I went 6-0 last week, undefeated in all of my fantasy leagues. More importantly, I went 3-0 in my money leagues for the first time this year. It seemed like the fates were aligning as all of my guys were scoring touchdowns and all of my opponents’ guys weren’t. Not only that, but in this very column last week, I predicted 16 winners, and each prediction came true (just ignore the part where I said Baltimore would beat Oakland instead of San Diego). Not only that, but my wife won her confidence pool for the week and the Giants got a huge win against the Packers!
Football (and fantasy football in particular) can be very frustrating to enjoy if it’s not going your way, but if everything breaks the way you want it, it’s a beautiful thing (kind of like playing golf).
Can I continue my round of good luck in Week 13? I control my own destiny for making the playoffs in one of my money leagues, with a shot at a first round bye if everything breaks my way. We’ll see how it goes.
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Darren Sproles, Michael Turner, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez
Cautions: Pierre Thomas, Jacquizz Rodgers, New Orleans Defense, Atlanta Defense
Casualties: Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Jason Snelling, Devery Henderson, Harry Douglas
What’s this? An actual good Thursday night game? Well I’ll be darned. Atlanta has been pulling close victories out of its ass all season long, and you figure it has to catch up to them eventually. Their defense has proven that it can be gashed by high-powered offenses (like Tampa Bay’s), and while the Saints themselves have proven to be stoppable by elite defenses (like the 49ers), Atlanta’s defense is by no means elite. With the short week, and the weapons that both teams possess, this screams shootout to me. All top offensive options are in play (I even upgraded Lance Moore to a Comfortable), and even backups like Jacquizz Rodgers may merit start status.
Prediction: I don’t think the Saints are as bad as their record says they are (considering they essentially played the first six games of the season without a head coach), and I don’t think the Falcons are as good as their record says they are (considering all the close victories). So something has to give here. I’ll go with the Falcons only because of the big home team advantage on Thursday night games, despite all three road teams winning last week on Thanksgiving.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit Lions
Comfortables: Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Mikel Leshoure, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Calvin Johnson, Ryan Broyles
Cautions: Donald Brown, Vick Ballard, Joique Bell, Dwayne Allen, Brandon Pettigrew, Indianapolis Defense, Detroit Defense
Casualties: Delone Carter, Kevin Smith, Donnie Avery, Titus Young, Coby Fleener, Tony Scheffler
Before I go into the fantasy implications of this game, I want to say that I think Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz deserves to be fired after the end of the season for single-handedly costing his team the game last week by throwing a challenge flag after a scoring play, knowing full well that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed. I agree that the rule of no review after a challenge flag is stupid and will most likely be changed, but that doesn’t excuse Schwartz for doing what he did. He’s a hot-headed coach like Jim Harbaugh, but the difference between he and Harbaugh is that when it really counts, Harbaugh can cool his head and make the right decision. Schwartz can boast of having one of the more undisciplined teams in the NFL aside from the Raiders, and with the amount of talent that he has on both sides of the ball, the Lions’ record should be better than it is. If he can’t keep his cool in the regular season, how do the Lions brass expect him to make the right decisions under the pressure-packed situations in the playoffs? He can’t, and he should be fired.
That being said, they’re back at home again against the AFC South, and they have a hot Colts team that IS disciplined and playing with a purpose. I like all of the top WR options on both sides (how bout Ryan Broyles and T.Y. Hilton, eh?), as well as Leshoure to vulture a TD or two here and there.
Prediction: Indy gets a huge road win and Detroit’s struggles continue.
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Jets
Comfortables: Beanie Wells, Shonn Greene, Larry Fitzgerald, Dustin Keller, Arizona Defense, New York Jets Defense
Cautions: Kevin Kolb (if starting), Bilal Powell, Andre Roberts, Jeremy Kerley, Rob Housler
Casualties: Ryan Lindley (if starting), Mark Sanchez, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell, Stephen Hill, Jason Hill
Sleeper: Michael Floyd
How can anybody who is a fan of either team say that they’re excited to watch this game? Between the Cardinals’ woes at quarterback (I’m surprised Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t hanged himself yet), and the pathetic circus that is the New York Jets team, this is as close to a no-buys matchup as it gets. I only like the defenses, the starting running options, and the top receiving options for each team to even consider for starting.
