Who starts Week 13: Colin Kaepernick or Andrew Luck?


Each week of the regular season in "Fantasy Audibles" I'll use the SAP Player Comparison Tool to help you make the right decisions when it comes to difficult lineup dilemmas. The tool uses several factors to help make an educated suggestion, including past performance, matchup, consistency, upside and intangibles. It finally appears as if the tool is fully operational (though not 100 percent reliable), so I'll use a combination of the tool and old-fashioned fantasy methods to help make a determination on four difficult Week 13 matchup decisions below. Let's take a look at the start/sit questions haunting some of our fantasy readers and try to help them set a winning lineup.

Who should I start at QB: Colin Kaepernick or Andrew Luck?

If you need further evidence just how strange and twisted this fantasy season is, look no further than the fact that we're now receiving questions if owners should start Colin Kaepernick, who began the season as Blaine Gabbert's backup, or Andrew Luck. But, if you've been following along, the question isn't as crazy as it seems. Kaepernick is the sixth-highest scoring fantasy quarterback since assuming the starting role in Week 6, averaging 21.8 fppg. Since the team's Week 8 bye, he trails only Aaron Rodgers in fantasy scoring. He's beaten positive and negative matchups so far this year, thanks in large part to his legs as he's averaging 62.2 rushing yards per game. His Week 13 opponent, the Bears, present another solid matchup, as they allow the seventh-highest completion percentage to opposing passers (65.8) and a middle-of-the-road touchdown rate of 4.4. If Matt Barkely is able to take to the air against the 49ers as he did against the Titans last week and keep this game competitive, Kaepernick will have ample opportunities to rack up passing yards and scores as well. He's graduated from his streaming days into a full-fledged, weekly starter.

After a slow start, Luck has come on strong of late, averaging 20.1 fantasy points per game since Week 4. Luck missed last week's Thursday Night contest with a concussion, but is on track to play this week in an extremely favorable matchup against the New York Jets. The Jets are allowing a 64.1 completion percentage and have allowed 10 completions of 40-plus yards this season. The Colts will look to exploit a Jets secondary whose best player, Darrelle Revis, is watching his best days from the rear view mirror. Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and Donte Moncrief should all be among the top plays at their position this week.

Verdict: While Kaepernick has been on a roll, Luck's weekly ceiling is higher as the Colts offense runs through his right arm. Both make for strong plays, but at this point in the season it's worth chasing the upside presented by Luck and his great matchup.

Who should I start at RB: Frank Gore or Jeremy Hill?

The ageless wonder Frank Gore currently sits as the RB12 and, aside from the Scott Tolzein-quarterback disaster of a game on Thanksgiving, has posted 7.8 or more fantasy points in every game this season (with eight double-digit outings for good measure). He faces a tough matchup against a Jets defense allowing just four yards per carry and six rushing touchdowns on the year, though this unit is showing cracks. Over the last month, the Jets have allowed 4.58 yards per rush to opposing backs. Part of Gore's success has come from his role in the passing game, with two or more receptions in seven games. Even if the Jets do slow him down on the ground, Gore could add some value through the air.

With Giovani Bernard out for the year with a torn ACL, Hill saw six targets in Week 12 (32 percent of his season total). That's an encouraging sign for his usage moving forward. However, his struggles on the ground have continued, as he's averaged just 3.3 yards per carry since his nine-rush, 168-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 7. The Eagles defense has only allowed five rushing touchdowns on the year, with a 4.3 yard per carry average and just 85.1 yards per game. Given the injuries to the Bengals offense (A.J. Green, Bernard), and the struggles of the offensive line, it's hard to foresee an outcome where Hill produces fantasy numbers consumate with the touches he's sure to see.

Verdict: This one's pretty cut and dry, with Gore the clear favorite. His role in a high-powered offense sets him up for a better fantasy day. Meanwhile, Hill's going to have to overcome his own struggles on an injured offense in a negative matchup. So yeah, go with Gore!

Who should I start at WR: Demaryius Thomas or DeAndre Hopkins?

While Demaryius Thomas hasn't been chasing the heights he set earlier in his career, the veteran has been remarkably consistent. He's had seven or more targets, and five-plus catches in every game since Week 1, with five touchdowns in that span. His upcoming opponent, the Jaguars, have been solid against the pass in 2016. While they allow a 63.9 completion percentage to opposing wideouts (sixth-highest), they're allowing the fourth-fewest yards per game in the league. Trevor Siemian is dealing with a foot sprain and will be on the road, a combination that certainly won't help assuage the concerns of Thomas' fantasy owners.

One of the bigger busts in terms of draft status, DeAndre Hopkins has been seeing target volume of late, but hasn't been able to produce in fantasy. He's seen double digit targets four times in the last six games, but has failed to cross 71 yards or find the end zone in that span. However, a date with the Packers secondary could be the cure for what ails him. The Packers are tied for the league lead with seven touchdowns allowed to wide receivers over the last four weeks, and their top pass rusher, Clay Matthews, now has an injured shoulder to go along with his previously injured hamstring. The trouble with starting Nuk isn't with his own ability, it's with his quarterback -- Brock Osweiler. Trusting Nuk in your starting lineup means trusting Osweiler to get him catchable, valuable targets.

Verdict: With a case this close, I'd have to side with the better player-matchup combination. Thomas could draw shadow coverage from impressive rookie Jalen Ramsey, while the Packers don't really boast a healthy cornerback capable of shutting down Hopkins. Furthermore, with the Packers offense scoring bunches of points right now, Osweiler will likely need to take to the air to try and keep pace. That means plenty of targets for Nuk, and plenty of chances to get into the end zone.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar