What’s something you’re going to be thankful for this weekend? Treating C.J. Anderson like a top-shelf RB1 against a Chiefs defense allowing 5.0 yards per carry, and 129.4 yards per week on the ground.
Anderson smoked the Dolphins’ stout run defense for 195 yards from scrimmage in Week 12, posting the most total yards of any Broncos back in 2014. He’s averaging 5.57 yards per carry, and on film it’s easy to see why. Anderson always gets what’s blocked, and has an extremely evasive first step. That’s true both at the point of attack and in the open field. Rare was the Week 12 touch where Miami’s first man on the scene could bring Anderson down. His feet are simply too quick, and his vision is exquisite. This shows up in advanced metrics, as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Anderson’s 68.7 “elusive rating” would rank third amongst running backs had he played enough snaps to qualify.
But Anderson isn’t just making people miss. He’s playing complete football, flashing smooth hands in the passing game, and holding his own in blitz pick-up. Frankly, it’s surprising it’s taken him this long to emerge as Denver’s No. 1 back. Regardless of Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman’s (foot) health, it’s a distinction Anderson should keep going forward. Remember the moment you added Anderson when cutting into the turkey on Thursday evening.
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Week 13 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: Andrew Luck is “just” fantasy’s No. 5 quarterback over the past five weeks, but remains No. 1 on the season, putting up a weekly 29.9 points. That’s 1.4 more than Peyton Manning, and 3.4 more than Aaron Rodgers. Luck’s 21.6 points in Week 12 were his fewest of 2014, but it’s a mark that would still rank No. 13 on the year. In other words, Luck has quite the floor to go along with his exceptional ceiling. The Redskins, who are allowing the fourth most fantasy points to quarterbacks, have no shot at slowing Luck down. … Peyton Manning has thrown for at least three scores in a remarkable 8-of-11 starts. He’s thrown for fewer than two exactly once. The Chiefs boast one of the league’s better pass defenses, but Manning completed 80.8 percent of his throws against them in Week 2, tossing three touchdowns. The rematch is in Arrowhead Stadium, but matchups or venues don’t matter for the league’s most-prolific quarterback. Manning is dead set on nothing less than rewriting the entire passing record book.
What do the world’s bookmakers think of this weekend’s showdown between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady? Only that it has the potential to be one of the highest-scoring games ever. The Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks have never met as starters, as Rodgers missed the sides’ 2010 meeting with a concussion. The Pack are averaging 38.6 points over their past five games, with the Pats managing 39.4. Rodgers has a 30:3 TD:INT ratio. Brady, 26:6. Thank the football gods we have a matchup this good. Oh — and start them. … The Saints stink. This fact has become inarguable after the infamous homebodies went 0-3 on their recent homestand. But Drew Brees is still averaging 24.9 fantasy points, including 23.6 on the road. Even as they get healthier, the Steelers have holes all over their defense. Worry about New Orleans, but not Brees’ fantasy numbers. … If you throw out Mark Sanchez’s four-game sample size, Tony Romo has been fantasy’s No. 10 quarterback. He’s accounted for multiple scores in seven of his nine complete starts. With Philadelphia allowing the most fantasy points to opposing signal callers, Romo will be eating eagle for Thanksgiving.
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Only eight quarterbacks are averaging more fantasy points than Ryan Tannehill’s weekly 22.1. Throw out what you know about Tannehill’s sub-par deep ball and focus on the fact that he’s accounted for 17 total scores and 258 yards rushing over his past eight starts. Monday he gets the Jets, a pass defense that’s allowed an unfathomable 27:3 TD:INT ratio against. … Matthew Stafford is averaging 17.8 fantasy points over his past four starts, and 12.1 over his past two. The question is, how is that possible with Calvin Johnson back in the fold? Matchups haven’t helped. Stafford has been forced to do battle with two of the league’s very best defenses in Arizona and New England on the road. He’s also running for his life. Stafford has taken 33 sacks, just three off his career-worst total from 2011. He’s getting sacked once every 12.6 dropbacks, a preposterous number. That’s particularly concerning since LT Riley Reiff is battling a knee injury. All that being said, it’s hard to believe Stafford won’t get on track in Detroit’s Turkey Day classic against the Bears. Chicago is allowing the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks, and surrendered 106 combined points across its past two road games. Stafford has been playing ugly ball, but expect him to apply some spitshine to that nickel in Week 13.
