I’d like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all the readers and families of readers out there. Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday of the year. The holiday encompasses my two favorite activities, eating (hopefully) really good food and watching football. It’s that simple. There are no gifts I need to worry about buying, there’s no religious aspect to the holiday, there’s no costumes and people ringing my doorbell all day long, and as much as I love kids, there’s no Thanksgiving fictional character that I have to worry about blurting out isn’t real. It’s really just “Hey, come over we’ll watch football, we’ll eat really good food and then we’ll watch a little more football.” What a holiday! I’m sure the attendees at the 1st Thanksgiving did not incorporate football into the plans for how the tradition would carry on, but I’d like to say thanks on this Thanksgiving to the pilgrim who invented this holiday, I thank you sir/madam. Whoever you are/were, you started what became the perfect day, a national holiday solely based around food and football. Ok I do admit the holiday gets me thinking about how thankful I am for my beautiful wife, the rest of my wonderful family, and all my friends, and it even gets me thinking about how thankful I am for my freedom and about how incredible our soldiers are. So in summary, football, delicious food, more football, family time, and ignoring the bad momentarily while accentuating all the good things in life to be thankful for…..it’s the perfect holiday.
This is the last week of many regular seasons. Do or die, make or break, or in my case division title and first round bye, or monumental collapse. Use these sleepers and busts to jockey for playoff position and to ensure that this will not be your last week.
Happy Thanksgiving once again to you all. I’m also thankful for each and every one of you out there giving this article a read.
Without further ado, your week 13 Sleepers and Busts:
DISCLAIMER:A sleeper is not a must start and a bust is not a must bench, they are merely indications that a player will have a better or worse game this week than they normally do. It all really depends on your alternatives. I will give an example of a few players for whom I personally would start the sleeper over or bench the bust for.These players are simply there as an indication of how good or bad I think the sleepers/busts will perform so you have a comparison in mind when applying it to your actual lineup. For example if I am comparing a QB to a stud like Andrew Luck, I am not necessarily saying you need to start him over Luck (even if I would) but it will imply that I feel really good about him.
Matt Ryan v. Arizona
Is Arizona a very good defense? Sure. Is this matchup ideal for Matt Ryan? Probably not. But Ryan is at home against a team who we know for a fact will not allow the opposition to run the ball. Ryan is ranked as the number 20 or so QB on most popular sites and if he did perform that poorly it would just mean the Falcons would get totally shut down completely at home. I refuse to believe this will happen. In 4 home games (they’ve had 1 neutral game in London which I am not counting) Matt Ryan has thrown 9 TDs while only committing 3 turnovers. Also, the Cardinals, while they are one of the elite NFL defenses, have allowed the 8th most passing yards per game this season. He’s not a must start QB1 but Ryan historically performs significantly better at home than he does on the road, and even if the Falcons lose this game handily, he’ll still have a good amount of yards and a couple of TDs to show for it.
I’d Start Matt Ryan over: Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Zach Mettenberger,
Cam Newton at Minnesota
Newton is coming off a bye week so maybe he’s been able to heal, but he clearly hasn’t been playing healthy. He’s no longer the threat he used to be running the ball. He’s also reverted back to his poor decision making ways with only 4 TD and 10 turnovers in his last 4 weeks. Minnesota is at home and is coming off an impressive showing against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. They lost the game but they put pressure on ARod and limited the Pack to 24 points, not an easy feat. The strength of the Vikings defense lies in their secondary where Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith lead the way, limiting teams to the 7th fewest passing yards per game. They’re also a top 5 defense against opposing TEs, the position of most strength in the Panthers passing attack. Newton is being ranked as a matchup QB option, in the 13-16 range but I see him as a borderline QB2 and maybe even a non-start in 2 QB leagues.
I’d Start the following players over Cam Newton: Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Zach Mettenberger, Kyle Orton,
Dan Herron v. Washington
Herron was a surprise starter last week, even to fellow Colts RB Trent Richardson. There was a fairly even time share between he and Richardson, but Herron out touched him and out gained him and most importantly he racked up five receptions while playing on 3rd downs. The Colts will miss Ahmad Bradshaw but it’s nice to see that they have a better talent than Richardson in Herron that they can use when killing clock. Clock killing is exactly what the Colts will be doing this week at home against the hapless Redskins. The Skins will be going into Indianapolis start Colt McCoy. This seems like a total mismatch, one that will heavily favor the Colts. Look for Herron to once again out touch Trent Richardson and approach 100 yards while getting in the endzone at least once. Herron is a high RB2 this week.
