With the Thanksgiving games in the books, we turn the page toward the rest of the Week 13 contests. This week has several marquee matchups that will affect the playoff race.
The same can be said for the fantasy season as teams continue to jockey for playoff positioning. Here are some players you’re gonna want in your lineup this week and a few to avoid.
Start ‘Em: Cam Newton, Panthers
Newton is a must-start this week against the Buccaneers. Newton didn’t have his best game against the Dolphins but is still the engine that drives the Panthers. Newton is arguably the biggest dual-threat quarterback in the league and is facing a Tampa Bay defense ranked 20th against the pass.
The Bucs have allowed 22 passing touchdowns this season, tied for third-worst in the league. During Carolina’s seven-game winning streak, Newton has thrown 11 touchdown passes and rushed for another four. He has completed no less than 50 percent of his passes during that streak and there is a reason Tampa started the season 0-8. Newton is a must-start this week.
Sit ‘Em: Geno Smith, Jets
Geno Smith really has been a pile of hot garbage for the most part. If Jets win it’ll be because they switched QBs before it was too late.
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) November 29, 2013
Smith may be the your worst option in the league this week. Over the last six games, Smith has fumbled the ball five times and thrown 10 interceptions to just one touchdown.
The Dolphins have been solid against the pass with 14 interceptions and 33 sacks. The Jets will almost certainly take the conservative approach against Miami this week as Smith continues to struggle. Avoid Smith at all cost.
Start ‘Em: Fred Jackson, Bills
32-year-old Fred Jackson making nasty cuts in the open field. Man, he’s good.
— Buffalo Rumblings (@BuffRumblings) November 3, 2013
Buffalo is coming off a bye this week and is hosting the awful Atlanta Falcons. The extra week should have helped Jackson heal from some lingering injuries. Jackson has six touchdowns on the season and has not lost a fumble.
Sure he will lose some carries to C.J. Spiller, but against the 29th-ranked rushing defense in the league, there should be plenty of yardage to go around. No need to hesitate giving Jackson the green light this week.
Sit ‘Em: Bobby Rainey, Buccaneers
Tampa Bay travels to Carolina this week, where the Panthers have allowed just one rushing touchdown at home (three total). Rainey was hot off the wire following his big Monday Night Football performance against Miami.
Rainey has cooled off of late and I wouldn’t expect him to get hot again against the league’s third-best run defense.
Start ‘Em: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald career vs. Eagles (5 games): 35 catches, 570 yards, 9 TD. Somewhat irrelevant for Sunday’s game, but wow.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) November 29, 2013
Carson Palmer is playing like he did in his younger years and the Eagles defend the pass about as well as I dunk a basketball. The last two games, Fitzgerald has 11 receptions and three touchdowns. The Eagles have the league’s worst pass defense and are the only team in the league allowing more than 300 yards passing per game on average.
Palmer’s resurgence, combined with a pitiful pass defense, should work out nicely not just for Fitzgerald, but for the entire group of Cardinal receivers. Fitzgerald may be the start of the week.
Sit ‘Em: Steve Smith, Panthers
Yes I know I have Newton as a must-start, but he can get his numbers without Smith putting up his. Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen have been outplaying Smith and therefore receiving more targets as of late.
Smith’s best performance this season was 69 yards with a touchdown. That was in Week 7 and he hasn’t scored since and will be facing off with Darrelle Revis this week. Leave Smith on the bench.
Start ‘Em: Greg Olsen, Panthers
Winning is winning. Fixing mistakes is always better after a win. This team is special and resilient as hell. Proud to be a part of it
— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen82) November 24, 2013
A lot of variety on the Panthers this week, huh? Olsen has scored a touchdown in four of the last five games and should be targeted more this week with the Carolina receivers dealing with a strong Tampa Bay secondary.
Tampa Bay’s secondary should control Smith and LaFell enough to see an increase in targets for Olsen. Feel free to turn Olsen loose this week.
Sit ‘Em: Scott Chandler, Bills
Buffalo welcomes the Falcons and their fourth-worst run defense to Ralph Wilson Stadium this week. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has been inconsistent when throwing the ball and has made no secret about Stevie Johnson being his favorite target.
The extra week off will help Johnson, who has been battling some injuries and will return as Manuel’s top target. Against a run defense as poor as Atlanta’s, the Bills will likely stay conservative for most of the game. Anyone involved in the Buffalo passing attack is not a strong start this week.
Start ‘Em: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins travel north to take on the New York Jets this week. With Chris Ivory battling injuries and Geno Smith putting in consistently awful performances, the Dolphins are an obvious start.
Miami has 33 sacks on the season and 18 takeaways. It’s rare that Miami is a safe bet for a fantasy start but this week the Dolphins defense is a strong choice.
Sit ‘Em: Kansas City
The Chiefs have a few injuries on defense and will be facing a Broncos team looking to recover from an epic collapse against the Patriots. The Broncos are ranked first in the league in scoring, total offense and passing offense.
Peyton Manning has 36 touchdowns on the season and is nearing 4,000 passing yards. Add in the sting from the Patriots loss and Manning will be out to prove something with the division lead on the line. Avoid the Chiefs this week.
All stats courtesy of NFL.com