Week 13 marks the final week of the fantasy football regular season, and the last chance owners have to make it to the postseason. What made this week so special for Blake Bortles, the Jaguars offense, and any owners willing to stick with them despite the ups and downs was their matchup, the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts have given up the 8th-most fantasy points to fantasy QBs this season, which made Bortles, Marqise Lee, and Leonard Fournette interesting plays this weekend. Most anyone that owns Fournette likely played him, despite 42 total yards in Week 12. But Bortles was started in around 9 percent of fantasy leagues, while Lee was started in closer to 41 percent of leagues. Each found themselves among the top performers at their positions this week, justifying the faith their owners showed in them.
Josh Gordon returned to fantasy owners' minds this week after a 2-year absence from the NFL while he dealt with substance abuse problems. Despite having the worst QB (statistically speaking) he's ever had throwing to him in DeShone Kizer, Gordon was able to reel in 4 receptions for 85 yards, proving he is still a WR defenses must game plan for. Make sure he isn't on your waiver wire, because he will be a factor to finish out the season as Browns coaches try and save their jobs for next season.
Looking ahead at Week 14, fantasy owners need to pay attention to the news that broke on Monday afternoon, whereby Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was suspended 1 game for his late hit on Bills CB Tre'Davious White. White suffered a concussion, and Gronkowski apologized for the hit after the game. There is speculation that Gronk will appeal the suspension, but I'd bet he misses the Dolphins game since he did admit to the hit, and take ownership of it to reporters after the game.
Alex Smith – Chiefs: Alex Smith finally broke out of his 4-game fantasy slump this weekend, racking up 366 passing yards, 70 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns, and didn't throw an interception against the Jets. The rushing yards all came on 1 carry, and Smith completed only 19 of 33 passes (57.6 percent), but the yards, touchdowns, and lack of interceptions put him atop the QB rankings for Week 13.
The Jets are a shell of their former selves on defense, so this type of performance isn't entirely shocking. Smith and the Chiefs have been struggling on offense and defense since Week 9, but this could be just the kick-start they needed to get things rolling on offense again. Next week they get the Raiders, so I would feel comfortable firing up Smith for the first week of the fantasy playoffs if you own him.
Blake Bortles– Jaguars: Bortles looked like the QB I remember from the 2015 season this week, able to have his way with the Colts defense whenever he felt like it. Bortles completed an impressive 26 of 35 passes (74.3 percent), for 309 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs.
Bortles' 42.0 fantasy points were his most since Week 3 when he posted 47.8 fantasy points against the Ravens. It was a great game for Bortles and the Jaguars offense, and may be just the confidence they need when they host the Seahawks in Week 14. While Bortles finished as the #3-ranked fantasy QB this week, he'll be a QB2 on paper against the Seahawks.
Kenyan Drake – Dolphins: Drake got to take over RB duties full-time this week with Damien Williams inactive (shoulder), and he made a case for himself to remain the go-to guy in the backfield moving forward. Against a stout Broncos defense, Drake racked up 120 rushing yards on 23 carries, 21 receiving yards on 3 receptions, and scored his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Drake was the workhorse in this one, logging 26 touches to Senorice Perry's 5 garbage time carries. Even if Williams is healthy enough to be active in Week 14, Drake earned himself more touches with this effort. Consider Drake a RB2 with upside against the Patriots in Week 14.
Alfred Morris – Cowboys: Alfred Morris finally had a game worthy of fantasy football talk, amassing 127 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries against the Redskins. Dak Prescott was his usually disappointing self (102/2/0 passing line), but Morris carried the Cowboys to a divisional win.
The Redskins and Cowboys always play each other tough, but the Cowboys had this one under control after a scoreless 1st quarter. Morris will continue to handle starting duties with Ezekiel Elliot suspended until Week 16, and he makes for a solid RB2 play against a Giants team that just fired their head coach and general manager on Monday.
Jermaine Kearse – Jets: Jermaine Kearse has quietly put up a monster 2-game stretch, posting 15 receptions, 262 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown over that span. Kearse accounted for 9 of those catches and 157 of those yards this week against the Chiefs.
Had it not been for Tyreke Hill (6/185/2) on the other side of the ball, Kearse could have easily been the #1 fantasy WR for Week 13 in PPR formats. The Jets are always tough to trust on offense, but Josh McCown (2,880 passing yards, 18 TDs, 8 INTs) is one of the more underrated QBs not just in fantasy football, but the NFL as a whole.
The Jets head to Denver in Week 14 to take on the Broncos, and it looks like a bad matchup on paper. However, with the Broncos struggling with consistency on defense this season, Kearse will be a sneaky WR3 play with real upside.
Marqise Lee– Jaguars: Lee was looking to bounce back after a disappointing Week 12 game when he was held to just 1 catch for 13 yards against the Cardinals. He did bounce back, hauling in 7 of his 10 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. The highlight of the day was when Lee made a highlight reel one-handed catch over the middle of the field. If fantasy football gave style points, Lee could have finished as a top-3 WR!
Lee is more of a PPR guy than a standard scoring guy, but he holds tangible value in both formats for me. He's scored 3 touchdowns in his last 5 games, but meets up with a Seahawks team riding high after beating the Eagles 24-10 on Sunday night.
Stephen Anderson – Texans: I'll be honest and tell you Stephen Anderson wasn't even remotely on my radar heading into Week 13, but got into the game when C.J. Fiedorowicz exited with a concussion. He went on to record the most targets for any TE in the league (12), turning them into 5 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Even if Fiedorowicz isn't cleared in time for Week 14, there have to be better options for fantasy owners in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. He should be left on the waiver wire in all formats.
