Fantasy Football Fast Forward: Brees, Ryan slip in wacky week
Drew Brees threw five picks for the first time in his career as the Saints fell
Andrew Luck and Brandon Myers had big games to vex some fantasy owners
Jordy Nelson (hamstring) will probably miss a good part of the fantasy playoffs
OK, so this was how weird Week 13 was in fantasy: Stars Drew Brees and Matt Ryan laid relative eggs on Thursday night, while Andrew Luck (391 yards and four touchdowns) and Brandon Myers (14 catches for 130 yards and a TD) delivered huge performances.
Raise your hand if you predicted this August that Luck and Myers would lead desperate fringe teams to the fantasy postseason this year. OK, drop your hands. We'll give you Luck, perhaps.
We survey the confusion in the Fantasy Football Fast Forward:
That was a spectacular performance by Luck at Detroit. He has been a much better player at home, but apparently he feels right at home in domes.
With the Titans defense up next at home, expect some huge numbers for all of your Colts receivers. T.Y. Hilton (6-100) has emerged as a solid fantasy option, while Donnie Avery (5-91-2) didn't get lost, either. Even rookies LaVon Brazill (1-42-1) and Coby Fleener (1-26-1), able to return well from a shoulder injury, made an impact.
Unlike many rookie QBs, Luck has a lot of fantasy-caliber weapons at his disposal.
It was bad enough having Jordy Nelson get forced out with a hamstring issue again after just one catch for 10 yards. It is worse hearing QB Aaron Rodgers suggest Greg Jennings is going to take Nelson's reps.
It sounds like Nelson is going to be rested a week, if not a few, in fantasy crunch time. You need to replace him.
Nelson's loss is good news to those who took the flier on Jennings' return, won Randall Cobb off waivers early in the year or held on to James Jones and Jermichael Finley. The Packers have plenty of targets to keep Rodgers and company productive. Only the Nelson owners will be left out.
It was a battle of futility, one Mark Sanchez (three interceptions) couldn't even survive. Alabama's Greg McElroy (5-for-7 for 29 yards and a TD) had to mop up, albeit running a limited Jets offense.
On the other side, rookie Ryan Lindley (10-for-31, 72 yards and one INT) hopefully made his last start. Kevin Kolb (shoulder) is closer to returning and Lindley has failed at his No. 1 job: Getting the ball to star receiver Larry Fitzgerald (1-23).
It there were a silver lining in a brutal 7-6 game, the Jets running backs Shonn Greene (24-104) and Bilal Powell (12-58) did well and will be relied on heavily next week at Jacksonville. Those guys will be viable starts.
Matt Ryan, Falcons -- His production is frustrating of late, but you have to stick with him and his primary targets, Roddy White and Julio Jones. Hopefully, they are going to pay you back in the fantasy postseason. The revived Panthers offense can make it a shootout next week.
Drew Brees, Saints -- Consider this a one-week hiccup. He's going to rebound against the suspect Giants secondary next week.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks -- He has had some big performances, but going into Chicago and throwing for 296 yards and two TDs -- adding 71 yards rushing -- was by far his best performance. You won't want to start him against a good Cardinals defense next week, but he has been very good at home and you can consider Sidney Rice (6-99-1) and Golden Tate (5-96-1) solid fantasy starters there.
Jake Locker, Titans -- Despite the five turnovers, Locker did a decent job getting the ball to his outside receivers in a new coordinator's offense. It makes Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and even Jared Cook threats in crunch time.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks -- We said he earned the trust, even in a tough matchup. He responded with 98 combined yards and a TD. You cannot sit him against the Cardinals next week.
Steven Ridley, Patriots -- This was an important performance against an elite run defense. With the Texans and 49ers on deck for the Patriots, you can keep Ridley active -- especially since Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead didn't take much of a chunk out of him. The return from suspension by Brandon Bolden should only further push Vereen and Woodhead off fantasy rosters.
Fred Jackson, Bills -- His 25 carries for 109 yards, helping run down the clock, put him back in the starting category for fantasy owners. He has another decent matchup next week against the Rams, even if C.J. Spiller will get more of the touches in future weeks.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos -- That wasn't a great fantasy day (20-69 rushing and 4-14 receiving) but it was an important one against the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL. Moreno dominated the touches over Ronnie Hillman (5-29) and the shut-out Lance Ball. Moreno looks like a must-start at Oakland this Thursday.
Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers -- He finally found the end zone and he has won the starting RB job over Isaac Redman (9-43) and Rashard Mendenhall (inactive). Consider him a solid start against a Chargers defense that allowed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to go over 100 yards.