Prediction: The Jets, only because they’re home. That’s it.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears
Comfortables: Jay Cutler, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bush, Sidney Rice, Brandon Marshall, Seattle Defense (with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner), Chicago Defense
Cautions: Russell Wilson, Golden Tate, Anthony McCoy, Earl Bennett, Kellen Davis, Seattle Defense (without Sherman and Browner)
Casualties: Robert Turbin, Doug Baldwin, Braylon Edwards, Zack Miller
Sleeper: Khalil Bell
Once again, the Seahawks have to go on the road, where their record isn’t nearly as favorable as their undefeated home streak. Matt Forte is most certainly out for this week, so Michael Bush gets the nod. We’ve all seen what Bush can do in relief of Darren McFadden, and I actually like his chances against a typically good Seattle run defense that gave up two rushing TDs on the road last week to Miami. Seattle’s top two cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, may be out on PED suspension, but they’re currently appealing the decision. The Chicago passing game gets a nice upgrade while Seattle’s defense gets a downgrade if Sherman and Browner are out.
Prediction: The Bears stifle the Seahawk offense and win at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills
Comfortables: Chad Henne, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Maurice Jones-Drew (if active), CJ Spiller, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon, Stevie Johnson, Mercedes Lewis, Scott Chandler
Cautions: Rashad Jennings (if MJD is inactive), Fred Jackson, Donald Jones, Jacksonville Defense, Buffalo Defense
Casualties: Jalen Parmele (if active), Tashard Choice, Laurent Robinson
Chad Henne. Chad freakin’ Henne. Single-handedly bringing the Jaguar passing attack to fantasy relevance. This has the potential to be one of those good bad games where two subpar teams go off on each other and produce an exciting shootout. This game just screams for Gus Johnson to announce it. MJD might be coming back this week, so thanks for playing, Jalen Parmele.
Prediction: Buffalo wins an exciting shootout.
Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Comfortables: Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Charles, Steve Smith, Greg Olsen, Carolina Defense
Cautions: DeAngelo Williams, Kansas City Defense
Casualties: All Chiefs offensive players not named Jamaal Charles, Brandon LaFell, Louis Murphy
Sleeper: Mike Tolbert
We’ve seen what Carolina is able to do when playing against a bad team, as the Eagles secondary was so bad, they actually convinced America that Cam Newton is still good. Carolina didn’t fool me at all…they’re still a bad team, but fortunately for them, the Chiefs have all but given up on the season. They lost what used to be a tremendous home field advantage in Kansas City. Their coach is a lame duck just waiting to go on the chopping block. Feel free to take advantage by starting all your Panthers. I even like Jonathan Stewart this week, for crying out loud.
Prediction: Another home loss for Kansas City. More heartbreaking obituaries.
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
Comfortables: Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Brian Hartline, Aaron Hernandez, New England Defense
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, Shane Vereen, Davone Bess (if active), Anthony Fasano, Miami Defense
Casualties: Brandon Lloyd, Marlon Moore
Sleeper: Danny Woodhead
Well, at least Reggie Bush finally did something last week, but I’ve had it with Brandon Lloyd. I’m planning on dropping him for Julian Edelman in any league where I have him and Edelman is still available, because Edelman has easily surpassed Lloyd on Tom Brady’s radar. What a bust Lloyd has been. It was the perfect environment for him…Hall of Fame quarterback throwing to him, back with Josh McDaniels again. What could go wrong??? Apparently, Lloyd just can’t hold onto the balls Brady throws his way. The Patriots are most likely going to steamroll again, so expect some big garbage time numbers for Brian Hartline and Davone Bess (if he plays). Maybe the Dolphins will remember that Reggie Bush can catch passes and start using him in the passing game. Who knows?
Prediction: New England is just too much for Miami.
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
Comfortables: Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Houston Defense
Cautions: Jake Locker, Ben Tate (if active), Justin Forsett, Kevin Walter, Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Jared Cook, Tennessee Defense
Casualties: Jamie Harper, Darius Reynaud, James Casey
Sleeper: Garrett Graham
Houston goes on the road again, and we’re looking at another 30 or so touches for Arian Foster. If I’m a Foster owner (and I’m not), I have to feel really scared about losing him for the playoffs either to injury or to rest if the Texans have locked up a first-round bye by Week 15. I’ve been holding onto Ben Tate just in case one of those two things happen, but Tate is really burning a hole on my bench. There are reports he’ll be active for this game, but I just can’t risk it. He’s a caution but a borderline casualty. Frankly, other than Chris Johnson, I can’t trust any Titan offensive option. It’s a different guy every week who comes up big, so trying to predict who will win the lottery this week is a lesson in futility. All Titans pass-catchers earn the Caution flag this week.
Prediction: Houston gets a divisional road win and is one step closer to clinching a top playoff spot.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
Comfortables: Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin (if active), Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Kyle Rudolph, Green Bay Defense
Cautions: James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Minnesota Defense
Casualties: All Minnesota Offensive Players not named Harvin or Rudolph, Alex Green, James Starks, Donald Driver, Tom Crabtree
Sleeper: Greg Jennings (if active)
The less said about Aaron Rodgers’s performance against my New York Giants last week, the better. I’m very happy the Giants won, but I’d be just as happy with a 38-35 victory with Rodgers throwing for three touchdowns as I was with them winning 38-10 and Rodgers turning the ball over twice. Rodgers has proven to struggle against good defenses, but I don’t think Minnesota qualifies this year. Sure, Jared Allen might get to A-Rod every now and then, but I believe that Rodgers will bounce back. Jermichael Finley has a pretty good game two weeks ago before regressing to his usual self, dropping passes. Once again, Minnesota’s hopes of winning this game rest on Percy Harvin’s shoulders. If he’s in, I’ll give the Vikings a fighting chance. Only start AP and Harvin from the Vikings.
Prediction: Harvin or no, Rodgers proves too much for Minnesota’s defense and the Packers bounce back.
San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
Comfortables: Colin Kaepernick (if starting), Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Danny Amendola, Vernon Davis, San Francisco Defense
Cautions: Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Mario Manningham, Brandon Gibson, Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Defense
Casualties: Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, Daryl Richardson, Randy Moss, Austin Pettis
Sleeper: Chris Givens
These two tied a couple weeks ago, but next big thing Colin Kaepernick didn’t play the entire game. Now that John Harbaugh has formally stabbed his QB Alex Smith in the back (not that I’m complaining about it, but it’s true), it looks like the Colin K show from now on. I expect another close game, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that somebody’s going to win it this week. Expect the 49er defense to not get caught sleeping like it did last time. Kendall Hunter is on IR, but I don’t think either Brandon Jacobs or LaMichael James will make too much of a splash here. It’s the Frank Gore show.
Prediction: The Niners avenge the tie and beat the Rams on the road.
Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders
Comfortables: Carson Palmer, Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden (if active), Marcel Reece (if McFadden is inactive), Denarius Moore, Brandon Myers, Oakland Defense
Cautions: Josh Gordon, Darius Heyward-Bey, Benjamin Watson, Cleveland Defense
Casualties: Colt McCoy, All Backup RBs, Mohammad Massaquoi, Rod Streater
Sleeper: Greg Little
Yuck. Let me try and get through this as quick as possible. Brandon Weeden may have a concussion so if he can’t go, it’s Colt McCoy again, and I like the Raiders chances at home if that’s the case. McFadden might come back, but I’m too busy loving what Marcel Reece is doing in his absence to wish him back. Trent Richardson might win this game on his own back (doe). Carson Palmer was embarrassed in his return to Cincy last week, so I expect him to be mightily pissed off. Considering what Cleveland’s D did to Pittsburgh, you could make a case for starting them, but I think it was a fluke against a banged up Steelers offense.
Prediction: Take the healthier Raiders at home.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Diego Chargers
Comfortables: Andy Dalton, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Ryan Matthews, AJ Green, Mohammad Sanu (if Andrew Hawkins is inactive), Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander, Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Defense
Cautions: Philip Rivers, Andrew Hawkins (if active), Antonio Gates, San Diego Defense
Casualties: Cedric Peerman, Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle, Curtis Brinkley, Robert Meachem
Watching Philip Rivers play football makes me so happy that Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers in 2004 and essentially forced the trade to the Giants. Rivers is just too erratic, and he’s seemingly stopped looking for his favorite target in Antonio Gates (grumble grumble) for Malcom Floyd and Danaio Alexander. As for the Bengals, AJ Green’s touchdown streak was snapped last week, but he still managed to top 100 yards. My boy Mohammad Sanu worked out nice as a sleeper last week, don’t you think? But I think his production will be tied to Andrew Hawkins’s health. If Hawkins is active, he’s going to see the targets that Sanu saw last week.
Prediction: It would take an absolute bed-soiling performance by Cincinnati to lose to a team that’s pretty much quit on the season. Bengals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos
Comfortables: Josh Freeman, Peyton Manning, Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Eric Decker, Demariyus Thomas, Denver Defense
Cautions: Knowshown Moreno, Mike Williams, Dallas Clark, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Tampa Bay Defense
Casualties: LeGarrette Blount, Ronnie Hillman, Taiquan Underwood
Sleeper: Lance Ball
Poor Tampa Bay. They were THIS CLOSE to beating the Falcons at home, but it was not to be. Now they have to travel a mile high to face Peyton Manning and the red-hot Denver Broncos. Knowshown Moreno was a surprise start, and owners who gambled on Ronnie Hillman (GRUMBLE GRUMBLE) were burned. I have no idea who out of Jacob Tamme or Joel Dreessen will hit paydirt this week so it’s hard to start either. Continue to roll with Thomas and Decker, who must be loving this upgrade from Tebow. Freeman, Martin, and V-Jax remain the solid Bucs options, despite Jackson being shadowed by Champ Bailey.
Prediction: Freeman makes one too many mistakes and Denver wins a shootout at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Comfortables: Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Pittsburgh Defense, Baltimore Defense
Cautions: Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Anquan Boldin, Heath Miller, Dennis Pitta
Casualties: Charlie Batch, Chris Rainey, Bernard Pierce, Plaxico Burress, Jacoby Jones
Sleeper: Tandon Doss
Not much to say here from a fantasy perspective other than be thankful if you have the Ravens defense. If the Browns (THE BROWNS!) can do what they did to a depleted Steelers offense last week, imagine what Baltimore will be able to do. Ray Rice had the play of the year last week with the 30-yard scamper on 4th and 29. Torrey Smith has also been traditionally good against the Steelers, so I feel comfortable rolling with him again this week.
Prediction: Baltimore rolls comfortably.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys
Comfortables: Tony Romo, Bryce Brown, DeMarco Murray (if active), Felix Jones (if Murray is inactive), Dez Bryant, Miles Austin (if active), Brent Celek, Jason Witten, Dallas Defense
Cautions: Nick Foles, Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Defense
Casualties: Dion Lewis, Lance Dunbar, Philip Tanner, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Kevin Ogletree
Sleeper: Dwayne Harris (if Austin is inactive)
Well, you can’t win em all on Sunday Night Football. The Eagles meltdown is being nationally televised two weeks in a row. The NFC East gets a nice showcase in primetime, but this is obviously the appetizer for the Monday night main course. It doesn’t look like Vick or McCoy will play, and DeSean Jackson is on IR. That means Jeremy Maclin will receive more looks, but also more attention from the excellent Dallas secondary. And with Nick Foles throwing to him, it’s asking too much to expect any kind of serious production out of him. And will we be able to see DeMarco Murray on the field for the Cowboys finally? Lord knows they need the running game spark, because they can’t rely on Tony Romo to throw the ball 60+ times and expect to win the game.
Prediction: Dallas piles onto the Eagles woes with a home win.
New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins
Comfortables: Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, Ahmad Bradshaw, Alfred Morris, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Martellus Bennett
Cautions: David Wilson, Aldrick Robinson, Logan Paulsen, New York Defense, Washington Defense
Casualties: Evan Royster, Keiland Williams, Domenik Hixon, Josh Morgan
Sleeper: Reuben Randle
To me, this is the game of the week. The Giants get another crack at RG3 (or Bob Griffin, as I’ll call him until he beats the Giants). Even after the impressive win against the Packers, I’m worried about this game. Griffin really dazzled in his first experience in a nationally televised game, and now he has the opportunity to do it again. For the Giants, Andre Brown is done for the year so David Wilson gets a bump, although Tom Coughlin doesn’t really trust him. Pierre Garcon is back, of course after I’ve dropped him in all leagues. He and Santana Moss get Comfortable status.
Prediction: Giants, but it’ll be close like last time.
Follow me on Twitter @PocketSeagull, and good luck in Week 13!