Mark Sanchez has attempted at least 37 passes in all three of his starts, and averaged 328 yards. Yes, he has six turnovers to just four total touchdowns (again, in his three starts), but that kind of volume keeps any quarterback in the QB1 mix. The Cowboys’ pass defense bends much more than it breaks, but is not an imposing unit. … Russell Wilson has averaged just 187 yards passing over his past three starts, but still managed to be fantasy’s No. 7 quarterback in the same time period. That’s because he’s also averaged 83.6 rushing yards, and scored four total touchdowns. It’s not always pretty, but Wilson gets the numbers that matter. … I have Jay Cutler ranked absurdly high. I am aware of this. But you only need to look three days into the past to see that the Lions can be thrown on. It’s been ugly lately, but Cutler is still fantasy’s No. 8 quarterback on the season. I know his play has fallen off dramatically, but with so many other quarterbacks struggling, I’ll roll the dice on the signal caller with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Cam Newton had one of his best fantasy starts of the season in Week 11, and then got a week to heal up. Newton’s 2014 floor is low, low, low, but his ceiling is still quite high. … Matt Ryan is averaging 18.4 fantasy points over his past seven starts, which would rank No. 24 on the year. The Cardinals allow a weekly 255 yards through the air, but just the 22nd most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Ryan hasn’t had a three-score game since September 28. … Eli Manning has averaged 20 fantasy points since Odell Beckham joined the starting lineup. Not exactly world beating, but enough to consider him in strong matchups. He has one for Week 13, as even though the Jags got after Andrew Luck in Week 12, they are surrendering the 11th most fantasy points to enemy signal callers. … Alex Smith has four passing touchdowns over his past five games. Week 13 streamers need to hang their hats on volume in a shootout with the Broncos. … Colin Kaepernick is fantasy’s No. 26 quarterback over the past five weeks. He’s probably best avoided on a short week against the Seahawks. … Both have good matchups, but Drew Stanton is the higher-floor streamer for Week 13, with Zach Mettenberger having the higher ceiling.
Week 13 Running Backs
RB Notes: DeMarco Murray has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in 10-of-11 games. He’s averaging 151 yards from scrimmage. Perhaps most amazingly, Murray has yet to have a single game where he was held below 4.0 yards per carry. Regardless of whether Murray reaches 2,000 yards rushing — he’s currently on pace for 1,969 — he’s in the midst of a special campaign. … The Broncos are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry, but Jamaal Charles has proven time and again that matchups don’t matter. He’s averaging 5.24 yards per carry since returning from his ankle issue in Week 4, and has run all over solid run defenses like Seattle, Buffalo and the Jets. Charles has 11 touchdowns over his past eight games. … Coming off a 204-yard effort on the ground, Le’Veon Bell gets a Saints defense that just coughed up 182 yards to Justin Forsett in Week 12. New Orleans allowed 100 rushes for 545 yards (5.45 YPC) and four touchdowns during its three-game home losing streak. … Even against the Bengals’ shaky run defense, Tampa’s running back corps isn’t worth fooling with.
