Can you really trust Cam Newton at the outset of the fantasy playoffs?
Having a consistent quarterback is nice, but not necessary, as evidenced by Week 13's top fantasy performers at the position.
Here are just a few of the notable names in the top 12 of fantasy points for QBs in Week 13 — Alex Smith, Josh McCown, Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, Tom Savage and Joe Flacco. Those aren't exactly names that jumped off the fantasy football draft board prior to the season.
Quarterbacks can be found, even in the first round of the fantasy football playoffs. Here are those you can trust (and defense/special teams) too, and a few names you should be wary of with so much at stake.
Good Calls for Week 13...
Start Josh McCown (31.14 fantasy points) – McCown is a true gamer and won’t give up and the because of that, the Jets are still alive.
Start Marcus Mariota (18.3 FP) – Mariota still isn’t producing like he did last year, but you’ll take a rushing TD from a QB any week.
Bad Calls for Week 13...
Start Trevor Siemian (3.6 FP) – The Dolphins’ defense is terrible and yet Siemian and the Broncos were even worse. It looks like they have given up.
Sit Alex Smith (37.64 FP) – Smith came to play (366 yards, 4 TDs), too bad the Chiefs’ defense didn’t show up.
START THESE QBs...
Alex Smith, KC (vs. OAK)
Few teams this season have given up more fantasy points to opposing QBs than the Raiders, and through 12 games, they have recorded just one interception. Smith has a reputation for protecting the football (for the most part), and he’s coming off of a four-touchdown effort. He won’t be the best of the week, but he should be able to finish in the top 10 at his position.
Jameis Winston, TB (vs. DET)
In his first game back in more than a month, Winston looked better than he had starting the year, not throwing an interception and putting up 270 yards and two TDs against the Packers. Now. Green Bay has a terrible defense right now, so you can’t put much faith in that, but Winston is going up against the Lions, who made DeShone Kizer look like a real quarterback a few weeks ago. Winston could do quite well.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (at HOU)
The 49ers’ offense looked much smoother with Garoppolo at the helm during his Week 13 debut. He didn't lead a touchdown drive, but he did enough to set up five field goals and threw for 293 yards against the Bears. This week is a perfect opportunity for Garoppolo to register QB1 numbers. The Texans allow the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks per game. Only once since Week 7 did the opposing quarterback not wind up in the top 12 in fantasy points when they played the Texans.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Case Keenum, MIN (at CAR)
It was another solid week for Keenum, who tossed two touchdowns in the road win against Atlanta. He hasn’t finished with fewer than 20 fantasy points in more than a month, and in the last four weeks, he’s the No. 3 overall fantasy QB. Keep rolling him out against a Panthers defense that’s gotten soft in recent weeks, allowing an average, of 20 fantasy points to the quarterbacks they have faced.
SIT THESE QBs...
Cam Newton, CAR (vs. MIN)
There’s been a formula this year – when quarterbacks play against Minnesota, they don’t do well. The Vikings held Julio Jones to 23 yards this week and kept Matt Ryan in check. They are giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks so far, so it’s a good idea to avoid them if you have other choices, of which there are a lot for Week 14. In fact, what about Case Keenum (if he’s available)?
Jared Goff, LAR (vs. PHI)
It’s true that Russell Wilson tallied a nice fantasy day in Week 13 against the Eagles, but Goff is no Wilson. The Eagles’ pass rush is relentless and they are giving up just 152 passing yards in their last three games, while Goff has been a little more inconsistent of late, going for less than 230 through the air in two of the last three games. The yards just won't be there for Goff. If he's not throwing touchdowns, Goff doesn't have as much value as some of his peers that should be available in Week 14.
Kirk Cousins, WAS (at LAC)
Don't look now, but the Chargers are becoming a defense not to face in fantasy football. They are allowing just 12.7 fantasy points per game against quarterbacks, thanks to a better-than-advertised pass rush and an ability to limit yards. The Chargers are giving up just 205 passing yards per game, the sixth-best mark in the NFL. They also average 2.9 sacks per game, which is fifth best. That's a terrible sign for the Redskins, who are constantly replacing offensive linemen due to injuries. The injury bug is affecting Washington's ability to move the ball and that will impact Cousins in a negative way in Week 14.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. BAL)
It’s been a down year for Big Ben, and flashes of brilliance may lead you to believe that he’s plug-and-play for the first round of the fantasy playoffs. Don’t think that. Few have been tougher to throw against than the Ravens, who are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They also have the most takeaways in the league. It’s just not worth the risk.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Los Angeles Chargers (vs. WAS)
Dallas made short work of the Redskins last week and Kirk Cousins will not have a better time of things against the Chargers. Washington has given up the ninth-most points to opposing DSTs over the last four games. Meanwhile, the Chargers have risen from the depths of DST rankings into the fourth slot by leading the position in fantasy points over the past four weeks.
New England Patriots (at MIA, Mon.)
After their 13-fantasy point effort against the Bills in Week 13, the New England Patriots are officially a DST1 option, ranking 12th for the season. Miami has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to DSTs, average of 11 per game, and have seen that number increase to 12.5 over the past four contests. Look for New England to stymie Jay Cutler and force him to make errors that will lead to another solid outing for the Patriots DST.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. BAL)
Pittsburgh has been one of the more consistent and productive DSTs and this week the Steelers are facing one of the least explosive offenses. While it’s true that the Ravens are vanilla and don’t normally score many points, their conservative approach also serves to limit DST scoring chances against them. Opposing DSTs are averaging a little more than five fantasy points per game and it’s been lower than over the past month. Between that and some injury issues, don’t count on the Steelers DST putting up many points this week.
Carolina Panthers (vs. MIN)
The Panthers DST has failed to score more than five fantasy points in four of its last five games, and that streak could continue based on a tough matchup against the Vikings. Outside of the Lions in Week 4, not a single DST has finished better than tied for 13th against Minnesota. That's some bad luck for the black cats.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.