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Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (away vs. New Orleans Saints) – Newton might be the MVP in both reality and fantasy football this season, so he’s an absolute must-start when the Panthers travel to New Orleans to face the Saints. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and Superman has soared in recent games against this defensively vulnerable NFC South rival.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (home vs. Indianapolis Colts) – When Big Ben has been out on the field, he’s been quite a nice option for fantasy owners. That’s even more so at home, where Big Ben has put up big numbers. In fact, he’s thrown a ridiculous 32 touchdown passes in his last 12 games at Heinz Field. The Colts defense isn’t likely to stop Roethlisberger this week, either.
Special mention – Jay Cutler/Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers and Ryan Tannehill/Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (away vs. Minnesota Vikings) – Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves – Yes, Russell went berserk last week throwing for five touchdowns, but we know he’s not that consistent to put those kind of number back to back. The Vikings defense is tough to score against, as quarterbacks have recorded just 14 touchdown passes in all contest. At the least, temper your expectations for Wilson in Week 13.
Aww Running Backs
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Bucs (home vs. Atlanta Falcons) – I was wrong for having Martin as one of my “Naw’s” the week he torched the Philadelphia Eagles and I know I’ll probably be wrong again (it’s fantasy) but Doug is the third best fantasy running back so far this season. The crazy thing is he has not scored a touchdown since week five!! The Falcons have coughed up 12 rushing touchdowns and 81 receptions to running backs this season, most in the NFL so I expect a touchdown from him Sunday.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (home vs. Philadelphia Eagles) – The Eagles defense has been dreadful in recent weeks, so it’s no surprise to see Blount as an “Aww” this week. Since Week 9, Philadelphia has surrendered an average of more than 25 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Look for Blount to find the end zone at least once in this massive gridiron mismatch.
Special Mention – Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford/Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers and Jonathan Stewart/Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Naw Running Backs
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (home vs. Pittsburgh Steelers) – Gore was a “Naw” last week and he falls back on my list this week. Here are Gore’s yards-per-carry numbers in his past six games: 6.0, 4.8, 3.2, 3.0, 2.4, and 1.3. Gore is wearing down as the year is going on, and the 32-year-old is on the road against a Steelers defense that has given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (home vs. Kansas City Chiefs) – Chances could be slim that you cannot bench Murray due to backfield issues, so consider this a simple warning … the Chiefs defense is solid against the run. In fact, this unit has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs since Week 9. Also, Kansas City held Adrian Peterson to a mere 5.7 fantasy points back in Week 6.
Aww Wide Receivers
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (home vs. San Francisco 49ers) – I absolutely love this matchup for Alshon this week against the 49ers who has struggled against the pass, allowing the most receptions, the third-most yards and a combined five touchdown catches to the opposition’s top wide receiver this season.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (away vs. Pittsburgh Steelers) – Ladies and Gentlemen….T.Y. is BACK!! Hilton is getting the most targets of any Colts pass-catcher when Matt Hasselbeck is under center. Hilton hasn’t lived up to fantasy expectations to this point, but last week’s big performance against the Buccaneers could be the first of several in a row. The schedule looks great for Hilton down the stretch, including a matchup against a Steelers defense that allowed five touchdown catches to wide receivers just one week ago.
Special Mention – Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola/New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles and Allen Robinson/Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
Naw Wide Receivers
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (home vs. Houston Texans) – I am a true Bills fan but I have to be honest with myself…Sammy was a “Naw” last week so if you started him, then good for you!! This week though, I am not a fan of the matchup against the Texans, who have allowed only one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver in their past four games, a list that includes A.J Green, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Brandin Cooks, Marvin Jones and more. (Marshall caught the score.) Prior to last week, Watkins had games of 39 and 14 yards. He’s a boom or bust this week.
Steve Johnson, San Diego Chargers (home vs. Denver Broncos) – Johnson has done well in Points Per Reception formats, but fantasy fans should beware this week’s matchup against the Broncos. Denver has been tough against wide receivers this season, allowing just one touchdown catch and the fewest fantasy points to the position in 2015. Their defense has also surrendered the fewest catches to wide receivers as well.
Aww Tight Ends
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars (away vs. Tennessee Titans) – Thomas value appeared to be on the decline a few weeks back, but he’s produced two touchdowns and a combined 25 plus fantasy points in his last two games. Now with Allen Hurns not expected to play in this game, Julius should receive even more love facing a Titans squad allowing the most receptions and tied for the second-most scores to opposing tight ends.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (home vs. Dallas Cowboys) – The Cowboys have been dreadful against tight ends, but Reed is a tough player to bench while he’s seeing such a high volume of targets from Kirk Cousins. In fact, he’s been targeted at least eight times in three of his last five games (including the last two). Reed, like Cousins, has also been much more productive at home.
Special Mention – Scott Chandler/New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles and Coby Fleener/Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Naw Tight Ends
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (away vs. Washington Redskins) – Witten was once considered an elite fantasy tight end, but with the quarterback changes this season, he’s been more name than production. In fact, he’s scored fewer than seven points in all but one of his last 10 games. The Redskins have also been tougher on tight ends in recent weeks, allowing an average of 6.53 points a game to the position since Week 9.
Aww Team Defense
Carolina Panthers (away vs. New Orleans Saints) – The Panthers have forced multiple turnovers in five consecutive games and have 28 takeaways this season, six more than any other team. This team is the truth!!
Chicago Bears (home vs. San Francisco 49ers) – “Da Bears” have held four straight opponents to less than 20 points, which includes the Chargers, Rams, Broncos and Packers. This week they get the 49ers, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses.
Special Mention – Cincinnati Bengals defense vs. Cleveland Browns
Naw Team Defense
St. Louis Rams (home vs. Arizona Cardinals) – It is time to drop the Rams defense? Over the last four weeks, this unit has scored a combined 13 fantasy points. That’s not good. What’s more, St. Louis has a brutal matchup next against Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. Opposing defenses have combined to score the third-fewest fantasy points against them this season.