Analysis Paralysis: Week 13 Start & Sit
With only one week to go before the fantasy playoffs start (in most leagues), it's time to throw the name brands out the window. Don't believe me? Let's play a quick game before we get into this week's Start & Sit.
Who would you have rather been starting over the past two weeks:
Player A: 478 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, zero turnovers
Player B: 473 passing yards, three touchdowns, two turnovers
(Player A is Mike Glennon and Player B is Peyton Manning)
Again, who would you have rather been starting over the past two weeks:
Player A: 105 total yards, two touchdowns
Player B: 145 total yards, zero touchdowns
(Player A is Rashard Mendenhall and Player B is Alfred Morris)
I'm obviously cherry-picking stats (and I'm not advocating starting Mike Glennon over Peyton Manning), but I hope this helps to illustrate my point that matchups are just as important (if not moreso) than name-brand fantasy players at this point. It's time to throw the "well, I drafted him in the second round so I should probably start him" type of thinking out the window and make the decisions that make the most sense -- even if that means starting Rashard Mendenhall over Alfred Morris.
Josh McCown: He may not have the endless memes that Jay Cutler does, but Josh McCown has stepped in for the injured Bears QB and hasn't missed a beat. McCown has averaged over 16 fantasy points per game in his three starts this season and gets to play a Vikings defense that has allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season (well, tied with Atlanta, at least). I have McCown as a Top 10 quarterback this week and hey, Jake Ciely almost does too!
Carson Palmer: I've been going to the Carson Palmer well for weeks now, and I'll keep going to it until it runs dry. The much-maligned former Bengals/Raiders QB has been averaging 19 fantasy points over his last three starts and has a fantastic matchup against an Eagles defense that has coincidentally allowed 18 fantasy points over the last three weeks. What do you think the odds are that Palmer and the Eagles meet somewhere in the middle and compromise on 18.5 fantasy points this week?
Bilal Powell: I'll preface this and say that if Chris Ivory plays this week, all bets are off. However, Ivory has both a high and low ankle sprain and is a huge question mark going into the Jets AFC East showdown against the Dolphins. While Powell hasn't topped double-digit fantasy points since Week 4, he'll likely get a ton of carries if Ivory is out since the Jets would be insane to put any faith in Geno Smith's shaky decision-making. The Dolphins have given up almost 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in the past five weeks and make for a juicy matchup for Powell if Ivory is out.
Donald Brown: Brown has only had 18 carries in the Colts last three games, but Trent Richardson has only had 20 carries during that span (and has done a lot less with those carries). While I don't feel great about Brown as he comes off a two-carry, one-yard effort in a loss to the Cardinals, he should also get more carries that Richardson against a Titans defense that has given up two rushing touchdowns in five of their past six games.
Shane Vereen: With Stevan Ridley (more on him below) and LeGarrette Blount flashing their hands of stone last week, Vereen should be in for a heavy workload against the Titans this week. I like him more in PPR leagues, but Vereen should get enough combined carries and receptions to finish as a Top 20 running back in all formats this week.
Michael Floyd: 17 targets, 13 receptions, 297 yards, one touchdown. Those are Floyd's number over the past two weeks (which have vaulted him all the way up to WR22 in standard leagues), and he'll have a very good opportunity to improve upon those totals against an Eagles pass defense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (including 21.3 over the past three weeks).
Dwayne Bowe: Remember what I said about the Carson Palmer well? I like the Dwayne Bowe well too. After basically being the equivalent of fantasy death for the first half of the season, Bowe has a receiving touchdown in back-to-back games and gets to play the same Denver defense against whom he caught four balls for 57 yards and a touchdown just two weeks ago.
Justin Hunter: It's tough to put a lot of faith in the rookie just yet, but he's coming off a six-catch, 109-yard, one-touchdown performace (easily his best game of the season) and gets to face a Colts defense that has been horrendous against the pass this year and especially lately. While he is likely to play, Kendall Wright is a little banged up right now, which may lead to Hunter playing a larger role this week and being worth a flex start if you're getting desperate.
Martellus Bennett: I trash on the Cardinals inability to defend tight ends every week, but the Eagles (their oppoent this week) don't have any tight ends I feel good about recommending, so I'll spare the poor Cards this week. But you know who else is pretty bad at defending tight ends? Yup, the Vikings. They've given up nine touchdowns to tight ends this year (second-worst in the league) and should make for a great matchup for Bennett (who is coming off his best game in 10 weeks).
Charles Clay: Clay has fallen off a bit after his hot start to the season, but he's still getting consistent targets (almost eight per game over his last three contests) and has a great matchup against a Jets defense that has been the seventh-worst against opposing fantasy tight ends this season.
Miami Dolphins D/ST: I alluded to Geno Smith's poor decision-making earlier in this article and that comes into play again with this pick. Smith has thrown five picks in his last two games and has led the Jets offense to giving up an average of 18 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses. Feel good about starting the fish this week.
Cleveland Browns D/ST: I'm sure you're all getting sick of this strategy, but it keeps working. Guess who the Browns are playing this week (hint: they play their home games in Jacksonville).
6-Pack of Sorrow
(Six players you should think about benching if you have better options)
Matt Ryan: I feel like I have him in this spot a lot, but Matty Ice has been more like Matty Melting Popsicle over the last five weeks with a high score of 14 fantasy points. I can't really blame him, as he's basically had Harry Douglas as his best receiver all year. But you don't get fantasy points for bad luck, and the Bills have been surprisingly good against quarterbacks over the past three weeks with a total of 16 fantasy points allowed during that span.
Andrew Luck: I don't like sitting good quarterbacks anymore than the next guy, but Luck has a tough matchup this week against a Titans defense that has only allowed two passing touchdowns in its past seven games. It's very possible that Luck will be able to find the endzone with his legs this week, but I'd rather play it safe and sit him.
Stevan Ridley: Ridley fumbled for the third-straight game last week and we all know how Bill Belichick feels about fumbling (if you don't, here's a hint: Ridley didn't see the field after his fumble). We are talking about Belichick, so it's always possible Ridley puts up a three touchdown game but the safe play is finding Mr. Ridley a seat on your fantasy bench this week.
Hakeem Nicks: Can anyone tell me why we keep starting Hakeem Nicks? I know the three answers are, A. his name, B. his high draft position, and C. the fact that no one wants to bench him and miss out on the third good game he has all season, but he's also WR55 right now. In my mind, Nicks is the third-best fantasy receiving option on the Giants and deserves to be on your bench this week.
Tony Gonzalez: Besides the fact that Gonzalez is questionable for this week, he's been pretty bad lately in averaging under five fantasy points per game over his last three. The Bills have been even more stingy over that span in allowing just 3.7 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, so I'd rather find another option at tight end this week.
New Orleans Saints D/ST: The Saints defense has been surprisingly good (hey, Rob Ryan), but they come up against a Seahawks offense who is allowing a "whopping" 3.4 fantasy points to opposing defenses at home this season. There are better options for your D/ST spot than the Saints this week.
That's it for this week, but leave any start/sit questions you have in the comments section below and I'll make sure to get back to you before Sunday. Good luck!