Week 12 was defined by Bill Belichick “taking the wind,” the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings “kissing their sister” and the San Diego Chargers shockingly winning late against the Kansas City Chiefs.
For fantasy owners, Week 12 was all about Josh Gordon and Knowshon Moreno exceeding 200 yards receiving and rushing, respectively, a Philip Rivers blitzkrieg against a normally sound Kansas City defense and Jimmy Graham continuing to be one of the NFL‘s most dangerous weapons.
So what can we look forward to in Week 13? Who will be the top performers in fantasy leagues?
Let’s find out.
Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via ESPN.
|1||Matt Stafford||Detroit Lions||Green Bay Packers||26|
|2||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||Oakland Raiders||25|
|3||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||22|
|4||Robert Griffin III||Washington||New York Giants||20|
|5||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||Houston Texans||19|
Breaking Down Matt Stafford
With few surprises in the top five—well, unless you think Peyton Manning against the Chiefs and Drew Brees against the Seattle Seahawks, both on the road, should be top-five quarterbacks—we’ll focus on the man who I think will lead all quarterbacks this week, Matt Stafford.
The Detroit Lions’ gunslinger hasn’t scored less than 14 fantasy points this season, a remarkable stretch of consistency, and he faces a Green Bay Packers defense that has given up 19 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks five times.
Worse, you just know they don’t have an answer for Calvin Johnson. And while Stafford was held to his season-low 14-point performance against the Packers in Week 14, that was at Lambeau Field. In Detroit, Stafford is averaging 20.4 fantasy points per game.
|1||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Chicago Bears||24|
|2||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||Minnesota Vikings||22|
|3||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers||St. Louis Rams||20|
|4||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||Detroit Lions||19|
|5||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||New Orleans Saints||17|
Breaking Down Eddie Lacy
Again, there aren’t many surprises in the top five at running back, so we’ll take a closer look at Eddie Lacy, the rookie who has made himself an elite option for fantasy owners.
Since Green Bay’s Week 4 bye, Lacy’s scored eight or more points in every week, reaching double-digit production six times. Even with Aaron Rodgers out and teams able to focus more intently on the running game, he’s produced 60 points over the past four weeks.
And he’ll likely be without Rodgers on Thanksgiving, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Packers HC Mike McCarthy said slim to none chance Aaron Rodgers plays Thanksgiving vs. Detroit.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 25, 2013
Now, he faces a Detroit Lions team that allowed him to rush for 99 yards on 23 carries in Week 5. With the Packers needing a healthy running game to keep pace with a dangerous Detroit offense, expect Lacy to carry the load and rack up fantasy points in the process.
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Green Bay Packers||23|
|2||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||Jacksonville Jaguars||20|
|3||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||San Diego Chargers||19|
|4||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||Minnesota Vikings||18|
|5||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||Oakland Raiders||16|
Breaking Down Josh Gordon
Likely the only thing I really need to write here is that Gordon faces the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team 18th in passing yards allowed per game and one that has allowed 20 or more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers seven times this season.
I suppose I could also mention that Gordon is coming off of a huge performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, finishing with 14 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown off of 17 targets. Or that he’s now scored double-digit fantasy points in consecutive weeks and six times this season.
And hey, if you still aren’t convinced, I could throw it out there that he’s just one of two compelling offensive weapons the Browns have—Jordan Cameron is pretty darn good, too—and getting him the ball will remain a priority.
It all adds up to one of fantasy’s elite wide receivers. If you were savvy enough to draft him this season, enjoy the ride.
|1||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||Houston Texans||20|
|2||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||Seattle Seahawks||17|
|3||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||Oakland Raiders||15|
|4||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||St. Louis Rams||14|
|5||Julius Thomas*||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||12|
*If he plays
Breaking Down Jason Witten
Surprisingly, the normally consistent tight end has been a bit hot and cold this year. In Week 1, he went off for 19 points. The next three weeks combined he scored just 11.
In Week 5 he exploded again for 18 points. The next three weeks, he had seven.
In Week 9 he had 16 points. In Week 10 he had just two, then went on a bye before blowing up to the tune of 15 points last week. So shouldn’t the trends suggest he’ll be a flop again next week?
Well, yes, but a matchup against the Oakland Raiders says otherwise, as they’ve given up seven or more fantasy points to opposing tight ends six times this season and have allowed 17 or more points to tight ends in two of the past three weeks.
Tony Romo will almost assuredly pick on the 25th-ranked pass defense, which should mean plenty of targets and yards for his trusty tight end on Thanksgiving.
|1||Carolina Panthers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||20|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||St. Louis Rams||16|
|3||Miami Dolphins||New York Jets||15|
|4||Dallas Cowboys||Oakland Raiders||14|
|5||New England Patriots||Houston Texans||13|
Breaking Down the Miami Dolphins
If the New York Jets were smart, they would focus heavily on the running game this week. They have the league’s 31st-ranked pass offense, and rookie quarterback Geno Smith has thrown 18 interceptions.
Meanwhile, they face a Miami Dolphins team that is ranked 14th in pass defense and 11th in sacks with 32. The Dolphins generate excellent pressure from the defensive line and should be able to force Smith into mistakes when he is facing obvious passing downs.
The Jets have been very good to opposing defenses, giving up double-digit points seven times this season. If Miami is available in your league and you don’t like your primary defense’s matchup, snag the Dolphins this week.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||New England Patriots||Houston Texans||15|
|2||Dan Bailey||Dallas Cowboys||Oakland Raiders||14|
|3||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||12|
|4||Mason Crosby||Green Bay Packers||Detroit Lions||12|
|5||Adam Vinatieri||Indianapolis Colts||Tennessee Titans||12|
Breaking Down Matt Prater
While Prater’s early-season dominance among NFL kickers has slowed considerably, he’s still managed seven or more fantasy points nine times this season, a pretty impressive level of consistency.
Sure, you might be worried about a matchup with the Chiefs, but push those concerns to the side—Prater scored 10 points against them in Week 11. As a kicker for the Denver Broncos and their excellent offense, he’s essentially matchup proof.
Keep rolling him out with confidence.
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