Fantasy football is beginning to enter “squeaky-bum time,” former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson might say.
In most leagues, owners are only a week or two away from the beginning of the playoffs. It’s pivotal to get a win this week. You either don’t want to lose ground to the teams lower in the standings, or you’re one of those teams that still needs another win in order to get into a playoff position.
As a result, you’ll need to get whatever advantage you can find. Even this late into the season, there are likely some players sitting on the waiver wire that you could pick up. Or maybe it’s a matter of starting/sitting the right guy at the right time.
With that in mind, here are four guys with whom it’s tough to decide where their value might lie for Week 13.
Start: Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
Only once this year has Josh McCown failed to eclipse 200 yards, and that was in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions, when Jay Cutler was still under center for the Chicago Bears.
Otherwise, McCown has been downright consistent.
Against poor defenses, he’s been even better. He threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns versus the Green Bay Packers and then 352 yards, two touchdowns and an interception last week against the St. Louis Rams.
Now, McCown will be facing off against the Minnesota Vikings, who rank 28th against the pass, according to Football Outsiders.
The best thing about McCown is that he’s likely to be available in most leagues. If you’ve got a bad matchup with your starting QB or are looking to get a bit of an edge this weekend, take a risk on the veteran signal-caller.
Start: Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
The San Diego Chargers have been one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season. That’s good news for Giovani Bernard and the Cincinnati Bengals offense.
Although the rookie running back hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards yet this season, he has become a steady fantasy producer as a result of his highlight-reel runs and versatility in the passing game.
Looking at how poor that Chargers defense is, Bernard should at least give you enough points to earn a start this week as an RB2 or flex option.
As bad as Andy Dalton has been, this game could be close. That means Marvin Lewis won’t be able to kill the game off with runs up the middle by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He’ll use Bernard to change the pace and produce that one play that can break the game open.
Sit: Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bobby Rainey has been almost as big of a reason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won three in a row as Mike Glennon has. He’s run for 243 yards and three touchdowns over that span and provided a nice complement for Glennon as well as taking pressure off the rookie.
Against a tough Carolina Panthers defense, Rainey may struggle to get into a groove.
Carolina is in a position where it can try and make Glennon beat it over the top. He hasn’t thrown more than 23 times in any of Tampa’s last four games. Not coincidentally, that’s when the Bucs have turned things around.
The Panthers will likely try and shut down the run and force Glennon to make a lot of throws. That doesn’t leave a lot of chances for Rainey to get many fantasy points.
Start: Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
If you’re under the gun this week and need a wideout to give you a boost, Robert Woods is your man. It looks as if the rookie will be on the field against the Atlanta Falcons after he missed the Buffalo Bills’ previous two games.
This is the same Falcons team that’s allowing 251 yards a game through the air and letting opposing quarterbacks maintain a rating of 106.7, worst in the league.
Against such a poor secondary, E.J. Manuel should be able to spread the wealth, and if his production this season is any indicator, Woods will receive enough targets to give you a solid fantasy day.
Don’t expect anything too big, but he should be good for something in the eight-to-10 point range.