Each week, Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com previews all the NFL games from a fantasy perspective.
Owners of the unstoppable Arian Foster should look forward to another fine week, as fantasy football's new running-back king will produce another fine stat line. The key to keeping quarterback Michael Vick and the Eagles offense off the field is to play ball control, and no one can do it better than Foster. Cornerback Asante Samuel's presence will certainly help the Philadelphia pass defense and reduce the possible success of quarterback Matt Schaub, but no one player can fully contain receiver Andre Johnson. Tight end Joel Dreessen has emerged as a quality fantasy starter and should be used as well, as Schaub will often look his way when Johnson is not open.
Vick might be the best fantasy start of Week 13, facing an awful Houston pass defense that should not be mistaken for a quality unit after taking on Titans quarterback Rusty Smith last week. Vick and the Eagles are coming off a very disappointing loss to the Bears and will make the Texans pay in major ways. Vick could be good for at least three total touchdowns, and you can start receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin with great confidence. Running back LeSean McCoy also will see a lot of open running room, and his combined yards-from-scrimmage totals will again be impressive. Tight end Brent Celek is coming off a good game, but he has been too unreliable to use, even against the Texans.
Buffalo at Minnesota
The Vikings rank fifth in the NFL in rushing defense, but that is no reason to reserve Fred Jackson. The Buffalo RB has become a must-start RB regardless of the matchup. Ryan Fitzpatrick is fearless and will throw against any pass defense, which could lead to mixed results against the Vikings. Expect more than one TD pass, yet he will also throw more than one interception. Steve Johnson will look to redeem himself after last week's dropped pass fiasco, and will post some big numbers. How much work Toby Gerhart gets obviously depends on Adrian Peterson's status, yet he should be useful at least as a flex against a vulnerable Buffalo run defense. Brett Favre is not playing well enough to use him at a very important time of the year in fantasy football. Percy Harvin has been less dependable lately, but the Vikes need to establish another weapon with Peterson hurting, and should get him the ball for a few big plays this week.
Cleveland at Miami
There is simply no stopping Peyton Hillis, and he will carry the Cleveland offense again. The Dolphins allow 103.9 rushing yards per game, which means Hillis should approach the century mark as a rusher, and he is now a significant threat as a pass-catcher, too. Cleveland must keep the ball out of the hands of Jake Delhomme as much as possible, or turnovers will be the result. Mohamed Massaquoi does get targeted frequently by Delhomme, yet should not be used this week, as you will not see the Browns QB mount many decent drives. Cleveland does allow 119.5 rushing yards per game, but the Browns have allowed only four rushing TDs, so do not expect too much from the duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The yardage numbers could be decent, but expecting end zone visits may be a bit much. Davone Bess plays well when Chad Henne is running the offense, and has re-emerged as a quality starter. If you are desperate for WR help, Brian Hartline will not hurt your output.
Jacksonville at Tennessee
The Titans will be a different team with Kerry Collins at QB this week. The Jaguars must honor the passing game, and Chris Johnson should see some more open running room, so expect a nice rebound performance. Randy Moss can still command defensive respect with Collins more than capable to get the ball downfield. Nate Washington and Bo Scaife should benefit from the "Moss effect." Washington should find some soft spots in the defense and Scaife will be open on underneath routes. The Titans defense will not be overworked like it was last week, and should be difficult for David Garrard to solve on a regular basis. Garrard is not an optimum start, and you can do better than Mike Thomas and Mike Sims-Walker at WR this week. Marcedes Lewis, however, could catch one TD pass if that is all Garrard finishes with, and Maurice Jones-Drew is a must-start fantasy player at this critical point of the schedule.
Washington at New York Giants
The Redskins RB picture appears to be muddled right now, and may not be capable of challenging New York's defensive front. Avoid the Washington runners, as Donovan McNabb will be forced into many adverse passing situations. The Redskins are not built to play catch-up, either, and if they fall behind and become easy to defend, it could be very ugly for Washington and a great day for the Giants defense. Santana Moss is unreliable, and Chris Cooley does not offer much upside for Week 13. McNabb is going to face a lot of defensive heat and will have trouble getting the ball to his key pass-catchers. The Redskins rank 26th against the run, and Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are both quality flex options. Expect Jacobs to score, and Bradshaw will be highly motivated to show he can still play like a starter. Eli Manning will not have to be the crux of the offense, yet will complete most of his throws. Do not expect anything more than adequate yardage totals, but Manning should throw more than one TD pass. Mario Manningham and Kevin Boss will obviously be his favored targets. Start both players with confidence.
