by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Just hours before the start of Week 13 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:
Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – Running Back
After missing two weeks Jones appears set to return. However he returns to a different situation, as Jamaal Williams has stepped up in his absence:
- vs. Baltimore – 96 total yards
- at Pittsburgh – 135 total yards, 2 TD
Over the past three weeks, when Jones has gotten 18+ carries per game, he’s averaged a mere 3.2 yards per carry. Jones was averaging a robust 5.3 yards per carry prior to getting hurt, and you would think he’d step back into the early down worth with Williams augmenting him and operating as the primary pass catcher. Don’t be so fast to make that assumption, though. According to Adam Schefter (via Twitter):
“Packers’ RB Aaron Jones, questionable for Sunday due to knee injury, is expected to play, per source, but Jamal Williams still expected to get most of work vs. Bucs.”
For this week we’d still lean Williams as a viable RB2/FLEX, while we’d give Jones another week to prove healthy and reincorporated into the offense. The risk simply outweighs the reward.
Verdict – Too risky to trust.
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers – Wide Receiver
Get ready for one of the more frustrating situation for fantasy owners, especially with the playoffs potentially hanging in the balance. Brown is listed a questionable for Monday night, though the fact that he hasn’t been practicing would seem to put him more on the doubtful than probable side of the tag (though we really don’t know for sure). The question is, unless you have a JuJu Smith-Schuster or Brandon LaFell on your bench, as a way to protect yourself, gambling on him playing is going to be extremely difficult. Check the wire and see if you can protect yourself, otherwise you may have to go to Plan B.
Verdict – Check wire for Monday alternative, given the huge risk
Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – Running Back
Drake will get his chance to operate as the lead back, with Damien Williams out. The matchup with the Broncos is a good place to get his shot, as they have struggled against running backs over the past four weeks:
- Rushing – 441 yards, 5 TD
- Receiver – 156 yards, 4 TD
He’s proven capable of catching the football, with 12 receptions over the past four weeks. He’s struggled lately carrying the football (16 carries for 24 yards over the past two weeks) and entering the NFL there were concerns that he was more of a committee back as opposed to a leader. Maybe Miami goes pass heavy instead, but with Drake’s ability to contribute there it won’t detract from him too much.
Verdict – RB2/FLEX option in PPR Formats
Mike Davis – Seattle Seahawks – Running Back
He’s not on the injury report, meaning Davis will return after a one week absence. He was set to see an expanded role prior to his injury and should step back into that opportunity after Eddie Lacy (17 carries for 46 yards) struggled against San Francisco in Week 12 and the team clearly isn’t prepared to give J.D. McKissic the reigns of the backfield.
That said there’s no guarantee Davis gets significant touches and the Seahawks draw an Eagles defense that’s allowed the fewest points per week to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (on the season they have allowed the second fewest). Where they’ve struggled is against RB who can catch the football, as they’ve allowed the fewest rushing yards (479) by a hefty margin. That plays more to McKissic, and Davis is a dart throw FLEX and nothing more.
Verdict – Risky FLEX
Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – Running Back
Ian Rapoport (via Twitter) is reporting this morning that:
“RB Ameer Abdullah (neck) is not expected to play today vs. #Ravens. Trying to spark their run game, Theo Riddick will be treated as the starter.”
That would make you think Riddick is a viable option, though the matchup with Baltimore is not ideal. Over the past four weeks they’ve allowed the third fewest points per week to opposing running backs, but even more important is that they’ve allowed the eighth fewest receiving yards to RB over that span (94, 0 TD). While Riddick is a FLEX play in PPR formats, he’s still a risky one.
Verdict – High risk FLEX play in PPR formats
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – Tight End
According to Ian Rapoport (via Twitter):
“TE Greg Olsen (foot) is not expected to play vs. the #Saints, source said, as he battles through soreness. There is no structural issue, no long-term issue, but Carolina is being cautious on the turf. Should be a short absence.”
Even if he played he’d be too risky, so fantasy owners need to move on to Plan B for this week.
Verdict – Must sit
D.J. Foster – Arizona Cardinals – Running Back
Whether Foster is going to “start” or play behind Kerwyn Williams, who could be limited as he plays through cracked ribs, is somewhat irrelevant as the likely absence of Adrian Peterson is going to provide ample opportunity. As per Adam Schefter (via Twitter):
“Cardinals RB Adrian Peterson (neck) a game-time decision vs Rams, but team pessimistic, per source.”
In limited chances since joining the Cardinals (2 games) Foster has turned 6 targets into 5 receptions and 44 yards. That’s an area where the Cardinals may try to exploit, with the Chargers having allowed 510 receiving yards and 3 TD against opposing running backs (over the past two weeks they are at 119 yards, tied for second most, and 1 TD). Los Angeles has also yielded the third most rushing yards (1,222), so even if Foster carves out just 5-8 carries it could be enough.
Obviously he’s a high risk option, but he also carries an extremely high reward. If he gets 10-12 touches he could make an Alvin Kamara-esque impact (his ultimate ceiling), so depending on your situation he could prove to be a worthy FLEX gamble.
Verdict – Highest of risk, but potentially huge reward FLEX play
Jacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Running Back
Doug Martin has been ruled out with a concussion and that leaves Rodgers as the likely starter. It’s hardly a given that he gets the lion’s share of the backfield touches, though. Just look at the breakdown from last week:
- Jacquizz Rodgers – 8 carries for 31 yards; 1 reception for 6 yards
- Charles Sims – 1 carry for 3 yards, 3 receptions for 26 yards
- Peyton Barber – 5 carries for 7 yards and 2 TD
A returning Jameis Winston further clouds the potential goal line touches. Sims is the pass catching option. Where does that leave Rodgers? Looking at a potentially “empty” 10-12 carry day in which a TD may be unlikely?
Verdict – Desperation FLEX only
Cordarrelle Patterson – Oakland Raiders – Wide Receiver
Michael Crabtree (suspension) and Amari Cooper (concussion) are out against the Giants, and that means there are going to be opportunities for Patterson and others to produce. New York’s secondary has had it’s issues all season long, but with Janorius Jenkins out there isn’t a strong outlook for a rebound.
It’s easy to argue that Patterson has the most talent among the remaining options, though he’s never been able to yield results. He has broken some big plays recently, including a 54 yard reception against Denver and a 22 yard reception against the Patriots the past two weeks (where he’s turned 8 targets into 7 receptions and 117 yards). The floor is awfully low, but the ceiling is there. If you need a WR3 Patterson is a gamble you can take.
Verdict – High risk, high reward WR3
Bruce Ellington – Houston Texans – Wide Receiver
Will Fuller was ruled out late in the week, as expected, and that will give Ellington ample opportunities to produce. While the results have not necessarily been there, the opportunities have over the past four weeks:
|at Los Angeles Rams||9||4||41||1|
The matchup gets easier this week, with Tennessee having allowed the ninth more points per week to opposing wide receivers over the past four weeks (667 yards and 6 TD). Ellington obviously is going to be behind DeAndre Hopkins, but he’s going to get the looks and has a fairly high ceiling given the mix of matchup and opportunity.
Verdict – Worthy WR3
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tight End
There are two things that could get fantasy owners excited this week:
- Jameis Winston’s return
- The Adam Schefter has tweeted that, “Buccaneers WR DeSean Jackson (foot) and TE Cameron Brate (hip), both questionable for Sunday vs. Packers, are expected to play, per sources.”
That said this hasn’t been a one or two week regression for Brate, who has had 1 reception in each of his past four games and hasn’t crossed 12 yards in any of them. With O.J. Howard’s role growing and a matchup against the Packers (who have allowed the fewest points per week to opposing tight ends), Brate is an impossible play.
Verdict – Must sit
Sources – NFL.com, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our Week 13 rankings: