NFL Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Reggie Wayne could thrive against Patriots' league-worst defense vs. receivers
As Browns have the top defense vs. WRs, Ray Rice may have a big Week 13
Matt Stafford may pile up stats is Lions are forced to play from behind vs. Saints
Fantasy teams are dropping off the map. The bye weeks are over. And the stakes are the highest in leagues as the calendar flips to the final month.
It is fantasy crunch time. Snow is in the air and often on the field. You have to love December football.
The competition is far less fierce for the free-agent pickups -- if there is anything left -- and the lineup decisions should be a lot easier. Dance with the ones that brought you here (save for clearly injured players like Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden).
We break down the final week of the regular season in many fantasy football formats with our game-by-game Start 'Em, Sit 'Em.
Note: The obvious choices are omitted below. We focus our energy on the players you might actually be making a decision on.
QB Vince Young, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Brent Celek, K Alex Henery
With Michael Vick (ribs) and Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) out again, Young, Jackson and Celek are solid options along with the must-start LeSean McCoy. Riley Cooper is a decent play in deeper PPR formats. He has been a favorite target of Young and should start opposite Jackson. The Eagles defense is a sleeper, despite getting shredded against the Pats last week. The Seahawks play better at home, though.
RB Marshawn Lynch
Lynch is must-start in this matchup. The Eagles are in the bottom 10 of fantasy against RBs and Lynch has proved to be a steady week-to-week horse against all competition. It helps that the Seahawks are without Sidney Rice, too. The running game is the No. 1 priority.
WR Doug Baldwin, WR Mike Williams, WR Ben Obomanu
This trio gets a team in the bottom half of fantasy against WRs, but you cannot be sure which one is going to step forward in Sidney Rice's absence. The rookie Baldwin might be the best play but he isn't even starting over the other two.
RB Chris Johnson, K Rob Bironas
Johnson is coming off a season-high 190 yards and facing a defense that is eighth-worst in fantasy against RBs. That makes your first-half bust a must-start here. Bironas should also be given a lot of consideration as a kicker. With Johnson moving the chains now, the Titans should get plenty more field-goal chances, especially against a below-average defense.
RB C.J. Spiller, WR Stevie Johnson
Spiller wasn't great filling Fred Jackson's big shoes, but he faces a team in the bottom half of fantasy against RBs. This is a good week to play him, particularly at home. Johnson also has plenty to prove after another costly drop late last week and the drama from his end-zone dance. He should respond with a revitalized Ryan Fitzpatrick, who you shouldn't have to start, but can if you need to.
The Bills look like an offense to take advantage of with the Titans defense, but you might be surprised to know the Bills are third-best in fantasy against opposing D/STs. Most of that was with Jackson controlling the clock and not turning the ball over, but you should be able to find a better defense to play than Tennessee's.
WR David Nelson
Fitzpatrick was good against a tough defense last week, but playing the secondary receivers here isn't a wise move. Look elsewhere. The Titans are top five in fantasy against WRs.
WR Reggie Wayne, WR Pierre Garcon
Wayne showed why we shouldn't sit him in Week 12, and the quarterback change to Dan Orlovsky comes when the Colts are facing the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers. This makes both Wayne and Garcon solid options and maybe even Austin Collie a sleeper. Backup QBs tend to like using their backup WRs they have grown accustomed to on the scout team. Collie has been nothing more than a scout receiver this year.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, WR Deion Branch, K Stephen Gostkowski, D/ST Patriots
This is a "start all" game for the Pats. The Colts don't stop anyone and just fired their defensive coordinator. What an assignment for a coach's first game. BGE faces the third-worst team in fantasy against RBs and you can consider Danny Woodhead a sleeper as a flex play. Branch should join Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski as must-plays, too. As for that maligned Pats defense, you should play it against the winless Colts, who are in the bottom against opposing defenses.
RB Donald Brown, RB Joseph Addai, RB Delone Carter, K Adam Vinatieri
Brown has been outplaying the Colts' starter, which apparently will be Addai this week, but the Pats have improved steadily against the run and you shouldn't be sure which back is going to get the bulk of the duty. The Colts also figure to have to abandon the running game when they fall behind by three scores in the first half.
TE Aaron Hernandez
Hernandez was revived a bit last week, but he hasn't been able to draw enough of the production from Gronk this season. Also, the Colts are a top 10 team in fantasy against TEs.
RB Shonn Greene, WR Santonio Holmes, WR Plaxico Burress, TE Dustin Keller, D/ST Jets, K Nick Folk
Mark Sanchez's revival is mostly due to easier competition, but the Redskins shouldn't scare you this week either. While you likely have a better starter than Sanchez at QB, you can be confident in using his primary targets Holmes, Burress and Keller. The Jets defense and their kicker should remain great plays, too. The Redskins are not a bad team against the run, but Greene and Joe McKnight are going to be relied on heavily down the stretch.
