Fantasy Football

2017 Fantasy Football Week 13 Preview: Enter The Dragon

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I hope you joined at least two leagues where you at least have an extra chance of making the fantasy playoffs. For many, the playoffs are this week in the sense that you either play on next week depending on other results.

When we get to this point, you have to sometimes play heart versus head. If something in your lineup just doesn’t sit well with you, a decision can be nerve-racking; despite any positive matchup potential. On the other hand, the opposite can be true when the idea gets in your head of starting a usual player, even if every advisory warns about a bad matchup. The urge to go for the gusto is all too tempting.

We go through a similar thing during the season with adds and drops. It’s all in the game, the bitter and the sweet.

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2017 Fantasy Football Week 13 Preview

In real terms, this is everyone’s favorite time of the year in the NFL. The culmination of a long tournament of 16 games for every team. After this weekend, there are 75 games left.

Games to Watch

Feature Game: Panthers (8-3) at Saints (8-3)

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A game where the Saints could have a major hold on the NFC South division with a win. They beat the Panthers in Week 3 at Carolina 34-13.

I guess the name of the day is Alvin Kamara. The rookie finds himself as the current top baller in the league in fantasy and real football. Kamara is a model player you should remember next time when drafting your team. They started the rookie out as a returner and after the his breakout London game against the Dolphins, he became a permanent fixture in the main offense.

Since the Saints bye in Week 5, Kamara has shown nothing but fantasy gold bars everywhere. He torched the Rams in a losing cause for a 74 yard touchdown and was a factor throughout.

The Panthers have their own weapon in Christian McCaffrey and this is a plum matchup for him as well. We could see a huge swelling of fantasy points in this game. We all know what the SuperDome seems to do to teams that play there.

Defensively, the Panthers and Saints have made improvements, but their effectiveness remains somewhat inconsistent from game to game. Both teams have such wide and diverse methods of attack, I cannot see how they contain this game from going well beyond the 48 point Over/Under.

Look for for every offensive weapon in this game to get usage. There’s not a single usable fantasy player I would hesitate putting in for this matchup. Apart from DSTs, start everyone. There’s always a sleeper you don’t expect too and he is…

Sleeper: Josh Hill, TE Saints

High OU Game: Patriots (9-2) at Bills (6-5)

The Bills paid a heavy price for benching Tyrod Taylor in Week 11, because the final stretch includes both of their yearly divisional games against the Patriots. Their record against New England in their last 10 is 2-8. Might seem careless in retrospect to throw away a game using an obviously ill-prepared rookie quarterback, especially with a champion team around two corners on the schedule.

Things being what they are, looking at the positive side, the Bills may have come out of it with some team coherence and purpose. The storm passes and there is some freshness. Although the Bills are without Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones has stepped up. The running game remains steady with LeSean McCoy in there. If there was some sort of locker room angst between Taylor and McDermott, the harmony is back and the Bills can get on with the job.

It’s a tough job. The Patriots are in full playoff mode with a dizzying display of their usual prowess. Their acquisitions are all paying off, primarily with Rex Burkhead and Brandin Cooks. Tom Brady is not slowing down. The defensive woes early in the season seem like a distant memory. They always own the plus column.

The key to anything is stopping LeSean McCoy because he lives for these type of games. I would expect the Patriots to ultimately force their will in this game, containing Shady enough to keep the Bills constantly in third and long situations. Therefore, we may see a little more Travaris Cadet this time.

The Patriots always have a twist up their sleeve on offense, so don’t be surprised if they try and confuse the gameflow on the Bills by reintroducing James White. They are always pulling this sort of stuff. If not this week, they’ll do it the next. Prepare to hear, “and Gronkowski is in for the touchdown.”

Sleeper: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Patriots

Sunday Night Football: Eagles (10-1) at Seahawks (7-4)

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This is really a game you don’t want to miss. The Seahawks are on the outside of the playoff bracket as long as the Falcons hold an even or better record. However, the path for the Seahawks can still thread through their own division if they can keep pace and challenge the Rams.

There’s a fun playoff laboratory for testing different scenarios at ESPN right here.

About this game. The Seahawks defensive unit has lost a few teeth over the past few weeks, but maintain enough strength to handle most parts of the Eagles offense. However, the Eagles are good at transitioning their game to suit the game flow. Lately, the Eagles have set their gameplans heavily on the ground.

It would seem to me that the Seahawks, without any consistent running game of their own, will use Russell Wilson for most of the ground yardage. Keep an eye on Mike Davis, returning from injury, as the latest running back to attempt to crack the nut of the backfield. As the season hits the latter stages, it could be that a Seattle running back is the key to a fantasy championship. That would fit typical NFL irony, right?

The Eagles backfield in some ways is worse. LeGarrette Blount leads a very annoyingly diverse committee with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. That’s from a fantasy point of view. In real football, those guys reallty get it going for the passing game, when Carson Wentz needs it.

For that part of it, Wentz is doing very well with the weapons he has and Alshon Jeffery has hit a stride in 2017. The other players like Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz provide a strong compliment.

It should be a passing frenzy in the second half. The Seahawks have plenty to keep up with Eagles, making for a very entertaining contest.

Sleeper: J.D. McKissic, RB, Seahawks

Monday Night Football: Steelers (9-2) at Bengals (5-6)

I suppose when Antonio Brown and A.J. Green get together we expect some fireworks in The Jungle. In Week 14 of 2014, there were plenty. A.J. Green exploded for an 11-224-1 statline. Both Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown went over 100 yards en route to 42-21 Steelers victory.

The Steelers have won seven of their last eight against the Bengals; including the last four. This game will mark their 10th meeting on Monday Night Football. The Bengals won the last time they played in 2013 by a score of 20-10 in Cincinnati.

The Steelers, with their usual blend of run and pass continue to overwhelm their opponents with continual pressure. They survived a very tough trap game at home against the Packers, but make no mistake, they are a deadly force on both sides of the ball in 2017. They love to use pressure up front, but against a solid running game, they can get caught on over-pursuit.

This means that Joe Mixon should see a good amount of carries like we’ve seen growing in recent weeks. Marvin Lewis knows that sticking by a committee through thick and thin offers more thin than thick. Mixon is obviously a rhythm back, otherwise Lewis would stick to his recent credo. Once the back gets used to what he’s up against, he can play to the weaknesses in the opposing line.

LeVeon Bell is just a great back. He is influencing several running backs coming into the NFL by modelling his style of pull the defense, pause, and let go. He’s like a sling shot in the backfield.

Sleeper: Tyler Kroft, TE, Bengals

Players to Watch

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Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (at Chargers)

I am about to lose a bet on Sunday. Jonathan Chan, who does the F6P Drop List and fills in as co-host on The Fantasy Edge, challenged me that Josh Gordon would play this season. In the summer, I wasn’t on board with the idea at all and brushed it away as nonsense. Welp, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I’m on the hype train with a first class ticket and starting Josh Gordon in one league. He’s against me in another.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers (at Packers)

To the relief of owners of the Bucs skill players, Winston returns to the field this week. He clearly makes life easier for Mike Evans, but the situation between Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard remains foggy. Also, the backfield might not get keyed on as much.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins (vs Broncos)

Drake gets the backfield to himself with Damien Williams out. He was one of those strong understudy backs out of Alabama who never really got the chance to shine in Miami. Here’s his full chance. He is an upside RB2 against the Broncos, but could perhaps make a statement for being matchup proof if all goes well. Senorise Perry is the relief back.

Geno Smith, QB, Giants (at Oakland)

The benching of Eli Manning would not turn to outrage so much if Geno Smith was not the named starter. I have nothing against Smith, he’s just a quarterback who is well below par. It’s not anything Giants fans envisioned. I hope for the best out of this situation for Eli Manning whatever happens from here. As for Geno, it’s not a great feeling when such a situation befalls you, so I hope he plays well in honor of his displaced teammate.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers (at Chicago)

It wasn’t in the plan for Garoppolo to start this season, or so we were led to believe, but the injury to C.J. Beathard forced the issue. We don’t have a whole lot of tape on Jimmy G, but he managed well during Brady’s suspension. It’s a tough Bears defense he’s up against and the playbook he’s using is a total departure from that of the Patriots. This is an interesting game to watch, to get some eye test on how Jimmy performs for 2018 fantasy draft consideration.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, (vs Giants)

It’s been a while since Patterson was in the fantasy conversation. At least for one week. He’s turned out as a solid addition for the Raiders, but to this point, only useful in real football. I think he’s a good start to play this week while Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are on the sideline.

In the Booth on Sunday

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CBS Early

Patriots at Bills: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Chiefs at Jets: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
49ers at Bears: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton
Texans at Titans: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Colts at Jaguars: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

CBS Late

Browns at Chargers: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta

Fox Early

Vikings at Falcons: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis
Lions at Ravens: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Buccaneers at Packers: Tim Brando, Greg Jennings
Broncos at Dolphins: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth

Fox Late

Panthers at Saints: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Giants at Raiders: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Rams at Cardinals: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston


Check out the rest of our 2017 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.

About Richard Savill

Richard is an NFL Fantasy Football Writer and Editor of Fantasy Six Pack. Host of The Fantasy Edge Podcast. FantasyPros Contributor. Member of the FSWA. Richard is known for his "outside the box" insight into NFL fantasy football. Winner of the 16-Team 2015 FSWA challenge.

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