It’s lucky Week 13 of the 2017 NFL season. In many fantasy football leagues, it’s the final week of the regular season.
And that means it’s…the Final Countdown.
Come on…you had to know that was coming.
It goes without saying that the goal each week in fantasy football is to win the game.
You really should have seen that coming, too.
But this week that goal takes on extra importance. Some teams are sitting at 8-4 or even 9-3 but haven’t locked up a division title and/or first-round playoff bye. Others still are sitting at 4-8 but have a chance to play Grinch and steal Christmas by knocking another team out of the postseason.
Guys. I’m teeing these up.
Then there are the 7-5 or 6-6 teams with zero margin for error. It’s simple – win and play on. Lose and the season’s over.
Just like that.
In this most important week of the fantasy regular season, every lineup decision carries extra weight. One touchdown pass, one scoring rumble or one long reception could mean the difference between moving on or heading home.
Here’s hoping I’m right for once.
Tom Brady, New England (at Buffalo)
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia (at Seattle)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. Philadelphia)
Cam Newton, Carolina (at New Orleans)
SPOT START OF THE WEEK
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (vs. Houston)
Mariota pledged to Jim Wyatt of the team’s website that he’s going to shake off his recent struggles this week against the Texans. “Honestly, it’s just coming down to throwing,” Mariota said. “I’m missing – either I’m sailing it or leaving the ball behind. I’ve got to find ways to improve. I’ve got to get better. I can’t keep hurting this team. And I will – I will definitely get better. I trust those guys to make plays, and you can’t be shy as a quarterback. You’ve got to go out there and make the throws. I never shy away from an opportunity to get a completion. I’ll find ways to get those guys the football.”
It’s a big ask for fantasy owners to trust a quarterback with a minus-three touchdown to interception this season in a must-win game – especially when you consider that over the last two weeks Mariota is 19th among fantasy quarterbacks in Sharks League Scoring. However, from a matchup perspective if there was ever a week for Mariota to break out of his funk it’s at home Sunday against the Texans, who are giving up the most fantasy points in the AFC to signal-callers this year.
ROLL THEM OUT
Derek Carr, Oakland (vs. New York Giants)
Yes, Carr will be without Michael Crabtree and possibly Amari Cooper this week, and the Raiders signal-caller hasn’t been what fantasy owners had hoped for in 2017. But the Giants are all kinds of banged-up at cornerback, and their pass defense wasn’t good when they weren’t.
Kirk Cousins, Washington (at Dallas)
Cousins is one big game this side of the “Studs” list – He’s a top-five fantasy option for the season and third at the position in fantasy points over the last month. He’ll get that big game Thursday against a reeling Cowboys team giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2017.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (at Arizona)
Fresh off a 354-yard passing performance with two touchdown passes in a big win over the New Orleans Saints, Goff and the surprising Rams draw an NFC West matchup with an Arizona Cardinals team surrendering the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
SIT THEM DOWN
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (vs. Pittsburgh)
There aren’t enough red flags in a Beijing souvenir shop for this game. Yes, the Steelers were just lit up by Brett Hundley. But Pittsburgh remains one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, and we’re talking about Dalton playing after sunset. Bad juju.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. Minnesota)
The Falcons have been hot of late, but that hasn’t so much extended to Ryan, who barely ranks inside the top-15 fantasy quarterbacks over the last three weeks. He and the Falcons are at home Sunday for a big game with a Minnesota defense that’s no joke. He’s a risky, low-end fantasy QB1.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (at Baltimore)
Stafford’s been solid for fantasy owners in 2017 – he’s seventh in fantasy points for the season, ranks inside the top five over the last month. But he fell flat last week against the Vikings in a bad matchup at home. This week he gets a worse one on the road against the Ravens.