TE Fred Davis
The Jets will put someone on Revis Island, but it won't be Davis. Rex Grossman isn't a good play, but he likely will be working from behind and giving Davis some garbage-time numbers.
RB Roy Helu, WR Santana Moss, WR Jabar Gaffney
The Jets are No. 4 in fantasy against WRs and a healthier Moss figures to take away from Gaffney's production now. Helu has finally earned the starting RB job, but the Jets remain a team determined to stop the run. Helu is no better than a flex play or a PPR option, because he is a solid receiver out of the backfield.
QB Cam Newton, RB DeAngelo Williams, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Steve Smith, K Olindo Mare
The Bucs are the second-worst team in fantasy against RBs, so both Panthers backs looks like strong plays this week. Newton and Smith should remain active in all formats and if you need Greg Olsen at tight end, he should return to the game plan after some quiet weeks. This will be a game with a lot of points, so Mare looks like a solid kicker.
RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Mike Williams, TE Kellen Winslow
The two worst teams in fantasy against RBs are facing each other here, which puts Blount on the verge of a huge week. Josh Freeman has finally figured out how to get Williams and Winslow the ball, so you can go back to them in deeper formats. Freeman probably isn't good enough to unseat your starting QB, though.
D/ST Buccaneers, D/ST Panthers
The Bucs look like a decent play because Newton turns the ball over, but we figure this to be a high-scoring game. You won't want to take a chance on either low-end defense here.
WR A.J. Green
Green returned and proved healthy last week, so you can send him out there even if the Steelers are third-best in fantasy against WRs. Cedric Benson likely also starts for you every week, but you should lower your expectations against the Steelers run defense and sit Benson if you have viable alternatives. The Steelers started slow, but they are now in the top 10 of fantasy against RBs and climbing.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Mike Wallace, K Shaun Suisham, D/ST Steelers
The Bengals are a solid defense and this group of Steelers is coming off a disappointing week, but you should feel confident keeping them active. This is an important home game and you should expect the Steelers' primary fantasy options to be productive.
QB Andy Dalton, TE Jermaine Gresham, WR Jerome Simpson
Dalton hasn't been bad as the schedule has gotten tougher on him, but this is as tough it gets at Pittsburgh in a pivotal division game. The Steelers are No. 3 against QBs and WRs. They are also top 10 against TEs, so put Gresham back on the bench after a rebound last Sunday. The Bengals defense isn't a great play this week, even if the Steelers are in the bottom half of fantasy against D/STs. Most of that was due to Big Ben's turnover issues early in the year. Expect the Steelers to control the ball and clock in this one.
Bowe is probably the only fantasy option here immune to the Chiefs' struggles right now. He will get plenty of garbage-time totals.
RB Marion Barber, D/ST Bears, K Robbie Gould
Barber continues to vulture scores away from the must-start Matt Forte, so keep Barber in your plans as a flex option. The Chiefs are sixth-worst in fantasy against RBs. With Caleb Hanie, the Bears are going to focus on establishing the run and trying to hide their QB, too. The Bears defense is a great play against the Chiefs directionless offense and Gould is arguably the most valuable kicker in fantasy right now.
RB Jackie Battle, RB Thomas Jones, RB Dexter McCluster, WR Steve Breaston
When the Chiefs went to Tyler Palko, they also went to a three-way time-share that is split evenly. None of these backs are certain to get as many as 10 touches, so all of them are worthless to us in fantasy. Breaston was emerging before Matt Cassel went down, but now he's not even worth owning.
WR Earl Bennett, WR Johnny Knox, WR Devin Hester, WR Roy Williams
Just when we thought we had a go-to Bears fantasy WR option in Bennett, Jay Cutler goes down and we have to reset the deck with a Knox breakthrough last week. Backup QBs love the backup WRs, but aren't all the Bears' WRs really backup quality? Any one of them can be Hanie's guy week to week. None of them should be our guy in fantasy, even Knox. He needs to do it for multiple weeks.
QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, WR Julio Jones, K Matt Bryant, D/ST Falcons
The Texans have an elite defense, but this group above should remain active with Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez regardless of the difficulty of the matchup. Jones is the wild card here. He went without a catch a week ago, but he is healthy and should be better against an opponent that is more capable to take away the Falcons' other weapons.
WR Andre Johnson
Like Jones, Johnson returned with poor results last week. It shouldn't keep you from trusting him like you do Arian Foster every week -- no matter who is the QB.