The playoffs start for some fantasy football leagues in Week 13, for many more this is the final push to try and secure a spot before the playoffs start. This late into the season, there’s not a whole lot to trust on the waiver wire; they wouldn’t be on there if you could.
The one name that will pop, and it popped a few weeks ago, is that of Washington Redskins RB Roy Helu. Coach Mike Shanahan, the bane of many fantasy players’ existence, said Helu is ready to be a full-time back. The rookie has had days of 19 and 25 fantasy points the two times he’s been given that chance. If you trust Shanahan, then he is the must-have off the waiver wire in Week 13; if you don’t trust Shanahan, then you’re just looking for some stop gaps here and there.
Vince Young, Philadelphia
Whether Michael Vick comes back to start at QB on a short week is uncertain as the Eagles travel to play Seattle on Thursday night. Young was the third-best fantasy QB on Sunday with 23 points after throwing for 400 yards, one score, one pick and 40 yards rushing vs. the Patriots’ last-ranked fantasy defense against QBs. A lot of the yardage and the TD came in garbage time. Now the Eagles get the Seahawks, ranked 12th against fantasy QBs, but are coming off a 314-yard, two-TD, two-INT performance against Washington’s Rex Grossman. Seattle has not been as tough at home as in years past. The Seahawks are allowing QBs to throw for 256 yards, 1.4 TDs and 1.4 interceptions in five home games and are giving up an average of 22.8 points to opposing teams. This one might be a bit closer where there isn’t a lot of garbage-time production for Young to scoop up. Young is owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues.
T.J. Yates, Houston
Good luck. The fifth-round pick out of North Carolina took over for the injured Matt Leinart late in the first half and finished the day with 70 yards and 2.5 fantasy points. This really affects the rest of the Texans’ skill players as well as what to do at QB. Arian Foster can still be a great pass catcher out of the backfield to get a QB points; the team has two capable TEs in Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen and of course there is Andre Johnson, who returned after a six-game absence to receive three targets for two catches and 22 yards. Players said when Yates stepped in Sunday he didn’t play scared and he has zip on the ball. I advocated going out and getting and starting Leinart in a great matchup against a beat up Jacksonville defense last week because of the aforementioned weapons. Yes, the Texans are still a running team, but Matt Schaub wasn’t asked to do much and was still a top-12 fantasy QB when he went onto IR. Yates and the Texans get Atlanta, Cincinnati, Carolina and Indianapolis to close out the fantasy season. Three of the four teams are ranked 16th or worse against fantasy QBs and Carolina is ranked 15th against the pass and 26th in yards per game allowed in the league. Yates is owned in 1 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
He just continues to be about as steady as a lower-tier starting QB could be. Against Cleveland’s top-ranked pass defense, Dalton threw for 270 yards and a score. He has scored 13 or more fantasy points in all but two games this season. That’s not saying a lot, but it is good for the 15th best points per game average in the league. Dalton is owned in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Matt Moore, Miami
He had his fourth double-digit performance in the last five games with 13.82 points against Dallas on Thanksgiving. Like Dalton, the numbers are nowhere near staggering, but if you are dying at QB at least die with consistency. The Dolphins get Oakland, Philadelphia, Buffalo and New England over the final four weeks of the fantasy season — all in the bottom nine against fantasy QBs. Moore is owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Caleb Hanie, Chicago
It was an ugly 245 yards and two touchdowns for Hanie in his debut. He added three picks, but also added 50 yards rushing. It turned out to be a 20.16-point fantasy day — good for seventh amongst QBs heading into Monday night’s game. The Bears play the Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks and Packers for the remainder of the fantasy season — the Broncos and Packers are currently ranked 30th and 28th against fantasy QBs. Hanie is owned in 4 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Rex Grossman, Washington
You’re always going to get the interceptions with Grossman, but he can put up the yards, too. He threw for 314 yards and two scores with two picks against Seattle. The return of Santana Moss (4-29 on seven targets) is a nice weapon to have back, and makes Grossman a decent matchup play against the Jets in Week 13. They have allowed at least one TD to opposing QBs and an average of 213.4 passing yards per game over the last five games. The Jets haven’t recorded an interception three weeks. Grossman is owned in 9 percent of Yahoo leagues.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo
It was Spiller’s chance to shine with Fred Jackson on IR. So Spiller got 22 touches — 19 carries for 55 yards and three catches for 15 yards — to give you 8.5 fantasy points against the Jets. So there you go, that’s what you’re going to get from Spiller. He is owned in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Roy Helu, Washington
Is hearing coach Mike Shanahan say Helu is “ready” to be a full-time back the phrase that pays? We would like to believe that the rookie would get the shot for a team that is long gone from the playoffs. All he has done in the two games in which he was used heavily is produce fantasy days of 19.6 and 25.7 points. So if you believe Shanahan then add Helu, if you’ve been burned before then it’s up to you what to do. Helu is owned in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Maurice Morris, Detroit
With Jahvid Best on IR and Kevin Smith on pace to have a good day before a “mild” high ankle sprain sidelined him on Thanksgiving day, the door opened for Morris. He is just another in the long line of backs that have run through the Motor City this season. He responded with 16.5 fantasy points. Now the Lions will have had 10 days off before facing New Orleans. Smith could be healthy; there is also Keiland Williams to deal with. And Detroit’s run game struggled mightily before facing Carolina in Week 11. Morris got the bulk of his points as a pass catcher (9-81). A pass-catching back could come in handy against New Orleans. Morris is owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis
I told you here last week he would be a good flex play against Carolina’s porous rush defense. Even with Joseph Addai active, Brown managed 80 yards and a score on a team-high 14 carries and one catch for 17 yards for 16.2 fantasy points. That was the Panthers. Now the Colts get the Patriots and the Ravens in back-to-back weeks. Those are two games the Colts should not be in for long, and keep in mind the are still the second-worst team in the league when it comes to fantasy points per game produced from the RB position. Hope you enjoyed Brown for the one week.
