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Into the deep for Week 13

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.

Quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. TEN): We'll give Fitzpatrick another chance this week after his performance in Week 12 at the Jets with 31 Fantasy points. With Fred Jackson (calf) now out, the Bills will rely on Fitzpatrick as much as possible, and he should be OK in this matchup with the Titans. Tennessee has allowed four quarterbacks to pass for multiple touchdowns, and Fitzpatrick has at least 18 Fantasy points in three of five home games this year. We're not big fans of Steve Johnson in this matchup, so look for Fitzpatrick to lean on David Nelson, Scott Chandler and C.J. Spiller. He has the chance to be a Top 15 quarterback this week. (Started in 13 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Alex Smith (vs. STL): You have to give the Rams some credit for their pass defense of late since they have not allowed a quarterback to score multiple touchdowns since Week 7, which includes a matchup against Drew Brees. But part of that also includes some easy matchups against John Skelton twice, Colt McCoy and Tarvaris Jackson. Earlier this season, the Rams allowed multiple touchdowns against Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo, and Smith could be a sneaky Fantasy option this week. He has at least 17 Fantasy points in four of his past five home games, and he should rebound from his poor performance at Baltimore last week when he had just four Fantasy points. (Started in 17 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Caleb Hanie (vs. KC): Hanie's performance in Week 12 at Oakland wasn't pretty with three interceptions, but he still managed 254 passing yards and two touchdowns and an impressive five carries for 50 yards. He needs to cut down on the turnovers, but if he can continue to run at a high level that will only improve his Fantasy value. We like that he's using Johnny Knox, and hopefully he can involve Earl Bennett more as well. This week, he faces a Chiefs defense that has allowed multiple touchdowns to seven quarterbacks, including three on the road. Hanie might not be a direct replacement for Jay Cutler (thumb), but he could help your Fantasy team in a desperate situation. (Started in 2 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Running back

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Roy Helu (vs. NYJ): Helu finally had the breakout game we were waiting for in Week 12 at Seattle with 21 Fantasy points, and we hope Mike Shanahan will commit to him as the starter for the rest of the season. He doesn't have the best matchup in Week 13 against the Jets, who haven't allowed a running back to score since Week 7, but he is worth using in all leagues because he could be a potential flex option. We could see Helu getting close to 100 total yards in this matchup, and he could be a viable weapon out of the backfield as a receiver. (Started in 18 percent of leagues in Week 12)
C.J. Spiller (vs. TEN): Spiller had a difficult game in Week 12 at the Jets with 19 carries for 55 yards and three catches for 15 yards. He should do better than six Fantasy points in this matchup with the Titans. Tennessee has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. They have yielded 203 rushing yards, 65 receiving yards and a touchdown the past two games against Michael Turner and LeGarrette Blount. Spiller has the chance for 100 total yards in this matchup, and we consider him a strong flex play in all leagues, especially in PPR formats. (Started in 35 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Donald Brown (at NE): Brown is worth using as a flex option in deeper leagues with his performance over the past six games. He has at least six Fantasy points in five of his past six games with three touchdowns over that span, and the Colts might continue to rely on him in case he's the starter in 2012. Joseph Addai could start to get the majority of carries soon as his injured hamstring gets better, and he even started against Carolina. But Brown should still get most of the work against the Patriots, who have allowed eight touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 17 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Kendall Hunter (vs. STL): This should be a week where Hunter gets some increased chances to run the ball in the fourth quarter with the 49ers grinding out the clock. Frank Gore remains a must-start Fantasy running back this week, but Hunter can be a useful option in deeper formats. The Rams have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Hunter has three games this year with at least nine Fantasy points, and he has the chance for a quality outing if San Francisco builds an early lead in this game as expected. (Started in 5 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Marion Barber (vs. KC): Barber had his best rushing game of the season in Week 12 at Oakland with 10 carries for 63 yards. He has double digits in carries in two of his past three games, and he has five rushing touchdowns on the season. Matt Forte remains a must-start Fantasy running back this week, but Barber has done a solid job as a complementary option. He has the chance to score against the Chiefs, who have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. He is worth using as a flex option or spot starter in deeper leagues. (Started in 18 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Wide receiver

