Drew Magyar
Rock and a Hard Place - Week 13

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We always talk about guys missing time with bye weeks and having to scramble to find a replacement. But the bye weeks are over. Then there are the guys on the injury report, and when they go down, you find yourself in a fix. I’m looking at you Arian Foster, Julio Jones and Aaron Rodgers. Those three derailed fantasy seasons all on their own.

There are also guys that simply underachieve. I’m not talking about 12th rounders. I’m talking about guys you targeted in your draft or in a trade. Two words: Trent Richardson. The guy was a first-round pick and he’s been triggering gag reflexes for 11 games. Ray Rice has been a mess this season. David Wilson was a disappointment when he was able to suit up, and now he’s done for the season.

So it’s Week 13, it could be that you finally need to take a chance on someone rather than go down with the S.S. Roddy White. Some may want to “dance with the guy you came with,” but if he brought you to the dance on the back of his tricycle, I think you can ditch him at the punch bowl.

Below, I’ll list a player with some upside for this week, their Week 13 matchup, and the percentage of leagues in which he is owned according to our friends at fleaflicker.com .

DISCLAIMER - The hope is that you don’t find yourself in a situation like this. The hope is that you dodge the bullet. But hope won’t help you come Sunday.

Let’s move on to this week’s targets, keeping in mind that these aren’t every week starters. Instead, these are guys that should only be used if you’re in some kind of roster emergency. In case of emergency, break glass.

Quarterback

Josh McCown at Minnesota – 23 percent. McCown has done a nice job filling in for Jay Cutler. With Cutler still on the mend, the Chicago Bears will look to McCown once again in a big divisional game in Minnesota on Sunday. Coming off a game in which he topped 300 yards and threw two touchdowns, McCown will look to keep the Bears atop the NFC North. Working in his favor is the fact that no team has been more generous to opposing fantasy quarterbacks than the Vikings, and that Bears defense hasn’t been stopping anyone lately. We project 330 passing yards and two scores for McCown.

Ryan Fitzpatrick at Indianapolis – 20 percent. Like McCown, Fitzpatrick has filled in adequately, stepping in when Jake Locker was lost for the season. He has no problem slinging it around the yard, but his challenge has always been decision-making. You’d expect more from a Harvard graduate, but he throws into coverage with the best of them. But with Kendall Wright and now Justin Hunter stepping up, they may have something in Tennessee. Indianapolis has looked kind of terrible over the past few weeks, getting torched by Case Keenum, Kellen Clemens, and even Fitzpatrick himself. We’ve projected 255 yards and two scores, and I like Fitzpatrick to outperform those numbers.

E.J. Manuel vs. Atlanta – 20 percent. Manuel is now back and healthy. Two weeks ago, he burned the New York Jets for 245 yards and two scores, and now he gets an Atlanta defense that is much weaker against the pass. I expect Manuel to continue to put up numbers on Sunday, even with some rough weather and possibly some snow. Our site projects 230 yards and two scores for Manuel.

Running Back

Brandon Bolden at Houston – 15 percent. Bolden found himself thrust into the limelight on Sunday night after both Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount fumbled against the Denver Broncos. He came on to run 13 times for 58 yards and a score, and he figures to lead the committee this week in Houston. He should get plenty of opportunities, as the New England Patriots should have the lead for the majority of the game. Houston has been run over by Rashad Jennings and Maurice Jones-Drew in the last two weeks. I like Bolden’s chances of matching the projected 60 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Benny Cunningham at San Francisco – 19 percent. When Zac Stacy was knocked out with a concussion last week, Cunningham came on to run for 109 yards and score. Stacy is still going through the league’s concussion protocols, and while the St. Louis Rams are hopeful he will be cleared for this week’s game against San Francisco, they still don’t know yet. Even if Stacy does suit up, Cunningham may still get some opportunities. While San Francisco is coming off a solid defensive game against Washington, it was against Washington. This is a situation to monitor, but I think Cunningham has a nice game if Stacy sits this week.

Dennis Johnson vs. New England – 12 percent. When Ben Tate couldn’t get anything started last week, Johnson came in to provide a spark against Jacksonville, running 13 times for 74 yards. It’s important to note that the Jaguars are terrible against the run, but Johnson did enough to earn some more touches. Tate is still expected to start, but Johnson may get enough opportunities to make things interesting. Unfortunately, the Houston Texans are likely to trail most of the game, making Johnson more of a stash than a play for this week.

Wide Receiver

Julian Edelman at Houston – 48 percent. Edelman has been inconsistent, as Tom Brady has spread the ball effectively. Edelman turned into Brady’s security blanket on Sunday night, reeling in nine passes for 110 yards and a pair of scores. He hadn’t found the end zone since Week 1 when he also caught two touchdowns. It’s tough to count on that kind of production, especially since the New England Patriots figure to establish a lead early on versus the Texans. In any case, I like Edelman to outperform the projected 30 receiving yards, with him getting in the end one once again.

Justin Hunter at Indianapolis – 6 percent. Hunter has been in the dog house for the majority of the year, not because of talent, but rather because he’s a bit of a knucklehead. He had a big game last week in Oakland, catching six balls for 109 yards and a touchdown, and he’s likely to have a similar role this week with Damian Williams expected to miss the game. As I mentioned earlier, the Colts defense has been roughed up lately, and I like Hunter quite a bit more than our projection of three catches for 40 yards.

Brandon LaFell vs. Tampa Bay – 25 percent. LaFell is a hit-or-miss fantasy receiver, as he seems dependent on the big play for value. He’s also the third option in the Carolina pass game, behind Steve Smith and Greg Olsen. With the Buccaneers coming to town, Cam Newton and all of his receivers get a boost. I like LaFell better than our projected 30 receiving yards, and I like him a lot more if Darrelle Revis is able to play and match up with Smith.

Good luck in Week 13.

Drew Magyar is a fantasysharks.com staff writer and member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at drewmagyar@gmail.com.