Week 13 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em (cont.)
Cardinals -- Beanie Wells, Cardinals D/ST: Wells returned with a good outing a week ago, and the Jets' woeful offense has allowed teams to pound out yardage against what should be a decent run defense. Consider the Arizona defense a streaming play against a team that is fifth-worst in fantasy against D/STs.
Jets -- Dustin Keller, Jets D/ST: This is another awful week to trust a Jet, save for the defense against a terribly quarterbacked Cardinals team. Keller is a low-end option because he rates as his team's primary target, but it should be warned that the Cardinals have been third-best in fantasy versus D/STs.
Cardinals -- Ryan Lindley, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Todd Heap, Jay Feely: The Jets, ranked in the top 10 of fantasy against quarterbacks and wide receivers, get to tee off against the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. That makes former fantasy star Fitzgerald a bad play, along with just about every Cardinal.
Jets -- Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, Stephen Hill, Nick Folk: You likely don't need reasons to sit your Jets, but the Cardinals still are fifth-best in fantasy versus quarterbacks and ninth-best against running backs. We wouldn't be all that wary of using Greene, though, if not for the timeshare he is in with Powell now. If you have to trust a Jets offensive player, bank on Powell finding the end zone once or twice. We only list him as a sit because this game is just as likely to finish in a 0-0 tie after a full overtime.
Buccaneers -- Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Dallas Clark: The Broncos' defense is top 10 in fantasy against running backs and wide receivers, but Martin and Jackson are sure starts in any matchup in crunch time. Clark is a sleeper, having earned fantasy starter status with his targets in recent weeks and now facing the second-worst team in fantasy versus tight ends. Only the Redskins and Pats have allowed more yards to tight ends and no team has allowed more than the eight touchdowns the Broncos have surrendered to them.
Broncos -- Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Matt Prater, Broncos D/ST: This should be one of the best weeks of the season for the Broncos' passing game. The Bucs are fourth-worst in fantasy versus quarterbacks and second-worst against wide receivers. And given that the Bucs have the No. 1-ranked run defense in the NFL, figure Manning throws for 350 yards and four touchdowns here. The Bucs are sixth-best against kickers and third-best against D/STs in fantasy, but Prater and the Broncos have earned must-start status in all matchups.
Buccaneers -- Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, Tiquan Underwood, Connor Barth, Buccaneers D/ST: The weather won't be seasonably bad, but after a mediocre Week 12, Freeman figures to be worse against a red-hot Broncos defense playing at home. Underwood's recent surge has dropped Williams out of fantasy-starter status, a move that should hold against the Broncos, the eighth-best team in fantasy against wide receivers and fourth-best against kickers. It is a good week to spot-start someone for Barth.
Broncos -- Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball, Brandon Stokley, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen: Moreno earned the feature-back role just in time to face the No. 1-ranked run defense in the NFL. It would be a bad time to trust Moreno as a starter, though, especially because Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball can still factor in more than they did a week ago. Stokley has gotten some run as a fallback option for Manning in the passing game, but the Bucs' pass defense has been so poor, we should expect Thomas and Decker to have field days. Finally, the tight-end situation fluctuates week to week, so don't take a gamble there in fantasy crunch time.
Browns -- Trent Richardson, Browns D/ST: This should be Richardson's best week of the season, facing a Raiders defense that is third-worst in fantasy against running backs and falling. Cleveland's defense has played better of late, so consider it a streaming option against the woeful Raiders.
Raiders -- Darren McFadden, Brandon Myers, Sebastian Janikowski: This assumes McFadden finally returns from his high-ankle sprain. If he does not, then Marcel Reece owners can rejoice again, particularly in PPR formats. Myers has earned starting status, even if the Browns are No. 1 in fantasy against tight ends. Janikowski should remain among the top 12 most-productive kickers with the Raiders offense struggling to produce touchdowns in the red zone.
Browns -- Brandon Weeden, Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Ben Watson, Jordan Cameron, Phil Dawson: Gordon, Little and Dawson are potential sleepers against the Raiders, who are eighth-worst against wide receivers and third-worst against kickers. Only consider them out of desperation, though, because you can never be sure when the Browns are going to resort to playing like the Browns.
Raiders -- Carson Palmer, Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders D/ST: The recent struggles of Palmer makes it difficult to trust him now. The best one can hope for is this passing game to wake up against a Browns defense that is ninth-worst in fantasy versus wide receivers.
Bengals -- Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Bengals D/ST: The surging Bengals have made these guys must-start options in all matchups of late. The defense draws the best matchup, facing the sixth-worst team in fantasy versus D/STs.
Chargers -- Ryan Mathews, Danario Alexander, Antonio Gates: The Bengals' defense has been playing well of late, but Alexander has earned must-start status, while Mathews and Gates face a unit that still ranks in the bottom half of fantasy against running backs and tight ends.
