by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With the Thursday games behind us we are left to pick up the pieces and start setting our lineup for the rest of the week. Who should we be trusting? Who should we be avoiding? Let’s take a look:
Start – Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Tennessee
Over the past four weeks the Titans are allowing the fourth most points per game to opposing quarterbacks, including the most yards (1,176). Allen Hurns is unlikely to play and Bortles struggled just a few weeks ago against Tennessee (242 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), which could cause some to be skeptical. That said Bortles is still going to have Allen Robinson, his rapport with Julius Thomas is improving (9 completions, 116 yards, 1 TD in Week 12) and the Titans have done a good job of stopping the run. With the way Bortles has played overall this season he’s well worth utilizing.
Sit – Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills – vs. Houston
While the Texans’ defense has disappointed this season, over the past few weeks they are playing as we had expected. The 641 passing yards are third fewest over the past four weeks, while they’ve allowed 1 TD vs. 4 INT and are yielding the fewest points per game to QB over this span. Will the Bills go with a more run heavy approach? It’s possible, which would make Taylor’s value dependent on being able to find the end zone with his legs. He hasn’t done that since October 11, and since returning in November he hasn’t broken a run of more than 15 yards (25 carries for 103 yards).
Start – C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos – at San Diego
Over the past two weeks he’s suddenly rediscovered the form that helped to make him a first round pick entering the season:
- Week 11 – 12 carries for 59 yards
- Week 12 – 15 carries for 113 yards and 2 TD
Ronnie Hillman isn’t going to disappear, but there should be more than enough opportunities to go around against a Chargers’ defense that’s allowing the most points per week to opposing RB. Instead of leaning on Brock Osweiler, look for the RB to run rampant once again. In fact, while Anderson is the preferred option Hillman is also a viable play in all formats.
Start – Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens – at Miami
Allen played fairly well in his first start, producing 84 yards and 1 TD on 16 touches. Terrance West did get a few more carries than anyone expected (7 vs. 12 carries for Allen), but there’s no reason to be concerned. Allen is going to be the lead back and has an extremely favorable matchup against a Dolphins defense that has been susceptible to the run all year long.
Sit – Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Pittsburgh
The matchup alone would make us skeptical, but Gore’s age and previous workload could be becoming a factor as the season wears on. It’s been five games since he’s broken a run of more than 17 yards and he’s failed to average more than 3.2 yards per carry over four November games. In fact he’s been trending in the wrong direction:
- November 2 – 3.2 YPC
- November 8 – 3.0 YPC
- November 22 – 2.4 YPC
- November 29 – 1.3 YPC
Over the past two weeks his longest run is 9 yards and it’s not like it’s been against devastating defenses (Atlanta & Tampa Bay). At this point there’s simply far too much risk compared to the potential reward. On the flipside, his struggles make the wide receiving corps (most notably Donte Moncrief) potential plays in all formats.
Sit – Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders – vs. Kansas City
Don’t get us wrong, depending on your alternatives there is more than enough talent and upside to keep Murray in your lineup (especially as a FLEX). That said he’s struggled over the past two weeks (35 carries for 87 yards and 1 TD) and faces a Chiefs’ defense that has been among the best at stopping opposing running backs each week (though the absence of Justin Houston could help Murray’s cause) while they’ve consistently been exposed by the pass.
Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Washington
We saw what an elite wide receiver can do against the Redskins last week, thanks to Odell Beckham Jr. Granted the Cowboys passing attack is hard to depend on right now, with Tony Romo out again, and we also have to wonder if Bryant is healthy (11 receptions on 29 targets over the past three weeks). That said the matchup is way too appealing and the upside is way too high to ignore, even in shallower formats. Just know the risk going in.
Sit – Brandin Cooks – New Orleans Saints – vs. Carolina
We all know the upside that he’s shown in recent weeks, but like the entire New Orleans passing game he struggled this past week against the Texans (5 receptions for 35 yards) and he could have a date with Josh Norman. The latter is the biggest issue, especially in shallower formats.
Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Anquan Boldin – San Francisco 49ers – at Chicago
In the two games since returning from injury Boldin has produced 93 receiving yards in each game, with 13 receptions on 18 targets. In deeper formats that’s more than enough, especially since the team needs to throw the ball to someone. Is he a high level option? That’s impossible, especially with Blaine Gabbert at QB, but there’s enough upside to utilize him depending on your alternatives.
Sit – Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Seattle
While the Steelers threw against the Seahawks this past week, remember it wasn’t Antonio Brown (6 receptions for 51 yards) who did the damage. Diggs is considered Minnesota’s best wide receiver and he is going to get the big name corner backs covering him. Diggs has also slowed down his production, having failed to find the end zone over the past four games and topping 46 yards just once in that span (66).
Start – Scott Chandler – New England Patriots – vs. Philadelphia
Chandler should assume lead tight end duties with Rob Gronkowski out and that’s going to yield opportunities, regardless of if Danny Amendola returns or not. Coming off a game where he was targeted 11 times and the Patriots inability to run the football, look for Chandler to get ample opportunities to produce.
Sit – Vernon Davis – Denver Broncos – at San Diego
There was hope that Davis had become a significant part of the offense, but he was targeted just twice this past week against the Patriots while Owen Daniels turned 6 targets into 5 receptions and 48 yards. This is a time share, but it’s also easy to imagine Denver going run heavy (as mentioned earlier).
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings: