Realities and Illusions for Week 13
14 games were played on Sunday, with Week 13 being the first since Week Three to not feature any teams on a bye. With so many games, it is difficult even for RedZone to keep up. A lot can get lost in that shuffle. And this is a bad time to get lost or fooled, as most leagues have entered into their playoffs. Besides pre-draft, the postseason is the time when you are most likely to do that extra bit of research, but also more likely to fall prey to illusions. That’s what I’m here for: to help at least lay a foundation for your week of research leading up to your first postseason matchup (or consolation bracket game; I’m not here to judge).
Nothing Junior Here
Jeff Wilson, Jr. sounds more like a country singer than a running back, but here we are. Dom Cintorino nailed this in his Watch List article last week: “We all know [Matt] Breida has had trouble staying on the field this season, so if anything were to happen, you’d have to imagine Wilson would take over.” That’s exactly what happened, but earlier than expected, as Breida tweaked his ankle in pre-game warmups, pushing Wilson into the starting role, where he flourished, picking up 51 yards on 16 carries and another 73 yards on eight catches. He left the game briefly with an injury but returned, and Breida was hurt on a long reception while filling in for him. With Breida’s health a huge question mark and Wilson looking great, you have the chance to pick up a lead back in the first week of the playoffs. If you’re not going to burn your FAAB or top waiver slot on him, who are you waiting for?
Sweet Baby James
There were reasonable fears surrounding James White heading into Week 13. He had an off-brand Week 12, picking up 73 yards rushing but only having one catch for five yards. The PPR God had seemingly tumbled down Mt. Olympus. Add in the return of Rex Burkhead this week, and the worry was that the Patriots would be back to their old RBBC ways. But in Week 13, James White, pass-catcher, prevailed. Actually, he did more than that: he dominated. While he had just six carries for 26 yards, he had seven catches for another 92 yards. He had more than twice as many catches as anyone else on the team, and one more target than Julian Edelman for the team lead. White has been too good for the Pats’ this year to be diminished in the offense at all; don’t worry about him.
The attempt to make that read like “domination” didn’t really work; it looks more like “abomination” in both reading and visually. Regardless, what Eric Ebron did against the Jaguars was one of the lone pleasant things to look at in an ugly, ugly game that ended in a 6-0 loss. The tight end had 81 yards on 10 catches on 16 targets, all of which were team-highs. There have been worries that he’s too touchdown dependent—though they come reliably, considering he has 11 of them—he showed he can be a dominant Fantasy force without a score this week. It’s basically just Ebron and T.Y. Hilton in the passing game, and Andrew Luck isn’t going to stop averaging over 40 attempts a game any time soon. Ebron is currently TE3, but this was his first big game without a score. You were always starting him; this is more about peace of mind.
Wareing it Out
There is some degree of moral implication to rushing to the waiver wire to pick up Spencer Ware following the release of Kareem Hunt. The result, for those who did, was surely disappointing. Ware had an okay day, rushing for 47 yards and a score on 14 carries plus one catch for five yards. Damien Williams also saw five carries, picking up 38 yards. Add in matchups against the Ravens next week and the Chargers in Week 15, it’s not like he will have cushy matchups either. He’s no better than an RB2 to end the season, even as a part of the Chiefs’ offense.
No, the Cardinals’ defense did not magically improve overnight. As evidenced by the firing of Mike McCarthy almost the second the final whistle blew, the Packers are wholly, completely broken. All of this is to say, no, Arizona’s defense did not hold Aaron Rodgers to 233 yards and one score on 31/50 passing, or the team to 98 yards rushing as a whole. That would be McCarthy and a struggling Packers team. Don’t worry about starting your Lions and Falcons in the next couple of weeks…or at least, don’t worry about them because of the Cardinals.
More Like JorDon’t Do It Howard
Jordan Howard is not back. I mean, he could be, sure, but he’s not. It was one of Howard’s best games of the season, and even then, he still only had 76 yards rushing and didn’t score. He averaged an encouraging 4.75 yards per carry, his highest since Week Six, but the Giants entered the week giving up the ninth-most rushing yards per game. Plus, Tarik Cohen is still the much more explosive back, even if they don’t use him to rush the ball. Now is not the time to believe in Howard; all he’s done is earn himself a spot on your bench, especially with the Rams on tap next week.
I Burned a That JorDon’t Do It Joke Already But…
Speaking of “not back,” don’t trust Jordy Nelson either. I’d hope I don’t have to tell you this, but it feels necessary anyway. There are plenty of reasons why Nelson’s Week 13 performance was an illusion. It was his first game with more than even 20 yards receiving since Week Five. He had seen just one target each in each of their last two games. The Raiders were playing the Chiefs. He’s 33. The Raiders have soft matchups heading forward, including the Steelers and Bengals the next two weeks, but don’t pick up Nelson because of them. This was an aberration.
Isaiah CroWon’t Get Fooled Again
I’m sticking with this theme of “bad puns for semi-obvious choices.” But seriously, don’t listen to anyone telling you Isaiah Crowell is back after his 98-yard day against the Titans. He had exactly that many rushing yards over his last three games combined. He has had exactly three good games this season: his 102-yard game Week One, his historic 219-yard Week Five and this week. No thank you. The main fantasy impact of his performance may be taking more carries out of Elijah McGuire’s hands, though he has disappointed as well.
Sanders’ Slow Sunday
It was a weird game for the Broncos on Sunday thanks to whipping winds in Cincinnati. While the tape would say to pass and pass often against a weak Bengals secondary, the weather did not permit it, as Case Keenum only threw the ball 21 times, and never too deep. He completed 12 passes for just 151 yards. This severely limited Emmanuel Sanders’ day, who had been on a hot streak ever since the departure of Demaryius Thomas, but especially the last two games. Reeling in just four catches for 19 yards on six targets while Courtland Sutton brought in 85 yards and a score on the same number of catches could understandably cause some consternation among Sanders managers. However, blame the performance on the weather, not the player. The schedule remains easy for the veteran receiver, with the 49ers, Browns and Raiders upcoming. You can comfortably keep him in your lineup, even as the running game continues to dominate.
Featured image courtesy of Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons