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Fantasy Football: Trust or Bust Week 13

Rich Hribar breaks down the players you should start and sit in your PPR leagues.

Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown
Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown

Nov 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) throws as St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long (91) defends during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In Fantasy Football Trust or Bust, we will focus on who we deem as trustworthy starts and pepper in a few sits for your Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues.

TRUST

Josh McCown @ MIN

The bye weeks may be over, but that doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to McCown from your lineups. While filling in for Jay Cutler in five games (three starts), he has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 8.1 Adjusted Yards per Attempt with seven touchdowns to only one interception. I’m not starting a controversy, but all of those numbers are better than Cutler’s numbers.

This week he and the Bears head to Minnesota to face a Vikings team that just surrendered a 20-3 lead to the Packers fourth quarterback of the season. Minnesota has done little to prevent big passing days, allowing multiple touchdown passes in eight games this season. They are even more forgiving to the pass at home. Inside the dome, three of five quarterbacks have thrown for three scores and all except Eli Manning have thrown at least a pair. Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer and Robert Griffin all posted 30 plus fantasy points on the road versus the Vikings.

C.J. Spiller vs ATL

Rejoice fantasy owners, Spiller is about to finally come to the rescue. In a season filled with more downs than ups and more injuries than touchdowns, he is going to redeem himself to owners still alive in their season. He’s showed glimpses of the 2012 version off and on. You should be confident that those glimpses have mainly come against the better defenses in the league. His best weeks have come against Carolina, Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Kansas City.

Fresh off of a much needed bye week, he should come out re-energized against a Falcons defense that is pretty much on par with the Bears in terms of stopping the run. Over their past eight games, Atlanta has given up an average of 150 rushing yards per game and four of the past five backs facing them have posted top eight weeks. The icing on the cake in facing one of the league’s worst run defenses, is that the Bills are the league’s most run heavy team, averaging 33 attempts per game, while Atlanta has been allowing the most rushing attempts in the league over the past three weeks (35 per game).

Le’Veon Bell @ BAL

While Bell isn’t exactly making a huge splash on the stat sheet, he’s been one of the steadiest fantasy options week in and out. His 3.2 yards per carry on 143 attempts make only Trent Richardson jealous, but with lead rusher volume and a pleasant amount of receiving work, he’s been a rock solid RB2. In seven of eight games played, he’s been a top 24 back, including six consecutive weeks.

The AFC North slugfest on Thanksgiving is far from an ideal matchup. Baltimore is allowing the third fewest fantasy points per game to running backs and has only allowed one rushing score to a back this season. They’ve also only allowed four backs to reach 80 rushing yards, but one of those was Bell, who had his best rushing game of the season week seven, carrying 19 times for 93 yards. It will be a pocket full of change on Thursday, but Bell’s points will add up for those who stick with him.

Michael Floyd @ PHI

On 16 fewer targets, Floyd has only one fewer reception (49) and has 155 more receiving yards (761) than teammate Larry Fitzgerald on the season. Fitz has the big advantage in touchdowns, eight to three, which is why his season long point totals may not have owners noticing his production. Over the past two weeks, Floyd has caught 13 of his 17 targets for 297 yards and a score, posting back to back 100-yard games after failing to reach the mark in his first nine weeks. He scored in three of the past six games with five or more receptions in six of his past eight.

No team has allowed more yardage to opposing receivers than the Eagles have this season. Fourteen wide outs have topped 80 yards against them in only 12 games, more of them being the teams number two option. Philly has been roasted by Terrance Williams, Donnie Avery, Jarrett Boykin and Hakeem Nicks to name a few, meaning Floyd could also find his name on that list after Sunday.

BUST

Drew Brees  @ SEA

2013 has been just another typical season for Brees. He trails only Peyton Manning in completions, yards and touchdowns while in route to his third consecutive 40 passing touchdown season. He’s thrown at least two touchdowns and finished as a top 12 quarterback in nine of his eleven games on the season, pacing the position in four different weeks (something Peyton has done only once).

This week will be a test as the Saints head to the Pacific Northwest in a much anticipated Monday night battle for home field advantage. On the road, particularly outdoors has been a small bugaboo recently in Brees’ career, failing to reach 20 fantasy points on the road in any game this season, let alone the heading into the biggest home field advantage in the league where the Seahawks have allowed 24 points only twice over their past 20 home games.

Even without Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, Seattle poses a problem defensively for the Saints. They have an aggressive defense, much like the Jets and 49ers, two teams that slowed down New Orleans, as well as two top flight safeties to put pressure on Jimmy Graham. They’ve allowed only two top 12 quarterbacks (both on the road) and only Chad Henne eclipsed 200 yards passing in Seattle.

LeSean McCoy vs ARI

McCoy currently leads all running backs in rushing (1,009 yards) and yards from scrimmage (1,408) through twelve weeks, returning to one of the elite fantasy options after a down 2012. He has double digit PPR points in every game this season with five games of 20 or more points, averaging 22 touches per game.

That double digit streak will be severely put to the test this week against Arizona, who hasn’t allowed a top 12 running back yet on the season. On their current four game winning streak the Cardinals are giving up only 54 yards per game rushing, and have only let three running backs score on them rushing this season. Through eleven games, the only backs to top 70 rushing yards were Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch.

Vincent Jackson @ CAR

Jackson is in the midst of doing his usual Jekyll and Hyde performance. He has 30 or more points in three of his starts with Mike Glennon, one game of 12 points and three games in single digits. If you’re playing the VJax roller coaster game, you might think this would be a high week for him.

Since the Buccaneers have started winning a few games, they’ve done so by displaying the balance needed to win the league. When they lost all of Glennon’s first four starts, he threw 43 times or more each week, resulting in 53 total targets for Jackson. In the past four, when they’ve won three and held a lead versus Seattle, Glennon has attempted less than 25 throws each game, meaning less targets to go around and head towards Jackson (27 targets over the past four weeks).  As Tampa gears itself to a balanced club, it’s improved their overall on field product.

Carolina is also extremely tough on the opposing passing game, allowing only two top 24 receivers this season, both on the road. Those two players, Stevie Johnson and Mike Wallace, are also the only two receivers to reach 100 yards in a game versus the Panthers. Unless you are assuming Glennon throws 30 more time in the fourth quarter like he did in their first meeting, Jackson will have to wait another week to head to the top of the hill.

Antonio Gates vs CIN

Gates is on pace to statistically have his best season since 2009. He already has more catches (59) and yards (685) than he had in 15 games last season, although he likely will fail to reach seven touchdowns for the first time in a season since 2003. He enters week 13 as the seventh highest scoring tight end on the season.

Most of that production came early with fresher legs as Gates totaled 32 catches for 438 yards and two scores in the first five games of the season, catching seven or more passes in three games. Over his past six games, Gates has just 27 receptions for 247 yards and one score, being held to four or fewer catches in four games.

This won’t be a week for Gates to snap out of that funk. The Bengals have been brutal on tight ends despite allowing a few odds and ends touchdowns. Only Jordan Cameron has reached 50 receiving yards and five receptions in a game versus the Bengals.

Full Disclosure from Week 12

TRUST

PPR PTS

RESULT

Ryan Fitzpatrick

23.4

QB3

Pierre Thomas

18

RB8

Andre Brown

19.8

RB7

Jarrett Boykin

17

WR20

BUST

Robert Griffin

5.3

QB27

Pierre Garcon

12.8

WR30

Bobby Rainey

3.5

RB49

SEASON RESULTS

W

L

TRUST

33

28

BUST

28

16

*Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference, NFLData.com.

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