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Michael Crabtree (vs. STL): Crabtree is a risky Fantasy option in all leagues because he has just one touchdown on the season, and he has three games with five Fantasy points or less in three of his past five outings. But he has a favorable matchup this week against the Rams, who have allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing receivers and six to reach double digits in Fantasy points. Crabtree has scored in each of his past two games against St. Louis. And he has double digits in Fantasy points in two of his past three home games. Crabtree should be considered a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues. (Started in 29 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Deion Branch (vs. IND): We know the Colts defense is a mess. We know the Patriots should win this game easily, and we know Tom Brady should have his way with this secondary. That lends itself to all the New England receivers playing well, and Branch should be considered a solid No. 3 Fantasy option. Indianapolis has allowed 14 touchdowns to opposing receivers and nine have reached double digits in Fantasy points. Branch has at least nine Fantasy points in six games this season, and he is coming off an impressive performance at Philadelphia with six catches for 125 yards. The one thing to consider with Branch is he hasn't had good games in consecutive weeks since Week 2, but he is worth the risk as a starter given the matchup. (Started in 26 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Doug Baldwin (vs. PHI): Baldwin will have to step up now that Sidney Rice (concussion) is out for the season. Baldwin has played well lately with at least five Fantasy points in four of his past five games, but he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5. The Eagles' secondary is a mess right now, and Baldwin could have an opportunity to make plays on Thursday. In their past five games against Dallas, Chicago, Arizona, the Giants and New England, the Eagles have given up 60 catches for 1,012 yards and eight touchdowns to opposing receivers with six reaching double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 7 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Riley Cooper (at SEA): Cooper continues to play well with Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) out. He now has eight catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in his past two games with 17 targets over that span. Maclin is out again in Week 13, which will keep Cooper in the starting lineup. He should be considered a quality No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all formats since the Seahawks have allowed nine touchdowns to opposing receivers and eight to reach double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 4 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Johnny Knox (vs. KC): I guess we know who Hanie's favorite target will be since Knox had his best game in his first start in Week 12 at Oakland with four catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. The Bears should have gotten Knox on the field more often earlier in the season, but he could provide a solid finishing kick. He now has seven catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games with 15 targets over that span. We liked Knox a lot coming into the season before the Bears made him a reserve, but he could be an excellent Fantasy option to close the year. For this week, Knox can be considered a No. 3 receiver since the Chiefs have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing receivers and six have reached double digits in Fantasy points. (Started in 4 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Tight end

Scott Chandler (vs. TEN): Chandler hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 8, but he's actually played well the past two games with 11 catches for 121 yards. He's doing a better job in the middle of the field instead of being just a red-zone threat. He has 12 targets in his past two games, which is his highest activity in any two games this season. And this week he has a favorable matchup against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends and eight have reached at least six Fantasy points. Chandler could be a useful starter in deeper formats based on his recent play and the matchup. (Started in 13 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Jermaine Gresham (at PIT): We expected Gresham to play well against the Browns in Week 12, and he had his second touchdown in his past three games. The other touchdown was against the Steelers, who he faces this week. He is a great starting option in deeper formats and could be used in all leagues if your No. 1 tight end (Owen Daniels, Greg Olsen or Brandon Pettigrew for example) is struggling. The Steelers have allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends on the season and four have reached at least eight Fantasy points. And if Troy Polamalu (concussion) is out or limited that will only make Gresham that much better. (Started in 23 percent of leagues in Week 12)
Jared Cook (at BUF): Cook is my Hail Mary call of the week, and I might even consider Anthony Fasano a safer sleeper based on his matchup with the Raiders. But Cook has a fantastic matchup against the Bills this week since Buffalo has allowed seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends, including four in the past two games against Miami and the Jets. Eight tight ends have reached at least six Fantasy points against the Bills, and Cook has the chance for one of his best games this year. The problem is just getting him the ball. He does have 16 targets in his past two games, but he has only eight catches for 89 yards over that span. He also hasn't scored since Week 7, but he could be worth starting in deeper formats based on his matchup. (Started in 5 percent of leagues in Week 12)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Wes Welker expected to be suspended for Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:24 pm ET) Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post.

Mike Klis initially reported that there was a chance Welker's suspension wouldn't kick in until after Week 1, but issued an update later. While the NFL has yet to officially announce the suspension, the Broncos have been informed of the move. The team is expected to send out a press release confirming the information Tuesday.


Report: Wes Welker may play Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:48 pm ET) Update: Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post. The team is expected to send out a press release shortly.

Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker may play Week 1 against the Colts, according to the Denver Post

Welker is expected to be suspended for four games after reportedly testing positive for amphetamines. The league, however, has not officially announced the suspension. Suspensions are typically announced by Tuesday, according to Pro Football Talk. Since the NFL has yet to announce the move, it's thought Welker could be available for Week 1, but would serve his suspension once the NFL announced the move. 

There are a lot of uncertainties regarding the situation at this time. The club expects Welker to be available, provided he passes concussion protocal, but it remains to be seen how the NFL will handle this suspension. 


Randall Cobb to be tested Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:36 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb should be in for a tough test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Cobb caught just three passes during the preseason, picking up 34 yards and a score. His lack of work shouldn’t be a huge concern, as the Packers offense doesn’t need any fine-tuning. The main thing here is that Cobb is 100 percent healthy after playing in just six games last season due to a leg injury.

His Week 1 production could be dampened by a strong Seahawks DST. Seattle was exceptional against the pass last season, holding opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game. That figure was the second-lowest rate in the league. On top of that, Cobb may have to deal with Richard Sherman, who is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Sherman may spend the majority of the game stopping Jordy Nelson, but he could find his way over to Cobb on a few occasions.

Cobb’s versatility makes him a strong candidate to be moved around the Packers’ offense. If Green Bay can create some nice matchups, and Sherman is preoccupied with Nelson, Cobb could be in for a better game than people might expect. 

Despite that, expectations should be tempered. Seattle’s DST was strong last season, and while Green Bay boasts a strong offense, things should be muted Week 1. Cobb is a fine start, considering his upside, but he carries more risk this week due to the matchup.


Jordy Nelson in for a tough test Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:25 pm ET) Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson should be in for a difficult test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Nelson had a quiet preseason, catching just two passes for 19 yards. One of those catches wound up being a touchdown. Despite the lack of action during the preseason, Nelson’s upside with a healthy Aaron Rodgers is well-known among Fantasy owners. That said, he’s going to have to work for everything he gets against Seattle.

The Seahawks rated as the best defense in the league last year. They were strong in every facet of the game. Seattle held opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game, the second-lowest figure in the league. To make things even more difficult for Nelson, he’ll likely be covered by Richard Sherman. Sherman, by many counts, is arguably the best corner in the game. 

Still, it’s tough to pass up Nelson’s upside with a healthy Rodgers. The Packers boast an overabundance of weapons, and it’s possible moving Nelson around before the play could put him in a more favorable matchup. Even if Sherman covers him the entire game, Nelson is a good enough receiver to make some noise. While he doesn’t have a great matchup, Week 1 is not the time to take a player as good as Nelson out of your Fantasy lineup. 


Eddie Lacy to have his hands full Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:17 pm ET) Packers running back Eddie Lacy will have his hands full Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Lacy is coming off a tremendous rookie season, in which he rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He didn’t get a ton of use during the preseason, but seemed to be in midseason form. Lacy rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries, good for a 5.5 average over two preseason games. He also managed to run in a touchdown.

Though he looked strong in the preseason, Lacy should have a tough time against the Seahawks Week 1. Seattle allowed just 12.32 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season. That was the second-lowest rate in the league. While the Seahawks lost three defensive linemen during the offseason, the club is thought to still have the top-rated Fantasy defense.

In many circles, Lacy was considered a strong Fantasy pick after the elite four running backs were off the board. With that in mind, it’s unlikely he’ll be benched in many leagues Week 1. There are better matchups out there, but Lacy is a tough player to sit. Given Green Bay’s offensive capabilities, he’s still a decent start even against the best Fantasy defenses. 


Aaron Rodgers taking on a tough task Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:02 pm ET) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has his work cut out for him Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Rodgers entered the season as one of the top Fantasy options at quarterback, but will take on the best defense in the league. Last season, Seattle held Fantasy quarterbacks to just 10.89 points per game. That was the lowest rate in the league. The Seahawks DST ranked tops in the league in limiting points and yards last year. On top of that, the team forced the most turnovers.

While Seattle lost three members of the defensive line during the offseason, the club is still expected to have one of NFL’s best defenses. If Seattle struggles to get to Rodgers, that could open things up for the Packers offense.