Reggie Bush, Dolphins -- He has been revived in recent weeks, but it will be difficult to start him against the 49ers' elite run defense next week.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers -- If his brutally bad performance against the Bengals wasn't enough, the Steelers run defense is up next. You cannot start this huge disappointment in any leagues next week.
James Starks, Packers -- His 15 carries for 66 yards and a TD aren't enough to consider him a fantasy starter -- not with the Lions run defense on deck -- but he has at least held off Alex Green (12-58) some in the timeshare.
Marcel Reece, Raiders -- Not only is Darren McFadden (ankle) nearing a return, but Reece wasn't good against the Browns and figures to be even worse against the Broncos on Thursday night. Don't trust Reece down the stretch.
Rashad Jennings, Jaguars -- If another bad performance wasn't enough, Jennings sustained a concussion. He cannot be used against the Jets defense next week, if he even plays. The Jags running game is a mess, but you might want to take a flier on Montell Owens if Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) doesn't return in Week 14.
Justin Forsett, Texans -- He has been pretty productive spelling Arian Foster of late, but the Texans face a tough Dolphins run defense and Ben Tate's health is improving. Forsett is going to move back down the depth chart and shouldn't be owned, much less started down the stretch.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars -- After his seven catches for 77 yards and a TD, you have to start this guy in every league possible. He just has been too consistent week-to-week and the Jaguars frequently have garbage time for Shorts to capitalize on. The only caveat is the concussion he sustained. Reports had him laughing and looking good in the locker room afterward, so hopefully he can get through the NFL's concussion tests with ease.
Mike Williams, Buccaneers -- He rebounded (6-93-1) after some lean weeks. It made Vincent Jackson (3-55) a bit less intriguing, but Jackson, not Williams, remains the must-start against the Eagles next week. Williams is a viable starter in three-WR formats, too, though.
Danario Alexander, Chargers -- He continues to be Philip Rivers' leading (only?) threat. It will be tough to trust him against the Steelers secondary next week, though.
Josh Gordon, Browns -- Not only did he go off (6-116-1) but he also put a good distance between himself and Greg Little (4-48) as Brandon Weeden's go-to receiver. Gordon is a sleeper against the Chiefs next week.
Chris Givens, Rams -- The absence of Danny Amendola (heel) was a boon to Givens (11-92). He will be a must-start WR in PPR formats against the Bills next week.
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars -- He dropped a few passes and his hot streak has ended. Consider him a marginal start next week against the Jets. Shorts is clearly the Jags' leading man right now.
Brandon Lloyd, Patriots -- He's not 100 percent, and even a limited Julian Edelman cannot help Lloyd break through. You can cut this former star for someone more useful now, even if Edelman is out. The Pats have some elite defenses on deck.
Jarius Wright, Vikings -- He had been the beneficiary of Percy Harvin's (ankle) absence, but he was held to one late catch for 13 yards. It will be tough to use him against the Bears secondary next week.
Brandon Myers, Raiders -- His 14 catches for 130 yards and a TD make him a must-start fantasy TE, especially with the expectation of garbage time coming Thursday night against the Broncos.
Aaron Hernandez, Patriots -- A busy day allowed him to prove his health and value to fantasy owners down the stretch. He's a must-start in all leagues again.
Heath Miller, Steelers -- After some quiet weeks, he rebounded (5-97-1) and will get Ben Roethlisberger back. Miller is a must-start going forward because the Steelers passing game runs through him.
Vernon Davis, 49ers -- After back-to-back awful weeks, we have to wonder if Davis still believes Colin Kaepernick is "awesome" and "like Tom Brady." Davis' struggles make him difficult to trust against the Dolphins next week.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings -- He has been leading the Vikings receiving corps with Harvin out and has entered the must-start category among TEs.
Brandon Pettigrew, Lions -- It is noteworthy the Lions got him into the end zone after his fumbling and dropped passes. With the struggles of the tight ends across the league, Pettigrew rates as starter-quality still. With the loss of Ryan Broyles (knee), Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler can be frequent targets in the passing game in a potential shootout at Green Bay next week.
Jacob Tamme, Broncos -- It might be too early to say, but Tamme has put together back-to-back weeks that make him a sleeper, if not a sure-fire starter, in fantasy again. Joel Dreessen has been quiet in recent weeks, too. That helps us trust Tamme a bit more.
Mason Crosby, Packers -- He is still missing field goals, but the Packers offense looks like it will be getting him opportunities down the stretch. Pick him back up, if he was dropped in your leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers -- They haven't been scoring well in fantasy, but they are playing well otherwise. Consider this unit a must-have, must-start down the stretch. The error-prone Chargers are up next. It could be the Steelers D/ST's best week yet.
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).