Every week we'll break down the movers, shakers, winners and losers in fantasy football, and keep an eye out for the players you should be eyeing for your fantasy rosters.
For most fantasy leagues around the country, Week 13 is do or die -- teams' final chance to get a favorable playoff seedings, or just squeeze into the playoffs altogether. Whether you're looking to strengthen your lineup for a championship run (without a trace of false modesty, MFFF is proud to state it's sitting pretty at 11-1 in its league right now), or trying to find that one player that can make the difference between enjoying December or watching glumly from the sidelines as the fantasy world continues to spin without you, we're here for you. Forget Black Friday or Cyber Monday, time for Fantasy Wednesday...
The Week 12 Debrief:
1. MFFF's picks last week = Almost an O-fer. Well, that was spectacularly bad, wasn't it? Almost every single one of MFFF's fantasy picks for last Sunday -- Pittsburgh QB Charlie Batch, Jacksonville RB Jalen Parmele, Green Bay RB James Starks and WR James Jones, and Tampa Bay TE Dallas Clark -- were washouts, with only Clark (with 65 yards receiving) putting up half-decent numbers. Just call it the holiday blues. On a slightly better note, Arizona RB Beanie Wells and TE Rob Housler, our picks for breakouts two weeks ago, finally delivered -- Wells reentered the starting lineup and scored 2 TDs for the Cards, while Housler became a favorite target for rookie QB Ryan Lindley with 82 yards.
2. Our Turkey Day picks = riches for all! On the other hand, MFFF has plenty to give thanks for, specifically a blistering-hot roster of fantasy picks for the Thanksgiving games, as our selections -- Detroit WR Ryan Broyles (126 yards) , Dallas WR Dez Bryant (145 yards, 2 TDs), New England WR Julian Edelman (99 total yards, 2 TDs) and Jet RB Bilal Powell (53 yards and a TD)-- all feasted last Thursday.
3. It's a single-elimination season now. Ordinarily, you'll roll with an established fantasy player even if they face a potentially tough match-up, but with the playoffs loaming, your season hinges on having a player or defense that will play well right now -- so when looking at your imminent playoff matchups, it's time to consider defenses with favorable match-ups, and replacement players who have the chance to go off against a weaker opponent. For example, take the mediocre Cleveland defense (which to be fair, comes off an exceptional performance against the Steelers last Sunday) -- with Oakland and Kansas City looming as the Browns' next opponents, chances for some decent defensive fantasy numbers are high. Or how about Philadelphia replacement RB Bryce Brown, who exploded for 178 yards and 2 TDs last week and will start against a reeling Cowboy defense this Sunday? On the flip side, Seattle WRs Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have shown a nose for the end zone, but with the Seahawks playing on the road against a tough Chicago D this weekend, you can't take the chance of starting either. Or maybe you're keen on San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick after his stirring start against New Orleans last weekend, but this Sunday he travels to St. Louis to confront a Ram defense which has been playing solid ball, and you have to figure he might be in for a come-back-to-earth performance.
Chicago RB Michael Bush
Bush has been in the shadow of RB Matt Forte this season, and as of this writing it's still unknown whether an injured Forte will be able to start, but if he's limited or out for the game, it's time to pounce on Bush as a viable RB1.
Carolina WR Brandon LaFell
It took a while, but LaFell has broken out the last few weeks with 173 total yards and 2 TDs. With WR Steve Smith seeing constant bracket coverage on his side of the field (and his numbers taking a corresponding dip), LaFell has favorable match-ups coming up against the Chiefs and Falcons, both of which have given up big yards in the air.
Denver RB Knowshon Moreno
With RB Willis McGahee out for the year, Denver was expected to go RB by committee, but Moreno put the kibosh on that plan with a strong 111 total yards against the Chiefs, and looks to have nailed down a starting position.
Jacksonville QB Chad Henne
He's cooled off a bit, and if you're in a league that penalizes you for QB sacks, he might not be worth the lumps (he got sacked 7 times against the Titans last week), but Henne has reinvigorated the Jaguar passing attack, and this week he goes against a Bills defense that has given up plenty of yards this year.
Jacksonville TE Marcedes Lewis
Here's one happy beneficiary of Henne's emergence -- Lewis has racked up 96 yards and 2 TDs the last two weeks, and will continue to be a hot read for Henne.
Atlanta RB Jacquizz Rodgers
The Falcons have been slow to get away from underperforming starting RB Michael Turner this year, but Rodgers has slowly been coming on, and last week he had 172 total yards and a TD, which should earn him more touches moving forward.
New York Giants RB David Wilson
Welcome back, Mr. Wilson! The rookie has been used sparingly, but now that RB Andre Brown is out for the year and gimpy lead RB Ahmad Bradshaw is one bad hit away from the training room, Wilson may soon find himself in a starring role -- maybe not this week, but if you have room to stash him, he could be a sleeper pick.
Washington WR Aldrick Robinson
Even though he doesn't get targeted often, for two straight weeks now Robinson has gotten open on deep TDs. Monday night he faces a Giants defense that was ferocious last week, but still seems to give up at least one deep throw per game.
Detroit RB Joique Bell
He's been inconsistent to say the least, but Bell seems to have settled in nicely as a change-up RB for the Lions, and this week he faces a sieve-like Indianapolis D.
Denver WR Brandon Stokely
He doesn't have a high ceiling, but he's consistent (at least four catches for 54 yards in each of his past three games), and if you need a spot starter who might be able to sneak in for a TD, he's a decent play.
Best Offensive Matchup of the Week:
New Orleans at Atlanta: We expect that this will be another high-scoring affair similar to the 31-27 New Orleans victory three weeks ago -- but who will have the most points? Your guess is as good as ours, but we give the edge to the Falcons based on their formidable home-field advantage.
Best Defensive Matchup of the Week:
Cincinnati at San Diego: Don't look now, but the Bengals are on a hot streak (only 29 points surrendered in the last three games), including a rout of the defending champion Giants and a complete dismantling of the Raiders last week. The Chargers lost another heartbreaker last Sunday and are on the verge of elimination -- we're betting the Bengals D continues to add to the Lightning Bolts' misery, and puts up solid fantasy numbers in the process.
Got a specific question or need advice on fantasy football this week? Sound off in the comments section below.