First and foremost, let me say thank you to ALL our military around the world who are not at home celebrating this holiday because they are serving our country. We've spilled the same blood in the same mud, and I am eternally thankful for each and every person who serves in the military. Remember, the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men and women to stand by and do nothing!
Another week has passed and once again we have quarterbacks moving up and down the depth chart to wreak havoc on fantasy lineups. It seems like every week there is a new injury we need to take notice of, or a benching that changes the fantasy value for multiple players. This week we have a little of both.
First, the Redskins have finally benched Robert Griffin III in favor of Colt McCoy. With the team sitting at 3-8 this season, and RGIII not really fitting in with Jay Gruden's coaching style, it is safe to cut Griffin in all leagues regardless of size or format. McCoy isn't recommended as a fantasy option unless you are in a 2QB league with nothing out there on the waiver wire worth owning.
Then we have the Jets benching Michael Vick and reinserting Geno Smith at QB. This doesn't really affect the fantasy value of anyone other than you streaming the defense of the team that the Jets play each week. [Spoiler alert] Smith is a turnover machine and can be counted on to be the best defensive weapon for the Dolphins this week.
And finally we come to the Texans and their QB conundrum. Ryan Mallett is done for the year with a torn pectoral muscle, which means the Texans are most likely going to turn back to Ryan Fitzpatrick since they are 5-6 this season and just two games back from the Colts. The truth is the Texans have little to no chance of making the playoffs as either a divisional champion or a wild card given the tight race in the AFC North. What would make the most sense would be them seeing exactly what they have in rookie Tom Savage in the final 5 games of the season.
Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins: I bet you didn't know that Tannehill is the #8-ranked QB this season on NFL.com, ahead of guys like Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and Tony Romo. What makes Tannehill an even sexier fantasy QB this week is the Jets' atrocious secondary that the Dolphins face in Week 13. I would put Tannehill in my top 10 QBs for this week, making him a solid QB1 for people looking to replace Jay Cutler or Rivers due to poor matchups.
Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: The Saints have been generous this year to QBs, giving up 21.3 PPG. Big Ben is averaging 18.96 PPG on NFL.com this year, which ranks him #6 overall at the spot. The Saints are easily one of the biggest disappointments this season at 4-7, and their defense is one major reason since they've given up the 5th-most points in the NFC this season at 286. I'm not saying Roethlisberger is going to go for 6 touchdowns again, but it wouldn't shock me if he did.
Justin Forsett – Ravens: Forsett has put up two impressive games in a row, totaling 294 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns in that span. This season he is leading the league with 5.8 YPC and draws a Chargers defense that is about as average as it gets against the run, averaging 108.8 YPG allowed this season (15th in NFL). I'd consider Forsett a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 for fantasy purposes this week.
Tre Mason – Rams: I haven't been shy about my feelings regarding Mason and his true fantasy value, but this is one of those weeks where his matchup is just too good to pass up. The Raiders give up a whopping 22.9 PPG to RBs this year, 4th-most in the NFL. If there's one thing you can count on with the Rams it is the fact that you can't trust their passing attack. Mason would be a much better fantasy RB if he saw more goal-line touches, but regardless, he should give back RB2 value this week.
DeAndre Hopkins – Texans: The Texans moving back to Fitzpatrick at QB might not be a terrible thing for Hopkins, who has been a low-end WR2 this year despite the roller coaster ride that is the Texans QB play. The Titans are only giving up 233.4 YPG passing, but Fitzpatrick has a lot to prove if he wants to have any hope of not being cut this offseason. I'd put Hopkins back into your fantasy lineup and see if he and Fitzpatrick can rekindle their early-season chemistry this week.
Martavis Bryant – Steelers: Bryant hit the ground running in Week 7 with 40 yards receiving and a touchdown. He then proceeded to score 5 TDs over the next 3 games, but fell flat on his face against the Titans in Week 11 when he caught just 2 of his 5 targets and finished with 11 yards receiving. But for all the same reasons I say to start Roethlisberger this week, I want you to keep the faith in Bryant as the Steelers are fresh of their bye this week. He's still seeing limited snaps on game day, but he should finish with WR3 stats when all is said and done.
