This week is unlike any other in the fantasy football season. Not only have three games already been played this week thanks to Thanksgiving (and for that we are thankful … at least those of us who started Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Nick Roach), but it’s the last week of the regular season in many Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues.
That makes this a one-week playoff all its own for many fantasy teams, many of which are already staring at an early hole. There’s no margin for error this week. Every single point must be squeezed from lineups.
With the pressure cranked up to 11, we’ll dispense with my usual weekly banalities and get down to it. Besides, you’re probably only half-awake and swimming in tryptophan. Can’t have you nodding off before your lineup is set.
Every week during the 2013 season, I’ll point out some individual defensive players who could be set to exceed expectations this week (studs) and some that for whatever reason are riskier plays than usual (duds).
This isn’t necessarily to say that every “stud” is a must-start (it depends on your other options) or that every “dud” should be glued to your bench (just that the odds of a letdown week are greater than usual).
The bye weeks are over. Praise Butterball.
Akiem Hicks, DE, New Orleans (at Seattle):
It’s been lost while
has been jackstomping the crap out of the NFL, but Hicks has been hot of late, with 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks over the past two weeks. That bodes well this week against a Seattle team that has been a favorable IDP matchup for defensive linemen in 2013.
Sheldon Richardson, DE, New York Jets (vs. Miami):
Much like Hicks, Richardson is having a very good 2013, but the rookie has gone largely unnoticed playing in the shadow of
. You’d be well-advised to take notice this week. The Dolphins have allowed the most sacks in the NFL.
Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami (at New York Jets):
What the heck, we’ll make it three youngsters playing opposite studs this week. Vernon has tallied 6.5 sacks this year, including one in each of the past two games. The “J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets” have been “B-A-D Bad Bad Bad!” in pass protection this season.
James Anderson, OLB, Chicago (at Minnesota):
Make no mistake; the Chicago Bears are absolutely horrible against the run this year. However, the beauty of starting Anderson against a Vikings team allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to linebackers this year is that we don’t care if Anderson tackles
for a 1-yard loss or a 7-yard gain. Either way, gobble gobble.
Geno Hayes, OLB, Jacksonville (at Cleveland):
Coming off a nine-tackle, one-sack performance against Houston, Hayes is a good bet to amass solid fantasy totals for the second straight week against a Cleveland squad which has surrendered the third-most fantasy points per game to linebackers this year.
Brandon Spikes, MLB, New England (at Houston):
Spikes has been good (but not great) for the Patriots since
went down, averaging about eight stops a game over that stretch. However, Week 13 lines up well for the fourth-year pro, who faces a Houston Texans team still allowing tons of fantasy points to linebackers even as their offense falls apart.
DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington (vs. New York Giants):
Hall has pulled a vanishing act of late, with only three tackles over the past two games. However, this looks to be the week that streak ends, as no team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points in 2013 to defensive backs than the New York Giants.
Antrel Rolle, SS, New York Giants (at Washington):
There hasn’t been a hotter safety in fantasy football over the past month than Rolle, who has thrived since moving to strong safety. There’s little reason to think the 30-year-old can’t keep rolling this week against Washington, who has been a top-5 fantasy matchup for defensive backs this season.
T.J. Ward, SS, Cleveland (vs. Jacksonville):
It seems counterintuitive given how craptastic the Jacksonville Jaguars have been on offense this year, but they’ve actually been a very good matchup for defensive backs. That bodes well for Ward, but don’t watch the game … you’ll wind up like the guys at the end of
Raiders of the Lost Ark.