As is now his weekly custom, Arian Foster’s (groin) status is up in the air, but his matchup is not. Surrendering the second most fantasy points to running backs on the year, the Titans have been dismantled on the ground over their past four games, allowing 148 rushes for 733 yards (4.95 YPC) and seven touchdowns. That includes 20/151/2 from Foster in Week 8. Foster will be fantasy’s No. 2 running back if he can take the field. … The Lions are a stiff matchup for opposing backs, but are tied for the second most receptions allowed (67) to rival runners. That means Matt Forte remains a top-five option for Week 13 even though Detroit is permitting just 3.2 yards per carry. … Slowly but surely, LeSean McCoy has come to life, rushing 147 times for 667 yards (4.54 YPC) and two touchdowns over his past seven games. There have been some clunkers mixed in, but the only reason owners haven’t felt fit to proclaim Shady fully “back” is his fluky TD rate. McCoy is overdue for some ground scores. The Cowboys have allowed 10 of them, which is tied for eighth most in the league.
Fantasy’s No. 8 back on the season, Eddie Lacy is No. 2 over the past five weeks, and No. 1 if you exclude Arian Foster’s two appearances. The Pats have allowed only five rushing touchdowns, but Lacy should get his in what’s almost guaranteed to be a shootout. … Justin Forsett has been piping hot over his past two starts, rushing 42 times for 294 yards (7.00 YPC) and four touchdowns. The Chargers’ run defense is the definition of “middle of the road,” allowing 4.4 yards per carry and the 18th most fantasy points to enemy runners. Forsett should be in for another nice day. … Rashad Jennings has rushed 35 times for just 111 yards (3.00 YPC) since his Week 11 return, but as expected, propped up his fantasy value with 12 catches for an additional 76 yards. The Jags are allowing a touchdown per game to running backs. Expect Jennings to finally find the end zone this weekend. … Matchups don’t usually matter for Marshawn Lynch, but at less than 100 percent — his back is still bothering him — on a short week against the 49ers’ elite run defense, he’s just a low-end RB1.
Andre Ellington has faded as his touches have mounted and the Cardinals’ schedule has stiffened. He’s rushed 47 times for a pathetic 89 yards (1.89 YPC) over his past three games, managing just one touchdown. 14 receptions for 82 yards have kept his value from going completely in the gutter, but the point is, the man needs a break. He’s finally getting one in the Falcons, a run defense allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. There is an extra layer of intrigue, however, as the Cards have signed veteran Michael Bush to “pound it in there and close out games,” in the words of coach Bruce Arians. That means Ellington is more likely than ever to get vultured, but Bush’s arrival should ultimately be a good thing. Ellington has always been more effective when he’s fresher on smaller workloads. … Alfred Morris’ splits with and without Robert Griffin III are well known, but his Week 13 matchup is too good to ignore. The Colts are allowing 4.5 yards per carry, and have been stung for 12 rushing scores. Coach Jay Gruden has also committed to Morris in recent weeks, getting him an average of 19 carries over his past five games. At least for this week, Morris remains a safe RB2. … Denard Robinson should bounce back from his rough Week 12 against a run defense getting destroyed for 4.9 yards per carry and 142.6 yards per game.
Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard both handled RB2 workloads in Week 12, and that should remain the case against Lovie Smith’s Bucs. OC Hue Jackson has really started scheming well since Andy Dalton’s Week 10 implosion. … Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are very much a timeshare, but Crowell has considerably more upside, making him a solid RB2 to West’s solid FLEX. … Still banged up and receiving unpredictable workloads, Lamar Miller isn’t an inspiring RB2 against the Jets’ staunch Run D. … Yes, it was only four carries, but what Latavius Murray showed in Week 12 should be more than enough to earn an extended look as the Raiders’ feature back. He offers oodles of upside as an RB2 against the Rams’ hot-and-cold run defense. … LeGarrette Blount vs. Jonas Gray shouldn’t be considered “settled,” but Blount is the far better bet to score in New England’s expected track meet with the Packers. … No team is allowing fewer fantasy points to running backs than Baltimore. Playing through a shoulder injury, Ryan Mathews is just a FLEX option for Week 13. … Trent Richardson is in denial about it, but most signs point toward Dan Herron operating as the Colts’ new Ahmad Bradshaw going forward. Even coach Chuck Pagano has essentially admitted as much. Both should be in for plenty of work, but Herron is the higher-upside option. T-Rich remains touchdown dependent.
Week 13 Receivers
WR Notes: The Eagles are allowing 266 passing yards per game (30th), and have been stung for 24 scores through the air (30th). Only two teams are allowing most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Now they must stop Dez Bryant, who has six touchdowns across his past four games. Dez ate Philly’s lunch in 2013, catching 16 passes for 209 yards and a score across the sides’ two meetings. … Demaryius Thomas’ streak of 100-plus yard games was snapped at seven in Week 12, but it didn’t matter for fantasy purposes, as he whipped the Dolphins for three touchdowns. Thomas boasts an awe-inspiring 97/1,051/8 line in eight games since the Broncos’ Week 4 bye. … Antonio Brown is averaging 9.4 catches over Pittsburgh’s past five games. Those are the same five games Martavis Bryant has been active for. In other words, no enemy, foreign or domestic, can slow down the Steelers’ unstoppable No. 1 wideout. As for Bryant, he has only one garbage-time score over his past two contests, but the Saints have allowed 13 touchdowns to wideouts. Bryant is a high-end WR3 with WR1 upside thanks to his nose for the end zone.
Calvin Johnson has just nine catches for 117 yards over his past two games. He has Patrick Peterson, Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis to thank. Enter the Bears, who are allowing the 13th most fantasy points to rival receivers, and could be without rookie corner Kyle Fuller (knee). Look for Megatron to have his third 100-yard day of the season. … A.J. Green has 18 catches for 248 yards and a score over his past two games. Even with free-agent signee Alterraun Verner playing reasonably-good football between injuries, the Bucs are allowing the sixth most fantasy points to receivers. Green is going to keep eating. … New England limited Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate to a combined 8/155/0 in Week 12, but that kind of success can’t be expected against Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The question is, how will the Pats’ coverage shake out between Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington. There haven’t been many smoke signals from New England. Cobb and Nelson owners just have to trust in the golden arm of Aaron Rodgers. Cobb and Nelson have PFF’s two highest “WR ratings” when being targeted by the league’s No. 1 quarterback. Rodgers has thrown only one pick when looking Cobb and Nelson’s way.
Josh Gordon: Still a matchup-proof WR1. Last week’s 16 targets were excessive — especially since they resulted in some harebrained Brian Hoyer picks — but Gordon doesn’t need 16 looks to destroy opposing secondaries. No. 7 is probably overly conservative for perhaps the league’s best wideout. … The pathetic Redskins won’t have an answer for new-father T.Y. Hilton. … Emmanuel Sanders has cleared 100 yards in 7-of-11 games. He’s averaging 7.6 catches since Week 8. … We wrote about Odell Beckham at length on Monday, but the short of it? He’s averaging 8/126/0.5 since replacing Victor Cruz in the starting lineup four games ago. Jacksonville’s patchwork secondary has no answer for the electrifying rookie. … Mike Evans has proven he should never be on benches, but the Bengals have allowed a league-low 11 passing touchdowns this season. Week 13 is one of the rare times Evans will find himself relegated to mid-range WR2 status. … The Cardinals have one of the league’s top-cornerback tandems in Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie, but neither Julio Jones nor Roddy White ever belong outside the top 20 when Atlanta is playing at home. Julio still leads in the in receptions of 20 yards or longer (20).
The Lions are a stiff matchup for Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but it’s always important to remember the inverse is true, as well. Even as the Bears’ offense has gone in the tank, Marshall and Jeffery are both still top-20 receivers over the past five weeks. … Expect Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman to keep compiling against the Packers. LaFell is fantasy’s No. 23 receiver on the season, with Edelman checking in at No. 27. … Mike Wallace’s upside has been stubbornly capped thanks to Ryan Tannehill’s lack of a deep ball, but few receivers are better bets to score in Week 13. The Jets have allowed a shocking 27 passing scores, compared to just three interceptions. … The same is true of Wallace’s teammate, rookie Jarvis Landry. Running precise routes and getting open when it counts, Landry has four scores over his past four games. His lack of yardage — Landry has cleared 60 only once — limits him to WR3/4 status, but his floor is much higher than the typical WR36-48. … Sammy Watkins enters Week 13 in a bit of a funk. It will be hard to shake it against Joe Haden and the Browns.