Bengals -- Cedric Peerman, Mohamed Sanu, Andrew Hawkins, Mike Nugent: The Chargers are mostly fantasy-neutral in terms of matchups, but they rate second-best in fantasy against kickers, making the one seeming question mark a no go. Peerman is a sit against a Chargers defense quietly tied for fifth-best against the run, while Sanu should take a step back with the potential return of Hawkins (knee) stealing some targets.
Chargers -- Philip Rivers, Ronnie Brown, Malcom Floyd, Nick Novak, Chargers D/ST: The shaky play of the Chargers, coupled with the Bengals' top 10 rankings versus quarterbacks (seventh) and wide receivers (fourth), make these options too difficult to trust right now.
Steelers -- Steelers D/ST: The uncertainty of the quarterback situation and difficulty of the matchup make everything but the defense too impossible to trust at this point. Let the dust settle this week.
Ravens -- Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Justin Tucker, Ravens D/ST: This should be another low-scoring defensive struggle, but these fantasy standouts warrant staying active in all formats.
Steelers -- Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman, Rashard Mendenhall, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Heath Miller, Shaun Suisham: This is a mess Big Ben could settle if he could come back and prove healthy and productive. But that is no sure thing at this point. Dwyer takes over as the starter, but the Steelers will use all of their backs. Wallace, Sanders and Brown, who's returning from a high-ankle sprain, can't be trusted with Batch at quarterback. Finally, Miller's season has gone downhill since Big Ben went down.
Ravens -- Joe Flacco, Bernard Pierce, Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson: The Steelers' defense quietly remains the No. 1-ranked unit in the NFL. In fantasy terms, they are first (versus quarterbacks), fourth (versus running backs), first (versus wide receivers) and sixth (versus tight ends). Clearly, even without Big Ben, they are a matchup to avoid if possible.
Eagles -- Bryce Brown: Expect Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy to remain out with concussion symptoms; Brown is the only Eagle worth trusting as a fantasy starter.
Cowboys -- Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Dan Bailey, Cowboys D/ST: If DeMarco Murray (foot) and Miles Austin (hip, hamstring) are healthy, this will be a start-all game for the Cowboys. Start Murray and Austin if they play and consider the rest of these guys starts this week against the long-folded Eagles.
Eagles -- Nick Foles, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Alex Henery, Eagles D/ST: DeSean Jackson (ribs) season-ending IR designation makes your decisions here a lot easier. Maclin, Cooper and perhaps Johnson might be sleepers now, but Foles has proven to be so ineffective in favorable matchups, it's hard to start them against the Cowboys' quality corners. Dallas' defense is a lot better than it has shown and should be expected to play at its best in this one.
Cowboys -- Felix Jones, Lance Dunbar, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley, Kevin Ogletree: Jones is the only maybe on this list, but even if Murray is out again, you should bench Jones against an Eagles defense that is eighth-best in fantasy versus running backs and has allowed a league-low two rushing touchdowns to running backs. The replacement wide receivers might be considerations if Austin doesn't play this week.
Giants -- Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Lawrence Tynes: Thankfully, Manning shook his slump and made Cruz and Nicks look potentially elite again. It comes just in time to face the second-worst team in fantasy versus quarterbacks and the worst team versus wide receivers. Bradshaw looked spry with rest a week ago, too, and Andre Brown's (leg) loss for the season makes Bradshaw the full-time goal-line back again. This will wind up a shootout late.
Redskins -- Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon: RGIII has posted the two best games of his brief career back-to-back, but outside of his running back and Garcon, it's hard to know which other receiver to trust. Someone is going to find the end zone among Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson, but playing any one of them is also risking taking a zero, too.
Giants -- David Wilson, Rueben Randle, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Martellus Bennett, Travis Beckum, Giants D/ST: Wilson will be intriguing backing up the always-banged-up Bradshaw, but Washington is top 10 in fantasy against running backs. Stash Wilson; don't start him. One of these wide receivers will also surprise against the worst team in fantasy versus wide receivers, but like the Redskins corps, it's impossible to know which one. If you need a sleeper, Randle is the best bet recently. As for the Giants' tight end situation, Bennett hasn't been fantasy-worthy for weeks and the targets figure to continually go more to Beckum now that he's off the PUP list.
Redskins -- Logan Paulsen, Kai Forbath, Redskins D/ST: With a shootout expected, don't touch the defense. These other two might be options, but they don't rate among starters at their position going in.
If you play in those weekly salary-cap games, here is a suggested way to set your lineup this week:
Quarterback -- Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford (Peyton Manning if you go top shelf)
Running back -- Mike Leshoure or Arian Foster (if you go top shelf)
Running back -- Jamaal Charles
Wide receiver -- Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker
Wide receiver -- Andre Johnson or Ryan Broyles
Tight end -- Jason Witten or Antonio Gates or Jermichael Finley
Flex -- Any of the above remaining, including Justin Blackmon or Cecil Shorts
Kicker -- Dan Bailey or David Akers
D/ST -- San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans or Dallas Cowboys
You have a better lineup? Challenge me with it on Twitter @EricMackFantasy.
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Thursday, his last-minute Cheat Sheet on Sunday mornings and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).
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