Miami Dolphins defense: The Dolphins defense isn't one that is owned in many leagues – around 10 percent of leagues to be precise. They've been a mixed bag of tricks this season, ranging from 1.00 fantasy point back in Week 8, to finishing with the #1-ranked fantasy defense this week thanks to their 28.00 fantasy points.
The Dolphins defense was able to hold the Broncos offense to just 3 points (the other 6 points came off a pick-six), while totaling 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 safeties, 1 blocked kick, and they scored a touchdown on a pick-six of their own.
The Dolphins can't play against Trevor Siemian every week, so I wouldn't rush to the waiver wire to grab them for Week 14. As a matter of fact, I would consider the Dolphins last on my defensive list next week with the Patriots up next on the schedule.
Tyrod Taylor – Bills: Taylor injured his ankle on the first play of the game, but pushed through the pain and got through 3 quarters of football before he was forced to sit. Even with the Patriots generous defense on the other side of the ball, Taylor managed just 65 passing yards, 32 rushing yards, no touchdowns, but did throw an interception.
Taylor has been diagnosed with a patellar tendon contusion, and is listed as day-to-day. Even if he is able to suit up for Week 14 against the Colts, I am done giving him chances this season. Kelvin Benjamin is expected to return to practice this week, but Taylor is clearly not going to be 100 percent before Sunday. Even against the Colts, you just can't trust Taylor and the Bills passing offense any longer.
Matt Ryan – Falcons: The Falcons just didn't have "it" this week as they lost a close one to the Vikings, 14-9. For his part, Matt Ryan completed just 16 of 29 passes (55.2 percent), for 173 empty yards. Week 13 marked the lowest yardage total for Ryan this season, and it was the first time since Week 14 of the 2015 season that Matty Ice hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in a game.
The Vikings dominated the time of possession in this one, 34:02 to 25:58, which explains why Ryan only attempted 29 passes. The Falcons host the Saints next week, meaning they will have to shake this one off and be ready to play in Week 14. With the NFC South still up for grabs between the Saints, Panthers, and Falcons, Ryan will need to bring his A game if he wants to win on Thursday night.
Jordan Howard – Bears: The Bears lost a close one to the 49ers on Sunday (15-14), but their disappointments didn't stop there as Howard managed to turn in just 28 total yards. He ran the ball 13 times for 33 yards, but then lost 5 yards on his 1 reception, putting him at 28 total yards for the game.
Howard was a great play on paper, with the 49ers coming into the game having scored the 2nd-fewest fantasy points through 12 weeks. The Niners found their stride this week though, and Howard suffered because of it. With the Bengals up next, on the road, Howard will be a true boom-or-bust RB2 play in Week 14.
Jacquizz Rodgers – Buccaneers: When Doug Martin suffered a concussion in Week 12, fantasy owners ran to the waiver wire to grab Jacquizz Rodgers ahead of Week 13. I knew that was not going to work out, and it didn't as Rodgers managed to carry the ball just 3 times for 25 yards. With no touchdowns and no receptions, Rodgers' only other contribution was 20 return yards for those leagues that count them.
Martin should be back for Week 14, pushing Rodgers back to the bench for the Bucs. He never should have been picked up off the waiver wire to begin with, so dropping him is a no-brainer. Move on to someone like Mike Davis or Aaron Jones at RB.
Brandin Cooks – Patriots: Cooks set a season-low this week as he reeled in just 2 of his 3 targets, totaling 17 yards and no touchdowns for Week 13. He did add 5 yards rushing, but most formats only give a point for every 10 yards rushing.
If Gronkowski is indeed out for Week 14, Cooks should step right back into his role of 5 catches, 74 yards, and possibly a touchdown against the Dolphins. Even if Gronk plays, there is no way the Patriots don't get Cooks more involved than they did this week. Keep Cooks in your lineup, and chalk this up to a bad game.
Julio Jones – Falcons: Julio Jones is clearly one of the best WRs in the NFL, but fantasy owners know he is one of the hardest players to own because of his volatility. Jones did see 6 targets this week, but he caught just 2 of them for 24 empty yards.
Whenever your QB makes the losers list, it's going to be hard to keep his No. 1 WR off the list. Jones came into this game riding high after racking up 12 catches, 253 yards, and 2 touchdowns against the Buccaneers in Week 12. After a performance like that, a disappointing game like this is almost expected. With the Saints up next, he is no lock to bounce back to WR1 status. You can't sit him, obviously, but you do have to taper your expectations for him.
Zach Ertz – Eagles: Ertz was forced out in Week 13 with a concussion, limiting him to just 3 quarters of action. Ertz finished with 2 catches (4 targets), 24 receiving yards, and no touchdowns in Seattle.
It was a tough game for the Eagles, with Carson Wentz throwing just a single TD despite racking up 348 passing yards in the game. If Ertz is placed in the concussion protocol, there are no promises he gets cleared in time to face the Rams on Sunday. His owners will want to make sure they have a backup plan in place, just in case.
Kansas City Chiefs defense:It's never a good thing when you would have been better off not playing a defense at all, rather than playing your defense. But that is just what happened in Week 13 as the Chiefs lost their owners points (-4.00) thanks to the 38 points they allowed to the Jets.
Kansas City signed Darrelle Revis to help their secondary, but he missed several tackles that led to big gains and points. The Chiefs defense simply isn't one you can trust going forward, even with the Raiders, Chargers, Dolphins, and Broncos ahead on the schedule. If the Jets can embarrass them like this, the Chiefs clearly can't be trusted.