It's do-or-die time for fantasy football enthusiasts. If your fantasy playoffs don't start in Week 13, they're right around the corner. Naturally, making the right roster decisions will be as important this week as it has been all season.
With bye weeks in the rearview mirror, all 32 teams will be in action and you should have no trouble playing all of your top options. The real decisions will come at the bottom of your roster, where picking the right fringe starter could mean the difference between winning and losing.
We're here to analyze some of the top fringe starters of Week 13 and determine who make the cut and who are bench-worthy.
*All choices based on PPR scoring formats, all fantasy rankings via FantasyPros.
1. RB Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
2. RB Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
3. WR Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints
4. WR Michael Crabtree, Baltimore Ravens
5. TE Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
1. RB Kenyan Drake, Buffalo Bills
2. RB Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets
3. WR Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins
4. WR DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
5. TE Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers
Start 'Em: RB Theo Riddick vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Detroit Lions haven't lost rookie running back Kerryon Johnson for the season, thankfully, but they aren't going to have him this week against the Los Angeles Rams. Therefore, both LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick become fringe starters.
We're valuing Riddick higher than Blount because of his role as a pass-catcher. Last week against the Chicago Bears, he hauled in seven passes and had 60 combined rushing and receiving yards. With the Lions likely playing catch-up opposite a good Rams offense, he could have even more receiving opportunities this week.
Riddick is likely to be Matthew Stafford's No. 2 target with wideout Marvin Jones now out for the season.
Because of his role as a pass-catcher, we have to view his matchup as a receiver matchup—at least in part. Fortunately for Riddick owners, the Rams have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season. Expect Riddick to have a strong week.
Projection: 20 yards rushing, 8 receptions, 62 yards receiving, 1 TD
Start 'Em: WR Tre'Quan Smith at Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith has been a frustrating fantasy option this season. He's had a couple of great games, a handful of extremely disappointing ones, and he's also missed time due to injury.
Smith missed last week with a toe injury, and while he remained limited this week, he did at least return to practice.
We expect Smith to play, and we expect him to have a strong game against the Dallas Cowboys. With Michael Thomas commanding most of the defensive attention. This was the case against the Philadelphia Eagles a couple weeks ago, and Smith finished with 10 receptions, 157 yards and a touchdown.
"This week, they covered up Mike, so it was my time to shine," Smith said, via the team's official website.
Don't expect Smith to be quite as productive as he was against Philadelphia, but do expect him to have a strong outing.
Projection: 7 receptions, 95 yards receiving
Start 'Em: TE Gerald Everett at Detroit Lions
We mentioned that the Lions could be playing catch-up against the Rams. This is because of the many offensive weapons Los Angeles has, including tight end Gerald Everett.
While the Rams don't use their tight ends in the passing game the way some teams do, both Everett and Tyler Higbee have emerged over the last few weeks. This is largely because of the season-ending injury suffered by wideout Cooper Kupp, which has left quarterback Jared Goff looking for other targets in the passing game.
Everett has been a quality low-end TE and FLEX option over the last three weeks. He had three catches and 48 yards in Week 9, 15 yards and a touchdown in Week 10 and 49 yards with two touchdowns in his last game against the Kansas City Chiefs. His upside is touchdown dependent, but his Week 13 floor should be in the 8-10 point range.
Detroit represents a fair matchup, ranking 16th in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends.
Projection: 3 receptions, 51 yards receiving, 1 TD