Ranking the Week 13 defensive matchups
The bye weeks are finally over, so we now have our full complement of teams to choose from. As the season moves along, the games dwindle down and teams are eliminated from playoff contention, more and more players will be put on injured reserve. Why does this matter? Well, those teams may not have the depth to recover from those injuries, and those are the ones you may want to concentrate your firepower against. Good luck in Week 13 if you need a victory in order to make your Fantasy playoffs.
As always, the top of this list are teams to make sure you start players against, while the bottom are defenses you want to start.
- Detroit Lions (against Rams): As if you weren’t going to start your Rams even if they were playing a top defense. Josh Reynolds will go for me also here and is likely no worse than a WR3/Flex play for the rest of the season.
- Oakland Raiders (against Kansas City): Same goes for KC here. The week off should have allowed Sammy Watkins to heal what ails him. He starts along with the usual cast of characters.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against Carolina): The best thing to happen to the Panthers this season was the addition of Norv Turner as OC. It’s amazing what he has done for Cam Newton’s accuracy, which is approaching 70-percent. The emergence of D.J. Moore has given the passing offense a legitimate deep threat, and Moore is a must-start in this game. Devin Funchess and Greg Olsen, if healthy, are as well, but they are likely to need a TD to pay off in Fantasy.
- New York Jets (against Tennessee): It’s difficult to trust anyone on the Titans’ offense, even in a good matchup. Jonnu Smith has come alive of late and could make for a solid start here, especially when you consider how desolate tight end always is. Dion Lewis is still the preferred start over Derrick Henry.
- Dallas Cowboys (against New Orleans): With the Saints, the only start/sit questions come down to what WR to start other than Michael Thomas and the TE. To answer the latter first, Ben Watson should make for a solid start in this game. As we saw on Thanksgiving, Dallas isn’t always great covering the TE. As for Tre’Quan Smith, he’s battling a foot injury, but even if he does play Thursday, I’d probably look for another WR to start.
- San Francisco 49ers (against Seattle): Hooray! Russell Wilson is running again and back to being a no doubt starter. Chris Carson is your starting RB here. As for Doug Baldwin, just when he was looking good, he suffers another knee injury, and once again becomes someone extremely difficult to start. Still, this is a good matchup. Tyler Lockett is a big play waiting to happen also.
- Cleveland Browns (against Houston): Yeah, I don’t think anyone saw Lamar Miller going bat crazy running Monday night, but he’s back being in our good graces. What to do about Demaryius Thomas? He caught two TDs on Monday, but we certainly can’t rely on that week in and week out. However, you have to put him back in your starting lineup.
- Chicago Bears (against Giants): There really is no explaining the Giants’ game plan last Sunday, but who cares, we are on to Chicago. This is a much tougher task. Eli Manning is not a start here, but like always, Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley are. That’s it though, regardless if Evan Engram plays or not.
- Green Bay Packers (against Arizona): The Packers’ defense can be had and you’re likely starting Larry Fitzgerald here, so the question is what to do with Christian Kirk. It seems probable that the Cardinals will be trailing in this game and forced to throw the ball. Kirk could be a start in this game, as the targets should be there.
- Los Angeles Chargers (against Pittsburgh): Yes, James Conner has been a disappointment of late compared to how he had performed earlier this season. The Steelers, for whatever reason, aren’t using him at the goal line as much. This should change, however, and it’s not like you weren’t going to start him anyway. The Steelers are at home, but that doesn’t mean Ben Roethlisberger is a start here.
- Carolina Panthers (against Tampa Bay): You’re starting Jameis Winston. Yes, he’s a lousy NFL QB, but he is a pretty productive Fantasy one. As for the WRs, you should be done with DeSean Jackson. Maybe it’s the thumb injury, maybe it’s the switch to Winston, but he just has been more bust then boom lately. I’m starting Peyton Barber, however. He has been productive, especially at finding his way into the end zone. Cameron Brate is easily a Top 8 TE from this point forward.
- Washington Redskins (against Philadelphia): Josh Adams is in line to be used quite a bit over the next five games. This is not the greatest matchup for him, but touches are the first step towards productivity. As for Carson Wentz and the passing game, they are hard to trust. Golden Tate is just not in tune with Wentz and the offense; start him at your own risk. The only pass catcher I trust is Zach Ertz.
- Arizona Cardinals (against Green Bay): Aaron Rodgers is no longer a Top 5 Fantasy QB. That hurts to write. You’re still starting him, but expectations need to be kept in check. I’d rather not start Jimmy Graham if you have other options. I’m also not likely to start any WR other than Davante Adams, although I may revisit this later this week should Randall Cobb be ready to play. Aaron Jones is a must-start, as head coach Mike McCarthy has finally realized.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Atlanta): Here is a stat I saw today: Tevin Coleman loses yardage on almost 20 percent of his carries. That’s not very good, now is it? Still, you likely have to start him, lead RB with a heartbeat and all. Matt Ryan is a low-end QB1 in this game and Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper are all startable, but are not must-starts.
- Atlanta Falcons (against Baltimore): As of this writing, we can’t be sure who will start at QB for the Ravens, Lamar Jackson or Joe Flacco. Fantasy owners had better hope that John Harbaugh doesn’t follow through on his possible plan to have both QBs play a significant role. This would pretty much kill the Fantasy value for each. Gus Edwards is the only must-start here until the QB situation gains some clarity.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against Indianapolis): Marlon Mack is currently in the concussion protocol and may not be ready to go Sunday. If he were to miss the game, Nyheim Hines would be a play here. You were starting Eric Ebron anyway, as he’s tied for the league lead in TDs (every Lion’s fan just threw up), but with Jack Doyle on IR, he’s now a must-start for the rest of the season.
- New York Giants (against Chicago): Another shaky QB situation here. Mitchell Trubisky may start, or he may not. Trubisky doesn’t make the Top 12 at QB even if he does, but his absence may remove Allen Robinson and/or Anthony Miller from start consideration, or at least move them down your rankings. I’m about done with Jordan Howard. I don’t want to start him unless I just don’t have anyone else to put in my lineup. Trey Burton wouldn’t be a Top 12 TE if not for all the injuries at the position.
- New England Patriots (against Minnesota): What I just said about Burton goes for Kyle Rudolph as well. You’re starting him because you have to, not because you want to. Other than Rudolph all of your normal Vikings’ start.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Denver): In the non-James Conner division, Phillip Lindsay may just be your Fantasy MVP. Who saw these numbers coming from someone who was undrafted in an overwhelming majority of leagues? Lindsay and Emmanuel Sanders are the only must-starts here.
- Indianapolis Colts (against Jacksonville): Let me see if I have this correct: Leonard Fournette is suspended for this game. Blake Bortles has been benched for Cody Kessler. The offensive coordinator has been fired. Okay, I’m about done with the Jaguars unless I have to throw Dede Westbrook in my lineup and just hope for the best.
- New Orleans Saints (against Dallas): The Cowboys’ offense is improved but you’re still only starting Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. If this was a heavy bye week, then yes, Dak Prescott would be in consideration, but with a shaky OL, he will be hard to trust even in a game where he will likely have to put the ball in the air quite often.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (against Chargers): Melvin Gordon is out at least for this game if not for several others. Austin Ekeler now becomes a must-start and also a must-pickup should he still be available in your league. The Chargers schedule isn’t exactly run-friendly, but perhaps you may want to get third-string back Justin Jackson off of your WW as well.
- Minnesota Vikings (against New England): Rex Burkhead is back, which once again could lead to a three-headed monster at RB for NE. Sony Michel may be the only back I truly trust here with James White next on that list. I still have issues with the passing game. Tom Brady is not in my Top 12 this week, as the arm strength just doesn’t seem to be there. As for Rob Gronkowski, sure, he caught a TD, but had only three receptions overall. You have to start him, but he’s not the Gronk of old, not even close.
- Miami Dolphins (against Buffalo): Good for Josh Allen in having the big game last week to shut up Jalen Ramsey. That doesn’t mean you’re starting him, however, or anyone else on the Bills outside of LeSean McCoy.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against Oakland): Even in a game against the defensively-challenged Chiefs, there just isn’t much to like here on the Raider’s offense. Derek Carr? Okay, maybe, if you’re desperate, but that’s more for a 2QB or superflex league. Jalen Richard could once again be a Flex play here in a PPR league, and Doug Martin as well, but how much can the Raiders run the ball when trailing by 500 points in the second half?
- Houston Texans (against Cleveland): The Browns have a soft schedule as far as pass defenses are concerned over the ROS, which should put Antonio Callaway back on your Fantasy radar. It won’t make Baker Mayfield a Fantasy QB1, but if you need upside at the position, I can see why you would take a shot at him. As for Jarvis Landry: Yes, he has been a disappointment, but I don’t see how you can’t start him unless you are incredibly deep at the position or are looking for upside.
- Tennessee Titans (against Jets): It doesn’t matter who QBs the Jets here. Josh McCown may miss the game due to a thumb injury and Sam Darnold is questionable with a foot injury. I’ll punt on the passing offense here and only have a slight interest in Isaiah Crowell, which came about after watching Lamar Miller torch the Titan’s rush defense Monday night.
- Buffalo Bills (against Miami): Kenyan Drake is the only offensive player I’m interested in here. I wish the Dolphins would give him the full load, but they still insist on using Frank Gore. Drake comes in as a low-end RB2/Flex play.
- Denver Broncos (against Cincinnati): No Andy Dalton in this game could be a problem for the entire offense. The Broncos will more than likely sell out to stop the run game and Joe Mixon. Maybe the Bengals don’t bring A.J. Green back for this game. They probably will, however, as they are still technically in the playoff hunt. Green starts for me if he starts for the Bengals, but he drops to a low-end WR2/WR3 as this isn’t the best of matchups for him. John Ross sits if Green returns.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against Washington): There just isn’t much of an offense here. Washington is still dealing with OL issues. Alex Smith is gone for the season. The WR group was unimpressive already but is also now banged up. Adrian Peterson is going to see a whole lot of defensive coverage here. The bottom line is that Washington just doesn’t have the WR talent to take advantage of the awful secondary that Philly has. Peterson and Jordan Reed are my only starts here.
- Seattle Seahawks (against San Francisco): We don’t know who will be able to play WR for the 49ers in this game, and it may not really matter. The clock has struck midnight on Nick Mullens, but he still starts here. I’ll start George Kittle and Matt Breida, but that’s it.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Detroit): Marvin Jones was just placed on IR. Golden Tate is long gone. Kerryon Johnson is battling a knee injury and could miss the game. There is no one on the Lions I’m starting here outside of Kenny Golladay, with the exception of Johnson, should he start.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.