We hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Hopefully, the thirteenth week of the NFL season treated you nicely. We are headed to the final week of the regular season in fantasy football. By this time next week, many owners will no longer be playing the game. To those underachieving owners, we say better luck next season. To those of you who are sure to be playing in the first round of the playoffs, we say congratulations. For those of you fighting to get in the playoffs this week, good luck to you. Everyone goes into the fantasy season hoping to come out a champion, but by this point most owners are just hoping to make the playoffs. Here is your chance. You have a week to prepare. Many owners needed a strong week thirteen outing in order to set them up for a chance to play in the final games of the season. Here are the players who helped out the most.
It has been a long time since Peyton Manning was the top quarterback for the week. In fact, one would need to go back to weeks one and two in order to see Manning at the top of the fantasy point list for his position. Since then, Manning has been in the top three at the quarterback position a boat load of times, but not the main man. Week thirteen proved why he is the consensus best quarterback in the league. He got off to a rocky start against the Chiefs by throwing two interceptions, but after that Manning was lights out. Manning ended his day with over 400 passing yards and five touchdowns. Next week, the Broncos host the Tennessee Titans in the Mile High City. The Titans play a good passing defense, but they are not as stout as the Chiefs. Manning should produce another big day.
For those of you who spent a top five draft pick on Arian Foster, hopefully you had enough sense to grab his backup, Ben Tate. Ben Tate proved that no matter who is in Houston’s backfield, they will have a chance to succeed. Tate rallied off 103 yards and three touchdowns against the Patriots’ defense. Next week looks pretty bright for Tate as well. He is going up against the Jaguars who rank 29th against the run. He did a whole lot of damage against New England’s poor rushing attack and the same can be expected in this matchup.
Eric Decker is coming off the best performance of his entire career. Four of Manning’s five touchdown passes landed in Decker’s hands. He also had eight grabs for 174 yards. In a week where Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery both went off for over 200 receiving yards, it was Decker’s amazing touchdown total that propelled him to the top spot here. Next week, he will be taking on the Titans secondary. Decker should have another solid performance; however, the Broncos’ wide out to watch is always Demaryius Thomas. Decker will show up in the game regardless because Wes Welker has not been putting up the numbers he was at the beginning of the season. This is only benefitting Decker, who must pick up the slack for the Broncos’ passing game.
Zach Ertz has been under the radar in his rookie campaign. He has not posted bad numbers, but never made enough noise for anyone to really start paying attention to him in the fantasy football game. Ertz made some noise in week thirteen. He caught five balls for 68 yards and two touchdowns. The question becomes whether or not he will start to have any real fantasy value. This is a tricky question. The Eagles do not really have a true number one at the tight end position. Ertz shares time pretty evenly with Brent Celek, so you cannot really trust his snap count. If you take a look at the number of targets he receives a game it is not too bad though. Ertz gets the ball thrown his way about six or seven times a game. It translates into between three or five receptions a week. If this young guy can continue to improve his hands, he may very well become a big thing in the future. Another performance like this one is probably not going to be in store this season, but do not be surprised if we see a lot more of him two or three years down the road.
Unlike Ertz, Justin Tucker needs no time to develop. The Ravens’ placekicker is one of the best in the league and he is only in his second season. It would not be surprising if he becomes the next top kicker in the league and stays at the top for a long time. Tucker has two qualities that are turning him into a stud kicker. First, he does not miss the easy ones. There are very few things more frustrating than your fantasy kicker missing a chip shot. Secondly, he does not crack under pressure. When the game is on the line, the Ravens can count on him to seal the deal. This gives fantasy owners a nice little boast in points at the end of a Ravens’ game. Tucker was a perfect five for five on his field goal attempts against the Steelers. He also tacked on one successful point-after attempt. Next up for the Ravens is the Minnesota Vikings. Tucker should have another good day.
Go ahead and pick your jaws off the floor. Yes, the top defense of week thirteen was the Detroit Lions. The Lions defense only gave up four points to the Packers. They stuffed the quarterback for a total of seven sacks. They also picked up three turnovers on one interception and two fumble recoveries. To top off this already beautiful performance, they added a safety in the mix. This is a typical case of a mediocre defense taking full advantage of a horrible offense. Things would have been much different if Aaron Rodgers was in the game. Next week the Lions are traveling to the city of brotherly love to take on the Eagles. With Nick Foles and company playing the way they are, the Lions should not even be considered when thinking about which defensive unit to start.
Le’Veon Bell is really showing up for Steel City. Before Bell came into the backfield, the Steelers offense had absolutely no running game. Now Bell has them rolling. In week thirteen, he collected 73 yards on the ground and 63 yards through the air. He also ran a ball in for a touchdown. He would have had a second touchdown in the fourth quarter but, due to a rule stating once a player’s helmet comes off the play is to be ruled dead, it was robbed away from him. This cancelled Bell’s goal line score that would have won the Steelers the game. Even without the second touchdown, Bell still performed very well. He should be counted on to have a big this weekend against the Miami Dolphins who have struggled against the run all season long.
Ryan Tannehill is starting to make a name for himself as one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL. He started off slow against the New York Jets, but exploded in the second half of the game. Tannehill ended the day with 331 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also ran for an additional 22 yards. Tannehill’s performance is more impressive since it came against Rex Ryan’s defense. He may not be a big time quarterback at this point in his career, but if the Dolphins can continue to put up with his growing pains, we will be talking about him a lot in the future. Next week the Dolphins are going up against the revitalized Pittsburgh Steelers. Tannehill should be able to have a decent day by fantasy football standards. Fantasy owners should consider if a decent day is going to be enough to win before starting him. If an owner is looking for a sure thing, Tannehill is a good option. If an owner needs something huge out of their quarterback, a higher risk/reward option is probably the way to go.
We have come to expect more from Andrew Luck. Last weekend, the former number one overall draft pick threw for 200 yards and no touchdowns. Instead of putting the ball in the endzone, he threw it to the other team. He did rush for 42 yards, but that did little to save his mediocre performance. Luck was drafted too high to put up the shoddy numbers he has been giving fantasy owners recently. He is so inconsistent and it is becoming harder and harder to trust him each week. When Luck is good, he is great. When he is bad, he is really bad. In week fourteen the Colts are travelling to Cincinnati. It is hard to bench a big name player like Andrew Luck, but this is probably a good decision against the Bengals. After all, a big name is nothing more than just a name if it does not put up any fantasy points.
There were a lot of players who made a case for the comeback player of the week award. Steven Jackson ran for two touchdowns. Shane Vereen scored for the first time this season. Michael Crabtree put up 68 receiving yards in his first game since getting hurt in training camp. All of these are nothing in comparison to what Eric Decker accomplished. Decker’s four touchdowns completely outdid his week twelve performance. In week twelve, Decker had just one catch on five targets for five receiving yards. Five yards is equal to a big goose egg. In week thirteen, he put up over 40 fantasy points. Do the math. How impressive is that comeback? He more than doubled his touchdown total on the season in one week.
Eric Decker put on a show in week thirteen. He put up over 40 fantasy points. His fantasy point total was the third highest for a single game the entire season. It was the highest single-game total of any non-quarterback this season. The only outings to outdo his 174 receiving yards and four touchdowns were Peyton Manning’s and Nick Foles’ seven passing touchdown performances. If anyone would have asked which wide receiver would have had the best single game performance of the season, nobody would have said Decker. More than likely, nobody is going to put up a better single game fantasy point total for the rest of the season.