Fins Fantasy: Best & Worst Matchups in Week Thirteen
Well guys, it’s week thirteen of the NFL season, and far more importantly, it’s also the last week before the fantasy playoffs begin. To the tens of my loyal fans, and to the thousands that scroll past my articles saying “Why are these even here? Nobody cares about fantasy football.” I apologize for not making an article last week on account of the Thanksgiving holiday. If any of you would like to complain, I urge you, actually I beg you, to tweet us at @thedeependmiami or email us at email@example.com. Since I’m totally the one that reads all of that stuff. Not that I’d care if I were. Coldplay released their new album last night, and I’ve spent every waking hour listening to it, so I’ve spent about 12 hours transcending the planes of time and space for those that are curious. I suggest you all do the same, considering you’ll all be watching them at the Super Bowl this year (Suck it, Coldplay hating scum). With that advice, let’s move on to this week’s matchups.
Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens Matchup analysis:
This week’s matchup against a talent starved Baltimore Ravens team has a great deal of fantasy ramifications, the majority of which are positive. While the Dolphins hardly look like the team that obliterated the Titans and Texans just over a month ago, they still have the ability to make noise when the matchup is right. The firing of Bill “Everyone’s favorite Poker Buddy” Lazor should also help ignite the offense, at least in the short time. Ryan Tannehill should especially benefit from the change, as he seemed downright excited that Lazor and his overly-complicated game plan were jettisoned from the team. While I don’t see Tannehill as a great starting QB this week, he still could be a good value or one week pick throwing against a Ravens’ defense allowing the 2nd most points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
The Dolphins’ receiver corps also figures to have a good game, as the Ravens’ have also allowed the 3rd most points to opposing wide receivers. I consider Jarvis Landry a must start this week, coming off of the best game of his career against the Jets last week (13 catches for 165 yards and a TD.) With Rishard Matthews out this week, Landry, and his less consistent compatriots Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker, will see an uptick in targets, much like they did last week. Consider them potential sleeper picks on account of the lack of other options and their penchant for making big plays.
As good as this matchup is for the Dolphins’ passing offense, it’s terrible for Lamar Miller and the ground game. The Ravens’ have allowed the 5th fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs this year, even with all of the injuries they’ve had. The Dolphins’ Defense/ST however could be a solid pick this week, as Matt Schaub is guaranteed to have an obligatory pick-six every week.
Must Start QBs:
Cam “Footloose” Newton vs. New Orleans Saints- This may be the biggest no brainer I’ve ever put on any of my lists. Cam Newton is playing like an MVP in fantasy football in the same way that he’s playing like an MVP in general. The New Orleans Saints have the worst defense in the NFL, and it’s not even close. I don’t care if you have Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and Aaron Rodgers on your roster. You should be starting Newton this week, because he’ll be dancing A LOT.
Marcus Mariota vs. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mariota has been a little bit inconsistent over the past few weeks but, outside of a terrible outing against Carolina, he hasn’t been bad from a fantasy perspective. I like his chances as a one week option this week against the Jags, who have allowed the 3rd most points to opposing QBs.
Other QB Matchups I like:
Adam Gase’s version of Jay Cutler vs. San Francisco 49ers
Andy Dalton vs. Cleveland Browns
QB Matchups I don’t like:
Russell “Miracle Water” Wilson vs. Minnesota Vikings- At this point it’s abundantly clear that I’m a Russell Wilson hater. However I have to give credit where it’s due. The guy has looked incredible the last two weeks and has finally resembled the Russell Wilson we’ve seen over the last few years. Problem is, this week’s matchup against the playoff-bound Vikings is anything but favorable. The top-5 defense of the Vikings should be more than enough to contain Wilson, who is missing the injured Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham in the lineup.
Other Bad QB Matchups:
Tyrod “What’s a Sammy Watkins” Taylor vs. Houston Texans
Derek Carr vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Must Start RBs:
LeGarrette Blount vs. Philadelphia Eagles- LeGarrette Blount hasn’t been great over the past few weeks, but look for the Patriots to lean heavily on their bruising back in the wake of a deluge of offensive injuries. The sudden falling off a cliff in Eagles’ defensive play certainly doesn’t hurt his chances either.
Jonathan Stewart vs. New Orleans Saints- Stewart isn’t a fantasy stud on account of his surprisingly low TD count (4 Rush, 1 Receiving). However he is consistently a solid RB2 and fringe RB1 some weeks. This week’s matchup against the putrid Saints’ defense (4th most fantasy points to RBs) makes him a must start no matter who else you have on your roster.