I’d start Dan Herron over: Isaiah Crowell, LeGarrette Blount, Giovanni Bernard, Fred Jackson
Isaiah Crowell at Buffalo
Isaiah Crowell is a great talent that much is clear. His future in this league is bright. The Georgia alum was able to break out last week, ripping apart the Falcons in a homecoming game for him in Atlanta. However, I do not think he’s matchup proof and is not a must start. Buffalo is ranked 5th against fantasy RBs in .5PPR leagues. At home they’ve limited their opponents and have only allowed the Patriots to put up more than 22 points. This game has cold weather low scoring game written all over it. The Bills defense is fast at LB on the edges and match up with Crowell’s skill set. Despite Josh Gordon’s return to the lineup, the Browns will not have success moving up and down the field, and the opportunities for redzone touches and scores will not be there for the Crow. Crowell is a flex option this week but I would not trust him in leagues that start only 2 RBs.
Charles Johnson v. Carolina
Charles Johnson was a much hyped up rookie coming into the season but had not been a factor until week 10. In the last two weeks his catches, targets, yards and playing time have all skyrocketed. This past week it was apparent that he was the Vikings number 1 WR, playing 67/69 snaps and receiving 11 targets. He only turned those targets into 3 catches for 52 yards but he did score a TD and was open on several other occasions. The last two weeks have resulted in 9 catches for 139 yards and a TD. Carolina comes to town sporting the 26th ranked defense against fantasy WRs. CB Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell have been major losses in the secondary from a once dominant defense. Perhaps an even bigger factor has been the suspension of All Pro defensive end Greg Hardy. Hardy’s absence has all but eliminated the Panthers pass rush and QBs and WRs are having a field day against the new Panthers defense. Look for Teddy Bridgewater to have one of his best days as a pro passer and for his new number 1 target, Charles Johnson, to be the major beneficiary. Johnson can be started in many 3 WR leagues.
I’d Start Charles Johnson over: Kenny Stills, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Steve Smith, Julian Edelman
Kenny Stills at Pittsburgh
Kenny Stills was expected to step up after Brandin Cooks went down with a broken thumb, and he did not disappoint. Stills caught 8 balls for 98 yards in his new role, however this week he and his teammates at WR could be in for a down game. The Saints, a disappointing offense, travels to Pittsburgh. The Steelers sustained early season injuries and after weeks of being decimated on defense return 3 key starters in Ike Taylor, Troy Polumalu and Ryan Shazier. The defense has been able to remain effective ranking 16th in passing yards against and 9th against fantasy WRs despite these key losses. Now with the defense back at full strength the Steelers should be able to once again become a viable defense, especially at home. Other than Jimmy Graham there is no sure thing in this difficult road matchup.
I’d start the following players over Kenny Stills: Charles Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Wallace, Steve Smith, Sammy Watkins
Charles Clay at. New York Jets
Charles Clay was a top 10 TE last season and he has built fine chemistry in the redzone with Ryan Tannehill. This season he hasn’t had as much success playing in a new offense and dealing with injuries, but he’s shown to be able to produce in the right matchups. Coming off a groin injury, he returns just in time for the 3rd worst team against TEs the New York Jets. The Jets have allowed a mind boggling 12 TDs to TEs and this past week allowed one to Bills TE Scott Chandler. Outside of my top 6 TEs this week (Graham, Gronk, Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker) it has not been easy to find consistent TE play so it’s important to play the matchups. I’d start Clay over anyone who isn’t those 6 guys in this game.
I’d start Charles Clay over: Antonio Gates, Coby Fleener, Larry Donnell, Travis Kelce
Antonio Gates at Baltimore
Antonio Gates was the reason why many fantasy teams got off to a great start with his surge of TDs in the first half of the season. Recently he’s been the reason why fantasy teams may be going through an epic collapse to end the season. Gates has combined for only 74 yards the last three weeks. He’s only had 10 targets in that stretch and he hasn’t had more than 61 receiving yards in a game since week 2. He’s TD dependent and is on the road against a defense in Baltimore that has allowed slightly over 10 points per game in five home games. TD opportunities may not be available against this stingy defense. I’d play the matchups and look elsewhere at TE this week.
I’d start the following players over Antonio Gates: Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, Coby Fleener, Charles Clay, Tim Wright
That’ll be it for this week. Happy Thanksgiving weekend. Good luck and see you in the playoffs!