Charles Clay – Dolphins: When it comes to fantasy football, the list for useful tight ends is razor thin. This week I am going to dig a little deeper into my bag of tricks and pull out the name Charles Clay for those of you in need of options at the position. Clay is a TD-dependent guy for sure, but the Jets have given up a league-high 12 TDs to TEs this season. What's even better is the healthy 11.5 PPG they are giving up to TEs, the 2nd-most behind the Bears this year.
Miami Dolphins defense: Sometimes you almost hate to keep beating a dead horse when it comes to just how bad the Jets are. Who am I kidding; no I don't! The Jets putting Smith back in at QB assures one thing; the Dolphins defense is a must-start for Week 13. The Dolphins have an elite type of D-line and a pretty solid secondary, and the Jets are terrible on offense. I have the Dolphins as my #1 defense for this week in my personal projections.
Philip Rivers – Chargers: After racking up 20 TDs over the first 8 games of the season, Rivers has managed to throw just 2 over his last 3 games. Rivers has thrown 4 of his 9 INTs in just the last 3 games, and is averaging just 207.3 YPG passing. With Rivers banged up and the Chargers taking on the Ravens on the road, I'd put him in the middle of the QB2 range this week.
Colin Kaepernick – 49ers: One of the more overrated fantasy QBs in my opinion is Kaepernick, as he is owned in 96.4 percent of NFL.com leagues (started in 51.5 percent of them) and currently ranks 13th for QBs this season. So far he is averaging just 1.4 TDs to 0.55 INTs per game this year, neither of which a QB should be overly proud. While the Seahawks defense has been a disappointment this year, I don't see Kaepernick setting the scoreboard on fire this week either.
Ryan Mathews – Chargers: Growing up in San Diego keeps the Chargers a special place in my heart, but I just don't see this game going well for them. Rivers is obviously banged up (chest and ribs), and Mathews still isn't seeing a full workload as he works his way back from knee and shoulder injuries. Mathews is a boom-or-bust RB this week, and we are too far into the season to throw the dice at the fantasy football craps table.
Alfred Morris – Redskins: Morris may be the biggest loser when it comes to the benching of RGIII, as he has clearly shown this season to have more success running the ball when Griffin is under center. This game could get out of hand early on with Andrew Luck and Co. playing a little pitch-n-catch on the Redskins secondary. If that happens, McCoy could finish with decent fantasy numbers due to garbage time, whereas Morris would see fewer chances (carries) for fantasy success. I've seen big-box websites calling him a RB1 this week, and I see him more as a RB2 with real downside into the flex range when the week is over.
Percy Harvin – Jets: If there is any one question I could ask the fantasy gods right now it would be "why do 82.0 percent of NFL.com players own Percy Harvin in Week 13?" Harvin has just 4 catches for 25 yards over the last 2 games, and now has to deal with possibly the worst QB in the NFL throwing the defense… I mean him the ball. If you for some reason still own Harvin and can't/won't cut him, at least do yourself a favor and bench him.
DeSean Jackson – Redskins:Another casualty of the QB carousal is Jackson, a big-play WR who is hit or miss for fantasy production. He's hit more than he's missed this season with five 100-plus yard games this year, but McCoy has seen action in just 2 games this season and can't be trusted to connect with D-Jax in his first game action since Week 8. I'd find other options this week at WR if at all possible.
Delaine Walker – Titans: Walker put up 155 receiving yards on 5 receptions last week, which is about as good as it gets for fantasy TEs. But this week should be a different story as the Texans' ferocious D-line faces a Titans O-line that is nothing to brag about. I see Walker staying on the line more this week in order to help block J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, thus killing his fantasy value. I'd give Jordan Cameron or Travis Kelce a look if you need a replacement TE this week.
Philadelphia Eagles defense: The Eagles are the #1 fantasy defense this season on NFL.com by a full 23.00 fantasy points. To put that into perspective, the Bills have the 2nd-best defense with 119.00 fantasy points this season. Divide that by 11 games and you get 10.82 PPG. Meaning, the Eagles are 2.13 [fantasy] games better than the Bills this season. With that said, Week 13 will speak volumes about how the playoff picture in the NFC East plays out as the 8-3 Eagles head out on the road to take on the 8-3 Cowboys. This game has shootout written all over it, making the Eagles a defense to avoid as you try and solidify your own fantasy playoff seeding.