There’s no Marcus Mariota for Week 13, but fantasy owners will hopefully get Andrew Luck back and others like Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr are no worse for the wear after getting banged up in Week 12. But aside from those studs, which quarterbacks should you start and which should you consider leaving on your bench? And what about defense/special teams (DSTs)? Before we turn our full attention to Week 13 let’s see how my advice for last week fared.
Start Eli Manning (19.56 fantasy points) – Eli to Odell against the Browns, enough said.
Start Marcus Mariota (21.64 FP) – Mariota has been on fire lately, but his schedule gets much tougher after this week’s bye.
Sit Andy Dalton (12.72 FP) – With no A.J. Green, you might want to cut Dalton and add Colin Kaepernick if he’s available.
Sit Philip Rivers (20.68 FP) – Rivers handled the Texans’ tough passing defense with relative ease, tossing three TDs and just one pick.
Teams on bye: Cleveland, Tennessee
START THESE QBS...
Colin Kaepernick, SF (at CHI)
We're not just talking deep leagues anymore. No matter how you feel about Kaepernick's ability as a real-life player, he has established himself as a legitimate top-10 fantasy QB. Since taking over as the starter, here are his weekly finishes (Yahoo! standard scoring): 15th, 15th, Bye, 10th, 6th, 9th, 1st. The ability to run the ball – his 62.2 rushing yards per game are more than Frank Gore, Jonathan Stewart, Jeremy Hill and others – gives him a high floor and high ceiling, and this Week 13 matchup couldn't get much better. Since their Week 10 bye, the Bears have given up 255 passing yards per game and 9.81 yards per attempt. They’ve been burned for six touchdowns and just one interception, and they struggled to contain Marcus Mariota on the ground (four att., 46 yds.) last week. Unless you have a legitimate superstar in a one-QB league, Kaep needs to be in your lineup.
Philip Rivers, SD (vs. TB)
Rivers was in the “sit” section last week because of his matchup on the road against Houston, and he promptly threw for 242 yards, three TDs and just one INT in an impressive win over the Texans. And Rivers has an even better matchup this week at home against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have been somewhat boom-and-bust on defense this year. They’ve allowed less than 15 fantasy points to four QBs (Case Keenum, Derek Anderson, Jay Cutler and Russell Wilson), but three of those aren’t even fantasy-relevant. They’ve also allowed more than 24 points in four games to the likes of Matt Ryan (twice), Carson Palmer and Derek Carr. Rivers will likely follow the trend of the latter, picking apart a thin Tampa Bay secondary. He’s a solid QB1 for the week.
Derek Carr, OAK (vs. BUF)
Carr has been solid on his home field against non-AFC West competition this season, averaging 21.3 fantasy points per game. His pinky shouldn't be an issue either, and this week's matchup against the Bills makes him a nice option. Buffalo has surrendered 20.9 fantasy points to quarterbacks since Week 9.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ (vs. IND, Mon.)
It's fair to be apprehensive of Fitzpatrick, but if you stream quarterbacks in a 2-QB or deep league, he's an interesting under-the-radar option. He threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots last week, and now he's at home against the Colts, who are 30th in passing yards allowed per game, 30th in yards per attempt allowed, 27th in touchdown percentage (touchdowns divided by pass attempts) allowed and could be without top cornerback Vontae Davis, who is battling a groin injury. Again, this is only for deep leagues, but the matchup is right.
SIT THESE QBs...
Cam Newton, CAR (at SEA)
I believe that some of the players around Newton should be fine against Seattle, but starting him is worrisome. If Seattle’s defense is healthy and can get to him, his output is unpredictable. Granted, Newton finished with more than 20 fantasy points last week after another weird offensive performance by the Panthers, but there are plenty QBs out there that you should have and could be playing. Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Eli Manning could all be better this week and should be available to the Newton owner in 12-team leagues.
Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. PHI)
In his first game of the season without A.J. Green, Dalton posted one of his worst stat lines (12.7 FP) of 2016. While this week's matchup against the Eagles isn't bad on paper (their defense has been awful on the road), it's hard to trust the Red Rifle at this point in the fantasy season. There's too much risk here, at least for me.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (at BAL)
Tannehill is coming off a monster performance against the 49ers (26.8 FP), and he's now scored 19-plus points in two of his last three games. Still, it's tough to trust him with a difficult matchup in Baltimore next on the slate. Their defense has held four of seven visiting quarterbacks to fewer than 13 fantasy points (12.9 ppg overall).
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. NYG)
Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense took care of business against a weak Colts secondary. It might be surprising to see Roethlisberger, a QB1 for a couple years now, as a sit. However, need I remind you that this is the same Big Ben that only had eight fantasy points against the Browns two weeks ago! The Giants spent big bucks in the offseason to shore up their defense, adding Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple to the secondary as well as Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison to the line. It seems to be paying off, as the G-Men have allowed just one QB (Kirk Cousins) to finish with more than 16 fantasy points, which puts them in the same tier as the Vikings and Broncos. Unless you don’t have a better matchup, you should bench Big Ben.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
New England Patriots (vs. LA)
The Patriots DST has been a massive disappointment in recent weeks, but an upcoming matchup against Jared Goff and the Rams is difficult to ignore. Since 2001, rookie quarterbacks playing at Foxboro have averaged 201.9 passing yards and a 51.7 passer rating with just four touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. CIN)
The Eagles DST is in a bit of a statistical rut, scoring a combined 13 fantasy points in the last four games. However, I'd still roll with them against a Bengals offense that's without its best threat in A.J. Green. Also, the opposition's DST has averaged almost nine fantasy points per contest against Cincinnati since Week 9.
SIT THESE DSTs...
New York Giants (at PIT)
The Giants DST has put up an average of more than 10 fantasy points per game over the last four weeks, but don't let that fool you – 23 of these 42 points came in one game. Next on the schedule is a date with the Steelers, who turn into an absolute offensive juggernaut on their home field. Look elsewhere for your DST this week.
Carolina Panthers (at SEA)
The Panthers have scored eight or more fantasy points in three of their last five games, including 10-plus points twice, but this week's matchup in Seattle makes this a DST to avoid. Over the last four games at CenturyLink Field, opposing DSTs have scored a combined seven fantasy points against Russell Wilson and crew.
— 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.