Fantasy Rankings After Week Thirteen
By: John Belaska
So who else is ready for this weekend? It is a big one! This weekend’s matchup decides who is going to be playing in your fantasy league’s playoffs. If you have not been reading up on player news, checking the waiver wire, and trying to come up with a fool proof lineup, you may very well find your fantasy season over after Monday night. Hopefully, by now you have already locked up a spot to play next week, but a good majority of teams are on the bubble. Unless you want your shot at a championship in 2013 to die, this is a must win week. Here are the guys with the most ability to help you win and little tid-bits about how they should fair.
5. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Russell Wilson was masterful last weekend against the Saints. He is the best young gun in the league. His 310 passing yards and three touchdowns proved he has the ability to run with the likes of Drew Brees. Best of all the Saints are not the most quarterback friendly team in the league, despite Wilson making them look like a practice squad. This week, the Seahawks are facing the 49ers on the road. The matchup does not appear to be a favorable one. The 49ers may have been embarrassed by the Seahawks earlier this year, but this time the Hawks will not have a comfort of playing in the loudest stadium in the country. This may very well prove to be a much tougher matchup for Wilson than last weekend’s. It is difficult to bench him, but at least scale back your expectations.
4. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
Cam Newton is the best rushing quarterback in the league hands down. So far this year he has six touchdowns on the ground. Wilson has a slim lead over Newton in the rushing yard category, but Newton has fumbled four less times. He has been on fire in the past two weeks, finishing as a top three quarterback each outing. Newton and company are going up against the Saints this weekend. The Saints play much better football in the Superdome, so it will definitely be a challenge. New Orleans also boasts the fourth best passing defense in the league. This did not stop Russell Wilson from burning them for over 300 passing yards last week. Cam Newton should have a decent day through the air, but his legs are going to make up for any difficulties he may experience throwing the ball. He is a strong start this week.
3. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Matthew Stafford has surpassed Drew Brees to claim the second most passing yards in the league. To date, Stafford has thrown for 3825 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. He looked great last weekend against the Packers, throwing for 330 yards and three scores. Stafford’s week fourteen matchup is extremely favorable. He is going up against the NFL’s worst passing defense, the Philadelphia Eagles. The game is sure to be a shoot out. Stafford owners should be licking their chops. He may be the top quarterback in terms of fantasy points this weekend.
2. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
The future hall of fame quarterback, Drew Brees, was shown up this past weekend by a guy in his second year. Drew Brees looked very mortal on Monday Night Football against the Seahawks. Brees throw for a pedestrian 147 yards and only a single touchdown in the match. Of course, this was against the best defense in football. He is still a star, and stars should never ride the bench. He has another difficult matchup this weekend against the Carolina Panthers. The Saints are the home team, which bodes well for Brees who plays much better in New Orleans than on the road. This is also a very important game, as it will decide who will take the lead in the race for the division’s title. Expect Drew Brees to rise to the occasion this weekend.
1. Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)
Peyton Manning was the highest scoring quarterback in week thirteen. He threw for 403 passing yards and five touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions during the matchup, but that really is not a big deal when he can put up a huge touchdown total like that. Peyton is on pace to break the single season passing yard record currently held by Drew Brees. Peyton will have another big day this weekend against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have the seventh best passing defense in the league, but the ranking is a bit deceiving since they played much better at the beginning of the season. The only concern will be the temperature in Denver this weekend. Regardless of what it is, you will not be benching Manning.
Honorable Mention: Tony Romo (DAL), Philip Rivers (SD), Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
5. Knowshown Moreno (Denver Broncos)
There are multiple reasons why Knowshon Moreno is the best bet to be the leading scorer of fantasy points on the Denver Broncos’ roster in week fourteen. The Broncos are going to host the Tennessee Titans in Denver this weekend. It is going to be a cold one. Manning does not perform as well in freezing temperatures. Last time the Broncos played in sub-freezing weather, Moreno carried the ball over thirty times. It would not be surprising if he does this again this weekend. Aside from the weather issues, the Titans rank seventh against the pass and seventeenth against the run. Moreno has shown a knack for eating mediocre run defenses for breakfast. Last week he could not get going on the ground, only 18 rushing yards, but when he fails to do it on the ground he is still a threat in the passing game. Last weekend he had 72 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air. The Broncos will look to use Moreno a lot on the ground and out of the backfield this weekend.
4. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears)
Matt Forte is having one of the best seasons of his entire career. He has already rushed for 971 yards and seven touchdowns and he has added 445 yards through the air. Last week proved no matter whom the Bears quarterback is, Forte is going to be in the game plan. He went for over 150 total yards from scrimmage last week, but unfortunately did not find the endzone. It is possible Jay Cutler will be back under center this weekend. If this is the case it will not affect Forte’s production. The Bears are going on the road to play the Dallas Cowboys. Forte is a sure bet to have a huge performance against a bottom feeder defense.
3. Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks)
Marshawn Lynch’s rein as at the top of the list only lasted a short while. Just when you thought his lack of consistency was no longer an issue, he only produces 57 yards of total offense against the sixteenth ranked rushing defense. It is now much harder to trust him this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners are the third best rushing defense in the league. If Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis had played the whole season, they more than likely would be ranked number one. Sitting Lynch is probably not an option, but you should not expect much better numbers than he produced last week.
2. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)
For much of this season, LeSean McCoy was the leader in the race to become the NFL’s rushing champion. It is time for McCoy to move aside. Adrian Peterson has now rushed for 1208 yards. He is on pace to eclipse 1700 by the end of the year. Last week, the former 2000 yard rusher ran for 211 yards. This weekend should prove to be more challenging for Peterson. The Baltimore Ravens have a top ten rushing defense. The question is now are they capable of stopping the most talented running back in the league. The answer is more than likely not.
1. Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs)
Jamaal Charles is back at the top of the list again. After slipping for a couple of weeks, Charles has regained his stride. He now has 1011 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 452 receiving yards, and two scoring receptions. He once again eclipsed the 100 plus total yards mark last weekend and scored a touchdown. He is in a very good position to be the number one overall draft pick in fantasy football leagues next year. He is facing the Washington Redskins this weekend. Everything indicates another stellar performance from the Chiefs’ star running back. Notice, when the Chiefs started moving the ball through the air again, Charles’ production went up as well.
Honorable Mention: LeSean McCoy (PHI), Chris Johnson (TEN), Alfred Morris (WAS)
5. Brandon Marshall (Chicago Bears)
It is very disputable whether or not Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery should be in this position. At the end of the day, it has to go to Marshall. Jeffery has had his moments, like last weekend where he had over 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns, but overall he has been highly unpredictable this year. Brandon Marshall on the other hand, has been everything we expected him to be. He is second in receptions behind the Steelers’ Antonio Brown. He also has 990 receiving yards and nine touchdowns this season. It does not matter who is quarterback is, Brandon Marshall has proven he can produce good fantasy days regardless of who is throwing him the ball. Marshall should have a great day against the Dallas Cowboys who are the second worst defense against the pass. There is also a chance Jay Cutler returns to the lineup. If this is the case, the Bears will want to test out his passing ability early in the game. Marshall might receive a couple of targets deep down the field in the first quarter.
4. A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals)
Aside from Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green has been the most consistent wide receiver in fantasy football the entire season. He had one terrible game this year, but other than that he has been one of the best options every week. Last weekend he caught five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. He now has 1103 yards and seven scores this season. Green will undoubted by one of the first three wide receivers off the board in fantasy drafts next season. He has another chance to post huge numbers this weekend against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have the only the seventeenth best passing defense. Indianapolis has been really struggling recently. There is no reason why Cincinnati and A.J. Green should not be able to have a great day.
3. Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns)
Josh Gordon was considered a sleeper at the beginning of the season. That title is long gone now. Gordon is a star. He is the only wide receiver in the history of the NFL to have back to back 200 plus receiving yard games. Think about it, it has not been done by the likes of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, or even the greatest of all time: Jerry Rice. Gordon is one of two wide outs on pace for 1700 receiving yards. Even more amazing, he is doing this without a legitimate quarterback. Will Gordon extend his 200 plus yard streak: extremely doubtful. The New England Patriots will do everything they can to take him out of the game. They have been very good at limiting the production of a team’s best offensive weapon all season long. Just ask Jimmy Graham and Wes Welker. Gordon should definitely be in the starting lineup this weekend, but do not expect him to do what he has been doing the past two weeks.
2. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
No matter whom the top receiver for the Denver Broncos is; Demaryius Thomas is always one of the team’s top two. Last week, Eric Decker went off for four touchdowns. Thomas still had over 100 receiving yards in the game. Thomas may only be sixth in receiving yards, but only trails Calvin Johnson for the most receiving touchdowns in the league. Thomas should be able to produce another good game against the Titans this week. The Titans do not have enough weapons on defense to cover Thomas, Welker, Decker, Other Thomas, and Moreno. Regardless of who comes out as the top option for Peyton this weekend, Demaryius Thomas is sure to put up a good handful of fantasy points.
1. Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
Here is a question for you. Since Jerry Rice retired, who has been the NFL’s best wide receiver? A strong argument can be made for Calvin Johnson. Johnson broke the single season record for receiving yards last season, and is on pace to have over 1700 this season. In the history of the NFL, 1700 receiving yard seasons have only been posted a handful of times. Johnson is sitting just one yard shy of 1300 receiving yard at this moment and is leading the league in receiving touchdowns. He has also drastically increased the number of receptions he is getting per game in the past few weeks. There should be very little doubt he will be the top receiver this weekend after his team faces the worst pass protection in the league.
Honorable Mention: Alshon Jeffery (CHI), DeSean Jackson (PHI), Antonio Brown (PIT)