San Francisco at Green Bay
The Packers defense will be a tough group for the 49ers to challenge. The Green Bay secondary can certainly focus on limiting Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, while the front seven will clamp down on Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook early. Dixon will eventually prove to be a nice late-season fill-in for Frank Gore, but should be reserved this week. Westbrook simply will not be a major factor when defenses have time to prepare for him. Troy Smith will struggle against the Packers pass defense. The Pack really has no running game to speak of, yet Aaron Rodgers should operate a solid, high percentage passing attack that eventually wears the 49ers defense down. Rodgers is a lock to throw at least two TD passes, with Greg Jennings and James Jones stacking up some quality totals. Jordy Nelson will also get in the act, and is a good lower-rung PPR option. Green Bay will simply be the better team, and San Francisco can only stave off the opponent for so long before wilting and surrendering the needed fantasy production.
New Orleans at Cincinnati
The Bengals simply do not look formidable against the pass lately, and seem ripe for the picking by Drew Brees. Do not expect Cincinnati to mount much of a pass rush, giving Brees much time to rip holes in the back seven with lots of darts to his multiple options. Expect Brees to throw three TD passes, and Marques Colston will keep rolling. Lance Moore is a consistent scoring threat, but Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson are too inconsistent to use either at this time of the year. Reggie Bush may get more involved in the offensive flow this week, but should not be used in fantasy until we see him start to make some plays frequently. Chris Ivory is in a groove as the best pure runner on the Saints roster and should be started as a RB2. The aggressive New Orleans secondary will create much trouble for the erratic Carson Palmer, who should be reserved this week. Terrell Owens is a frequent TD producer and should remain active, but bench Chad Ochocinco if you have another option of similar value. The Saints do have the strength and tenacity to handle Cedric Benson up front, and the Cincinnati RB could be in for a disappointing day.
Chicago at Detroit
The Lions allow 128.6 rushing yards per game, and that bodes well for fantasy owners of Matt Forte, who will welcome the friendly matchup; inconsistency has been making Forte a gamble in most weeks this season. Jay Cutler will enjoy the offensive balance a quality running game can provide, and will sling the ball with much success. Cutler is a strong start in Week 13, as are his best pass-catchers, Johnny Knox and Greg Olsen. Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, especially the latter, can be used by those who need their services in larger leagues. Maurice Morris will be shut down quickly by the Chicago defensive line. Lack of a Lions running attack will leave Drew Stanton open to lots of hits and pressures, and you can expect a banner day for the Bears defense. Calvin Johnson should still remain a top WR option, though, as Stanton will find him on occasion. Nate Burleson, on the other hand, will start dropping off the fantasy radar this week.
Denver at Kansas City
The two most potent QB/WR duos in fantasy football square off, as Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd meet Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe. The Chiefs have the advantage on the ground, with two strong RBs against the Broncos' 30th-ranked run defense. Jamaal Charles is one of the top RB starts of Week 13, and expect Thomas Jones to find the end zone. Matt Cassel is making the most of every throw and using play-action passes to his great advantage. Cassel is cruising and must be started, and you can make a case Bowe is the best WR in fantasy right now. Tony Moeaki could get some TD chances as well, as the Broncos will be worried about Bowe first and foremost in the goal-line area. The Chiefs rank 24th against the pass, and expect Orton to throw at least one TD pass to Lloyd as these two divisional rivals trade offensive punches. Jabar Gaffney is a decent start for PPR purposes, but Eddie Royal is certainly not dependable. Knowshon Moreno will see some short-yardage scoring opportunities as Denver moves the ball well throughout the game.
Oakland at San Diego
Darren McFadden has suddenly fallen far and fast from the top spots of the fantasy RB ladder. Fantasy owners now have returned to wincing at the mere mention of McFadden's name, and with the third-ranked Chargers run defense on the schedule this week, there is no way you can start him with any true confidence. Michael Bush has been relegated to an afterthought, and Jason Campbell is destined to struggle without much run support. Jacoby Ford has been a revelation recently, but the Chargers will give him the defensive respect he has earned, and Ford will be a disappointment this time. Ryan Mathews may return this week but Mike Tolbert, however, has become the clear focal point of the San Diego ground game and has a great matchup against the Raiders' 28th-ranked run defense. The Chargers will lean heavily on the running game this week, and many of their pass-catchers have become risky fantasy plays. Philip Rivers, however, does use whatever he has available to his advantage is most weeks, and even if Tolbert is the star of the game, Rivers can always make timely and valuable fantasy contributions with some key TD strikes.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay
The Falcons offensive line is mauling opponents at the point of attack recently, especially in the running game. Michael Turner is set to rip big holes in the Buccaneers' 27th-ranked run defense this week. Matt Ryan should use play action passing very effectively, and will at least post acceptable fantasy totals. Roddy White is money in the fantasy bank every week and will be a key to many fantasy championship runs. Tony Gonzalez is not consistently dependable, but with all the uncertainty at the TE position right now, he remains a top start. The Falcons rank sixth against the run, and LeGarrette Blount will have to work hard for his yardage, yet he is always a threat to land in the end zone. The Falcons defense can be exposed in the passing game, and WR Mike Williams should be locked in as a starter. Kellen Winslow has also re-emerged as a quality fantasy starter. Josh Freeman does not have much statistical upside, yet he does a good job of minimizing mistakes, and could throw more than one TD pass with limited chances of turnovers.