Jordan Matthews is fantasy’s No. 12 receiver over the past five weeks. Now playing more snaps than Riley Cooper, Matthews should make your extended family take notice at least once on Thanksgiving. … Really getting going in recent weeks, Keenan Allen should stay hot against the Ravens’ makeshift secondary. … DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson again find themselves at square one with Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center. Both produced with Fitz at quarterback earlier this season, but it was Hopkins who appeared to have the better rapport. … Coming off the first eight-catch game of his career, there’s little reason to expect Kenny Stills to cool off against the Steelers. Stills is averaging five catches over his past six games. … John Brown’s hype is through the roof for this week’s matchup with the burnable Falcons, but it’s important to remember that the Cardinals’ passing attack is at risk of going off the rails on a weekly basis thanks to Drew Stanton. … Terrance Williams has only three catches over his past three games, but is overdue for a random touchdown. That’s something the Eagles specialize in allowing.
Week 13 Tight Ends
TE Notes: Rob Gronkowski is averaging 6.4 catches for 95 yards across his past seven games. He’s scored six times in the process. For Gronk’s career, he has 51 touchdowns in 61 games. … Jimmy Graham (shoulder) continues to operate at less than 100 percent, but has been playing something resembling his normal role since Week 8. He’s posted a 39/294/6 line across five games. His nine total touchdowns are tied for fourth amongst pass catchers. … “There’s a chance” Julius Thomas (ankle) will be back for Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. We’d like to be optimistic about Thomas’ odds of suiting up for Week 13, but his history of ankle issues is ominous. He’s a candidate to slide down the ranks. Owners must have a back-up plan ready. … It may seem like Greg Olsen has had a quiet season, but he remains fantasy’s No. 6 tight end. He’s averaging 70 yards over his past three games. The Vikings are not an overly-imposing matchup.
As always seems to be the case, Jason Witten has gotten cookin’ as the season’s worn on, checking in as fantasy’s No. 6 tight end over the past five weeks. He boasts a 28/195/3 line over his past four games. Sadly, that’s more than enough to make him a rock-solid TE1 in a year where the tight-end position has been extremely volatile. … Delanie Walker’s 155 yards receiving against the Eagles weren’t just a new career high, but the most by any pass catcher in Week 12. Finally healthy, and getting on the same page with Zach Mettenberger, Walker has re-established his TE1 bonafides. … You’re tired of hearing the Travis Kelce hype. But … Broncos/Chiefs is going to be a shootout, and Alex Smith has literally one receiver to throw to. It’s setting up as a Zeus kind of week. Kelce is quietly — or loudly, depending on your perspective — fantasy’s No. 11 tight end on the year.
Dwayne Allen’s (ankle) touchdown odds will be a must start if they suit up against the Redskins. … The same goes for Charles Clay (knee, hamstring) if he can get on the field against the Jets, who are silver plattering the second most fantasy points to enemy tight ends. … Things are finally looking up for Jordan Cameron’s (concussion) health. The presence of Josh Gordon should be a bonus for the erstwhile TE1, as Gordon’s lid-lifting ability takes defensive focus away from the middle of the field. … Since Kyle Rudolph’s return, we’ve seen one no show, and one “ehh” show. He’s a mid-range TE2 until further notice. … Tim Wright played a season-high 61-of-81 snaps in Week 12, scoring two touchdowns. Great stuff, but hopefully we all know by now that the Pats rarely go with the same game plan twice. … The matchup couldn’t be better for Eric Ebron, but he’s yet to prove that matchups — good or bad — hold any predictive value for his output.
Week 13 Kickers
Week 13 Defense/Special Teams
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