Johnny Knox, Chicago
Backup to backup is the Hanie to Knox connection. Knox caught four of 10 targets for 145 yards and a score in Caleb Hanie’s debut as the Bears’ starting QB. It’s hard to say how much of that was rapport between two backups or if it will stick. Hanie didn’t look strong enough to go through many options, so maybe if he locks in on Knox there could be some success. I would shy away from both of them. Knox, who added 133 return yards for those in yardage leagues, is owned in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Greg Little, Cleveland
The rookie finally caught his first NFL touchdown, a 3-yard pass from Colt McCoy. He continues to be the Browns’ most-targeted receiver, seeing 13 of them in Week 12 for five catches, 57 yards and the score. It was Little’s third double-digit target game of the season and his sixth with at least five catches. Little is owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues.
David Nelson, Buffalo
He bounced back from a .5-point effort against Miami with a 13.2-point effort against the Jets. It came off five catches for 47 yards and a score. He was second in targets for the third straight week, and caught his third TD in four games. Nelson is owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Brad Smith, Buffalo
The loss of WR Donald Jones and RB Fred Jackson for the year, and the ineffectiveness of C.J. Spiller as the new RB means Buffalo is looking for offense anywhere. Smith was that “anywhere” on Sunday against the Jets. He had four catches for 77 yards and a score. He’s probably not a waiver pick up but worth keeping an eye on how the team uses him. Smith is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Damian Williams, Tennessee
He caught three passes for 33 yards and the game-winning TD against Tampa Bay in Week 12. It was Williams’ third double-digit day in the last four games and fourth altogether this season. QB Matt Hasselbeck looks his way, although in varying degrees. Williams had four targets in Week 12 after a season-high 11 in Week 11. He’s had 11 targets twice this season, and now the Titans travel to take on a Buffalo team that has allowed 11.1 fantasy points per game to the last three No. 2 WRs it has faced. Williams is owned in 23 percent of Yahoo leagues.
James Jones, Green Bay
He opened the season with three single-digit performances, followed by three double-digit performances then another four single-digit performances, including a zero a week ago. Now Jones resurfaced with a three-catch, 94-yard, one-TD game in the win over Detroit on Thanksgiving. QB Aaron Rodgers has too many options to play with, making anyone outside of Rodgers and Greg Jennings a risky play. Jones is owned in 51 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jordan Norwood, Cleveland
Play any Brown at your own risk. It was Norwood’s turn on Sunday as he caught four balls for 69 yards and a score from Colt McCoy against Cincinnati. Two of the four catches, 60 yards and the score came in a matter of four plays on the opening series of the game. Norwood had just two more catches for nine yards the rest of the way. He is available in 100 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jason Avant, Philadelphia
DeSean Jackson was benched, Jeremy Maclin was out with shoulder and hamstring injuries and backup QB Vince Young was in. The trifecta made for Avant catching eight of 14 targets for 110 yards and a score against New England’s 32nd-ranked defense against fantasy receivers. If Jackson, Maclin and Michael Vick are back on Thursday night Seattle, then Avant goes back to being irrelevant — he had two games above 9 fantasy points prior to Sunday. Avant is owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati
He pulled down five of a season-high nine targets for 38 yards and a score against Cleveland. Rookie QB Andy Dalton has plenty of options to throw to not named A.J. Green, and that makes getting consistent days out of any pass catcher not named A.J. Green tough. But if you are in need of a TE that is a sure-fire go-to target in the red zone for his team, Gresham’s your man. The Bengals are at Pittsburgh in Week 12, and Grehsam caught four balls for 23 yards and a score against the Steelers in Week 10. He is owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia
Whether it’s Vince Young or Michael Vick, Celek continues to be a decent play late in the season. He caught five balls for 75 yards in Week 12, and has been above 7.3 points, including three double-digit days in the last six games. This comes after four of five games below 1.9 in the first five weeks. Celek is owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo
Ha had a season-high seven targets that he turned into a season-high six catches for 50 yards against the Jets. That trend of being a favorite target could continue as the injuries continue to mount for the Bills at the skill positions. He has not scored since Week 8 (2 TDs) and that was his first score since Week 3. David Nelson competes for the red zone targets, but if you need a high-targeted tight end that will get you 8 to 9 points without a score, 14-15 with, then you could do worse than Chandler. He is owned in 34 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
He caught four of eight targets for 61 yards and two scores for his first double-digit game since Week 3. He had three double-digit performances to open the season. He’s had at least four catches in four of the last five games and now gets a Washington team that has allowed double-digit days to opposing TEs in three of the last seven games and an average of 9.2 points over the entire seven games. Keller’s had at least eight targets in six of 11 games and seven in another. He is owned in 66 percent of Yahoo leagues.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter