The surging New England Patriots will be heavy favorites when they take on the reeling Houston Texans in Week 13.
Thankfully, fantasy football implications will add some much-needed intrigue to this matchup. While superstar talents like Tom Brady, Andre Johnson and Rob Gronkowski are sure to shine bright in Clutch City, there are several lesser-known players ready to turn in impressive performances this weekend.
Here, we’ll examine three under-the-radar fantasy performers who’ll be on display in the Patriots-Texans game that are worth inserting into your lineup for Week 13.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots, RB
Stevan Ridley‘s fumble issues have opened the door for backup running back Brandon Bolden, who has scored three touchdowns over his past four games.
Patriots RBs Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount didn’t play a snap after losing fumbles.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 25, 2013
Bolden is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season in Week 12, carrying the ball 13 times for 58 yards and a score after taking over for Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, who fumbled early on against Denver as well.
If the second-year man from Ole Miss can continue to protect the football, the Patriots are sure to keep handing him the rock. After all, he’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 6.6 yards per reception in 2013.
It might be a bit of a reach to start him at running back, but if you’re looking for a solid flex option, look no further than Bolden in Week 13.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans, TE
Texans tight end Garrett Graham has been up and down this season. But to be fair, the quarterback situation in Houston has been anything but stable.
Still, watch for Graham to make an impact against a banged-up and undermanned Patriots defense Sunday afternoon. The fourth-year pass-catcher is averaging 13 yards per reception at Reliant Stadium this year compared to just 8.2 on the road.
It looks like Jordan Reed won’t play for the Redskins on Monday night. Garrett Graham is a sleeper TE replacement this week.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) November 23, 2013
Graham had a big-time performance at home against Oakland two weeks ago in which he caught seven balls for 136 yards and a touchdown. Considering that the Raiders defense has fared better against opposing tight ends than the Patriots’ defensive unit this season, per NFL.com, it’s safe to say that Graham is a must-start in Week 13.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots, RB
As already mentioned, Ridley‘s inability to hold onto the ball has created opportunities for New England’s other backs. Plus, Shane Vereen was already a critical part of the offense before injuring his wrist in Week 1’s win over Buffalo.
But since returning from injury, the versatile back has become one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, catching at least eight passes for 60 yards in each of the Patriots’ past two games.
While Vereen hasn’t had much success on the ground since exploding for 101 yards in Week 1, he carried the ball 10 times in Week 12’s come-from-behind win over the Denver Broncos, which is encouraging for fantasy owners.
On top of all that, Houston has been gashed by opposing running backs over the past two weeks. Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew picked up 144 total yards and a touchdown on 20 touches in Week 12, and Oakland’s Rashad Jennings rushed for 150 yards and a score on just 22 careers in Week 11.
It all adds up to Vereen being a fantastic flex play this weekend.
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