It’s never too early to take a look at the upcoming slate of NFL games in an attempt to prep for what could be a matchup with playoff implications.
Besides, it can be easy to forget to set a lineup during the busy holiday season. Putting the legwork into research to actually set the lineup can be a task as well.
We’ve got owners covered. Week 13 is on the horizon, and once again there are surefire starts and sits to make when it comes to big names. While they may be easy to scoff at upon first glance, a deeper dive will reveal the info to make the proper decisions with the following guys.
Rest easy and have a hearty meal. These decisions will make fantasy football easy for the holiday stretch.
Note: All point totals for ESPN standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats from ESPN.
Start ‘Em: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. CIN)
Philip Rivers took the fantasy throne in Week 12 as the No. 1 scorer at his position thanks to his 392 yards and three scores against Kansas City.
Yes, the Kansas City defense that ranks in the top 10 with just 12.5 points allowed to the position on average per game.
Rivers is back, legit and shows no signs of slowing. A date with Cincinnati, a team that ranks one spot above Kansas City in the same stat, is certainly a threat. That said, Rivers has scored 13 points or more in nine of 11 games this year.
Get Rivers in those lineups and rest easy.
Sit ‘Em: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. TEN)
Andrew Luck’s fantasy relevancy went the way of the dinosaur once Reggie Wayne went down.
Luck went out in Week 12 and threw for just 163 yards with a touchdown and interception against Arizona for 13 points.
While Luck scored 18 in Week 11 against this same Tennessee defense, he threw no touchdowns. It’s simply better to not play with fire here—the Titans rank in the top five against the position with just 11.9 points allowed to quarterbacks.
Had Wayne been on the field, this would be a different story. Wayne won’t be in lineups, so neither should Luck.
Start ‘Em: Andre Brown, New York Giants (@ WAS)
Andre Brown unsurprisingly scored in the top 10 in Week 12 against Dallas, which meshes well with his overall performance this year after coming off injured reserve:
Brown is a must-start option against the Redskins, a team that ranks second worst right behind Dallas in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs. Brown is in for a major day on Sunday Night Football as the lead back.
Sit ‘Em: Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (@ SEA)
Pierre Thomas enjoyed a strong Week 12 with 10 carries for 73 yards, but it’s nothing owners should get excited about.
Thomas very much remains a matchup-based play.
Case in point—in Week 10, Thomas posted 22 points against a miserable Dallas defense but followed that up with only seven points against a strong San Francisco front.
Week 13? A date with Carolina, a top-10 team against the running back position in fantasy terms. Avoid at all costs.
Start ‘Em: Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (@ NYJ)
Mike Wallace has surely created some gray hairs for fantasy owners this season.
Before Week 12, Wallace had scored more than eight fantasy points in a game twice on the year and not since Week 5.
Wallace erupted for 127 yards and a touchdown last week—good for 18 points. Even better, it came against an elite Carolina defense that ranks No. 2 overall against the position.
Now Wallace is gifted with an easy task against a New York Jets defense that gives up 24.3 points to the position on average. He’s in for another big day as a result.
Sit ‘Em: Tiquan Underwood, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ CAR)
Tiquan Underwood is no Mike Wallace.
It sounds funny, but Underwood went off in Week 12 and was a top-three scorer at the position thanks to his three catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns—bringing him to a superb 22 points.
It was the first time Underwood has scored over eight points all year. Plus, it came against a miserable Detroit secondary.
Now Underwood is tasked with going against the elite Carolina defense. Underwood is a nice stash in most leagues but certainly not a starter in Week 13.
Start ‘Em: Ladarius Green, San Diego (vs. CIN)
Ladarius Green is beginning to make Antonio Gates an afterthought in San Diego.
Green was a top-five scorer with three receptions for 80 yards and a score and now has two straight weeks of eight or more points with the coaching staff finally using him.
With the way Rivers is playing, Green should be in the lineup against Cincinnati. The Bengals traditionally struggle against the position, and Green is on fire.
Sit ‘Em: Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (@ SF)
Don’t bank on Jared Cook.
Cook went off and was also a top-five scoring option in Week 12 thanks to four catches for 80 yards and a score.
The problem? It was only the second time all season Cook surpassed nine fantasy points in a game. Now he gets San Francisco, a top-five team against the position.