touchdown—17.8 fantasy points
    3. Odell Beckham Jr. (vs. NYJ): 8 receptions, 111 yards, 1 touchdown—17.1 fantasy points
    4. DeAndre Hopkins (at BUF): 10 receptions, 108 yards, 1 touchdown—16.8 fantasy points
    5. Brandon Marshall (at NYG): 7 receptions, 92 yards, 1 touchdown—15.2 fantasy points

    Stats to Know

    The Philadelphia Eagles have given up the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts so far this season, according to ESPN.com. That’s good news for the New England Patriots wide receivers, including Amendola (if he plays) and LaFell, especially because they will be asked to do more with Rob Gronkowski out. The Eagles have given up the most touchdowns to wideouts so far this season as well. Don’t be surprised if both Amendola and LaFell manage to score.

    It could be a tough week for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. They will play against the Atlanta Falcons, who have given up only three touchdowns to opposing wideouts all season. Wideouts also only have 115 receptions against the Falcons this season—third-fewest in the league.

    Will a Carolina Panthers wide receiver catch a touchdown this week? The New Orleans Saints—the Panthers’ Week 13 opponent—have given up a receiving touchdown to a wideout in every game this season except for one. The one game they didn’t cede a touchdown to a wide receiver? Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers.

    What the Metrics Say

    According to Pro Football Focus, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant leads all of his peers with 0.33 fantasy points per snap. The next closest wideout has scored 0.26 points per snap.

    We give Tampa Bay’s Evans a hard time for drops—and he does lead all wideouts with 12 on the season—but close behind him is rookie standout Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders (11 drops). Cooper is a strong WR2, but if he can fix his drop issues, he could rise to tail-end WR1 status.

    We don’t tend to think of him this way, but New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker is mostly a slot receiver. He has run about two-thirds (65.9 percent) of his pass routes this season from the slot and has scored half of his touchdowns from there.

Tight Ends: Travis Kelce Set to Dominate in Week 13

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    Alex Smith and Travis Kelce
    Alex Smith and Travis KelceAssociated Press

    Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was quiet in the middle of the season, but he has been picking it up recently and should be in starting lineups in Week 13 given his matchup against the Oakland Raiders.

    We’ve also seen Gary Barnidge become even more important to the Cleveland Browns—and we dug up the metrics to prove it.

    The Projections

    1. Greg Olsen (at NO): 6 receptions, 90 yards, 1 touchdown—15 fantasy points
    2. Travis Kelce (at OAK): 6 receptions, 88 yards, 1 touchdown—14.8 fantasy points
    3. Delanie Walker (vs. JAC): 7 receptions, 87 yards, 1 touchdown—14.7 fantasy points
    4. Gary Barnidge (vs. CIN): 5 receptions, 82 yards, 1 touchdown—14.2 fantasy points
    5. Jordan Reed (vs. DAL): 7 receptions, 78 yards, 1 touchdown—13.8 fantasy points

    Stats to Know

    Kelce is the sixth-highest-scoring tight end in the league this season, according to ESPN.com, and he has a touchdown in two of his past four outings. Up next for him are the Oakland Raiders, who have given up the most touchdowns to tight ends this season (11) en route to giving up the second-most fantasy points to the position.

    The only reason Kelce isn’t ranked No. 1 is because Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen—the fourth-highest-scoring tight end on the season—has an even better matchup. He will play against the New Orleans Saints, who have given up the most fantasy points to the position so far this season. Tight ends have scored six touchdowns against them over the past three weeks alone.

    You should shy away from Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten this week. Not only will he be without quarterback Tony Romo (again), but he has a tough matchup against Washington. The Redskins have given up only two touchdowns to tight ends all season long, and Witten hasn’t scored since Week 1.

    What the Metrics Say 

    Look for New England Patriots tight end Scott Chandler to be targeted down the field in Week 13. A full 21.2 percent of his targets this season have come on throws 20-plus yards down the field, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s tops in the league among tight ends, albeit on a much smaller sample size.

    Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans has established himself as a must-start fantasy option, and his efficiency is a large reason why. Walker is averaging 2.38 yards per pass route run this season, highest among all tight ends.

    Cleveland Browns breakout tight end Gary Barnidge played a season-high 95.7 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps last week and played 91.4 percent of the snaps in Week 10 (which, at the time, represented his second-highest mark of the season). This indicates Barnidge actually becoming more important to Cleveland’s offense, as he averaged about 80-85 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps from Weeks 1-9.

Kickers: Roll with Chandler Catanzaro This Week

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    Chandler Catanzaro
    Chandler CatanzaroTony Avelar/Associated Press

    Arizona Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro is a must-start fantasy option among kickers this week. He has a great matchup against the St. Louis Rams—an opponent he was able to take great advantage of earlier this season.

    The Projections

    1. Stephen Gostkowski (vs. PHI): 3/3 FGs, 3/3 XPs—12 fantasy points
    2. Graham Gano (at NO): 2/2 FGs, 4/4 XPs—10 fantasy points
    3. Cairo Santos (at OAK): 2/2 FGs, 3/3 XPs—9 fantasy points
    4. Chandler Catanzaro (at STL): 2/2 FGs, 3/3 XPs—9 fantasy points
    5. Steven Hauschka (at MIN): 2/2 FGs, 2/2 XPs—8 fantasy points

    Stats to Know

    Catanzaro ranks in the top five this week because he will play against the St. Louis Rams, who have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing kickers this season, according to ESPN.com. And last time Catanzaro played the Rams, he scored 17 points after going 5-of-5. This week’s game is also in a dome.

    Kickers have missed six field goals when playing against the Baltimore Ravens this season—most in the league—and yet Baltimore still ranks last in terms of points given up to fantasy kickers.

    Kickers have only attempted 15 field goals against the Kansas City Chiefs this season—second-fewest in the league. That means it could be a slow day for Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who plays against the Chiefs this week.

Defense and Special Teams: Trust the New England D/ST in Week 13

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals boast the best D/ST in Week 13, but the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots aren’t too far behind.

    The Projections

    1. Cincinnati Bengals (at CLE): 17 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 3 sacks
    2. Arizona Cardinals (at STL): 14 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 3 sacks
    3. New England Patriots (vs. PHI): 13 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 4 sacks
    4. Denver Broncos (at SD): 20 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 sacks
    5. Carolina Panthers (at NO): 24 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 sacks

    Stats to Know

    D/STs that have played against the Philadelphia Eagles have scored the 10th-most fantasy points so far this season, according to ESPN.com. Over the past two weeks, the Eagles have given up 17 fantasy points and 11 fantasy points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions D/STs, respectively. Fire up the New England Patriots D/ST with confidence in Week 13.

    The Cincinnati Bengals are atop the rankings for good reason. They will play against the Cleveland Browns, who have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing D/STs this season. Over the past six games, D/STs have scored an average of just over 14 points per game when playing Cleveland.

    The St. Louis Rams D/ST has been the sixth-highest scoring unit this season, according to ESPN.com, but it has the unenviable task of playing against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13. Only the Patriots have given up fewer fantasy points to opposing D/STs than Arizona this season. However, it should be noted that when the Rams played the Cardinals earlier this season, their D/ST put up a respectable seven points. 

    The rankings for each position come via the expert consensus rankings compiled by FantasyPros.

    Unless otherwise noted, all stats in the “Stats to Know” sections throughout the slideshow come via ESPN.com or via NFL.com.

    Unless otherwise noted, all stats in the “Metrics to Know” sections throughout the slideshow come via Pro Football Focus.

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