Other Good RB Matchups:
C.J. Anderson/Ronnie Hillman vs. San Diego Chargers
Javorius “Buck” Allen vs. Miami Dolphins
Jeremy Hill vs. Cleveland Browns
RB Matchups I don’t like:
Frank “The Inconvenient Truth” Gore- Make no mistake, regardless of his troubles over the past couple of weeks, Frank Gore is still a solid running back. He does, however, look very beat up, which doesn’t bode well for a Steelers’ defense allowing the fewest points per game to opposing RBs. Keep him firmly placed on the bench this week.
Other Bad RB Matchups:
Latavius Murray vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Melvin Gordon vs. Literally any team
Must Start WRs:
A.J. Green vs. Cleveland Browns- A.J. Green has been fairly inconsistent this year from a fantasy perspective; he has only scored a TD in 4 games and has only gone over 85 yards twice. However, I like him as a potential WR1 with a matchup against a Browns team that has allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing WRs. I’d definitely roll with him in daily leagues if the price is right.
Donte Moncrief vs. Pittsburgh Steelers- While T.Y. Hilton has been scoring most of the Colts’ TDs as of late, many Colts’ fans will tell you that Moncrief has been the superior receiver this year. Coming off of one of the best games of his career, 8 receptions for 114 yards (4 third down conversions), Moncrief has displayed incredible focus, hands, athleticism, and improved route running. At 6’2 he remains the Colts’ best red zone threat, too. I expect Moncrief to assert himself this week against a Steelers’ defense, which has allowed the 4th most points to opposing WRs this year.
Martavis Bryant vs. Indianapolis Colts- Martavis Bryant is a surefire WR2 in fantasy on account of his big play ability, and this week he’ll be matching up against every Colts’ fan’s least favorite player: the sorry excuse for a defensive back known as Greg Toler. If you’d like to know more about Greg Toler’s ineptitude and my hatred of the way he plays football, feel free to look back at Week Eleven’s article when he lined up against Leonard Hankerson. Knowing that none of you have time for that research, expect Bryant to light up the Colts’ secondary for 120+ yards and a TD or two.
Other Good WR Matchups:
Brandon LaFell vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Jeremy Maclin vs. Oakland Raiders
Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Emmanuel Sanders vs. San Diego Chargers
WR Matchups I don’t like:
Sammy Watkins vs. Houston Texans- Watkins is the least consistent wide receiver in terms of fantasy football. He’ll either put up 150 yards and two TDs or 2 catches for 17 yards. This has less to do with him as it does his QB situation. Nonetheless he’s definitely a matchup-based starter. Trust me, I know it’s hard to bench the ultra-talented Watkins after a 27.8-point week, but I’m still doing it. I also listed Watkins in this column after his monster performance against the Dolphins in Week Nine and he ended up with 1.4 points the following week. J.J. Watt and friends have looked incredible over the last several weeks, and I expect that trend to continue against a QB that forgets that Sammy Watkins exists for games at a time.
Stefon Diggs vs. Seattle Seahawks- Diggs has seen his numbers drop noticeably over the past few weeks, and I expect to see a similar pattern against a Seattle Defense, allowing the 5th fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. If you have options with better matchups, you should definitely play them over the talented young wideout.
Other Bad WR Matchups:
Mike Evans vs. Atlanta Falcons
Brandin Cooks vs. Carolina Panthers
Steve Johnson vs. Denver Broncos
Must Start TE:
Travis Kelce vs. Oakland Raiders- Travis Kelce had his best game since Week One last week against the Bills, and I expect that positive trend to continue. The Raiders have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing TEs, so the matchup is especially favorable.
Other Good TE Matchups:
Julius Thomas vs. Tennessee Titans
Gary “Feel the Barn” Barnidge vs. Cincinnati Bengals
TE Matchup I don’t like:
Martellus Bennett vs. San Francisco 49ers- Bennett has been wildly inconsistent this season, and he missed last week’s game due to a rib injury. While he is playing this week, he will likely lose snaps to the resurgent Zach Miller. If you have another realistic option this week, you should definitely go with it.
Other Bad TE Matchups:
Charles Clay vs. Houston Texans
Jason Witten vs. Washington Redskins
Must Start Defensive Matchup:
Denver Broncos Defense/ST vs. San Diego Chargers- The Broncos’ Defense hasn’t been nearly as good from a fantasy perspective in the back half of the season, but this week’s matchup against the talent starved Chargers’ offense is a great one. Outside of Phillip Rivers, the Chargers are starting back-up level talent everywhere on the offense. Don’t overthink this one. Start the Broncos’ Defense.
Defensive Matchup I don’t like:
New York Jets Defense/ST vs. New York Giants- The Jets’ Defense has been relatively poor over the last few weeks with Darrelle Revis out with injury. Expect Cromartie to struggle mightily covering Odell Beckham this week, after allowing Jarvis “Juice” Landry to have his best career game last week.