Week 12 is in the books, and for many of us the results of the Week 13 games will decide who is in the playoffs and who is not. All year long I have been moaning and griping about injuries and under-performing players.
I may be a senile old guy, but I finally figured out a few things.
- The NFL in general and teams in particular are doing a much more efficient job of misleading the public on what injuries players have and their severity. Look at two players who are suddenly playing close to the level we all expected in September — Alfred Morris (ribs) – and C.J. Anderson (toe) – . For much of the year it looked like all they could do was fall into the defense’s waiting arms. Watching Anderson sprint to score his 48-yard touchdown against New England made me realize how bad he must have been hurting.
- The widespread reduction in the healthy player population has resulted in fantasy football parity on a broad scale. Usually there are teams that stand out with 12-1 or 11-2 records and extremely weak teams with horrid records. In my two dynasty leagues with 12 and 14 teams in them, we have nine and 10 teams with .500 records or better. The general range of wins is between four and nine, rather than about two and 11.
- This parity has had one positive impact — very closely contested races to fill playoff spots. I have been playing for 31 years now and I cannot recall any year where 7-6 has been a typical division winning record, or given someone an invitation to the playoffs.
Everybody has a sense of who to play in their lineups this week, but Toby has compiled a list of his personal recommendations. The big names are obvious, but Toby has gone underground and has a top plays list of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers for Week 13. He also offers a list of players to avoid if you can. And there are three “Five Carrot” picks picks by Toby that he wants to share with all his friends in fantasy football land. These “Five Carrot” specials are players to use only in the event of an emergency, like no better alternatives.
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle at Minnesota (Last three 20-28-19) – Suddenly playing hot
QB Kirk Cousins, Washington vs. Dallas (Last three 32-14-25) – Getting better all the time
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets at New York Giants (Last three 19-20-32) – One tough competitor
QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta (Last three 23-18-32) – Rapidly maturing
QB Eli Manning, New York Giants vs. New York Jets (Last three 27-Bye-21) – Darrelle Revis not expected to play
RB Shaun Draughn, San Francisco at Chicago (Last three Bye-16-14) – A solid starter for now
RB Ronnie Hillman, Denver at San Diego (Last three 12-11-13) – Do not forget Hillman
RB Latavius Murray, Oakland vs. Kansas City (Last three 18-9-9) – Consistency
RB Darren McFadden, Dallas at Washington (Last three 9-18-12) – 2015 is best year yet
RB T. J. Yelden, Jacksonville at Tennessee (Last three 12-11-12) – Getting better every week
WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle at Minnesota (Last three 26-12-39) – Hottest wide receiver last three games
WR Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh vs. Indianapolis (Last three 4-Bye-39) – Breakout game in Week 12
WR Stevie Johnson, San Diego vs. Denver (Last three Bye-12-22) – Philip Rivers and Johnson — explosive
TOBY’S RABBIT PELLETS
QB Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Carolina (Last three 16-Bye-10) – New Orleans is fading and Carolina is scary
QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta at Tampa Bay (Last three Bye-24-14) – Atlanta offense failing
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota vs. Seattle (Last three 13-23-8) – Seattle not good matchup
RB Shane Vereen, New York Giants vs. New York Jets (Last three 5-Bye-8) – Never know what to expect
RB LeGarrette Blount, New England vs. Philadelphia (Last three 16-7-3) – Offense hurting
RB Lamar Miller, Miami vs. Baltimore (Last three 21-8-4) – Miami = dysfunction
WR Dez Bryant, Dallas at Washington (Last three 10-15-5) – No Tony Romo, no need to play Bryant
WR Stefon Diggs, Minnesota vs. Seattle (Last three 8-13-7) – Bad play against Seattle
WR Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia at New England (Last three 8-13-7) – Very weak playing option
FIVE CARROT PICKS
QB Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco at Chicago (Last three Bye-19-20) – Viable threat with wide receivers
RB David Johnson, Arizona at St. Louis (Last three 2-11-11) – Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington are both hurt
WR Michael Crabtree, Oakland vs. Kansas City (Last three 10-11-12) – A blast from the past
Toby and I hope this gives you some things to mull over in making your lineup decisions this week. Maybe we can help shed some light on who to start and who to replace. If you have someone like Stefon Diggs and no better alternative, by all means play Diggs. Do not do something silly like picking up a 15th-tier wide receiver and playing him instead.
Be sure to remember that the answers to our fantasy football questions can usually be found within the numbers of the game. And if all else fails ask me or Toby. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All fantasy football questions are welcome.