St. Louis at Arizona
The Cardinals defense has looked downright horrid recently, and owners of Steven Jackson can sense the opportunity for him to deliver a strong performance. Sam Bradford can be statistically solid and will sometimes exceed expectations, and he is a pretty good option for Week 13. Bradford does a good job of spreading the ball around, though, and any of his WRs could be the prominent fantasy producer in any given week. Danario Alexander, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson are all decent starters this week, but it's a roll of the dice with each one, and none of them will give you great numbers. The Arizona running game has gone silent, forcing the erratic Derek Anderson to attempt to carry the team. When Anderson is throwing often, that can mean some good numbers for Larry Fitzgerald and some decent totals from Steve Breaston. Yet lots of Anderson tosses also mean turnovers for the St. Louis defense.
Carolina at Seattle
The Seahawks defense should play well at home this time against an inferior opponent this week, and is a nice fantasy choice given the matchup. Mike Goodson has taken on all comers and should still get his yardage totals, and Jonathan Stewart could be good for a score, but Jimmy Clausen will get lost in the noise at Qwest field and will absorb some big hits and sacks. Marshawn Lynch has not received much help from his offensive line since coming to Seattle, and is not a recommended starter, even in this matchup. You may get a TD from Lynch, but not much yardage. Matt Hasselbeck carries the offense, for better or worse, and without Mike Williams, the passing game often lacks continuity. Ben Obomanu, however, has more experience working with Hasselbeck than any other Seahawks WR and has come on as a sound fantasy option. This could be a lower-scoring affair that is mostly a showcase for the Seattle defense.
Dallas at Indianapolis
This is the week when Peyton Manning comes out of his recent "funk." Dallas' 23rd-ranked pass defense will be torn apart, as Manning should throw more than two TD passes. You will see Reggie Wayne stack up the catches and Pierre Garcon roll up some quality yardage totals. Jacob Tamme is arguably the best TE in fantasy football outside of Antonio Gates right now, and is a frequent TD target. The return of Mike Hart can also bolster the Colts running game a bit, and he can certainly expect some short-yardage scoring opportunities. Tashard Choice can inject some new life into the Dallas running game, and is a nifty, sneaky option. Felix Jones is more of a boom-or-bust selection, yet could make some nice contributions as the combination of he and Choice keeps the Indianapolis defense off balance. Jon Kitna is not afraid to try and match Manning score for score, and while he may make a few turnovers, he will throw often enough to build a good stat line. Miles Austin will be a prime option for Kitna in the red zone, and Jason Witten will catch several key passes. Dez Bryant remains a good start, as he can only benefit when Austin and Witten command defensive attention.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore
These two teams have familiarity with each other that will allow them to perform better on offense overall than some might expect. Rashard Mendenhall will work hard for his yardage and is always a good bet to score, regardless of the opponent. Ben Roethlisberger will not shy away from attacking the Baltimore pass defense, and look for him to hit Mike Wallace for a deep TD. Roethlisberger will also complete some key passes to Hines Ward. Roethlisberger and Ward are not outstanding starting options, yet both should post at least adequate fantasy totals. Ray Rice has not backed down to the Steelers in the past, and will pad his overall totals with some good receiving numbers. Joe Flacco knows where the weaknesses in the Steelers pass defense lie, and look for him and Todd Heap to work well together in Week 13. Opponents have discovered that bracketing Anquan Boldin takes away the Ravens' biggest passing threat and renders him useless for fantasy purposes as Flacco may work frequently to Derrick Mason. Flacco will often take what the defense gives him, which translates into a respectable fantasy outing this week.
New York Jets at New England
On some occasions, matchups and statistical rankings give way to emotion and intensity. That will be the case in this major Monday Night tilt between two fierce and familiar rivals. Do not underestimate the power of intangibles to boost fantasy performances in this game. Sure, the Jets secondary looks formidable, but Tom Brady will not be denied and should be deployed as usual. He is a big-game performer working in the biggest game of the season for him to this point. Wes Welker will be moved around and should still perform well for PPR purposes, and Deion Branch deserves WR3 consideration, as he has great chemistry with Brady. Of the two New England TEs to choose from, take Rob Gronkowski over Aaron Hernandez this time. Gronkowski is more of a goal-line option for Brady. BenJarvus Green-Ellis can find the end zone even if his yardage production is limited. Mark Sanchez is a strong starter against a vulnerable New England pass defense, and Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards will both have nice statistical upside in this matchup. Look for LaDainian Tomlinson to also seize the moment, and post some good all-around numbers.
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