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START/BENCH: Week 13

We’ve reached the end of the line in many fantasy football leagues. The final week of the fantasy football regular season is here.

For some teams, Week 13 means very little — for better or worse. Some have already sewn up a playoff spot and are just taking a victory lap. Others still are just playing out one last week before beginning a postmortem on a disappointing season — hoping to play spoiler and take another team into the depths of despair with them.

Misery does love company, after all.

However, for quite a few fantasy owners this is the single most important week of the season. Win this week’s matchup, and it’s on to the postseason. Lose, and it’s time to get started on the Christmas shopping you’ve been putting off because you’re “too busy.”

Just give cash. It’s easier. Plus, who doesn’t love a fat greasy wad of cash? No one. That’s who.

With all 32 NFL teams in action in Week 13, there are no shortage of options available to fantasy owners. But more options mean more decisions — decisions that can make or break a season.

Before we get down to it with this week’s recommendations, a quick bit of advice. Most weeks I’m not especially interested in who my opponent starts. It’s just not relevant — my only concern is picking the players I think will score the most points.

If ever there was a week for an exception to that rule, it’s “win and you’re in” Week 13. Take a glance at the expected starters for your opponent and their matchups and projected scoring. If it looks like you’re the favorite, then higher-floor options might be advisable in your WR3 and/or “flex” spots.

If you’re rocking the role of underdog, though, then shoot the moon with risk-reward players with high ceilings. Leaving a ton of points on the bench this week could drive you bonkers for months — and let’s face it. You don’t need to be driven bonkers.

You’re so close already that you could just walk.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Case Keenum, Denver (at Cincinnati)

Per Jennifer Eakins of Sports Illustrated, Keenum’s at the top of the list of quarterback streamers for Week 13.

“Coming off a home victory over (Pittsburgh) where he threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns, Keenum gets a favorable road matchup in Cincinnati,” she said. “(Cincinnati) ranks 29th in quarterback Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA), making it a friendly matchup for any passer. Keenum hasn’t turned the ball over in his last three games after giving it away 11 times in his first eight, and with a bevy of weapons at his disposal on a team in the postseason hunt, he makes for an appealing option on the stream in Week 13.”

I’m not entirely sure what aFPA is (kidding – it’s a metric the folks at 4for4.com use to determine favorable matchups), but it doesn’t take a degree in analytics to see that Denver’s Week 13 matchup is a beauty. In addition to having the worst defense and second-worst pass defense in the NFL, Cincinnati is allowing the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in Sharks League scoring.

ROLL THEM OUT

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (at Atlanta)

Trusting a player making his third career start who is most assuredly a work in progress throwing the football in a must-win week is the sort of move that straddles the line between gutsy and nutsy. But Atlanta’s third in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks this year.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (vs. New York Jets)

Mariota looked great in last week’s loss to Houston, topping 300 passing yards, tossing two touchdowns and posting all of one incomplete pass. The Jets aren’t a great matchup, but Tennessee is desperate in a winnable game.

Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. New Orleans)

Is Dallas playing better? You bet. Is Dallas playing well enough to beat sizzling New Orleans Thursday night? Let’s not get nuts. New Orleans leads the NFL in run defense – for Dallas to stay in this game Prescott’s going to have to get the passing game going.

SIT THEM DOWN

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (at Houston)

Mayfield’s been great for Cleveland, who have won two straight for the first time since 2014. But part of that surge has been the result of a string of good matchups – this week’s tilt with red-hot Houston on the road is anything but. Don’t ride him one too many weeks.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)

There’s plenty of motivation for Roethlisberger to play well in one of the biggest games of Week 13 after last week’s disappointing loss in Denver. There’s also an opponent in the Chargers that rank 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. Baltimore)

This isn’t necessarily a recommendation to sit Ryan in Week 13 per se. It’s a warning. Atlanta is all but out of it this year. Baltimore, on the other hand, is not —and Baltimore’s defense has given up the third-fewest fantasy points under center in 2018.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.