Given the cost to acquire Rodgers, in a snake or auction draft, he’s probably going to start for most Fantasy teams despite his tough Week 1 matchup. While there are better quarterback options for this week, Rodgers still has a strong potential for dominance. He’s healthy and still has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. It might not be Rodgers best game of the season, but he’s shown that he can put up numbers against even the best defensive clubs.


Percy Harvin looking to start the year on the right foot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:37 pm ET) Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is looking at a strong matchup Week 1 against the Packers.

A quiet preseason was a good preseason for Harvin. After missing nearly all of last season due to a hip injury, Harvin was able to play in all but the final game of the preseason. He missed the fourth game due to a personal issue, and not because of an injury. Harvin caught seven balls for 92 yards in August.

The Packers didn’t boast a strong pass defense last season. The team allowed opposing wide receivers to average 22.94 Fantasy points per game. That wasn’t one of the worst rates in the league, but it was below-average. The team attempted to address this during the offseason, taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. Despite that, there’s no guarantee the team will perform better in the defensive backfield.

Despite the fact that Harvin is a five-year veteran, there are questions about how he’ll be used with the Seahawks. While Harvin was able to play during the club’s playoff run, it was unclear whether he was actually fully healthy last year. Harvin has shown the ability to be a game-changing wide receiver, so it’s assumed the Seahawks will find ways to get arguably their best playmaker the ball. The club has been been incredibly run-heavy over the past few seasons, but a healthy Harvin could make them more balanced. 


Marshawn Lynch ready to roll Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:35 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is looking to get off to a good start Week 1 against the Packers.

Lynch had an abbreviated preseason, carrying the ball just three times for 16 yards. That’s probably not a bad thing considering his high workload over the past couple years. Lynch also had a brief holdout during the offseason, but reported to camp in shape, and should be ready to roll.

The Packers weren’t particularly strong against the run last season, giving up 19.18 Fantasy points per week to running backs. That was the eighth worst figure in the league. While the team tried to shore up things defensively during the offseason, the loss of B.J. Raji should make it easier for teams to gash the Packers up the middle. 

With that in mind, Lynch should be a strong start. The Seahawks modus operandi the past couple years has been the run game, and that probably won’t change now. There are concerns about Lynch’s workload and lack of preseason reps, but his pedigree and matchup make this a strong start Week 1. 


Russell Wilson ready to shine Week 1?
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:33 pm ET) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson begins his post-Super Bowl year with a strong matchup against the Packers Week 1. 

Wilson performed well during the preseason, completing 78.6 percent of his passes. He threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wilson also managed three rushing touchdowns to cap off a strong preseason.

His ability to put up solid Fantasy numbers should be tested Week 1. The Packers did not boast a great defense against the pass last season. The team allowed quarterbacks to score 20.65 Fantasy points, which was the seventh worst clip in the league. Green Bay has been proactive in resolving the issue, drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, but it’s unclear how much better the team’s defensive backs will perform. 

The bigger question will be whether the Seahawks open up the offense for Wilson this season. With Marshawn Lynch out for much of the preseason, Wilson showed the ability to carry the team with his arm. Now that Lynch is back, the team could opt to get back to conservative play-calling with the franchise quarterback. Wilson has all the makings of a strong matchup here, but could get the short end of the stick if the Seahawks pound Lynch.


Matt Forte should live up to billing in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:25 pm ET) Bears running back Matt Forte was ranked as a top five Fantasy running back going into the season, and he falls in the top five in both weekly running back rankings from CBSSports.com experts. After setting career highs in rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yardage in 2013, will Forte get this season started off on the right foot in Week 1 against the Bills?

While Buffalo put together a strong defense last season, the team's particular strength was against the pass. Rushers were able to gain 4.4 yards per carry against the Bills, leaving them 23rd in the league in the category. While the Bills did a good job defending against pass-catching backs last season, they now have to play without linebackers Kiko Alonso (season-ending injury) and Nigel Bradham (suspended for Week 1) as well as safety Jairus Byrd (signed with New Orleans).

New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense was just average defending passes against running backs in Detroit last season. Forte has been excellent against Schwartz, who was the head coach of the Lions from 2009 through 2013. He has rushed for 1,005 yards and averaged 4.74 yards per carry while catching 38 passes for 360 yards in 12 career games against the Lions. Ten of those contests came with Schwartz at the helm, and Forte should be able to continue giving the Bills defensive coordinator nightmares this Sunday.


 
 
 
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