Coming back from injury and facing the Saints, Gurley is not a recommended start this week
Week 12 is over and it's time for fantasy owners to look ahead to Week 13. The playoffs are right around the corner and now more than ever, you need to win. Maybe you need to win and you need points as that is your league's tie-breaker. Whatever your scenario, you need to make sure you put your best team forward. Be sure you are checking the injury reports, the reserve/COVID-19 list, and the matchups. It's not easy and players have certainly been disappointing this year, but this may be your last chance to get into the playoffs.
Teams on bye: Carolina, Tampa Bay
START These RBs
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Here's the problem with Taylor: Nyheim Hines. Taylor seemed like he was falling out of favor and then in Week 11 (prior to having to miss Week 12 on the reserve/COVID-19 list), he had 22 carries for 90 yards and added four receptions for 24 yards. The 22 carries are the second-most this season. In that game, Hines had six carries for two yards. In Week 12 without Taylor, Hines had 10 carries for 29 yards. The matchup against the Texans is a good one. If the Colts start Taylor and he plays well, they will ride the hot hand which would be great news for his fantasy owners.
Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Mon.)
It's possible that Gibson's Week 12 performance was an anomaly, however, Washington should continue to feed him ball as the focus shifts to next season. He had 20 carries for 115 yards and three touchdowns. He added five receptions for 21 yards (three more catches than J.D. McKissic, who is usually the passing downs back). Washington does face the Steelers in Week 13, which is a tough matchup, but fantasy owners have to trust that Gibson will be able to continue to put up RB2 numbers.
SIT These RBs
Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints
Gurley missed Week 12 with a knee injury, but he has returned to practice this week. All signs point to him suiting up, but he missed a good match-up against the Las Vegas Raiders and returns to a brutal match-up against the New Orleans Saints. Last time he faced the Saints, he had eight carries for 26 yards. Between the knee injury and the match-up, fantasy owners shouldn't expect a big game. If possible, keep him on the bench.
Frank Gore, New York Jets vs. Las Vegas Raiders
It's truly hard to recommend starting any Jets player, but fantasy owners are still looking at Gore as he's the last man standing in their backfield. The problem for the Jets is they often find themselves trailing in a game, and they abandon the running game. They face the Raiders in Week 13, which is a great matchup for Gore, but he just isn't able to do anything with the ball. Last week, with La'Mical Perine on injured reserve, Gore had 74 yards on 18 carries. Don't expect much more in Week 13.
START These WRs
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers vs. Buffalo Bills (Mon.)
Samuel has been injured for most of the season (Weeks 1-3, 8-10), but he returned after the team's Week 11 bye. In his first game back, he had 11 receptions for 134 yards against the Rams. Keep in mind this was with Brandon Aiyuk out, so there were certainly more targets to go around. However, it also is possible that Nick Mullens has found a new favorite target. Samuel made him look good and quarterbacks tend to like that. In Week 13, Aiyuk should be back and the team faces the Bills, which should provide plenty of opportunities for Samuel to catch the ball.
Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
Will Fuller is out for the rest of the year as he has been suspended six games for violating the NFLs' policy on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. In his absence, someone will need to step up. Most likely that person will be Cooks. Cooks started the season kind of slow (20 yards, 95 yards, 23 yards, zero yards…) and fantasy owners likely were frustrated. However, he put together a string of nice games, including 85 yards in each of the last two. He certainly is capable of stepping up to the No. 1 role. While a matchup against the Colts isn't easy, Cooks is a solid WR2.
SIT These WRs
Darius Slayton, New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks
Slayton had five receptions for 93 yards before the bye week and then came back in Week 12 to give fantasy owners a goose egg. Sure, the week before the 93-yard game, he had one reception for six yards, but overall on the season he hadn't ruined your fantasy week. After two terrible performances in the past three games, coupled with the injuries that are limiting him in practice, he isn't a recommended fantasy starter. Oh, and add in the fact that Colt McCoy is the likely starter and that should be enough to keep him on the bench even against the Seahawks.
Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens vs. Dallas Cowboys (Tues.)
With the Ravens Week 12 game getting postponed multiple times, many fantasy owners may have not taken the risk of starting Brown (especially after his goose egg in Week 11) and left him on the bench. So, of course he has one of his best games of the season. He had four targets for 85 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was on a 70-yard catch, which is Brown's specialty; we just haven't seen it much this year. Perhaps Lamar Jackson was watching the game and this jolted his memory that Brown is on the field as well, but fantasy owners shouldn't count on it for Week 13.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Top photo courtesy of atlantafalcons.com)