This is it, folks. The last week to push for a playoff spot in all conventional fantasy formats. Leave nothing on the table. Frankly, I’d rather go out in an attempted blaze of glory by taking calculated chances than play it safe if I am facing a “win and in” situation.
Week 13 byes: Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans
Whether it be a life of playing the field or settling down with “the one,” finding what works best for you often takes a little trial and error. Having the confidence to approach the hottest person in the bar, or starting that bench player when everything is on the line, requires a lack of fear. This is not the week to cower.
Ownership rates are in parentheses.
Have reassurance issues?
TE Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals (83 percent)
This time of the year, telling owners which players to pick up and start is tougher than at any point. Savvy owners in competitive leagues have picked over the wire, and sometimes all gamers need is a little reassurance.
Ertz could be targeted a great deal if the injury to wide receiver Jordan Matthews turns out to cost him time. It also doesn’t hurt that Cincy has allowed tight ends to average 8.5 receptions, 93.3 yards and a TD every other game over its last four.
RB James Starks, Green Bay Packers vs. Houston Texans (90 percent)
Given his high ownership rate, this is clearly aimed at only those gamers who have stock in Starks. Green Bay loves to use him in the screen game, and against the Texans, he could come in quite handy with these underneath passing routes.
The Houston defense has allowed 27 receptions to running backs over its last four games, and three of them have gone for touchdowns. This is the only defense over that span to have allowed more than 300 receiving yards to running backs.
RB Bilal Powell, New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts (78 percent)
Owned in more than three-quarters of fantasy leagues polled, Powell was started in just 22 percent of all leagues last week. That figure should be closer to 50 percent, or at least half of the leagues in which he is owned, in Week 13. Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson and DeMarco Murray are off this week, but injuries to a handful of others could lead you to considering Powell.
He has a shot at contributing against Indianapolis. This defense has allowed five backs in the last seven games to post at least 16 points in reception-rewarding scoring formats, with four of those players going for at least 21 points. Powell is a flex flier for those in dire need of a possible spark.
Take me home tonight … or something like that
Given the time of year, and this being our last installment for 2016, here’s a list of deep-dives I like down the stretch.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (45 percent)
What do the Jets have to lose? Fitzpatrick faces Indy, the Niners, Miami and New England. He has value in at least two of those matchups, and you could make the argument that Fitz has a decent shot at QB1 numbers in all four. That said, bravery and stupidity are kissing cousins.
QB Matt Barkley, Chicago Bears (1 percent)
San Francisco, Detroit, Green Bay and the Redskins fill out the next month of games for Barkley. He looked competent in Week 12. While I have my doubts about his receiving corps, these matchups are tough to ignore. Even better, though, is he may have to air it out in three of those four games.
WRs Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons (73 percent, 20 percent)
Matchups with KC, LA, San Fran and Carolina … Both receivers will have weekly lineup utility. Sanu is safer, especially in PPR, but Gabriel has proven to be a dangerous downfield weapon. Finding room for both in a lineup is not out of the question.
WR Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers (17 percent)
San Diego lost Tyrell Williams late in Week 12, and while it may amount to nothing major, Inman would become the primary target as Travis Benjamin (knee) clearly isn’t 100 percent healthy. San Diego takes on Tampa, Carolina, Oakland and Cleveland to close out the conventional fantasy schedule.
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans (54 percent)
I’ve touted him much of the season in this space, so why not go out with one last head nod. He faces the Packers, Colts, Jags and Bengals in the next month. Jacksonville is the only matchup that isn’t stellar, and yet he is still playable in that one.
TE Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers (51 percent)
Sometimes you can’t score those digits, but there’s only one way to find out! … Green’s matchups are not necessarily great, but the situations are solid. The Steelers face the Giants (strong at CB), Bills (strong at CB), Bengals (not so much) and Ravens (strong enough at CB). The point being, Big Ben may have to look somewhere other than to the outside for a change, and Green’s athleticism down the middle could lead to big plays. Upside is what it’s about with fliers and phone numbers, people.