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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 13

Welcome back to this week’s edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, which is a matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each of the NFL Week 13 game profiles below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Chiefs Jets
Quarterback 11th 12th
Running Back 24th 19th
Wide Receiver 2nd 11th
Tight End 24th 9th
Defense/Special Teams 27th 8th (tied)
Vegas Line: Chiefs -3
Vegas Over/Under: 44
Despite the Week 12 dud, Travis Kelce is still averaging 70.6 yards per contest and has at least 73 receiving yards in three of his last four. Robby Anderson is doing all he can to enter the circle of trust, as the second-year breakout receiver has scored six times over his last five games while posing at least 85 receiving yards in three of them.
Kareem Hunt (and the Chiefs offense as a whole, really) hit rock bottom last Sunday against Buffalo, as the rookie RB posted just 26 total yards, his lowest single-game output of the season. It’s not a given that Hunt bounces back against a Jets defense that hasn’t allowed over 100 yards to an opposing backfield since Week 8. Tyreek Hill has been held to 68 receiving yards or less in each of his last 4 contests, but is always one big play from a huge statline. Since the Chiefs’ Week 10 bye, Alex Smith has finished as the standard fantasy league QB25 and QB22 in what should have been decent matchups. Josh McCown came back to life last Sunday, throwing multiple touchdown passes for the first time since Week 8. McCown is in play as a streamer against a Chiefs pass defense that has made everyone look good this season.
Matt Forte did indeed return from his knee injury last Sunday, which prompted the Jets to revert to their three-man backfield committee from earlier in the season. So far there’s been zero indication the Jets coaching staff will deviate from that plan in Week 13, making the fantasy values of Forte, Bilal Powell, and Elijah McGuire essentially nil. Robbed of a touchdown via replay review last Sunday, Austin Seferian-Jenkins has now gone scoreless in four straight contests while averaging just 35.5 receiving yards per game over that span.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Patriots Bills
Quarterback 5th 26th
Running Back 11th 3rd
Wide Receiver 5th 22nd
Tight End 15th 22nd
Defense/Special Teams 32nd 17th (tied)
Vegas Line: Patriots -8.5
Vegas Over/Under:
 48.5
Do you think Rob Gronkowski likes playing against the Bills in Buffalo? In six career games played at New Era Field (formerly known as Ralph Wilson Stadium), Gronk has averaged 5.8 catches for 97.2 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per contest. Sitting first in the NFL in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns, there are few NFL QBs dialed in the way Tom Brady is right now. With Chris Hogan (shoulder) sidelined the past three weeks, Brandin Cooks has really taken flight, averaging six catches for 102 yards and scoring twice over than span. All indications point towards Hogan missing at least another week.
LeSean McCoy has been held to under 50 yards rushing in three of his last four contests, and the Patriots have not allowed an opposing RB to post over 70 against them since Week 8. Zay Jones has amassed 154 receiving yards and two touchdowns over his last three games played, and could very well be Bills QB Tyrod Taylor‘s top receiving target with Kelvin Benjamin (knee) injured and Jordan Matthews ineffective. With the Bills’ receiving corps in a state of fluidity, TE Charles Clay should also get more involved after catching four passes for 60 yards last week. Rex Burkhead/Dion Lewis have emerged as the primary backfield options for the Patriots, with Lewis taking the lead on early downs and Burkhead serving as a change-of-pace runner and receiving threat. Both backs have plenty of fantasy value in an offense that leads the NFL in total yards per game.
Battling chronic knee issues, Jordan Matthews has just three catches for 29 yards over his last two games played, and seems to be a shell of the receiving threat he was with Philadelphia. Deemed day-to-day by head coach Sean McDermott, Kelvin Benjamin (knee) has yet to return to practice, and seems destined to miss this week and possibly longer. James White has just 14 offensive touches over his past three contests, and is not seeing the same snap rates as compared to the first half of the season. Danny Amendola has been held to just 17 receiving yards or less in three of his last five contests.

Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Broncos Dolphins
Quarterback 18th 9th
Running Back 22nd 7th
Wide Receiver 29th 15th
Tight End 2nd 5th
Defense/Special Teams 3rd 4th
Vegas Line: Broncos -1.5
Vegas Over/Under:
 39.5
Bad teams playing can often lead to entertaining, high-scoring football, but the Dolphins and Broncos respective offenses are so putrid it may not even matter. It’s hard to get excited about anyone playing in this contest.
Although they will be down CB Aqib Talib (suspension), the Denver D/ST is usable against the NFL’s third-worst offense in terms of total yards gained per game. Kenyan Drake gets the Miami backfield all to himself now with Damien Williams (shoulder) looking at an extended absence. The Broncos’ loss of DT Domata Peko should soften what would ordinarily be a tough matchup for Drake. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will be catching passes from Trevor Siemian, who was re-installed as the Broncos following the injury to Paxton Lynch. Both wideouts were playing reasonably well with Siemian under center earlier in the year, though Thomas is averaging just 59.2 receiving yards per game this season, as compared to 51.1 for Sanders. Jarvis Landry continues to be the only player on the Dolphins who’s been immune from the QB issues, and has either cleared 90 receiving yards or scored in every game since Week 3. Julius Thomas is the winner of the “which tight end is playing the Broncos” sweepstakes. Thomas is probably available on your waiver wire if you need a scoop-and-start option at TE this week.
Miami will get QB Jay Cutler (concussion) back, but with the way he’s played this season, it’s a tossup as to whether that’s a good thing or not. The Denver RBs combined for just 25 rushing yards last week against Oakland, and while Devontae Booker has looked like the best option for weeks, the Broncos coaching staff insists on keeping C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles (to a lesser degree) involved. DeVante Parker should be happy to have Cutler back throwing passes to him, though we’re at a point where it may not matter. Parker has caught just five passes for 31 yards over the past two weeks. Kenny Stills has only really had two notable fantasy performances this season (Weeks 7 and 11), which both came in games where Jay Cutler suffered an injury, and Matt Moore took over in relief.

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position 49ers Bears
Quarterback 1st 22nd
Running Back 1st 18th
Wide Receiver 14th 16th
Tight End 16th 21st
Defense/Special Teams 8th 5th
Vegas Line: Bears -3
Vegas Over/Under:
 41
Jordan Howard is in for a big-time rebound, as he goes from playing the NFL’s best rush defense last Sunday, to one of the worst ones for Week 13. Against this same San Fran team a year ago, Jordan Howard rushed 32 times for 117 and 3 scores, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he achieved similar stats in this rematch.
The Bears D/ST has streamer appeal this week against a 49er team that scores the fifth-fewest points per game and as a -4 turnover differential. Carlos Hyde is averaging 86.5 total yards per game over his last five, despite not finding the end zone over that span. While the lack of touchdowns is frustrating, Hyde still ranks second in the NFL in goal-line carries with 11. Dontrelle Inman (CHI) and Marquise Goodwin (SF)  have averaged 65 and 76.3 receiving yards respectively per game over their last three contests, and are the only wideouts on their respective teams that move the fantasy needle in any way. The Bears D/ST makes for a passable streamer in a home matchup against a San Fran team that is scoring the 5th-fewest points per game.
Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first start as a 49er, which happens to be a road matchup at Soldier Field. With Garoppolo’s receiving arsenal severely downgraded from what he had to work with in New England, it’s hard to see the 49ers’ QB of the future starting his West Coast career with a bang.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.