Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2016
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 13 of the 2016 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
Please Note: This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Derek Carr (OAK, QB)
You don't have to be a doctor to appreciate how much dislocating a pinky should hurt. We watched Derek Carr's injury last week and also watched him come back and put up solid fantasy numbers. Over the last five weeks, the Bills have given up an average of 23 fantasy points to QBs. Expect a lot of Carr to Crabtree and Cooper.
Start 'em Tyrod Taylor (BUF, QB)
Suiting up across the field from Derek Carr will be Tyrod Taylor who has Sammy Watkins back again. Oakland gives up the fifth most yards per game through the air (273.5), but the real value for Taylor is with his feet. Ranked 10th this week, Taylor has the potential to put up fringe QB1-type numbers.
Start 'em Jordan Howard (CHI, RB)
Ranked 6th among RBs this week is Chicago's Jordan Howard facing a 49ers defense that has given up the most fantasy points to opposing RBs over the second half of the season (22.8 STD, 24.8 PPR). No other team has given up more yards on the ground than San Francisco making Jordan Howard a must-start this week.
Start 'em Jeremy Hill (CIN, RB)
We expected Jeremy Hill to struggle a bit last week against a tough Ravens D and he did, but a matchup with the Eagles should be marginally better. With Gio Bernard and AJ Green out, it should be the Jeremy Hill show this week. His Top 15 ranking this week suggests that Hill should make for a fine RB2.
Start 'em Stefon Diggs (MIN, WR)
We listed Stefon Diggs as a Start last week and he ended up being a scratch on Saturday. He practiced this week and should suit up against a cake-matchup with Dallas's 2nd-worst pass defense. Opposing WR1's have flourished against the Cowboys mainly because teams are forced to play from behind making Diggs a must-start in all formats.
Start 'em Tyrell Williams (SD, WR)
Assuming Tampa Bay doesn't shut down the Chargers like they did the Seahawks last week (a likely assumption), Tyrell Williams should be a solid start. Ranked 17th this week, he'll face a Bucs secondary that gave Julio Jones 17 points (25 PPR), Amari Cooper 23 points (35 PPR), and Demaryius Thomas 15 points (21 PPR). Look for Williams to keep his hot streak going.
Start 'em Tyler Eifert (CIN, TE)
In the first game without A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert led the team in targets (11) and we expect that to continue this week against Philly where Eifert will be the primary target for Andy Dalton. Ranked #4 this week, Eifert should remain in all fantasy lineups.
Start 'em Cameron Brate (TB, TE)
Cameron Brate has become a solid part of the Tampa Bay offense catching 4 of his 5 targets last week for 49 yards. He could have had a bigger day if his touchdown wasn't called back. San Diego gives up the 7th-most yards through the air making Brate a borderline TE1 this week.
Start 'em Baltimore Ravens (BAL, DEF)
The Dolphins defense has been pretty solid this season, but the other side of the ball has some banged-up question marks in recent weeks (Albert/Tunsil). Ranked 8th, we anticipate Baltimore having a solid fantasy outing against them and should see plenty of pressure on Ryan Tannehill.
Start 'em Matt Prater (DET, K)
The Lions have been on a roll and that includes kicker Matt Prater. Ranked 3rd among all kickers this week, he'll face a New Orleans team that has given up an average of 8.5 fantasy points to kickers this season. Expect points to be put up on the board on Sunday.
Sit 'em Dak Prescott (DAL, QB)
The rookie sensation has been one of the best fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL this year, but lower your expectations when he faces the Vikings on Thursday night. Minnesota gives up the 4th-fewest yards per game through the air and no QB has scored more than 18 fantasy points against them all year (12.9 avg) making Dak Prescott a tough start.
Sit 'em Andy Dalton (CIN, QB)
Ranked 23rd this week, Andy Dalton will suit up again without the services of A.J. Green against a Philly defense that has only allowed one QB to throw for more than 300 yards all year (Aaron Rodgers last week). Dalton is nothing more than a QB2 this week.
Sit 'em Jerick McKinnon (MIN, RB)
You can throw on the Cowboys but running on them is a different story. Dallas gives up the 3rd-fewest yards on the ground (81.8) and fantasy points per game. With Matt Asiata the established goal line back, McKinnon is dependent upon his yards and receptions for fantasy value. Couple that with a tough defensive matchup and it makes for a tough night.
Sit 'em Todd Gurley (LA, RB)
You might find it odd to see Todd Gurley on the sit list, but with a #24 ranking, he's nothing more than a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 with a tough matchup against the Patriots. Only 3 rushers have found 20+ points (PPR): Le'Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, and David Johnson - all rushers with much better offensive lines. Forte was kept to under 10 points last week against NE and we expect Gurley to put up similar numbers.
Sit 'em Steve Smith (BAL, WR)
One of the most entertaining guys to watch is likely to be no more than a flex play this week as he faces a solid Miami secondary that has consistently kept opposing wideouts to single digits. Their 9th-ranked pass defense will be all over Steve Smith and Mike Wallace this week.
Sit 'em Randall Cobb (GB, WR)
Randall Cobb was second to Jordy Nelson in targets last week but has remained one of the least productive wide receivers in fantasy. Over the last four games, he has quietly become the 3rd receiver on the Packers three-wide set. A matchup with Houston isn't likely to change his fortunes as they give up the 5th-fewest yards per game and have kept WR3's to single digits.
Sit 'em Jared Cook (GB, TE)
If you picked Jared Cook up off the waivers, don't fret about last week's dismal effort. He faced a tough defense and he'll face another tough one this week in Houston which held Antonio Gates to 0 fantasy points last week. Hold onto Cook though as the fantasy playoffs are around the corner and he'll pay off nicely those weeks.
Sit 'em Dennis Pitta (BAL, TE)
Dennis Pitta hasn't put up more than 40 yards since Week 5 averaging just 30 yards per game since then. Mediocre numbers is what we should expect when he faces a stout Miami defense that has allowed an average of just 4.2 fantasy points (5.7 PPR) to TEs this year.
Sit 'em Minnesota Vikings (MIN, DEF)
What? Sit the Vikings defense? Are you crazy? The answer is 'yes' and 'yes'. We are crazy, but don't let that influence your decision to stream a different defense. The Cowboys are no joke this year, and while Minnesota will challenge Zeke Elliott, there's little to suggest that Elliott won't ultimately prevail. With a win this week, Dallas can be the first team to clinch a playoff berth.
Sit 'em Graham Gano (CAR, K)
Last year Graham Gano was one of the best kickers in fantasy. Not so much this year. We don't expect his luck to change against Seattle who has only allowed one kicker to reach double digits all year and has kept opposing kickers to just 3 fantasy points in the last four games.